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Value of a Legacy

What is your legacy worth? As I sit down an sift through the minutia of mass media in the aftermath of the great Nelson Mandela's passing. I have come to realize that there really is a price for service and it generally is not what you would imagine. While I know and understand that Mandela was servant of justice and proprietor of equality, I wonder if he would be surprised by the outpouring of recognition in his death. Perhaps it would have been far better to recognize and applaud Mandela during his years fighting apartheid.  Much of the mainstream media was largely absent during his imprisonment and subsequent ridicule at the hands of the Boers.

English: Young Nelson Mandela. This photo date...

English: Young Nelson Mandela. This photo dates from 1937. South Africa protect the copyright of photographs for 50 years from their first publication. See . Since this image would have been PD in South Africa in 1996, when the URAA took effect, this image is PD in the U.S. Image source: http://www.anc.org.za/people/mandela/index.html (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On occasion I am forced to watch Oprah( I admit that I peeped it previously to see my homeboy Spike). Apparently she too was running a special show to publicize the latest Mandela film. Oprah went a step further in her broadcast to highlight that this particular interview segment was taped prior to announcement of Mandela's passing.  Methinks Winfrey insults our common sense by suggesting the show had nothing to do with ratings. While the intent might have been genuine, timing is everything. I suppose that is show business. 

I have no idea why people are more likely to recognize the achievement of others in death than when they are alive and actually engaged in their life changing work. Mandela and Steven Biko both suffered from the atrocities of Apartheid. For whatever reason, most would never have known of their incredible sacrifice had it not been for their deaths.

Mama Egypt

Great Sphinx of Giza

Image by Jorge-11 via Flickr

It's surreal to see the unrest in Egypt. Actually, I visited the country almost 20yrs ago as military serviceman. In fact, I have fond memories of the coastal city Hurghada, as I spent most of my time there while in Egypt. The red snapper was excellent and the people were extremely friendly. One particular episode, weighs heavy on my mind. I recall having dinner in a local cafe with some fellow shipmates. For whatever reason, I had run out of Egyptian pounds. The meal was actually 20 pounds and I only had something like 15 pounds. Ordinarily, not having enough money to settle the bill is a recipe for disaster. Get out the latex gloves and bust some suds or run for the nearest ATM. Quite the contrary, the restaurant host simply paid the difference and was gracious in doing so. Obviously, I will never forget this generosity. Very refreshing and quite rare indeed. 

I also had the opportunity to visit Cairo and the Pyramids of Giza. A site to behold, and one that is truly a world wonder. If you find true engineering to be godly work, then you will appreciate these pyramids. I traveled to the bottom and one of our tour guides presented me with a Quran for safekeeping.  A very humbling experience.  While I know that the present day inhabitants of Egypt are not the indigenous people, I felt very at home in Egypt. Regardless, whether they knew I was a US serviceman or tourist I could see they generally wanted me to enjoy my stay in their country. While in Cairo, I got a chance to walk the streets and experience urban North African style.  I even talked to people about the Six-Day War, a great education for me to put it mildly. The Cairo Museum had a treasure trove of artifacts that I really wished I had been able to photograph.

Fast forward to the unrest you see on the major and minor media outlets, very sad. It is amazing that a people who have been forced to sacrifice, will eventually be forced to unite and prepare for a bloody revolution to gain freedom.  I sure hope the Americans let the Egyptian people decide the outcome. If you're unaware of the how all this occurred check out Wikileaks and an assortment of other documents in the wilds of the InterWeb.


BIT Interview - Episode 1

Last month I had the pleasure of speaking with Greg Greenlee, one of the co-founders of Blacks In Technology. Actually, I met he and his other half Ron Hash (coolest name on the planet) at Ohio Linux Fest. Greg and I discussed engineering, entrepreneurship and the dearth of people of color in areas of technology. I must admit that it was very different having to be the person answering the questions. *Sigh* Eventually, I will resurrect my wayward netcast. It will have to be a different format, and I'll probably work with a co-host too.

Anyway, I'm not sure if there are any shownotes posted on the BIT site. For those who are not familiar with Blacks In Technology community site, as Greg explained. The site was designed to help inspire people of color who are under represented in technical fields. Basically a peer mentoring site. He also describes BIT endeavoring to do some video blogging and netcasts designed to showcase black engineers who are actually working or self-taught in the area of Information Technology. Definitely a worthwhile project..

I will probably package an ogg vorbis container for the discussion at a later date.


 Download mp3 (67.10min || 47MB)

Prayer Musings

Cults and new religious movements in literatur...

Image via Wikipedia

Now that I'm married, I have become a fairly regular church attendee. For those of you who know me well this is indeed remarkable, as I have shared my thoughts on religion and church in this space on numerous occasions. Nonetheless, my wife and I enjoy our discourse on various belief systems and process of building faith both internal and external.

Our church is pretty progressive in its approach to spreading the gospel and promoting a healthy community.  It is not uncommon for the pastor to ask the congregation to hit the streets to assist in prayer vigils or some other spiritual revivals.  We have gone door-to-door to pass out leaflets and offer prayers of encouragement for the disenfranchised and less fortunate.   One one particular Sunday, I assisted the pastor and roughly ten others members of our congregation in canvassing a 10-story "project" building in midtown Detroit. The idea was that we'd inform folks of the forthcoming revival and respond to and offer to give prayer to those who acknowledged a need.


Not sure that I could really call that tenement a project building, as it looked more like a re-purposed hotel circa 1960's.  Though it was very grimy inside, it did not stir memories of Farragut (B'klyn) or Soundview (Bronx).  Anyway, I digress. Perhaps the most noteworthy was the fact that we decided to start the work on the 10th floor. By the time pastor had reached the top floor, I had to chuckle at the fact that we probably lost seven brothers on the way up to the 10th floor. Nuff huffing and puffing. Mad giggles for me.. Anyway we get to the top and split up into groups of three and send the groups to 9th and 8th floors too.  We figured that it made more sense to do it this way. I did have a bit of trepidation about the prayer vigil, as I wasn't sure what the tenants would say to us. Moreover, I'm not much for prayer in general.  More on this later.

