Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

This was a lot better than SlaughterHouse-Five, perhaps because it didn’t jump back and forth chronologically. I also got a lot out of the text too, though its hard to describe it completely. Vonnegut touches on themes of Omniscience and Freewill in very comical terms. It was such an interesting read because of how absolutely ridiculous some of scenes were. But in an odd way, he gave each scene and section a very ‘human’ touch so while it was ludicrous, it was also extremely believable.


It was just a bit hard to actually get into the book. After the first chapter or two, it really picks up. I nearly gave up on this book but knowing Vonnegut’s reputation for good books, I powered through and was not disappointed. I find that this was also true for Cat’s Cradle and Slaughter-House Five. The background takes a while to construct but good books will always need that time in the beginning I guess. It makes me wonder if I should try and give the other books that I gave up a second chance again.

There’s so many different themes in Sirens that its hard to pick out one in particular. A cool one was the unity of the human race when the ‘Martians’ invaded. Suddenly all of the humans banded together against a common enemy. It’s the type of thing that the Watchmen pulled off but Vonnegut used such a ridiculous plot to set it up that it was considerable more entertaining. He also explores luck, and how Malachi Constant and his billionaire fortune from his father was entirely based off of the Bible’s random letters.

Vonnegut’s depiction of omniscience and freewill was most powerful part of the book.

"Look," said Rumfoord, "life for a punctual person is like a roller coaster." He turned to shiver his hands in her face. "All kinds of things are going to happen to you! Sure," he said, "I can see the whole roller coaster you’re on. And sure — I could give you a piece of paper that would tell you about every dip and turn, warn you about every bogeyman that was going to pop out at you in the tunnels. But that wouldn’t help you any."

"I don’t see why not," said Beatrice.

"Because you’d still have to take the roller-coaster ride," said Rumford. "I didn’t design the roller coaster, I don’t own it, and I don’t say who rides and who doesn’t. I just know what it’s shaped like."

Reminds me of the Matrix actually. Everything that’s supposed to happen in the Matrix is, and always will happen. In fact, everyone knows this. But the reason why they still have to go through it is to understand why they made those certain decisions. Even the omniscient Winston Niles Rumfoord was a just a simply pawn and part to accomplish a trivial task. There is no ‘greater good’ or ‘ultimate role’ that anyone is filling. In the end, everything could just be a funny joke, a project that someone or something is playing.

I felt empty at the end of the book – like there was no meaning to life but a silly explanation. What the hell are people doing all the things that they do for? No purpose….

darylelockhart:

Every. Taboo Social Topic. Ever.

(Source: monodoh)

253,314 notes

Foundations of Typography by Ina Saltz

3 courses- Foundations, Color-Contrast-&-Scale, Hierarchy-and-Navigation

Lynda.com apparently has a wide range of technical courses that people can buy and take. This was my first few Lynda.com courses and it was not disappointing. Granted, typography is as much a science as it an art so experience is perhaps the most important factor in getting good at it. The course was still pretty good and went into the nitty-gritty of what makes good and bad typography. There were also plenty of visual examples as well.

Ina Saltz is a Professor at CCNY. She teaches this seminar based course and I have to say that its done quite well. All the movie file clips are organized very well, each few minutes and sections focusing on one specific part. The information is also fairly recent, with pictures of the new Cooper Union building. The best part about this course is the analysis of specific examples, like modern packaging type, signage, etc. There’s depth as well as breadth in terms of the quality of examples and analysis.

The only gripe about this is that there is too much ‘teaching’ and less interaction. While most of the Lynda.com courses have course exercises, the first Foundations course, and also the most robust of the three, did not have these courses. Even for the other two, the exercises weren’t very rigorous. I wish there were more examples laid next to each other that asked the viewers ‘can you spot the difference?’ or ‘what is wrong with these two types?’ – then go into detail about the analysis. Slowly building up smaller exercises lets the reader digest information better. Later, a larger cumulative exercise makes it more of milestone for the viewer to feel progress.

At the end of the first Foundations course, which was nearly three times longer than the other two courses combined, there were a number of tips that Saltz listed for basic font and type uses. I wish there was a comprehensive list of those and all the ones she had in the other two courses as well. Ideally, people paying money should have access to the ‘summary’ and shortcuts but I guess making them go through all the videos to find them holds them more accountable. One of these days I think I’ll post them up here.

