Geekery: When I grow up, I want to be Stevie Nicks

Geekery: When I grow up, I want to be Stevie Nicks

It’s too late, of course. Not to mention, impossible. There can only be one Stevie Nicks — and this incisive, insightful and in-depth piece on the legendary frontwoman of Fleetwood Mac tells us why. Writer Jada Yuan paints an honest picture of Nicks — shawl-wearing, earth mother-goddess, battle-scarred rock star, former druggie, free spirit, feminist icon, wise woman, above all, survivor. We should take a lesson or two.

Most women would not be happy being me,” Nicks says. “People say, ‘But you’re alone.’ But I don’t feel alone. I feel very un-alone. I feel very sparkly and excited about everything. I know women who are going, like, ‘I don’t want to grow old alone.’ And I’m like, ‘See, that doesn’t scare me.’ Because I’ll never be alone. I’ll always be surrounded by people. I’m like the crystal ball and these are all the rings of Saturn around me.”

“My generation fought very hard for feminism, and we fought very hard to not be labeled as you had to have a husband or you had to be in a relationship, or you were somehow not a cool chick,” she says. “And now I’m seeing that start to come around again, where people say to you, ‘Well, what do you mean you don’t have a boyfriend? You don’t want to have one? You don’t want to be married?’ And you’re like, ‘Well, no, I don’t, actually. I’m fine.’ And they find a lot of reasons why you’re not fine. But it just seems to be coming back. Being able to take care of myself is something that my mom really instilled in me,” she says. “I can remember her always saying, ‘If nothing else, I will teach you to be independent.’ ” — Stevie Nicks (from the article)

[image borrowed from nymag.com]

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Deep think of the week

Deep think of the week

2012-12-07-paristhethinker1.jpg

Yes, I know. Really? Deep think? Trust me on this, it’s a good read. Besides, if you can’t do some deep thinking on a Wednesday — far enough from the previous weekend to forget about your hangover and not near the coming weekend to be actually looking forward to the mayhem — when can you?

My main takeaways from this article? Two things: One, actively seek out opportunities (i.e., mistakes) just so you can recover from them. So true. What’s the joy in life if you’re always playing it safe and hedging your bets, eh? Two, know how to criticise and argue with someone without resorting to cheap shots. I see this all the time, especially online, where arguments quickly get reduced to name-calling and insults. Having someone — a philosopher, no less! — plot out how to make a successful argument in four easy steps? Go read and learn, is all I can say.

Click on the link above for the full article. But for excerpts, read below.

The writer presents seven simple rules for thinking:

1. Use your mistakes
“Try to acquire the weird practice of savouring your mistakes, delighting in uncovering the strange quirks that led you astray. Then, once you have sucked out all the goodness to be gained from having made them, you can cheerfully set them behind you and go on to the next big opportunity. But that is not enough: you should actively seek out opportunities just so you can then recover from them.”

2. Respect your opponent
“Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticising the views of an opponent? If there are obvious contradictions in the opponent’s case, then you should point them out, forcefully. If there are somewhat hidden contradictions, you should carefully expose them to view – and then dump on them. But the search for hidden contradictions often crosses the line into nitpicking, sea-lawyering and outright parody. The thrill of the chase and the conviction that your opponent has to be harbouring a confusion somewhere encourages uncharitable interpretation, which gives you an easy target to attack.

But such easy targets are typically irrelevant to the real issues at stake and simply waste everybody’s time and patience, even if they give amusement to your supporters.”

3. Heed the “surely” klaxon <—- (This is especially useful for writers and editors)
“When you’re reading or skimming argumentative essays, especially by philosophers, here is a quick trick that may save you much time and effort, especially in this age of simple searching by computer: look for “surely” in the document and check each occurrence. Not always, not even most of the time, but often the word “surely” is as good as a blinking light locating a weak point in the argument.

Why? Because it marks the very edge of what the author is actually sure about and hopes readers will also be sure about.”

4. Answer rhetorical questions <— also useful for writers and editors and for those who like being snarky

“Here is a good habit to develop: whenever you see a rhetorical question, try – silently, to yourself – to give it an unobvious answer. If you find a good one, surprise your interlocutor by answering the question. I remember a Peanuts cartoon from years ago that nicely illustrates the tactic. Charlie Brown had just asked, rhetorically: “Who’s to say what is right and wrong here?” and Lucy responded, in the next panel: “I will.”

