Created to Work
July 28, 2005

While driving in downtown Seattle last week, I saw a curious message illegally spray-painted on the side of a popular building. In bold red letters it read, "Work is slavery." Imagine that. All this time I was mislead in my thinking that the slaves were freed a long time ago. The tag on the graffiti indicated the message had been left by our resident anarchists--the same people responsible for massive amounts of damage to downtown Seattle during WTO protests, and most likely individuals who by some turn of events (including but not limited to the possession of a trust fund, large quantities of marijuana in the bloodstream, or privilege beyond belief) do not have to work.

Granted, on most days I pay little if any attention to those who espouse a philosophy rooted in a disdain of all forms of authority (nationalists included). The "work is slavery" campaign, however, caught my attention because it is American misconception #5,672 (right next to "It's not good to judge" and "Money is evil").

For starters, in order to even remotely embrace the notion that earning money by working would cause some type of burden, requires a fundamental misunderstanding of what exactly human beings should be doing on the earth. Moreover, it suggests that Americans are terribly spoiled. If having to work in order to earn money is our biggest problem, we are leagues ahead of half the world.

That said, the distinction too infrequently made is that "working" and "having job" are not synonymous concepts. "Work" is a function of making ourselves productive. It has no end date or retirement options. It doesn't always pay what it deserves, but it is a lifelong endeavor. Having a "job," on the other hand, is temporal and doesn't always necessitate productivity; it just requires that we show up. For some people, having a "job" is an aspect of their work. In many cases, however, you'll find people in "jobs" that have little or nothing to do with their purpose, passion or happiness.

Thanks to a realistic upbringing, there is a good segment of the American population that has mastered the reality that if you don't work; you don't eat. They sit behind desks, they dry clean clothes, and they even deliver pizzas, even if only for a season. There are also those who've broken free from the shackles of this "work/eat" reality and resorted to begging, panhandling, and holding up sob story signs that rarely include the phrase "will work" but always manage to toss in the requisite "God Bless You." The irony of it all.

"Work," in short, is the act of human beings taking care of the earth. "Work" may look a number of different ways, but rest assured, contrary to what the "Simpsons" may tell us, no human was created to just sit around and waste space. Otherwise, the earth would be full of animals--not people. Intelligent design? You bet.

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Judging the Book
July 24, 2005

We've all heard the popular adage that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. For the most part, I wholeheartedly agree. Everyone we encounter won't come packaged the way we'd expect, so we can't just saunter through life always making surface determinations about people. Yet, even in the most literal sense, that "saying" only means so much when you browse the several hundred shelves of your local Barnes & Noble. There I challenge you to find a coverless book. Instead, you'll find aisles of glossy book jackets with specialized fonts and eye-capturing images. Why? Because despite the fact that the cover gives absolutely no indication of excellence, insight or profundity, human nature is more inclined to think so based on what we initially see. Simply put: the average buyer's attention is both gained and informed by a well-designed book cover.

As it's illustrated in the tangible, so it is with us. A recent USA Today article reported on a study into how appearance affects the size of one's paycheck. This one's a doosie:

When Jennifer Portnick wanted to be a Jazzercise franchisee, she says, she was denied. The reason: The company had a policy that required exercise instructors to appear fit. Portnick, who weighed 240 pounds, didn't pass.

So she filed a civil complaint under a San Francisco ordinance that bans discrimination based on weight and height. The company changed its policy, and she dropped her complaint.

What a waste of a discrimination complaint. Apparently it's too much to ask that an exercise instructor be in shape. As a side note, I might add that nearly every physical education instructor I had from elementary school on up was both overweight and a lesbian, how about you?

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In the Land of the Living
July 19, 2005
You know it's a small world when you're standing in the airport security line, preparing to be frisked when a reader of your blog yells to you from across the barrier, "Hey! Are you flying to the Blogher Conference today?" Whoa. Running into a reader would be a first for me. Today's lesson: you never know who's watching.

