The city mouse and the county mouse from Bill Maher

Bill Mahar’s piece about City, Country and Trump is spot on (it doesn’t seem to be geo-blocked in the UK for me). Funny, insightful and sadly true. You can apply a similar idea to the Brexit vote.

if you want to understand why America is so divided don’t talk about Republicans and Democrats or red states and blue states read the story the city mouse and the country mouse currently being sold under the new titled what happened but the original was about two mice who learn that you’re either one of the other city or country and the same really could be said for America when you fly over it you don’t see red states and blue states you see vast stretches of land where there’s nothing and then every once in a while a city.
Its also interesting to contrast this with City Boy and Country girl discussion had for the listening project.

Paul Revere Williams architect to many

Some of Paul Williams architecture in LA

I was listening to 99 percent invisible’s latest podcast episode about Paul Williams, the famous architect who was never really mentioned or credited in history. His story is quite incredible to hear from many different points of view.

It’s hard to say exactly what motivated Williams to pursue architecture. He didn’t know of any other architects as he was growing up, and didn’t really know that architecture was a profession. He did have a natural talent for drawing, and then somehow decided that this was the job for him.

Hudson says that her grandfather’s high school guidance counselor advised him not to pursue architecture, telling him “he should not try to be an architect. He should be a doctor or a lawyer because black people would always need doctors and lawyers. And white people would not hire him as an architect and black people couldn’t afford him.” Still Williams refused to let go of this ambition.

I always wondered what would have happened if I pursued architecture too, I was put off by 7 years of college, although 6 years of design focused education wasn’t far off.

…some clients were taken aback when they first met Williams — people who “came because they may have read about him,” Karen Hudson explains, “but didn’t realize he was black.” They weren’t sure whether to sit next to him or even whether to shake his hand. To put them at ease, Williams would keep his distance, sitting across the table from them, and as he asked them what they wanted in their home,  he would draw preliminary sketches upside down, so they could see their vision evolve as he drew. This helped put them at ease but was also just impressive in itself.

I have gotten this a few times in the past, mainly before you could look me up online. The name Paul Williams and even Ian Forrester could be anyone but I guess unconscious bias makes people think white males?

The distance thing is also something I’m very aware of… as a black man. Being able to draw upside down is super impressive and I imagine he had a lot of practice.

Williams wasn’t the first or only architect to draw upside down, but his consistent use of this skill illustrates the lengths he went to accommodate his white clients. He dressed impeccably, worked tirelessly, and tried to excel in all respects, simply to be accepted.

Enough said, but sadly…

Despite his vast volume of work (and being the first black member of the American Institute of Architects) Williams has remained relatively unknown, at least until recently. “Every black architect I know is familiar with Williams,” say Phil Freelon. “And I haven’t met a white architect yet who knew who I was talking about if I were to mention that name. And we need to change that.” This is why Freelon nominated Williams for the AIA’s highest individual award: the Gold Medal.

This is basically the award that welcomes an architect into the cannon of all-time greats. Past winners include Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Thomas Jefferson. Now, 37 years after his death, Paul Williams will officially join their ranks.

This award means a lot to Freelon and other African American architects in terms of general visibility. “There are very few African American architects working in this country, relatively speaking,” says Freelon. Just “2% of licensed architects in this country are black. And one of the ways you would want to combat that is to raise the visibility. [You] make sure people know this is a great profession and that young people see it as a possibility and as an option for them.”

Hopefully blogging this will encourage people to listen or read the transcript. Its a short story with lots of interesting links and discussion.

 

Don’t play the trump card… America

As American’s goes to the polls to vote for the next president, I along with many others urge americans to make sure they don’t get complacent about Trump not getting into office. Just like #Brexit which we thought wasn’t really a possibility, we were wrong (although it hasn’t actually been triggered yet and the recent court case could bring some interesting challenges). It can happen!

Don’t be leave it to chance, make sure you did everything you can to stop this thug? from taking one of the highest offices in the world. The rest of the world will thank you plus you can sleep better at night; knowing you haven’t just given a green light to a crazed dictator which will inflict endless damage to the states and the world as a whole.

What’s been troubling recently, #Ferguson

Ferguson Protest in Palo Alto: Stanford Students Shut It Down

Everytime I hear about Ferguson, I grow that little more angry. There are literary no words I can say which sum up the feeling of unease,  worry, fear and anger. While most of the people around me carry on their lives not really thinking about the massive injustice which is happening again over the ocean, I wonder about the progress we have and have not made. I wonder about the corruption and how we are going to tackle that? Boycotting Black Friday is a start I guess.

I wasn’t going to write anything because I couldn’t really put it down (The closes thing I could compare it it to was the killing of Stephen Lawrence, something which keeps on giving) and there is so much better people to hear from.

