Iconic Protest Picture

I’ll preface this post with this picture. In it is an anonymous man who stood in front of a column of Chinese Type 59 tanks the morning after the Chinese military forcibly removed protestors from in and around Bejing’s Tiananmen Square on June 5th, 1989. This post will be a bunch of pictures I have found here and there.

4 Branches Of Government

Sad but true.

Male Dominated Culture

It’s all about different perspectives and influences.

90s in One Photo

I’m a huge Will Smith fan. From Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to iRobot, I am Legend and the Pursuit of Happyness, he’s been a generation defining actor for me.


Fear Makes The Wolf Look Bigger

This is my favorite picture as it applies to the current state of affairs in the United States in my opinion.

Most of these pictures are from one of my favorite websites to browse, Reddit.com

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As you may have noticed, I changed the layout. I have been messing around with some. Let me know what you think. Anyway, here are a couple of quotes I’ve compiled along the months that I value.

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

– Andre Gide

I especially like this one by Gide. It’s simple and yet so powerful. Gide reminds us that upon exploring new frontiers, we must be willing to lose the security of what we know and pursue what we do not. Powerful and excellent.

Always provide correction in private and praise in public.”

–Scott Delinger

This does not seem like a helpful one at first glance due to its simplicity. And yet, I cannot tell you how far this has taken me. Take the opposite, praise in private and correct in public, for example. The ramifications are obvious and breed unnecessary confrontation regardless of intention. People do not like looking bad in public and love being lauded in public.

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

– Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, an American author and humorist)

A general pattern I have noticed in many quotes is their astounding simplicity. They are concise and specific yet carry a lesson applicable to many areas of one’s life. Twain follows suit in this quote. Everyone identifies kindness with safety, security and a general good feeling. If in doubt, just be kind.

Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.”

-Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri

This quote holds merit beyond its mere message. The powerful and underlying point is that there is no need for anyone to ever deny information unless an ulterior motive is present. This exemplifies the entire United States government’s relationship with its populace.

I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him”

-Booker T. Washington

Hate is a weak emotion. It may feel good in the short term to employ such a powerful emotion but be wary. Often times it manifests itself into something worse, both for you and the other person. These are just a few I have been keeping in mind. Other than that, here are the three songs I’ll recommend you check out:

“Sydney I’ll Come Running” – Brett Dennen

“So-So” – B.O.B. off his No Genre mixtape.

“Dammit” – Vonnegutt

This one was recommended to me by my buddy Zach. He knows his music and has pretty good taste too. Zach writes for a blog called Before The Bigs. I recommend checking it out if you like new and upcoming artists. Alright, I’m out.

Yo, it’s been a busy two weeks. I graduated from Syracuse University on 5/15. That was pretty sweet to say the least.

Syracuse University Commencement Program 2011

I went to see Neek the Exotic, Large Professor and Satchel page in concert. Caught Cappadonna in the crowd and he spit a couple of freestyles along with AG the Coroner, Father D, Satchel Page and Mr. Cheeks. I took some videos here.

Neek The Exotic

Went to a concert for the 50th birthday of Melle Mel aka Grandmaster Flash. T-Ski came on and performed. He was pretty good, not going to lie and said some funny stuff. He shouted that he was not under any circumstances Lil Wayne. Claimed at one point to have forgotten the words to his song. Talked about how old he was because when he released his first single he was 18 in 1980. And then he shouted out underage drinking. He was pretty funny and not to mention a good rapper.

T-Ski

Then ?uestlove and Black Thought of The Roots came out to perform. I caught Black Thought freestyling acapella on stage because ?uestlove was having technical difficulties setting up his laptop. He was pretty frustrated the entire time and cut the act short towards the end. S’all good. I also got to see Melle Mel of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five actually perform. He was wearing an interesting outfit and then performed “The Message” which I was able to catch on camera here. I can’t believe I got to see that classic song live.

Melle Mel in an officer suit

Melle Mel in an officer suit talking on a mic

Then I went to Boston for a day for an interview!

