The Emperor Has No Clothes

It wasn’t too long ago that I came across a great book about blogging.  Here I found some of the most interesting ideas for the first time.  Not only did this book cover how to create a successful blog, it also talked about media and media manipulation in its entirety.  My intention was to read a book on how to become a better blogger.  I thought maybe I could pick up some tips, tricks, and or other guidelines that would create more interesting content.  What I came across was much more than that.

The book started off not so innocently.  The title is even intriguing, giving a beguiling call to a darker side of “journalism”.  “Trust me, I’m lying…Confessions of a Media Manipulator” is a great book, and it will help you if you are trying to a write a blog that pulls in tons of traffic.  The techniques outlined however, create a challenge and brings light to a vicious cycle that ebbs more to accumulation of quantity over quality postings.

Basically, anything that’s salacious, outrageous, highlights injustice, is celebrity gossip, or outright lies are the things which bring the most traffic to your blog.  The writer is in essence creating click-bait, false stories, or shocking material in order to grab your attention.  Do with this information what you wish but once you begin the process and are good at it in any way –  you will be expected and called upon to do it consistently.  Bringing down politicians, breaking stories without all the facts, omitting witnesses accounts, or research on a particular drug might get you views –  but can destroy people in the process.  The pen is mightier than the sword, it always has been.  In this generational era of the internet – creating the news is just one way of how that power can be misused and abused.

“More than twenty-five years ago, in Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman argued that the needs of television, then our culture’s chief mode of communicating ideas, had come to determine the very culture it was supposed to represent.  The particular way that television stages the world, he wrote, becomes the model for how the world itself is to be staged.”

The author, in this excerpt, begins to explain how our television, all of it, including the news – is framed as entertainment for us.  T.V. created a fake world, we watched and consumed the fake world and perpetuated it.  “The dominant culture medium, determines culture itself”.  Now that our dominant culture medium is the internet, youtube, blogs, and twitter – we have those devices creating our culture.

When bloggers lie, distort, and attack because it’s in their interest to do so – we lose something.  When we are bombarded with what is unreal, when we are surrounded by illusions, we then lash out at our fellow man for his very humanness, congratulate ourselves as a cover for apathy, and confuse advertising with art.  Thusly, reality, our lives, knowing what’s important, and information itself become the casualties of our culture.

When intelligent people read, they ask themselves a simple question: What do I plan to do with this information?  When the blogs you read, images you “like”, videos you view lack substance or quality – the answer becomes nothing.  You simply cannot do anything with it.  There may not be much practical purpose for what we consume on the internet through blogs, twitter, instagram and youtube besides distraction.  When readers decide to start demanding quality over quantity, the economics of the internet will change.  Manipulation and marketing will become much more difficult.  Overall, I would recommend reading the book Trust Me I’m lying.

Determining What’s Important

As we get older, we tend to think more and more about our own mortality. During our quest to reach our goals, and as we pile more upon to balance those we’ve checked off our list – It should occur that you may not fulfill every last one. You just may run out of time – so then, during this brief period of time between your awakening and your final curtain call – what should you cherish most? Because life isn’t about tallying a score of all the achievements you can accomplish in a hurry. Will you be most grateful for family, or for time spent with someone you love, or will you only hope to have moments where time just slips away. Like times where you’re numb and don’t feel much of anything?  
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I would fear that many of our priorities are misallocated. Our generation has a much higher emphasis on instantaneous self gratification. To our disadvantage, we too readily believe that the world should be available to us this very moment in it’s entirety. In the process, we fail to cultivate loving, healthy, functioning relationships – or a decent trajectory for our future. We come off as spoiled, needy, arrogant, and impatient. We tend to miss the mark, fueling our narcissism and aiding in our own self destruction. Sometimes the things that take time are the best things for us to have. Why should we rush into love, into a career, into a way of life without thoroughly examining the situation and ourselves?

