Review: HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method

This book poorly makes some good points. The main issue is this: HypnoBirthing's thesis contradicts itself. Namely, HypnoBirthing claims that the problem with modern births is intervention: doctors getting in the way of an instinctual process that nature has honed over millions of years. Dogs and cats can give birth without lessons or help, so why do humans need an entire team and toolshed? That's a pretty good question. But then the book immediately follows with several chapters of Things You Must Do instead of listening to The Doctors — in other words, the book insists on its own interventions. e.

Review: Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber

Gave it a shot, but couldn't get through it. I keep wincing at the main idea: the author claims that proximity to a job — i.e. those that do the jobs — is a good proxy for knowing whether a job is pointless. If the person doing a job thinks it shouldn't have to be done, then it probably shouldn't. When asked, a lot of people think their jobs are pointless, and that if they were to stop performing them, nothing would measurably change in the world. I disagree. Do the pistons in an engine need to know about the tires

Review: The Poverty of Historicism by Karl Popper

Not yet done with this, but... I was introduced to Popper by David Deutsch in The Beginning of Infinity, and also somewhat through parenthetical references made by Nassim Taleb in his books. Both present Popper's ideas clearer than the man himself, in The Poverty of Historicism. The ideas credited to Popper are incisive and useful and non-obvious, but the writing in The Poverty of Historicism obscures the argument, for me. Deutsch quotes Popper incessantly, and the ideas he (Deutsch) talks about are awesome. Two that struck me: Most progress is incremental, and more about error correction than consistent correctness.Explanations

Review: Will: A Memoir by Will Self

Not for me. Might be for you. After having binged a number of Will Self's lectures/debates/interviews online, and having read Tough, Tough Toys..., I wanted to know more. I love his quickness and breadth. I love his disregard for formality and propriety, and complete focus on The Empirically Lived Interesting Stuff of life. e.g., The benefits of nicotine, the state of Brexit, the map to and of creativity, the absurdity of domesticity. Politics, drugs, walking around. it's all on the table, and it's all interestingly woven together by Will Self. Knowing he came from addiction made me

Review: Tough, Tough Toys for Tough, Tough Boys by Will Self

Haven't seen something I noticed mentioned in any of the reviews I've skimmed through, so I'll give it a shot: Starting with the common: the opening scenes of drug dealers and rip offs sets up an expectation that Tough, Tough... will be some dime-store thriller, Cowboys & Indians, 007 and Goldfinger. But that expectation is wonderfully, satirically subverted with the literal crack mine — a pit of crack cocaine one could harvest with a pick axe — and the drop off ending. The remaining stories are similar subversive and satirical. I kept expecting the straight-to-DVD type cliches — "And I would've gotten away

Review: The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

Rambles: The idea that collective intelligence is its own independent entity, that we can contribute to, from the bottom up. You more commonly hear about how collective centralized planning fails, and less about how trade and specialization succeed. Liked that. There's a lot of talk about how the infrastructure for sharing ideas has improved dramatically over the years — i.e. the internet — and how that allows for a new scale of prosperity, since prosperity is based on the sharing of good ideas. However, Ridley doesn't really touch on how that same scale might make us vulnerable. Where a bad idea

Review: The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age by James Dale Davidson

Probably prescient, but a few things lose this book a star or two for me: There's a skewed moral undertone: the author seems to imply that the predicted thriving of sovereign individuals is not only inevitable, but right. Which very well might be the case, but at the same time the book has no problem writing off all the "left behinds" as a calculated externality, neither right nor wrong, just part of the physics of the thing, no more good or bad than inertia. To me, a better book would either (a) make the prediction with more academic precision, and

Arthur, My Cousin and Me

I don’t know how to detangle myself from Arthur. What follows is something like half him, half me. It’s more journal entry than elegy, but it’s what I’ve got. Remember this if and when you get to the end. To start with, what I'm thinking and feeling: I felt like I knew Arthur, up until now. Then I heard what others had to say and saw what others had to feel, and I realized I wasn't in as much of his inner circle as I thought. His death exposed the truth of my more recent position

Review: Nothing Good Can Come from This by Kristi Coulter

This is revealing in ways the author didn't mean. It's juvenile, not heroic or enlightening. Stories about high heels, trips to Paris and Germany, being absurdly overpaid, deserving to explore love interests outside of her marriage, first class tickets, three star meals, therapeutic purchases of overpriced handbags, sex in the back seats of cars, the I'm chic for still liking grunge bands in her 40s, the burden of guilting parents who still managed to provide for all the middle class expectations of a girl whose friends unfairly got to buy Prada and to go on yacht trips and to drive

Review: The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

I couldn't get through it. I thought The Magic Mountain would either be (a) an explicit exposition of pre-war and war time, mixed with some kind of class analysis; or maybe (b) an investigation of exceptional sickness and being surrounded by those also sick, while all together trying to come to terms with mortality and material expectations; or maybe (c) it'd be some arty analogy, painting Europe at the time in the form of a sanatarium. Perhaps I just don't have the background of the era or maybe my expectations were flatly wrong, but none of the above landed for

Review: My Struggle: Book 1 by Karl Ove Knausgård

You don't remember people's faces or what they say, but you remember all the inconsequential details of that one time you were embarrassed by work 20 years ago? You don't have the courage to do something about your grandmother sitting in her own piss for several days, as you clean the house you let her fester in for years? Your brother hasn't introduced all his children to their own blood? Your father is a worthless alcoholic, he dies, and you dedicate a whole book to describing your reaction to the death, but the actual description and characterization of that father

Review: Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

Having never read any of Rilke's poetry, I was told by a friend to read this, my expectation being that it was profound and beautiful. I ended up rolling my eyes through most of it. Rilke comes off as some sniffly blowhard hipster. School is too difficult, Paris is impossible to focus in, Christmas is a drag, Italy's art is too temporally disconnected to be taken seriously. I would send you some of my work, but I'm so poor that I can't afford to; please go buy a publication, Dear Mr. Kappus. Did I mentioned we're staying my friend's summer

A marriage ends.

He realizes all the meaning he’s taken for granted, now gone. He weeps, the image of which he immediately imagines as being sympathetic. And then, immediately after that thought (i.e. that he looks worthy of sympathy while weeping), actually during that thought, he’s disgusted. A massive loss of substance, and he’s preoccupied with his image. Reflecting further: this vanity and conceit must be why his marriage ended in the first place; what he offered was thin and presentable but not sustaining. And then, another step: if his past offers were so easily invalidated, so vain, then

Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman

Warning: this text may contain spoilers My main problem was this: if you imagine the male characters female and the females male, the story reads entirely the same, with most of the consequences of power being stereotypical, over simplified, bond-villain-style tropes of masculinity. The ending confirms the suspicion, that the premise of the book is this: power corrupts universally and simply. And for that, the book loses impact. I don't agree with the premise. People are complicated. Organizational power structures are not simple. The world is multivariate. Power is not one thing, and strength is only one variable in the

Review: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

On point, but a bit dragged out and ornamental. It's like you want to know what happens after and under all this acid talk, like give me some direction or deep explanation, but instead you keep getting this flowery alliterated enumerations of all the stuff the hippies are talking about. Which, after a while, one realizes is a perfect mirror of the acid movement itself. Another (I read The Painted Word first) subtle, subversive, steel-manned criticism from Tom Wolfe.