After we broke up into groups of three, we began to knock upon doors at random. Clearly, there is a bit of risk when doing such things. Particularly when you do not know what lurks on the other side of the door. Call it blind faith, much like the Book of Eli ;-)  Anyway it was decided that I would be the person who would explain why we had chosen to knock on the door.  Once you explain your purpose, you will immediately learn whether you're wanted. It was typically for the residents simply not to answer the door. Surprisingly, more often than not they actually opened the door and didn't spray us with profanity or buckshot. I actually got pretty comfortable speaking about the revival and selling something for which I was not completely invested. Someone said if you can sell Jesus, you can sell anything.

Eventually, every group member had to say a prayer for those residents who allowed us to do so at there door entry. Definitely not in my comfort zone, but we got it done.

Most of the residents we spoke to were likely jobless and perhaps a few days from being homeless. It was a very somber sight indeed. I could not help but wonder if our time would have been better served by providing them with vocational training, food or something more tangible than prayer. 

I once learned something called the 12 jewels - Food, clothes, shelter, peace, love,happiness, knowledge, wisdom, understanding, freedom, justice, and equality. It would seem to me that these are the most precious jewels for the human being. Reason with me for a moment. People who are in the cycle of poverty for whatever reason, would likely be uplifted in many respects by attaining the components of these 12 jewels. Uttering prayers seems so very hollow to me. Perhaps it is a start, but it just seems that there is so much more needed.

We will never know whether the people living in that tenement building really benefited from our presence and prayers. However, I am clear that much more needs to be done.
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Bald Head Slick (RIP)

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Guru

Image via Wikipedia

I have waited far too long to pay my respects to Keith Elam aka GURU. The man called Gifted, Uplifted, Rhymes Universal, was the epitome of real HipHop. Though he was a Bostonian, he repped BK all day. When he teamed up with Premier, they had a very distinct sound that was clearly original and recognizable. Elam was plus 40, so we were from the same generation. That so-called lost generation X. I identified with him much more than illustrious Dorothy Height who also passed away in April. Definitely, not taking away anything from the Civil Right era, as I recognize and cherish the freedom afforded to me by the Civil Rights movement. However, HipHop culture was indeed a movement in its own right.

More specifically, the "Golden Age" of HipHop which GangStarr was undeniably a cornerstone. Quite frankly I witnessed HipHop with a more active lense than that of the Civil Rights movement. I would even go as far to say that I and many of my friends lived it. Unfortunately, the "Golden Age" of HipHop seems to be gone and never to return. This is a topic for another entry. Guru had a monotone flow that was the hallmark of GangStarr.

GangStarr Foundation was a collection of hustling brothers from Boston to B'klyn. It was the Foundation that helped Premier become the perhaps the most recognized producer/DJ.  Premo is the rare producer that can actually get down on the turntables. He too hails from somewhere else (Tx), but loved to bigup B'klyn.  The beats, lyrics and formula of the duo will be timeless.  Additionally, the sound was strictly NYC. No question..

One of the major problems I have with mainstream radio is that we have a collection of clones. Everyone wants to sound like the dirty south, etc. A&R tales and Clear Channel domination are the main reasons for this problem. The other issue is that up and coming NYC HipHop talent don't understand the foundation of originality and risk taking.

I rank the album "Hard to Earn" in the top-ten albums of all time. I don't care what music genre. "Ownerz" and "Moment of Truth" were also gems. Guru's lyrics always conveyed a message of progression and understanding. Though he wasn't a battle MC like KRS1 both men were quick to call out questionable tactics in the industry and also challenge fake MCs in the game.  I remember that fake MCs don't walk the streets without bodyguards. There is much truth to that ;-)

Though I never met Elam, the music and the hustle was quite familiar to me. He talked about Van Siclen Ave, which used be one of the wildest spots in East New York section of B'klyn (circa '80s). Never hung out on Van Siclen, but I was familiar with Mother Gaston Ave.  Wild indeed. 

Another lesson to be learned is the whole conversation of Power of Attorney.  I have no idea how a manager could yield so much power. The final days of Elam's life was marred with struggle between his family and "nigga who" as Premo refers to him.  I always say family should be first.  After peeping Guru's nephew I could tell that stuff had gone afoul. Very weird indeed.

These are my recollections..  GangStarr foundation is alive in the Premo, Big Shug, NYGz, Group Home, Freddie Foxxx, Jeru the Damaja, Justin Ruff, and you and me.

I have no idea what made Premo and Guru split, but according to Premo he was able to make peace before Guru's death.  I would hope that Pete Rock and CL Smooth could learn a similar lesson. Time is too short for petty beef.  People are typically much stronger collectively than as individuals.

Before I leave here are a couple of jewelz for you ;-)

Several dedications to Guru, but Premier's was most excellent.

Premo's salute
One of my several favorites off the Ownerz album - zonin

It seems that there is also a Guru tribute site



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BTHS Silver Reunion Weekend - Revisited

My wife and I enjoyed a fabulous time at my 25yr BTHS Class of '85 Reunion. It was great seeing old friends and rekindling past acquaintances. As mentioned previously, I worked with a group of mostly diligent class representatives. Though we probably got on each others nerves (yes I was particularly gruff as the event drew near), our classmates really seemed to appreciate the effort. The reunion was successful. From a technical resource standpoint, I would probably not use PayPal in the capacity that we chose. Definitely my fault, I'll take the spear ;-)
PayPal cannot easily manage event horizon or time interval cost increases. The merchant scripts really should not be shared. In retrospect, sites like EventBrite would be better suited for this purpose. You live and learn - C'est la Vie :-) Hopefully, this tidbit will help the '86ers..

Though, I do not know the final headcount, I believe we had approximately 135 people in attendance. Not a bad showing during an economic downturn.
Technites traveled from as far away as British Columbia and Alaska. That is what I call dedication :-)

Although, I was not able to attend most of the school sponsored events, I was able to greet folks in the lunch room. The lunchroom was a spot where we used to bang out beats on the tables and cut classes on occasion. I still remember the popping and break dance competitions in the center section of the lunchroom.

Actually, I also wanted to speak with the BTHS principal, Randy Asher. Some of you may recall that I wrote an open letter to Randy some years back. The letter was a response to NY Times editorial that highlighted the decline of African-American students in NYC Specialized high schools. As I walked around the lunchroom, I wondered aloud if the Class '85 was indeed the last frontier for so-called minorities (African-American & Latino) at BTHS. Only time will tell, but I would rather be pro-active and offer some clues.