Its comparable to Matthew Butterick’s Book on Typography though the colors and changing visuals make the videos a bit more interesting to follow. That said, Butterick’s Book is based on pure appreciation for type and typography. I do appreciate his approach to providing the most impactful, simple changes in the beginning of the book though.

michiamocristina:
An 87 Year Old College Student Named Rose The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned round to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being. She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?” I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant squeeze. “Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked. She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids…” “No seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age. “I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me. After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake.We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months, we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this “time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me. Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up. At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.” As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, “We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.” She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose.” She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives. At the year’s end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be .When you finish reading this, please send this peaceful word of advice to your friends and family, they’ll really enjoy it! These words have been passed along in loving memory of ROSE. REMEMBER, GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY. GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL. We make a Living by what we get, We make a Life by what we give. Note: Picture is NOLA OCHS, Guinness World Record Holder as the World’s Oldest College Graduate - an example of the story.

michiamocristina:

An 87 Year Old College Student Named Rose

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned round to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being. She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?”

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant squeeze.

“Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked. She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids…” “No seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age. “I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake.We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months, we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this “time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.” As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, “We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.” She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose.” She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.

At the year’s end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be .

When you finish reading this, please send this peaceful word of advice to your friends and family, they’ll really enjoy it! These words have been passed along in loving memory of ROSE.

REMEMBER, GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY. GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL.

We make a Living by what we get, We make a Life by what we give.

Note: Picture is NOLA OCHS, Guinness World Record Holder as the World’s Oldest College Graduate - an example of the story.

563,378 notes

fastcompany:

Some Hero Made The Entire “Simpsons” Town of Springfield Out Of Lego

As The Simpsons begins its marathon on FXX and Lego continues its renaissance year, a big fan combined his passions into a Lego Springfield.

See More>

329 notes

Wheat Belly by William Davis

Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Pathway Back to Health

I first encountered this book when Simon introduced me to it at his place. Before then I heard the gluten-hating bandwagon for a while and didn’t really try and educate myself on it. My previous reading of Grain Brain gave me some insights but Davis goes into considerably more scientific data than Perlmutter did. Again, my mind starts to skim on the science but for most parts, I have to hand it to Davis – he describes it in very approachable ways.

Like Grain Brain, Davis argues that the modern wheat plant we derive most of our carbohydrates and goods from, is NOT the same as the wheat as our ancestors. Citing historical data of illnesses since the introduction and aggressive cross breeding/hybridization of wheat plants, the modern wheat plant had altered levels of nutrients and compounds that contribute to a plethora of illnesses. 

One of the practical difficulties solved during IMWIC’s push to increase yield is that, when large quantities of nitrogen-rich fertilizer are applied to wheat fields, the seed head at the top of the plant grows to enormous proportions. The top-heavy seed head, however, buckles the stalk (what agricultural scientists call “lodging”). Buckling kills the plant and makes harvesting problematic. University of Minnesota-trained geneticist Norman Borlaug, working at IMWIC, is credited with developing the exceptionally high-yielding dwarf wheat that was shorter and stockier, allowing the plant to maintain erect posture and resist buckling under the large seed head. Tall stalks are also inefficient; short stalks reach maturity more quickly, which means a shorter growing season with less fertilizer required to generate the otherwise useless stalk.

Davis continues to explain how some forms of hybridization, matched with genetically modified changes, creates drastic effects on the nutrients of the food. He dissects the Western obsession on wheat products and how it has overspilled to all other food product sectors. Almost everything that’s processed has high fructose corn syrup or corn starch. Americans have been brainwashed to have oats and cereals, bagels and muffins, biscuits, and bread for all meals. All of which are made from the strand of wheat that has disproportionate amounts of different genetic material and contributes to the culprit – gluten.

Eventually, the book got a bit repetitive with his preaching-the-doom type of writing style. It made it seem like there is no hope for humanity as this wheat and gluten exists. You will die a horrible and painful death because you cannot successfully avoid it. OK. I’m all for preaching about health, but I wish he would have spent more time recommending methods to change an already obese wheat-eater, or a specific diet plan to weed yourself off gluten products, what to notice and how to buy/supplement/substitute for wheat. Instead, I felt like he was trying to hard to convince the reader of the perils of wheat and gluten. Scare tactics…

goodtypography:

Steal Like An Artist - Promotional Poster.

You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.

