Friday, February 18, 2011


I caught an episode of Dateline NBC with Keith Morrison tonight on the story of Colonel Russell Williams, a former generous patriot and seemingly good man who was in fact living a double life as a rapist and murderer. I was particularly impressed with the detective's 4-hour interrogation with Williams and his natural ability to coax the trained, intelligent officer into a confession. Great episode and it got me thinking about a British illusionist/entertainer, Derren Brown, again. How incredible is it that humans can control the other's behavior through simple misdirection and suggestion?

Derren Brown is a phenomenal showman. A hypnotist. A magician. But more than these things intrigued me about him. He uses his slight of hand and ability to manipulate others to teach his audience how (with practice and knowledge of psychology/sociology) we too can predict and/or control the reactions of others.

Check out this video of Derren showing us how easily manipulative and predictable we all really are.

So, although the detective may not think of himself as a magician, what he did certainly was magical. By allowing the suspect to believe he was "in control" of the conversation, he found himself confessing the details of his heinous crimes he had been covering up for years to one man who remained calm, friendly, and soft-spoken through the duration of their 4-hour conversation. I'm sure Derren Brown knows similar tricks; I'm just waiting for the episode...(or for him to finally launch an American tour so I can see it live!)

Song of the day:

Friday, February 4, 2011

"We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community" -Haile Selassie

Now that I've officially memorized (no joke) all of the countries in Africa thanks to and my steadily increasing social-less life, I came across this thought-provoking and informative image...for real, test me...Nigeria, Niger, Libya, Liberia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Gambia...anyway...

This image really gives you perspective on the enormity of their social, governmental, and economic struggles in a more literal sense:

AIDS/HIV Epidemic: Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, and Nigeria may have the highest number of citizens with HIV but Africa as a whole outnumbers all countries with home to 88% of all HIV sufferers. (

Child Soldiers: About a third of the world's child soldiers are from Africa. (

Gender Inequality: FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) is a disgraceful, absurd practice that continues in 25 countries within Africa's borders. (

Human Rights Violations: Zimbabwe (under the authority of President Robert Mugabe) torture, beat, and force their villagers to labor over the diamond fields of the Marange district. Although the fighting has decreased, the diamond smuggling continues to exist. (

Government Corruption: states "The international community needs to use December 9th, Anti Corruption Day, to listen to Transparency International and their call for African countries to focus on the core elements of fighting corruption: access to information, increased visibility of spending, a corruption-free judiciary, and working on stronger communication in education." (

..Now enjoy some Nneka :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Out with the Old, In with the Artificial

You can look at reading as autonomous or you can look at reading the way I do: a collection you build over time and use to connect you to other, both mentally and literally. It seems with the invention of e-books and Kindles, the look of the traditional library is changing forever.

A part of me understands the hype and I understand the benefits. The immediacy, the privacy, the longevity. I get the convenience factor and the cool, new technology feel.  And I actually believe it's a great tool for students' textbooks -finally, an inexpensive way to organize and lighten the load of school books for kids. 

I even came across this video that shows some fantastic features that can help make reading cool again - and its attempt to move away from autonomy by allowing a borrowing feature:

But what about the forgotten value of growing a library for yourself. The look, feel, and even smell of a book you make your own by breaking it in like a new hat or pair of sneakers. It's the books you buy that give them value; they don't become a post in a myriad of other books and even applications (I know it sounds silly but I wouldn't want some of my most valuable books next to my Scrabble or Monopoly app -which seems to be the most popular buys). I doubt I will ever get a Kindle because of this fact.

A book is to me like a hat or coat - a very uncomfortable thing until the newness has been worn off.  ~Charles B. Fairbanks

Fairbanks has a point and buying a Kindle for the purposes of leisurely reading to me is comparable to buying an already broken-in hat. It's simply artificial  -Just as I buy an artist's CD if I really respect them as an artist, I've decided that I will do the same with books out of respect to the author.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Emblem

The emblem above is a recreation of the famous political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin "Join, or Die". I chose this as my emblem because as you can see I use a dog (a symbol of loyalty) and split it up into fragments. Each fragment contains a part or theme that persists in myself: politics, travel, stability, family, love, friends, my Irish heritage. The quote beneath is from my favorite novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and is, in actuality, a promise to myself (and should be a mantra to all) to dedicate my life to always use my gift of reason to choose right over wrong, to never stop learning, to remain brave in trying times, and to maintain integrity through it all.

I wanted to show my mood which I project onto the world and, which can be a message that everyone can respect. I saw the "Join, or Die" poster hanging in my room and realized that was who I was. Just as those states were individually separate and each important to the process, together they were stronger and united. If any part were left behind, the whole would perish.

Monday, November 29, 2010

As long as the grass grows and the waters run...

What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind...
-William Wordsworth 

This week I've been feeling nostalgic and I've been reminded of the innocence that has come and gone in a blink. I wish sometimes I could return to these carefree days but then I realize that everything I've written are things that can be recreated in the future. Even though I can't bring back these memories, the point was that they happened -that they gave me a foundation, which I am grateful for. Grass grows and dies with the seasons and then regrows on top of itself, forever building a new land that is both literally different than the previous year but seemingly the same. This is the true pattern in my life. The loved ones in my life come and they go, but with each new season, with each generation, the memories grow on top of themselves. Joseph Conrad said that "each blade of grass has its spot on earth whence it draws its life, its strength; and so is man rooted to the land from which he draws his faith together with his life." There are two things that always last in this world: the land and the memories we build on it.