Sunday, February 26, 2023

When Jamaica Is My Living Room: Ubuntu, Ujamaa, Utopia

A Soular Youniverse... A world of I and I, where each and everyone has the well being of You and I at heart! A place where everything is a labour of love and a work of heart. Yeah... that is my dream for creation. For the global village... a day when Jamaica is my living room!

Come bredrin and sistren and trod in the realm of imagination where we walk through the community gate and into the heart of this bustling utopia, I don't know if you are but I'm struck by the warmth and sense of togetherness that permeates the air. People are gathered in small groups, chatting, laughing, and sharing stories, while others relax on benches, sipping tea or coffee and reading books or writing poetry.

The main public space is a vibrant hub of activity, with colorful murals adorning the walls and a stage where musicians, poets, and artists perform regularly. Tonight, a group of young poets are reciting their work, their words echoing across the square and drawing a crowd of eager listeners.

As we make our way deeper into the community, we pass by a large communal garden where people are tending to the plants and harvesting fresh vegetables for dinner. The scent of fragrant herbs and flowers fills the air, and I can hear the sounds of children playing and laughing in the nearby park, can you?

As the sun begins to set, the community comes alive with the glow of soft lighting and the sound of music wafting through the air. We make my way to the communal living room, where people are gathered around cozy fires, chatting and sharing their thoughts on everything from philosophy to the latest scientific discoveries.

Dinner is a communal affair, with everyone pitching in to prepare a delicious meal made from fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. We dine together at a long table, enjoying the flavors of the season and the warmth of each other's company.

As the evening wears on, people begin to retire to their individual homes, each one a unique and personalized space filled with art, poetry, and cherished mementos. I settle into my cozy earth-ship home, feeling grateful for the sense of community and connection that surrounds me, and for the sense of purpose and meaning that comes from working together to create a better world for all.


In the early morning, before the sun rises, many in the community gather for a group yoga or Tae Kwan Do session in the nearby park. Led by elders who have practiced these traditions for decades, the sessions are an opportunity to connect with the body, the breath, and the earth, and to cultivate a sense of balance and well-being.

Throughout the day, the community prioritizes health and well-being, with a focus on locally-sourced and organic foods, holistic healing practices, and regular exercise. The elders play an important role in passing down their knowledge of natural medicine, meditation, and other healing arts to the younger generations, ensuring that these traditions continue to thrive and evolve in this techno-organic age.

How does such a place sound? Come on I know I am not completely naive or full of shit and know somewhere on the walk you saw the potential and possibility of such a reality.

As Bob Marley once sang, "Don't worry about a thing, 'cause every little thing gonna be all right." In my dream world, Jamaica is my living room - a communal family where everyone is treated equally, and where money is outdated. Instead, we share the resources of our planet, working together to make the world a better place for all.

You may say that I'm a dreamer, but idealism can have a profound impact on the world. I envision a world where we are all part of one big community - a Star Trek-like humanity where people are given jobs and roles based on merit, and where we all live in harmony with each other and with nature.

In my dream world, we are all outdoor Bedouin academics and shamans, constantly exploring the mysteries of the universe and sharing our findings with each other. We pour our spirit into challenging and exploring the unknown and great beyond, pushing the boundaries of what we know and what we can achieve.

But this isn't just a dream - it's a future that is within our grasp. By embracing Ubuntu, Ujamaa, Open Source, Permaculture, EarthShips, and earthen homes, we can create a new brand of humanism that is informed by the unheard ethos of indigenous peoples, of Rastafari, of Aboriginals, and of Africans.

We can become techno-organic, not through trans-humanism, but by fusing technology and spirituality in a way that celebrates and honors our interconnections with each other and with the natural world. We can examine and re-examine our cultural and indigenous traditions for their worth, and create a new society that is harmonious, just, and sustainable.

In my dream world, we are all passengers on a spaceship hurtling through space. We understand that every living creature on Earth is our brother or sister, and we treat each other with the love, respect, and kindness that we all deserve. We are all explorers, adventurers, and dreamers, and together, we can make the world a better place for ourselves and for future generations.