When Mr. Kleon was asked to address college students in upstate New York, he shaped his speech around the ten things he wished someone had told him when he was starting out. The talk went viral, and its author dug deeper into his own ideas to create Steal Like an Artist, the book. The result is inspiring, hip, original, practical, and entertaining. And filled with new truths about creativity: Nothing is original, so embrace influence, col- lect ideas, and remix and re-imagine to discover your own path. Follow your interests wherever they take you. Stay smart, stay out of debt, and risk being boring—the creative you will need to make room to be wild and daring in your imagination.

Get it here.

14,108 notes

Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson

The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence

The most important takeaway from this book is to take time to enjoy each positive experience you have. As in, consciously stop what you are doing, and let the fact that you are happy and are enjoying a particular moment stay in your brain a bit longer. Just as you would relish in the warm water of a bath immediately after dipping in, you need to relish in the positivity of the good moments. Hanson cites a bunch of neuroscience terms and studies to support his point. I didn’t pay attention to most of it, skimming most of the scientific data. The gist of it is rewiring or re-teaching the neuron pathways in your brain. When you are mired in anger, depression, and negativity, your brain makes stronger connections and neural pathways. That ‘teaches’ the brain to think a certain way. But when you are actively trying to enjoy the positivity, you are unattaching those neural pathways and creating more positive ones. Atleast, that’s what he claims with his studies and books

So I tried it. He lists a bunch of techniques and analyzes all sorts of feels from security, confidence, empathy, bonding, encouragement, etc. I don’t think he missed out on a single one. The entire spectrum of feelings and emotions and classified, dissected, and reclassified for reading purposes. In order to “Take In’ the positivity at the most optimal level he cites

HEAL:
Have a positive experience.
Enrich it.
Absorb it.
Link positive and negative material so that positive soothes and even replaces negative

I forced myself to start noticing when I was happy or when I enjoyed certain feelings. It started simple – like the fact that I woke up one morning not feeling groggy. I literally had to stop myself and focus on that thought. That it was good. Then other smaller things, like the flavor of the stir-fry lunch, the perfectly proportioned horizontal strokes from one calligraphy character, the smell of forest bamboo and the clean air, feeling of accomplishment from completing a program of P90X, the consistency of my handwriting in my journal. It was all a conscious effort. I literally had to stop myself from thinking about other things, tell myself to relax and recognize that simple fact, and just relish in it. I know it sounds a bit ridiculous, but I was in a dark mood for a long time and I knew I needed something to get me out of it. It took about 5 days of constant ‘Taking In’ to remove the phantom constriction in my head. Just as it claimed, I found myself noticeably happier and in a better mood. Unfortunately, I stopped there when I should have just kept continuing. Oh Wells – guess I’ll start again then.

Interestingly, a lot of the science that he cites goes around the same topic of behavior changing beliefs. In other words, the power of the subconscious mind. If you are constantly flooding your brain with specific thoughts, you create or condition neural pathways to alter your behavior – behavior that acts in accordance to your beliefs. For Hanson, this means believing in happiness and constant focus on happiness breeds a happier lifestyle. I suppose the business interpretation of this is Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. You consciously, deep down inside, invoke those feelings to change your behavior. This is not very different from Shawn Achor’s Positive Genius either. The difference between Hanson and Achor though, is that Hanson seems to focus on recovery or strengthening of positive emotion while Achor is focused more on the creation of it.

The most interesting piece of the book though is Hanson’s section of positive versus negative emotion. It takes roughly 3 positive emotions and experiences to negate 1 negative emotion. Hanson cites a bunch of history and data as to why, which I won’t post here. The most compelling reason I found outside of the book is that negative emotion provokes action and response. There’s a reason why news and media in America and generally around the world, focuses on negative press- murders, killings, car crashes, shootings, kidnappings, etc. Seldom do you hear happy news like “TODAY’S BREAKING NEWS!!!….a flock of sheep happily pranced across the prairie lands, arriving safely to their new home…”…Yeah. None of that.

The constant ‘improve yourself attitude’ also contributes to the weight associated with negative emotions. You want to get better emotionally, mentally, physically, etc? You focus on the bad. You have to otherwise how else can you improve? Its another business analogy to trying to constantly outpace and out beat yourself. While I think there is actually some merit to that type of thinking, I wish Hanson addressed that dead on. That is, how and when do you draw the line between improvement feedback and critical, negative feedback? There comes a point when the chase from improvement and perfection leads to a feeling of complete inadequacy.

