Friday, September 8, 2017

On Being Brought from Africa to America Response

Cole Thompson                                                                                                                                         

This poem brings up many conflicts. It's talking about a redeemed soul, brought to Christianity.


But there is something off when you dig deeper. Black slaves may have been converted when brought to America, but they faced persecution on other fronts. They became objects, captured in Africa, forced into crowed ships, shuttled across the Atlantic, and then were expected to work hard labor, facing cruel AND unusual punishments or even death if they resisted. The picture this poem paints is incomplete. It doesn't sound like a black slave. The perspective is twisted, presenting the transportation of Africans to America as only an act of religious redemption.

The question is, why did blacks need the basis of religion to be considered worthy of whites' acknowledgement?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Evolution of the Internet

The Internet that we know today originated from two parts: ARPANET and the protocol suite TCP/IP. According to Wikipedia, The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was an early packet switching network and the first network to implement the protocol suite TCP/IP. Although packet switching is the general practice nowadays, it was very new at the beginning of ARPANET. At the conception of the Internet as we now know it, all 'sites' were part of the Static Web. Information was able to be shared, but it couldn't be modified.

The next step in the Internet's evolution is the practice known as Web 2.0. This idea describes World Wide Web sites that became interactive and easily edited. Web 2.0 doesn't necessarily refer to any particular update, but rather the changing of the way Web pages were used. This form of the Internet allowed users to interact with each other through the first of social media sites. This form of the Internet allowed information to be swapped throughout the world.

The Internet of Things is the current stage of the World Wide Web we are currently in. The IoT refers to the network of physical things embedded with sensors and data-collecting software that enables these things to share data. The Internet of Things allows the physical world to be interconnected to the virtual world in every aspect. This integration allows everyday items to be more precise, as they can access the World Wide Web. This constantly evolving form continues to grow and grow every day.

Sources: Wikipedia ARPANET article
Wikipedia Web 2.0 article
Wikipedia Internet of Things article

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How To Separate Fact and Fiction Online

In this TED Talk, Markham Nolan discusses how his fellow journalists and he separate the real news stories from the influx of fakes and phoneys on the Internet. Mr. Nolan is the managing editor of He has watched the art of journalism change from reporting on a news story to having to find that news story among countless made-up stories. In the talk, he discusses a few of the methods his team uses to distinguish fact form fiction.

Markham starts off the talk with a view of how transmitting news has changed from something very slow to instantaneous transmission. Talking about an earthquake that struck in 2012, "The ground shook in Managua 60 seconds after it hit the epicenter. 30 seconds later, the first message went onto Twitter." He comments on the fact that news and 'news' are transmitted across the world in a matter of seconds nowadays. The job of a journalist is to sort through and find the real, engaging stories amongst the muck. Mr. Nolan then describes the extent of a few of his team's searches to authenticate pieces of news. As opposed to the time he started journalizing, "there's a greater abundance of information than there ever has been, it's harder to filter, we have greater tools." There is a wealth of information, but it takes much more to analyze.

I had never given very much thought to this side of news stories. I read them, and never give any thought to the journalists who produce them. I was born in the era of instantaneous transmission, so I don't get the experience of seeing the transition that he describes. Now that I've seen this, I can begin to understand the struggle of clarifying the fact from the fiction. This talk really makes you broaden your horizons and think about the producers of news articles, and that the message they carry is one that wasn't just given out. The journalists have to work for their stories. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Meet The Dazzling Flying Machines of The Future

Raffaello D'Andrea loves drones of all kinds. He is the professor of dynamic systems and control at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. He is viewed as an autonomous systems pioneer. This means that he works with self-controlled machines who do work independent from human influence. He also co-founded Kiva Systems, now Amazon Robotics, and an internationally-exhibited new media artist. He graduated from the University of Toronto while studying Engineering Science. He then went on to begin graduate studies for Systems and Control at the California Institute of Technology. He enjoys his work, and often collaborates with artists and engineers alike to generate mechanical sculptures. He prefers a hands-on, interactive form of work.

In this TED Talk, Mr. D'Andrea demonstrates just how far drones and autonomous systems have come. He shows off five different kinds of autonomous drones: a tail-sitter, a mono-spinner, an omnicopter, an extra-safe quadrocopter, and a swarm of micro-quadcopters. With each demonstration, Raffaello explains the process and benefits of each of the self-controlled machines. Each drone has a different way of flying independently, and each has an interesting quirk. With every machine taking off into the air, you can see just how advanced this technology has become.

Drones, especially self-controlled ones, have always interested me. From the time the Wright brothers first got off the ground, people have wondered how far flight could go. Nowadays, we see it as no major marvel that we can send people into space, or that we have powerful planes flying overhead. With developments such as these, I am in awe of this technology. The best part, however, is that Mr. D'Andrea didn't even scratch the surface of applications for this technology. There are so many ways these machines could be used, and that is wonderful.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Journal of a Refugee Ch. 9-10

On May 3, the UN decided to try and evacuate some refugees and I from the Mille Collines. The plan was to escort us to the airport and get out of the country. That was the plan.