As John Lennon once said, "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one." Let's embrace our idealism and work together to create a world that is truly worthy of our dreams. Let's make Jamaica our living room, and let's make the world a better place for all.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Top 10 Most Infamous Banking Scandals That Shocked Jamaica: A Chronological List

On the heels of the breaking international news about NCB and Sagicor bank scandals, we have the new SSL and Usain Bolt saga. In light of that I thought it would be worth looking at  how Jamaica's banking industry has been plagued by a number of scandals and controversies over the years, involving insider trading, fraud, embezzlement, and other illegal financial practices. These scandals have not only caused significant financial losses for thousands of investors and depositors, but have also damaged public trust in the country's financial institutions and regulators.

The following is a list of the top 10 most notable banking scandals and controversies in Jamaica's history, arranged in chronological order. These scandals have involved some of the country's largest and most well-known banks and financial institutions, and have led to criminal investigations, arrests, and convictions of some of the individuals involved. They also sparked public outrage and calls for greater oversight and regulation of the financial sector in Jamaica.


  1. The NCB Financial Group scandal of the 1990s, in which it was revealed that executives at the bank had engaged in insider trading and other illegal financial practices.

  2. The "Cash Plus" scandal of the 2000s, in which the company's owner Carlos Hill defrauded thousands of investors of millions of dollars.


  3. The "Pan Caribbean Financial Services" scandal of the 2000s, in which it was revealed that executives at the company had engaged in fraudulent activities, including Ponzi scheme.

  4. The OLINT banking scandal of the 2000s, in which the owner and operator of the OLINT Corporation, David Smith, used a Ponzi scheme to defraud investors of millions of dollars

  5. The "National Commercial Bank" scandal of the 2010s, in which it was revealed that executives at the bank had engaged in corrupt practices, including insider trading and money laundering.

  6. The "Victoria Mutual Building Society" scandal of the 2010s, in which it was revealed that executives at the company had misused funds and engaged in other financial improprieties.

  7. The "First Global Bank" scandal of the 2010s, in which it was revealed that executives at the bank had engaged in fraudulent activities, including money laundering and insider trading.

  8. The "Clarendon Credit Union" scandal of the 2010s, in which it was revealed that officials had misused funds and engaged in other financial improprieties.

  9. The "Capital & Credit Merchant Bank" scandal of the 2010s, in which it was revealed that the bank had failed to disclose to its shareholders that it was facing financial difficulties and had been engaging in unsound banking practices

  10. The "Mico University College" scandal of the 2010s, in which it was revealed that executives at the college had misused funds and engaged in other financial improprieties.

It is worth noting that some of the court cases related to these scandals might not have been concluded yet.

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Thursday, February 23, 2023

Graphic Design's Future in Machine Learning and SVG Graphics: A Perspective from Montego Bay




As the buzz around artificial intelligence (AI) continues to grow, the market for AI tools geared towards artists and designers has expanded rapidly. As a graphic designer and philosopher based in Montego Bay, I am constantly seeking new trends and innovations that can improve the quality and efficiency of my work. One area that has piqued my interest recently is the potential of using scalable vector graphics (SVGs) in machine learning applications. In this article, I will delve into why SVGs may be an ideal format for machine learning and how this technology has the potential to revolutionize the way we design and create graphics. 

Over the past few years, we've seen a surge in AI-powered software geared towards the creative industries. Some examples of popular tools include Adobe's Sensei, which uses machine learning to assist with tasks like image editing and layout design, and Canva's Magic Resize feature, which automatically adjusts designs to fit different platforms and sizes. Another notable AI tool is Nvidia's GauGAN, which uses deep learning algorithms to generate realistic landscapes from simple sketches. These tools have not only increased efficiency and productivity for designers but have also opened up new possibilities for artistic expression. As we continue to push the boundaries of what AI can do in the creative realm, it's exciting to consider the potential impact of using SVGs as a format for machine learning applications.

But before we dive in, let's define some key terms to ensure we're all on the same page.


  • Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG): A file format for vector graphics that is based on XML. SVG images can be scaled without losing quality and are commonly used for logos, icons, and other graphics that need to be used in multiple contexts.