Otherwise, I thought it was an interesting read. The most helpful points in the book are actually pretty simple but I’ve never really read an in-depth analysis of specific emotions. I enjoyed how he articulated some of the coping mechanisms (‘I enjoyed!’ – time to take it in…!). It was generally a productive read.

July with August, Half

Where did the year go? We’re almost two thirds of the way there and it was just New Year’s.

Haven’t had an update in a while. I left Henan and returned to Zhejiang because it was getting way too hot in Henan. So hot, that my computer shut down by itself. I thought I had burned something but couldn’t smell any difference. Luckily, my computer started fine after I turned it on at night, when it was cooler. I guess Toshiba laptops have an automatic shut-down defense mechanism to keep it from exploding.

It didn’t really help though because I may have suffered a heat stroke. I found myself extremely irritable, snapping at the smallest comments and just unable to concentrate on anything. Heat, like from a convection oven, radiated everywhere. The only solace I had was knowing that the heat was dry and not humid and moist. I would have gone ape-shit under those conditions. The lack of air conditioning of course didn’t help. Even after showering, I remained irritable. Thoughts and images constantly played in my head. I don’t know if I have ADHD or ADD but if I guessed what it feels like, it would probably be like that day. A million incoherent thoughts jumping around a few milliseconds at a time. I wanted to find someone to fight and destroy. I just had to leave.

So I went to another temple in Henan that was shaded much better than where I originally was. Lots more trees, water and intense Fiber-optic online internet. But it was filthy. The bathrooms, the courtyard, everything. Other than the kitchen staff and the food, everything was very poorly organized. While I enjoyed the change from the singular diet of tofu, potatoes, string beans, it was difficult to keep myself from grossing out. Psychologically, I was also in a dark place – the feeling that everything that I’m doing is pointless and unsatisfactory. No motivation to do anything. Just passing the time by watching movies. Pretty much waiting for my VISA to expire so I could leave. Stagnating. Kind of like just withering away.

I had recovered from the mini-heat episode but my senses and thoughts were incredibly shaken. I tried to figure out how exactly I entered that state of confused frustration. I could have just blamed the heat but I knew it was something more. Looking back now, it was the monotony of the routine. Wake Up, Clean, Breakfast, etc, etc. For days on end. No breaks, no changes in rhythm, no interesting surprises. Most of all, I couldn’t see any ‘external’ application of what I was doing. Translating and reading texts is a lot of fun, intellectually. But I needed something to satisfy the more go-getting, initiative, almost animalistic side of me that deals with change. Its always been entrepreneurship for me but at a more basic level, I just needed something different. Something that I could build and see progress in.

Looking back now I learned a lot about myself – specifically that I’m not the type of person to be in quiet and reserved places with a routine schedule for hours at a time. As a side effect, my consistent meditation and Taiji has been shot, although I think it’s a small price to pay for the return of my sanity. My reading and writing habits were evidently shot as well. Picking it back up was more difficult than I thought but once I got started again, it was easy to keep up. I suppose that’s the case with most pre-nurtured habits. I’m actively reading about positive psychology and happiness now though. It’s a very fascinating topic and helps explain a lot of my thought processes and others as well.

I did find a product possibility so that was good. But progress is slow because the internet back here is not ideal and the environment isn’t conducive to building anything up. My calligraphy has improved considerably in the months that I was in Henan. I can feel the pressure of the brush and almost instinctively ‘know’ whether or not the water to ink ratio matches with the speed that my brush moves. I can control the depth of strength much better. It was a nice surprise for me, suddenly realizing and taking in the progress of a hobby/skill that is very difficult to measure. Returning to the same spot for calligraphy helped magnify that difference for me. I remember the feeling of looking at the finished characters during the winter months. Having that to compare against, the characters looked a lot better and realization that it was ‘different’ made progress much easier to spot.

I’m also getting through my trove of Typography books and lessons. I’ve finished Foundations of Typography [3] from Lynda.com. It was extremely well organized and I’ll post a review of it later as well. My project now is to master the themes on Wordpress to complement my HTML and CSS. That way I can start creating web design mock-ups to apply what I’ve learned instead of outsourcing them. The performance and learning goal is to do a finished website for free, for some intuition.

Perhaps the best habit that I’ve developed is exercising. I actually HATE exercise because of some bad memories in childhood. Fencing in high school was the best thing to ever happen to me. It kept me from becoming a Krispy Kreme Flubber-Tubby.