A Church in Boston

I also survived the rapture on Saturday. And in celebration I watched “The Killing Machine” directed by and starring Dolph Lundgren with my buddy Nick. We are pretty big action movie fans as some of our favorite actors are Sylvester Stallone, Steven Seagal and Dolph Lundgren. I caught some of the highlights of the movie.

"If you don't mind"

"Drop Your Guns"

A classic action stance.

Dolph Lundgren in an action stance.

And finally, Dolph Lundgren in an action stance against a wall, that is all.

The classic hide behind the wall trick done to perfection.

I had my first day at my summer internship in a campaign office for a political candidate at the state level. It was pretty interesting to say the least. Met the senatorial candidate for a moment as she was very busy. I bought a Jamaica national football jersey from the store next door. I was really looking for Cameroon jersey. Webo and Idrissou are two of my favorite football players, epecially Idrissou after he joined Stoke City. I had to call residents of an area and remind them to vote for a candidate my senatorial candidate endorsed at the special election the next day. I basically would call, ask them how they are, to consider the candidate I was endorsing and to remind them to vote tomorrow. I had some hilarious and humbling responses. One lady was polite till she heard my mentioning of my political candidate and then went, “Oh God! Oh God!” while proceeding to hang up the phone. I was cursed out in what seems like Italian. It was a mixture of Italian and English. Another guy answered the phone and began to breathe on it while I could hear his TV in the background. A barrage of “Hello?”‘s did not help my cause.

Then there was an older lady, 89 she said, who told me she used to vote in every election until she had her stroke three years ago. She explained that she was essentially bed ridden and very ill. I figured she just wanted to talk so I chatted with her for a couple of minutes. Talking to her was a humbling experience that reminded me that I have the right to vote and I should exercise it as often as I could. I also began to think that the whole political system of campaigning is an extremely weird model that is highly susceptible to corruption. A colleague from France told me that the campaigning money for each presidential candidate is capped at $20 million. She explained that there were no calls to houses and all the other forms of marketing/campaigning.  It’s amusing to notice the propensity of corruption in the United States campaigning model and see our zeal for voting essentially commercialized or at least, prone to. So it’s been an awesome two weeks so far. Good start to summer.

When we hear the whisper of Mother Earth or Mother Nature, immediately feelings of calm, security and serenity envelope us. The association of “Mother” with “Earth” connotes caring and generosity. You need not delve deep into the etymological rationale behind the label, “Mother Earth”. Mankind tends to selectively forget, or even ignore the two-way street that embodies the mutually beneficiary relationship between the Earth and us. Or so I thought.

The Mudslide in Bolivia destroyed over 400 homes.

Enter Bolivia, a country that has been under fire recently from natural catastrophes. The country is struggling to manage the influx of extreme weather from droughts to frequent floods. Tragically, in February 2011, a mudslide razed an entire neighborhood near the capital La Paz. In response to dire climatic straits, Bolivia is set to pass the world’s first laws granting Mother Nature rights [1]. These rights entail the right to life and to exist; the right not to be polluted and the right to pure water and clean air.

Imagine the ramifications if the United States followed Bolivia’s example. We lead the world in emitting over five tons of carbon per person. Surely, our society could not fathom equating the Earth to Mankind. The dignity of rational beings requires that they accept no law that they would themselves have enacted. To strive for similar laws as Bolivia appears quixotic. But it begets the issue of equal rights to land in the conservation discussion.

A change in our land ethics, as Aldo Leopold once mentioned, is inevitable in order to continue to prosper as a society. Laws only control the lesser of men; rather right conduct controls the greater one. It starts with the individual as the onus is personally on each of us to slowly begin to change the way we interact with our surrounding environment. To begin to care for Mother Nature is just a small, albeit necessary, step.

The beauty within salt flats after rain

The advent of reconciliation ecology should be welcomed with open arms. We must pay close attention to the treatment of our land. Instead of backing off, we should reassess how we modify habitats for our own gain. The carbon footprint we are currently leaving can be seen from outer space as Mankind sloppily trudges through the biosphere. We must remove these heavy boots that burden our greed and adopt a more careful footprint.