  • Machine Learning: A type of artificial intelligence that allows computers to learn from data without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning algorithms can recognize patterns and make predictions based on data.


Section 1: The Benefits of SVGs for Machine Learning

One of the main advantages of using SVGs in machine learning is that they are scalable and resolution-independent. Unlike raster-based formats like JPEG or PNG, which use a grid of pixels to represent images, SVGs use mathematical equations to represent graphics. This means that SVGs can be resized without losing image quality, and are ideal for creating designs that need to be used in multiple contexts, such as logos or icons.

Another advantage of using SVGs in machine learning is that they are easily manipulable using code. Because SVGs are a text-based format, they can be parsed and manipulated using code, making them ideal for machine learning applications that need to process large amounts of data quickly. Additionally, SVGs are lightweight and use less memory and processing power compared to raster-based formats, which can be important for machine learning applications that need to run on resource-constrained devices.


Section 2: Case Studies of SVGs in Machine Learning

There are already several examples of how SVGs are being used in machine learning applications. For example, researchers at Google have developed an algorithm that can generate detailed 3D models of objects using only a single SVG image as input. The algorithm uses machine learning techniques to extrapolate the missing depth information from the SVG image, allowing it to generate highly detailed 3D models.

Another example comes from the field of natural language processing, where researchers are using SVGs to generate visual representations of text. By mapping each word in a sentence to a corresponding SVG image, researchers can generate a visual summary of the text that can be easily interpreted by humans or other machine learning algorithms.

Section 3: Implications and Future Directions

As SVGs become more widely used in machine learning applications, there are several potential implications for the future of graphic design and visual communication. For example, designers may be able to use machine learning algorithms to generate complex graphics and visualizations based on simple text prompts, freeing up time and resources for other creative pursuits. Additionally, SVG-based machine learning algorithms may be able to generate highly personalized graphics and visualizations based on user data, creating new opportunities for targeted advertising and personalized content.


As a graphic designer and philosopher in Montego Bay, I'm excited about the potential of SVGs in machine learning applications. By leveraging the scalability, manipulability, and efficiency of SVGs, we may be able to revolutionize the way we design and create graphics, and create new opportunities for personalized, targeted visual communication. I look forward to seeing how this technology develops in the coming years, and how it will shape the future of graphic design and visual communication.

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

On Being a Grassroots Activist in Western Jamaica

As a resident of Montego Bay, Jamaica, I have seen the amazing work being done by grassroots activists in my community and around the world. These change-makers are truly the backbone of local empowerment, working tirelessly to address social, political, and economic injustices. They are the ones fighting to modify unfair laws, promoting peace, human rights, and equality, and responding to emergencies with unwavering courage and determination.

As an activist in Paradise Acres and Norwood I have experienced firsthand the challenges facing grassroots projects and civil society organizations (CSOs) in the country. Despite the tireless efforts of those who seek to create positive change in their communities, the obstacles are numerous, from the walls that separate bureaucracy from grassroots initiatives to the lack of government support for social entrepreneurship. Not only that but, grassroots activists often face tremendous challenges. Corruption, lack of funding, and a lack of support from allies that can make it difficult for these change-makers to sustain their efforts and continue to make a positive impact in their communities.

Before I dive too deeply into this discussion let me clarifying what I mean by grassroot activism. Grassroots activism is a bottom-up approach to social and political change that empowers individuals and communities to address their own issues and bring about positive change. In Montego Bay, Jamaica, community-based organizations and civil society groups are on the front-lines of these grassroot initiatives working towards creating a better future for the people of Jamaica.

Montego Bay, located on the northwest coast of Jamaica, is one of the island's largest cities and a major tourist destination. The history of Montego Bay is intertwined with Jamaica's colonial past, with the city serving as a hub for the slave trade and later as a center for the export of sugar and other crops. Despite its rich history, Montego Bay continues to face numerous social and economic challenges, including poverty, unemployment, and crime.

