Great Reads Online

Thank the heavens for RSS, without which I wouldn’t manage to read all these wonderful stuff. This is a good reason why FB aint everything.

[see how uber this font is for long text? yeah I’ll save the Courier for shorter bits.]

1. WE’RE ALL ALONE AND NO ONE KNOWS WHY

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the Fermi Paradox is what it suggests for the future of our human civilization. Namely, that we have no future beyond earthly confinement and, quite possibly, extinction. Could advanced nanotechnology play a role in preventing that extinction? Or, more darkly, is it destined to be instrumental in carrying out humanity’s unavoidable death sentence?

The article is talking about the apparent lack of extraterrestrial civilisations, or the lack of contact of one. This is totally different, though close, to the debate as to whether extraterrestrials do exist, and also different from the debate on whether they can exist. It is most astounding because even if extraterrestrials do exist, in the infinite space and infinite time, even even even if they exist, are we gonna die alone here, in our little planet in our little corner of the universe? This is crazy.

“an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone” Saito, Inception

 

2. I DON’T CARE IF YOU READ THIS ARTICLE

Talking about the craze on the internet of analysing every single hit, view, land, visitor, time spent, button clicked, page viewed…

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

 

3. OPEN LETTER TO MY DEAD FRIEND

Dearest friend,

You have been dead for over two years now.

I can’t say it has been easy learning to live without you. Heading into year three, I can say I have started to make real progress. I can talk about your death without crying. I can look people in the eye and tell them how you died. And now I finally feel like I can be honest with you. Okay, not with you per se, but I can be honest with myself about you.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never see you again. It was incredibly difficult to reconcile my desire to see you again with my belief that there is no afterlife. I used to look for you everywhere, hoping that you were watching over me and sending me signs. But I don’t need you to linger anymore. I am finally at ease with your passing.

It pains me to admit that I think about you more now than I did when you were alive. I stare into your negative space and fear that one day I will go twenty-four hours without pausing to remember you. As the sound of your voice grows more distant, leaving parts of you behind seems inevitable. I no longer remember all the steps to our secret handshake. I let your tense slide from present to past and even past perfect, the one used for actions that have been completed before others take place.

Selfishly, one of the worst realizations is that you are only the first of the big losses I will face in my life. It’s not just our grandparents who look older these days: our parents no longer seem as invincible as they once did. I’ve also realized that you might not be the only friend who dies young or unexpectedly. And as cliché as it sounds, I’ve lost my sense of adolescent immortality. I know it could just as easily be me.

While it is frightening to think of what comes next, somehow, in your own way, you’ve prepared me for it. You were my first friend and my first eulogy. I think it would make you, the eternal optimist that you were, happy to know that your friendship keeps making me a better, stronger person. You showed me that I can function in the face of tragedy. You taught me the vocabulary of grief so I can comfort others when they need it. I never would have asked for it to be this way, but if this is what I can take from it, I will.

So, dearest friend, that’s all I have to share for now. I’ll raise a glass for your twenty-fifth birthday this summer, and, as always, I’ll keep you in my thoughts.

Sometimes ThoughtCatalog articles get hijacked by alot of gay and sex stuff, I’m glad crazily good stuff like this still appears. =) text bolding is by me.

4. THE UNSPOKEN RULES OF DRINKING AFTER COLLEGE

As such, you realize you’ve entered a world of a more sophisticated quality – one where drinks are “enjoyed” at a gallery opening, where wine comes “paired” with pieces of meat, where “going out for drinks” likely ends at 1am.

Just as well, I was never into drinking anyway.

 

5. OUR LIVES ARE NOT WHAT WE THINK

Everything there is, everything we know, hinges on this one bizarre, transient condition — existence — which just happens to be your current reality. We regard the miracle of existence as a goldfish regards water, which means we don’t regard it at all. But if you think about it, it’s an exceedingly peculiar fact — that we exist.

damn cool

 

6. BRINGING HOME THE WRONG RACE

 

For weeks, Seung and I had been spending our nights together, but in the transient city of Los Angeles, waking up next to someone (even regularly) is not a sign of commitment. Our mutual willingness to blow off work, however (or at least roll in late because we were lingering over breakfast), did make me feel certain that Seung would soon become my boyfriend.