Speaking of which, while sitting in the Montego Bay Airport, my sister and I watched in horror as a girl ate two consecutive boogers without so much as an ounce of shame. Ah to be young and not care who's watching. What is it about kids that makes them want to eat hardened phlegm? No one teaches them to do this. They certainly aren't emulating the behavior of their parents (most of the time). Is there some special sense common to 6-year-olds that automatically activates the booger appetite? Food for thought (no pun intended).

To those who were concerned, we caught the tail end of Hurricane Emily (although I'm sure some would prefer it named "Hurricane Shantika"). All is well (for us at least), the folks in Mexico seem to be experiencing more difficulties. Nevertheless, I'm back in the states, and a vacation was just what the doctor ordered. I missed nykola.com. Updates to follow. There is SO much to talk about.

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Vacating
July 12, 2005

In case it isn't painfully obvious: I'm burned out. Not badly, but I am nonetheless. Anytime Beyonce I-have-a-fake-French-name Knowles and her posse can give lap dances to married man on national television without me even saying so much as a word about it on my weblog, is a bad sign. I need a vacation.

I'm sure one might think this silly since I have no kids and no husband, but if there's one thing the last 4 years have taught me, it's never to underestimate the level of sacrifice and trials a person has experienced.

I've often been told I am the "oldest 23-year-old" many people have ever met. Maybe, but I still have to play. It turns out a new job, a new townhouse, and new responsibilities can wear on even little ole me. Time isn't the issue. Mental space is. So I am retreating for a few days to clear my head so I can be more useful to this little-known haven on the web.

And I know you're sitting there thinking, "well who cares, it's not like you've been posting consistently anyway..." And you'd be right, smart aleck. However, over the last month or so, a day hasn't passed when I haven't popped in on my own website, hoping to see if I've actually posted something. Yeah, I'm psychotic, I know. So in reality, I've not truly vacated from my blog. But that is what I need to do.

So I have decided to go "suffer for Jesus" in the Caribbean. I need a good reason to post pictures to my Flickr account. For the next 5 days, my location will be Ocho Rios, Jamaica. I'll see you bright and early on Monday, July 18th, hopefully refreshed, rejuvenated, wordier, and maybe a bit crispier.

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London
July 7, 2005

Right. So I received a few emails asking me to weigh in on the events that took place today in London, and for now, I've decided I have little to say save a few observations. If you've managed to pull yourself out from under the sensationalist media madness and snapped to consciousness, congratulations, because I haven't. It's during times like these that I remember why I hate my blessed television. One can only see the same images so many times. The Internet isn't much better. So sorry, no photos of people with blood streaming down their foreheads here. Life should be more precious than that.

I find most of what's being reported on blogs terribly opportunistic. As if everyone woke up and said, "gee, how can I take this tragic event and use it as further proof that my political opinion is supreme?" I'm not of the opinion that we (and I use the pronoun loosely) have an enemy who is simply waging war against political ideology. There is a bigger adversary who is waging war against all life on the earth. And to some extent, we've subconsciously given him permission to do so. Whether it be in the name of Islam or any other false idols, I believe the end goal is to steal, kill, and destroy. We live in an unredeemed world in which events similar to those which transpired today will continue to occur. Yes there are causes and effects, and there are fingers to point, and suspects about whom to theorize. But above all, it's important to remember that the only true enemy is death and for those who choose to accept it, that battle has already been won.

Blogger Tim Worstall's words resonate with me:

"...save the anger until we really know who did it, keep the political posturing until we've buried the bodies and if it's one of the things you do, pray..."
As the events played out today, a few things occurred to me and in no particular order:
  1. The terrorism in London came on the coat tails of the announcement of their win of the 2012 Olympic bid. There is a connection there, not just with the G8 Summit. Not sure yet what it is, but it's there.
  2. Americans are too reactionary.
That's all for now. Updates on Friday.

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Quote of the Day
June 28, 2005

Said Jada Pinkett Smith of award acceptance speeches during the opening monologue of tonight's BET Awards:

"Do not thank God if you can't show or perform your work in church. Some of you just need to thank your manager and keep it movin'."