Paradise Acres and Norwood Montego Bay are two communities within the city that are particularly affected by these issues. Despite the difficulties they face, local residents are taking action to improve their communities and address the problems they face. The thing about grassroots activism though is... it is heartbreaking work and in my Caribbean island of Jamaica, it is a land of both breathtaking beauty and heart-wrenching tragedy. For those of us who call this place home, heartbreak is a familiar feeling, as we've lost friends and loved ones to all manner of circumstances.  In the words of the great Bob Marley "Good friends we have, oh, good friends we've lost along the way, In this great future, you can't forget your past So dry your tears, I seh ."

But one loss in particular still haunts me - the death of my friend Rasta Errol.

Errol was a member of the Rastafari Coral Gardens Benevolent Society, an organization established to provide care and support to the marginalized Rastafari community in the aftermath of the Coral Gardens atrocities of 1963. I had last seen him at a seminar for capacity building and an RCGBS meeting, full of life and energy as he discussed the future of the organization and the community it serves. But just a few short days later, while walking in the People's Arcade, he was viciously attacked by a group of men with knives and died while undergoing treatment at the hospital.

This tragedy is not just a personal loss, but a devastating blow to the community as a whole. It highlights the ongoing struggles faced by Jamaica's marginalized groups, and the urgent need for organizations like the RCGBS to continue their efforts in providing support and protection.


But it is not just the Rastafari community that is facing challenges. Civil society organizations (CSOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) in Montego Bay and across Jamaica are also grappling with bureaucratic hurdles and confusing legal parameters that limit their freedom of association. The nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC) in Jamaica has been criticized for its lack of support for these organizations, with the state and its partners seemingly more interested in giving money to abstract concepts and causes than to the people who desperately need it.

I have seen the barriers that exist between activists, donors, and ally organizations, like international NGOs. Donors and allies often struggle to connect with grassroots groups and understand the unique challenges they face. This can lead to limited funding and resources being directed towards organizations considered to be more stable, trustworthy, and less "controversial." Meanwhile, the limited resources available for grassroots activists often come with excessive requirements and foster competition between groups, rather than supporting collaboration and cooperation.

This situation is not sustainable. Activists are forced to become more and more resilient, but they cannot continue to carry the weight of their causes on their own. They are asking for change, for a world where their work is recognized, resourced, and supported. It's time for us to stand with them, to understand the importance of their work, and to provide the support they need to continue making a positive impact in our world. 

I believe in the power of grassroots activism. I believe in the strength of community-based organizations that are truly driven by the people, for the people. I believe that tearing down the walls between bureaucracies and making the internal bureaucracy more flexible will lead to more resilient communities and a better future for Jamaica and its pan-African heart.

I also believe in the power of social entrepreneurship, which I see as a way to address large-scale issues in a sustainable and effective manner. But this requires a change in thinking and action on the part of the government and its partners, and so far, discussions on this topic have not taken place at a significant level.

So in sharing my experience I am calling upon all those who care about the future of Jamaica and its people to come together, to centralize our efforts, and to fight for a better tomorrow. Let us honor the memory of all those who have suffered and died in the face of injustice and inequality. This is a call to action for all of us who believe in the power of grassroots activism to bring about positive change. By breaking down the barriers that stand between grassroots activists, donors, and allies, we can create powerful, empowered alliances that will help bring about the change we need to see in our world.

I am out here and on the front-lines seeking ways in this movement, bringing together community to work towards a common goal. Through collective action and a shared commitment to change, we can support and uplift the tireless efforts of grassroots activists everywhere. In a world that is more challenged and politically divided than ever, unity is essential. By coming together in solidarity, we can ensure that grassroots activists are valued, resourced, and supported as they work towards a better future for us all. Join the revolution, and work towards a world where change-makers on the front-lines are recognized, resourced, and supported!