But then after watching the guys behind singleblackmale.org talking over email, I needed to break the silence on my part and join the rest of the people in solidarity… As Dr J writes…

None of the bloggers on this blog have been immune to interactions with police officers. Most, if not all of us have encountered white police officers in our travels. What troubles me about this issue is that I’d like to think that our police officers are here to keep us safe. What we know now is that isn’t always the case and it’s not an exaggeration to say we feel like feeling safe is a minority opinion for Black men in this country…

…People always ask me how I’m doing and my response is the same, “Given my circumstance, the best that I could be.” That holds true today. Now brothers and sisters in the fight; Black, white or indifferent please channel your efforts positively or at least effectively…

Ferguson protest in downtown St. Louis

Celeste Little’s email caused me to breakdown for a bit while reading it on my phone.

…All I could think about, as I was walking along 7th avenue with the 1600 other people who were hurt and appalled by the decision, was my grandmother.

She was born in Mississippi into a family of sharecroppers and when she witnessed President Obama’s 2004 win, she was thrilled, to say the least. She died several years later, and as she was passing all she talked about was how she was happy all of her children and grandchildren were well taken care of.

That’s what all of our ancestors have prayed and wished and died for– that we would be better taken care of. And it is absolutely suffocating to think that, after all this time, we might not be.

Ferguson-10

So I wrote this…

I wanted to share a little perspective from outside the America.

I was really shocked and appalled to hear what happened, I didn’t know what to think really and what can a foreigner bring to the table what you guys don’t already know?
Nothing much, but there has been a whole discussion about police with cameras and using technology to aid solutions in the British media.

Every time I hear this my hand gets a little tense, as using technology to aid or solve human problems is not a good idea.

Its far too easy to turn off cameras and get around systems which are only there to keep those who play by the rules.

You only have to look at piracy to understand this.

Ferguson protest in downtown St. Louis

Talking of rules, what makes things worst is the rules don’t seem to apply to the police in the states.
You don’t think a police officer which has no problem gunning down innocent black men, wouldn’t break the camera lens, remove the power or find another way?

Technology can help but only when people are willing to be helped. Its like an addict, you have to admit you need help before you can be helped.
The police are clearly not willing, the courts are clearly not willing and the system just backs them up.
Lawrence Lessig a Stanford lawyer turned his head to understanding the endemic corruption and although not directly applicable is worth thinking about when talking about what’s wrong.
I’m not saying the UK is any better but the system out there is so corrupt and so broken, something has got to give…

Keep on fighting the good fight people and never give up.

Minneapolis rally for #MichaelBrown - #Ferguson #‎TCShutItDown #‎ShutItDown #JusticeForMikeBrown

Miss America Pageant gives more scholarships to women than any other?

Somebody pointed me at John Oliver’s Last week Tonight show, the other day. They said I will be spitting blood watching it. And to be honest they were not wrong.

Unfortunately to watch it, you need to be in America or on a VPN as its geo blocked.

However basically its all about how The Miss America Pageant claim to give more scholarships to women than any other organisation in America. And if you like me and John Oliver are thinking this has got be bollox. You would be wrong!

Yes a organisation which objectifies women, parades them around like dolls, dismisses women who have had children and many other things. Gives out more scholarships to women than any other…. in America!

Seriously wtf! *sad face*

America and the beautful game?

Canada vs Team USA Woman's Semi-Finals in Football

What is it with the United States of America and the “beautiful” game of Football?

I like many others always wondered why American’s just don’t get football. Interestingly on the eve of the World Cup, those freakonomics guys explores the issue with some substantial depth and some things I never really considered… Well worth a listen.

With the 2014 World Cup getting underway in Brazil, we’ve just released an episode called “Why America Doesn’t Love Soccer (Yet).”

A variety of TV networks now broadcast European club matches all year long. MLS, or Major League Soccer — the U.S. and Canadian professional league – continues to grow. Next year it will add a twentieth team,NYC-FC, or New York City Football Club, which is co-owned by the New York Yankees and Manchester City,which has won England’s Premier League two of the last three seasons.David Beckham, the sport’s biggest star of the past few generations, is trying to start another MLS team, in Miami.And indeed, if you take a look at a magazine rack this week, it’s hard to find a magazine without the World Cup on its cover. Every four years, we hear the same mantra: this time, soccer will really take root in the U.S., the way it’s taken root elsewhere in the world. But let’s be honest. It probably won’t. Many of the people who are most fanatical about the sport in the U.S. have some kind of ties to Europe or South America or Africa.

My own experience also has me puzzled.

When I first met Sarah, I went to the states in 2002 and besides the mild culture shock. The lack of news about Football was shocking. You got a major world wide event and there was little to no mainstream coverage! Heck the funny thing was, America actually made it to the quarter finals that world cup. But no one in America seemed to be aware or cared. I think I actually found out more about the American team in Wired magazine at the time.