Review: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

When I was a kid going to church, I got a prescription that was top down: Christ is god, Heaven is real, be good or else, believe what the books say. All other explanation was filling in the gaps below these claims. If Christ lived, what was his life like? Enter the Gospels. If God is all powerful, what exceptional work has he done? Enter the stories of the Old Testament. This was religion by deduction, with Christ being the unquestionable axiom. The literal truth of the story was all important, and the lessons less so. In my head: doubting

Review: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

I'm not sure who this book was written for. It wasn't me, which is fine. Best case, this was written for other strugglers, those curious and intelligent enough to want to break out of their own binds, but who are limited without the right model of their own problems or the right example of a feasible solution. It's written at a high school level, not in the sense that it has grammar issues or is incoherent, but in that it's so simple and full of cliches and unironic tropes that only someone who hasn't read much or seen much could

Review: Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins

There's good advice in this book, clouded by a lot of senseless drama. The story of how Goggins survived his childhood abuse, got through his military training, and accomplished so many athletic goals is impressive enough. The challenges he makes to the readers and the explanation of the battle in his mind, the description of what it takes to run 100 miles, that's interesting and useful. But to me, it is made much less impressive by his deciding to run on broken legs, push through kidney failure, and work out while in arrhythmia the morning of heart surgery. The absurdity

Chic?

You’ve been of age for years, but midway to the bar you still get nervous. Walking there, it’s dark out and your jacket is too thin to block the gusts. Wet, coarse asphalt, alongside the concrete, alongside chainlink guarded baseball fields and three-story apartment buildings. The occasional back-alley yellow-cab making that dopplered paper rip noise cars make as they coast past through shallow puddles. Street-lights tinting things the rarely realistic slight-sepia of city night. At the entrance your nervousness peaks as your wallet is in motion preparing to provide identification. Why the guilt?  It’s

(Untitled)

I’m gonna lick your heart. I’m gonna floss your fingers. I’m gonna inhale. I’m gonna read your work. I’m going to pluck your apple, honey; and press its taught skin to the inflection between my nose and upper lip. I’m gonna smell your fields, and doze absentmindedly in your radiance. You’re gonna crack the igneous shell in my head and let forgotten fragrant life seep out in relieving streams of cool viscous purification that flow over my open eyes and open mouth. We’re gonna leapfrog the common vanities into a unique chaos,

A Few Memories of Bob Jones

Us grandkids called him Papa. It’s sort of absurd how many eulogies I’ve had to write recently, and there’s something obscene about how thoughts from one period of loss might be relevant to another. Your gut tells you that you shouldn’t compare, that every experience with life should be unique and pristine. But having reflected on death, love, and family so often as of late, I’ve found some repeating patterns. The first I’ll mention is that: grief is rarely the predictable, black-veiled, tear-soaked thing seen in movies. In actual practice, it’s more piecemeal

Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

Somewhere in the middle of this book I had begun to think that Circe was a simple instrument for playing back the popular stories of Greek mythology in a short, indulgent form. Circe, The Greek's Greatest Hits, a mixtape by Madeline Miller. The writing is pretty and elegant (e.g. Aeetes describing his godhood as a column of water, Helios's regality, etc. gotta come back and edit in actual quotes, but don't have the text with me); the stories are familiar (e.g. Prometheus, Icarus, The Minotaur); the perspective (i.e. Circe's) feels alternative and thus fresh, but not, initially,

Review: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

I wanted this book to be more. I thought its reputation meant it was more than just a time-passing novel, and perhaps it'd be something of a psychological dissection. Like, maybe this was the book that would get into the details and provide the palpable empathy of what it was like to be a slave, and further what it was like to participate in the actual underground railroad. Maybe it'd describe the atrocities in independent and full color detail. Where a high school education might tell you that people were brutalized, dehumanized, whipped, lynched, etc. a novel has the potential

Eulogy for Pappou

Adamos Georgiou has passed away. Finally, he is allowed to rest. The obvious and uncomfortable irony of trying to memorialize him now is that he’s been gone, in truth, for a long time. The mind of the man who passed away was not that of the man who created his legacy, my family’s legacy. It is a harsh thing to point out in such a sensitive setting, but my pappou’s late condition is necessary to note in order to properly prioritize the simple, tragic, and relatively short-lived character of his later years; against the

Review: The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer

War is abstract for people like me. Occasionally I'll watch Mark Wahlberg kill terrorists over a beer, and that's only ever during the downtime between bouts at work, a place where I'm saturated with idiosyncrasies that are even further removed from politics and culture and the contention they stir up. Bush's got his mission, Obama's sending drones out, Trumps doing Syrian things, I'm thinking about whether the corporate software I write could be 7% faster and if I should eat eggs for dinner or go shop for proper groceries. So when I think about war and ideology, it's easier for

Review: A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin

At first I thought this book was a bit rough. It starts out with what feels like this exaggerated character: a quiet loner type kid, with synesthetic skills in visualization and spatial awareness, develops into this fantastic mathematician simultaneously obsessed with his extraordinary work, yet casually involved in multiple prodigious side projects, and also socially capable and involved in enough personal relationships to sleep around with half a dozen distinguished women, taking the occasional hit of acid for good measure. It's a wild ride believing that all of it is possible for one person, but at some point it comes

Review: The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Identity Politics, as a title and as an argument, has been exhausted for me. I didn't really have a horse in the race, and was and am interested in other things. I'm in a privileged position, sure -- not that I accept, blindly or meekly, all the handicaps of empathy and understanding that that work is supposed to damn one to. But I do realize that my experience is different and easier than others'. As are most my friends', regardless of their group affiliations, self-ascribed or otherwise. But back in 2015 when I saw Nicholas Christakis being screamed in a

Review: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

It's 220am, months after I first picked this book up (again, for a third attempt) and I've finally finished the thing. First thing I did was Google "ending explained" 'cause I'm dumb, and I get to an explanation written by Aaron Swartz -- an idealist programmer I used to follow, who killed himself after a dramatic copyright legal battle. So that's weird. And Swartz's concise explanation of the plot, which I make the distinction by mentioning "the plot" so as to contrast against all the themes of and observations made within the book, which are seemingly more significant and yet

Review: The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 (Abridged) by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

