Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Stop Being a Slave to Social Media

Baseball might be called the national pastime of the United States of America. In other countries some other sport might have an equivalent title. However I don't believe that this is true, at least not anymore. Instead, the 21st century and 3rd millennium are giving us a new, collective, global pastime- attention whoring.

Modern technology has made Earth-bound communications essentially infinite in their scope. Whereas before communication was finite, the communication abilities of the present can allow anyone to say anything, at anytime, and reach a large audience. This is a double-edged sword. While it allows ease for spreading of knowledge, it also allows for utter stupidity to be propagated without any consequence- like a rapid, incurable virus. This dynamic almost makes me wish for something like an S3 Plan from Metal Gear Solid 2 (the dialogue is chillingly accurate when you consider the amount of nonsense produced by modern media):

Consider the humorous case of Moses Garza III. I'll cut the kid some slack because he's a teenager and everyone is an idiot at that age- I was no exception, as I've highlighted before. However, I was fortunate enough to miss the second-plus wave of social media when I was that age. Back in the early-mid 2000's, we only had stuff like MySpace that wasn't overly concerned with status updates (it was still a game killer though, but that's beyond the scope of this entry).

From the late 2000's onward into the 2010's however, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. became as ingrained into our culture as walking. People constantly post updates about what they're doing or what's on their mind, no matter how inane it is. They compete with one another over who gets to take the best self-centered photos- like who has the sexiest 'baby bump.' Then they get to feel validated by the amount of likes or retweets they get by their mindless drones that can't filter out nonsense and seek approval themselves. They are slaves to this attention. We all want to feel appreciated and validated, but social media allows us to have these feelings for the wrong reasons. Whereas in the past we might have earned praise for a wise quip or a grand accomplishment, social media allows us to earn empty praise simply because we took silly photos or gave a silly status update.

Social media, aided by its primary missionary, the smartphone, allows people to attention whore at any place, any time, and for whatever reason. It is like a drug that we can get hooked on with zero risk and maximum convenience. It allows for actual human contact to be kept at a minimum, and permits us to put on a veneer rather than show our true selves, making communication significantly more shallow. Worse, there is quite a bit of evidence that social media and smartphones make you less intelligent.

By reading this one might think that I'm anti-social media. I'm not. There is a right way and a wrong way to use it. The right way is to use it for promotions and advertising, to keep in touch with old friends, and getting important information out there for the maximum amount of people to see. The wrong way to use it is for posting mindless status updates and seeking shallow ego-gratification. Unfortunately, most people use it the wrong way and worse, they are celebrated in the media for it.

Twitter I think is a bit less poisonous than Facebook. Its structure is more conducive toward using it the right way rather than the wrong way. Still, Twitter meltdowns of epic proportions have become infamous in the media, and it is arguably even more conducive to the most extreme self-destructive, thoughtless attention whoring than Facebook is.

I use my Facebook the right way, but I honestly wish I could get rid of it. There is considerable evidence that it kills your game (especially if you're not in the best of places), and I always avoid anything having to do with Facebook when interacting with women. I will never give it out, at least not at first. Ultimately I agree with ROK's Tuthmosis that it is a cop-out, a path of least resistance that allows us not to take any risk and become better people (unfortunately I've been caught in this behavior myself more than once). It is an abstraction of real social interaction, and spending too much time on it disincentivizes actual and meaningful improvement in our lives.

Stop being a slave to social media. Put your smartphone down (click the link, I used to do this A LOT and very recently, but have since made a conscious effort to stop), interact with real people, and accomplish actual objectives. Use social media to promote yourself and your undertakings- your shows, your businesses, etc. Do not use it to build a wall around your life. Stop the attention whoring and find a more productive hobby. You'll be happier and society will be better off. Social media twitter facebook smartphones

Monday, July 29, 2013

Profile of an Alpha: John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough

