Saturday, August 13, 2016

BMD Gaming

Though the majority of my posts have focused on social and political issues, gaming has always been at the heart of BMD. It's always been one of my favorite pass-times at least. To introduce that portion of BMD, I have a showcase of videos from the YouTube channel PrinceJamal89. I'm also streaming on Twitch under the same name. The clips, videos, and commentary are rough now, but as I continue to improve and expand you'll get a front row seat to watch the channel mature.

First up is Heroes & Generals:

 This was also my first attempt at streaming PC games. For those not familiar with the game, Heroes & Generals is a FPS set in WW2. The players can take on the ranks of 3 different militaries(US, Germany, Russia). You start out as a private soldier, but as you gain experience and money you can join other branches and use equipment like tanks, planes, and other vehicles. The highest rank is General for all teams. Once you reach that rank, you have access to the strategy platform for the game. As a General you manage resources, soldiers, and choose which cities to attack which sets the pace for the experience rank and file soldiers have on the FPS platform.

Next up is Deadliest Warrior:

This is one of my favorites since it has historic figures like Shaka Zulu and Hannibal. The game features figures covered in the show. In this clip, I was showing off the game's conquest mode. The game puts two legends on opposite ends of a map and both legends battle for control of the map.

The last game for this post - Fallout 4:

Fallout follows the player you survive the wilderness of what used to be the US 200+ years after nuclear fallout wiped out the modern world. The FPS/RPG combined with commerce and deep storylines, all in an open world got me from the first time I picked up Fallout New Vegas.
In this clip I show off the damage and fortification of one of my settlements following an attack.

Bullshit Busting: Dealing with Actual Facts

To start the bullshit busting section of "The System" where we will be reviewing memes, news, urban legends, rumors, and conspiracies to separate the facts from the fiction. We'll start by looking at some ways to do the knowledge to see how information and misinformation can help and hurt people looking to make a difference in their communities. First up is a tool kit organized by Carl Sagan he called the "Baloney Detection Kit". I'm summarizing the points here, but you can check out the links to find the full text(That's your first test).

Carl Sagan's Bullshit Detection Kit

1) Fact check(and double-check) the facts and evidence
2) Check the facts from different points of view
3) No expert or authority is too good to be questioned
4) Every story has more than one side. Look at all of them.
5) Check all the ways your point of view could be wrong. If you don't, somebody else will - and don't get in your feelings when that happens.
6) Numbers and video don't lie, not always. Use them.
7) Weak points weaken arguments(go back to #5)
8) Occam's Razor: The argument with less holes is best
9) Claims that can't be tested are worthless

With these tools we can take on whatever information we want and discern between fact, fiction, hoaxes, satire and handle it that way.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The System and Black Thought: Bridging the Gaps

Rube Goldberg Machine

The "system" that we live in as a people here in America, how it works, who the system was designed by and who it was designed for, who controls it, what needs to be done about it, and why, are usual points of debate. And there are about 64655465861567 different answers to those questions for every person that cares to put their two cents in. So as an introduction to the Political Education and Conspiracy Theory series that are coming up here at BMD, I'll put my two cents in and point out some of the bullshit that people add to black political thought, by accident or on purpose.

1) Giving white people so much credit
    As a computer scientist by trade and an independent student of politics, history, and philosophy, all of these fields basically built themselves around the study of systems and critical thinking. The basic way a system works is it takes input, does something with that input, and puts out a result, based on how the system was designed. Whether that system works for you or not depends on what you put into it and how you use what it returns, the same with life in general. If you let some people who claim to be "pro-black" tell the story of "the System" they make the "white man" out to look like an unstoppable force driven to destroy the world, and we're waiting on that unstoppable (enter figure, event, or group of  people here) to wake up and stop it - like something out of a comic book. It may SOUND pro-black, but it really gives white people credit where no credit is due. Quit while you're ahead(or behind) because that way of thinking hasn't worked, and it's probably not going to. If a system exists, it can be studied, controlled, changed, or taken apart. Black power is about controlling any system that affects the lives of black people and making it work for us.

