Wednesday, June 3, 2009




Monday, March 9, 2009

Can Music Stupefy, Can Commercialization Kill Culture

Recently a friend forwarded me a news-story from the Wall Street journal about music and books that “make you dumb”. In this story a Caltech graduate by the name of Virgil Griffith managed to make a statistical comparison, through the use of Facebook, of the average SAT scores of given universities and the musical preference prevalent at such institutions. In his findings he found that students on the higher end of the SAT range listened to music like Beethoven and Counting Crows, above 1200. Where as, music like Ludacris and Jay-Z scored on the lower range, below 1000.


In seeing this statistic it got me wondering what the actual causation of these results could be. After all, the numbers mean nothing without knowing why the numbers exist in such a way.

My first conclusion of these results would be that there were several demographical reasons attributed from say the late 90’s to the early 2000’s. Statistically, African Americans and Other minorities score lower on SAT than their Caucasian and Asian counterparts. (via Department of education) In 2005, African Americans scored an average of 865, Hispanic Americans scored an average of 932, Caucasian Americans scored an average of 1052, Asian Americans scored 1091, and the overall average of all students was 1028 out of a maximum score of 1600. It is easy to believe that African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and other minorities tend to listen to more ethnic music like Hip-Hop, and from that you could correlate that the lower scores of music preference is linked to the consistent lower scoring of those ethnic groups which have a high frequency of listening to more ethnic music.

One thing that bugged me about that thought process was the fact brought up by an article from the Boston Globe in 2003. The article called “Hip-Hop Setting the Beat in First, Black Artists Hold Billboard’s Top 10” where; if their facts are correct, stated that approximately 70% of Caucasian youth buy Hip-Hop albums. Also it should be considered that approximately 31% of college students enrolled in 2005 was minority students as well.

So the correlations between race based SAT scores, race based music preferences, and the correlation between those two and SAT scores and music preferences are somewhat distorted.

Instead, I think it is the inner mechanisms, that enable students to enhance SAT scores to get into universities, that makes them “smarter” are the same mechanisms that persuade them towards music artists like Beethoven or Counting Crows. I have found that the same upper middle class to upper class that provide their youth with the tools necessary to excel in the SAT and go to “smarter” universities are the same class of people who throughout time have possessed the musical preference for music types like Beethoven. This class generally is composed of the majority populous of America, Caucasian, and although they buy 70% of Hip-Hop, they also buy into an even larger percent of Beethoven’s and Counting Crow’s type music. So fortunately I see the statistically correlation of music and intelligence for the most part void of any racial implications.

That satisfied me to that point, but led me to a second conclusion, which sides more on culture then of statistics. Intelligence is a part of evolution whether it is biological evolution, intellectual evolution, or spiritual evolution. Evolution is a survival mechanism which allows for corporeal beings to live longer and stronger with each generation. Those who cease to evolve, die off out of existence. Applying this to culture, culture that ceases to evolve and grow will also fade away in the wake of cultures that continue to grow.

Bringing me to my final and most irritating issue, POP RAP MUSIC, its is painful to see where Hip-Hop has come to presently. When people say Hip-Hop is dead the reason why I believe them is that when a cultural artifact like music, is taken and commercialized to the extreme, culture dies.

Hip-hop started in a cipher, a circle of minds exchanging ideas via lyrics, growing day-by-day intellectually. I understand that talent that can make money should be used to make a good living, especially for those in poverty, from which many Hip-Hop artists descend. The line is drawn when the priority for making money out weighs the priority of making a cultural impact through good music. Taking the profit driven course kills Hip-Hop as a culture, it dumbs it down with mind-numbing beats and a dreary concept of the world.

Music for years has helped explain the world and the human condition and there is no reason that for four to five years songs from one genre of music should sound exactly the same. It kills the culture, but also deep down inside kills the soul of the accultured and the encultured recipients as well.

