Category Archives: Make’s you think

Expected Behavior

The very first time I saw Lean on Me, this scene stuck out to me because it was a very powerful message.

It wasn’t a stand out scene but it set the tone for the entire movie. You may have only processed it subconsciously but you instantly got it when you heard it. It is so powerful yet and so simple to understand yet most don’t recognize the impact of it.

Mr. Clark was simply describing how people are who we define them as and thus we can’t be surprised if/when they live up to those expectations. But what happens when people expect themselves to be treated like animals? That’s exactly what happened at East Side High; the "good kids" were so used to watching "bad kids" get treated as if there were failures that they began to become failures themselves and then the teachers treated all of the students the same.

In everyday life, we expect people to fail (admit it to yourself, it’s ok normal), we expect people to give up on others. Due to this we start to expect ourselves to fail and we start to expect people to give up on us when we are in the same situation but we want to be helped. Why does this happen? Because we expect people to treat us like we treat others or how we see them treat others. In psychology this is unofficially called Herd Mentality.

A good example of this is when we see cars disabled on the side of the road with the driver standing outside of it in need of help.  There are very few people if any that would stop to provide aid yet if we were in that situation we would hope that someone would stop but expect no one to do it. You want to be saved, you need to be saved but so many just pass you by.  The situation thus encourages you to not help someone when you see them in the same situation. Had someone stopped, chances are you would be more encouraged to help next time you saw someone in need. ABC created a whole show around it called What Would You Do?.  I’m sure you’ve seen or heard about it.

So what happens when there is a life on the line:

Before I use this unfortunate event as an example I must say that I in no way condemn anyone involved for their actions, abilities or lack there of. It was a tragedy to hear about and I’m sure it was far worse for them to experience first hand. I mention this story only to draw parallels on the forthcoming points.

What would you do in this situation where someone is drowning but you can’t swim? A co-worker and I discussed this when this story happened and he believes that you should go jump in and try to save the kids. I, actually not being able to swim, say that you should do what ever possible to help but jumping in could hurt rather than help. It is a tough question to answer to yourself: Do you do whatever you can or give up to let them struggle or do you fight for them and possibly go down with them?

For the people that are close to me that I care about, I often do everything I can to help when they need it. Often going above and beyond what others think I should. I believe you should support people as much as you would want them to support you, if not more than they would you. Think about the last time you were in a time of need or didn’t realize you were in need and someone was there for you.  Now image if that person wasn’t there or the last time someone wasn’t. Did you expect someone to help? Now I’m not talking about major life events. It could’ve been as simple as dropping something in a crowed room, having your hands full while approaching a door or moving your residence.  You get the idea.

When people come through for you, it feels good. When you don’t expect people to help and they do, it feels amazing! When you help people it feels amazing for yourself also. Try to notice when people want or need your help because they will want to return the favor to you one day or even to a stranger.

A few weeks ago I was walking into a market and there was a woman outside with a teenaged girl.  She had her ID and EBT card in her hand while asking for help to get food for her kids. As I walked up I saw many people walk by them and not saying a word. When I approached I told her I didn’t have cash but if she needed I could pay for whatever she needed.  She agreed and walked out with something to eat for the night. I don’t know if she was telling the truth but I couldn’t take that chance when I have the capability to help.

They say you should pay it forward but I think you should just pay it without expecting something in return or that it would benefit you in the future.

As Simple as Socks and Sandals

 

There’s this great scene (I think it’s the greatest scene in the movie which we will get to in a second) above from The Devil Wears Prada where Miranda (Meryl Streep) explains to Andrea (Anne Hathaway) why she is wearing a blue sweater. Actually it’s Cerulean if you were paying attention to what she said. Lapis is also a shade of blue. I know that because I am into photography, art and web design by the way.

Back to the point, Miranda’s explanation is to educate Andrea on why it is she is subconsciously choosing her clothes.  I think of this every time I see someone walking around in black socks or socks and sandals.  It also comes to mind with the baggy pants phenomenon in the 90’s and 00’s and tight jeans fad of late.

Before I get into this let me first say that I am not a fashion historian but I do pay attention to people’s behavior and fashion. First socks and sandals. It’s a very prevalent practice throughout history and throughout the world regardless of how we Americans think of it. For the record, I personally don’t like it and haven’t partaken in it.

