Category Archives: culture

Change: Brought to You by Failure

When you are caught up with mistakes in life, you never realize how much it really takes to free you from them. I failed because I haven’t been able to let go of the past. I failed because I wanted to categorize my success in ways that other people do. Lots of people fail, but many don’t completely come back to a place that enables them to succeed.

I hadn’t taken the time to step back and actually consider what makes me happy. What I want to spend the rest of my life doing. I haven’t considered on which terms I want to live my life. So I procrastinated, found projects to occupy my time, and wasted countless hours on meaningless things that will not change my life or outlook on it.

I am taking responsibility for my life right now. Hate your job? Find something you love doing , because no one but you is making you work there. Don’t know what you want to do with your life? Figure it out, because no one else is going to shape your future. Caught up in the past? Now is the perfect time to realize that it’s holding you back from leading the life you truly want, and move on. 

Last night while I was driving, I had a passing thought. I am 22 years old and just for that moment, I wanted my struggles to end. I was sick of fighting and losing, and I could think of few things that would motivate me enough to continue living. And there in two very telling words, lies my problem and solution: “continue living”. I don’t want to just continue living. I want to live a life that I look forward to living everyday. Underneath this static facade, I want to be dynamic. I want to be energetic, learn new things, and  desire new knowledge and enjoy my life. I want to meet people that change the way I think. I want the world to see the best version of me possible. Simply continuing to live won’t allow me to do that. I only hope I still have time. My failures thus far have taken me to a point where I can’t ignore myself any longer. As JK Rowling said in an epic commencement speech:

“Failure means a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”

My failure led me to this moment, and to this blog post.From now on, my energy will be spent on things that move me. Things that make me happy and fulfilled. Things that will bring me knowledge and joy. I am using this public blog post as a way to acknowledge that I do not live a life I am content with, and as an agent of change. I am not afraid of failing, because it is better than the static position I find myself in now. I define my success and determine my happiness, and I will define my terms to get there. Why waste the only life you have doing anything else?

“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”

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Give Birth or Give Your Life?

Maternal mortality rates. How horrifyingly ironic.

In Sierra Leone, more than 1,033 women die for every 100,000 live births. In places like India, many little girls are forced to marry older men and then abused or forced to have children (more specifically, pressured to have boys) far before it is healthy for them to have another baby, or to have one at all. And in multiple areas of the world, it is considered taboo to have a baby in the hospital with proper medical care, rather than at home without any help at all.

It is ironic that, “while universally recognized as a milestone of womanhood, pregnancy and childbirth remain among the leading causes of death of women worldwide; every day, one woman per minute dies while giving birth or soon after. An additional 10 million to 15 million women suffer complications or injuries resulting from the act of giving life.”

The poor situations of millions of women and children everywhere prompted the Gates Foundation to give 1.5 billion dollars towards improving women and children’s health worldwide. The UN is in on it, as well. It’s all I can do not to go up to Ban Ki-Moon and thank him personally for making women’s health such a priority.

The solution is so simple that it’s pathetic. Education. All they need is to wait a few more years before giving birth. Or to know the benefits of medical care while giving birth. Or how and when to use birth control. Or to avoid being married off to a man who will not abuse them or pressure them to have more children so that they can have a son.

I realize that it is not that simple. But just working within these oppressive cultures can yield some positive results. We don’t have to change EVERYTHING, but we should be able to dramatically impact the suffering and death women around the world face while giving birth to new lives.

Read more about this issue here:

Motivational Stream of Consciousness

I felt compelled to write this letter to anyone that might need a bit of encouragement during this stressful time of year. Hope this helps you get through whatever you might be going through.

Hey, you.

Empowering thought: FREE WILL. We can strive for any goal we set. And what makes this striving so noble and valiant is the fact that it is YOU pushing and towards that noble and valiant goal or aim in life. Wait – – – is all of your hard work going towards a noble goal? Or is it a bit selfish now that you think about it? Is the work you are doing everyday fulfilling? What makes you happy? What scares you? Which one of these is the motive driving you everyday?

Take a moment and think about at least one thing you like about yourself. Think hard if you need to. Is it your good intentions? Your sense of humor? Your way with words or people? It can be anything. Have you used this skill or talent or trait of yours to help anyone else lately? Have you even used it to help yourself? How can you or have you benefited from this awesome stand-out trait of yours?

Now think of every person you’ve ever interacted with. Whether for better or worse, you were a part of those other people’s lives too. Would they remember you in a positive or negative light? How do you want to be remembered?