It is not an arms race between Mother Earth and us. On the contrary, it is an interdependent relationship that allows us to both to grow and prosper. An increased environmental awareness and respect will allow for a sum greater than both its parts. An apt quote was said by Chief Seattle in 1954, “Man does not weave the web of life – he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”

My favorite hip-hop artist of all-time is Nas. After seeing him for the fifth time total and second with Damien Marley at Syracuse last weekend, I began my monthly Nas music binge. The depth of his music surprises me every time I listen to his music. Aside from all of that I came across this gem of a video:

Unfortunately, it seems that mainstream hip-hop is already being diluted by clowns parading as “artists”. For some reason, a monotonous flow and bad lyrics can be overlooked by cash and clothing (Lookin’ at you Drake).

Just looking at the top 10 on the Billboard’s top 100 for Hip-Hop, http://www.billboard.com/charts/r-b-hip-hop-songs#/charts/r-b-hip-hop-songs , I came across the only actual rappers being Lil Wayne, Kanye West, And Wiz Khalifa.

“6 Foot 7 Foot” by Lil Wayne is alright. The most notable line from that song is “paper chasing, tell that paper, “Look, I’m right behind ya//bitch, real G’s move in silence like lasagna.” The rest of the lyrics are just annoying to be honest. There seems to be no substance except in the fluidity of the way it sounds/flows. That is a skill unto itself and Lil Wayne excels at that empirically derived from his record sales of songs that offer no lyrical substance. I have not heard enough of Cory Gunz’s other work to judge, so I’ll just leave his verse be.

“All of the Lights” by Kanye West is a pretty good song but not traditional hip-hop. It’s more of a pop song to be truthful. Kanye West is an amazing producer, no doubt. He’s a great musician overall but his rapping is a far cry from his initial albums, The College Dropout and Late Registration. In my opinion, he seemed to have shifted his primary focus from rapping back to what he was fantastic at, producing and making music. You can see the transition in Graduation. 

“Roll Up” by Wiz Khalifa is okay. I’m not the biggest Wiz fan but I respect his music and style. I like this song, it’s catchy and pleasant.

I grew up listening to Nas and the Wu-Tang Clan. A couple of months ago I finally listened to Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt and that was straight fire. Throw in random phases of Big L (RIP) along with Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Redman and one of my favorites Papoose, I feel I have been exposed to some high quality hip-hop. I remember listening to Nas’ “One Mic” the first time on MTV and I was blown away. I delved deeper in his music due to mainstream exposure and found greatness. If it was not for this exposure then I do not know if I would have ever found Nas or hip-hop in general. Being a first generation American from Pakistan, mainstream media and friends were all I had in my assimilation to American culture. It greatly pains me that people nowadays will not have that type of exposure to great music. They do not have the opportunity to listen to greats right now unless it is watered down and catchy for the public. Jay-Z’s evolution (or de-evolution, depending on who you talk to) is a prime example. His career should be the subject of the Dave Chappelle’s “When Keepin’ It Real Goes Wrong” skit.

Anyway, what keeps me afloat nowadays are artists such as Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi and J.Cole. For the love of all that you value, if you have not heard any of J.Cole’s mixtapes then immediately go here, http://www.datpiff.com/J-Cole-Friday-Night-Lights-mixtape.168650.html and download Friday Night Lights. 

Here’s a sample, “Farewell”:

Peace!

I was 16 and my family had just finished moving from a bustling city to a secluded, affluent town surrounded by trees in the summer. An actual law in this town is that a residence must occupy at least 2 acres of land. Ergo, our closest neighbor is about a 10 minute walk away. Coupled with the fact that our drive was now a legitimate 5 minute drive from mailbox to the actual house, it was eery.