There are so many things you can do with your life besides trying to speed it up. You should take inventory of yourself and reflect as often as you can. Yes, write and examine the goals you have. Yes, you should celebrate your milestones, and you should always push yourself to stay sharp – to learn – to master – and to excel extraordinarily at some things. Then some nights, while you are reflecting, you should maybe take yourself out of the equation and think about the broader picture in front of you. The meaning of life that you assign to your time on earth; is it legitimate – is it doable – is it preposterous, or impossible? Should it be tweaked? Do you value the same things now as you did one, two, or five years ago?

There’s certainly nothing wrong with feeling like you may be in the wrong direction or in need of a change. The only sin would be in knowing you should change course, but then doing nothing about it. To continue doing what you’ve always done, just because you’ve always done it – when it’s detrimental to your health, relationships, or financial well being. Those sins are less forgiving because they ultimately sit with you. You know if you are staying true to yourself. To thine own self be true. You know if what you are doing no longer works, and it will be up to you to change course if necessary. I would never make claim to having done something correctly, the way it needed to be done the first time and every time there after. As a student of life, I have made many mistakes – but my intention is never to make the same mistakes twice.
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Life is like an endurance race. It’s not about who makes it the fastest. Sometimes you need to pull over, check your map, check your blueprint, adjust your sails, change your course, take your time, and be sure that you’re doing everything you possibly can to arrive alive and well.

Assault on Television 


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My assault on television begins with the disturbing truths that it does not provide you with the tools you’ll need to live better lives. It rarely benefits you; even if there is an educational program channeled through the airwaves. Not counting Sesame Street and what’d you sit your children in front of. What lessons of life have you learned from watching season after season of bad programming? Or even good programming. Have you used the new skills Bear Grylls was trying to teach you? Have you learned how to dance like the stars? Have you learned to build your Empire? Are you having a hot, scandalous affair or are you watching it on TV with your lonely hand buried in a bag of potato chips?
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You stare at a screen and absorb the fictional stories centered around lies, deceit, and any other salacious material that are known to produce ratings. You don’t even have to use your imagination and think about what the characters look like. It’s all blinking, talking, and soundtracked for you. You don’t have to engage in the story – it’s all passive entertainment. And it’s making you miss out on life, love, and learning.

The news stories are the worse. I know that there are plenty of good things that go on every day. Your brain is more hardwired to remember negative things, and programmers know this. This guy was shot, this lady was hit by a car, a family was slaughtered with a chainsaw!! Really man? Slaughtered with a chainsaw? Who does that benefit? Now you’re all supposed to walk outside tomorrow and wonder about the private lives of other people so much that you obsess and create backstories that you can never verify. Roger, in accounting does have a weird chainsaw murdering look on his face. He’s been really rocking that burly lumberjack look and winter has been over. What’s he hiding?
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The world is exactly as you see it. For better and for worse. If all you see is television, then your world IS television. Your world is programmed, and not even by you. You may have the illusion of at least picking your program, but it has already been chosen for you. Your demographic is recorded and your mindless experience awaits you – mostly by television executives who don’t have the time or desire to watch t.v. They’re too busy getting you hooked and selling you to advertisers.

Is television inherently evil? I should say that it is not. It can certainly make you stupid, warp your view of reality, and even leave you in the rat race. I equate watching television as an activity, less productive than smoking pot. If I’m going to relax and do nothing at the end of the day with time to kill; I’d rather create an apple bong and take a rip. At least then, I’m still pondering things. Might even get some cleaning done. Then more than likely sleep well and happy.

Kendrick Lamar album review

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To pimp a butterfly is a metaphor for doling out our beautiful talents for profit.  And Kendrick tells the journey that ensues once you’ve successfully done so.  This album has brought new life to the “rap game” and pushes the envelope of what rap music could be. Kendrick Lamar comes back with the type of insight, wit, and raw talent that you would expect from him and still manages to bring something new to the table. The only draw back is that he makes you viscerally realize how bad his competition simply cannot keep up.

