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“So be wise because the world needs more wisdom. And if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who’s wise and just behave like they would. And now go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes, break rules, leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make Good Art.”

Neil Gaiman addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012.

I like the part where he admits to lying on his resumé.

Categories: things that amuse me, Viral Things Tags: class of 2012, commencement speech, freelance writing, inspirational speech, Neil Gaiman

A couple days ago, I posted about how I might go to Southeast Asia to write for a travel guide as the winner of a writing competition…

Second Place

Snake Blood by Candice Hall

Judges Comments: This entry really stands out due to the narrator’s great descriptive ability and strong eye for detail. It draws you into the sights and smells of the street market and manages to be shocking and unusual while not overly indulgent or grotesque. The judges particularly liked its depiction of a genuine travel experience seen very much through the prism of tourist’s eyes, which is both surprising and satisfying.

.

So I’m not going to Singapore, Malaysia, nor Indonesia, which I’m a little more bummed out about than I anticipated.  (After I got a call I was in the the top 3, I spent a lot of time fervently researching international phone plans and luggage.  And reading about volcano hiking and surf lessons.)  I also honestly thought my piece was the most intriguing of the entries, but I also have zero “real” traveling experience or pictures.  That’s probably where the winner had an edge.

C’est la vie.  It’s still an ego boost for the wanna-be freelance writer.  I have a few half-written pitches for Cracked.com in a word document somewhere.  I might just go right now and finish them.

Categories: Autobiographical Stories Tags: freelance writing, Malaysia, Southeast asia, travel, travel scholarship, travel writing, World Nomads

I went to a show last week at Terminal 5. Upon getting my booze wristband at the door, a security guard asked to glance in my purse, which I opened. He asked if I was carrying cigarettes. I said no. He thumbed me along to the next person scanning tickets. The guard then proceeded behind me to my slightly disheveled, white, 6’3″ boyfriend and gave him a full body frisk, confiscated a bag of M&Ms, and poked through his individual cigarettes. (Meanwhile, I was wearing a coat I hadn’t yet checked and could have smuggled in a small firearm.)

I met up with friends, who recounted similar sexist profiling, despite the presence of both female and male security.

An ethnically Middle Eastern attorney commented on Sam Harris’s blog last week that he thought TSA profiling of men that looked like him was necessary. “Profiling is just common sense put into practice. To say otherwise demonstrates nothing more than a deluded view of political correctness.”

Politically correctness to hell, common sense means a method that will produce desired results. But profiling is more counter-intuitively ineffective than Sam’s initial post “In Defense of Profiling” would suggest.

Sam listed a follow-up guest post  by Bruce Schneier, a security expert, who does a pretty good job of breaking it down:

The number of actual terrorists is so low, almost everyone selected by the profile will be innocent.  This is called the “base rate fallacy,” and dooms any type of broad terrorist profiling, including the TSA’s behavioral profiling…

A wolf in sheep’s clothing is just a story, but humans are smart and adaptable enough to put the concept into practice. Once the TSA establishes a profile, terrorists will take steps to avoid it. The Chechens deliberately chose female suicide bombers because Russian security was less thorough with women. Al Qaeda has tried to recruit non-Muslims. And terrorists have given bombs to innocent—and innocent-looking—travelers. Randomized secondary screening is more effective, especially since the goal isn’t to catch every plot but to create enough uncertainty that terrorists don’t even try.

It’s a very well-cited argument; I suggest reading the whole post. Sam was supposed to have a rebuttal post and usually has some compelling arguments on controversial issues. But it’s been a week. It looks like he might have realized he was check and mated here.

Dear Terminal 5:  You’re a nice venue, although your profiling methods obviously aren’t working by the mass amounts of weed I’ve observed being smoked on the floor every time I’m there. I suggest you frisk everyone or frisk no one. Or frisk only those that meet specific criteria like two-sizes-too-large sweatshirts. Or else, one day you’ll fail to frisk the right one, and you could have a coked up, 100 lb., baby-faced, Asian girl sniper taking down your security team one by one from the third floor balcony. Hypothetically, of course.

Categories: Autobiographical Stories, Social commentary Tags: ethnic profiling, frisking, racial profling, security guards, sexist profiling, TSA

Hi Candice,

I would just like to inform you that your entry for the World Nomads & Rough Guides Travel Writing Scholarship to Southeast Asia has been shortlisted. Congratulations!

Check out the shortlist and stay tuned for our announcement of the winner on May 17th.

Kind Regards,

Alicia

——

Hi Alicia,

That is great, exciting news!

