Dispatches from San Francisco, from Baruti M. Kamau at Barutiwa Media

Nigeria, Cincinnati, Atlanta, San Francisco – citizen journalist and entrepreneur Baruti M. Kamau has brought a unique perspective in covering his travels. Writing at Barutiwa.com. these are some of his latest dispatches from San Francisco, exploring its politics, and socioeconomic layout. I hope to share some of his photographs soon on the epidemic of homelessness in San Francisco.

Baruti’s on-going series is titled San Francisco, California: An Island Unto Itself and will explore the truly unique and amazing position this city has. These are three pieces from his on-going project, in which he aims to illustrate from the ground, on the street, the seeming contradictions that define this city of massive wealth, massive poverty, and massive intellectual and technical creativity.

An Interview with Irma Bajar of GABRIELA USA
“..Irma Bajar is the Chairperson of GABRIELA USA, the overseas chapter of the Philippine-based GABRIELA Philippines. She was born in Hawaii to Filipino parents who migrated to the United States in search of employment. Irma is college educated, and after 10 years of community organizing, she was elected Chairperson of GABRIELA USA in March 2016. In a face-to-face interview with Irma, last month, I asked her what happened in her life that impelled her to become politically active. She said that she was inspired by a film about the 2004 Hacienda Luisita Massacre in which 14 people were killed and more than 120 injured when the Philippine’s military and police units attempted to disperse protesters. The Hacienda Luisita plantation workers were agitating for increased wages, better benefits and land reform…”


Exhibit 1: Interview with Violet Vasquez (Video)
“…This video interview with Violet Vasquez is an exhibit to my report “San Francisco: An Island Unto Itself”. Ms. Vasquez is a young activist attending City College in San Francisco, California. Her major is sociology and political science. In this 22 minute video, Vasquez discuss her opinions on poverty, homelessness and destitution in the San Francisco Bay area….”


Minimum Wage Boss Face Vociferous Opposition (Video)
“..This video news release documents the Friday morning protest in front of City Hall calling for the resignation of San Francisco’s mayor, Ed Lee. Members from AsianAmericanVoters.org staged a counter protest which resulted in more than 300 Chinese Americans participating to show their support for Mayor Ed Lee. On the other side, viewers will see the vociferous opposition to Mayor Ed Lee with the highlight of Oscar Salinas discussing the criminalization of homelessness. The video was written and narrated by Baruti M. Kamau (aka BMK). Furthermore, “Minimum Wage Boss Faces Vociferous Opposition” is an exhibit to the report “San Francisco: An Island Unto Itself” written by Baruti M. Kamau. Visit www.barutiwa.com to see additional photos and video clips concerning the protest and counter protest…”


No Headset No problem, Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 Revealed

The Web is abuzz with the news, on July 22 Nuance Communications announced a new major release of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 is currently available in its Premium edition and its new features and refinements are serious value-added benefits to users of the software.

Keith Shaw at Networkworld writes:

“The software, which converts users’ speech into text that can get placed into applications such as Microsoft Word or email platforms like Microsoft Outlook, also includes command-and-control functionality for navigating around Web sites. New features include:

  • Faster out-of-the-box accuracy: Nuance said its new speech recognition is so good that it can eliminate the voice-training task that previous versions required users to go through. This helps cut down the time it takes for new users to set up their application.

  • Built-in microphone support: Previous versions required an external microphone or headset; version 13 now supports built-in microphones on laptops. The software can automatically detect the microphones a user has on their system, whether plugged in or built into the computer.

  • More web applications supported: Older versions worked with Internet Explorer only; the new version supports the Firefox and Google Chrome browsers through an install-once extension. This includes being able to dictate emails through Gmail or create a document through Google Docs. Outlook.com and Yahoo! Mail is also supported with DNS 13, Nuance says.”

This excites me.

Dave Smith, writing at Business Insider, notes:

“According to Nuance CMO Peter Mahoney, Dragon 13 is 15% more accurate than Dragon 12, 30% better than Dragon 11 and 42% improved from Dragon 10, which was released in 2008.

And for the first time, NaturallySpeaking supports the ability to dictate with built-in microphones so you don’t need to use a headset for a “truly untethered experience.”

I began using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Premium roughly a year ago to ease my writing load. I prefer longhand drafting, but it is simply too tedious and slow at 27 words per minute. Not only is longhand difficult when dealing with a large amount of text but Internet writing still needs to be keyed in at some point, though I still prefer longhand for taking notes and certain tasks, and believe there are subtle psychological and cognitive benefits to its use. I type up to 100 words per minute, but this cannot be sustained without repetitive movement injuries or, at least, fatigue. With time this ends up averaging down to 60 words per minute, and eventually a break is needed.

This is where the age-old practice of dictation offers some benefits. With Software like Dragon NaturallySpeaking you do not need a transcriptionist, scribe or amanuensis. The clear time saving benefits historically made dictation a normal means of composition for writers such as Aleister Crowley, Stendhal, Henry James, Thomas Hobbes, Montaigne, Francis Bacon, Julius Caesar, al-Bukhari the Muhadith, Alexander Dumas, more recently Dan Brown, and numerous other authors throughout the centuries.