At just over 400 pages in an abridged form, The Gulag Archipelago took me over a year to finish. The way I took it in, it's a difficult book, and I've probably forgotten more than I currently remember. Digression: I need to start taking notes as I read, especially with books like this one: academic books, books you're responsible for reading not because they're fulfilling or gratifying, but because they're informing. Informing in either a direct sense, as in the information is scarce and important and a lesson for how to or not to act; or in a derived sense,

Review: Man's Search for Meaning

This book is distilled truth. In summary: Viktor E. Frankl takes extraordinary psychological insight and applies it to (and beyond) his incredible experiences within several concentration camps. Are you still allowed to call Holocaust tragedies incredible? The scope and the extremity of the events are hard to believe from the perspective of the widespread peace and prosperity of a different generation and geography, and yet those horrors are also so widely discussed and broadly verified as to be undeniable. Truth is stranger than fiction and more intense, too. The point being: the whole of what happened takes serious work just

Review: Abbey's Road by Edward Abbey

I don't know. I'm about 50 pages into this book, and so far I've got mixed feelings. Australia seems so far boring even to the Author. Slow trains. Bad beer. Empty landscape. Idiot company. Tell me how you're coping in said environment. If you're going to drink beer, go full Bukowski. If you're going to describe the area, go full Bryson. If you're going to be bored, make me feel it because I'm there with you, not 'cause your book has me staring out of my own window. "Alice Springs is a quiet town of 12,000 souls, similar to

Review: Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

Going to try and write thoughts on this as I finish each essay, having learned from past compilations that I tend to lose my perspective of the earlier stuff as I move through the later stuff. Big Red SonReminds me of a Hunter Thompson piece. I think that's what DFW is going for. It's like his version of Wearing and Tearing, Led Zeppelin's attempt to show they could be punk too, if they wanted. DFW seems to have less contempt for his contemporary than Robert Plant. You get the impression that his focus on Gonzo porn-man, Max Harcore, was actual

Review: Cabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere by Zach Klein

Originally got this and thought it was a coffee table book. Nothing more than eye candy. But I later found out that there were actual stories in there and read through 'em, nine in total. Each one is supposed to be about a different type of cabin build (e.g. reclaims, from scratch, geometric, treehouse) but the form ain't all that important. The stories are more about people deciding they're going to do a project and then following through with that project. In any case, they're more or less there to put some structure behind all the gorgeous inspiring pictures

Review: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace

I think this is the most impacting book I've ever read. What it is: a group of stories related only in that they all deal with relationships. Each one is devastating. This guy seems to be able to pinpoint all of the interesting, substantial stuff, both exciting and horrible, that's hidden underneath all the shallow expectations and words we (I?) typically rely on to talk about how and why people care about each other. The effect is devastating in two ways: (1) it explodes low resolution understanding, and can even kindle entire new understandings. It's hard to think of tragedy

Review: Metropolitan Life by Fran Lebowitz

This chick is great. The fact that this was published in '78 is incredible. It's still appropriate, and given the atmosphere of nothing meaning anything and all trends being subjective and personal, it's refreshingly harshly and unapologetically opinionated. Plus it is hilarious. What more do you want? Taste exists and it means something. Who would've thought? Some of the chapters read back like shallow, played stereotypes, but you also get the opinion that Fran might've minted said perspectives, not to mention she lays 'em out with style as opposed to leaning on the Buzzfeed-esq glittery crutches of click-baiting titles, fast

Review: The Call of the Wild by Jack London

I'm a sucker for this kinda' stuff, but even beyond that this book is excellent. It's so refreshing to read something earthly and bounded, something with conviction, something that makes an attempt at saying here is a section of the world and here is how it works, measuring its success by the fact that there's a large audience of people who agree. A lot of what I read tends to be critical, nuanced, deconstructing, questioning. The latter kind of stuff feeds and grows my cynicism. London's kind of stuff gives me a, seemingly shared, sense of direction. It makes you

Review: Walden, And On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience: And The Thoreau Essay, Walking by Henry David Thoreau

This took me forever to finish, it ending up as my in between book, the one I'd pick up and read a few pages of when I wasn't focused on something more interesting. As a (pretty common) rule I try not to put down a book until I've finished it, but every now and again one slips through, barring me not also damning it as worthless (which is rare). Is this a weird habit? To be in one way principled, to the point of dogma, about finishing what I've started, but then also to have a stack of books, months

Review: Cabin Porn by Zach Klein

Originally got this and thought it was a coffee table book. Nothing more than eye candy. But I later found out that there were actual stories in there and read through 'em, nine in total. Each one is supposed to be about a different type of cabin build (e.g. reclaims, from scratch, geometric, treehouse) but the form ain't all that important. The stories are more about people deciding they're going to do a project and then following through with that project. In any case, they're more or less there to put some structure behind all the gorgeous inspiring pictures

Review: Girl with Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace

Another set of independent pieces behind a single cover. How do you review? I'll just react. I started reading this book after making it about 70 pages into Infinite Jest for the second time. I couldn't break past the static friction of the thing, which didn't quite make sense to me given (1) DFW is renowned by people I respect and (2) I've gotten sucked in by many of his in-person interviews and speeches (e.g. through digging holes in YouTube). He's smart, interesting, and capable. Why don't I get this supposed and heavy-as-a Bible then? Why can't I find

Eulogy for Yiayia

Death is difficult. It’s hard to think about, it’s hard to watch, and it’s hard to experience. On top of all that, it’s hard to be honest about. What do you say? When my Grandma Annie died I was 20. I had lost a loved one before, but never as an adult. Losing someone as a kid is intense, but also kind of cartoonish. When you’re a kid the future is completely unknown anyway, so while a violent change in plans is rough, your plans aren’t that developed to begin with. It’s easier

Review: All Art is Propaganda by George Orwell

What one thing can you say about a set of mostly independent essays? It seems you're obligated to either (1) give a general opinion on Orwell, himself; or (2) talk about the essays' independent points in succession, perhaps finding and commenting on common threads that join two or more of them. OK, so... Orwell is great. Moving on, here's a few things I found interesting: Firstly, a lot of these essays are criticisms of popular literature from Orwell's era: books I haven't read. And somehow, even with not having read those books, Orwell's criticisms of them leave you unblinking as

Jet Lag

Woke up unusually early, six o’clock or so, the happy accident of light jet lag. Shower, teeth, fold the laundry I left in the dryer the night before. It’s still dark out, dawn is an hour away, and the wind is rolling in hard, preceding the sun. It sounds like surf, but not confined to the hearth of a beach. It’s all around, louder, sporadic, and as a result more mesmerizing than the ocean. Right after waking up, or even way after, it’s rare for me to be able to focus. In the morning I’m

Review: The Devil in the Kitchen: Sex, Pain, Madness and the Making of a Great Chef by Marco Pierre White