He is unfortunately a name that is not likely to be well-known beyond the circles of history students and buffs, but he has often been mentioned as the greatest man to ever command British forces on a field of battle, including by the Duke of Wellington, whose campaigns against Napoleonic France so often overshadow him. Yet it was he who was not only very arguably the better general, but the one who faced the greater challenge on the more decisive stage of history: and seized it with the boldness and supreme confidence that was so typical of his character. In so doing, he made his fortune and won undying glory on the lips of his countrymen. If ever there were a figure that personified the old adage ‘Fortune Favors the Bold’ he is a prime contender.
This status was far from pre-ordained for John Churchill. Born in 1650 to a gentrified but impoverished family, young John came of age in a very unique time in English history. Just the year before, King Charles I was beheaded. The English civil wars established a short-lived republic on the isle. His father, Winston (not to be confused with his famous descendant and namesake) had the bad luck to be on the losing Royalist side of the conflict, and his fortunes were quashed as a result. One thing young John would have learned in his childhood under Oliver Cromwell’s “republic” was that nothing was going to come to him. If he wanted to make something of himself in this seemingly upside-down world, John would have to do so on his own initiative. He was neither born into wealth nor great status, and would have to earn it on his own.
 The Middle Years:

Fast forward some time. It is now the fateful year 1688. The monarchy was restored, but it is in crisis once more, as the openly Roman Catholic James II succeeded his brother Charles II on the throne. In a staunchly and increasingly Protestant England, this was unpopular to say the least. Nevertheless, it was in James’ service while he was heir to the throne that John began to carve out a niche for himself. He’d been instrumental in putting down the Monmouth Rebellion against the new king only three years before. However, the winds of revolution were blowing in England once more, and John could sense their direction.
Horrified at the prospect of a Roman Catholic heir succeeding James, an invitation had been sent to William of Orange and his wife Mary (James’ own daughter) to invade and overthrow the King. John, for many years James’ employee, abandoned the patron that got his career started, explaining that his Protestant faith compelled him to make the decision. This may be true to some extent, but it is a certain plausible deniability as well. John was determined not to be on the losing side of history like his father was and made sure that such a scenario did not come to pass. For his actions, William and Mary rewarded John with a new title which would give him a new name. He was now the Earl of Marlborough.
Some might describe Marlborough’s actions as a gross betrayal. They were certainly unscrupulous. However, we can sympathize. The life of every man is going to have numerous crisis points wherein things we value will conflict. Advancement in life or even base self-preservation may test even the closest of friendships. I won’t claim to have all the answers to these situations. What I can tell you is that the road is difficult, and that each man should have a clearly defined set of goals to achieve. No one else is going to live your life for you and you must decide what is important to you- and be willing to live with the consequences of your actions.
While it may seem that Marlborough had it made after 1688, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, life under William and Mary presented a new series of hardships, and his relations with them were not always good, guaranteeing lack of clout. He very often found himself on the outside looking in. Among his setbacks was imprisonment in the Tower. You see, Marlborough continued his correspondence with the now-exiled James II, and there was suspicion that he may have been amongst a group of plotters to restore him to the throne. While this plot was later revealed to be a forgery, Marlborough’s situation did not improve. It would instead take another relationship to get him to where he truly wanted to be in life.

The Marlborough Family

Becoming a Duke:
Long before the previous events, Marlborough married Sarah Jennings, a woman of similar background to himself but would prove monumental for his rise to the pinnacle of society. In her social circle was James II’s younger daughter, Anne, who became Queen after William died in 1702. Their intimate friendship assured Marlborough’s position at a critical time. War was again brewing with Louis XIV’s France, and the coming conflict (the War of the Spanish Succession) would indeed decide the international power structure arguably to this day. Marlborough had served with some distinction in William’s earlier wars, but his rocky relationship with the King assured an ultimately unfulfilling role. Recognizing his talents toward the end of his life, William carefully nudged Marlborough into a position of influence, and Anne promptly confirmed and expanded it. Marlborough was now Captain-General of the English and Allied forces against France, Master General of the Ordnance (a high military rank that was essentially in charge of all logistics), and the special ambassador to the Dutch Republic. A string of victories in 1702 prompted Anne to elevate Marlborough to a Duke.

