“It’s Okay to Take a Breather” and other links…

Buy this Book at Amazon.com! Tayari Jones: “I was on the phone yesterday with a poet-friend who was feeling very demoralized about all of the contests to which she had submitted her manuscript. (For those of you not in the poetry loop: Many poets publish their first books by sending the manuscripts to contests. There is a fee, usually about $20. The winner gets a small cash prize and publication. Winning the ‘right’ contest can launch a career.) My friend was just plain wore out. She had taken on considerable student debt to get her MFA and she has spent hundreds of dollars in fees and postage. She has a love/hate relationship with the mailman. She was hoping for The Letter but she knew that he may be bringing a rejection letter. She said sometimes she wants to give up writing.”

I appreciate that an “officially” accepted writer like Tayari Jones is writing about this issue. The usual Negro tactic is to commune in quiet desperation until the proper (white) third party validation comes in (from the loved/hated mailman). The problem with this is that young people (“at risk”/“of color”) who see you as famous because you won the “right” (white) contest are deliberately misinformed about how mafia-like the real world actually is… This is far from a meritocracy, ladies… In my very particular and “strange” case, I prefer to be respected and recognized by other Black writers (who gives a f’ about a god-damned Grammy)—and there are very few Black poetry contests that launch careers. Am I wrong by saying there are none? The folks over at Cave Canem took over year to send me one t-shirt—they were happy to take my money tho’…

In order for the self-described “average Negro” of our post-modern world to vaguely understand where I am coming from, we have to go back to the days of Mile-Davis-era music—what music-playing contest run by white folks would “launch” Miles’ career? Yes, Miles went to Julliard—but go into his autobiography (with poet Quincy Troupe) to find out about what he thought of that “robot-music” school… Now, of course, my little analogy falls apart very quickly when we recall the Harlem-Renaissance, white-sponsored world Langston Hughes lived in… Some footsteps ain’t made to follow…

“Alan Moore takes Watchmen movie money to sue DC for print rights reversion…”

comicmix.com: “In what may go down as the biggest sucker-punch to hit DC Comics since the Superboy lawsuit, Alan Moore has reversed his position on taking money from the film version of Watchmen. The reason is elegant and ironic; he’s using the money to fund a lawsuit against DC, with the intent of forcing a reversion of rights to the print edition of Watchmen.”

“YouTube Monty Python Videos Boost DVD Sales 23,000%”

Kit Eaton: “And now for something completely fantastic: The trick of making Monty Python videos available for free online has boosted DVD sales of the comedy sketch show. If you compare DVD sales figures on Amazon before and after the creation of the Monty Python YouTube channel, the boost apparently tallies in at around 23,000%.”

Kwabena Boahen Takes Tech Bigotry Head On and Provokes the Racist Subconscious

Kwabena Boahen, research scientist of neuromorphic engineering at Stanford did a very non-Negro, non-Pollyanna/Missionary thang in the middle of his TED Talk: he talked about what Africa can do for computing technology in front of a crowd (“multicultural” or not) that has been conditioned from birth to assume such relationships are psychedelic at best.

This YouTube.com comment in response to his presentation summarizes how most white people feel (of all skin colors) about this uppity behavior:

i feel like the commentator was a bit of an ass at the end. i know what he means—what does this have to do with africa? is there anything characteristically african about trying to build a neural network or a brain using transistors? … other than the fact that you’re from africa? we’ll likely see in a decade or two from the students he trains and the failures and successes of the work. maybe africa characterizes his audacity, and stubbornness that it takes to do science

It would not surprise me to find that white person who wrote this comment looks exactly like Kanye West. What we see above is an artifact of the racist subconscious—a vast bowl of pus—a white liquid oozing a masquerade of actual thought.

Kwabena Boahen, being one of hardest-working scientists I have ever seen (just look at his Stanford page again), probably did not have enough time to really plan his insinuation of Africa into his talk. Like most scientists (especially physicists) there can be an assumption that other subjects are easy to obtain and summarize quickly. When Kwabena Boahen used a quote from Brian Eno to support his African claims, I knew he was not going to hit the mark. Eno says (to Kevin Kelly in Wired 3.05):

Yes. Do you know what I hate about computers? The problem with computers is that there is not enough Africa in them. This is why I can’t use them for very long. Do you know what a nerd is? A nerd is a human being without enough Africa in him or her. I know this sounds sort of inversely racist to say, but I think the African connection is so important. You know why music was the center of our lives for such a long time? Because it was a way of allowing Africa in. In 50 years, it might not be Africa; it might be Brazil. But I want so desperately for that sensibility to flood into these other areas, like computers.