People have a right to grow and evolve throughout their life times, and when you corner such a large culture as Hip-Hop and you devolve it for profit sake, you steal away peoples right to grow and evolve as cultural beings, as human beings. Maybe it might be taking it a little too far, but think about those upper middle class and upper class students who were groomed in households with cultured music it is not unreasonable that they are given the privilege to have minds groomed for future success. On the other-side, look at the lower class students who listen to music that denies them the insight of growing culture, growing minds, the privilege of future success, and only provides them dead music / dead culture. Music that ceases to evolve is dead. Hip-Hop in its truest form is about evolving and not about the next dance to do in a club.

fast forward to time: 1:15 thats what a true Cypher and true Hip-Hop is like


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Globalization through Netbook Development

Ethnography is a way to understand how and why to design the right products. -Intel, 2009

The growth of the global market is pushing innovation to almost limitless extents. The decline in the prices for micro-processing technology and an increased demand for solid state technologies has enabled computer manufacturers the ability to cut prices in desktop and laptop models. Now some of the typical laptop models made by companies like HP, Dell, or Toshiba can run in the $700 and higher range while netbooks, a term coined by Psion, run below that price range. Netbooks are a class of laptop that have a higher focus on wireless capabilities, internet usage, and mobility. Such netbooks evolved into further popularity because of programs like One Laptop Per Child Association, Inc (OLPC) who's goal was to develop low cost computing devices for educational use in developing countries. These programs have allowed for the creation of netbooks which price in the range of $100 to $500.

Intel has a particular initiative that has to deal with the concept of Ethnography. More specifically, Intel sought to develop ethnography with a focus “to design purpose-built solutions for education. Intel-powered classmate PC laptops are designed to meet the educational needs of students ages 5-14.” (Intel 2009) This drive for education technology and high emphasis on mobility lead Intel to develop the Classmate PC (by definition a netbook) that costs only $400 dollars and provided capabilities that out flank most other netbooks for the same or higher costs. This netbook is reflective of low cost solutions for connectivity without sacrificing productivity and capability.

What I particularly like about this netbook is the fact that it can be very useful for American students as well, especially the $500 tablet PC version. Some of the specs on this revolutionary computing device (tablet version) are as follows:

CPU: Intel® ATOM™ processor N270 1.6GHz Processor, Chipset: Intel® 945GSE, Formfactor: Clamshell / Tablet, Memory: 1GB / 512MB, Storage: 16GB / 8GB / 4GB Flash / or 1.8" HDD (60 GB), Operating Systems: Windows XP / Linux, Display: 8.9" 1024 x 600 Touch Screen, Network: 10/100M Ethernet / 802.11b/g/n WLAN, Mesh support (Linux only), Security: WPA, WPA-PSK, WPA2, WPA2-PSK, Keyboard: Water Resistant Keyboard, Battery Life: 6-cell battery (6 hours) 4-cell battery (4 hours), Audio: Integrated 2 channel audio, Speaker/Microphone: Integrated audio, built-in speaker and microphone, Dimensions: with handle 241 x 215 x (26.0 ~ 39.3) mm, Weight: 1.25-1.45 Kg, System I/O: 2 x USB 2.0 ports, 1 SD slot, VGA port, Camera (optional): 1.3 MP (rotated), Drop test: 50 cm

This is a quality netbook that is great for college students at $500 and looks to outperform typical laptops at the higher price range. The Intel Classmate PC is a large step in the right direction for the development of mobility and connectivity in developing nations and hopefully it will grow in popularity so students around the world can leverage its capabilities to become more connected and more competitive in this global market.

Here is a video review of the Intel Classmate PC Tablet for anyone who wants to get a visual representation of the greatness of this netbook.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cyber-Punk Fashions

I wanted to hit on a lighter subject, FASHION. I myself am not so concerned with the matter except on rare instances when I find something so great I just have to share it with all that I can. First off, I have a passion for Anime, the classic Anime not the pop stuff, so this often guides how I see fashionable wears.

A few days ago, I was surfing the net and I found this jacket, the Pill Jacket worn by Shotaro Kaneda in the infamous Anime blockbuster AKIRA (アキラ).

At first I did not like it, but the more I looked at it the more it grew on me and not only is it an amazing replica of the pill jacket from the Anime, but it looks great. The price is a little steep at $500, but I found another website that had it for $200. Honestly I think it is worth the price the jacket is just immaculate. There is another website where the jacket is not for cheap, but it has a variety of movie and anime based fashions that are alright with one exception, the bride jacket from Kill Bill it is exceptional and would most definitely be an eye catcher on the street.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Alternative Investing Solutions for a Declining Economy and the Receding Hope for the Future

While many of the world is in a frightened state as to what the future holds and where to invest their money I see this as an opportunity instead of a threat. That opportunity being to throw those aside who greedily risked honest peoples' monies for their own selfish gain. I see the developing world as the new frontier in investing, it is a place where the culture and the technological factors beg new investment programs. Programs which leverage the Internet and enable businesses to grow from the ground up.

