No more new music

Have you heard of musicxray?

It is a website powered by AI (machine learning for those who want to get technical). Musicians upload their music, which is analysed and sorted using mathematical algorithms. With a huge database of over 3 million songs, it has identified the characteristics of the ones that became hits and organized them into clusters. If the musician’s song is placed in one of those clusters, then it is deemed a hit and an eager music producer will be in touch to help you sell it to the World.

Click this link to see how one lady got chosen.

So, what happens when AI chooses what music we’re supposed to listen to based on “hits” criteria? Will we ever find something new? Something that challenges us into appreciating things that are different from ourselves.

I bet you inuit throat singing is not in that database.

 

Empathy as a virtue

Is this a virtue? Can we honestly say that because we care about the welfare of others, that it makes us better people?

In the case where the person is of less character than we think they should have, for instance, a thieving drug addict who just stole your phone, or politician who  embezzled millions to fill their own coffers. Does it count as caring if we have minimum requirements for the person?

If I am unable to empathize with you because we are so different, do you deserve to suffer- (1)

What does it mean to care about other people? Empathy/sympathy for the situations in which we find them? Monetary assistance? Exert political influence? Pay more taxes?

What are we expecting in return?

The notion of caring about other people has been bastardized to such an extent that we no longer have a meaningful definition ofthe phrase. But this is the political atmosphere in which we find ourselves, engaging with people to make them understand why being concerned about the welfare of others is important.

Is that a worthy cause?

Should I talk to you?

It is impossible to dialogue with a mouth that stays agape and a mind that is locked up.It is a beautiful World we live in. If someone says something I disagree with, I can change the channel, look for a different website, unsubscribe from a newsletter, leave a Facebook or WhatsApp group, or even set the place on fire. I have options.

Someone told me that I’m thin skinned and needed to be in a place where different views are being held to either strengthen my arguments or allow different kinds of information (that I may not have) to change my mind about my stance.

This is difficult. Am I supposed to engage with:

  1. Flat Earthers?
  2. Misogynists?
  3. NAMBLA (North American Men/Boy Love Association?
  4. Racists?
  5. Homophobes?
  6. Slave owners?
  7. Climate change deniers?
  8. Science deniers?
  9. Religious nuttery?

The list is a mile long. But here is my response,

No thank you.

If I don’t stand up for the things I believe in and refuse to engage with people whose arguments flaunt the basic tenets of human rights and shun science. I’m sorry if that makes me narrow minded, but I think I’m okay with that.

Sourcing Great African Literature

African Literature.

Sigh.

People don’t want to be called African authors, Africans shun African authors, Africans fight other Africans about what African literature is and should be.

It is a complicated space to occupy, especially because those of us who write stories know what the publishing World desires from the African continent. But they cater to their audience, who are, by and large, not African people.

If you’re reading this and you claim citizenship of one of the countries of that glorious continent, here are some resources for you. Please enjoy and patronize.

  1. Jalada Africa (stories)
  2. Omenana (SciFi/Fantasy Stories)
  3. African Literature on Facebook (all fun things African Lit)
  4. James Murua’s Literature Blog (literature review/news)
  5. Kwela (sell literature written by black Africans)
  6. Baobab Prize (children’s literature)

I hope this is a great start for everyone.

Gasp! … and *faint*!

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Go on and say something about the punctuation in my title.

Now can we get back to the super cool awesome thing I wanted to tell you?

I curate an amazing magazine on Flipboard that is all about African Literature. Book reviews, book releases, author interviews, opinions about African literature, competition news, submission requests, short stories, and so much more. Seriously, if you haven’t subscribed, in the famous words of Anne Kansiime, “You like taking risks!”. If you have subscribed and you haven’t shared this super cool awesome magazine that ANYONE can have on their mobile device or computer, nga you’re being selfish! SHARE!!!!

magazine widget

So, anyway, there I was, flipping the magazine when I saw this:

I seriously need smelling salts for the victorian swooning I’m doing about this magazine. Now click the picture and check the magazine out. Not later… I meant now. Stop what you’re doing (you weren’t that into it anyway) and go check out the magazine.

Remembering 2005

In the early 2000s I was a tortured soul looking for my place in the World. I found my old Geocities page somewhere on the intertubes and the “blogging” I used to do.

I’m glad I learned this lesson back then. It is so astute even today as I continue to work on making my dreams a reality.

Let’s go back to almost 10 years ago.

—————————————-

Lately I have had the opportunity to be introspective… allowed myself to look inside to try to understand the way that I am created. The reasons for my passions, my fears, my needs and what I have discovered is in the process of changing my life.

This world is incredibly demanding, constantly requiring you to give of yourself to surrender a part of you so that something can be accomplished. Unfortunately, many times we are unable to prioritize and end up surrendering pieces of ourselves that are vital to our survival. You may think you don’t ever surrender, but never be deceived because you will ALWAYS have demands placed on you that are inconveniencing.