Look at yourself in a mirror. Notice the curves of your cheekbones and the color of your eyes. Not one other person has the same facial features as you. No one else has your exact mix of genes and DNA. Flex your hand. Feel the muscles tense and watch the veins ripple as you move your fingers. Marvel at the strength you have in just ONE hand. Now feel the strength in your whole body radiating and coursing through those veins. You are strong. You are brilliant. You are more than capable. You have willpower. You can live your life any way you want to. You have the determination to make anything and everything happen for yourself. No one else is living your life for you.

You’re making memories right now, as you’re reading this post. But what do you really want memories of? What do you daydream about? What makes you smile when other people aren’t watching? What stories do you want to tell your grandchildren? You want to live your life to the fullest, so what if this next breath of air you draw was your last? Would you be satisfied with your life?

Humans are practical. We do things with the future in mind. But life will pass you by if you put all of your hopes in a future that will never come. Life is beautiful because it’s temporary. You will only live this moment once, so LIVE IN THE PRESENT. Make this moment last, right now. Look around you. Where are you? What are you doing? What are you feeling? Is this really how you would ideally want to spend this moment?

Really, what’s stopping you from doing anything you set your mind to? What’s pulling you down, away from your goals in life? Do you have some goals yet? Should you make a few?

It’s so easy to get caught up in what life throws at you and the generally accepted way of doing things. If you love to travel, travel! If you want to learn everything there is to know, who’s stopping you? If you want to be happy, DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY. You are entitled to complete happiness. Everyday monotonously draws to a close, you work hard, and you start losing track of days, weeks… and then it all stops. The monotony ends in those blissfully happy moments when you feel engulfed by the dark blue blanket of stars in the night sky or help another person without a thought of  anything in return. When you feel a connection with someone who knows your flaws and loves you completely, or help someone else achieve a goal of their own, or lay on the grass and feel the warm sun on your face… these are the moments you will remember. These are the moments that can define you.

Stop waiting. Stop working tirelessly without a goal. Stop living without purpose. You are in control. You decide how to spend your time. You decide physically where to put your hand after it leaves your mouse or keyboard. You decide what to wear, what to believe in, and who to love. And you can decide what to do after reading this.

Sam Adams: Beer or Bro?

Imagine – you’re about to graduate from college. Future plans? Psh please. You’ve got an album out already! You rap about college life (the bros LOVE it), you’re captain of the college soccer team, you’ve got a record deal, your songs are #1 on iTunes, and oh yeah – you share a name with a great-tasting beer. Check Sam Adams out:

Let’s get one thing straight – I’m not huge on rap. I think the majority of Sam Adams’ success comes from the support of the new (at least to me) “bro-mmunity”. BroBible that, or let me explain it to you from my own observations.

Everyone knows a bro. They’re average-looking males in college who only talk about the sex they aren’t having/girls dumb enough to sleep with them (whom they then degrade), overused movie quotes, and getting blackout drunk enough to piss their own pants. I’m not even exaggerating. Although I think some parts of this new male adolescent sub-culture are pretty hilarious, I can’t help but be offended by a lot of  their terminology. I’m sure it’s in jest. (But if it’s not, then I really hope there are no bros elected to any position where they can have any impact/effect on well… anyone.)

The only females they interact with apparently don’t mind referring to themselves as “slampiece69” and have an IQ below that of an inanimate object. After slacking off at life for as long as possible, putting off STD treatment out of pure denial that “bros” can even get diseases, acting like they are the only people on their college campus worth knowing, and putting BRO in as many annoying BRO-tastic words as possible, its clear that bros just want to live the good life without regard to anyone else. Oh hey Sam Adams! I forgot this post was about YOU:

You can see that bros are crafting a new, even more impossible definition of what it means to be male in today’s society (as if there weren’t enough stereotypes in mainstream culture as it is). Otherwise, I think they’re pretty harmless. Aside from the few stupid people who actually take Ned’s Younger Brother’s advice seriously and act like “bros” in real life. But I don’t know one female who would tolerate being called a slampiece. Or one intelligent male who would use the term.

One thing bros are REALLY good for is amusement purposes. I can’t wait to see these lost bros eventually grow up! For as long as possible, I imagine they’ll find ways to avoid getting married and having a steady job. Then lo and behold, sometime after daddy’s money runs out, they’ll end up buying a van with extra storage underneath the seats and a home with a two car garage in the suburbs.

I can’t wait for the female counterpart to bros to become popular, if it ever does. Any idea of what the female equivalent of a bro would be?