But ball sports in general and working out wasn’t really my thing. Oddly enough, I started doing P90X again. Again, as in for the 3 or 4th time. I tried a few times in college but I never really stuck with it. Either because I just felt insecure trying to compete with everyone else in college for muscularity or because I was always in a state of depression that I just couldn’t really stick with it. Looking back, college is really the best time to get in shape. Not only because you get to flaunt your stuff to hot girls, but because your schedule, facilities, and diet are all easily controlled and arguably free. I bought a pair of Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells to commit to it Senior year and while it remains one of my better financial decisions, I think I could have used it more. Now, instead of the luxury of working out in Claremont Hall (or Crown Hall), and using some high-tech weights, I have to use boulders and rocks. Alternate between tree-logs and water jugs. Improvise with string and stick for some other exercises. I was also considerably better shape in Claremont because I still fenced occasionally. Here, other than the hike up the mountain, which you only do once if you want to stay up here to live, there really isn’t much other stuff to exercise with. I’ve kept up with it for atleast two weeks now, finding myself incredibly inflexible. I suppose its replaced a majority of my meditation and Taiji time, though a lot of the principles in Taiji translate to working out as well.

SlaughterHouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Post traumatic stress disorder was the topic of this book. I didn’t really get it though. Vonnegut is a great writer and this appeared to be a semi-memoir since his character Billy, like he, was present at the bombing of Dresden in World War II.

Billy jumps from memory to memory. He is at home, then at his daughter’s wedding, then in the hospital, then in the work camps that the Germans have captured him at, then he’s in Tralfamadore, an alien planet, then he’s at the plane crash, then he’s back at the hospital, then this, then that. It’s a solider’s retelling of life after combat, all the way to his death in a dystopian America. But he actually doesn’t die.

I couldn’t really keep up with the logic of the book. I enjoy how Vonnegut describes each of scenes as Billy experiences them, but as a whole the book felt very disjointed. Perhaps that’s the memory pattern of a PTSD combat veteran.

Surprisingly, I found the most interesting parts to be Billy’s conversation and time spent on Tralfamadore. His descriptions of Tralfamadorians oddly resonated with some of the Daoist texts I was reading. Their sense of life and death on the timeline of a being was oddly familiar.

All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.
… … …
It would take another Earthling to explain it to you. Earthlings are the great explainers, explaining why this event is structured as it is, telling how other events may be achieved or avoided. I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of Rocky Mountains. All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.’

For some reason, to me, this makes so much sense. I felt like this was the perfect explanation to one my random musings in high school. I remember trying to explain this to one of my friends and he simply said I was crazy. It went along the lines of this:

Every moment in time occurs at every moment. History occurs at every second that we exist. From the Neanderthals to war bombings, all of it is occurring now and has already occurred, but will also occur in the future. When I tried to explain it to my friend I used a history textbook as an example. You’re reading about the Native Americans, the Civil Rights movement, but because you’ve never experienced it before, you only know it to exist there, in front of you in black and white text of a textbook. All of those events occurred to be an experience for you to read and learn about. They happened the moment that you read about that information. If they didn’t happen, then you would never be able to read about it. Similarly, if you were a time traveler doing something at the present moment, then that means you’ve always been time traveling. You traveled to yesterday to arrive at today and today you are reading this. But you are reading this now, which means you’ve already traveled in the past and arrived at today to read this. Tralfamadorians have the best explanation though – time just exists like the stretch of Rock Mountains. You are at point A, but the ‘you’ that existed at point B is still there. All of it happens together and is happening at once

Hm…may have had a bit too much Tea today…

New York City Snapshots From Chinatown in the ’80s

1 note

Putting Thought Into Things

Life and work would be so easy if a lack of quality could be explained in a sentence, and fixed with a better technique. If a website (or any artifact) lacks quality, it is not just one aspect that needs improvement and then it’s all good. Quality is not just the method, just the form, or just the content. The lack of quality doesn’t cumulate in a spot, it is fundamental. Quality is what holds form and content together.

0 notes

Big Little Man by Alex Tizon

I found this book when I browsed r/Asianamerican on Reddit. Alex Tizon, a professor and writer at the University of Oregon explores the stereotypes, challenges and dynamics of growing up and being an Asian American male. There were quite some parts where I really identified with, while other parts simply were too dry.