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Chick Nerds Unite!
June 27, 2005

I think I forgot to mention it, but next month I've been invited to be one of two panelists for the "Political Blogging Grows Up" session at the BlogHer Conference in Santa Clara, CA. It should be fun. If it's not, I'll be sure to make it fun by engaging the audience in a sing-along or something totally immature to counter the session title "Political Blogging Grows Up."

If you're planning on being at the conference, come say hi. The conference is geared to female bloggers, but it's open to men as well. Apparently, some 15% of the conference registrants are men. I won't question motives...yet.

I always find blogger gatherings both amusing and awkward. When internet people converge, you can bet there will always be some weirdo that shows up with thongs and socks on, abnormally long fingernails and body odor. This personal usually fits the "stalker profile" and quickly identifies themself by making an off-color morbid joke that leaves people wondering whether they should laugh or just call the cops. There are some seriously strange people on the internet.

But for every wacko, there are about 10 fabulous people that you'd never meet otherwise. Among the "normal," I find there to be two types of people on the internet.

  1. People who are on the internet because it allows them to avoid social situations and real, live, human contact.
  2. People who are on the internet because it leads to more social situations and real, live human contact.
I am of the latter variety and find that I don't always "click" well with the first. You know when you're talking to someone and they run out of things to say so all of sudden the conversation hits a dead silence and you wish some crickets would enter the room because at least then there'd be some rhythm? I usually expect one or two of those type of conversations when I attend blogger meet-ups. Not that everyone isn't extremely nice and cordial, but in those awkward moments I realize: some people are best left conversing on the internet.

Still, I've met some great friends and colleagues through this whole blogging thing and I hope to meet more.

I think it was blogger Jason Kottke who once asked people about their personality types and immediately found that the internet was full of introverts. And for the most part, I agree. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. (Some of the best conversations can be had with introverts so please note: I'm not drawing any sort of connection here between introversion and lack of social aptitude. Wouldn't want anyone to think I was discriminating. Plus, I have a lot of introvert friends, OKAY!)

There are a whole host of folks (myself included) who are loud, rambunctious, outgoing, and find that we can filter some of that energy through the internet. I think we tend to scare the introverts in person. Many people have taken the Bloginality test which as far as I'm concerned is just the Myers-Briggs test in bloggerspeak. As I'm sure you can imagine I'm not fond of man-made personality tests. But if I must represent, I'll say ENTJ till I die baby!

Blogging conferences eh? Just what have I gotten myself into?

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My Comment Filter, the Grouch
June 23, 2005

Apologies are in order to those who've posted comments the last few days and had them rejected by my grumpy comment filter. It seems I inadvertently made it hyper-sensitive, restrictive, and legalistic. It doesn't like the word "Hi," or any words with "hi" in them, like, "while" or "hick," or "OMG Can you believe Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are engaged!?" Oh wait, that's just me who doesn't like those words. Anyway, you get the point. It's "hi" that's the trigger.

Next thing we know, my comment filter is going to start banning people from wearing make-up and high-heels, and force all female users to wear turtlenecks and skirts all the way to the ground.

The issue will be resolved shortly, but in the meantime, feel free to use "hi" all you want, just know that comments may be forced into moderation so I'll have to approve it. But I'm nice, I always approve quickly.

Again, apologies if your precious jewels of wisdom didn't make it through the last few days. I value reader feedback, so thanks to those who emailed me to let me know of the problem and if your comment didn't go through yesterday, dust yourself off and try again.

(Update 06/23): Rather unrelated, but while searching for pictures for this post, I found this picture of a dog whose owner dyed its hair green and dressed him as "Oscar the Grouch" for a pet costume party. Funny stuff.

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Can We Live?
June 23, 2005

A few weeks back, while viciously flipping through channels, I decided to pop-in on BET to see just what type of debacle Robert Johnson has left. While I generally associate a high degree of irrelevance and painful ignorance with every aspect of BET, I was shocked to see that in the midst of the mind-numbing, superficial self-glorification, was a music video that actually made me think. Can you even imagine thinking while watching a music video? Lately, it's unheard of, but every now and then, somebody gets it.