Also during the London 2012 Olympics, there was very little interest. I think the female football may have gotten more support than the male one? Of course they then went on and won the female football competition… Will Football one day make up America’s top 5 sports? Maybe but its going to be a long while before I can see that happening. Which seem a bit of a shame…

The BBC a long while ago did some research into people and tv sport. There were a few different groups, and the group I recognized myself in was the ones who get caught up in big sporting events like the worldcup and olympics. I feel the universality of it really unites and ignites something in most people around the world. Even those who don’t normally follow sports.

Solomon DUBNER: Well, it definitely unites the whole world because it’s in some ways it’s a universal language. Almost everywhere in the world plays and follows football, in every country pretty much. And it just unites everyone somehow, it’s kind of crazy.

A flashback: Hurting America

Theres quite a few things which I have mentioned in the past few weeks. One of them is the Jon Stewart vs Crossfire incident.

In the middle of October, Jon Stewart took his usual complaints about partisan hackery to his appearance on CNN’s Crossfire (transcript here | streaming video here). From the beginning of the discussion, Stewart took aim at Crossfire and other media shows, saying (at first with a smile) that they “hurt America” by making politicians’ lives easier by failing to “hold their feet to the fire.” The gist of Stewart’s complaint was that shows that were purportedly “hard” and “cutting” were really only theatrical performances of talking points and sensationalism. The incident is now famous, and little needs to be said about it.

Such a great point in media and news… Something we really shouldn’t forget ever!

The rally to restore sanity

Rally to restore sanity

There is something about Jon Stewart’s Rally to restore sanity which I kind of like. Sure it started off as a reply to the whole tea party movement but its certainly spun off into something much larger and actually quite smart.

Jon Stewart really draws together a huge audience of people who fit into the democratic/liberal stand point but not only that, he’s also somewhat respected by some of the middle ground of America. The genius thing is he has made the rally about something you can’t really argue with. It means you can easily have these diverse groups of people rallying together without a problem.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this rally to restore sanity becomes a major date in the calendar. I wouldn’t mind seeing a similar protest/rally in the uk, sanity would be great right now.

The BBC should be dissolved says Mike TechCrunch Arrington

mike arrington at fowa

Video: Mike Arrington thinks the BBC should be dissolved

Taken from the Backstage Blog,

Yesterday (21st Feb) at the future of webapps there was a Panel Debate about what Europe could learn from American in regards to the startup culture. We captured the whole debate on a small camcorder. Including the part where one of the most prolific voices of the valley, Michael Arrington from TechCrunch.com. Showed his true feelings for the BBC's efforts online. He added…

The BBC should be dissolved

And then started to make a joke about the office, which showed his lack of knowledge of what the BBC really is about. He then wax lyrical about CBBC World and how we were distorting the industry. Daniel Morris a developer at BBC Manchester finally debunks most of Mike Arrington's rant about the BBC by pointing out that everything the BBC does has to pass the Public Value Test.

Comments [Comments]
Trackbacks [0]

Back from my Holiday in the midwest

Me and Birch geeking out

So I'm finally back from my holidays. You can tell your holiday is over when your back on the train going to work again. My Jetlag is pretty bad because I've been having really problems getting to sleep and staying a sleep. In my usual way, if I'm not able to sleep for a while, I will get up and do something. Do something last night was sorting out my Holiday photos on Flickr and locally on my network. Believe it or not I actually took over 800 photos and about 20 movies.

On the technology side, lots of the shots were done with my SPV M600 Cameraphone which actually kicks out some quite amazing quality pictures during the daytime. At night its not so good. My old Digital Camera the Nikon 3400 did a great job but I found it painful to pull it out of the case and select the right mode. My new purchase the Sanyo VPC-C6 starts up in a matter of seconds and delivered even better quality shots.

Yes I did finally buy the Sanyo VPC-C6 Camcorder/Camera. Its got a great 6meg pixel sensor but I've not quite worked out all the settings yet because i'm getting tons of blurry shots in low light. I also did buy the High Defination version of the camera but it doesn't quite work as expected. Its a long story…keeping it short. I bidded for the high def version on ebay.com and thought I was getting a great deal when I won an auction by circuit city returns (trading circuit) but 12 hours later found out it didn't actually record anything through this forum which linked to the one I won. Yeah you can imagine, I couldn't sleep without thinking about the nightmare which I had bought. I'm currently going through the process of getting my money back in return for the camera minus a restocking fee. This is my only ebay bad story to date however.