As I rode the Metro-North back to CT, I happened to be seated next to a woman whose son was a sophomore at Tech. In our candid conversation she suggested that entrance exam preparation was likely the cause of reduced numbers of African-Americans enrollment at BTHS. She told me that her son began prepping for the exam in the 7th grade, and that she made it a priority above all else.

While I agree with the premise that exam preparation is paramount to success and ultimately entrance to a specialized high school. I asserted that the problem is much deeper than she described. I have been thinking about this problem for at least 3yrs. Admittedly, the situation is as dire as it is perplexing. Below are some thought starters which I believe will help us gravitate to a possible solution to this dilemma.

Recognizing the Stakeholders


  • Parents
  • Local Communities
  • Industry
  • Junior High Schools
  • NSBE

I'm quite sure that Asher and his executive staff have already considered the appropriate stakeholders. Nonetheless, I would assert that these relationships have eroded over time.
For instance, I understand that B'klyn Polytechnic created a Junior NSBE chapter at BTHS. For those of you not familiar with the NSBE, it is one of the largest student run professional organizations dedicated to the following mission

"to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community."

Not sure if the NSBE Junior chapter or the alliance with B'klyn Polytechnic still exists today.

Obviously, parents and the local communities are perhaps the most influential stakeholders. Anyone who grew up in Fort Greene or any other section of B'klyn, understands very well that gentrification has drastically changed the landscape of the neighborhoods. Whether this change is good or bad is beyond the scope of this entry. I'll leave this point of pontification as an exercise for the reader. Suffice to say, the Dekalb Ave and the surrounding area near BTHS is far different than I remember.
In a recent conversation with a fellow classmate, he surmised that the huge influx of higher income families that are searching for affordable (ie zero cost) education for their children, BTHS becomes an obvious choice. I would take the point a step further, circa '85 charter schools didn't exist. Or at least there was not a huge discussion about vouchers. Perhaps the rise of the "charter school" mentality in the inner-city has created a scarcity for quality public schools seats that is far greater now than in the 80's?

Clearly I do not have all the answers; however, it will indeed take a village to correct the problem. Obviously, the first step is publicly acknowledging the problem and then aggressively recruiting caring individuals to help rectify the situation. I'm not sure Asher has done either. Nonetheless, I have already spoken to concerned classmates and I am confident that we can help stem the tide. IMHO, rebuilding the relationships with the key stakeholders should improve matters.

Lastly, it is worth noting that every person of color who attends BTHS is destined to become a mechanical engineer, chemist or actuary scientist. Geeks are a rare breed indeed! BTHS provides students with the appropriate work ethic to succeed in any endeavor. We just need to do a better job with improving the critical mass for African-Americans. A drop-off from 33% to 11% is quite shocking.

Randy, let's have that conversation sooner than later..


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How can we help our gov't?

Selling Obamacare - July 22, 2009

Image by Mark Sardella via Flickr

I was inspired by a recent post by my pseudo buddy Anil. He's right Apple doesn't give a shit about poor people. Moreover, its latest product (which is the 100lb gorilla) has seem to have zealots frothing at the mouth. That's all I will say about that Cupertino company in this entry.

What I found most interesting about the aforementioned post, is the cajoling or exhorting that Dash delivered. Yes, our gov't really needs the energy and passion of its citizens to help deliver solutions. This is particularly true since there are so many problems. Health Care(I have provided very precise solutions for the health care problem in previous entries), Wall Street, Home Land Security, Education. The list seems endless. Yet some are mesmerized by the most insignificant dust under our feet. Very sad indeed.

Sure, we can't boil the ocean. You can argue that our gov't is too big to get out of its own way. However, it would seem that most people do not realize that massive trade deficit and an inept domestic policy has forced the hand of the POTUS. While I do not agree with the method by which the banking industry has raped the American public, I can unequivocally state that Obama has not been asleep at the switch. You can berate the administration for being to ambitious, but the alternative of doing nothing would be far worse.

Now, I do recall the urging of the administration to help raise the level of innovation and creativity amongst its people. Because I am an engineer with a keen interest in computing, I would propose organizing guilds or training programs which seek to increase the number technically competent youth and young adults. Although, I do understand the America is rapidly becoming a service economy due to the dearth of engineers and scientists, I cannot lose hope that our children can help the greater collective return to prominence.

I say "collective" because while people can point to the GOOG, Social Network software, and cloud computing as shining examples of American innovation... These are still small victories in the huge landscape that is the fabric of the American people. What about the under represented people? If the forthcoming new majority will make a mark the technical acumen will certainly have to be increased two-fold. Graduation from consumers to producers and keen interest in innovation. I have spoken about this in this space many times previously. Yes, I truly believe embracing "knowledge worker" activities will help turn the tide in this country. If not us, then whom? If not now, when?

Free Publicity Who Do We Help?

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Open and Shut Case?

Not much into pop culture, but I have to pause a minute and mention a few words about sad murder of Steve McNair. I remember watching McNair as a collegiate. In fact he was the first HBCU quarterback that was ever mentioned as a Heisman candidate. Actually, his chances of winning the coveted trophy were very remote, much like Jesse Jackson's '88 Presidential campaign. Nonetheless, it was fantastic for the Alcorn State athlete to get some shine on a national stage.
His Braves faced perennial Division I-AA powerhouse, Youngstown State Penguins coached by Jim Tressel and though they suffered a decisive defeat (63-20), McNair passed for roughly 500yds in the contest. I also seem to recall that he played through a great deal of pain (injured leg) and frigid temperatures. The YSU club plays in a stadium called the Ice Castle, my beloved Rattlers faced YSU in the same stadium and also suffered defeat, albeit a much closer contest.
Aside: I'm having a terrible time finding the stats from the YSU vs. Alcorn St. contest. If anyone can help me, I'd be very grateful.

When I fast forward to the shooting death of McNair, I'm left with many questions. How does a 20yr female get the courage to execute someone? 9mm handgun, fired at close range at both sides of Steve's head. There were two more shots to his chest from a slightly longer distance. This smells of execution style murder. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are some very grimy women in this world, but I have a very tough time believing that a female scorned at age 20 could display this sort of brutality. If the investigation showed that his genitalia mutilated then it would make more sense. Morbid indeed. Toxicology reports showed that McNair's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit, and the young woman had marijuana in her system. It would seem that some sort of amphetamine (ie cocaine, ecstasy, PCP) would give a very petite female the kind of courage it would take to splatter brains of someone all over an apartment. I just don't buy it. Conveniently, both are dead so the truth will only come from forensics.
More will be revealed over the next several months I am sure of it.