So how did it become popular? Same place everything becomes popular, high school of course, particularly jocks. Jocks or athletes typically would dress in their uniforms prior to participating in their sport and often wear their uniforms afterwards. Sports such as baseball, soccer and football often require a specific type of sock to match the uniform.  Since taking sneakers on and off requires untying or unlacing, sandals became the easiest for of footwear that could function for quick removal and protect the feet while in full uniform.

Thanks to the competitive and conformist culture of high school, the jocks are typically at the top of the food chain and idolized by the masses and so adopt their fashion choices. This of course spreads to the younger siblings and then encouraged behavior by these same jocks and influencee’ when they become parents. It then becomes popularized by pop culture and other adults catch on then then a fad is born.

Now I haven’t forgotten about those we refer to as bohemian or hippies. They too dress like this but unfortunately their fashion style wasn’t strong enough to influence the masses.

Skinny jeans are a much simpler explanation. They are just a direct opposition to the baggy jeans phenomenon. Typically it’s called counterculture or rebellion. Tight pants lead to tight shirts and thus a new fashion tread was born.

As always, you don’t have to agree with me. If you think I’m wrong, write your own blog or complain in the comments. Either way is fine with me but one thing is for certain, you can’t say I’m completely wrong if you think about it now can you?

Names and Labels

 

The clip above says it all, we as humans are obsessed with naming things. We have the same passions about labels too. So much so that throughout our lives we assign many names and labels to people and things without realizing it. Sometimes in life, we don’t even remember when they first happened but I do.  I remember them all..

Before even knowing, I was assigned the labels child, son, brother and nephew. This happened after my parents became aware of my conception. Due to my family makeup these labels became automatically assigned to me. At the time, I of course had no concept of their meaning or existence. They were just assigned.

Soon after, my parents decided on a name, Jim. I was to be named after my own father. It was a first name which had been passed down from my grandfather. It was the name of which I would come to know, as all children do, referred to myself.

I also learned the labels mother and father for my parents as well as their own names. Both a gift and a burden due to my father and I sharing a first name. If it wasn’t for my mother calling my father Jimmy or the neighbors calling him Big Jim and me Little Jim it may have been a confusing childhood responding to calls meant for someone else.

At a later point in life, I became aware of the fact that my name was not unique to myself. Others could also have this name and thus I had to become reliant on the voices which used my name to become accustomed to responding to those trying to communicate with me.

As time went on, the nickname Jim Jim was coined but I’m not exactly sure by whom. Yet again I had to become accustomed to being referred to by a different name. One of my aunts still uses this name today.

Humans, we are told, are social creatures and thus seek others for interactions. As I write this I wonder if this is a natural instinct or a learned behavior. Why? Because at some point I gained the label friend. I’m pretty sure it was because my parents sought to have me interact with other children my age either at a playground or some organized gathering. More than likely their parents had done the same. So if we are taught to do this at an early age does that take away from the instinct or is it just the way of fulfilling it? That’s way too heavy of a topic for right now so we will move on.

By the time I had become school-age, I had only known myself officially as Jim. I can recall sitting on my mother’s lap while being signed up for kindergarten to become a student. When the registrar asked the name of the student, my mother prompted me to answer the question. Confidently I responded “Jim“, I do know my own name after all. My mother responded “No, tell them you’re real name.” Real name? What have you been calling me all these years? At that point she realized and admitted that she rarely if ever called me by my formal name. “His name is James” she responded for me. This was a big lesson to learn. I had two names! Who has two names? Does everyone? As it turns out, no they don’t. Only a few of us lucky ones get that privilege.

When people become close to you and know you for a while they tend to make up nicknames for you based on some attribute or action you’ve taken, I was no exception to this. For some reason, I started carrying around a red wiffle ball bat. This was followed by using it as a weapon in fights I would get into. Strangely enough if I didn’t have it on me I would tell my opponent to wait while I would go get it. People began to call me Bam Bam after the Flintstone character. Fighting with a plastic bat isn’t exactly practical and thus I outgrew it and the moniker Slim Jim briefly took over.

Before I could become a teenager I was bestowed two new titles, brother and uncle. I didn’t know exactly what it meant to be either but I knew what it was to have one. Later on in life I would discover the importance of these roles but for the time being I continued on being a kid.

High school was a new adventure. Lots of people with the same name and no real way to distinguish them outside your general circle of friends. If you don’t already have a nickname then the common practice is to use your last name. A friend started calling me by a shortened version of my last name because he had a brother with the same first name and thus I became Nick. It was a little strange at first but it stuck.