So far, we’ve seen that the ability to take reverses in stride and never lose sight of his goal was vital to Marlborough’s career. Many men may have given up after the series of reverses he’d suffered under William and Mary. Now his perseverance (and his social circle) was beginning to pay off. During this time Marlborough also proved himself to be an extremely skilled negotiator and diplomat, keeping his army well-supplied and fed, and skillfully navigating the complex political situation of the grand alliance against France. But the ultimate test was still to come, one which would make or break Marlborough for all time. When reading, ask yourself: how would you react?
The Blenheim Campaign:
1704 was the most critical year of the War of the Spanish Succession. Bavaria had allied itself with France, and Louis XIV, old now but still as ambitious as ever, had his sights set on a victory that would guarantee him a position of immense strength. His plan was to use the territory of his new ally and march a combined Franco-Bavarian force to sack Vienna and knock Austria out of the war.
Marlborough knew what the French would attempt, but he had a major problem on his hands. In the Duke of Wellington’s praise of his predecessor, he mentions how Marlborough had Dutch politicians constraining his movements and thus his overall effectiveness. For the Dutch the move made sense. They wanted their army on hand to defend against a French attack, but this situation could have led to a catastrophe in 1704. If Austria were taken out of the war, Louis could concentrate his forces against England and the Dutch, making the situation immensely more dangerous for the latter. Marlborough saw this while most others did not. He knew the utter futility of staying north while the decisive action of the year would be taking place on the Danube. He was now at a crossroads. He could either stay up north and please most of the Dutch authorities, or he could march south to relieve the situation on the Danube. Marching south required Marlborough to take enormous risks. It would be long and arduous, fraught with all the difficulties of logistics and multiple enemy armies to contend with. The march would also be a direct contravention of his orders (to advance no further than the Moselle, as he had agreed with the Dutch authorities), which carried enough risk in itself. If he were to lose, one could expect quite a horrid fate for Marlborough indeed.
However, while lesser men would have seen only risk and likely have stayed behind, fearful of the consequences of defying orders and especially of failure, Marlborough saw an opportunity. He knew that the French would be caught by surprise by his movements (they too, knew what Marlborough was supposed to do). He also knew that if he could defeat Louis’ Franco-Bavarian forces, he could save Austria and deal the French a crushing blow. Indeed, the bigger risk that Marlborough likely saw was doing nothing while the pieces on the board were moving to crush his cause.

Marlborough's march to the Danube
Marlborough began his march toward the Danube in May. Along the way, he met for the first time Prince Eugene of Savoy, who would become his enduring co-commander. Eugene was by all rights at that point Marlborough’s senior as a general. Long feted in the Imperial court, he’d fought both the French and the Ottoman Turks, winning the Battle of Zenta against the latter and inflicting one of the most crushing defeats in history on them. Jealousy can often be seen between rival commanders in military history, and it could have been easy for anyone to be jealous of such an accomplished partner, fearing diminution of one’s own reputation and glory. Instead, Marlborough treated Eugene with complete courtesy and respect, and the two cultivated a close professional and personal relationship. The result was one of the most formidable teams in military history, and the French would be its victim.
Two months after their first meeting, Marlborough and Eugene won the Battle of Blenheim. The Franco-Bavarian forces were shattered: suffering over 30,000 casualties with 13,000 captured, including one of the French field marshals. Throughout the entirety of the campaign Marlborough never ceded the initiative, and now it paid off in dividends. Blenheim was the greatest triumph of English arms since Agincourt 300 years before, and from that point forward France was on the ropes. It is more due to politics that a crushing victory in the war wasn’t achieved.

Marlborough greets Eugene after their victory at Blenheim
Marlborough had at last attained his aristeia- his great moment of glory. More victories- and more hardships would follow, but Marlborough had reached the pinnacle of his life. He was 54 years old.

One final note that readers will take to heart: the Duchess of Marlborough, Sarah Churchill, was a notoriously cantankerous and difficult woman to deal with. Indeed, this is why her friendship with Anne deteriorated during Marlborough’s later career. She made many powerful enemies in her long lifetime. Despite this, John maintained Sarah's complete affections, and in an age where promiscuity among high-status women was by no means uncommon (the Duke and Duchess’ own daughter engaged in an extramarital affair, for instance) there are no suspicions of Sarah seeking out another man. She was utterly devoted to her husband (and he to her), and may have lost favor with the Queen due to her adamant support of his undertakings. This alone speaks volumes as to his character as a man.