Friendship is not to be taken lightly, it is a responsibility that one claims for one’s self in order to give, to share, to reduce the loneliness that plagues the human soul. When two hearts acquire that special feeling of kinship, then the mind must be engaged to establish the boundaries of the budding relationship. At that time the minds involved claim the responsibility of friendship which includes surrendering a piece of yourself whenever the situation demands it.

My struggle hasn’t been with surrendering pieces of myself, and those who know me well will testify to the fact that I will surrender every last resource I have available to me to aid my friends. It is a responsibility I will not take lightly because a soul has now been connected to my own. Whenever that friendship fades/goes away/is torn from me by whatever circumstance I lose a little piece of me… that connection that was made.

I talked to God today about it for I am told that my very identity seems to be defined by the relationships in my life, which insulted me at first because it insinuated that I am void of character and substance without relationships. So I was forced to look inside and take stock of my current relationships, but not on my own because we all know where the mind can go if it is not directed by God. He and I talked about friends, loves, crushes, family, extended family, church family and a host of other relationships in my life. I was affirmed and what had been stolen from me by another’s opinion of me was returned.

I am Bwandungi, the second daughter of (redacted).
I am Asiimwe’s younger sister and Tumwijuke, Ayebare and Twonjeirwe’s older sister.
I am one of the maternal Aunts of (redacted)
I am Lydia’s best friend
I am a friend and confidante to Lisa, Rachel, Anne, Julie, Sally, Aja, Mwenki, Grace, Anita, Saison, Message, Christine and a host of other people I cannot name in this little space
Most of all I am God’s precious child, whom He loves and whom He would have gone to the cross for even if I was the only creature on this Earth

I AM defined by my relationships, otherwise I am just a floating soul wafting in the wind, here today and gone tomorrow. We will all die and no one will remember the things we did, or the feats we accomplished, but those lives we have touched that have been brought to us by the grace of God will remember and will smile, or chuckle, or laugh out loud.

I am not apologizing anymore for loving and being totally involved with my friends and family. My relationships give me the roots I need to be stable, support me when I am down and allow me to grow and plant my own seeds in other places. They provide me with rejuvenation when my soul is weary and plant their own seeds of wisdom in my life. And this is who I am!

Sunday…

In lieu of actually writing a blog post, I will tell you all what is on my mind.

1. AI is serious. Shouldn’t we proceed with caution?
2. My boring history teacher (cannot remember her name) who did not properly convey the absolute awesomeness of Timbuktu.
3. I want to be personal friends of Heather Headley and Elizabeth Tshele, have them in my house sipping some hot beverage and talking.
4. Wishing that the awesome tech in my book was available today.
5. Chocolate. With hazelnut. Nutella.
6. It used to be hard to find African literature from new pens. Not so much anymore! http://flip.it/hTOoe

Imagination

About 2 years ago, I heard of a project that was being started by sci-fi writer, Neal Gaiman. The idea was to have conversations that would inspire sci-fi writers to write less dystopian novels and focus on imagining the kind of World we would like to live in.

A book was released, a continuing conversation about writers inspiring scientists and I watched most of the talk from the Google Talks YouTube channel, to which I am subscribed.

What I heard left me uninspired. We are living in a time of greatly accelerated scientific and technological innovation. Much of the innovation was inspired by writers who looked to the distant future (Star Trek) to bring us computers that speak to us, virtual reality, medical tricorders and even the ipad.

They did not want to read stories about hackers, holocausts, and hyperspace. Hackers have become the new political activists because of complete government control and surveillance, genocides have become the mainstay of human existence as we look for bigger and more devastating ways to be rid of those with opposing views, hyperspace may be a dream, but maybe it has a sister or cousin around whom we can innovate.

I’m thinking this may be a problem only for me. I love grand ideas, technologies that make me want to live there. I hope there are people out there like me, who want to dream big dreams. After all:

I curate a magazine where important advances in science and technology are fodder for my imagination. Come visit.

ourfuture

13 turning 30

A few years ago I wrote a story. I love this story, but I’ve turned into those crazy moms you hear about in the horrifying section of the newspaper. You know those titles,

Woman releases 24 year old daughter after 20 years in basement.

Yep, that’s me! My poor story is locked up on my computer, gathering cyber dust.

I’ve walked through bookstores, picking out the perfect location for my story, imagined the young people in the aisles reaching out for it, wondering what hidden treasures lay inside and finding a friend. Finding someone just like them hidden in the pages.

The world is too cynical! How do I let my poor little baby out into the viciousness that is publishing? Where editors with scimitars slash indiscriminately, leaving huge holes for me to fill with new ideas, new plot lines, new characters. How can I mourn the loss of a character I’ve loved into existence.

I’m an overprotective mommy. I’m trying to let go. But it is sooooooooo hard.

The other reason I’m holding on is I want to send him out with his sister. Girls are stronger anyway and she can protect his fragile little ego (and mine) and catch some of the characters that fall out of his pages.

So in the next few weeks I’m going to do what I have to do to let my baby out into the World. Hopefully, he will grow into a wonderful man, mature in the brash World, finding his way into bookshelves and making a home in hearts everywhere.