I read this book back to back with Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. I am a fan of Anthony Bourdain, and with his book I knew what I was getting into. Marco, however, I hadn't heard of before, but I came out of Kitchen Confidential hungry for more. Bourdain had nodded to White in his book, and Amazon had good reviews of The Devil in the Kitchen, so I rolled the dice and went in blind. I was excited to read another story of a interesting chef, specifically in what I presumed would be a fresh context -- compared to Bourdain's

Review: Naked Lunch

This book is a kick to the stomach. It’s a contrast against the candy of pop culture and muzak and advertisement. And it’s also a contrast against the typically inspiring and relatable work of the proceeding Beatniks. Naked lunch is disgusting, but perhaps it’s not meant to be enjoyed. That might’ve been my mistake. This isn’t epiphany or interesting outskirt experience by way of drugs. This is chaos and delirium by way of drugs, described in somehow articulate, if not also chaotic, poetic detail. And that is impressive and worthwhile, but it’s no Dharma

Review: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

This isn't a comprehensive categorization and it might also be a tautology, but perhaps it's still useful or relatable: In my reading, there are novels that hypothesize about how the world could be, taking a culture you participate in, honing it down to something fundamental, and then showing how that world might run. And then there are novels that take you somewhere independent of your experience. Hypothetical exploration vs the distillation and clear articulation of what already exists. Like I said, these two categories very well might overlap in practice as a novel is always something independent of your experience,

Quit

Social media is a middle school cafeteria. Political post’s possible outcomes: people who already agree with you nod their head. People who don’t agree with you make themselves known. People gracefully change their minds. With some exceptional charity let’s assume you convince everyone to be on the same page, and we all end up thinking that it’s appropriate for players to (not) stand during the anthem. Then what? Nothing. Superficial problems inspire surface-level solutions. We find something else to fight about or gape at. Keep it rolling, pass the popcorn. Maybe it&

Review: At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches by Susan Sontag

I'm embarrassed by and sorry for parts of what I initially wrote -- left unedited, below -- about At the Same Time.  Mainly, I'm sorry for having insinuated that Susan Sontag was intentionally terse or worse unintentionally terse, and I'm especially sorry for having implied that such a criticism was my, and presumably should be your, main take away from her writing, specifically in the noted collection of essays. What a dumb thing to say on my part. My bad. What I did say that I think remains correct was that Susan Sontag and her writing belong to an exclusive

Review: The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

The most satisfying answer I've read to the title question. Reading this is looking behind the curtain of life. Maybe that's what all good psychology does? Maybe that is psychology? In any case, The Righteous Mind makes a hell of a good case for why we act the ways we do, and how that then gets articulated as what we call 'politics'. It gives one of the best arguments I've heard for the divide among the left and the right. Or at least it's part of the story. If it is partial, then its tenants are a big part of

A Note To Myself

I am evolution and this is just one of my forms. The Spirit is the chain of evolution, ever better, never ending. The ideal that all which exists results from. Realized or not, you can think of the idea of a Quality human. That individual represents the best a human can do in making things better, making them persistent and sustainable and harmonious. What might it look like: imagine we are each one of the wholly spirit centipede’s infinite toes moving it forward. The idea of the best appendage would be one that did its job perfectly such

Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

This book was intense and obscure. I feel like there was more to it than I was able to take away. On one level of things, there's the novel and fantasy aspects of the book. The conflict between this guy Shadow, his world, and the gods and schemes that inhabit it. That part of things is interesting, but it drags and it's a bit simplistic. The whole main plot, with Wednesday recruiting people and his devious plan to cause chaos for his own sake, probably could've been done just as immersively in 50 pages. The intertwining of all these other

Aaron's Epitaph

What do you write about when someone you truly loved dies? Should you write anything at all? Do you write about grief? About how experiencing it changes the more you do it and with age? About how, at least for me, it goes from an uninterrupted frustrated inconsolable sadness, stuttering in air between snot and tears and sobs; to more of a pallet of emotions and ideas? A battle over whether the things you’re thinking are appropriate. Whether you’re sad enough. Whether you’re a sociopath for *not* being sad enough. Whether you’re

greatness and fame

greatness and fame. some people are famous ‘cause they’re great. some people are great, but they’re not famous. others are famous and suck. most are neither famous nor great. i once was walking down the street in Chelsea, passed a fancy hotel and saw a mob of people screaming at the increasingly shrinking space between the building’s entrance and a black SUV. i asked one of the crowd’s 13 year old lemmings who she was screaming for and why. she told me it was none of my fucking business. guess i&

jon and i messing around in the rv

i trust in the electronic eye. it sees all things and it knows what’s right. crackers and carrots, contemplating chain links and emails. johnny appleseed and john carmack playing tug of war. scratch away the pornohraphic veneer and see clear for the first time in years. love shackled behind brass battled doors of technology and habit. where is george’s tums, he’s got the runs. not fun, not fun. high dynamic range cyborg organic eyeballs to see fluorescent sunlight with. the whole fucking planet tastes like perfume. we’re trying to find others. the

artist by charles bukowski

all of a sudden I’m a painter.a girl from Galveston gives me$50 for a painting of a manholding a candycane while floating in a darkened sky. than a young man with a black beardcomes overand I sell him three for $80.he likes rugged stuffwhere I write across the painting –“shoot shit” or “GRATE ART IS HORSESHIT, BUY TACOS.” I can do a painting in 5 minutes.I use acrylics, paint right out ofthe tube.I do the left side of the paintingfirst with my left hand and thenfinish the right

The Zen of a Shitty Crowd

I recently went to a show with a shitty crowd. An outdoor venue with people sitting on the floor of the pit, pissed that others could be so rude as to think grooving in front of them was somehow appropriate. Rage that the rail didn’t have at least five feet of space per person. Disgust that a shoe or two might of been stepped on, or worse that their picnic-blanket-colonization of the limited real estate was being disregarded. Others leaving during the set, returning with entire cafeteria trays full of chicken fingers and french fries, expecting to eat

A Daydream

We kiss and our teeth clink and smash and disintegrate into each other,collecting below our floating heads in a pile of shared dust. We walk over this newfound sand, hand in hand.Eternal desert, endless horizon, two androgynous silhouettes,without nipples or genitals or mouths, pursuing the sun on the surface of mars. I sniff you into me, and your hair is pasta, my mind melted butter.A good dish, like a big broken-in leather arm chairin front of a dusty, ray-laden, library window. Night time and it’s time for the skeletons to dance,clinking like wooden

(Untitled)

Beerful and joyful, swaying to live music, dizzy and dimpled. I open my eyes, and I where’s-waldo you on the same side of a small basement stage. I’ve seen you before, but only ever as a patron, never as a companion. Do you wanna be friends? Do you wanna dance with me and sing with me and remember that, just because you do this vocationally, doesn’t mean you can’t also do it professionally, confessionally, like me, for free. Ha! Who am I to doubt! Your authenticity was never in jeapordy. You’re a genuine woman, and

(Untitled)

Am I tripping or am I oppressed? Are my desperations the ephemeral result of a missed cup of coffee or are they the bedrock conclusion following a hollow narrative? Are my motivations arrested by the contents of my schedule or stifled by its arrangement? What am I missing and where should I be looking for it? Am I a coward? Or an idiot? Or am I just temporarily tired? Am I investing? Or am I squandering, supported by superficial status-quo canon? Am I cranky or am I lucid?