Lessons from the Duke of Marlborough:
  1. The great moment will more likely than not, fail to come to you. You need to seize it. The initiative is your ultimate ally. Unless you are born wealthy, your fortune will not make itself.
  2. Have your goals in life and achieve them. Be prepared to accept the consequences of your choices along the way, for you may need to make harsh decisions.
  3. Persevere. Life will give you many reverses of fortune. You can’t achieve your aristeia if you give up.
  4. You must be willing to take risks (when appropriate and necessary, of course). Greatness doesn’t come without risk. Doing nothing is the biggest risk of all, as it means letting something else dictate your life- a sure marker on the road to mediocrity.
  5. The cultivation of enduring friendship is vital, both for happiness and fulfilling success. As Marlborough showed with Eugene (and vice-versa), high-status, valuable men do not get jealous of other valuable men. They complement each other. You won’t maximize your own potential without others helping you along the way. While Marlborough and Eugene were both military geniuses with astounding solo successes, they achieved far more together than either could have accomplished alone.
  6. Your social circle will make or break you.
  7. It is never too late to become a great, valuable man. Marlborough reached his aristeia when he was 54 years old. Many people at that time didn’t even live that long. It is only too late when your mind is gone or when your corpse is burned or buried.
John Churchill Duke of Marlborough life profile

Profile of an Alpha Series

In this series I'll be compiling profiles of the lives of the alpha men in history. These were the winners. They were the ones that painted the portrait of the world, and led it to the place that they desired. These were the most successful men- in the bedroom, the boardroom, and on the battlefield. However these men were more than simply successful: they were also often men of principle and character. They inspired others to follow them and always led by example. In an era where contemporary men seem so lacking, it would be wise for us to return to the pages of history and learn examples from these figures, so that we may find happiness and fulfillment in our own lives and never let fear stop us from reaching our goals.

While I personally do not like the alpha/beta dichotomy as I think it is often either abused or reduced to an open-ended and undefinable sludge, I will use it here merely as a simplifying concept.

Though not all the men on this list had similar fates or did similar things (many of them couldn't be more different if they tried), they all share similar traits:

  • They were unrelentingly ambitious and never afraid to act on their desires, but always did so in a respectful way.
  • They were principled, but unafraid to listen to the wise council of others, and if necessary, change their beliefs.
  • They embraced reality, and did not expend energy on foolish delusions.
  • They gave no time of day to silly and inane intellectual inferiors.
  • They led, and inspired others to follow them.
  • They did not let others bring them down and prevent them from fulfilling their destiny. 
  • They never gave in to fear.
  • They did not expect anyone else to take care of their problems.
  • They were goal-driven.
  • They were never, ever, needy.

Ultimately the life of an "alpha" is about one of balance- accomplished balance, the mean between excess and deficiency.

Despite their radically different styles, goals, and career paths, all individuals profiled share these common characteristics. I believe that in this uncertain world, we as men need precisely these same characteristics to overcome significant collective obstacles and get to where we want to be in life- as well as stay there.

These men were by no means perfect, and I do not endorse every decision that they made in their lives, but they all have admirable traits. As always, the trick is to repeat the good things and not repeat the bad.


John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough 
Bruno Sammartino
Mariano Rivera Alpha male self-made men profile series

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Moments in Time #1: Gustavus and Tilly

The year was 1632, the critical turning point of the brutal Thirty Years' War. The year prior, the Kingdom of Sweden under its magnificent monarch and general, Gustavus Adolphus, soundly thrashed the Imperial/Catholic forces under Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly at the decisive Battle of Breitenfeld. This was a stunning victory. Up to that point, the Protestant cause seemed hopeless, and the Catholic armies appeared unstoppable. He'd (along with his co-commander, Albrecht von Wallenstein) led them to victory after victory, forcing Frederick V off the thrones of Bohemia and the Palatinate, and then moving on to humiliate Christian IV of Denmark, helping to force him out of the war. Gustavus Adolphus was the first to bring this successful general to heel.

The two commanders met again at the Battle of Rain. Gustavus Adolphus was again victorious. Tilly himself was severely wounded by a cannonball during the battle, and he would die some days later. Gustavus, after hearing of Tilly's wounds, sent his own personal physician to tend to the Count. When he learned of this, Tilly replied:

Your king is truly a noble knight.

