Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dude is too Super Cool... Super Cool


Monday, November 8, 2010

The 3 A's of Awesome- inspiring video!

I love TED Talks and this one is truly Awesome ;) Check out this talk by Nail Pasricha, author of the 1000 Awesome Things blog!

Best quote hands down, "You'll never be as young as you are right now!"


Rally to Restore Sanity!

Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert recently held The Rally to Restore Sanity (and/ or Fear) on the Washington Mall. I love Jon Stewart so I was incredibly excited to watch the coverage! I think overall it was a success- the turn out was incredible which was heartening in a world with extremist media pundits always have some crisis or 'the world is ending' kind of story. I was a little disappointed with the silly entertainment and goofing around (ie doing the wave with the crowd). My favorite part was Jon Stewart's 'Moment of Sincerity'... speech at the end.

He made a lot of strong (and sane!) points including that we live in "hard times not end times", "if we amplify everything we hear nothing", and that we should use titles appropriately (ie using terms like 'terrorists' for all Muslims just increases fear and insecurity, in addition to being blatantly inaccurate).

Check out the full speech Here!

I also really enjoyed the signs that people brought! Check out
The 100 Best Signs on I didn't see it on this list, but one sign that made me laugh out loud said "Make awkward sexual advances not war!" Ha! :P

While I realize Jon and Steven are entertainers and not politicians, I think they had the stage to speak not only to the crowd but to the millions of viewers who would be watching live or seeing clips on the multitude of news networks. If they ever have a similar rally in the future I truly hope they take advantage of the stage and have more speeches! I'm all for keeping it fun and funny, but its easy to blow it off as ridiculous when the silliness is too over the top. Next year (or next rally whenever that may be) I sincerely hope they just give Jon the mic for an hour and have other speakers promoting sane thoughts in politics, media and our lives in general!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Banned PETA Commercial

Vegetarian's and carnivores alike will appreciate this ad. I found it over at Screaming Me Me- funny site!

CONTENT WARNING: Overt sexual imagery (it was apparently banned- but its amusing).

While this ad is a bit more suggestive sexually than most, I think its interesting that it was banned when so many other ads with sexual content are not. Ads selling games, jeans, cars, lingerie, even candy and many other products use gorgeous women in barely any clothing or sexual situations to sell products not related to sex at all. I generally don't condone highly sexualized ads as it leads to people, especially young girls who are still forming their identities and beliefs about their bodies and sex, to being surrounded with constant sexual imagery. The constant sexual imagery in our media can lead one to believe that the sexual situations, frequency, behaviors, body types, activities, etc, that you see on TV and in ads are the norm (or worse viewed as the only way or the 'right way') and thus seen as what you 'should be doing'.

Its ironic that one of the few sexualized ads that has been banned recently is one that is condoning eating healthy food (namely veggies!) as opposed to so many ads out there for fat and sugar-laden monstrosities. I am not a vegetarian, nor am I a hard-core PETA advocate (they do some things that I support and some things that are a bit over the top from my perspective). But I like that they, perhaps inadvertently, are advocating for a healthier diet, while also supporting their cause of saving animals (which is a pretty worthwhile as well!).


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Facebook Update

If the new Facebook TOS has you as irked as I am... you should check out this brilliant article by Amanda French. She compares the TOS agreements of the main large social media sites to Facebooks, including Myspace, Flikr, Youtube, Picasa, and Twitter. It is abundantly clear that Facebook has stepped over the line. The question is will enough people react? Or will people get a little upset and then just forget about it because it easier than fighting a big dog?

Mark Zuckerberg , one of the founders of Facebook, tried to brush this backlash under the rug, saying

"In reality, we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want…".
But what if I don't want them sharing my information at all?! Is that not the point of having your own account with your own privacy settings etc... we are supposed to choose who to share our information with- not them! Given if I share my photo with a friend I am open to the fact that my friend can share my photo, and chances are I am ok with that. But who is Facebook? Why are they laying claim to our photos, writings, and other content?

For a complete Rebuttal of Zuckerberg's TOS defense check out Kent Davidson's post over at Razzed! He agrees that Facebook's TOS easily could have put the content ownership in the hands of the people while still giving legal to protection to Facebook (which is presumably why they are doing this.. unless I'm being naive and their really is some sinister plan to start selling our photos for massive profit! :P) His bottom line:
I am going to stick with the tenet that if you care about privacy, you have to pay for online services to protect it. There’s really no other way.

To me Facebook has just gone up another (10?!) notches in the CREEPINESS factor. I think they need to take some advice from Google and add a 'Do no Evil' clause into their mission statement- because stealing everyone content can be considered nothing less.

2/18 UPDATE: Due to the overwhelming response from the Facebook community, Facebook has reverted back to the old TOS!!! While it is a short term victory, many questions remain unanswered- namely where is the legal line drawn for what FB can do with our content, how drastic of a change can they make to their TOS without consent, can they ever change the TOS to say that they can keep our content forever or use it for their own financial gain (again without our consent)? For the full story head over to the Facebook Blog.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Facebook Users- YOU Have Given Away the Eternal Rights to All of Your Content!