Whereas many past authors had the benefit of living in cultures in which mental composition and textual arrangement was primarily taught, and dictating (to servants and slaves, and later professional scribes – excepting Crowley who typically conned whichever ‘Babylon’ wench he was bedding into transcribing for him) was simply a time saving expedient over longhand, by the late 20th and early 21st centuries we have been trained for almost 3 generations in composition modes favoring active composition by pen and keyboard over mental arrangement, invention, and composition.

This means we primarily think while we write. This makes it difficult for many to switch over to dictation, unless they are older professionals, such as doctors or lawyers, or from executive/upper management class backgrounds and had been educated when dictating ruled supreme in offices. This state of affairs began to die in the 70s, and by 1988-1990 was pretty much dead. Given the price of the early Dragon programs, and the steep hardware requirements for its use, this kept the program largely within the active use of these last professional class holdouts of a mostly extinct dictating culture.

Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking now exists in an ambiance of massively improved Computer Hardware, in which even baseline low-level consumer electronics have capacities exceeding top-shelf hardware even a decade ago. With its improved speech recognition engine and the ability to reliably dictate from built-in microphones, I think Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 will usher in a new era of productivity.

I am going to upgrade NaturallySpeaking 12 to version 13 this afternoon, and I’ll let you, dear reader, know of any struggles I have. Frankly I will never leave longhand writing, the pen and ink, or even humble pencil, are almost like fetish objects of delight to me. But when it comes to saving time, and saving finger joints, so far Nuance’s product has impressed me and helped me a great deal.



4 Questions I have about FEMEN, part 2

So, I’ve beaten the subject to the ground. As to FEMEN, they recently according to this RT article shifted their operations HQ to France, in part due to the massive Muslim population there. Now given that most of their past antics (or those of associated artist activists like Pussy Riot et al.) involved highly aggressive demonstrations in Christian places or worship or symbols.

It is important to recognize that in my allusions and insinuations, past and present, I do not suggest that typical FEMEN supporters in the wider conversation, whether in the blogosphere, online fora, or outside the Internet’s sandbox of distractions, are disingenuous or less than sincere. I believe they overwhelmingly are sincere.

Nor do I mean to suggest that the tactical level activists are insincere, I believe that apart from a very small few individuals, each of these women protesting, much less than those sitting back-room organizing, is enthusiastic, sincere, and fired up about trying to make a difference. That does, of course, leave a small few individuals concerning whom my questions stand.

Regarding protests concerning Christian symbols and sites. Take one, like that chain sawing a Crucifix erected to honor the memory of Ukrainians killed by Stalin’s purges (and the frisson inherent in this is palpable) assaulting Church officials, or verbally harassing them, throwing objects in Churches, staging mock suicides in Churches. Religiously, take the recent campaign concerning Tunisia – one that nude protester and FEMEN sympathizer Amina Tyler herself was even taken aback by (http://rt.com/news/femen-paris-tunisia-president-813/) and so on.

It’s clear that FEMEN chiefly have two religious targets in mind. Christianity (Orthodox and Catholic), and Islam. FMEN have been explicitly quoted to the effect that their main purpose in moving to France concerned the very large Muslim population there. Given the massive abuse of women outside of both Christian and Islamic spheres, this extreme selectivity makes me wonder..

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4 Questions I have about FEMEN, part 1

I have two questions concerning FEMEN. Avant Garde Shock provocateurs of the day FEMEN, a purported “feminist activist group leave several questions in my mind, beyond the efficacy of their stunts in raising consciousness about the particular topics they protest, their group’s whole agenda shows a decided slant in their socially militant and provocative agendas.

My questions are:
1. Are they sincere or insincere ideologues, who also happen to be idiots or exhibitionists

2. Are they sincerely convinced of the efficacy of their tactics, or they in fact, or at least their core leadership, quite conscious of the problematics of their tactics because, in fact, their agenda is ironic, in the classical sense, in that they mean something other than what they speak and present in public?

3. Are they sincerely convinced of the importance of the topics and targets they chose for their provocations, or are both simply of a diversionary nature?

4. Why are all of the activists seen to date young, physically attractive and nubile, and highly photogenic, and racially mostly Eurasian (though a couple of darker faces joined them for one or two of their French protests one notes, even in the protests on Tunisian interests, it was the same blonde and redheaded gals, at least in the few pictures I saw)

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Shot across the bow; Sexing or Skinning Mary-Kate Olsen And Olivier Sarkozy

Mary-Kate Olsen And Olivier Sarkozy, are often in the news these days. In an age of total decline of the industrialized Western nations, the rise of power blocks in the Global South and Far East, increased Public Sector Austerity, near bankruptcy of several governments, genocide in some global flashpoints, wars, rumors of war, the disintergration of Greater Syria possibly a flash point about to ignite the largest conflict in that region – with global implications – seen to date. We must weigh our priorities.

Thus it is that beyond such jejune and inspid trivialities as the collapse of much of what people hold to be their civilization, weighty and important matters must be considered.

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