He starts out by giving a long and uninteresting history of Ferdinand Magellan. Zheng He was this counterpoint to him. I understand that Tizon was trying to show how incredibly biased the history books and general education in America works against eastern cultures. Hell, the only thing I remember learning about China from elementary to High School was the Great Wall, about 10 minutes of the Han Dynasty and Mao. I wish Tizon would have focused more on what was missing instead of why. I mean, you can’t expect China and all the Eastern countries to be teaching the history of America and forego their own countries’ history would you?

On education, there was a part when he would face some bullying in school because he was ‘Asian’. I never really ran into that since my middle and elementary school was the same group of 30ish Asians. The first day of high school, Peter a Korean-American tried to start a fight with me because I was Chinese-American. That was really my first encounter with ‘racism’. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as transformative as I hoped it would be cause I knew that Peter had a problem so it was more funny than anything else.

He dedicates two chapters on trying to get ‘Hot Asian Babes’. Its true that Asian males in America are always seen as weaker or more complacent and that the perception of beauty American media pushes puts Asian males at a disadvantage. When I used to go to house parties I would never be able to get any because almost everyone was white and the attractive Asian girls always paired up with white guys. It never bothered me much though because I went to be among friends. My goal was never to get any most of the time anyways. But it wasn’t hard to understand that ‘Hot’ was defined as someone being White. Media always had a lack of Asian American males and those that were on there were are all emasculated individuals,

Meanwhile, they’ll hire Asian males to play the likes of Mr. Miyagi, the sexless sage of the Karate Kid movies, or the slimy and flamboyant Mr. Chow of the Hangover movies. They’ll get them to play incidental roles like Mike Yanagita in Fargo. Yanagita is a pudgy, bespectacled Japanese American engineer who, after failing to seduce police chief Marge Gunderson, begins to blubber “I’ve been so lonely” into his drink. Marge, the seducee, ends up comforting him. Here, here, little guy, it’s okay. Yanagita is a passing character, but I remember him vividly, as I remember lots of other fleeting appearances of Asian men.
Examples off the top: the apron-wearing Mr. Lee in both versions of True Grit (foreigner). The crewmember Ravel in Prometheus (nonessential). The otherworldly Mr. Wu in the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (incidental, alien). The human Gumby Yen in Oceans Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen (shrimp). Bruce the MIT grad in Get Smart (geek). The vertically challenged Yin Yang in The Expendables (comic relief, shrimp). The servant Yuan in Just Married (houseboy). Loyal friend Ronnie in Disturbia (sidekick). The student Choi in 21 (incidental). The unnamed airport Asians in Up in the Air (props). In this last one, the George Clooney character notes a group of businessmen going through a security checkpoint. Asians. They pack light, travel efficiently, and have a thing for slip-on shoes, he says, with evident admiration. When a companion calls the statement racist, Clooney explains that he stereotypes because it’s faster.

His description of his father as the Asian male struggling with identity was one of the most interesting parts of the book. An immigrant that tried hopelessly to survive and provide for his family while maintaining his own values ultimately dies apologizing for ‘not being enough’ while his divorced wife seemed to be welcomed and encouraged by American society to succeed. It reminds me a bit of my own dad, though to a much more passive degree. My dad has been in American longer than my mom but never cared to learn almost any English. He worked entirely in Asian neighborhoods, almost like he actively avoided contact with the outside, Western world. But he worked like a dog, from 8 am in the morning and returning at 10 pm at night from before I was born until the financial crisis couldn’t afford him anymore. I know little to nothing about him and while my conversations with him are courteous and formal, there’s really no common topic that I can speak with him about. He never really left that Chinese identity in him at all.

I don’t consider myself to be in any sort of ethnicity-identity crisis that I know some of my friends have faced. There are aspects of both Eastern and Western culture that I enjoy and despise. I think Ancient Chinese History is just as interesting as European and Roman History (oddly I find the short history of America to be very uninteresting.). I’m in China now but I really miss having a good plate of spaghetti, hand-cut fries, some goddamn guacamole and Chips! I’ve gotten with Asian and White girls. I see myself as much American as I am Asian. But outside of some of my Asian American friends, I can’t really find any others that share similar childhood experiences, appreciate the same ethnic foods, and understand the culture as much as I do. But I never felt any sort of conflict…

Tizon’s book was an interesting read, but I wouldn’t read it again. It just had too much of a whiny/complaining view. Yes, its his autobiography and he has his license to write what he wants. Yes, race issues in America are complicated. But it felt too much of Asian versus American instead of Asian American.

(via quotelounge)

927 notes

louieangelo-s:

2 more years man

(Source: englishsnow, via jkilina)

214,835 notes