Review: The Magician King (The Magicians, #2) by Lev Grossman

After having read the first two books, I'm frustrated; and having invested my time, I feel I've earned the right to rant a bit. The series began well. It's established a pursuit-worthy concept: strip away some of the juvenile aspects of a typical magic-on-earth type setting, and see how someone might actually, practically come to terms with it. It doesn't build its own universe so much as add on to reality. Relationships exist through believable circumstances. There was no caricatured connections, like say, The Durselys in Harry potter. It was relatable. The main character, Quentin's, emptiness and thirst for fulfillment

A Place

Feet buried inches under hot sand; ass planted on a reclined beach-chair, slipping between watching the waves and sleeping; the sepia of dark glasses or the bright black back of your eyelids; optional towel over your head, accommodating if you’ve had too much sun or want to sneak a peak at a neighboring surf-bum’s bathing-suit; cold fruit from an ice-filled cooler; slightly salty lips; the refreshing relief of the right drink; and the pleasure of knowing you have nowhere to be for hours, if not days. Soon…

Something From the Journal

A sweet sadness.Disappointment, not despair.A realized risk reminding you that the game is real,and that there’s something substantial on the table. A proper bet.A contrast for both future and past accomplishment. Escapes and excuses avoided for fear of dulling a deserved pain; a pain that you need to periodically participate in.A practice that defines priority and provides perspective.A reminder to be modest, to know pride’s pitfalls.Embrace it, live in it, then move on.

Re: Humans Need Not Apply

In response to the video titled, Humans Need Not Apply, originally posted as a comment in an online conversation with a friend: A few things come to mind whenever I hear these kind of points being made. Most of them are abstract day dreams with a lot of hand waving and unsubstantiated assumptions, but they’re fun to talk about none the less, so here it goes:Economies deal with the systems for distributing and producing goods and services, right? We work to get money which we exchange for other things. Prior to currency we’d trade. And

An Italian Poem

Happy.Lover.Fun.Sweet sadness.Sun.Boating.Company.Shallow, innocent, smiles.Immovable, balanced, aimless beauty.Salty rocks and dark, clear, water.Gross, impressive, sail boats.Lighthearted, short-lived, jealousy.Virtuous, incorruptible, happiness.Minimal, intense, natural color.Neighbors.Shipwrecks.Wild, mountaintop, cactus fruit, thorns and all.Those endless clouds again…Fish flowers, dumb and delicious.Everyday a new view.Squinting, purposefully, purely.

Brands

Brands are powerful. They’re convenient containers in which we can easily pack up and pass around dense information. But there’s a catch: information loss. We throw away depth in exchange for efficiency. What does “McDonalds” mean? What does “The Swastika” symbol mean? What does “Middle Class” mean? Most arguments are the result of mis-communication; conflicting assumptions about the fundamentals of the topic being discussed. You call yourself pro-choice. I call myself pro-life. We both assume the other fits into a very stark characterization. But I agree that rape victims and

Ya' do it cause you gotta do it...

Too many people looking for prestige in their performance. Ya’ do it cause you gotta do it, cause it’s the thing you should be doing.Prestige and power is us and them. It’s isolation. More of the same.Music for music’s sake is a reminder that we are more of the same. Temporarily separated, but barreling back at break-neck speeds to the abyss of togetherness.We’re going back there, to where we came from and where we’re going to, to spend an infinite multitude of time, peacefully balancing with

Flow

When the cliff hanging over you is so dense that you’re eyes need to adjust to the sudden darkness, you know you’re in it heavy. A building, in the middle of implosion, falling toward your back, and you’ve got to out run it or die. Each direction chosen in real time, each bump dealt with through a combination of light like reflexes and weathered wisdom, all the while traveling faster than you though you could think. No options, just momentum. Perfect flow. Perfect immediacy. Truly continuous integration with the nature of the situation. Brute

Tweaking

Abandoned ruins appropriated as valuable, no one asks why they were abandoned in the first place. Typographic diarrhea, shallowly swooned over. Overused, under-thought, in-cohesive spew masquerading as appreciable underneath a king’s cloak of fog and smoke.The same people evangelizing detoxification, living in asbestos lined buildings built on top of broken bottles and cigarette butts.It seems something is wrong, practicing yoga in a town with no trees.Loglo selfishly employed, naively sold as a mutual benefit, warnings unheard or unheeded.Food and drink are the fun, rather than the company they used to require, but even still,

An Excerpt from "Shakey" by Jimmy McDonough

Neil Young has been remarkably consistent on the subject of songwriting over the years: It happens, I don’t understand it, I’m grateful and it’s pretty pointless to talk about it. I pity the poor fool who attempts to crack the meaning of his lyrics as if breaking a code. It can’t be done – not with Young’s help, at least, and he doesn’t care. Although he’d never put it this way, I get the feeling Neil Young views songwriting almost superstitiously, like a conjurer’s

Mindful of the Music

It’s a tragedy to see a show sitting down.Watching some nostalgia machine pump out its product in a room full of dead women and lazy boys.A single suit stands, his tie long gone along with his hair, but he doesn’t care as he dances in the open aisle.Most ignore this dude’s craziness, pretend he isn’t there, because they’ve been dead so long they don’t remember what life looks like and they are embarrassed by the void.That guy dancing in the aisle, though, he’s eternal, he’s

A Jotted Down Memory From My First Trip to New Orleans

I’m sitting in a cafe, reading “A Moveable Feast”, decompressing after a day’s work with a Sierra Nevada beer, and waiting for Tommy and Lauren to come in and join me.In the meantime, another potential love interest walks in, and I make eye contact with her, I smile, and she smiles. It happens again, and a handful of times more, but then my friends finally arrive, and I shift my concentration.I start talking with my friends and, it being the finish of my stay in New Orleans, there are a lot of

Who Cares?