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Eradication of Poverty

During the Abe Lincoln love fest that was broadcasted on C-span. I was captivated with the conversation of Jesse Jackson Jr. The concept of Public Private Partnerships was quite interesting to me. Jackson kept stressing that he was not requesting any money from taxpayers. In fact, he would be helping the local and state governments raise capital and also spark entrepreneurship. Essentially PPP is sometimes called PPA. The example he used was the construction of an airport, and the ability for municipal projects of this sort to create jobs and provide an avenue for people to begin to escape the shackles of poverty. As I began studying this business model I immediately began to see value in this approach.

When you begin to realize that one strategy for stimulating the economy is through creating short-term infrastructure revitalization projects, PPA makes a great deal of sense. No building an airport is probably not the best example of a short term stimulus project; however, you could utilize this approach for building a learning academy or media centers in urban and rural areas.

Obviously, another means of stimulating the economy is be certain that _everyone_ is employed and nobody is impoverished. How do you accomplish this daunting task?
Well the concept of microloans have been discussed in some detail. Perhaps I may have heard smatterings of it here, but I have never heard about someone creating a social business around micro loans. Muhammad Yunus, Economist, Nobel Laureate and largely responsible for making the term microloan mainstream. Although some would argue that micro payments to the poor do little to solve the macro problem of poverty, I would assert that it certainly is better than ignoring impoverished. Moreover, I believe Yunus is more interested in helping the poor understand how to leverage their innate talents and ultimately break the cycle of generational poverty.

Hmmm. What if we could deploy Public Private Partnerships and link them to a social business concept. In my mind, this is exactly what Yunus has done with companies like Dannon, Nike, and others. I would think that if this approach can scale well in Bangladesh and other developing nations, we could do something similar here stateside.

Lastly, we have a struggling economy and many people are witnessing an increasing growing gap amongst the working poor and the 'so-called' middle-class. I would hope that new ideas are being considered in earnest.

A New Dawn

As I write this entry I realize that I could not be more proud to be an American. We have witnessed history of epic proportions. In truth, I have been waiting four decades for people in this country to understand that people of color can lead at the highest levels of government. Yes, Black Men have been ready to provide direction for quite sometime. Actually, I did not need an election to validate this fact. However, it does feel good to see this play out on a national stage.

Apparently the status-quo is no longer good enough for government work. Whether your name is Bush, Dole or Sunnuni your time is up. The GOP will need to regroup and reinvent. Unfortunately, Obama will inherit a mess. The economy is in awful condition and there is a huge mistrust in Washington and Wall Street. Nonetheless, I strongly believe that Obama's fresh eyes approach that will certainly be very different than business as usual.

Here are some specifics

  • Focus on Educating its People
  • Renewable / Sustainable Energy
  • Repairing Broken Health Care System

Of course I am not naive to believe that Obama is the messiah, but I do believe that he ready to lead. The change that we have been waiting for is finally here.

A shout for Mutambara - Heart of Champion








In life we often long for opportunities to meet or befriend someone that would leave a lasting impression upon you or others. A person that has an eye for freedom and speaks truth to power. Sure I have read about the lives of Malcolm, Martin and other tremendously consequential freedom fighters. However, I had never met anyone who would later create and foster a movement that would threaten his life. That is until I befriended Arthur Mutambara.

Mutambara taught in the FAMU/FSU College of Engineering, he specialized in Controls, more specifically Mechatronics. I believe he also taught Robotics as well. As part of my Mechanical Engineering undergrad curriculum, I had the great fortune to study Vibrations(or Vibes as many of us called it) under Mutambara. Prior to successfully completing that course, I thought P.I.D only pertained to Process ID. Boy, was I wrong :)

He certainly was not the conventional professor, in that he and I traded Tony Touch mixed-taped and talked about HipHop on regular basis. He offered me Tupac and Ras Kass, in turn I offered him KRS and Freddie Foxxx. We made sure that neither one of us fell into the media propagated East Coast vs. West Coast nonsense. At the time, I didn't realize that we were nearly the same age.

Early on I knew that he was an activist. I asked him what he thought about Cecil Rhodes, as Arthur was the only Zimbabwean that I had encountered that was also a Rhodes Scholar. Needless to say I got an earful and well deserved education. Arthur was very interested in the uplifting of the disenfranchised. Once I had learned that he was embroiled in the politics of his homeland, I knew that he would be a change agent. In fact, it was through his involvement that I became more interested in the developments of Zimbabwe. Mutambara has been critical of the African agenda and the leadership therein. He also takes issue with aftermath of post-colonial African development. Clearly he is calling people to task. I applaud his courage. Yes, also acknowledges the damages inflicted upon the motherland by Imperialism..

It was much later that I learned that his life was in danger, but I knew that he would not be bowed and would not retreat. These are the lessons that he instilled in his students. There is going to be a grassroots effort to help support Mutambara and his family during their time of need. Once the details are known, I will share the details here.

Yet Another Social Network

Last week I received at least four requests to join RRU. These days I resist and have actually scaled back my activity on FBOOK and twitter. I have found that some particularly chatty followers can reak havoc on your wireless bill. Turning off notifications is essential, but that is a subject for another entry.

The idea of wisdom of crowds can be a bit overstated at times, but nonetheless I did visit RRU. First, my decision to peruse the landscape was simply due to my admiration and love for my alma mater. Yes, I am a Rattler. However, I am not certain that the folks that built that site are attempting to garnish the collective might of alumni to help a struggling institution. My eyes tell me that it is simply a place to be virtually seen ;)

Because I fancy myself as a technology dude, let's pontificate on the chosen architecture. Shall we. It seems that they are using the Ning the site framework. Marc Andreessen seems to have made quite a large nest of cash with this project. What surprises me is the Ning API seems to provide a decent toolset. Particulary SSL, REST, Open ID, and hooks which could provide meaningful mashups. At a minimum it would make sense to equip RRU with basic SSL capabilities so that your not asking people to sign-up with clear text passwords. Methinks RRU has set up the NING environment as another walled garden to collect data and be disconnected from your other social networking properties. It is worthwhile to note that Andreessen is a fervent advocate of this "Open Social" movement, and the Ning API explicitly supports hooks into the other dozens of social networks. They are missing from RRU probably due to the folks unfamiliarity of the platform. I would imagine that this will change over time.