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Coming of Age: A Jamaican Perspective

"It takes a village to raise a child"
African Proverb
How'd you make it through puberty, was it like Wonder Years for you? To me or for me rather, puberty and coming of age for me began the summer before high school. In Jamaica, coming of age refers to the transition from childhood to adulthood and is marked by a number of cultural and social milestones. These may include obtaining a driver's license, completing education, getting a job, and becoming financially independent. For many young people in Jamaica, coming of age also involves participating in cultural and religious rites of passage, such as Rastafarian groundation or a Kumbaya ceremony. These ceremonies often involve the guidance of elders and the community and are meant to provide young people with the knowledge and skills they need to navigate adulthood.

On this isle, family and community are central to the coming of age process. It is common for young people to be surrounded by a network of supportive adults who offer guidance and mentorship as they navigate this transition. Well at least that's the way it used to be years ago, "when the village raised a child." It was a time and age of apprenticeships, when youth would learn shoe-making, carpentry, masonry, tiling or upholstery from members of the community. When one was subject to the watchful eye of everyone in a community and if say for instance a child hid away far from home and smoked a cigarette, he could be sure before he reached home the grapevine told his parents before he arrived. And that was an age before cellphones or what my Grandma insisted on calling 'the circular phone".

This time of life can be marked by angst and some amount of suffering. Coming of age in JamRock for many, can also be marked by challenges, such as poverty, lack of access to education and job opportunities, and social and political issues. Despite these challenges, many young people in Jamaica are able to overcome them and go on to lead successful and fulfilling lives. In fact at one part of life I believed that overcoming great tragedy made coming of age more meaningful. Essentially I valued that Disney and Marvel orphan who become a hero rather than that Archie comics girl crisis or Napoleon Dynamite.

As I look back on my coming of age, I am struck by the overwhelming sense of anxiety and uncertainty that pervaded my teenage years. This was a time when life choices loomed large and dictated the person I would eventually become. In Jamaica, the choices I faced were especially weighty, as they encompassed issues such as gun violence, gang involvement, peer pressure and their accompanying dangers. These choices tested my resolve and shaped the values that would guide me in adulthood.

At the same time, my coming of age was marked by questions of how to navigate sexuality and desire, questions that tested my sense of self and challenged my understanding of the world. I was forced to confront my own lusts and desires and make choices that would determine the course of my life; things like is it right to have one woman or many women, how do yo treat women, do you lie to get women. And, of course, there were questions of money and politics, with the latter proving especially complicated in a country marked by deep social and economic inequalities. I remember once speaking in a dark corner late one night when I was probably in 10th grade and when that sexual tension built up and I stalled, she asked what was the matter? When I told her I had a girl she scornfully laughed and scoffed, "So yuh a one burner?" I share this tale with great chagrin, as my ego was wounded. There are so many tales like this I could tell you and I suspect I will have to save that for a post and tale I will call, "My Cuming of Age: To All the Women I Loved Before"

In many ways, my coming of age was a time of constant questioning, of searching for answers and trying to make sense of a world that was often confusing and uncertain. But it was also a time of growth, of forging my own identity and charting a path forward in life. And as I look back on it now, I am filled with a sense of pride at the choices I made, and a deep appreciation for the person I have become.

As a child of the 1980s, I was shaped by a kaleidoscope of media that informed my coming of age. Through books, comic books, cartoons, movies and more, I navigated the complexities of growing up, exploring the worlds of fiction and fantasy as I sought to understand my place in the world. At one point, I had aspirations of becoming Jamaica's first Walt Disney, with the goal of igniting the imaginations of other children with my own brand of animation.

However, as I reached high school, my aspirations shifted from animation to comic books. The writings of David Michelinie and Tom Defalco, and the art of Ron Frenz, Mark Bagley, and Erik Larsen had reeled me into the world of Marvel Comics. I had been introduced to Spider-man through his Amazing Friends on TV, but it wasn't until I jumped into the Amazing Spider-man during the Carnage origin 3-parter that I came to know the web-slinger in a deeper way. From that moment on, I was hooked, following Peter Parker's adventures with a passion. Peter Parker and Wally West's Flash became vehicles for my own venting and examining my own coming of age experience. Essentially I used the lessons of boys becoming heroes as a metaphor for my own journey. The line in the Spider-Man comic strip that said "When Peter is accidentally bitten by a radioactive spider, he discovers that he has superhuman, web-slinging powers and learned that with great power comes great responsibility, and now fights crime and tries to maintain some semblance of a normal life", yeah that line struck me and rung true.  X-Men and mutant powers that manifested in puberty, Wally West learning to graduate from Kid Flash to big Flash... those stories help me cross the Rubicon.