Facebook has gone beyond the brink! Long gone are the days when you had to have a .edu email address, and Facebook was just a friendly networking site for college students. Now everyone from teenyboppers to grandmas have an account on this social media giant. As the site owners realized the money making potential by opening the app development tools to the world and adding advertisements up and down the sides, original Facebook fans who were fans of the college focus and the ad-free feel were disappointed by the sell-out. But as posted on The Consumerist, Facebook has changed their Terms of Service (TOS) so they have ETERNAL USAGE RIGHTS OF ALL CONTENT.

Chris Walters from The Consumerist states:

Now, anything you upload to Facebook can be used by Facebook in any way they deem fit, forever, no matter what you do later. Want to close your account? Good for you, but Facebook still has the right to do whatever it wants with your old content.

So SCARY! =0

Has Facebook become so consumed with power and greed that they have completely lost sight of their initial mission? They claim in their company overview on their About Page:
Facebook gives people the power to share and makes the world more open and connected.

The real question here is why? Why does Facebook want a copy of everyone's photo's and posts etc... other than future financial gain? It seems like a devious plot to sell the photos of people if they ever gain fame some day. Next week when joe schmoe makes it in to the news for getting a date with Lindsay Lohan or for breaking into 7-11... the people behind Facebook can now go into his account (because they have access to all accounts and even if you shut it down they still own your content!) and they can pull out the most embarrassing pictures or whichever ones support the story the newspaper is running and they can SELL IT TO THE NEWS WIRES.

I am just speculating. But it seems very possible that this it what this type of language in the TOS could be for. It seems completely against all copyright law to "use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising". For example, if I take a picture of myself and friend and upload it I own the copyright. If Facebook used it in an Advertisement without my permission they will be infringing on Copyright law. If Facebook ever tries to use someones pictures without their consent even with this new TOS that person would have a good case namely because no one consented to this new TOS and it goes against copyright laws!

How are people supposed to trust a company that claims a 'right' to use all of your content (writing, pictures, videos, etc) in ANY WAY, FOR ANY PURPOSE? They can sell your images for profit, use you profile pictures for advertising purposes, sell any written articles or content you have uploaded... the possibilities seem endless with such a broadly worded TOS.

The new Facebook has grown into the largest social networking site on web, bar none. The plethora of new apps has spawned a range of amusing, useful, useless, creative, and hilarious apps that allow Facebookers to connect with each other and the outside world. People upload pictures and write posts on each other's 'walls' (bulletin boards) on a weekly or even daily basis. We all need to be aware of the content we upload to the web, aware that the whole world can see it. But normally you have the power to remove content you think outdated or decide against later (perhaps an image uploaded at a time of impaired judgment or if in time your opinion changes and a post you wrote you no longer fully support). But this is the first time that I know of that a company has basically sanctioned stealing your uploaded material... forever and for their possible financial gain. Facebookers beware.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Optimism of Crisis: 8 Steps to Make the Best Choice

The phenomena of 20-somethings going through a 'quarter-life crisis' is no longer just found among a few- it has become a rite of passage into adulthood. With the multitude of career options out there and different ways one can lead her life it is easy to become overwhelmed. From choosing which college to go to, which major to pick once you get there, and finally which career path you will travel down, life becomes overrun with monumental decisions after 18 years of having the plan mainly laid out for you. Choice is jumping off a cliff from the dream of possibility into the of reality of action- but if you don't jump you'll never get to swim.

Instead of seeing all of the possibility and wonder of choice, having so many options makes one see only loss of possibilities when choosing – even the best possible option. When choosing a major, perhaps a guy has always wanted to be a doctor and the pre-med track is an easy pick. But in today’s culture where we teach our children that they can ‘do anything’ and ‘be anything’… we want to do everything! All of a sudden when Mr. Pre-Med is there about to sign that slip committing his school career to all of the biology, chemistry, and math classes… he remembers his love of painting and foreign cultures and starts feeling an overwhelming sense of loss. All of a sudden choosing medicine is no longer just gaining the knowledge and skills to become a doctor- which he still wants to do- it is now also losing his chance of becoming a famous painter or an anthropologist who leads the exciting life of traveling to foreign cultures.

Now imagine you do not have a good idea of what you want to do with your life, or what will make you happy. This is when the ‘quarter-life crisis’ begins to really spin out of control. There are so many options and you want to choose the ‘best’ one- the major, job, career path, or even place to live that will make you happy in the long run. The fear of making the wrong choice can lead one to delaying making a choice at all. It can become immobilizing.

Recently I heard a man mention he was going through a quarter-quarter life crisis…yet I could not focus on what he was saying because one thing kept running through my mind: This man is 30 years old! How amazingly optimistic to be crying ‘crisis’ with the intrinsic assumption that you will live through it - and beyond to be 120 years old! Part of me wanted to shake him! While I completely appreciate the overwhelm of choice, it is not a crisis! Perhaps we should reframe these moments as times of gratitude where we have the extreme good fortune to have the opportunity to have the freedom of choice.