Maybe Seung could tell I was on the verge of rescinding my earlier “I love you,” so he jumped to the bottom line: “My parents are not going to easily accept this relationship. And I’m afraid they will never accept you.”

My parents were certainly guilty of this. When I began middle school, my mother told me that I could marry anyone I wanted: German, Irish, French or Jewish, as that was the world she knew in our part of New York. She then added, “No blacks and no Puerto Ricans, though, or you are out of my house.”

That may seem just as random and hurtful as “they will never accept you” had sounded to me over breakfast. But at least I knew the context of my mother’s racism. As a first-generation American, my mother had grown up in various Irish and Italian neighborhoods throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, and the people she judged were from the bordering areas, where the population was generally poorer, less educated and less able to assimilate than her foreign-born parents had been back then, in the 1950s. It was people from these groups whom she regularly saw beating up her grandfather over groceries.

I have to marry Jewish or I’m cut off,” my Jewish friend said.

“Cut off from what exactly?” I wondered aloud, knowing he had plenty of money of his own.

“Their love and support,” he answered.

But these stories from my peers were different. They described boundaries set by parents who were mostly educated, progressive and democratic. Parents who taught their children that all people should be given the same opportunities in education, real estate, business and friendship, but who later, around the time their children hit puberty, started amending and tarnishing those values with an exception that went something along the lines of: “But you can’t love one of them.”

Even with a black man in the White House, it’s a fairy tale to claim we are a “post-racial” country. Not when young people still think they need to honor ugly and antiquated boundaries restricting which of their fellow Americans are worthy of their love and commitment, even if it’s only to conform to the previous generation’s biases. Because if we live by boundaries that don’t conform to our personal beliefs, aren’t we still furthering them?

But sometimes, as I watch my husband and our children pile into the minivan, I worry, and it’s a worry that can keep me up at night: Will someone, some day, tell our half-Asian, half-Caucasian children that they are not an acceptable race to love?

 

To have a love, complicated by issues of race and other things. After awhile, the teenagers and young adults grow up, past their puppy love and schoolday exploration and infatuations, and realise that the world ain’t so simple, that many things are restricted by other people. Why do we impose so many rules on our lives? Why do we have to abide by rules that we don’t always fully believe in? Why do what we are, what we believe, lead to so many restrictions? Why do they impose it on you? And what is love after all.

 

7. REASONS NOT TO KILL YOURSELF TODAY NO. 12  COFFEE AND, “IRONICALLY”, CIGARETTES

He said he was so tired he didn’t need warm milk, but me saying it made him think of coffee in the morning. How good that would be. I said you always need one thing, only one thing, to look forward to in life and that’s how you keep living. Or something. And he said it’s true and that thing is coffee.

Also, cigarettes. We talked then about which thing we have first: the coffee, or the cigarette.

Me, I can’t smoke a cigarette in the morning before coffee. It’s the taste equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. And it’s the only time in which smoking feels exactly as disgusting and reprehensible and all that shit as you’re going to tell me it is. Every other time, every time that comes after even one hot jolting sip of coffee, I don’t care. If you don’t like my cigarettes you can write to your local government representative.

One of the few not-scientifically-proven things I believe is that each human has the same finite number of heartbeats. He who has the lowest resting heartrate, and doesn’t die in one of a million unnatural ways, or get a major disease, lives the longest. But I mean, when he dies, he dies of boredom. Yeah, coffee quickens your heart. Cigarettes make it beat faster, harder. So does cocaine and other drugs. So do hot baths and near-death moments, and so does sex and spicy food and seeing your crush suddenly from a short distance and s/he not seeing you.

This morning, still in New York, I went to meet a friend for breakfast in Soho. The place had window seats outside, big enough to curl up in with my coffee, which I took in a to-go cup, and my cigarette. I sat there dying a little more quickly and wanting to less.

 

Guess what was the one thing I was looking forward to all morning and last night, and what made me die a little quicker.

 

 

8. 5 WAYS YOU CAN IMPRESS ME

1. I shouldn’t be able to fuck up around you. After a certain period of time, I shouldn’t be able to do any one thing that causes you to hate me or revoke our friendship forever (unless that thing is like, killing your parents or raping your girlfriend or something). I shouldn’t be able to say or do something that changes your opinion of me from “my friend” to “a piece of shit” in a matter of seconds. You can impress me if you show me that that isn’t going to happen; that you accept me pretty much completely, that you can totally identify with my problems, that you’re willing to give me the benefit of the doubt, that you like me and that it’s like we’re on a team.