Those 4 years lead to many other first time labels. For the first time I became a boyfriend, a common occurrence for people of that age. It was short lived but so are many things during high school. I also became a driver, another right of passage attained.

Soon after I started my first job and became an employee. My first job was short lived but I learned my lesson and bounced back quickly. My third job while still in high school lead me to a place where I would grow the most.  I attended the title of cook, manager and caterer. I also gained the nickname crucial because I liked a very unpopular rap group name Crucial Conflict. A co worker thus shortened it to crushy which stuck among some of the staff even to this day.

It’s not often in life that you get multiple nicknames or labels at once but one summer I did just that.  I became Jimifer before it was cool to be Brangelina and Transformer after an innocent teenage run from the police.

Growing up means the names and labels stop until you get one of the most important and expected labels, High School Graduate which was expectantly followed by College Student. From there the choice is either one of two options, I took the unfortunate options and became a College Dropout in favor of a technical school. I finished there and once again became a Graduate.

Becoming an adult slowed down the process of attaining names. I became a runner and an athlete for the last few years of my life.The process slowed until I met someone that would change my life. She named me Kozlik, a pet name she came up with for me. She made me a stepfather, the closest I had ever become to the real thing. Her daughter called me Jimmy John Jones, a special bond that will last forever. It was a very special relationship that I will cherish forever.

Adulthood afforded me a few more titles. I was a Groomsmen in a few of my friends weddings and the Best Man in my brothers wedding. I enjoyed watching others fulfill their desires. So much so that I wanted them for myself.

Still left for me are my most sought after titles; father, dad, husband, homeowner. Someday I will fulfill them. Someday soon possibly, or maybe someday in the future. Too bad that someday is not today.

My life with names and titles isn’t over. I will continue to attain them throughout my life and I will remember the first time each is assigned just like I have all this time.

Piles of headphone choices

Headphones

Some time ago, I wrote What ever happened to headphones? in reaction to the declining appearance of headphones on peoples heads. Fast-forward 2 years and the onslaught of Beats by Dr Dre gracing the heads of athletes and celebrities traveling has had a huge impact on the how people listen to music. Slowly the fad of the white ear buds are being replaced but brightly color headphones.

I’m glad to see that headphones are making their comeback, gaudy designs and all. I just can’t imaging a DJ in front of his MP3 mixer (smh) cranking out music. But we can’t all be DJ’s so when I see them on the train, bus, airport or walking down the street, I smile.  It lets me know that the person is serious about the sound of their music and recognize the difference in quality the two systems produce.

Not only is Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg (Skull Candy) endorsing headphones but also 50 Cent with SMS and Ludacris with Soul. Personal I think the team behind 50’s brand didn’t do their research or even a simple Google Search. Had they, it would’ve been immediately clear that the acronym SMS has been used in so many ways, most notable in relation to cell phone text messaging (Short Message Service) they would have chosen a better name.

Where all of these endorsements fail except Skull Candy is price point. When you’re setting the bar at $100, it suddenly becomes very costly to buy into their products. Especially since the most abundant material in their products is plastic. Anyone that has owned a pair of headphones of any price dreads that snapping sound. It’s the worse sound any headphones can make!  Second to that is the more silent wire short. That problematic, unfixable issue that has you twisting, rubber-banding and bending the wires just to correct a faulty speaker.

When it comes to which headphones to go with make sure you test them out first for the best sound. The artists themselves didn’t design or create these products but they did put their names on them so don’t let the name fool you.  They just want you to buy them because their name is on it and they get a check every time you do. No matter which way you go to enjoy your music make sure you buy that warranty if they offer it. A couple extra bucks right now could save a whole lot of heartache later.

Behind “in” music

I’ve come to know that I see things with different eyes than the rest of the world which often leads me to different conclusions than most people expect so when this video came across my screen I had to watch it a few times.

The first time I watched, I was curious to what they were trying to do. I listened and identified the songs:

  1. Family Affair – Mary J. Blige
  2. In Da Club – 50 Cent
  3. Lose Yourself – Eminem
  4. Hard Knock Life – Jay-Z
  5. Changes – Tupac

Simple enough. Next I watched again and did my usual color count. Not a black face in the whole video. That’s not exactly a bad thing nor is it a big deal, I just often take inventory of the things black people are doing but then it hit me, how many current black artists play instruments?