Judging from the people that I have peeped on the site, many of them are first generation social network participants. Hence, they have no reference point to compare tools and access. Moreover, the allure is the allegiance to your alma mater and the hope that you can reconnect with people that you have chosen not speak to in probably 10 yrs :)

Don't get it twisted. I luv my school and it would be cool to reconnect with some headz, but I know how to get at them outside of another proxy service. It would be great if they were seeking to use the interest level to re-invigorate the alumni. Actually, I don't know what they are trying to achieve. The about page on RRU is rather sparce.

As and aside: I suppose my undergrad experience was different than most, as I was already grown. So, it was more like a job than playland or self-discovery. All I really wanted to do was graduate and begin to make loot. Heh, high school now that was a different story.

Too many social networks.. I'm full now. I'll play the sidelines on this one..

Who are the Millennials?

People seem to come up with most interesting labels generations of people. My peer group has been classified as Generation X. Actually, I happen to like that term, as the memory of the magnificent Malcolm X re-emerged during the early 90's. In reality, that is not what Gen X actually represents to marketing types. The chart below compares some of the attributes of GenX with the Millennials (aka Gen Y).

Millennials and Gen X

It also appears that the marketing community has not settled into the exact year these Millenials would have been born. I have also seen 1977-1992 (courtesy of Brody Communications, Ltd.) During a recent trip to my alma mater, our recruiting team was briefed about the specific differences in this new generation group.

The idea was to make sure we knew what made these potential prospects tick.
Much of this humored me, as the Generation X (my generation) was said to be lost and unlikely to change the world.
Not by the marketing giants, but the media conglomerates and some disgruntled educators. Methinks it's too early to tell. Besides according to the book, Millionaire Mind, the best ideas typically come at 50. I am far from 50..

Anyway, getting back to this group called the Millennials. Curiously, I would not have met many of them without the help of the Internet and Social Networking. I suppose that this is not unusual, as I am no longer in school or living in area which is in close proximity to a university. Most of Gen Y people I have met have been very sharp and quite engaging. Are they as technically acute as the marketers suggest, I am not so sure. Suffice to say that they are very fortunate to have an abundance of computing power that simply did not exist when I was coming up. All we had was real Hip-Hop and crack rock :)

Since the marketers have made their assertions about what Millennials prefer. I figure that I should be entitled to my own.

  • Digg over Slashdot
  • Social over Anti-Social
  • Virtual over Physical

I am sure that I have got this totally wrong, but it was worth a shot..

Phife's Life with Diabetes

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I had no idea that one of the founding members of ATCQ. The Phifer was always one of the more interesting personalities of the crew. Though he is best known for his lyrics on "Check The Rhyme" aka routines on Linden Blvd. I am sure that most did not know that he had been suffering with Type I Diabetes since the early 90's.

I have a fairly intimate understanding of Diabetes as my Pops was also stricken with the disease, which occurred shortly after severe scar tissue formed within his kidneys. Luckily Papi was able to undergo a successful kidney transplant which changed our lives. It appears that Phife is also on the list for a transplant, I do hope he finds a donor soon.

Sun-City - Renaissance of South Africa

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On the rare occasion that I watch a TV show, I make an earnest effort to view something stimulating. Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates, narrated a trip to Timbuktu. If you're not familiar the rich history of this Sub-Saharan city, I encourage you to do a bit of research. It was the educational center for world scholars, unfortunately, it was sacked during the onslaught of European imperialism. Nonetheless, there is still a very large archive of scholarly texts that survived the fires.

Gates visited many villages and communities on his quest to uncover the mystery behind Timbuktu. The intent of his journey was to dispel several myths relative to early-Africa, and its rich legacy and contributions to modern world progress.

Supernatural - S.P.I.T off the top of the dome

I have always loved freestyles, and Supernat is one of the best. My first introduction to Nat was during session with KRS1 and some of the former D&D Studios all-stars (Fat Joe, Guru, Lord Finesse, etc). I think the set took place at a spot called Roseland in the city (read: Manhattan). One of these days, I'll share it with you..

Believe it or not, the impetus for this post came from a Scoble. Yes, you can actually find useful stuff from the Scobelizer.

Nuff respect due to the Godfather James Brown, the best who ever did it. Hiphop owes him a supreme debt.

Police Brutality in the City

Though I'm no longer living at home, I'm still very much interested in NY events. Particularly the issue of police brutality. I still remember Yusef Hawkins, Elenor Bumphus, Amadou Diallo, and Louima.

The latest is the Sean Bell case, which I'm sure will be setoff a great deal of hatred for the local authorities. Very disheartening to witness these crimes, as they go unpunished.

What is the true value of life? Especially the lives of people of color.

the rasx() context » Blog Archive » Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo

5% Album - Lord Jamaar

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Some of you know that I've been a devout hip-hop/b-boy kid since day zero. I've never been ashamed of it. The culture has fed me on occasion (physically and mentally) and also helped me remove cultural barriers. In other words, it was not uncommon for me to meet someone who may have been from the barren wastelands of the midwest, or dirty south, but we could talk about hiphop and instantly become neighbors.

In You-Tube we trust?

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Robert Cringley seems to have the uncanny ability to get to the root of a topic. I often wondered about the idea of ownership on the internet. It always saddens me that the avenues for sharing content eventually transform to a monetized existence.

You-Tube has set a unique precedence, in that they have a very large number of community video clips. As the article would suggest, should You-Tube become an enterprising juggernaut, there could spell doom for a number of people.

PBS | I, Cringely . July 27, 2006 - What goes on the Net stays on the Net

If I were a billionaire ...

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With all of the press Warren Buffett received after giving away a large sum of his wealth, I have begun to think about the responsibility of serving humankind. What would I do with a billion dollars. Would it be irresponsible to leave none of it for my offspring? Should I drop an endowment at FAMU or BTHS? There are some that would argue that offering up cash to squelch world hunger is more noble than affecting change domestically. Nonetheless, I believe that if I had that large sum of loot, it would be my choice alone. I would agree that that it is unlikely that any of the donation offered to the Gates Foundation would actually trickle down to inner-cities. However, if Buffett decided to drop a few million in say, Detroit, would it be synomous to pouring water through a sieve? I dunno.

