I don’t like this expression “First World problems.” It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn’t disappear just because you’re black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here’s a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are.
One event that illustrated the gap between the Africa of conjecture and the real Africa was the BlackBerry outage of a few weeks ago. Who would have thought Research In Motion’s technical issues would cause so much annoyance and inconvenience in a place like Lagos? But of course it did, because people don’t wake up with “poor African” pasted on their foreheads. They live as citizens of the modern world. None of this is to deny the existence of social stratification and elite structures here. There are lifestyles of the rich and famous, sure. But the interesting thing about modern technology is how socially mobile it is—quite literally. Everyone in Lagos has a phone.
“Now what is particularly outrageous about the Wal-Mart business model is that the Walton family that owns Wal-Mart is the wealthiest family in this country … The six heirs of Sam Walton are worth about, I believe, over $100 billion. Which is more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of the American people, interestingly. And what is quite amazing is that one of the reasons this family has become so wealthy is that the taxpayers of the United States provide more welfare to the Walton family than any family in America. So that — when you have workers in Wal-Mart who in order to feed their families have got to go on food stamps, have got to go on Medicaid to get their healthcare, have got to live in government-subsidized affordable housing in order to have a roof over their heads — what that dynamic is, essentially, is that the United States, that the taxpayers of this country are in partnership with the Walton family. The Walton family makes all of the money – the wealthiest family in America – while the taxpayers have to subsidize the low-paid employees. And that to me is totally absurd.”—Bernie Sanders (via mattpayton)
“Learning the Python programming language will give you a certain kind of power over computers, but being amazing at PowerPoint is how you gain control over other people.”—Paul Ford in “Deliverables,” Liminal Encyclopedia on Medium, September 19, 2013. (via kthread)
“It’s important to understand that the corporate media doesn’t just support the neo-liberal project. It is the neo-liberal project. This is not a moral position it has chosen to take, it’s structural. It’s intrinsic to the economics of how the mass media works.”—Arundhati Roy in a January 16, 2004 speech at the Opening Plenary of the World Social Forum in Mumbai (via sextus—empiricus)
“There was a time in the late 80s when I signed up for a gym even though I was very scrawny and a heavy smoker and not in good shape in any way. It was this giant muscle-dude gym, which was awesome, because if you can’t bench anything and you work out at that gym, those dudes treat you like you are one of them. They’ll come up and spot your miserable 80-pound press and sit there going, ‘It’s all you! One more, man, one more!’ But I specifically remember that was the first place I heard ‘Her Black Wings’ by Danzig, and it was so perfect.”—The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle talks about his favorite work-out music and much more in the latest Situation Critical. (via pitchfork)
In a post-Weezy era where .zip files of MP3 mixtapes frequently become as popular as major-label albums, it’s possible for rappers to achieve in a year what might have taken them three or four a decade ago. Twenty-nine-year-old Chicago rapper/producer Tremaine…
WHOA. My man Winston drops a killer interview with Chicago-based MC Tree. Highly recommended.