Sure there’s a somewhat long list: Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and Jamie Foxx all play piano; QuestLove of The Roots plays the drums; Prince plays guitar and pretty much every produces uses a synthesizer. Miri Ben-Ari has labeled herself a “Hip Hop Violinists” which to me is just her capitalization on the music. Especially since very few in the genre actually play an instrument. This is one of the few genres where words matter more than sound.

Gone are the days of Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield and Isaac Hayes. Not because two of those guys are no longer with us. It’s because these guys knew how to compose music. They could take the sounds of the different instruments they could play and put them all together and make a song. That knowledge of music helped them create their great careers. That’s not to say that people today don’t make music, it’s just not made the same.

Instruments themselves are starting to become scarce in schools due to the funding of music programs being cut. School is often the place where people learn how to read music and play it with other instruments. Exposure to a variety of sounds people often shape the minds of people. This often the argument between home-school vs. traditional school. Not many people are skilled enough to properly teach music in the home. Pots, pans and buckets make nice pseudo-drums but they’re not a replacement.

The music behind many hip hop songs is rooted in actual instruments and not just synthesized sounds. Many use the samples of other songs but their sound often features a prominent instrument.  The instruments themselves add so much character to the song that they are like a second layer of lyrics and speak for themselves. They are so powerful that in some songs, featured below, they extended the music without the words to add to the mood.

As digital takes over, it will never take the place of the sound of instruments themselves no matter how well it can copy them. Hopefully those involves with hip hop culture won’t let instruments fall by the wayside for much longer or we will have a whole segment of the population without the skills and tools to make music should the lights go out other than a bucket.

An internet without Hip Hop

Note: This is the actual image

UPDATE: It appears that the link to the bill is very busy so you may have some trouble getting through today. You can either view the breakdown from Mashable or check out the Wikipedia article.

 

Imagine if you when can to this site that the lyrics on the right weren’t displayed.  Imagine if you went to SOHH and or HipHopDX they didn’t have a link to the latest song leak or video release.

What’s worse which is actually happening, imagine these sites didn’t tell you that there is a way that something like this could happen and you could prevent it.

There’s a bill being proposed (and yes you should read it all and understand it), which is being pushed by movie studios and the recording industry, that gives the government and law enforcement officials (read police) the right to shut down a site such as mine or anyone other, with notice or trial if it is suspected that they can link or have linked to copyrighted content.

Why is this bad? Because in many ways, this prevents the internet from being the sharing environment that it is. Yeah I know there are plenty of ways to illegally download songs and movies on the net but there are also legal ways to do it also do it.

If you want a breakdown of the bill you can check out Mashable or you favorite non-hip hop related news site. I say non-hip hop related because chances are pretty high that they will leave you ill-informed!

Serious Radio

It’s around 7:20 AM and just like any other morning I hope into my car, turn the key and the radio comes on.  As always while getting situated, the sounds coming out of the speakers don’t register as intelligible at first. A few seconds pass and I recognize what is going on; a phone prank. Not being a fan of this "ageless" gag, I tune to another station for relief. A few minutes later and it starts again but with different voices. On to station number 3 and they are giving a recap of a phone prank I thankfully missed earlier.  WTF?

After enough of the Hip Hip and Top 40 stations I move to the R&B stations hoping for relief.  Hopefully the more mature DJ’s can bring a more serious tone to my day but alas not.  The buffoonery is more intense so that it lacks the taste and is only mildly amusing. Is this the humor of the older generation or is it a left over of different times when we were to be mocked rather than treated as equals?  Whatever it is, it is not something that I can tolerate for too long.  And did I mention that some of them also do phone pranks?

What happened to radio?  When did it become so devoid of originality? As one of my friends put it, the radio is like a tape stuck on replay (or a playlist on replay for those of you that don’t get the reference).  Ever since the radio companies were bought by parent companies (ClearChannel, Radio-One,…) they have become franchises serving the same menu across the country. 

Gone is the local flavor that made us tune in.  No more does the local artist get his first break to be heard.  Playlists are distributed to all stations and re-run throughout the day to push the latest release.  Payola may not be a published practice but it is clear that it is being masked in some way.  How else can you hear the same songs every hour during peak listening times (rush hour and 8 to 10).