Nick Cannon's latest song/video, "Can I Live?"--a tribute to his mother, who at 17-years-old, considered aborting him, but chose to give him life--is by far one of the most creative and purposeful music videos of the year. Hands down. By coincidence I'm sure, it's fairly popular as well. With all the lemming behavior in the music industry, who would think creativity and a life-altering message could go so far? Cannon himself is barely a B-list artist, and by most peoples' critique, he isn't even a good rapper. Then again, neither is 50 Cent. Yet it's interesting how truth always stands up in the midst of a bunch of lies.

I've yet to see someone make a music video from the first person perspective of a child in the womb. If you haven't yet seen it, you can view it online on the frontpage of Nick Cannon's website. It won't take but a few minutes of your day. Watch it. It's important, and in a moment I'll say why.

If you've been around for a minute, then you know I'm a believer and exhorter in the unmatched potential of the hip hop generation. I don't believe music is evil, and I don't even think hip hop is evil. I believe people are bad and people make bad music. Which is simply to say that music is merely a reflection of what is or isn't inside the person who is making it. I've also long stated that as a whole, the black community is fairly socially conservative with abortion being one of the key issues to divide people. So it doesn't surprise me in the least that this video has been so popular on BET. Shocking is that it's being played on MTV, purveyors of all that is carnal. Apparently, people are listening.

In the past, few rappers and singers have accurately touched on the issue of abortion. Those who have, (Common and Nas to name a few) usually nullify their message via lifestyle and the general questionable content of their albums (think R. Kelly "You Saved Me"). Back in the 90s it became trendy for everyone to have at least one "moral" (under a relative definition, of course) song on their profanity-laced, raunchified albums. The trouble was, when you sandwich a song called "Pray" in between songs titled, "She's Soft and Wet" and "Yo!! Sweetness," you're bound to stir up some sort of confusion.

Continue reading "Can We Live?">>>

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Wherein I Realize I Am A Nerd
June 22, 2005

It doesn't take much to excite me. Shoe shopping, a book, bacon, a day-off, a buffet, a pedicure--it's the little things in life that get me going. Up until yesterday, I thought I was a pretty cool person. I mean, I dress myself fairly well, I've never been known to wear highwaters, I have a life outside of the Internet, and I can even go a few days without checking my email. I'd also add that I don't like Star Wars, Star Trek, or Star _ _ _ _ (insert nerdy science fiction show). I can't even see "Revenge of the Sith" because there is a high probability that I would fall asleep. Plus, I do not know what a "Sith" is, nor do I care. My cool factor is way up there guys, I'm telling you. Nerd isn't it my vocabulary. Up until now, I have resisted the title "nerd" because I am oh so much cooler than that.

Okay so yes I designed my website by myself and can quote you nearly every product Apple has ever launched, dates included. Yes I salivate in the Powerbook section of the Apple store, I think "pretty" is an acceptable adjective for peripherals. I even know what peripheral means. And yes I have been known to surf the web in the bathroom, and I even get laptopstomach once in awhile (for those who don't know, "laptopstomach" as I've coined it, is when you fall asleep in bed with your laptop on your stomach and wake up with a giant red mark where your battery pack has burned you.) It's happened to me more than once.

Yesterday however, sitting in a small room in a meeting, on a beanbag chair with Sergey Brin sitting on my left, while we're having casual conversation and I thought to myself, "Self, you are WAYYYY too excited right now. But it's Sergey Brin! Brin! Brin!"

And then it hit me: I am a nerd.

Savor it guys, because you will never hear or read me say it again.

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Why I'm Not a Republican Parts I, II, III, IV
Reflections on the Ill-Read Society
The ROI of a Kid
The Double-Minded Haters
Hindsight
Hip-Hop in Education: Do You Wanna Revolution?
Oh parent Where Art Thou?
Requisite Monthly Rant: the State of the Nation
College Curriculum Gone Wild
Walmart Chronicles
An Open Letter to American Idol
Gonorrhea and the City

I Have a Talk Show