What is clear is that the days of getting wealthy through the silver-spoon route are numbered. In fact, I would assert that the majority of people who classify themselves 'millionaires' didn't get it from an inheritance. They were likely very frugal and extremely industrious. Don't get it twisted, athletes, entertainers, and their ilk are aberrations and that sort of wealth is often _not_ sustained.

Rest assured, if I were a billionaire, my immediate family would be comfortable. If I had children, they'd have to earn it the old-fashioned way. No economic outpatient care (EOC).

Citizen's Journalism - Revisited

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Interesting means of collecting the stories of people who live in Rio. I'd never thought about doing this sort of experiment, but I must say it is quite clever and risky.

At its core, people really enjoy telling there stories through film. Regardless of their station in life, humans are captivated with photos. I'm glad that the kids were able to keep their prints.

Rocinha

I am HipHop

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Well at least I think so. The culture has been very good to me. While in undergrad, I used the trade and business element to push mixtapes on the yard of FAMU. I really enjoyed sharing my culture in the dirty south. The locals and the various students really loved hearing Premo, Kid Kapri, Evil Dee and Mister Cee. Although, most of the people who copped these tapes on campus were not from the city, they appreciated the art to the highest degree. I often wonder how my life would be without it. Yes, I do have a have a huge sense of pride and disdain for what has become of the culture. That is I take pride in knowing that it was my generation and city which birthed/created all the nine elements of Hip-Hop culture. I still remember the SL-202 with pennies taped to the cartridges so that the needle wouldn't jump. Hanging out with the homeboys drinking Moet and making our own tapes. Yeah, if you're not +30, you might not understand, it's all good tho.

Oprah fallacies

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While I do admire Oprah Winfrey's philanthropy(especially regarding HBCUs), I've never been a huge Oprah show fanatic. Although, most women swear by it, I still lump her show in with the likes of Geraldo and others of similar pedigree.

Recently, it was revealed that she knowingly permitted one of her guests to stir crowd reaction with blatant falsehoods. You ask, "Is this really newsworthy?" No, it probably isn't, but I'm not sure how many have called her out for bending the truth for the sake of ratings...

OpinionJournal - Wonder Land

Actually, BET died roughly ten years ago. I'm not attempting to rehash visions of Boondocks, but I am sure that most would agree the value content of that network is scarce at best. While I'm not much of a TV enthusiast, with the exception of Nature, ESPN, History, Discover, and PBS, I would rather watch NERD-TV. However, on the rare occasion that I decide to diverge from the usual lineup. I have discovered that newcomer TV-One is quickly absorbing market share and its doing it with circa 1990 BET broadcasting. That is insightful personalities (ie G.Garvin aka Kitchen LL), Sharp Talk ,Throwback Theatre, and something for the women (aka Patti Labelle).

TV-One has owned women on its management team, which is a perfect sedgway into my next statement.

I would argue that BET lost its female audience many years ago. No, T&A music videos are not for females ;) Well at least not _most_ of em. Trust me on that one.
Probably not a wise move since women watch the majority of tel-lie-vision. So, I suppose the obvious question is "How long will TV-One have sensible broadcasting?" Your guess is as good as mine. The change will probably occur when they have the majority share or when they get swallowed by Viacom.
It is also likely that their broadcasting would change if they decide to challenge BET for the 15-21 age group. We can only hope that their growth is sustainable with their current line-up.

If you're wise, you'll get a PVR and take advantage of the novelty. It definitely won't last forever.

Feral Children

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Recently watched a very intriguing docuementary on Discovery Channel. which described the behaviour of children who had been abandoned by their parents and/or raised by domestic or wild animals. What I found especially intriguing was the imprinting, which is the very impressionable period in child development. Our youth tend to learn much more during this period. The feral children were typically discovered well after this very vulnerable stage. Thus, any attributes of the animal (ie wolf, dog,etc.) had been transferred to the human child. Quite surreal indeed.

While I do not profess to know anything about child psychology, I do believe that people are often a product of their environment. So if one is exposed to animal-like behavior for an indefinite amount of time, it is very likely to have damaging consequences.

What is unclear, is what should become of such children. Are they still to be considered human or otherwise? The documentary discussed this argument in great detail. Some scientist suggest that these children offer a unique opportunity to study the effects of abandonment. Moreover, feral children are rare, and often hidden in relative obscurity, so there would be no opportunity to learn about the changes in behavior pattern. Could any of the damage be reversed? What about the rights of these children? Do they deserve to be poked and prodded in the name of science? What role should the government play in the rehabilation process?

I was fascinated by the accounts described in the documentary, most of the cases seemed to have occured in Europe, but there have also been isolated cases in America.

Definitely worth a peek.

Do-it-yourself religion

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What an interesting way to define freedom of worship. Heck, you could even define it as designer religion. Clearly, people will always have great debates over religious text interpretations and the their associated clerics and officials. Of course, I have my own opinion.

Essentially, the bottom line is whatever believe system you choose, let it be one that pleases you. I have never subscribed to the theory that everyone must believe the same dogma, nor share the share the same spiritual context. Just do not beat people over the head with your choice.

OpinionJournal - Spin Your Own Faith

Rosa Parks remembered

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rosa_parks.jpg
We lost one of our great matriarchs of the Civil Rights era. I'm reminded of her contributions quite frequently, as she was a resident of Detroit. Rosa Parks also became a powderkeg for boycotts and other measures of economic pressure, which helped dismantle segregationist practices.

There were other Civil Rights matriarchs (ie. Shirley Chisholm, thanks Biz), but Parks was recognized as a leader of change for everyone.

Multiculturalism - The Panacea

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In the wake of the terrorist activities in London, critics have blamed the British government for permitting segregation. Some argue that by allowing 'ghettos' to form it tends to foster the sort of behavior that would lead to terrorism. While I know very little about England (aside from the fact that they were leaders of colonialism and imperialism), I can say that the US is filled with ghettos of all ethnicites. However, excluding the Oklahoma City tradegy, it is rare to see US citizens embrace terrorism and attack fellow Americans.