With the advent of digital music devices, radio is now in trouble. Once HDRadio is put into play, I believe that radio will vanish completely. Radio must evolve or rather revert back to it’s roots to survive.   Bing back the local influence that once ruled the airways.  Let the listening audience dictate the playlists and play a broader variety of songs.  There has been too much music created to only play the same 34 minutes of music throughout the day. This one is for you Radio Raheem!

The Perfect Formula

 

A couple years ago, I had a few conversations with my friends about how to assemble the best album, crew or label.  Thinking about it now, the ideas seem pretty odd but the principles we came up with were reproduced by many and a small few were largely successfully using them. Maybe we were before our time in our thinking but it seems we were dead on for some.  Maybe we should’ve be talent scouts.

Album

For many years there was a format to Hip Hop albums; an intro, a song for the club or radio, a song for the streets, a song to show your softer side, a skit and a R&B collaboration or a song with your crew. 

Many albums attempted this format as to emulate others and it proved a success for many.  It became a way to appeal to a broad audience and it worked.

Crew or Label

Take two male solo rappers, one female rapper, an R&B group then add a duo or group and what do you get? Something that ends in -Family, -Crew or some other creative name. Diversity would surely be the way to ensure success for a record label.  Collaborations on albums would be easy and every year there would be a group album.  And let’s not forget that my crew doesn’t like yours so there will be our typical beef.

So is it successful? Not in the long term.  All too often there is some problem among label mates and someone is kicked out within a year.  This proves beneficial for the remaining members but spoils the formula.

Outside of Hip Hip

I took this examination a little further and looked outside of Hip Hop to see how other genres of music fare on this topic.  Not surprisingly, it doesn’t exist.  I couldn’t even tell what labels the artist belonged to because no other artists (Prince excluded) even mentioned their labels in their songs. There were no crews or allegiance to anyone unless they were a group or solo artist and nothing else. And depending on the age of the artist, there were no typical arrangements to their albums.

I can’t say I’ve ever heard of people looking for friends in this way or any other employers with these requirements. In our everyday lives we don’t form these types of relationships.

This is just one of those unique things that helps make Hip Hop one of the most influential art forms in the world.  Though there is no exact formula to its success, there will always be imitators even within trying to reproduce the success of others.  There attempts continue to fuel us with great music for years to come.

What are we doing?

I turn on the radio and I hear rappers singing about who they know, what they have and what they’re going to do someone for whatever reason.  And then I turn on the TV or pick up the newspaper and I see the result of it.  Yesterday in Chester, PA, a 2 year old boy loses his life to gun violence.

A few days before, a man is shot under unknown pretences.  Months before in the same city, a woman is shot by a stray bullet while sleeping in her bed. 

This is just a few examples in one city.  I’m sure you have many others in the city you live in or near.  The temperature is going up and with it so does the violence in the streets.  We have to get a grip on ourselves and each other.  The value of life is diminishing in the eyes of our youth. 

We say our music is the message of the streets, a way for the oppressed to speak about atrocities they’ve seen so that the world can know of their struggles but we don’t learn from its messages.  We’ve turned our music from outcries and celebration to bragging and boasting of how much we (or rather the artists) own. 

At one point in history, the artist grew tired of the problems and banned together to try to send a positive message to the youth:

 

Theses days, the artist ban together to help line their pockets:

Look at the lead photo a little longer.  Burn it’s image in your mind.  Imagine that it’s someone in your family.  Imagine it’s someone you know.  Now imagine that it’s you.  If we keep up what we’re doing, one of those phrases will be true!

Worse than the N word ? Urban

I actually got a surprise while researching this topic.  Typically, I look for an image using Google Image Search and it took a couple pages before I reached an image of a black person.  This is contradictory to how the word is typically used.  Only when using the keywords Urban Youth did I get my expected results. 

So what’s the big deal here? Often times Urban is used as a code word for black, though it is often combined with other words (radio, youth, clothing, music, television, etc) for this meaning.  It’s used so often, that it isn’t given a second thought but its audience.

Many businesses and organizations have capitalized on this misconception.  Many include urban in their names to further identify their alliance with race such as  Urban Outfitters whose clothes don’t seem to fit into this definition and National Urban League, a civil rights organization.  Just as Urban Outfitters points out, not all terms or businesses are code words.  Urban Legends and UrbanDictionary stem from uses in language that doesn’t exactly predate stereotypes but doesn’t get its meaning from blacks living in the city. Often in Mom and Pop stores it hangs above the music and in the news it describes the people but why?  No history exists of the words association with blacks as of yet but it is in heavy use with no misunderstanding of what it means.