I do have a question about my title on the shortlist, which is listed as “Insight in Incense” by imperfectrhyme.  The intended title was “Snake Blood,” as “Insight in Incense” was the name of my previous entry from last year’s contest and also the journal itself. (The link on the shortlist still goes to the correct entry.)  I don’t know if this was intentional?  I’d be happy to leave it as, but I thought I’d point it out in case it was a simple error.

Thank you so much for letting me know. I’ll stay tuned!
—–

This is unexpected but certainly welcome. I might have a shot at going to Malaysia and jumpstarting a legit writing career.

Categories: Autobiographical Stories Tags: Malaysia, Southeast asia, travel, travel scholarship, travel writing, World Nomads

Neil DeGrasse Tyson spends four minutes in this video trying to disassociate himself from atheism. But he’s ok with “agnostic.” A deluge of Daily Dish readers explain why they’re not mutually exclusive.

There’s a joke, more commentary that funny, I heard somewhere:  There are two types of atheists–those say say “none” when asked their religion and those that say “atheist.”

This is Tyson’s first mistake; he pegs “-isms” it to a “movement.”  There’s this irrational fear that I noticed, among even the most prominent atheists, that by giving the belief a label it gives it a unwanted connotation as dogma.

It’s odd that the word “atheist” even exists.  I don’t play golf.  Is there a term for non-golfers?

Most people don’t play golf.

“Atheism” is useful because 1) It describes a minority. (It might be less useful a term in a country like Sweden that’s largely secular.) 2) While it’s not a necessity, there is still a correlation between lack of religious belief and political ideology. People want to make organizations around common philosophical bonds, and the language is useful to share that bond. 3) It’s just a synonym for non-believer. Stop attaching other assumptions.

On an interesting sidenote, Sweden still had an officially recognized state church until 2000.  But as of 2008, only 2% of the population attended regularly. The Netherlands still has a state church.  Separation of church and state suddenly doesn’t sound like everything.

Categories: Social commentary Tags: agnositicism, agnostic, atheism, atheist, neil degrasse tyson, that black PBS physicist with the voice of an angel

via Jezebel.

There’s been a lot of talk these last couple of weeks about “hipster racism” or “ironic racism”—or, as I like to call it, racism. It’s, you know, introducing your black friend as “my black friend”—as a joke!!!—to show everybody how totally not preoccupied you are with your black friend’s blackness. It’s the gentler, more clueless, and more insidious cousin of a hick in a hood; the domain of educated, middle-class white people (like me—to be clear, I am one of those) who believe that not wanting to be racist makes it okay for them to be totally racist.

Examples of Hipster Racism According to Lindy West:

1.

2. 

3.

4. 

Skrillex‏ @Skrillex

 I wish I was aloud to use the n word sometimes (in a non racist way of course)

5.

Thanks, Jezebel.  I will be sure not to wear my large-framed eyeglasses over my Klan hat, like your graphic on an anti-irony and anti-racism article so artfully depicts.  I’ll also be sure to tell my black friends that race is “made-up” and “arbitrary” like” Santa Claus” so they no longer have to worry about sickle cell anemia.

——-

Next week on Hipster Sexism:

 “Women can’t be lawyers.” -Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Next week on Hipster Classism:

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Next week on Hipster Ageism:  I’m going to buy rocking chairs and live-blog my knitting party.  Where all my friends with scoliosis will most certainly complain about the colored folk.

Categories: Social commentary Tags: hipster, irony, Jezebel, Lindy West, racism

Tumbler re-blog via http://animalstalkinginallcaps.tumblr.com/

HELLO, AND WELCOME TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD, YOU SLUTTY SLUT. WHAT’S THE PROBLEM TODAY? YOU WANT A SLUTTY MAMMOGRAM TO DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT YOU’VE GOT SLUTTY BREAST CANCER? JUST KIDDING, OF COURSE. YOU’RE HERE FOR AN ABORTION BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES IT’S MATHEMATICALLY PROVEN THAT LESS THAN FIVE PERCENT OF OUR TOTAL PROCEDURES ARE ABORTION, EVERYONE STILL BELIEVES THAT ALL WE DO IS GET RID OF YOU AND YOUR ARMY OF HIPPIE BOYFRIENDS’ SLUTTY MISTAKES, YOU BIG OLD SLUT, YOU.

SLUTEVER, AM I RIGHT? TAKE A SEAT OVER THERE AND WE’LL SEND SOMEONE OUT TO DO A PROVOCATIVE SEX DANCE BEFORE WE GIVE YOU SOME NUDIE MAGS AND NIPPLE TASSELS. I HOPE YOU DON’T HAVE ANY LEGITIMATE HEALTH ISSUES BECAUSE THAT WOULD RUIN OUR NONSTOP SLUT PARTY.

NEXT, PLEASE.

Categories: things that amuse me, Viral Things Tags: planned parenthood, slutever