2. You say things that surprise me or intrigue me. You can impress me if it’s obvious to me that you’re interesting in a way that I can’t quite describe; if it’s obvious to me that you understand the world in an exciting way that I’m not fully able to comprehend. Therefore, I shouldn’t really be able to predict a good amount of your behavior, and so spending time together will be fun and interesting for me. I will value our friendship.

3. You’re genuine to such an extent that you rarely brush off or deflect conversations with clichés, but instead respond to what I say thoughtfully, truthfully, and without apparent discomfort (or, if you feel uncomfortable, tell me you feel uncomfortable; I am okay with that). In other words, when I ask you about your dad, for example, I’m probably trying to get a clear picture of who your dad is (because I’m interested in knowing more about you, because I like you, and because I like to know more about people who I like – this is honestly a pleasurable thing for me); I don’t want you to brush me off with “Oh, he’s fine.” As told, if you simply don’t want to talk about him, tell me you don’t – it’s better than passively denying my attempts to get information out of you. Of course, I wouldn’t want you to act this way if you didn’t want to act this way. My point is that you can impress me if it’s your nature or desire to communicate in this way; if you desire this out of yourself as well as me.

 

An most impressive piece by this Brandon person on Thought Catalog. Totally belongs there. “I shouldn’t be able to fuck up around you.” how true. I love number 3, it is so understated but I love it and I always try to practice that with everyone, it’s my life motto, like how zenness is to some people.

 

9. THREE POETS AND THE WORLD

AS HE DID FOR MUCH OF HIS LIFE, HE LIVED IN HOUSING HE HAD NO FORMAL RIGHT TO, AND EARNED A LIVING WITHOUT A WAGE, UNRECOGNISED BY THE STATE. HE EXISTED, TO USE A MODERN PHRASE, IN THE INFORMAL ECONOMY.

The experiences of people living outside of the formal structures, their measures of deprivation and happiness, are of course diverse. But they share with József the condition of having ‘no country’. The speaker of ‘With a Pure Heart’, the poem that ended József’s academic career at the university, is a stateless orphan with no lover now and no grave when he is dead. He is a person without rights to being a person in an area where political representation is suspended, where normal rules don’t apply. From no-man’s land, being no-one, the poem’s way of asserting a self is radical and still shocking. ‘With a pure heart, I’ll burn and loot. | If I have to, I’ll even shoot’; he will die fighting and earn a burial, so that ‘death-bringing grass will start | growing from my beautiful, pure heart’. If being is being able to make things happen (as he wrote later in ‘Night in the Slums’: ‘damp and clinging wind | is nothing | but a fluttering of dirty bed sheets’, tr. Bakti) then his only way to be is to allow seeds to take root in his body. This is his abject redemption.

 

10. COPING WITH FEAR FRUSTRATION AND EUPHORIA

…need people to bounce ideas off of. They need people who are going through the same daily cycles of fear, frustration and euphoria that they are. And because no entrepreneur has the full set of required skills from the get-go, they need places to go to learn stuff.

 

 

11. THE TASKMASTER’S PREMIUM

How much are you paying for the privilege of having someone else tell you what to do?

Example: if you go to your gym and work out for an hour, the cost of that session is zero.

Hire a personal trainer to follow you around and give you instructions and that’s $70.

If you take a job as a freelancer writer doing short service pieces on assignment to a local paper, you might earn $3 an hour. Which is about 97% less than you’d earn if, like some writers, you dream up amazing pieces, write them on spec and turn them into blogs, books or films. This writer doesn’t wait to get hired. He hires himself.

If you do publicity for an agency, working hard and precisely following the VP’s and the client’s instructions, you might earn $25 an hour. On the other hand, when you do your own PR, when you build a sensation and turn it into a following, you might earn many times that. (And enjoy it more).

Work for a coal mine and make minimum wage. Discover a coal mine and never need to work again.

We happily give up our freedom and our income in exchange for having someone else take responsibility for telling us what to do next.

How much are you giving up?

Seth has this really fantastic post. I can’t believe how fantastic it is. This is the reason why I don’t have a personal trainer. Freedom above all 🙂

 

 

Great Reads Online