This album crosses genre’s. There’s funk, there’s soul, there are jazz riffs that are Coltrane-esque. Kendrick drops some artsy poetry on an interlude. The kind that’s fast and sharp like darts being tossed across a dark room, illuminating a bullseye with every strike. Kendrick may not be able to play multiple instruments but his talents and vision are broad enough to break him out of any two dimensional constraint you could pigeonhole most rap artists to.

A lot of times, I’m ashamed at what passes for good rap music. Not because it’s full of filthy language. I’m not trying to be a prude. When I was a kid, I basically worshipped everything 2Pac said. I’m ashamed because the rap music lacks substance. And because it lacks variety, it often lacks creativity. Uneducated millionaires don’t impress or represent me. I’d much rather have my wits about me. Kendrick’s album is equal part brawn, flash, and intelligence.
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There are no mindless choruses, no repetitive first or last lines than have been morphed into atrocious hooks, no guest appearances in the hopes of staying relevant. Kendrick knows his fan base and he delivers the goods to be taken in like cool water quenching the thirst of a parched culture.

Do you remember when there was an East vs. West beef? When rappers were trying to make the best music and claim their spot on everyone’s top 5 list? They battled on wax and competed for your dollar which purchased their records and financed their dreams. They put forth the effort to be crowned the best. They didn’t just pretend that they were. They made albums and told stories, they made you think, they made you rewind. Crown King Kendrick – may his reign be long and his rule continually benevolent.

The Power of State

Every once in a while you may find yourself having to do something that you’re not entirely enthusiastic about. Still, it must get done. Rotary tasks shouldn’t require a whole lot of psych-ing yourself out, although if it’s raining outside on a Saturday morning – that pile of laundry is going to have to wait.  
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Other things like performing a speech, or getting ready for a networking event, presentation, or an evening with your in-laws may require a greater excuse other than, “I couldn’t get out of bed” to be acceptable. They may require that you actually go through with the ordeal. And in most cases you should. There’s hardly anything worse than going through with something half-assed. Or performing a task with a low amount of energy could create an adverse effect. You could actually make things worse for yourself. Picture your boss who believes you simply don’t give a damn about closing the deal on a new account. Imagine the disdain on your in-laws face if they think you didn’t even put forth an effort to show up or plan some details of your vacation or time together.

One trick to snap out of the funk and charge away to continue being the hero everyone knows you to be, is to get in state. Tribal warriors traditionally have a war dance they perform before they go to battle. No one really wants to wake up and think about the possibility they could lose their head. The entire tribe practices a ritual that prepares them for battle- and anything that could go wrong becomes a secondary occurrence. Their primary focus is what they will do to their opposition.
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Getting into state is more than psyching yourself up or pumping your enthusiasm – revving your own engine in the hopes to achieve something you didn’t have the gall to do just minutes ago. It involves focusing your whole being on your intent to achieve your purpose. It sharpens your intention.

UCLA neuroscientist Dan Siegel has studied the process of getting into state at length as part of his exploration of what he calls “mindsight” or human beings’ innate ability to see into each other’s mind. Siegel says that our mirror neurons switch on when they sense another person is acting intentionally- with conscious and active purpose. This is the moment when we engage with our audience and they engage with us. This makes your actions more visceral and if people are depending on your performance, this firing of the mirror neurons is what actually draws them in.
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Human beings are reading each other’s intentions as soon as they are physically close enought to see, hear, and smell each other.
If we sense the other person is phony or distracted, we’ll automatically put up our defenses, either by tuning out entirely or listening with suspicion. 
Techniques to get in state need to be performed before you face your audience. Train both your mind and body on your clear intention to succeed.