5. Employ Occam’s Razor
“The idea is straightforward: don’t concoct a complicated, extravagant theory if you’ve got a simpler one (containing fewer ingredients, fewer entities) that handles the phenomenon just as well.”

6. Don’t waste your time on rubbish
“Sturgeon’s law is usually expressed thus: 90% of everything is crap. So 90% of experiments in molecular biology, 90% of poetry, 90% of philosophy books, 90% of peer-reviewed articles in mathematics – and so forth – is crap…. Let’s stipulate at the outset that there is a great deal of deplorable, second-rate stuff out there, of all sorts. Now, in order not to waste your time and try our patience, make sure you concentrate on the best stuff you can find, the flagship examples extolled by the leaders of the field, the prize-winning entries, not the dregs.”

7. Beware of deepities
Being guilty of a few “deepities” myself, this got me assessing my throwaway statements and faux-profundity.

[image of Rodin’s The Thinker borrowed from this article from The Huffington Post]

The six major anxieties of social media

The six major anxieties of social media

How present are you online? My friends and I were just talking about this over the weekend and it seems that more and more these days, social media is taking over our lives. We are plugged in 24/7 that it seems as if our whole lives are spent online. Let’s see. I have Facebook, Instagram, Path, Vine, Tumblr, WordPress, Google+, LinkedIn. And this list doesn’t include emails and chats. What have you got? Friends are urging me to sign up for Twitter since that’s where most of the information breaks first, Pinterest for ideas and “because it’s fun”, Flickr because, hey, we all need another channel to post our food shots in!

And now, as if it isn’t enough that we need to keep up with all of these social media apps, now comes this article on the inadequacy created by these very habits! Ironic, isn’t it? Which begs the question, why don’t we just all unplug start being face-to-face social again?

It may be too late. At a recent company meeting where we were discussing where to go for a company outing, one of the ideas floated around was to go on a cruise around some islands in Thailand. We were told there might not be wi-fi. For four days. I don’t think I was imagining it when I felt everyone reconsider the idea. Four days cut off from the Internet seems like an eternity these days.

[image borrowed from nymag.com]

Punk and fashion, power and femininity, poverty and class

Punk and fashion, power and femininity, poverty and class

Fashion regularly shocks me in all sorts of small and large ways. I am dumbfounded by the practically immoral prices of handbags and shoes. But the design of a pair of towering armadillo heels? Eh. I am appalled by the inability of so many designers to recognize the moral responsibility that comes with visually defining class, power, and femininity. I don’t understand why, in an increasingly global business, fashion doesn’t take a more activist stance on labor laws and fair wage issues.

And every now and then, I am left speechless when designers tell a story of such astonishing beauty or intellectual richness that it pushes all sense of logic and practicality out of a woman’s mind and all she can do is stop, smile, and think.” — from the article, “If Punk Can’t Shock, Fashion Still Can”

I love this article. In all my years as a magazine writer and editor, I’ve only written about fashion peripherally, and certainly not as incisively as Robin Givhan. See, kids? This is what fashion journalism is all about!

[link and image borrowed from nymag.com]

Date a girl who reads

Date a girl who reads

Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book.” — Rosemary Urquico

Rory Gilmore (of The Gilmore Girls), one of the few TV heroines in recent memory who is a reader

I’ve read the essay above before. It’s been circulating the internets for a couple of years already but a friend posted it today on Facebook and so I was reminded of it again. As a reader, I love the piece, of course, and wish more guys would heed it, haha… So thought I should do my part in making sure more people get to read it. It should be required reading for little boys! 😉

Oh, and also, date a girl who reads, yes. But maybe find out what she reads first. A diet of pure on high-brow literary tomes, makes for an uptight and prissy type of girl. While one who reads mainly dreck won’t have an original thought in her head. Just like food, a diet of different books — from the nutritious (high-minded literary works) to the occasional junky treats (trashy beach reads) — is essential.

The Iron Lady is dead. Long live the Iron Lady

The Iron Lady is dead. Long live the Iron Lady

So Long Margaret Thatcher, Thanks For the Great MusicI was a young kid when Margaret Thatcher was in power and so don’t really remember what her government policies wrought on the United Kingdom. I remember the music though. I remember the music.

The link goes to a compilation from that era. And this link goes to another article celebrating her inadvertent contribution to pop culture. As the article says in the end: “Iron Lady… Pretty metal name for a little old lady, wouldn’t ya say?”

[photo borrowed from the baeble music blog]