Pretty Awesome Dude: Robert Smalls

It’s probably a safe bet that 99% of the people reading this post have no idea who Robert Smalls is.

It’s time to fix that.

Mr. Smalls was born in 1839 as an enslaved African American in Beaufort, South Carolina, who became an entrusted ship’s pilot whom freed himself, his crew and their/his families from slavery in none other than Charleston, SC.

When Mr. Smalls was 23, he took advantage of an unbelievable opportunity to freedom. The white owners and ship-mates of the Southern CSS Planter went to shore for a ‘night on the town’, Smalls and the rest of the enslaved crew commandeered the ship and sailed for the Union fleets.

Considered a traitor to the South and a hero to the North, Smalls later became an elected official as the SC House of Representatives in 1865 where he helped convince Pres. Lincoln to accept Blacks into the Union Army and them became a SC Senator in 1871.

Who Rapped First? Wham!?!?!?

Thanks to an article from Cracked.com: The 5 Most Unintentionally Hilarious ’80s Music Videos, I’ve discovered a disturbing chronologically of rap music.

Wham! was a group from the early 1980s by a couple of Brits by the names of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. They are probably best known for their hit song “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” released in May of 1984. That was on the second album, “Make It Big”. But on their first album was a little ditty called “Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)” which was released in June of 1982. Here’s the video:

Okay, hold up. Let’s talk about the genre of ‘rapping‘:

Rapping can be traced back to its African roots. Centuries before hip hop music existed, the griots of West Africa were delivering stories rhythmically, over drums and sparse instrumentation. Such connections have been acknowledged by many modern artists, modern day “griots”, spoken word artists, mainstream news sources, and academics.

also

Creation of the term hip hop is often credited to Keith Cowboy, rapper with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five…It is believed that Cowboy created the term while teasing a friend who had just joined the U.S. Army, by scat singing the words “hip/hop/hip/hop” in a way that mimicked the rhythmic cadence of soldiers marching. Cowboy later worked the “hip hop” cadence into a part of his stage performance, which was quickly used by other artists such as The Sugarhill Gang in “Rapper’s Delight”.

This style of music didn’t go mainstream here in the U.S. until the early 1980’s…

As best as I can tell, here’s the timeline for mainstream rap…

So as far as I can tell, rap/hip-hop has its underground roots in the late 70’s and early 80’s. It’s just so crazy to see a group like Wham! appearing early in the underground development of this genre with the likes of Grandmaster Flash, The Sugerhill Gang, Kurtis Blow, LL Cool J, and Run-D.M.C.

 

The Harlem Shake

I can’t get over a new dance meme. I can’t help but laugh every time I watch one.

What’s the Harlem Shake? This sucker has exploded on You-Tube within days!

Well, it took a lot of research into both music and dance to figure out where it all came from.

The original Harlem Shake was in 1981. It was inspired by a dance in Ethiopia:

The dance requires a lot of shoulder movement (and dancing as if you were a mummy):

Despite its recent surge in popularity, the Harlem Shake, characterized by lots o’ shoulder movement and shaking the upper torso around, is not a new dance craze. The dance was in fact invented over 30 years ago in 1981 by an alcoholic nicknamed “Al B.” The Shake was originally called the Albee after its inventor.

(I wish I could find a copy of the ’81 Albee but so far no luck, but I did find this…)

Later, in 2001 a group named ‘G Dep’ released a video that featured the Albee/Harlem Shake.

In the current era, the Harlem Shake has taken on it’s own meme status after:

1. Baauer (a DJ from New York), created a Trap Remix of the original song.

2. DizastaMusic made a crazy/silly video to the remix:

But the meme took another turn. It stayed with Baauer’s remix, but for only 30 seconds. The new format is this:

  • One person dancing in one spot, often in a helmet
  • Said dancer is in a room of other people involved in a perceived mundane life
  • When the bass drops and the lyrics announce “Do the Harlem Shake”, everything changes…
  • Everyone in the room has now changed costume and doing individually different wacky movements
  • Often there are more people involved in the transition portion
  • The song hits a moment that sounds like a growl and the video often goes into slo-motion then ends

Within days there have been many, many video remixes of the formula. Ready for a tour?