No one cares that Gary Clark Jr is black. He still shreds.No one cares that Allen Stone is white. He’s still got soul.No one cares that Neil Young is pushing 70. He’s still innovating.No one cares that Brandon Niederauer “TAZ” is eleven. He’s still skilled.No one cares that Tedeschi Trucks Band is lead by a woman. They rock.No one cares that Adele has curves.She’s still making hearts bleed.No one cared that Freddie Mercury was gay-ish.Better for us that he had a four-octave

A Run

I step out of my procrastination and onto the road, ready to pick up the run I’ve been putting off. The moment I finally make it from the trap of my desk chair to the threshold of my front door, that same smell of summer and spring hits me all over again, and the motif of my life is reaffirmed. Immovable laziness floats away, replaced by motivation and lightness of mind. I’ve transitioned perspectives, and now I’m ready to ride. Ditching my headphones, I’m hoping to hear something I might of otherwise

A Little Birdy Told Me This

I’m walking down the street, trying to clear my head before bed.It’s 2AM, and I happen to hear this crazy ass bird, lost in its own home, eerily echoing its ramblings off of the brick and concrete confusion that is the city I have just moved to.Not the town I grew up in, but close to it.Anyway, I keep walking, and my attention shifts.The sweet smells of summer have begun to descend in the form of spring, bringing with them a hybrid nostalgic excitement.A feeling so familiar you can close your

About A Girl I Like

Lying nose to nose, I look into your pale, blue, bright eyes, and see them smiling at me. And I make an effort to realize that you’re a person, not just a means to satisfaction. Understanding that makes me smile, as I realize that the moment is mutual and that I am happy because you seem happy. The hand I’m holding isn’t a pawn played toward another unbuttoned fly. It’s the hand of a person, just like mine. There’s purpose, and perspective, and longing in that hand, just like in

Them

They feign curiosity, but their only intent is to unrelentingly criticize with hollow arguments and offer unsolicited advice with unsubstantiated authority. They do this over and over again, permuting arbitrarily through unrelated topics until you are disoriented to the point of craving escape, or until every reserve of your patience has been exhausted, or both In the former case, where you feel the need to flee, they blame you for your lack of participation and the subsequent degradation of relations. They ask, with complete seriousness and obliviousness, why you never talk. In the inexcusably cruel but unrestrained explosion of your

Review: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

I got the point: war is absurd and bureaucracy multiplies the immorality and ineffectiveness of fighting to solve a problem. And for what it's worth, to me the book get's the point out there in a really witty way. The entire Milo subplot is hysterical and relatable, and Colonel Cathcart's completely superficial appreciation of his authority and warped sense of responsibility resonates with anyone that's had a shitty manager in their life. Apply it all to war, and then go on to realize that wars are actually happening, and it becomes a real "Whoa..." inducing kind of book. But the

The Holidays

I was walking from Penn. to work today, like I do everyday, but this morning was especially nice. It was cold, the sidewalks were icy and sprinkled with old snow and new salt, and the sky was perfectly blue and clear. After about 15 minutes of walking, I went into a coffee shop to get some coffee. I opened the door to the place and right as I did I got that great relieving feeling you get from walking into a heated room after being out in the cold; when warmth envelops your cold face, evaporating its numbness; and it

A Poem About Why I Love Artists

I fall for her understanding, the reality of her real,her effortless authenticity, her disregard for compromise,the way she makes me truly feel… …naive, as if this reprieve were mutual. Cause when the track stops, and the stage is struck, and the house lights and music team up to together make their nightly eviction, She is still ideal,but I am estranged. It’s so bad and sad that this singer’s songs seduce. But it sure is good to dive into being alive, and let my preoccupied mind dissolve in its surrender to her movement. ‘Cause even

Why I Read

I started reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace today. I bought the book a few months ago after having seen it mentioned a few times in random articles and having heard Stephen King recommend it. Now, I’ve never read anything by Stephen King. By chance, I had come across some interview he’d given where he mentioned the book, and knowing that he is a popular author and having liked what he was saying at the time (I don’t remember what it was about), I momentarily – and superficially – valued his opinion. I

A Quote from Kurt Vonnegut

Do not do so as an academic critic, nor as a person drunk on art, nor as a barbarian in the literary market place. Do so as a sensitive person who has a few practical hunches about how stories can succeed or fail.  - Kurt VonnegutMy take: Don’t do things in a cerebral vacuum; don’t assign arbitrary meaning, presuming the artist has (or doesn’t have) a license to kill; and don’t walk into the fight blind, lacking any experience, expecting to win. Instead, be humble and sensible about what’s effective.

Who I'm Looking For

…but not just any girl. Find one who’s idealistic, fun loving, generous with her smile and laugh. A girl who’s adventurous, and contemplative, and curious. A girl who knows how to be a ladyand a child and a man, too. A girl who’s smart and knows aboutsome of the things I know about andsome of the things I don’t. A girl who dances, because she needs to. A girl who remembers how to imagine,so she can remind me when I forget. (Do the same for her.) A girl whose heart

Cynic's Antidote

Just got back from the Mountain Jam and Bonnaroo music festivals, and I’m so happy. I was thinking today after work, about how fun it was running around on Hunter Mountain in the rain and the Bonnaroo farm in the heat, and also how almost all of the people I met were so loving to me and similarly interested in the things I liked. The daydream continued throughout my walk to the train and I had a bit of a personal revelation: If you’re attracted to someone – anyone – then “the everybody” can&

It's Raining in Love by Richard Braughtigan

I don’t know what it is, but I distrust myself when I start to like a girl     a lot. It makes me nervous. I don’t say the right things or perhaps I start   to examine,                      evaluate,                                     compute   what I am saying. If I say, “Do you think it’s going to rain?” and she says, “I don’t know,” I start thinking:    Does she really like me? In other words I get a little creepy. A friend of mine once said, “It’s twenty times better to be friends    with someone than it is to be in love

I hope I never get so wise that the seasons are no longer a surprise.

I love how no matter how many times I go through it, it’s always new. Not needing a jacket to go outside. That sweet heat smell that goes hand in hand with spring and summer. Trees being green. Thinking the ski season is, sadly, done forever. Watching the beach slowly become inviting. Remembering how much I love swimming, and surfing, and flying my kite; and thinking about how it’s been practically infinite time since I last did. It never getting dark. God, it’s all so awesome. A similar thing happens going into winter, too,

A Defense of Literature

The universe is huge. Time is impossibly vast. Trillions of creatures crawl and swim and fly through our planet. Billions of people live, billions came before us, and billions will come after. We cannot count, cannot even properly imagine, the number of perspectives and variety of experiences offered by existence. We sip all of this richness through the very narrowest of straws: one lifetime, one consciousness, one perspective, one set of experiences. Of all the universe has, has had, and will have to offer, we can know only the tiniest fraction. We are alone and minuscule and our lives are

Faith In The World

I’m in the process of reading “Style; Lessons in Clarity and Grace”. It’s a book about how to create good prose, focusing on a set of tips that tend to produce rich and impactful writing, and by providing examples that illustrate each point. Some of those examples are obviously crafted for the purpose of demonstrating the author’s ideas, but others were taken from already existing and excellent pieces of literature. One such quote was not only a masterpiece of English, but also contained a powerful, thought-provoking idea. The passage was originally from

Note to Self.