2) Black Nationalism and its role in the system
   When you hear the term "pro-black" the meaning changes depending on who it is that's speaking. If you study the movements of Black people in America, you'll find that "Pro-Black" is a pretty broad name for a number of different philosophies, like the Liberal/Moderate/Conservative polarities in mainstream politics. On one end you have Black Nationalism and Black separatism on the other. They all have similar goals, but different views on how those goals should be reached, and who can(and can't) put in the work to make it happen. Instead of recognizing how deep the movement really is, people get fanatic to the point that anyone who disagrees with them is "part of the problem''. Black Nationalism can be broken down into subsets focusing on culture, politics, economics, etc. There are groups that focus on these specific fields, and others that address all of these fields at the same time. At the end of the day, Black Nationalism advocates the advancement of Black People and pursuing those opportunities however and whenever they are available. Advancing in any of these fields, both on the individual, and collective levels, is a step in the right direction towards power and self-determination.

3) By (almost) any means necessary
   The above quote by Malcolm X is probably one of the most popular and mis-represented quotes of this century. The full quote, which many people like to leave out is ''We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this Earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary." Taken on face value, it literally means to do whatever is necessary to make sure that Black people overcome oppression to become self-sufficient and respected as a people. But going back to point #2, that list of "anything" eventually gets cut to a predefined set of options that look and sound “pro-black”.

   This series is designed to bridge those gaps that prevent us from making progress as a people, pointing out the advantages and disadvantages of the parts of the machine that we live in, and airing out the bullshit that ends up getting in our way.

Friday, July 3, 2015

TPP: Opportunity and Power

 Knowledge is to supply yourself with facts. By adding on to those facts, you put yourself in a position of power and the ability or authority to bring about justice(knowledge add a cipher). In light of the news about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). I've seen a lot of people trying to fight it because of the cons associated with it, but there are many pros that the common man can take advantage of. Even with the current economic structure(s) there's opportunities available, especially for the Original Man can take advantage of.
 Doing the knowledge to the current global economic systems gives us equal opportunity to add on to our own power and stability, with the ability to represent and expand our culture to the national and global economic, political, and social arenas.
 For example, above is a shareholder voting form that I get every year from a major oil corporation I invested in. For the price of a pair of Jordans, I have the power to vote on decisions the company makes(ex. Forcing the company to publish its political activity, forcing the company to hire someone to monitor its impact on the environment, etc). And these changes were all proposed by other shareholders, Tyrone from up the block. So imagine if a group of people put their Jordan money together to get the power to vote as a group on these same issues. The company can be as good or as bad as it wants in the political, economic, and moral areas, but at the end of the day it has to answer to the shareholders knowing if it pisses us off too much, board members can lose their spot on the board, and we can take our money somewhere else. And on top of that, the company PAYS ME 4 times a year just because I put money on their books ONE time. I can pass that down to my seed, and if he's smart, he'll keep it, and be able to pass it down to his seeds or soil. And if we hard up for money, we can sell the stock and keep the cash.

You can make up all the conspiracies you want, and rant and rave about major corporations all you want, but true or not, they have no reason to listen to you or anyone else complaining about their operation if you're not a stakeholder in their operations - an owner, supplier, or customer. Stakeholders and the government are the two major groups that corporations, or businesses in general answer to. They set the rules that the business must follow (or work around) and use their money, or the law, to make that happen.

On the other side of the TPP, with Asian companies manipulating their currency exchange rate, the common man could, for example, buy a stack of ps4s or generic computers or tablets or whatever for a discounted rate, straight from the factory, and then flip them in his own community. The TPP got its pros and cons, but there's always been ways for the common man to take advantage right along with the big dogs.