We pulled out of the Mille Collines parking lot with an armed escort. I had no political connections, but Paul managed to 'obtain' one for me. The evacuation started out good, with no sign of the militias for several yards. Then it all turned downhill. We pulled up to a roadblock at Cyimicanga, and were stopped by both the Interahamwe and the Army. We were ordered out onto the roadside, and that is when things went from bad to worse. Chaos broke loose. They started beating and cutting us. I can't say I got the worse of it, but my arms were cut up bad and I had bruises all over my body. Somehow the UN got us out of there and back to the Mille Collines. The worst of us were cared for as well as the limited doctors could. Even after that, the militias didn't stop, there was a grenade shot into the wall of the hotel, I wasn't there, but my friends heard and felt the explosion. The UN atrempted and succeeded in a second evacuation, but I was not part of it. I had lost my faith in the UN. It was quiet after that, until the day the Interahamwe entered the hotel.

It was the day that Paul was not at the hotel. He always seemed so calm and composed. When he was gone, the Interahamwe entered the hotel and forced everyone to the pool. Everyone, to my knowledge, except for me. I managed to evade them by hiding in a bathtub. When I knew they were gone, I stealthily crept over to a window facing the pool. What I saw convinced me that all humans have a dark side, no matter how well-hidden. The killers had the refugees lined up in rows and columns. I believed I was about to witness the term 'genocide' in bloody actuality. That is, until Paul showed up, I would like to say that he stopped the killing with a saving military force, but it was with one of his contacts, an Army general who I previously thought was passive to the genocide. He somehow disbanded the band of slaughterers, and we never saw them again. Finally, the UN pulled an all-out evacuation of everyone, with proper escorts this time. I have never felt the need or urge to go back to the place where I was sheltered during an outbreak of the worst side of humanity.

While most of the people I knew were dropped off with the RPF, I was taken straight to the UN base. When they asked me what I wanted to do, the only thing I told them was, "Anything but Rwanda." For the first time, the UN responded instantly, and got me a flight out of Rwanda to Tanzania. I managed to scrape together a living for myself, working as a store clerk, and I am content as I can be, but I am not happy. I can no longer be happy when I have seen things that no man should. I have never revisited Rwanda, since there is nothing left for me there. All my family was killed during the genocide, and I had no other relationships. I have tried to forget what happened, but my nightmares won't let me. All I want is to move on from that terrible time. I have left Rwanda behind, and never looked back. I no longer think of myself as a Tutsi, but as a Tanzanian. I came out of that dark time a changed man. I can't complain, I have been rather successful coming back from the killings. Of that I don't deny. But they have changed me. I have grown numb, I have become apathetic to little things. It may not be healthy but I don't care. That is how I deal with my history.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Journal of a Refugee Ch. 7

Father Wenceslas Munyegeshaka:
I used to be a priest. That was until the genocide started. Though I am still a man of God in title, I am no longer a holy man. I used to have a thriving flock. Then the murderers took them away.

Some people question my moral ethics and me. Paul, of the Hotel de Mille Collines, sticks in my mind especially. He wondered why I let the killers in my church all the time. To tell the truth, it is to save my own skin. I don't want to die. I plan on surviving this genocide. I will not sacrifice my life for other people. When this whole thing started, I let myself believe that the killers weren't killing the Tutsis they took from me. I don't delude myself anymore. People in Rwanda are killing their neighbors for no reason other than prejudice. 

I can't lie to myself anymore. I've tried to distance myself from the murder and violence, but I can't disguise it anymore. I brought my mother, a Tutsi 'cockroach', to Paul. No matter how much I feign indifference, I still care greatly. I'm glad Paul understands. He didn't question me, he just accepted. I want to change what I can do, but I've already dug myself into a hole. All I can do is hope that nobody else comes to me for shelter. I have signed myself over to the killers by not resisting. I have resigned myself to indirectly working for the killers, by not stopping them. If I don't bend to their every whim, they will kill me. I can't escape the cycle. All I can do is hope the killings are over soon.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Journal of a Refugee Ch. 6

I've been hiding out in the streets of Kigali for a while now. I used to have a normal life, working in a supermarket. Back then, life had order. I would wake up, go to work, and socialize with normal, sane people. Now, I hid from the same people, who are lurking everywhere, waiting to kill me. I've heard stories of other survivors, who just barely escaped a massacre. He was sheltered with UN soldiers, until they were evacuated. The trucks had just barely disappeared when the Interahamwe started killing left and right. I've managed to avoid them thus far, and I don't plan to give up now. I've heard that Paul Rusesabagina, the manager of the Hotel de Mille Collines, has been taking refugees. I've slowly been making my way across town to get there.

I've finally made it to the Mille Collines. I'm worried. I feel like the mere illusion of safety here will be shattered very soon by the killers that lurk beyond the fence. Even in the face of chaos, Paul manages a hotel well. He's devised a genius way of dragging out the supply reserves. The water may be discolored, but it's water. Paul somehow makes the days seem normal, with common structure and function. I don't know how long this will last, but I enjoy the normality and flow of these days. Even with the genocide raging around us, we find a way to survive.