If you’re constantly looking at yourself in the mirror, expecting some change in appearance to produce a change in confidence, then you’re indirectly associating appearance with excellence. Excellence — whether it’s physical, conversational, sexual, or otherwise — is not correlated to appearance. This is my conflict, because I’ve always been self-conscious of my appearance (I struggle with weight), yet at the same time hold it in such low rank among what I consider to be indicative of awesomeness. Beyond the cliché undertone of such a claim, I’ve proved this to myself time and time again, yet the

Thought or Emotion; Which Comes First?

I’m having trouble telling if emotions precede or follow events, when those events are things you’re remembering or anticipating – in other words, thinking about the past or the future. For stuff that’s happening now, it seems pretty obvious that emotions follow the events. For example, you land a new trick, you feel good; you don’t follow through on something, you feel bad. But for things that have already happened or for things you’re expecting to happen, it seems to me to be more of a “chicken and the

Jack White.

Jack White is an interesting fellow. He’s someone I’ve never met personally, but interesting none the less. At least, he got me thinking… among other things. I got the chance to see one of his shows this past Sunday, and initially wasn’t too stoked on it. I had had a long night the night prior, seeing Neil Young, The Black Keys, and The Foo Fighters tear it down in Central Park — life is rough, what can I say. Anyway, I got the call from a friend that he had the extra Jack White tickets, and I had

Labels, Love, and Sex.

I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships and how intense they can be. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how there are different labels for popular types of relationships, and how certain fringe-type relationships don’t have labels and are harder to talk about, precisely. For example, most of us have some people in our lives that we would label as family; specifically, you might have a brother or a sister, a mom and a dad, etc. There are other people that are labeled as friends. Others still labeled as partners, coworkers, girlfriends, boyfriends, etc. All these labels imply

Optical Implants and Evolution

Here’s some cool technology: an optical implant that trans-codes visual stimulus into the format that the cells in your eye expect, rather than just increasing the magnitude of the signal. The technology is in its infancy right now, but it sets the stage for some really awesome progress, in the realm of helping the disabled, but also enhancing the average. Imagine being able to replace your stock eye hardware with something that could produce twice the resolution. Basically, what if you could undergo a procedure that took your vision from 20/20 to 20/10, or 20/1?

Ben Graham and High Frequency Trading

Just read Ben Graham’s book, “The Intelligent Investor” which taught me a lot about investing, specifically about the logical divide between speculation and value-investing. It was really insightful.Armed with that knowledge, and having my curiosity stirred by all the opportunities being offered to software developers in High Frequency Trading, I started thinking about HFT field and how it relates to Graham’s principles. Trying to make a long story short: given the little I know about HFT, the two don’t jive. HFT is based on inefficiencies in the market place, and can

First things, first.

There have been a lot of topics on my writing queue lately, but wanted to start off with an idea I’ve been ping-ponging with my rediscovered friend, Jude Safo.The topic in question is choice and how it manifests itself. In a recent conversation, Jude brought up this Freudian principle: the idea that the unconscious mind comes into contact with a near infinite amount of stimuli, filters it, and then propagates high level concepts to our conscious mind. Thinking about it from a software engineer’s perspective, this explanation involves a lot of hand waving. For example,

"The Invitation" by Oriah

Was at a wedding and the officiant read this poem during the ceremony. I thought it was really powerful, so I asked her for the source. Thought I’d share it here… The Invitation by Oriah  It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know  if you will risk  looking like a fool for love for your dream for the adventure of being

Facebook

I’m trying to figure out how to use Facebook non-narcassitically. I feel like a large part of what I’ve recently posted has been too “look-at-me” and shallow… I think Facebook is a tool, and, aside from logistical stuff like event planning, it’s best used to share beautiful, mutually beneficial, and inspiring things: meaningful photos, art, yet-to-be-answers questions, postulates, etc.  Too often, though, I use it to as a naive way to satisfy a craving for self-affirmation and an outlet for pride. I find myself taking place in idle and increasingly boastful

Bansky on Advertising

People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriends feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you. You, however, are forbidden

Skydiving

Today, I went skydiving.I’m going to try and get something insightful out of my head while it’s still fresh, but I doubt that’ll work very well, considering the whole thing has been a blur from the second I got on that plane… My buddy Charlie and I have been sending videos of BASE jumpers, skydivers, and wing-suit fliers – pretty much anything involving terminal velocity, gravity, and a parachute – back and forth to one another, for the past 6 months or so. In print, it’s always been the next

Einstein's Watch - An Exploration of Empathy

A post by reddit user, johnnynottoscale, originally found here: http://www.reddit.com/r/philosophy/comments/qn1bu/einsteins_watch_an_exploration_of_empathy/ Quoted here and shared with author’s explicit permission.em·pa·thy/ˈempəTHē/ : the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this. Einstein maintained a healthy skepticism towards concepts. On the subject of scientific theories he wrote: “Physical concepts

No. Fucks. Given.

Written by some random dude on the internets: Have you ever played any RPGS, like Final Fantasy? You, real life you, are the protagonist of this story. Everyone, and I mean everyone else is a [Non Player Character]. Your mom is an NPC, your boss is an NPC, every stranger on the street is an NPC. Hell, even your shitty little cat is an NPC. Now, how much do the NPCs really affect you? NPCs are never the story, my friend, they only exist to help you move the story along. Your story. So if you screw up, or feel

Breaking Down Some Language; Because Mysterious Doesn't Mean Wise

If everything that is discussable can be defined as an instance of a concept, where we define concept as the encapsulation of many complimentary ideas into a consistently recognizable pattern, then the Zen idea of duality becomes definable. I came across this idea while reading Shunryu Suzuki’s “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”. He talks about how the mind and body are both eternal and finite, simultaneously; he describes this phenomenon through a metaphor calling mind and body “two sides of the same coin”. I find this kind of language both confusing, frustrating, and misleading. I also find it ubiquitous,

Flushing the toilet while you're sitting on it is like betting it all on red; it can go either way...

Workplace bathroom behavior would make for an awesome case study. We spend 7+ hours at a place where we carefully maintain our social interactions, trying to optimize for very idiosyncratic professional goals, but one thing we all have in common: we all poop. And given the amount of coffee that gets consumed in highly competitive New York firms, I imagine this reality manifests itself quite frequently. That being said, we don’t talk about it! I’m not trying to say that the topic should be the lunchtime conversation of choice, but merely noting that there’s

What Else Does/Can Google Know?