The move went well and smoothly. However, during the move I found this plastic ball the size of a basketball. It was half white and half a light hue of violet with the colors intertwining throughout the circumference of the middle. During some downtime between moving and unpacking, I always tried to get my dog, a cock-a-pooh named Krispay, to play with the ball. She’s a small inquisitive dog that always took on the maternal air of responsibility with my younger sister and I.

Krispay just hanging out

My intention was to merely add this violet/white ball to her assortment of toys. But as with every toy we introduced to her, we had to “break it in”. For some reason, she refused to play with it. I attributed it to her stubbornness or preference for her tug-o-war rope or squishy squid ball. Figuring Krispay would eventually come around to it, I put it in my room.

Size of plastic ball

The following three days Krispay  staying in my room for an extended period of time throughout the day. I even began bringing food up to my room for her. She wouldn’t budge to come downstairs, even for food. It is odd because one of her favorite past times was to sit on her doggie couch in the living room with my family. Her gregarious and propensity for human affection made alone time foreign and even undesirable to her. Anyway, the move was finally done as my sister, parents and I were just systematically unpacking dining room boxes downstairs. Krispay had been lollygagging around upstairs and we figured she was just acclimating herself to the new house, especially my room. I went upstairs to check on her as it was increasingly disturbing that she wasn’t attempting to jump in and out of any boxes as we unpacked. I found her lying down in my room intently watching the lightly colored plastic ball I had found during our move. She was finally coming around to liking the ball I decided.

I began advancing towards the ball when all of a sudden Krispay began growling at me. A soft yet vibrant growl resonated from my tiny dog. I halted my advance towards the plastic balls and left the room. I chalked it up to Krispay’s own little doggie process of initiating this ball to her toy collection, who knows. I finished helping my family unpack and returned to my room to sleep after two hours. Krispay was still in the same position with her gaze intently on the plastic ball. I began chuckling at how silly this doggie ritual of integrating a new toy was as I drifted off to sleep.

That night I had a vivid dream and to be honest the only thing I can remember was just a heightened sense of urgency. An echo of foreboding seeped into my immediate concerns as I recall waking up in the middle of the night to my dog wildly barking. I don’t know if it was the fear or the sound of Krispay barking that awakened me. As I got out of my bed, I saw Krispay now growling at the plastic ball, again. Only this time it was vacillating from left to right in akin to a rhythmic beat. Probably a draft of wind from my windows I thought at the time. I closed the one window that was slightly ajar. Still growling at this lightly colored plastic ball, I walked over to the ball to show Krispay it was just the wind. The moment I started to walk over, Krispay began barking rapidly, a panicked pleading if you will. I’m sure every dog owner knows when their dog begins barking with high-pitched screeches lightly littered in between wails. She was scared but I stopped the ball from moving with my foot. I picked Krispay up and put her on my bed to sleep.

The next night, I remember waking up again with that sudden weird feeling of fear. It was odd in that I was afraid but of nothing. It was as if my brain was foreshadowing something and my primitive instincts of fight or flight were kicking in. Again, Krispay was barking at that same damn ball and it was vacillating back and forth again. I got up to close my windows but to my dismay and shock they were shut. Now I got scared and decided to pick Krispay up and run to my parents room. My mom got up and laughed at me, a grown 16-year-old dude who was due at football summer session in a few hours holding a cock-a-pooh telling her he was afraid of a plastic ball. I slept downstairs for the rest of the night.

The next day after I practice I remember just being tired from being woken up the night before. Fuck it, I was going to throw that ball out and be done with it. I got home, picked up the ball and went to my car. Krispay tagged along but sat in my lap while I drove. The plastic ball was in the passenger seat much to Krispay’s chagrin. We drove out of my driveway and a few minutes along the road to town. I chucked the ball out the window into the street where it rolled onto the side of the road. Krispay reclaimed her natural spot in the passenger seat and we both just felt a little lighter. It was oddly relieving but I think I was just glad to be able to sleep that night.