Next time you feel a crisis of choice coming on, take these steps:

  1. Be grateful for the opportunity before you!
  2. Think about where you want to be in the future, and where each of the choices will take you.
  3. Make a list of positive and negative outcomes for each choice, and make sure to include what the positive and negative consequences will be for not choosing an option.
  4. Decide!
  5. Know you made the best choice for you given the information at hand so there is no reason to look back!
  6. Know that the choice is not your entire life. If there were appealing pros on the other choice’s list you can find ways to incorporate those or similar aspects into your life.
  7. Give the decision your all, and enjoy it(!), for you were given this wonderful opportunity!
  8. In the future when a new choice comes barreling down your path, or if circumstances change and you want to reconsider your career, location, or even something as simple as where to go on vacation… start over at step one!

Always remember when you begin feeling the stress of an impending life choice that gratitude is the best outlook! If you are having a hard time deciding it is because there is not a bad choice in the bunch- if one of the choices was bad it would be pretty easy to rule out! Think about the options, appreciate the opportunity, and you will make the right choice!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Shocking Sheeping and the Sheep who Shock

We all like to believe we are not sheep. We like to believe we are not influenced to make purchases because ads make us want a product, we like to think we are independent thinkers and do as we believe is right and not just what others tell us to do. We like to believe that we will not jump off a bridge because our friends just did, that we will stand up for what we know is right at crucial times, and that we will never follow a leader into doing something against our own moral standards.

Are our beliefs little more than wishful thinking?

In a time when the world was still reeling and recovering from the treacherous and inhumane crimes committed during the Holocaust, many were left asking, "How were so many people able to commit such horrendous acts against another person, or stand by and watch them happen, doing nothing to stop it?"

In the early '60s, Stanely Milgram completed his obedience experiments, testing to see how far people would go when an authority figure told them to do something (in this case, applying shocks to an unseen person, with increasing voltage and consequently resulting pain). The person receiving the shock was an actor, not actually being harmed, but the participants did not know this and believed they were applying the shocks to the screaming man in the next room. What I found interesting about this study when I learned about it in a beginner psych course back in college, was how scarily unaware of responsibility that the participants felt for harming the man. Many, while agitated and increasingly uncomfortable at the pain they were causing this other person (who was doing nothing 'wrong' other than missing answers on a simple test), seemed to feel they had no choice in what they were doing. 'The man in the white lab coat is in charge, he told me to do this, so I will do it.' Below is a clip of footage from the original experiment:

Milgram was not alone in proving our sheeping tendencies. A recent BBC article cited 2 recent experiments that replicated Milgrams results. The majority of participants in both studies were willing to torture (apply electrical shocks), even after the previous shock had caused the person receiving the shocks to scream in pain. This fascinating behavior is scary, sad, maybe even a bit sadistic, but not surprising.

We look to those 'in charge' or who know more than us in certain situations, to tell us what to do. There is a new book out entitled 'Nudge', by Richard Thaler and Cass Sustein that talks a bit about the psychology at play in this experiment. This ability to 'nudge' people, as with most forces, can be used in positive or negative ways. On the Nudges website, the authors discuss the Milgram experiment and how the authority figures successfully 'nudged' the participants:

"The deliberative part of his decision - the reflective decision-making moment where he answers Shall I go on with the experiment? Shall I shock? - always applies to the next round of questioning on the test, not to incorrect answer he just heard. There appears to be no deliberation at the moment of the wrong answer. There is only an automatic decision to shock. It is as if he already made that decision in the previous round."
Looking at the man in the Milgram video, he clearly had thoughts about wanting to stop, asking the researcher to stop more than once. All the researcher had to do was encourage him to continue- to tell him to keep going. He never threatened harm (never once said 'keep going or you'll be shocked next'), never once threatened to take anything away or any other form of mild 'punishment'. He just made stopping not a choice verbally. The man had to physically stop applying the shocks and administering the test. Was he scared of confrontation? Unsure if his own thoughts were correct (ie this seems wrong, but the doctor is telling me to do it so I must be mistaken, everything must really be ok)?

What does this mean to you? How do you prevent yourself from falling victim to your own tendency to blindly listen to and follow authority figures in your own life?

  • Have a clear system of morals in your life. Contemplate what you consider right and wrong, good and bad, mean and nice.
  • Listen to your leaders- often they have more knowledge or expertise in certain areas, can teach you much, and may be good at managing or organizing people. But they may not have your best interests at heart, they may have different morals than you, be willing to do or ask you to do things that you normally would not do without the 'nudge'. Do not simply do what they say- think about it before you take action.
  • If someone (authority figure or not, in person or through a print or digital medium) is telling you to do something, ask 'why?' What do they want from me, what will they gain, what will I gain, what will the consequences be if I do it, what will the consequences be if I don't do it?
  • As simple as it may be, never forget the Golden Rule- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
As you move through your day and your life, listen, learn and be willing to speak up and take action whether you agree or disagree with the situation at hand!


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