Tuesday, December 4, 2007

what will you think of me in 500 years?


"What does Saddam want? By all accounts, he is not interested in money ... Saddam himself isn't a hedonist; he lives a well-regulated, somewhat abstemious existence. He seems far more interested in fame than in money, desiring above all to be admired, remembered, and revered. A nineteen-volume official biography is mandatory reading for Iraqi government officials, and Saddam has also commissioned a six-hour film about his life, called The Long Days, which was edited by Terence Young, best known for directing three James Bond films. Saddam told his official biographer that he isn't interested in what people think of him today, only in what they will think of him in five hundred years. The root of Saddam's bloody, single-minded pursuit of power appears to be simple vanity.

But what extremes of vanity compel a man to jail or execute all who criticize or oppose him? To erect giant statues of himself to adorn the public spaces of his country? To commission romantic portraits, some of them twenty feet high, portraying the nation's Great Uncle as a desert horseman, a wheat-cutting peasant, or a construction worker carrying bags of cement? To have the nation's television, radio, film, and print devoted to celebrating his every word and deed? Can ego alone explain such displays? Might it be the opposite? What colossal insecurity and self-loathing would demand such compensation? "

- Mark Bowden, "Tales of the Tyrant" May 2002 Atlantic Monthly

x ould y

I first started believing the hype about e-democracy when, while talking to a student from Mauritania at Gaston Berger in Senegal, West Africa about blogging, he showed me hundreds of entries of the blog x ould y downloaded onto his computer. He explained that x ould y is a blog about mauritanian news, gossip, rants, and politics.

My friend had an ancient desktop, and no internet access, yet the blog was spread through burnt CDs and USB drives among Mauritanian youth, carrying this renegade news source, at times the only consistent free media about Mauritania. He explained to me that the anonymous blogger was considered a hero to his generation of Mauritanian youth and claimed his presence had significantly contributed to recent democratic movements within the country.

My friend may have exaggerated the impact of x ould y, but its hard not to admire that just the existence of free speech on the internet would carry such an impact onto Mauritanian youth’s political awareness, even when they themselves had limited internet access. Also, since this conversation my friend has began blogging himself and decided to open an internet café in Nouadhibou after college.

At GYAN, I remember our newsletter mentioned october's connect africa summit in Rwanda. This sounds like something to follow up on...

x ould y
Connect Africa Summit

Monday, August 20, 2007

Violence as Spectacle

One of the most discussed topics in the Russian blogosphere last week was a graphic video of what appeared to be the execution of two ethnically non-Russian men by masked figures claiming to be members of a Russian neo-Nazi group.

A detailed description of the video can be found in this New York Times’ piece by C. J. Chivers.

Sean Guillory of Sean’s Russia Blog posted an overview of the media and bloggers’ reactions and, among other things, wrote this:

[…] Granted, I have not watched it, nor do I intend to. But to me this video’s political resonance says something more about spectacle of violence that inhabits our modern lives rather than anything specific about nationalism or fascism in Russia. As far as I’m concerned the members of “National Socialism/White Power” are merely reproducing what has already become a staple in our media diet. From the “real” videos of Chechens beheading Russian soldiers, Beslan, Daniel Pearl, Abu Ghraib, suicide bombings, and school and workplace shootings (and the media’s obsession over them) to the “fake” torture scenes of shows like 24 and other films, hasn’t the gap between the real and the fake long collapsed, making their distinction merely academic. What is important is the connection between politics and extreme violence, or really the use of extreme violence as political spectacle. […]

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Mighty Sparrow

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The Village Ram - Mighty Sparrow
Sell That Pussy - Mighty Sparrow

New Vinyl! I recently bought an excellent compilation by the king of calypso, his majesty the mighty Mighty Sparrow. Some of the tracks are a mixed bag. Generally 'best of' records never quite have the perfect mix. Yet it's fun to see, as a time capsule, what was considered the best of Mighty Sparrow in 1970. 'Jean and Dinah' makes sense but the addition of the slightly atonal 'sell that pussy' makes me smirk.

The first track 'Village Ram' opens with an excellant yowl/scream and the second track, 'sell that pussy' makes me cringe. in a good way.

*Mighty Sparrow: At His Best (Volume 1)
Arranged by Eddie Hooper

Dimi Mint Abba

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Mauritania My Beloved Country - Dimi Mint Abba
Unknown Iggawin

Dimi Mint Abba may not be a internationally well known as her World Circuit label mates Ali Farka Toure, Orchestra Baobab, etc or even Mauritanias new rising star Malouma. Yet Her place in Mauritanian music is almost as strong as Oum Kalthoum's in Egypt. An entire generation heard her music growing up, and Moors tend to speak of her with a nostalgic fondness and pride. I am posting an mp3 from the album 'Moorish Music from Mauritania' which in 1989 was the first studio quality recording of Moorish music by any artist from that country. the first. in 1989.