I’d like to salute you, whoever showed me the double meaning of Sam Adams. Now I have the opportunity to confuse people with my copious amounts of cultural knowledge. “The beer? I love the beer! I just bought a six…OHHH, the bro rapper from Boston!” Double pow.

Motivation, Good Commercials, & Augmented Reality

AWESOME stuff I happened upon lately and had to share!

Augmented Reality, by Blaise Aguera y Arcas

If you are like me, you will not know what he’s talking about until you watch this video. But trust me, it’s AWESOME.

The Pick-me-up You Didn’t Know You Needed

Because we ALL need a little motivation every now and then! This video will make you laugh (it’s a little cheesy) AND make you re-think the way you live life.

The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun

A Really Effing Good Commercial

The Superbowl this year just didn’t cut it for me. The only commercial I ended up liking was Google’s “Every Search is a Story” ads. This commercial caught me off guard – I wasn’t expecting it to be this good!

Life… From a Genius’ Perspective

This will also make you think about life and your relationships with other people. Some of my favorite quotes from Einstein’s essay, The World as I See It, are:

“But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people — first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy.”

and

“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving..”

And as your reward for reading this far… The FUNNIEST Craiglist ad you have EVER read.

Seriously – my roommate and I almost peed our pants after reading this ad from, ahem, a man named Cougarclaws.

Dear John: You Look Better on Paper.

Dear John,

I don’t even know where to start. I know this is a delayed response. It’s been approximately two weeks since I saw you, and just now I am writing this…

Let me put it bluntly. It’s taken me this long to write because, as it turns out, I don’t like you. And I hate writing to people I don’t like. Sure, you’re pretty cute… Okay, hot. And admittedly, I do love when you do that thing with your jaw muscle when you get emotional:

Channing Tatum's beautiful jaw

Why, what a good-looking facial muscle you have.

And yes, you have some jammin’ music (Let’s not kid ourselves. I listened to the catchy trailer song multiple times!) What can I say? I’m a huge Snow Patrol fan. But let’s not get off topic – you really do suck.

I spent a whole ten bucks and gas money to see you, and all you gave me was this weak, unbelievable love story. There was like, one inside joke between the “couple” you supposedly were a part of. You spent two weeks together, and you waited for each other for like ten years. You had no real conversations with each other. You were awkward – I felt uncomfortable just watching you attempt to interact.

And THEN the silly girl who was supposed to be marrying YOU married some dude that seemed like her uncle in the movie! And he was old. And dying from cancer. WTF? Oh, and you have a dad with autism? Thanks for the heads up – why didn’t you prepare me for this in the previews?! I actually cried at THAT part and not at any of the romantic parts since I was too busy wincing at those.

I know tons of girls still love you, even if everyone else agrees you were clearly a major FAIL. I, however, have come to the conclusion that you look better on paper. So to use a lame quote from some forgettable movie I won’t remember in another few weeks, I guess “I’ll see you soon then.”

Regards,
N

This TED Conference is… Moot

What do getting Rickrolled and LOLcats have in common? They both began in an online forum known as 4chan. When Sarah Palin’s Yahoo account was hacked, the password was posted on 4chan. Anonymous, a group with connections to 4chan, started protests against Scientology in 100 cities around the world while holding signs and wearing Guy Fawkes masks. And there are countless other instances of 4chan’s influence on our culture and society.

Christopher Poole, also known as “moot”, started the website 4chan after being inspired by 2chan, a Japanese online forum. He was 15 at the time. He soon had to create some sort of rule system for the site (which he says no one really abides by). It’s frequented by thousands of visitors, and according to The Guardian, 4chan is “lunatic, juvenile… brilliant, ridiculous and alarming.”

Christopher Poole, founder of 4chan

Since then, Poole has spoken at Yale and MIT. He was also voted #1 on TIME’s Most Influential People of 2009 with help from 4chan users. They apparently hacked the system to put him at the top of the list (via online voting ballot) and then made the first letters of each name on the list spell out “marblecake”, a 4chan inside joke.

If you do end up visiting the site, make sure to check out /b/, the infamous random forum. It’s the most popular section of the site, and a breeding ground for creativity. Although admittedly, Gawker.com joked that “reading /b/ will melt your brain.” Disclaimer: Before you visit 4chan, be aware that it’s not a very “appropriate” website. Basically, their attempts (if any) at eliminating pornography have failed miserably.

Below is the only video I’ve found of Poole speaking at the TED conference (he presented Thursday) thus far. He describes 4chan and its impact, and then comments on the fact that people are moving away from anonymity toward a more “permanent identity”, which is not always a good thing.