Healthy Spring

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With the coming of spring there is new life, new joy and hopefully a new start at healthy living. Those Christmas hams and Thanksgiving pies have stuffed most of us to the gills. Well, that is what should be expected when visiting family and friends. Your aunt would probably be upset if you didn’t eat her casserole. Gaining a few pounds over the holidays is normal. Losing it before spring break is exceptional.  Time to get back into the groove, back into the gym, and back on the mat.
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Gym memberships can be expensive if you want to workout in a top of the line facility. All the amenities could be worth it – depending on what you’re looking for in a gym. The most affordable packages – like what you would find in a place like Planet Fitness – could be great if you know specifically what you want to work out on and how long you would need to go at it. For instance, I’ve been a personal trainer and I could do over a dozen exercises to transform my body with just a bench, a 45 pound bar and two to four 45 pound plates. I’m good at getting a lot out of a little. If the treadmills are all filled up, grab a jump rope and get to skipping. It’s a better exercise in my opinion anyway.

High quality gyms will likely have everything from yoga classes, to spin classes, zumba, swimming pools, basketball courts, and maybe even a sauna. You’d be paying for a lot of that in your membership of course. Best to make the most out of it.  

Yoga is one of my favorite exercises. It’s simple to do do, it takes only 30 minutes to an hour. It’s low impact, and yes – it’s basically stretching. You won’t get super big arms or a wide chest by stretching on the mat but you will burn calories, gain flexibility and possibly even some peace of mind under the right yoga teacher.

Hit the floor. Push ups are my favorite although it now takes me about 100 reps to even begin feeling like I’m making gains. It’s free, you can do them virtually anywhere. Sit ups are about the same – takes a lot for me to feel gain. And pull ups are great although you can’t just do them anywhere. Calisthenics – that’s how your great grandfather got in shape and he was a tough old bird.

American men typically feel the pressure to have a perfected masculine body. Arms, abs, pecs, calves, thighs and whatever else makes women drop their jaws. What’s most important is that you have a body type that makes you feel happy and healthy. There are many routes to take but it’s up to you to travel the road to a healthier you. Don’t forget that you could even make a difference just by cutting out a lot of crappy foods from your diet. Think of all the beer, pizza, soda, and late night Junior bacon cheeseburgers that you could avoid to trim off a few pounds. Do it for your virility.

Don’t bore us

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Don’t be boring.  Don’t be unimaginative.  Doesn’t matter what you do, just don’t be bland, lifeless, un-human and boring.  The cow that’s chewing on its cud…that’s not your power animal.  Boring people are terrible to be around.  Sure, boring is safe, and it may be reasonable but it’s barely alive.

You can avoid being boring by becoming more interesting, by becoming more interested in the things and people around you.  People who go to bars and public spaces while staring at their phones the entire time are boring.  People who get off from work and park in front of the television for the rest of the day, are boring.  People whose only care is their compulsory selfies, self image, and personal agenda; you guessed it – boring.

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Being imaginative involves considering the many possibilities and backstories of the people you don’t know, the places you haven’t been and crafting stories of what might be and what could be.  You will only be limited by your imagination.  Your growth depends on it.  Think of what Oscar Wilde meant when he said, “Anyone who lives within their means, suffers from a lack of imagination.”

Being interesting and imaginative makes up for many things you could lack in financial or social resources.  It allows you be a better storyteller, makes you someone people want to be around, to help, to invest their time and emotion.  Imaginative children capture our hearts and remind us of the endless possibilities we once believed in.  Imaginative leaders rule the world.

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Be fun, because there aren’t ever enough interesting people in a given setting.  Your power animal should be more like a cat riding a unicorn flying over a rainbow.  That’s a power animal that’s virtually limitless.  Limited only to your imagination.  My power animal is a griffin that shoots laser beams out of it’s eyes, breathes fire and poops solid gold bars.  Yeah, I went there and you should too, perhaps even further if you can.  Be that guy who has a vast knowledge of the world and of people.  Be whatever you want to be.  Just don’t be boring for everyones sake.

Share your interests with the world and learn what other people are passionate about too.  There’s only one you that will ever be.  Be the greatest version of yourself imaginable.