I wonder if Google gets enough private data from corporate users accidentally pasting snippets of proprietary information into their search bars, to come up with some sort of snapshot of a company’s private inner workings. Undoubtedly they do for individuals, but I imagine that information is much more comprehensive; for example, if I constantly search for glutton-free recipes, Google can likely infer that I, or someone I know, has a restricted diet for what can assumed to be one or a small set of reasons. But at work, at least for me, the things I search for are

Letter to Me

There is so much potential in the world. If you constantly demonstrate this fact to yourself, you will be forever happy. By realizing that anything we can “know” is founded on belief, which is itself subjective – in the sense that it varies from person to person – then you realize that there is no monopoly on righteousness, ever. All you can ever hope to do is be as happy as possible in the moment. Combine this idea with the realization that everything is in motion, and you come to understand that any interpretation of righteousness has to

Personal vs. Impersonal Relationships

There seems to be this implicit direct relation of a relationship’s quality and the closeness of the people involved, where the latter is measured through properties like the total amount of one-to-one interaction between people, the degree to which people are genetically related, or the actual amount of physical closeness (i.e. proximity) the people involved share. I’m starting to think this assumption isn’t as true as I once thought.  For example, one of my favorite sets of musicians is Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Besides the fact that I think their music

Quick Note to Self

There are certain things you wish to do in life that are difficult, as they require persistent forfeit of short term pleasure in exchange for long term accomplishment. There are also other things you wish to avoid; things that (supposedly) yield short term pleasure, but at the expense of long term suffering. In order to make progress in either of these endeavors, you need focus, and the only way to gain focus is by practice. Anything can count as practice; as long as you stay focused on a specific goal and try – however painstakingly – to accomplish that goal,

Thailand Notes (Part 4)

In hindsight, I still haven’t found the proper way for how to express this idea just yet, but you got to start somewhere… Competition and Self Reflection When you’re submersed in a population you’re familiar with, it’s easy to recognize so called “mistakes” other people make because it’s easy to see yourself in other people. What I’m learning is that when the opposite occurs – in other words, when you’re submersed in a population that completely clashes with your sense of normalcy –

Thailand Notes (Part 3)

Slight backstory: since the music festival I went to in early June, I haven’t been drinking, making me sober for about a month and two weeks since the writing of this post. Since then, the decision has been both highly difficult to stick to and increasingly interesting to contemplate, especially as I make it further than I ever thought I would. By the time I got to Thailand, multiplied by all the other self-reflection I was doing, drinking became the topic of choice for a car ride brain-dump, which is what I’m posting here. I should

Thailand Notes (Part 2)

Everything Is Linked To Everything. That’s karma and I believe in it, but that doesn’t mean that every action has a significant correlation to every other subsequent action. Wishing something might happen and actually having that something happen may in fact have some (whatever little) correlation, but that doesn’t mean - all other conditions the same - if you didn’t wish for it to happen, that result wouldn’t occur anyway. There could be a much more correlated action tied to that reaction, and the degree to which two things are

Thailand Notes (Intro & Part 1)

Intro So while in Thailand, I did a lot of self-reflection; went through a lot of experiences that tested my endurance, both physically and mentally; and also spent a lot of time traveling in the car. Combined, these things lead to a lot of brain-dumps which – thanks to my Uncle Frank for his graduation-gifted iPad – I was able to write down. I think they might interest some people, plus I’d like to refine their grammar and structure, as well store the ideas somewhere more persistent than the iPad’s local hard drive. So, plan-to-be: I&

Perhaps the Poor Are Better Suited for Progressing Toward Enlightenment

Just a small braindump: I was just thinking that if the route out suffering is to become both objectively aware of sensation and simultaneously to eradicate conditioning, then the people who are less able to respond to the most primal conditioning (e.g. hunger, thirst, etc.) have a more natural inclination to not react to their cravings. Whereas in The States, our my cravings tend to be for more abstract things (e.g., ice cream, video games, kinky sex, etc.) most of which I can (and am often encouraged by my surroundings) to satisfy.

Evangelizing Truth

Let’s say, hypothetically, a person becomes enlightened to the true nature of the universe and such an understanding frees said person from all forms suffering. This person is no longer blindly conditioned to respond to craving or aversion, and they have a comprehensive knowledge of human experience at it’s lowest level. They understand pure balance, live life in consistent peace, and see beauty everywhere they go. Fantastic. This is the type of enlightenment that I’ve heard wise people lecture about and that my experience in life, however limited, has lead me to believe is

Osama

Being a brand designer and a marketer I have somewhat of a cynical and skeptical perspective on the validity of how large organizations are personified, both through their own efforts and the media – the U.S. government, definitely being on that list. It’s not so much that I think there’s always an intentional disconnect made between reality and how these organizations present themselves, but when a system becomes large enough, trying to pin it down with simple definitions or elegant equations just becomes plain difficult; keeping track of all the variables at play is just

Defining the Utility of Design

I recently went through some of my old work and reread a piece I wrote on my past influences in graphic design. The piece in its entirety was slightly arbitrary, having needed to meet certain requirements put forth by a professor, but the introduction I wrote for it seemed more modular than the entire piece and might be of interest to some other people. I also wanted to have it somewhere public where I could reference it in other work. It’s reproduced below:  Design is an elusive activity to define. It carries the ambiguity and beauty of art

Custom Tastypie Nested (Model) Resources For Dealing with Django ORM Relations

Background So I spent 6pm Saturday night, till 9:30am Sunday morning in a hackathon where I worked on, you guessed it, tastypie; specifically, on work concerning an open source project I’m involved with, Concert. Long story short, Concert had an issue. It’s a very javascript heavy app, which handles a lot of state information client-side. Because of this, we’re using a MVC-like javascript framework called Backbone.js, which abstracts away a lot of the interaction between our server-side django app and the client-side code.   Traditionally, django apps end up being their own flavored

Technology-Nature Dynamic

So, I was hesitant on posting this, thinking it might be too arbitrary or not well enough articulated, but since I’m treating these articles as a set of journal entries more so than traditional blog posts, I’m going to go with it… Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about mindfulness, and the practice of such has been my routine for the past couple of weeks. It’s helped me tremendously, in terms of overcoming my addictions (mainly, food) and just seeing the world in a clearer light. However, as I write this

Revolutionizing Education

So there have been countless observations made about the failures of the current school system. Whether it be grading brackets crippling student motivation, homogonized material simultaneously boring and intimidating kids, or structured curriculum snuffing out creativity, the problem has been articulated over and over again. What hasn’t been talked about so much is the solution, and today I believe I’ve found it; not thought of it myself, but literally found it: The idea, for those who didn’t watch the video, is that you break all the topics of traditional schooling into short (12min) incremental

First Post

The entire reason for my starting this blog was because I kept having ideas and pseudo-epiphanies about different topics – e.g., programming, philosophy, etc. -  would write them down in my phone or on my white board, only to have them disappear into the oblivion, after time. So the obvious solution: start a blog. But once I had the thing set up, it took a while (today) until I had another rush of that special kind of brain activity that might constitute a post. Anyway, I’m leaving this here as a starting point and somewhat of an