Kwabena Boahen put too much trust in his audience. He was expecting them to read this passage from the same Wired article:

Africa is everything that something like classical music isn’t. Classical—perhaps I should say “orchestral”—music is so digital, so cut up, rhythmically, pitchwise and in terms of the roles of the musicians. It’s all in little boxes. The reason you get child prodigies in chess, arithmetic, and classical composition is that they are all worlds of discontinuous, parceled-up possibilities. And the fact that orchestras play the same thing over and over bothers me. Classical music is music without Africa. It represents old-fashioned hierarchical structures, ranking, all the levels of control. Orchestral music represents everything I don’t want from the Renaissance: extremely slow feedback loops.

So the reason why your laptop gets hot is because vast amounts of energy is being wasted in your computer to uphold imperial principles of centralization, “old-fashioned hierarchical structures” and a global knowledge of control. So Kwabena Boahen would ask you the simple question: your brain has way more processing power than the most powerful computer of today—so how come your brain does not waste so much energy—how come your head does not get so hot?

So let’s jump over to Rice University professor Krishna Palem as reported by Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle:

On Sunday, Krishna Palem, speaking at a computer science meeting in San Francisco, announced results of the first real-world test of his probabilistic computer chip: The chip, which thrives on random errors, ran seven times faster than today’s best technology while using just 1⁄30th the electricity.

Buy this Book at Amazon.com! In the militaristic imperial system under which the European culturally ‘matured’ (also under which modern Africans are missionary entrained), the concept of developing technology that “thrives on random errors” is utterly crazy. No regular guy running an army would encourage a culture of error-making. The white-male-god-complex builds for a false sense of cleanliness and a false sense of perfection.

In traditional, Old Kingdom Africa, this simply was not the case. In a recent .NET Rocks! interview with Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell (I did a terrible job by the way), I mentioned that the first mobile phone networks were the talking drums—which happen to come from Dr. Boahen’s homeland.

To me, the intellectual foundation of Object Oriented Programming (and loose coupling) can be heard in the polyrhythmic ensembles of drummers originating throughout ancient Africa. The supposedly error-prone “contradiction” between togetherness and independence can be heard in African music. But the very idea that togetherness and independence are “opposites” that should contradict come not from an absolute, universal reality but rather from a specific imperial missionary training course that my down-home relatives called The Study of War. Study war no more!

Deeper still is Dr. Peter Chen’s crediting of the ancient Egyptian language (and, of course, Chinese languages) for the concept of the Entity—this concept makes sane database management possible.

Buy this Book at Amazon.com! I know from personal experience (with me) that respecting the power of concepts is very, very hard in an imperial system. Most of “us,” in a fascist world of hyper-violence and rape, don’t need to care much about the power of deep thought—and how nothing happens without someone thinking about it first. Our lack of continual involvement with the thinking process means someone else is doing the thinking for us…

By the simple fact of seniority, Africans born long before Columbus has to think for themselves. And foundational concepts that are still in use today—purposely deformed and accidently half-understood as they are—came from peoples who had no help from ‘another people’ simply because there were no other peoples but African peoples on Earth at the time. Notice the lack of “reverse racism” here…

The vast majority of traditional, wisdom-based African concepts have no purpose or even a context in a military industrial complex, covered in concrete, plastic, Kanye West and other cave-man-petroleum products. This applies to most indigenous wisdom the world over…

Are you still building that SonghaySystem.com MP3 player?

Yes. I am still building that custom MP3 player as a replacement for the one being used at kintespace.com. This project predates YouTube.com and still exists in full view of great tools like XSPF Jukebox, JW FLV Media Player and ASTRA AudioPlayback from Yahoo! Also, I would still build my custom solution and use a promotional tool like ReverbNation at the same time.

The number one reason why I am still devoted to my little project is because of my use of Flex and my decoupling of “concerns” in the application. In my audio application there are three major concerns: (i) loading data about audio files, (ii) playing and controlling the audio files and (iii) showing the player interface.

My work intends to cleanly separate these three concerns. You can see (and hear) this in my latest raw sample presentation at SonghaySystem.com. This Flex sample has no visual interface. All you can do is click links in a text box to control the audio. You should assume that I am using XSPF as the data format to load the audio. I have waited and worked for years to finally see this work done—but the timing is somewhat ‘right’ because this work depends on Flash 9 (which was born in June 2006 so “waiting” upwards of three years for this version to get around the Web is not that horrible).

These (known) items must be complete before I really celebrate:

  • Connect my Flex-based GUI to my player and release that as a sample.
  • Use JavaScript to connect XHTML playlist data to my Flash player and release a sample with this working.

That’s a total of three samples to establish this new audio player as a viable replacement for my old code that I announced in 2005 and upgraded in 2006. And it is important to explain to me (because I do forget you know) why I do not consider myself as one “reinventing the wheel”:

  • Almost all Flash audio players are presented as solutions for artists and publishers who do not have any concern for traditional software developer practices—only the Yahoo! Flash tools come close to this particular form of professionalism.
  • My solution uses the Adobe Flex SDK directly from Eclipse. No Flash. No FlexBuilder. I would throw out a figure like 99% to describe the percentage of the Adobe customer base not working like this—and Adobe will mostly like continue to discourage this vendor-independent behavior in spite of their Open Source relations.