Perhaps the first video to follow the new format was this one:

A Norwegian Army version:

A Club version:

An office version:

Another office version:


A fire-fighter version:

A puppy version:

An underwater version:

A cartoon version:

A Star Wars version:

A finger/puppet version:

A Charlie Brown version:

And the Arrested Development version that your’s truly made:

However, there’s been some resistance:

The Art of Translation

There are basically two different philosophies for translating one language into another: ‘word-for-word’ and ‘thought-for-thought’.

There really isn’t an advantage for one over the other — they are just different. ‘Word-for-word’ is more literal but can be difficult to understand (it usually doesn’t flow well). ‘Thought-for-thought’ is more of a para-phrase but can lose the nuisances that the original language communicates (flows well but possibly not as accurate).

There is also a difference between translation and interpretation. Did you know that translation is written while interpreting is spoken? Also, good interpreting follows a ‘word-for-word’ translation.

There are some great tools online that help translate another language. Currently, the most popular is Google Translate. It’s not bad, but it’s not perfect. It seems to rely more on ‘word-for-word’ translation.

In the past, people have asked me how good an Internet tool such as Google Translate is. I typically suggest to copy a familiar quote (from the US Constitution, The Bible, etc), translate it into another language, then take that translation and translate it back into English. The translation tool’s limitations will become quite obvious.

And that brings me to the following video. CDZA created a video using the lyrics to the opening of the hit 90’s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”. Hilarity happens, but you can also see how the meaning of a text gets lost in translation…

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a translator to communicate in another language. Just understand that the current tools will lose some context, but still be able to (mostly) get the message across. Try it for yourself!

And while we’re on the subject of translation, I feel that I must mention the Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone is an actual rock that helped linguistics translate ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs into English. And, of course, it’s now the name of a company that focuses on learning a new language.

And the fun part? Sometimes you just have to reframe the original…

My Favorite YouTube Channels To Follow

Just thought I’d share a few YouTube channels that I think are worth following. I’m not going to comment on them – just go check them out and see what you think.

LEARNING

All-time Top 10’s

ASAPscience

CGPGrey

CrashCourse

Getting Smarter Everyday

Household Hacker

Know Your Meme

Minute Physics

SCIshow

Star Talk with Neil deGrass Tyson

TED Talks

Tommy Edison

V-sauce

ENTERTAINMENT

Axis Of Awesome

Brodie Smith

CDZA

Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee

Dude Perfect

Froggy Fresh Rap

How It Should Have Ended

KRNFX

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Lindsey Stirling

Marquese AKA Nonstop

Rhett and Link

The Fine Brothers

The Piano Guys

Vlog Brothers

Walk Off The Earth

DEAF/ASL

Bjorn Storm

CODA Brothers

Dirty Signs With Kristin

Every Day ASL

Keith Wann

Sean Forbes

 

Faith vs. Science

evolution

The great Albert Einstein once said…

Before God we are equally wise – equally foolish.

And…

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

I’ve always respected this view. Science is important to faith. I can believe in a God who has built this world by the governing principles of science. What does it gain if the Bible indicates the world is 6000 years old (while the Chinese say it’s less than 5000) and science says it’s almost 14 billion years old? Wow, that’s a huge difference!

Oh! And evolution…

The faithful need not be afraid. Sure, there are parts of evolution theory that just doesn’t make common sense (you mean one day the son of a fish figured out how to breath air?). But the survival of the fittest certainly does.

So what is claimed to be ‘Facts of Evolution’? Watch this…

And what does science say about the timeline?

Look, I’ll be honest here. The Theory of Evolution still needs some work. But with that said, there does seem to be evidence that there was a natural progression among certain species most likely defined by ‘the survival of the fittest’. It’s actually kinda logical that the best beasts mated with the best beasts to have an offspring of the next generation of best-er beasts.

But where is God in all of this? I dunno. It’s totally possible that He could create an Earth that appears to be many more thousands years old (this is reasonable though a strange strategy).

At the end of the day, what I hold on to most is that there is a God who is very interested in being interactive with us daily. However, He’s gone through a lot of actions to get to where we are now. To me, this makes sense. To you, maybe not. And I’m okay with that.

I believe that my God loves me, cares about how I live my life, and wants me to spend eternity with Him. That thought, however, has no negative reflection on any scientific theory that in my view makes complete sense…to me.

Yes, it’s confusing and frustrating. But it’s what I believe.

What about you?

an inconsistent reminder that random is a constant