Of course I have my own theories on the subject?  My first guess is White Flight where whites, moved from urban areas to suburban areas.  This changed the ratios of whites to blacks in urban areas therefore creating the stereotype of large amounts of blacks live in urban areas.  But wait a second, blacks live in the suburbs too.  More so in the south than in the northern states. 

I don’t need to quote statistics to prove that blacks live in other areas than in cities, just look around.  If someone is working in a store, chances are they live in the area.  Especially when it comes to teens.  Teens don’t travel as far as adults do to get employment.  They go as far a the bus, train or parent will take them within a reasonable distance.

So what harm can this do?  There is a huge movement of racists and stereotypical behavior starting to surface.  The media will have you believe that it started because of the Tea Party Movement or since Obama started running for president.  I believe it started with the popularity of the internet and the new sense of anonymity that it give people.  The is one of the founding properties of the KKK and the internet has further this.

Get at me dog

First off let’s get some things straight, I don’t condone nor to I condemn dog fighting.  I’ve never witnessed or been a part of it.  I believe there are far worse atrocities going on in the world that need attention than this.

Second, dog fighting is not a product of Hip Hop, black culture or even the United States.  It has a long standing in history along with fighting other types of animals.

Third, Michael Vick, didn’t increase dog fighting incidents.  He only brought to the surface what society chose to ignore.  Even since Vick was linked to this activity he has been blamed for every case that has come about. As if he was the originator of dog fighting.

I’m not going to defend him or his accusers.  What I want to know is when do you really pay your debt to society? When do you finally get to move on from your crime after serving time?

If you want to drag animal cruelty through the mud, take a look at horse racing.  It’s everywhere so much so that there are laws specific to it and

 

 

The Mob Mentality

Some mobs are good; Mobb Deep, Goodie Mob. Some mobs are bad; Capone, Giancana. And some mobs are just plain our wrong; lynch, flash.

Most of the examples above are debatable (with the exception of lynch) except the flash mob.  Here in Philly, teens have started to massively gather in an area for no other reason other than being told to do so by Facebook, text message and word of mouth.  The media, in it’s effort of sensationalism, has labeled them flash mob which happens to be the most recent buzz word for large gatherings of people.

No one, including the participants themselves know how or why this started or even why they are doing it.  Regardless of this, some members of these crowds have caused problems in their meeting spaces by fights, looting and causing damage.  Of course this doesn’t sit nicely with the inhabitants of the areas which they are rightfully justified for feeling as such.

Throwing away the thought that these gatherings have only happened about 2 or 3 times as of this writing I wonder why can’t our youth gather for a cause rather than random mass loitering.  I as well as many others, would have applauded them had this been a protest on the Healthcare Bill to say "Yes, we want this for our future!" or even to demand an education bill of the same magnitude.  Come on youth, give us something to say that you are ready to step up and take the lead where the previous generation let you down.

Of course I can’t put the blame solely on the youth.  There are many factors here.  First there is the organizers whom ever they may be.  Was this done for the sole purpose of causing trouble or was the meaning lost somehow?  Secondly, the media, merchants and law enforcement may have over reacted at bit.  Why’s that?  Well, if you look at the videos below you will see that there’s little to no media coverage of outrage against the events below. True these events were clearly planned and thought out, there’s just something about jumping at the chance to label a large gathering of young black people as a problem that bothers me.  But of course we can’t let them off for the trouble some people did cause.

So what should we take from this? 

  1. If your going to gather in a large group, know what it is for and if you don’t know, don’t show.  No need to be a sheep following the herd. 
  2. If you are going to be part of a flash mob, make sure you are doing something cool like the people below.  Some of them are stupid but they don’t have the police commissioner and mayor threatening to change curfew laws.
  3. If you are going to organize a flash mob, see #2.

 

 

Battle of the S's ? Sharpton vs. Smiley

Depending how you look at it, first Tavis Smiley went on the Tom Joryner Morning Show and said:


[Source]

to which Rev. Al Sharpton called into the show to respond:


[Source]

and then the two spoke together:

And yet again it continues…

Things like this is the perfect introduction to a future article coming soon.  Stay tuned and ponder what they really are arguing about and how they are representing "us".

Worse than the N word? Ghetto

Growing up up the ghetto I always knew what it felt like to be ostracized.  Times were different than they are now back in the 80's. It wasn't the overtly racist  era of the 50's and 60's but this was definitely before  being black was popular.