Her music, and Moorish music in general seems a bit of a cross between the now popular desert blues sound of Mali musicians and traditional arab song, with its emphasis on vocals. Many senegalese musicians are influenced by arab or moorish music, notably baba maal who grew up in Podor which lies on the river bordering the two nations. I saw baba maal play in Podor once, along with a friend who gave me the second song i am posting. The second track is a song by the traditional iggawin of my friends family, who sings songs about his family, caste, and ancestors. Its catchy in a way, with handclapping and alternating male and female vocals.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Galsene: Gaston Berger

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Université Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis, Senegal

Some Senegalese hiphop from a mix a friend made me. If you know who its by, let me know.

Rap galsene:
Galsene Track 5
Galsene Track 7

The Times did a heartbreaking piece on the crises of Africa’s universities, reposted here
They state that the failure of these institutions leaves the much needed abilities of its best and brightest untapped and creates “hotbeds of discontent” which:

“Far from being a tool of social mobility, the repository of a nation’s hopes for the future, Africa’s universities have instead become warehouses for a generation of young people for whom society has little use and who can expect to be just as poor as their uneducated parents.”

Indian pop.. etc

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Indian pop music..

Mohammed Rafi - Aaja Aaja Main
bollywood playback singer mohammed rafi has "performed an estimated 26,000 songs and was heard in 76 films". having spent a good part of my weekend sorting through hundreds of soundtracks this song is one of favorites.

Daler Mehndi - ek dana
bhangra from a popular sikh artist

Aadesh Srivastava - nach nach nach
this song is crazy and kind of goes everywhere.

& now for something completely different...

jackson c frank - you never wanted me
60's folk singer i ranted about before

Ali Farka Toure - la drogue
Ali Farka Toure - ali aoudy
Mali folk singer i ranted about before

Nobukazu Takemura - tuirirukabinbon
experimental japanese indie-pop

-a lot of these songs are around six minutes so they might take longer than usual to download.
-x-posted to various communities so let me know if i need to reload them

Eggs, spam, sausage, and spam

"Eggs, spam, sausage, and spam from Adam: The Weblog.

The development of spam can be seen as an attempt on the part of spammers to push anti-spam filters toward ever more effective methods of recognizing spam and thus allowing genuine human communication to reach the user. In this sense, spam is necessary to the experience of e-mail in the Internet age -- seeing the vast number of messages summarily dispatched by the spam filter, we are reaffirmed in our belief that e-mail provides us always and only with desired communications: convenience-enhancing self-chosen bulletins and, more importantly, real human interaction. The automated refusal of the false intimacy of penis enlargement, call girls, and debt consolidation underwrites and guarantees the real intimacy that electronic communication has always promised.

Indeed, the very experience of the stray fugitive spam message as invasion serves to reinforce the illusion of the electronic medium as a privileged site of intimacy and privacy -- an illusion that is increasingly necessary as the model of security and surveillance comes to dominate what we once thought of as our public life. In this way, spam is the essence and condition of "cyberspace" itself as an adjunct of political control -- and, we may perhaps conjecture, as the possibility of future liberation."

- http://www.adamkotsko.com/weblog/

Abddoullah's shop

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I miss hanging out at Abddoullah's shop drinking tea, smoking, talking, and listening to him complain about his "beautiful fat spoiled wife".

Grâce à Mourad, i've been listening to a lot of arabic music which, being predominately vocal music, has made me start listening to singers singers singers..

Cesaria Evora - Petit Pays (Chateau Flight Remix) [ Morna Cape Verde wma ]Jaquel Brel - le Plat Pays [ Singer-Songwriter Belgium mp3 ]Mafalda Arnauth - Trova Escondida [ Fado Portugal wma ]Fairuz - Beirut hal Zarafat [ classical arabic Lebanon wma ]

Also my Chadian friends always used to play great cheesy low budget amharic pop videos when we hung out in their room and i found them on you tube!
Johnny Ragga - Abeshawi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtQJSElMXAM
Johnny Ragga - Give Me the Key http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrtY61SirHs
Haimanot Girma - Khzeera http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLkTj9iowbI

The Amen Break

The Amen Break

"This fascinating, brilliant 20-minute video narrates the history of the "Amen Break," a six-second drum sample from the b-side of a chart-topping single from 1969. This sample was used extensively in early hiphop and sample-based music, and became the basis for drum-and-bass and jungle music -- a six-second clip that spawned several entire subcultures. Nate Harrison's 2004 video is a meditation on the ownership of culture, the nature of art and creativity, and the history of a remarkable music clip. "

http://www.ecrans.fr/carte_blanche/nieto/art? a mouse being chopped in half?
http://www.gapminder.org/interesting and attractive presentation on global inequity

a mix called Al-Qaeda

I made a mix called Al-Qaeda:
Air- Dead Bodies
Keller Williams - God is My Palm Pilot
Al Green - Full of Fire
Brian Eno - Burning Airlines Give You So Much More
Andrew W.K. - Ready to Die
Aesop Rock - Kill 'Em All
Sex Pistols - Submission
Moldy Peaches - NYC's Like Graveyard
Mazzy Star - Into Dust
The Flaming Lips - Feeling Yourself Disintegrate
Hefner - God is on my side
Tom Waits - I'll take NYC
Beat Happening - Godsend
Elvis Costello - Indoor Fireworks
Pavement - So Stark (You're a Skyscraper)

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