Arnoldo Talisman and Shockin’ Nigerian Hip-Hop

Dave Winer is lamenting that it’s not too easy to find cheap/free firewood nearby.  He makes some great points.  Eric Schmidt of Google says it right; we are still in the infancy of this technology.

But it’s getting better every day.  For years, I have been trying to locate information on UGO, a Nigerian rapper who made waves in Detroit around the same time that Eminem was coming up.  Now, he’s on the Internets!  The song I remember is “Earthquakin’ Afrikan MC”, but all of them are good.  He’s kind of like a mix between X-Clan and Will Smith — sort of like Hieroglyphics but way better.

UGO reminds me of Dare’s old rap partner, Big Lo.  It’s great when we can see music videos from all around the world.  Kimberly at Bix says, “you can do a music video in like, 3 minutes”.  The barriers come crashing down.

But we have a long way to go.  The other day, I was at a party where the VJ played some videos from Cuba.  One very cool one, “Ay, Juana!” by Arnoldo Talisman struck me.  Good luck finding it on the Internets.  If you find it, please let me know 🙂



Walk the Line

The Levi’s commercial covering ‘Walk the Line’ is presumably a light piece about young love, but it’s got an undercurrent of ‘suffocated love‘ that’s undeniable.  The phrase, “because you’re mine” has always been jarring to me.  I remember one woman I knew many years ago, who explained to me “I want to have a baby, because then I will have something that I know is all mine.”  I’ve known others since who felt the same way — something I never understood, since I see a parent’s role being to train a child to be independent.

It’s a romanticization of possessive codependency, and disturbing on many levels.  But it’s gripping, and appeals to a large swath of their audience.  There are no doubt large numbers of people who see it and think, “how sweet!”; who would wonder how I could possibly see anything wrong with it.

Judgment that relies on saying, “those poor people are stupid” is no judgment at all.  So rather than attempt to defend my own alien perspective, I’ll try to understand the person who says “how sweet!”

My best defense of the “possessive codependency is sweet” comes from C. S. Lewis, in “The Four Loves”.  He quotes Chesterton, who quotes Kipling:

“If England was what England seems
‘Ow quick we’d drop ‘er.  But she ain’t!”

Lewis explains, “Love never spoke that way.  It’s like loving your children only ‘if they’re good’, your wife only while she keeps her looks, your husband only so long as he is famous and successful.  ‘No man’, said one of the Greeks, ‘loves his city because it is great, but because it is his.'”

Despite the fact that we live in an age that is suspicious of patriotism, we can see the essence of Lewis’s argument.  He is very persuasive.  He argues that a love which is conditional on particular attributes of the beloved is no love at all. 

We can understand this; and there is no more certain way to make your lover insecure than to blame your love on some fallible asset she possesses (and will most certainly lose).  This is even more deadly than blaming your love on an asset which is non-unique and shared by many others.  Tell a woman, “I love you because you are young, and youth is beauty”, and see how stable a pairing it produces.

From this, he jumps to “ownership” as the only truthful measure of love.  I get it.  But for a good liar, many other things will do.  Length of shared history, commonality of interests, and so on.  Does a father “own” a son, or for that matter a son “own” a father.  I am my father’s son, and he is his son’s father — in both cases, the possessive phrase is used, but it doesn’t necessarily connote possession.

But then, “walking the line” because you’re “mine” could simple mean “mine” in the (healthy) sense of a father and son.  At last, I’m at peace with Johnny Cash.


And what would happen to the human race if we all were logical?  Romantic relationships progress with both sides moving forward on unrealistic expectations.  When we’re lucky, we have built something worth keeping when the mutual delusions subside.  Who’s to judge the youngsters moving forth on possessive codependency?  Perhaps we all owe our own existence to hundreds of generation of our ancestors doing the same.

Mommy, Daddy: Useless?

Daughter (exact quote, completely unprompted): “Why is it that the only job that isn’t very useful is working at Microsoft?”

Mommy: “It is useful.  You know how doctors use computers to do their job better.  This way we can help more people.  You know, kids in other countries cannot even get shots to prevent diseases.”

Daughter: (horrified about shots) “Well, I don’t know…”

Daddy: “Yes, Bill Gates used computers and became the richest man in the world so he could buy shots for every child in the world”

Yes, I know it’s harsh, but she’ll thank me later…