The next day I came home from practice around 5pm. Lo and behold, that same fucking plastic ball was in the living room. And Krispay had resumed her watchful position on the ball. I didn’t really know how to audibly respond at the time save for the “What the fuck?”. I asked my sister where that ball came from and she said my father and her had found it on the way home from the grocery store. They figured it would be a good toy for Krispay. Speechless, I wondered why the hell they thought it would be a good idea to pick up a plastic ball from the middle of the street and bring it home. Aside from the fact that this ball was the bane of my existence for the past couple of nights, I was fed up with this whole ordeal. I took the plastic ball out to our patio and just straight punted it into the surrounding woods.

Krispay and I were fine for the next couple of days. Her behavior changed dramatically and she returned to her once awesome ways of being a carefree dog.

Happy Krispay

The weekend had come and I went out with friends on a Saturday night. I came home around 2-3 AM and pulled into my driveway. I remember putting the key code for my garage door when a lightly circular object gently entered my peripheral vision. I turned around as the garage was opening and it was the same ball gently rolling. At this point I was just angry that I was being coerced into feeling fear because of a plastic ball. I ran inside, got a knife from the kitchen and came back outside. I popped the ball and put it in the trash.

Looking back at it now, it was a ridiculous set of coincidences involving a plastic ball. I was never more freaked out in my life than that time. But I’ll tell you one thing, I am probably one of the few people who has smiled at the decline of big plastic balls in supermarkets everywhere. Fuck that shit.

Osama Bin Laden is dead.

When I first heard the news last night, my initial reaction was not happiness or anger. Truthfully, I was indifferent. Indifference is a type of emotion that evokes no emotion. To me Osama’s death does not matter. He was a sickly man needing constant kidney dialysis.

The estimated cost of the war in Iraq is $806,000,000,000+ (1). The estimated cost of the war in Afghanistan is $444,000,000,000+ (1). A combined $1,250,000,000,000 was spent finding one man as we were lead to believe. Over 7,100 coalition deaths incurred with 2,441 deaths in  Afghanistan and 4,770 in Iraq (2,3). So let me get this straight, 3,000 of our own were murdered on 9/11 and then we go on to kill an estimated 140,000 civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan combined (4,5)?

I liken the United States to a bully in an elementary school playground. A bully will bother other people who are just minding their own business. Push a person down or cause general mischief at the expense of others, you know the usual. Remember when we would see a bully focus his efforts on one person? The bully would do anything to get their hands on that one individual who kept inciting them but always got away. The bully would run after this one individual only to be eluded by the one individual’s ability to climb trees or get away in some other manner. The one individual would pelt rocks at the bully repeatedly till the bully found a way up the tree. To which the one individual would jump down and start the chase all over again. This back and forth would continue for a while. The bully would get increasingly frustrated and start sacrificing his own well being in an effort to catch that one individual who agitated him the most. The bully will get angry, kicking his own toys or dirtying his own clothes in the process.The reckless abandon we see in these exchanges by mere children is unfathomable to adults. Or is it?

There are always at least two sides to a story. This fundamental truth we often forget and as a people, we have succumbed to being force fed what the government has told us. What if the war on terror was Osama’s war of attrition against us? You could liken Osama as the one individual who incited the bully, the U.S. Except his plan was was just to perpetuate the chase and allow the U.S. to destroy himself. The United States in his reckless abandon, destroyed his economy through deficit spending, infringement on constitutional rights through the unlawful TSA searches and the recently renewed Patriot Act and finally the war on unions.

So today the bully finally caught that one elusive individual. But at what cost to himself? Looking at our current affairs, I can confidently say that Osama has won the war of attrition. How do you think Russia collapsed?

You say Osama is dead. I say, so what?

Bibliography:

1- http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33110.pdf

2-http://icasualties.org/OEF/index.aspx

3-http://icasualties.org/Iraq/index.aspx

4-List of links on civilian deaths:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/aug/10/afghanistan-civilian-casualties-statistics

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/may/20/afghanistan.comment

http://www.matrixmasters.com/world/america/afghanistan/warafghanistan%20home.html

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16883222/

5-http://www.iraqbodycount.org/analysis/numbers/warlogs/