To be even more specific, I've seen the hoods (various cities across the US) where hopelessness has taken its toll. I have never witnessed black folks taking up explosives and demolishing buildings, etc. (aside:Make no mistake, the South Central episode were riots touched off by a grossly unjust legal system, but it was not terrorism. They are not the same. ) In the US., it is not uncommon for ethnic minoriites to live in close knit communities. This is due in large part to socio-economic conditions. So, I'm not sure that I would agree with the author, as he believes that gov'ts should force all its citizens to conform to the national norm (ie everyone should learn to speak the native language/customs, etc.). Who will enforce such a law? Would law enforcement randomly go out and find illegal aliens, and force them to learn the language? Sounds like a military state to me. If the US adopted these policies, it would create too many problems.

In my mind, multiculturalism, is not about assimilation, but more about people respecting the differences of others.
Methinks the author takes a myopic view of cultural differences. Additionally, it would set a very dangerous precedent if we began to harbor contempt for people simply because they are not indigenous to the local area.

Blogcritics.org: Multiculturalism: Nurturing the Enemy

Black Zombies (revisited)

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By now everyone should recognize that the youth are our future. Regardless of what the future happens to unfold, that generation will inherit it. I'm reminded that too many of our youth are confused and troubled. Last weekend, I spent a few moments talking to one of the young girls on the block near my tenants. The young girl was probably fifteen and was on Summer recess.

When I asked her about goals and aspirations, after high school, she talked about hanging out at the mall with her girlfriends. I asked her if she ever thought about going away to college. Her response was that I she never considered it. While I know that exposure and lack of role models are partly responsible for her dismal outlook, I'm very dissapointed because she happens to be one of the 'good' kids on the block. It seems that she is being raised by her aunt. There doesn't seem to be much parental support or guidance. Very distressing indeed.

I cannot stress enough that educating our young girls is paramount to saving our nation.

Sistas in Technology

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One of my news correspondents dropped this feel good piece on me last week, but due to numerous distractions, I was not able to share it with you until today.

Some of you may recall that I analyzed the remarks made by Harvard president, regarding the dearth of women in technical fields. While I disagreed with the ideas that were conveyed by the former Harvard president, it is an all too familiar discussion.

So the best method of debunking the myths is with real examples of women who display a fervor for technology.

Robotics is an area of great interest and amazement. In fact, one could argue that serious advancements in robotics and mechatronics, would be of huge benefit to society.

For those of you are not familiar with the Sony AIBO, it is perhaps the most interesting consumer robot on the market. It has the ability to adapt to its environment and learn various behaviors. Essentially, it can become a virtual pet without the mess.

Additionally, it appears that there is a very large AIBO
hacking community.

These very talented young ladies did very well in the US Robo Cup Open and have advanced to the international Robo Cup Competition. Their AIBO entry, is the only one controlled by an all female contingency. I wish them the best of luck. Do ya damn thing.

SpelBots @ Spelman College

Update: It seems that Spelman team is struggling with some technical difficulties as they were defeated by the Dutch AIBO team.

Original B-Boy

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Continuing with my NY vibe. I came across this gem from Jamel Shabazz. Damn the pic below brings nuff memories to mind. Although, the Iron Horse, has a different look these days, the pic is no less authentic. I still remember rockin my clearwater Cazals (yeah, I fought for mine too) and shell top adidas with no shoelace. Oh yeah, my permanent creased Lee suit. I could go on for days. Can't forget my British Walkers... Later came the Clarks and Ballys. Circa 1980's street fashions were timeless.


shabazz_three_b-boys.jpg

Regarding underground hip-hop, break beats, etc.. Make sure you check out the following sites:

WeFunkRadio
Hip Hop Music

BTW: I also miss 88hiphop.com. They definitely were pioneers for streaming hip-hop culture.

Freemotion: random blog entry: sunday

B'klyn Renaissance

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Although I certainly don't get home as often as I like, nothing can ever replace the BK. In fact, all midwestern cities pale in comparison. Pun intended ;)

It seems that huge Manhattan exodus that has swelled the population in B'klyn isn't slowing at all. In fact, it appears that working poor could be pushed into the suburbs. I suppose gentrification is a necessary evil, but you never want to see much needed growth come at the expense of the impoverished.

Young Entrepreneurs

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Cultivating freedom takes on many forms. Understanding that one can earn their own dollar without the need of an overlord err I mean boss, is a compelling value proposition.

The problem is that most youth do not learn such lessons. Generally, our youth watch the adults work their entire lives without grasping the concept that wealth building starts with mental freedom. That is the idea that business ownership does not have to be a passing fantasy.

I was intrigued by the programs started in Kenya which does a great job addressing this notion of entrepreneurship within the minds of the youth. It appears that someone has the correct idea.

Are there any such programs in the U.S ? I don't know of any. I would almost venture to guess, that none exist. If I am mistaken, someone please educate me.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Kenyan youths take on net skills

AIDS genocide debate

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The AIDS conspiracy debate will forever be a much contested topic. I still remember the Strecker Memorandum, published by Dr. Robert B. Strecker. Strecker's thesis was predicated on the idea that AIDS was engineered to reduce the world population. Arguably, it has become painfully clear that government is very capable of such a diabolical caper. You need not look any further than the Tuskegee Experiment for the sobering truth and support for the conspiracy theorist.

Nonetheless, I'm not totally convinced that AIDS can be cured with multi-vitamins as suggested by the advert.


BBC NEWS- Aids 'genocide' advert condemned

Best Hip-Hop albums Ever ?

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As part of Hip-Hop appreciation week, it appears that everyone is compiling their list of the best albums of all time.

I disagreed with the list that was published in the article. So I came up with my own, which is shown below.
There is a strong distinction between best meaning 'commercial' success and 'best' meaning most consequential to the Hip-Hop culture.

I speak of best only in terms of the impact the artist's work had on the culture.

Peep my list:

1 - Eric B & Rakim (Paid in Full)
2 - Wu Tang - (36 Chambers)
3 - BDP - ( Criminal Minded)
4- Biggie - (Ready to Die)
5- GZA - ( Liquid Swords)
6 - Gangstarr - (Hard to Earn)
7 - Nas - (Illmatic)
8 - Mos Def & Talib Kweli - (BlackStar)
9 - Tribe Called Quest - (Low End Theory)
10 - Dre & Snoop - (Chronic)


Best Hip-Hop Albums Ever

Justice or Just Us ?