Black celebrities weren't as plentiful on TV unless they were athletes.  The Cosby Show was the only "black" show on but stars could be seen in shows like the A-team or Love Boat. And Hip Hop was just starting to blossom.

I remember the first time I realized the negative impact of the word ghetto was on a trip to the beach in Ocean City, MD.  While checking into the hotel with my friends, the woman behind the counter ran down the list of rules.  One of the rules was "No Ghettoblasters". At the time I was confused from never hearing the term before. She explained to me that they were big radios that people in the cities carry around.  We didn't have one so there was no need to worry.  I gave her a funny look and went about my vacation undisturbed.

It wasn't until a few years later when a comedian performed a joke on Comic View did the word take off in mainstream use. I remember hearing people use the term describe the ways we did things to get by in a negative light. Using a hanger for an antenna, drinking Kool Aid, driving an old car or just something different than the accuser became, ghetto.

I wondered why this happening. The I noticed that people thought it was funny but it was a case of people laughing at you not with you.  Those making the joke were too ignorant to the fact that they were making fun of their own culture and themselves. 

As always, the term was picked up by those who understood the use of the term and began to use it with a different meaning.  Once again a word became code for blacks or in this case, the things that black people do.  It is a form of hidden racism and unrealized self hate which does nothing to further our development in the world.

In our hurries attempts to look and act cool, sometimes we create things which appear to enhance but only injure. There's that old lie we tell to children that "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" to help combat teasing but we should be teaching them that some words have hidden meanings and lasting affects. We are made of flesh and bone not rubber, words penetrate deeply.

 

 

 

 

 

The Analog Divide

Let’s face it, radio as we know it is on its last legs.  Portable media is giving people what they want; access to the music they want, when they want it.

Satellite radio was the last ditch effort to save a dying format.  When HD Radio is finally enforced as the standard for broadcasting, I honestly think radio as we know it will be silent forever.

Unlike TV, there won’t be converters to add to existing radios.  They will become relics of a former generation dead before their time much like the portable TV’s and the VCR.

Technology is progressing so fast that people don’t realize the convinces they are losing.  No longer can you create portable, reusable recordings and easily use them elsewhere. 

Cassette tapes allowed us to record audio from radio, LP, microphone, CD or other cassettes and easily play them elsewhere.  I say easy because you can literally pop out a tape from one device and play it in another. You could even loan your recording to someone for them to playback. Can you do that with your MP3 player?

VCR’s allowed us to record a video and use it the same way cassette did for audio. Can you DVR, iPod, iPhone or other media device do that?

In the digital world there are many different formats for audio and video. MP3, OGG, MPC, AIFF, AU, MIDI, WAV, WMA, ACC RA, MPEG, AVI, MKV, MOV, QT, WMV, FLAC, FLV, MP4, ASF, SWV and countless others.  And if you think that list is long, just wait a few more months because there will be others.  Some devices support a mix of them but not all.

In the analog world there was CD (though this really is digital), VHS cassette and audio cassette.  Each had its own player and could play and media of its type that was inserted into it with no need to check the specs or compatibility.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. It’s my chosen profession. I just see what’s going on around me more for the have nots and how they are affected.  Suddenly the days of $40 for a low-end TV and $200 for a high-end have been replaced with $200 for a low-end TV; $10-$20 for a portable  to play your existing music vs. $100 (plus the cost of a computer or laptop not to mention internet access) to play new media formats; and we can’t discuss the cost of DVR’s because you can’t buy them, only rent them.

I see the have nots suffer just to have modern convinces while the cost of living goes up. When changes like these come around it is good to educate yourself on the costs long term.  We probably won’t have another change like these soon but when we do, you’ve been enlightened.

Innovator or Swagger Jacker

 Facebook is now built on HipHop, but not the way you may think.  HipHop is a customized version of the PHP programming language of which it is built on.  Facebook hired a team of engineers to optimize the language to deliver better performance for itself and a better experience for its users.  A win-win in both case; Facebook can deliver its webpage more efficiently and support more users and their users can continue to use the site hopefully without issues.

As a programmer myself, I can appreciate the need for greater performance and scalability (ability to grow) of an application.  Nothing turns people away faster than a slow web site (knock on wood) and the feat itself isn’t something to be taken lightly or even something that is common place.