Gustavus was magnanimous in victory, and Tilly, in his final days acknowledged and praised Gustavus for his act of kindness- he was gracious in defeat. Despite the fact that these two men were bitter enemies fighting in a brutal, hate-filled war that would kill fully one-quarter of Germany's population, they still engaged in this act of decency and respect, allowing a fleeting moment of our species' higher impulses to shine through at a time where they were far too rare. I hope that we will be able to emulate their example in our own times where such magnanimity and graciousness are depressingly uncommon and seemingly discouraged.

Gustavus met his own death only a few months later.

Left: Gustavus Adolphus, right: Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly
Gustavus Adolphus Count of Tilly chivalry Thirty Years War

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Conservatives Make Happier People?

So, you might have heard of a study that came out correlating those with conservative or rightward-leaning views to be happier than those with leftward-leaning views. Setting-aside the humorous notions that general beliefs about lower taxes and less-intrusive government are labeled "authoritarian" by the study (in fairness of course, there is the uptight religiosity), I took the time to ponder this.

I personally wouldn't label myself as a conservative. I'm a registered independent that tends to lean leftward in some areas and rightward in others (I support universal healthcare, but generally desire lower taxes, for example). If anything, I'm a pragmatist that leans libertarian when possible. I'm generally a happy and content person.

Now think for a moment about your typical people espousing leftist movements (I don't call them liberals for a few good reasons, but I won't go into that here)-  ideological feminists, Occupy Wall Streeters, race baiters of all kinds as we've seen in the recent Trayvon Martin case, and in general, acolytes of the Egalitarian Religion. Browse around Tumblr and you're bound to run into them. Take a look at the things they say, the things they write, and how they convey their thoughts. Don't you notice a theme of anger? It's an old joke that feminists (or more accurately, those that identify themselves as such and are active parts of the movement) are typically angry, ugly girls, and now there seems to be data that tells us that it's more than just a passing comedy act.

Remember, I'm not talking about the everyday people that are on the left personified by say, Bill Clinton or Ed Koch. Those types are generally rational and straightforward people. They fight for what they believe are the interests of the middle class and to give the poor a fairer shake. They don't wrap themselves up in the mantle of victimhood or seek to do penance for some imagined sin that someone else committed. Tuthmosis at Return of Kings is a good example of this in the "Manosphere," which naturally, tends to lean conservative or libertarian. He explored this dynamic very well in one of his columns. The people I work with are generally left-leaning independents. They are happy people. I like them and I get along well with them.

It is instead the heirs of the Frankfurt School, the egalitarian acolytes that are the ones that ooze with anger, and are the ones that I generally believe are unhappy. It's not hard to see why that is. When you constantly examine everything with critical theory (very telling words), you generally aren't going to be very happy with the world. You perceive injustice everywhere. You want to destroy all that is around you so you can correct such injustices, which are so pervasive and ingrained that they are unavoidable. You are either a victim or forcing yourself to apologize for privilege. You don't act on your desires because they may be seen as insensitive or politically incorrect. See that woman over there? You don't approach her because you're afraid she might be offended. You are constantly policing the behaviors of others so that they fall in line with your worldview, and denigrating them if they don't. You are constantly offended and seek the approval of others to recognize your egalitarian credentials. It is a depressing and lonely worldview.

A belief system that constantly tells you that you are either a victim or guilty, even without you knowing it or doing anything to earn such status, cannot be conducive to happiness. It will make its believer lash out, and generally without direction.