Overall, regardless of the rules, regulations, or trade agreements that currently exist, or that will exist in the future, it's up to us as a community, and each individual to decide if they will be a victim of the changing times, a victor of the changing times, or a catalyst for new changes.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

It Ain't Rap's Fault

 "Hip Hop is the CNN of the Black Community"

Since Hip Hop's emergence into the public eye, it has constantly come under scrutiny All this hating Rap music gets old... Your uncle, brother, cousin, step-dad, friend is more likely to influence you to become an alcoholic or drug addict than a rapper. Only those people can give you PHYSICAL ACCESS to those things. The music can influence your way of thinking, yes. But if those lifestyles are already in your environment then you can't blame music. What about the white people who listen to Taylor Swift and still do drugs?

Music simply imitates whats already in society. Actually, drugs and music have gone hand in hand as long as humans have been around. Nobody's calling Jimi Hendrix or Bob Marley enemies of the community.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Money on the Net: A Revisit

"Wealth is a persons ability to survive so many number of days forward - or, if I stopped working today, how long could I survive?"
- R. Buckminster Fuller

One night I was glued to the computer with a few drinks and cigarettes, a calculator, and 10 or more internet tabs open with everything from online gigs for pocket change, investopedia and marketwatch for investment knowledge, my bank account for moving cash, and my girlfriend screaming for me to go to bed... No matter how much sleep I may lose on those binges, preparing for the day I leave my job(whether fired, laid off, quitting, retirement, or death) is what makes each start of the work week, and work day more bearable....

 This independent study has turned into a weekly, if not almost daily habit. This month I decided to give up smoking and drinking to see how much money I could save and invest in other areas. I was recently studying the book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and although I have already been implementing a few of the asset-building activities the author mentions, I welcomed the new perspective on financial literacy concepts. One of the most important is the distinction between an asset and a liability.

Asset = money made whether I work or not
Liability = money spent whether I work or not

So with this new knowledge, we will add on a previous post discussing the opportunities for making money online. Except for number 1, the methods in this list will deal with the idea of generating "passive income" through assets.

1. MTurk is a website powered by Amazon where workers can search for Human Intelligence Tasks("hits") which are posted by other users. The tasks can be as easy as copying text from a business card and taking surveys, to more advanced hits such as transcribing video and audio recordings. The payment for hits can range depending on how complex or time consuming the HIT is. The hard part is reviewing the gigs that make the most sense to perform, and match your working style and interests. You won't get rich, or even replace your current paycheck, but you can make some extra pocket change.

2. Stocks
When you buy stocks, you own a piece of that company. To raise money, companies will often sell partial ownership of the company as a stock in exchange for money. The company uses this money to grow its current business, or fund new ideas and opportunities.

When dealing with the stock market there are a number of ways to make money. The 2 main methods are sales profits and dividends. How you invest depends on your style and financial goals.

Dividends = Money the company pays you for owning the stock.

Dividends are for long term income and saving money for retirement, children's college funds, and other long term events. Dividends are paid out over time - usually every quarter(3 months). Regardless of what the stock's price is, as long as the company is in business, you get paid.

Gains = Money you make after selling the stock for a profit.

  Trading stocks for gains you get the money as soon as the deal is made. You can either reinvest the money on a different stock, or you can keep the cash. There is also more risk here because the value of the stock can cause you to lose money just as easy as it can make money.

3. CD's and Bonds
Certificates of Deposit(CD's) and Bonds are both like a friend giving you an "IOU", but you invest in them for different reason. A CD is bought through your bank, it's another way of saving your money. The bank holds your CD for anywhere from 3 mo to 5 years, depending on how long you agreed they could hold it. When the time is up, the bank pays you interest on the money you let them borrow. This is giving the bank a short term loan.
 Bonds are similar to CDs and work pretty much the same way. The difference is bonds can be bought through a company or a bank. It is a long term loan, usually for 10 years or more. But bonds also normally have a higher interest rate, so more money is made when the bank or company pays you back. 

4. Mutual Funds
Mutual Funds combine stocks, bonds, and CDs with other form of investment into one package. The money for these investments comes from groups of investors pooling their money together. Mutual funds are managed by a broker, who handles what to invest the money in, how long, and when. As an investor you buy a share(or part) of the mutual fund. Whenever the fund makes money, through dividends, gains, or interest, that money is paid out to the owners of the fund in dividends. As the value of the funds investments grow, the price of shares for that fund grows too. You can also sell your shares in that fund for cash.