Of course the Hip Hop side of me recognizes what just happened with Facebook’s HipHop.  This is a blatant attempt to capitalize on a name and cause brand confusion to help boost exposure. While we appreciate the honor and are flattered by your choice of names, we don’t need your confusion added to our culture.  Especially in these times of coping others work and using it as your own.

 

The Pressure to Give

Natural disaster are, well, disasters.  Recently there have been many; Hurricane Katrina in 2007, Indonesian Earthquake in 2009 and Tsunami in 2004 and now the Haitian Earthquakes of 2010.

As technology progresses, we now have easier methods of donating as well as finding out who has donated.  Everyone wants to know if you donated to the relief efforts (see a list here) and recently a list of celebrity donations has been tabulated. The reported contributions are below.

Alyssa Milano

$ 50,000
Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie $ 1,000,000

George Clooney

$ 1,000,000

Gisele Bundchen

$ 1,500,000

Lance Armstrong

$ 250,000

Madonna

$ 250,000

Oprah Winfery

$ 1,000,000

Sandra Bullock

$ 1,000,000

Tiger Woods

$ 3,000,000

Looking at the contributors and contributions side by side, everyone asks the same question, should (insert name) have given more?  I wonder should we even ask this question.  Granted they make way more than most of us will so they should be able to give more right?  That answer depends on how you look at it.  We don’t know how much have have set aside for donations to other charities or even how much they have donated without reporting.  Why do we even need to know how much someone gave?  Is it just to validate our own insecurities about how much we can give? 

Many people, celebrities included, give and don’t seek press exposure.  They do it because they want to help others and strange as that might sound.  And others don’t give and it is totally ok with them.  It’s their money and they do with it what they can.  That’s the freedom we are allotted in this country.

Something that is often overlooked at times like these are businesses.  Oil Companies, manufacturers, restaurants, banks, casinos, etc all record record profits yet we never pressure their support.  We often ask for those within our own places of business to give but that’s not the same as a donation from our jobs themselves.  As I’ve heard it from some bookkeepers, "businesses don’t want to give large sums to charities for fear of later backlash from employees because of using the economy as a reason for lower raises and pay."  I can only hope that isn’t true but of course businesses won’t admit that themselves.

Before we get into the battle of how to spend someone else’s money, we should remember that we are donating to help others, not to validate our principals.  It’s ok not to give just as much as it is to give what you can.

 

 

 

Earthquake in Haiti

As I’m sure many of you all heard, there was a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti.  Tune into your favorite news (real news not gossip) sources for coverage and details. 

I just want to point out for those that want to help to investigate the charity or relief organizations carefully and thoroughly. Not only are there a lot of scams out there, it is important to know where your money is going.  Many people were surprised after Hurricane Katrina when they gave money expecting it to go directly to the victims only to find out the funds were spent in other ways.

The first thought is usually Red Cross but there are many more.  Red Cross does not give money directly to victims.  They use funds to help people get back on their feet.  They are an aid organization which is a good thing considering the response given by FEMA.  Many other organizations work this way but it is important to know what your money is going to.

Please donate food, blood, money or your time to them to help people of tragedies.

There are many other organizations that give aid.  MSNBC has a list of them here.  Visit their sites and choose the one that best fits your ideals on aid.

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti and their friends and family.

Worse than the N word? Baby daddy/Baby momma

Baby mom(s) and baby dad(dy) are relatively new.  I can't put an exact origin on them but that doesn't matter.  What matters is their usage.

In short, the terms are disassociation's from a parental roll and relationship to the other parent. What does that mean? It illustrates that the relation to the other parent is not a direct connection but only through the child. It lessens the other parents worth and attempts to weaken the responsibility of involvement of the two parties that created the child.

This type of thinking and behavior has two fallout's: First, it has become far too easy and trendy to have children and not be involved with their lives. Second, more and more single mothers are left to fend for their children, some times from multiple fathers, either on their own or through the help of friends and family.

The divorce rate is pretty high but the rate of unmarried single mothers is even higher. I'm not advocating that marriage is for everyone but I do believe that both parents should be actively involved in the development of their children.

Actively involved doesn't mean seeing them every few days or sending money.  It's both parents making the decisions that will impact the child's life; sports & activities, schooling & child care and religion & culture as well as discipline and play.  No parent should dominates in these choices alone nor should they have to.

We need to evaluate slang a little closer before we adopt it.