If there is one thing that men today must avoid, it is these pernicious and destructive Frankfurt legacy leftist movements, the Egalitarian Religion. Fear not for speaking out for things like universal healthcare or greater financial regulation. There is no logically valid reason why one must follow the other. Conservatism Political Correctness Happiness

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Quote for Thursday

"I can't stand the weak, they're always nervous about when they might be next attacked. They can't trust anybody and they never have an opinion of their own. I can't stand such people!" - Heero Yuy to Zechs Merquise, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, episode 49: The Final Victor. Heero Yuy Mobile Suit Gundam Wing

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Hoodie is a Poor Symbol

As much as I'd like to pay attention to other things, I can't help having followed the Trayvon Martin controversy (it's practically impossible not to considering how much the media has been shoving it in our faces). Rallies (and some riots) against the verdict have sprouted up around the country, and much of the controversy is split along racial lines. "Hoodies for Trayvon" has become a popular meme around the protest circles, along with images of Trayvon Martin in the hoodie he was wearing the night he died. I won't go into other aspects of this case- that's been more than beaten to death multiple times already, but I will talk about the hoodie: it is a poor symbol (as is Trayvon).

Much has been made ado about President Obama's speech regarding the situation last week. It is in fact, one of the better speeches I've heard from him. He discussed, calmly, the feelings that many within the black community share in regard to profiling, as well as his own experiences with the practice, while also acknowledging that black men are disproportionately involved with the criminal justice system. It was a far cry from last year's speech, where he infamously said that if he had a son, "he would look like Trayvon."

With respect, Mr. President, no, he wouldn't. Sure, he'd have the same or a similar skin tone to Trayvon, but he would NOT look like Trayvon in a crucial area: his dress. I find it highly doubtful that the son of a President or other prominent politician would walk around in a hoodie. This is an aspect of the case that I don't think has been critically considered enough, and it is to me, more important than any racial undertones that the media just LOVES to blow into as big a tsunami as it possibly can.

We all profile to a degree. Anyone who says they don't is lying. It is within our nature to size people up immediately upon contact, without even having spoken a word to them. How you appear is of utmost importance as to what people think about you, and how you are dressed is a crucial part of your appearance. While President Obama's remarks about being profiled based on his race were met with much praise by some, I seriously wonder what he was wearing at the time of these incidents before he was elected as the junior Senator from Illinois.

As a white person, I'll freely admit that I've felt the unease that the President described about black men- not through any conscious choice of my own, but a visceral, involuntary reaction. However I have felt this same unease (and in exactly the same proportions) around poorly dressed, poorly groomed white people, especially after dark.

This thought made me dig deeper into my memories. Had I felt this same unease around a well-dressed black man? As far as I could possibly remember, the answer is no. I have never, to my knowledge, had negative feelings around a black man that was dressed and groomed well, even in the dead of night. Now, of course I can't extrapolate my experiences to those of the population as a whole, but I'd be willing to imagine that a great deal of people (of all colors) have experienced the same thing.

The reason for this is simple: how you dress tells another person a great deal about who you are. What you choose to wear is a conscious decision that is reflective of your personality (and reflective of how you feel about yourself). How you dress determines in large fashion (no pun intended) other people's opinions of you and your attractiveness to members of the opposite sex, and a slight change in wardrobe can make a huge difference. Lo and behold, in the Trayvon Martin case, this almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy:

  • Trayvon is wearing a hoodie.
  • Zimmerman gets suspicious.
  • Trayvon is later revealed as having been suspended for fighting and having what was described as burglary tools in his backpack.

Let's now conduct a simple thought experiment. You're by yourself at night. Two men (of any color) are walking on the same street as you are. One of them is dressed up in a nice jacket, well-tailored pants, fashionable shoes, and a scarf. The other is wearing a hoodie. Which of these two people are you going to feel more at ease around?

Of course these things are also contextual. If you were on say, a college campus, a hoodie probably won't elicit as much of a negative reaction, but you would still more likely feel at greater ease around the first man.

And this is something I don't think is talked enough about by the people that focus so much on racial profiling. I'm not saying that race isn't an important factor, but the choices of dress among many young black men could definitely use some improvement, and better yet, it is something that is easily within their control. Of course I'm not saying that young black men should feel the need to wear a suit and tie every day just so that they don't get profiled, but ditching the hoodies and overly baggy jeans for example, would probably go a long way toward reinforcing more positive perceptions, and hence, attitudes and behaviors.

This is why I believe the hoodie is a poor symbol. Instead of something to rally around, it (and other poor fashion choices) should be discussed as something that may contribute to negative perceptions. The predictable response of some would be to disparage those who have such a message as being condescending- "how dare you tell me what I can and cannot wear?!" This is understandable, but it is a denial of reality, and simply gives an excuse to wallow in the poison of victimhood instead encouraging people to make actual (and easy) improvements in their lives, a complex that John McWhorter explores in his book Losing the Race.