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I am sure that by now many of you have heard the reports out of Florida, regarding the little girl who was handcuffed for poor behavior. I have seen the video and must say that I am baffled.
Clearly the child was misbehaving, but none of the five-year old's actions would indicate that she was a physical threat to the safety of the adult. I always thought that handcuffs were used to mitigate the ability of a dangerous criminal to do willful harm to another.

The teacher shown in the video, appears to be at least 200lbs. Why couldn't this adult female restrain a child that was one-tenth of her size? Judging from the video, it appears as though the woman was using the 'timeout' sign. Hell, I thought that only worked in basketball games.

I have no idea why the parents could not be reached, but I am sure that a lawsuit is justified.
How much force is too much? Florida residents, where is the outcry? Have you had enough of Jeb?

Marian's Blog: 3 Florida Police Handcuff A 5 Year Old [Black] Child- The Continued Criminalisation of Being Black

NAACP Career Day

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Supported another career day for NAACP. Previous years, I supported my alumni , Ford Product Development, and this year DAPCEP. Actually, I had made a conscious effort to support fewer outreach efforts, as I have decided to focus more on self. Especially, due in part to very time consuming graduate school coursework, and my aggressive wealth accumulation strategies.

Nonetheless, I was very glad that I decided to attend this event. Most of the students, whom I spoke with were in need of mentoring. As I visually surveyed the nearby booths, it became clear that there was a dearth of 'black males' positioned at the other booths. I seem to recall greater numbers of students in previous years. Not sure why there was a noticeable drop in attendance.

Some of the conversation among the adults was also quite interesting. Invariably, when I attend events that expose me to native Detroiters, I usually ask them, "What has become of your city?"or "What will be the future of this city?"

Yes, I do understand that I am now a resident and taxpayer of Detroit, but I am not a product of this city. However, I am investing in the future of this place (i.e rehabbing depressed homes), as my tax dollars are being used to help a decaying infrastructure stay afloat.

It seems that everyone agrees that the once powerful manufacturing base that made Detroit a technology leader, is now gone forever. I suppose the obvious question now, is "What will be the city's next compelling value proposition?" I don't believe anyone has the answer to that question.

What is certain, the high school students that I conversed with today, will be faced with a huge undertaking. Are they equipped to effect change? Only time will tell..

Johnnie Cohran remembered

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I learned last evening that a renowned defense attorney passed away. I did not believe the news, and after confirming the source, I was taken aback.

Although, I am not an attorney, Cochran certainly was an inspiration. He spoke truth to power. Moreover, Cochran typified an uncomprising presence for a penal system wasn't always color blind. He's represented some very high-profile defendants. What is probably little known is that he did alot of work for the grassroots population too.

I believe he served as a stark reminder that justice doesn't always have to be one-sided.

Superstar Lawyer Johnnie Cochran Dead at age sixty-seven

What is a community?

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I have been struggling with this concept for quite awhile. More specifically, as it pertains to 'virtual' communities. I am a technical person, as such I have little experience with matters involving anthropology or social science. Clearly, the idea of bridging a gap between people of similar or dissimilar backgrounds is quite intriguing. In fact, I would venture to guess that this is very perplexing for even the most skilled social scientist.

Well before the internet exploded into what would later be called the wide world web, people were attempting to share ideas and thoughts via computers. The crux of this virtual dialogue was research and technology exchange. One could compare this activity to the local open air produce market. Lots of conversation, unbridled bartering and exchange. In the late 90's, websites began to populate the virtual landscape. Everyone had a story to tell and content to share. Unfortunately, during this embryonic state, much of the 'data' was of the push variety. In other words, there was static content which did not easily lend itself to interactive exchange with the author of the data. Additionally, as these websites began to proliferate exponentially, it became increasingly difficult locate the data to help connect the people who wanted desperately to share critical ideas and concepts.

African Town

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There has been much talk of late regarding a proposal that would empower the racial majority of Detroit.
For those that are not familiar with the Southeast Michigan city, among its many problems, it is perhaps the most racially polarized metropolitan area in the country.

The African-Town proposal offers a means to further develop black-owned businesses and promote a creative entrepreneural zeal equivalent to that of other ethnic groups (ie Arabic, Mexican, and Greek) in downtown Detroit area. At issue, is that funding would be garnered from publicly available funds. Very controversial indeed.

Many groups are outraged, and have sought to block the legislation. The article below expounds on the case.

Afro-Netizenâ„¢. Substance.â„¢: Detroit council drops blacks-only loans in African Town plan

Free Culture

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Many people take for granted the wealth of information stored on the internet and the freedom it provides. However, technology patents and the threat of litigation threatens to stifle the very innovation that the internet was founded upon.
Prior to the introduction of the World Wide Web, the early internet was a huge collaborative landscape, comprised of researchers. These pioneers took pride in problem solving for the good of humankind. It was certainly a free culture of unbridled information gathering.

Urban Renewal - New Millenium Cities

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Watched a very interesting discussion on the Wayne State University broadcast network. Carnegie Mellon Professor of Regional Economic Development, Richard Florida, gave a very compelling analysis of the essentials for attracting talented people to Urban Centers. He asserts that the Detroit's biggest export, are its people not its automobiles.

According to Florida, trendy cities (ie NYC, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Austin) tend to keep there young intellectuals occupied with cool stuff. Arts, culture, food, mass transportation, outdoor activities, etc.

Now that I've chased the loot to Southeast MI., I can certainly appreciate Florida's argument. Downtown Detroit reminds me of the Bushwick or Brownsville section of Brooklyn in the mid-80s. Motown will have to undergo a huge metamorphosis, if it hopes retain its talented transplants.

Where does your city rank ?

The article below is a good read:
City Comforts Blog: Trendies vs. counter-trendies

Black Zombies

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No, I've not died, nor have I fallen from the face of the earth.
That would be impossible, as the Earth is round. I recently went home, and witnessed my first home Yankees game in nearly 20yrs. Although they lost 8-1, it was good to see the 2004 squad live in the Bronx. Perhaps the best part of the trip was giving a native Mid-Westerner a glimpse of life in NYC. He got an opportunity to ride the subway and also experienced the notorious Bed-Stuy section of B'klyn. We B'klynites affectionately call this section 'Do-or-Die', as it relates to the struggle and peril that most black youth face, while growing up in this area. Truly survival of the fittest.

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