Just think of it like this, if 2 percent of the world owns half the wealth in the world and financial intermediaries seek only to make those 2 percent richer, the scale is then imbalanced and it hurts everyone in the long run. On the other hand, if say the other 98 percent of the world finds a means to grow itself out of poverty, then positive growth has no where to go, but trickling upwards.

It seems a sweet irony that only in the past couple of decades it has become the most feasible to take this course. For example, an organization called Grameen Bank, started by Muhammad Yunus, participates in micro-loans for the impoverished masses in Bangladesh for the purpose of eradicating poverty. This organization also fosters growth in the Bangladesh economy from the ground up, and has had more success than financial firms in America in the past year or so. In the thirty-one years of operations, Grameen Bank dealt with 7.2 million borrowers, 97 percent women, and the borrowers essentially own the bank. Also Grameen Bank has dispersed loans totaling $7.59 billion and $6.76 billion has been repaid over its history. That is approximately 90% fulfillment of debt obligations, where as according to the 2008 credit card survey the average default rate in a basket of 22 issuers and 38 credit cards was 26.87%.

That is 2.5 times as much as the default rate for the borrowers from the Grameen Bank who are poor and cannot get loans from traditional banks because they are not “creditworthy” in the eyes of the financial world. The numbers do not lie, just in financing the poor there is a higher success than financing the rich, who strive to only get richer. Social innovation and enterprise does pay off, a person can do well by doing good, and by investing in the developing world like it seems the investing masses should, there can be mutually beneficial impacts.

Driving the focus on to ways an average person can invest in positive social change while earning a decent return for their troubles, I present MyC4. It is a company similar to a hybrid between Grameen Bank and Ebay. Basically it provides the service of getting capital for SME (small to medium enterprises) in the African continent through a bidding process. The investors get to bid through a highly transparent bidding process via the web. They pick the desired return rate that is capped at about 25 percent and the entrepreneur pays the weight average of the lowest bids, with MyC4 taking a small portion of the return (about 3 percent). This program allows for the borrower to get the financing they need for their business, while allowing the investor to make a positive return, and the default rate for MyC4 is only 2 percent which is amazing. In only its first six months of existence it has gained 6.5 million euros in investment for 3,700 African businesses from approximately 12,800 investors in 83 countries.

This program is a social enterprise that enables good returns and is helping the cause for growing the developing markets in the world while insuring strong returns. I perceive this as a much more viable source of investments for worried investors throughout the world especially in the USA. It is a safe bet that there will be more programs like this in the future and people will learn the sensibility in social investing and enterprise.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Intro into the Accultured

This is a portal through which I can acculture others through my own experiences and findings.

Acculturation: acculturation

Pronunciation [uh-kuhl-chuh-rey-shuhn]


1. the process of adopting the cultural traits or social patterns of another group.

2. the result of this process.


1875–80, Americanism; ac- + culture + -ation Unabridged

Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.

In this beginning it is best to start with a background of the mind which is putting these ideas to the net. Quick synopsis of this accultured mind with a little word play:

Young - New to this world and still learning something new everyday.
Old - learn from the past, those of the elders, those of the ancients, so to better the future.
Broad - a narrow mind is a narrow sight and walking down a rugged path with narrow vision is dangerous.
Optomistic - life is too boring be negative hope is what makes the world go around.
Antithetic - being contrary helps to see the weaknesses in order to make it stronger.
Unabridged - given all it has needed from birth to grow as needed and do as required.
Living - that which ceases to grow dies and the same goes with the mind.

I hope to grow as an individual and grow this portal at the same time. The world is going through an interesting era now and it is important to learn oneself in the new cultures of this global entity that is forming from the many corners of the planet.

Acculturation is not just a way of learning a new culture, but a way of evolving in this present human condition. If humans are created in God's image then by nature we revel in creation and knowing all that exists in the world. In this instance by learning the world we humans learn ourselves and become a little closer to the heavens and life infinite.