Ultimately, the black community is going to need a better symbol than hoodies and Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman should not have gotten out of his car (and one could argue, shouldn't have carried a gun, at least without a lot more training), but given the way that Trayvon was dressed, it is understandable that Zimmerman was suspicious. Trayvon's style of dress and his character were correlated, and this predictably drew negative attention.

Far better symbols that actually show vast injustice are the likes of Oscar Grant and the millions of black Americans that are suffering from the very racist War on Drugs. Of course, the media doesn't like to talk about the latter very much.

A final anecdote I will give is how I dressed when I was 16. Unbelievably, I wore, yes, a hoodie, but also stupid bandanas and even a dummy training bullet around my neck. Yeah, you can call it "peacocking" in the very worst possible way. Very predictably, I drew a lot of negative attention to myself, and it was generally reflective of my life that year: troubled and in trouble. Fortunately, I quickly grew out of it, and by the time I was 17 I'd set myself straight. If I was in Trayvon's position at that time, I probably can't say that I wouldn't have been followed. Hell, I was wearing a far more ridiculous and thuggish getup.

Dress matters. It's time that it be talked about as more than simply dressing to impress prospective employers or potential mates, but as part of an overall improvement of life and a way to break oppressive boundaries. Trayvon Martin George Zimmerman Hoodies Fashion

Monday, July 22, 2013

Laziness is a Cancer

I might as well begin this blog with a short entry regarding a constant demon in my life from the days I was but a young boy: laziness. All human beings are lazy, but I think I can be more lazy than others. This is a cancerous habit- one that prevents me from taking risks and reaching my full potential. Oftentimes there are legitimate reasons why I do not perform a specific action- writer's block for instance which prevents me from (or rather, makes it more difficult to) continuing with my written works- whether that be any of these blogs or the books I'm writing, both fiction and non-fiction. However, instead of trying to take these problems head-on, I instead either make an excuse or simply move on to do something else (that something else usually being nothing).

I'm having problems finding a source for a chapter in the book I intend to write on the most critical battles of the world? I huff and just get tired of looking, so I put it on the shelf for a while instead of making a greater effort to resolve the issue.

I can't think of how to progress with my epic novel? I stop paying attention.

The result is a vicious spiral where nothing winds up being finished. These same things can apply to other aspects of life- business, socializing, going to the gym, and yes, improving with women.

Sloth was regarded as a deadly sin for a reason. Put simply, laziness is a demon, if a well-dressed one. That's why it's so destructive. It manifests itself as something that appears harmless, but like a persistent parasite, it slowly saps away your precious life's time, and it is often accompanied by rationalizing excuses: "I just can't think of what to write," or "I can't approach that woman because I don't know what to say." These are pathetically transparent, but we as human beings, and I believe, myself in particular, give into them because they're the path of least resistance.

Indeed this tendency to give into the path of least resistance is so strong that we (and I know myself in particular) often don't even need excuses of the type described above. We just simply give into laziness as a force of habit, putting off our goals to "later" often only to find out that later never comes.

Of course this is not to say that simply wanting time to do nothing is a bad thing. As human beings we definitely need some time to do nothing except that which brings us the most immediate gratification to unwind from our hectic days and the stress in our lives. However, we mustn't let this desire for tranquility on the sea of nothingness take over. It will sap your abilities to reach your full potential and dissuade you from fulfilling your goals. It is a habit that will lead to a cruel destiny.

Laziness must be looked at for what it is- a dangerous desire that must be kept on a short leash. I have often failed to do this and have paid for it in a variety of ways. Motivation to hold myself accountable for this is probably the best thing that's happened to me in 2013 so far.

What is one thing all successful, self-actualized men have in common? Julius Caesar and Isaac Newton couldn't be any more different on the surface, but they do have one thing in common: they didn't let laziness stop them from achieving their ambitions.

Set a permissive schedule for your goals. Adhere to it. And no excuses or sloppy delving into the baser, dangerous desire to do nothing. Laziness work goal-setting motivation