Strangely, I would not recommend using my solution for the “average Joe” who wants to get audio up on the Web. I would tell them to do what millions are already doing on YouTube.com: they just upload a single-frame video (with an audio track of course) to ‘smuggle’ the audio into the YouTube.com system. You can then use the YouTube.com APIs to “skin” a custom audio/video player as a frontend to YouTube.com. I’ve got a rudimentary sample on SonghaySystem.com that just scratches the surface of this investigation. So I will take the YouTube.com route as well as my own…

Design Diary: Songhay System Releases SimpleViewer, YUI Carousel and YouTube Chromeless Demos


Thank you for the lifetime achievement award for my release of a SimpleViewer Demo, featuring the sexy, professional photography of R/Kain Blaze for megafunk.com. This is another attempt to reduce the amount of code I write by evaluating, critiquing, using and appreciating the hard work of others. These are my random findings:

  • The level of customization through configuration is impressive! It even supports background images.
  • Something special must be happening under the covers to make sure the XML configuration file is fresh—this makes ‘refreshing and configging’ faster and easier!
  • There are several variable scope collisions (re-declaration) in swfobject.js. Using Douglas Crockford’s jslint.com would serve this code well.

YUI Carousel

Bill Scott’s Carousel Component is a shining example of progressive interactive design. The ‘progress’ here is from simple to complex. The documentation was actually worthy of full-duplex printing! My first pass starts with the simple example they provide and then the documentation suggests that far more can be done!

YouTube Chromeless Player Demo

My YouTube Chromeless Player Demo has great promise! For more information, see code.google.com. For this first draft I copied the ‘intrusive’ more “educational” code directly from Google. I can’t wait to spruce this one up with more YUI framework values!

Also… Off the TODO list: busy.js

I was just about to build a Songhay System sample page for busy.js but I noticed that the demos were running incredibly slow on Firefox 2 in Ubuntu Linux. This one is too ambitious for me at the moment and is far more than just a replacement for ajaxload.info.

Miles Davis on YouTube.com

Buy this DVD at Amazon.com!So please do me a favor and read these words in your favorite American young-person accent, “YouTube is gonna last forever!” It has occurred to me that YouTube.com presentations are plentiful here in the kinté space—and the do-no-evil people over at Google can pull the plug on me at any time. But my apocalyptic guess is that it won’t matter when Google pulls the plug and “upgrades” the Internet because that will probably be the end of the “free” and “open” Internet as we know it.

“YouTube is gonna last forever!” So even Miles Davis is on YouTube.com… these crappy, low-res, interviews are a great alternative to the slick, prince-of-darkness portrayal made famous by Ken Burns (fondling the African scarf of narrator Keith David) and that talented 10th Negro Wynton Marsalis. The table below covers my Miles Davis interview picks on YouTube.com:

Miles Davis interview, 1982

Yes, even Bryant Gumbel portrays Miles Davis better than Ken Burns. Here you can see the level of detail Miles goes to in choosing a fellow musician.

Miles says, “It’s not Jazz anymore.” Just “social music.”

Miles Davis

“Listen, man. We don’t want to hear any white opinions.”

This is a clip from The Miles Davis Story and explains in more detail why he sent “his woman” into the hotel to confirm is reservation. Ken Burns does not do this in his documentary coverage of Miles Davis and helps those trying to form this prince-of-darkness image.

This is also the documentary that set me straight about Miles’ first wife, why he was sent to prison and his estrangement from his son—a son that he disinherited. Not very impressive to me, ladies…

Mile Davis Art

When Miles laid down the huge tracks like Agharta, I could see colors—many, many shades of purples and blacks. It was no surprise to me that he could “paint” or lay the tableaux.

And, yes, my sisters, I am aware of the woman speaking for Miles Davis who needed to take the time to stress that Miles is not always African with his “art”—like being in some kind of “African phase” is a limitation. Experience informs me that being African is a limitation only when you are trying to sell something in a racialized context. My assumption is that she is trying to sell his paintings—literally or figuratively (and, what is worse, she is quite sincere in acting in his best interests).

I Remember Miles—Part 1” and “I Remember Miles—Part 2

“Little Davis you got to play your chords.”

This documentary series has all the trappings of a Black-Owned Business trying to build pyramids with fried chicken bones. That business is TOTOWN RECORDS, written in the philistine all caps that is characteristic of this tyrannical, anachronistic bad taste that I am quite, Quite familiar with… This guy (who is very likely talented in some other field) probably got off the tour bus in Japan and never got back on…

However, I would not trade this all-caps documentary with anything coming from the typographically-correct, white-liberal excellence of Ken Burns. This should be a collector’s item because you will never hear Miles talk like this in a “mainstream context.” In stark contrast to the woman speaking in Mile Davis Art, Miles and Dizzy stress the importance of studying music theory and thinking before you play (this is different from thinking while you play). And this is one of the many reasons why YouTube.com will not last forever…