If you don't feel comfortable researching individual companies, or watching the market for the best deals on stocks, bonds, and CDs, a mutual fund is a convenient investment opportunity. But they are also riskier. Just because you have a broker handling the funds for you, doesn't mean they can't make mistakes.

For those who have experience in the investment field, it works like a game to them - no different than going to the casino. The same way you can hit it big and make a lot of money, you can lose it just as fast. It doesn't take a lot of money to get started, all you need is a bank account. I had only $50 in my account when I bought my first stock. By doing your research and taking educated risks, you can make investments work for you, and make money, while managing it all from your computer.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Post Racial America and Indirect Racism

  Since the end of the Civil Rights and Black Power movement, many white people have tried to distance themselves from being labeled a "racist". Although there are many other methods, the internet has long served as a safe medium for many people to voice their true feelings of other races in this current era called "Post-Racial America". With the beginning of George Zimmerman's murder trial, the judicial diarrhea of the US Supreme Court on the Voting Rights Act of 1964, and Paula Deen's (past) diarrhea of the mouth, the events of this week have removed multiple layers from the "Race Relations" onion of American society.

  There are 2 types of racism, both of which are common in the US, as defined by Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) in his book Black Power : The Politics of Liberation(1967): Individual Racism and Institutional Racism.

  Individual racism is a small scale event between individuals or a small group of people in which one group acts against another based on an ideal that is intentionally or neglectfully racist. Paula Deen's "n-word" jokes are little more than examples of individual racism. Which, for those who didn't know, the law suit against Paula Deen was filed by a white employee, and it is about more than simple "n-word" jokes as described in this article from Black Legal Issues. Another example would be a group of Black guys beating up a white guy, just because he's white. As offensive as it may be, incidents involving individual racism do not have a lasting impact on the target group as a whole. But since it is on a person to person basis, the impact may last for the individuals involved. This factor is what allows racist ideals to be passed from generation to generation.

  Institutional racism is far reaching in the number of people it affects and is usually carried out by a group of people, although individuals can carry out this form of racism as well. This usually occurs when groups of people with racist ideals and states of mind get together - a majority of the time having positions of power. Where, as the picture above states, company policies, law enforcement practices, and legislative practices are created with the intention of harming, or infringing on the rights or progression of a designated group of people. These policies are designed and promoted as resolving a problem, but either intentionally or inherently create disparities through disenfranchisement, harassment, and other abuses of the negatively affected race. Some other race or group of races naturally benefits from it. The support for these forms of institutional racism comes from individual racists who would not want to openly express those views, or would otherwise be powerless to act on those views. Therefore they invest in or vote for, companies and politicians who will be able to deliver policies and business practices that have a similar ring to their racist ideals(although not explicitly stating so). The students of Prairie View A & M University's struggle for voting rights is a prime example of institutional racism, inspired by individual racists. Sporadic incidents of individual racism then begin to occur as a result of the policies and attitudes behind institutional racism.

  The Civil Rights and Black Power movements marked the end of the then commonplace overt racism. The passing of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, overt racism was outlawed. At that point, racial slurs took a back seat in the public eye, and made way for neutral terms like "criminals" and "illegals"(immigrants) to refer to a broad spectrum of people who will be affected by these policies. So we can ultimately define "Post-Racial America" as the period where it's OK to be racist(individually or institutionally) as long as you don't actually say that that is what you are doing. A period of time where race shouldn't matter, but it does, and unless there is a large enough group of people affected by it, there is no sure fire way to identify it.

  With a better understanding of what racism is and the different forms it can take, we can better prepare ourselves to develop and act on solutions to these problems. The problems of racism cannot be eliminated, but, similar to computer security, the threats or affect of those threats of institutional and individual racism can be transferred, delayed, or prevented from reaching fruition. By having a healthy and practical understanding of how racism works and the forms that it can take will help us to educate ourselves and others outside of the race in our continuing struggle is to secure economic, political, and social freedom and self-determination.