Some more highlights of my holiday include going clubbing in Minneapolis again. That place gets more and more european everytime I see it. The Trams are now working and people walk a lot when out and about. The No guns past this point signs are now gone from all the doors which is a good thing, and its honestly very green and beautiful during the summer. I also saw a different side of Milwaukee that I've seen before but I still don't like it as much as Minneapolis. Madison was also cool but I'm still not a big fan althought the people are super friendly compared to elsewhere. Being in De Forrest just outside of Madison was suprisingly nice and relaxing but I missed the inner city living which I'm use to very quickly. Chicago was cool and we hooked up with Sarahs Friend like most of the cities and towns we went to around the midwest. But I'm still not feeling Chicago compared to other cities. At first I thought it was its size and urban spawl but actually its something else because London is bigger. I think this picture maybe sums it up nicely. Another highlight was having icecream freshly made from Cold stone icecream in north Chicago. It was, I kid you not the best icecream I've ever had!

Comments [Comments]
Trackbacks [0]

Geek and Geekhag podcast number ten – America

Here's a rough podcast me and Sarah did while driving to Minneapolis on the highway. I've cleaned it up as much as I can using Audacity but theres little we can do about the car noise and the laptop internal microphone. For now, its best not to link directly to the mpeg3 file because I will move it to archive.org when I get back online.

The subject for the podcast is that old chestnut, America or the states. We talk about oil prices, cars and the people. Enjoy…

Comments [Comments]
Trackbacks [0]

Holiday time in the midwest

Minneapolis Skyline

Yes its that time again, time for me and Sarah to visit the in-laws, see old friends, sample mexican food and stock up on gadgets. I'll be spinning around Chicago, Madison, Racine, Minneapolis/St Paul, etc for the next few weeks. So my blogging will be low due to the cost of roaming GPRS/EDGE in America. But fear not, there will be lots of pictures on my Flickr stream when I get a Wireless connection. One of the best things about going to the midwest is going clubbing in Minneapolis, seriously its like clubbing in a more european city. Can't wait to try it out during a less cold season.

Comments [Comments]
Trackbacks [0]

Geek and Geekhag podcast number eight – Black White

Chess piece

My and Sarah's 8th podcast is now available online. Enjoy and please leave a comment if you've enjoyed it or simply hate it. This is really part two of podcast number seven but its unique enough to simply make it another number. As always, enjoy.

This time me and Sarah explain what happened after the last podcast and spend most of the time talking about Black White, a TV series we've been downloading recently which tries to tackle black and white culture in America. We talk about the difference between Black American culture and Black English culture. The weirdness which is simply the extreme American way and how I love to mess with people stereotypes and perceptions of young Black men. We settle on the fact that a whole range of things keep up the perceptions and that people hate change.

Comments [Comments]
Trackbacks [0]

Do you EVDO? No not on this side of the world

If I hear someone say EVDO again, I'm going to scream. I don't know any other country in the world which uses this 2.5g mobile data connetion? Except maybe Canada? Oh and Latin America? don't think so, but maybe someone could confirm this. I'm very sure its not used anywhere else including Russia, Eastern Europe, Africa, Middle East, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Eastern Asia or the Asia Pacific area. it seems to have been made by American mobile carrier to allow them to offer mobile internet type solutions without paying the stupid prices of 3G licences. Ok, Fair enough but now theres a split between the smartphones coming out (IMHO).

Theres a whole range which support GPRS, EDGE and UMTS (3G) which all seem to work together nicely. You can even go from one country to another with these phones and it works. Believe it or not I was able to get GPRS out of my SPV E200 when I last went to the midwest of America in 2004 thanks to Tmobile and AT&T. Then you got the rouge phones which only support EVDO. This would be fine but the rouge ones tend to be the Microsoft PocketPC or Windows Mobile 2005 devices. The type of device I've been looking forward to having one day soon. Thanks EVDO carriers for this split. Thank you very much. I can't really blame Microsoft because America is a bigger market when it comes to Mobile Data it would seem. I'm not only pointing the finger at American Carriers like Cingular but also much closer to home like my own which is Orange. If Orange would provide a more American like data tariff of 20 pounds for 100meg of Mobile data a month we may start to see more mobile data use and that would in turn attract Microsoft and others.

It must be killing Orange and other mobile operators over here that they paid such stupid prices for 3G and its actually better and quicker technology that EVDO but the customers are not using it much. They quote huge take ups of 3G phones but how many of those people actually regularly use 3G and how much data do they transfer? I bet the percentage of data per person is very low. And you can't be suprised when most operators are charging about 1 pound per meg if you don't buy in advance with a bundle. (This post could/should simply be about this really.) I do care that I can't get a 3G phone which runs Windows mobile 2005 in a smaller size than my ipaq. But also mobile data costs in the UK and Europe is stupidly priced and I would have thought in 2006 we would be moving away from these crazy prices. I mean can you blame me for waiting for a phone which supports Wifi? Roll on the Nokia N80 soon please Nokia.

Comments [Comments]
Trackbacks [0]