The love of comics and the desire to bring my own stories to life never left me, and I knew that I wanted to be a writer and artist in the comic book industry. I wanted to craft stories that would captivate and inspire others in the same way that I had been inspired by the comics of my youth. 

Coming of age content isn't just limited to cartoons or comics but is rife in literature. The type of lit that deals with the theme of young people transitioning from childhood to adulthood. This type of literature even has a fancy name "Bildungsroman" and as you probably realize it often focuses on the challenges and experiences that young people face as they navigate this transition and explore their identity, values, and place in the world. Reading coming of age literature can be particularly helpful for youth as it can provide them with relatable characters and situations that they can draw from as they navigate their own coming of age journey. It can also provide a sense of connection and understanding as young people see their own experiences reflected in the stories they read. There is a reason they give us Sprat Morrison and Escape to Last Man's Peak in 7th grade, then Shane, The Chrysalids, Young Warrior and Three Finger Jack's Treasure, The Pearl, Green Days by the River. A Year in San Fernando and A Brighter Sun. Outside of school reading I found Stephen King's Hearts in Atlantis as a great refrain.

In addition, coming of age literature can help youth to develop critical thinking skills as they consider the themes and messages of the stories and how they relate to their own lives. It can also expose them to new ideas and perspectives and help them to explore their own values and beliefs.

My coming of age was marked not only by media and the shaping of my imagination, but also by music and a rich musical journey. Music was a constant presence in my life, a soundtrack to the ups and downs of growing up. It provided solace and comfort in times of uncertainty and was a source of inspiration and hope. As I discovered different genres and artists, my musical tastes expanded, and I developed a deep appreciation for the power of music to evoke emotions and tell stories. I found myself drawn to the melodies and lyrics of singer-songwriters, the raw energy of rock and roll, the acoustic sounds of folk rock, and the alternative vibes of the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s.

My favorites artists included Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Simon and Garfunkel, Goo Goo Dolls, Lenny Kravitz, Barrington Levy, Bounty Killer, Damian Marley, Enya, Cat Stevens, Outkast, and the Fugees. These musicians became a part of my musical DNA, influencing my tastes and shaping my journey. Beres Hammond's Putting Up Resistance made me acutely aware of the social circumstance of the working man and gave me ample preparation for adulting and it's rigors/ Bob Dylan's Tangled Up in Blue taught me the vagaries that life's journey would bring and the rich textures of love varying women bring. Simon and Garfunkel's The Boxer prepared me to fail or flail on my way to maturity.

I also began to see music as a form of expression and a means of connecting with others. Whether I was singing along to my favorite songs, trying to learn to play the guitar with friends, experimenting with AtoMix, Virtual DJ and Fruity Loops or discovering new music with others, music was a source of community and a way to connect with the world around me.

This musical journey became an integral part of my coming of age, shaping my tastes and influencing the person I would become. And even now, as I look back on my life, music remains a central part of who I am, a reminder of the power of sound and the role it has played in my journey.

So maybe you can understand how it was I that developed my sense of purpose that I set out on my path, determined to make my mark in the world. And as I look back on it now, I am proud of the journey I took and the person I have become. For though my life has taken many twists and turns, my love for comics and my desire to inspire others have remained constant, a shining beacon that guides me forward even to this day.

In conclusion, coming of age is a transformative experience that shapes the person we become. In Jamaica, it involves a rich tapestry of cultural and social milestones, as well as challenges that must be overcome. The support of family and community is integral to the coming of age process, and young people must make choices that will determine their path in life. Coming of age literature can play a crucial role in this process by providing young people with relatable characters, new ideas, and a sense of connection. It is a time of constant questioning, growth, and pride as one shapes their own identity and charts their path forward in life. Our coming of age experiences shape who we are, and it is a journey that is unique to each individual.