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The Delicate Strength of the Social Contract

social_contractHave you ever wondered why someone doesn’t just steal all those Christmas lights? Or what’s really stopping people from slashing our tires or breaking into our houses? Or worse? Yes, we lock our doors and some people have alarms—and we live in a type of police state, so certainly the fear of getting caught curbs a lot of negative behavior—but I find myself imagining all sorts of mayhem that I don’t think anyone would get caught for. Luckily for my fellow humans, and especially my neighbors, I’m a standup guy and tend to be more on the side of “neighborhood watch” than “neighborhood terrorist.”

Still, I wonder…

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Getting to Happy

getting_to_happyI skipped writing last night because I was tired and really couldn’t land on a good topic. I tried to push myself to just write something, anything, and I did. And man, it really sucked. So I deleted it. I wrote another paragraph and that was even worse. Delete. I even tried writing a sappy poem. Um, yeahhhhh. Delete. And the whole time I was struggling with it, one of the #nerdlution mantras was ringing in my head, “If it makes you happy…” I was not happy. Forcing myself to write crappy stuff was making me the opposite of happy. So I quit. And I was mostly okay with it.

Here I am tonight. Back from a work trip, tired, don’t want to write. But in my head I’m thinking: Skipping one day is one thing, but skipping two? That’s some else entirely. And then I asked myself: Is there anything I do every day that makes me happy? I couldn’t think of anything. Of course my mind instantly went to things like eating, exercising, writing, etc. and most of those things I don’t even do every day, and most of them don’t make me happy every time I do them. I do them because they’re required or I have a goal I’m trying to reach—which will presumably make me happy—and that’s the way to achieve the goal. Sure, sometimes I enjoy those things, but there are plenty of things I just do because it’s good for me.

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general

Mobile Blogging Followup

Mobile Blogging Followup
A week ago I wondered about why I didn’t do more blogging on my phone despite always having it with me and having the tools necessary to theoretically blog on it. So I committed to blogging solely on my phone for one week as a side experiment during this #nerdlution commitment of mine to write every day for 50 days. Here’s what I found:

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general

Backstage

Backstage
What if we could change the backdrop of our life’s stage just by pulling a cord?
Would that change the quality of our lives or bring us that much closer to being content?
Would the ease of changing just the scenery be enough?
Assuming all else stayed the same and we only had the power to change our setting, would we sleep better at night or wake happier?
Or would the sight of so many cords dangling from the catwalk above overwhelm us to the point of indecision?
Sure, we could just choose any of them, randomly maybe, but what if it wasn’t quite right?
Then what?

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general

Lost to Gun Violence

20131213-234943.jpg
Within 1.5mi of Clairemont High in Oakland, CA, there were 3 shootings a day in an eight-month period. There’s so much gun violence in that area that kids are used to it. That’s not something anyone in the most prosperous country in the world should have to get used to, especially our children.

“If I can wake up one day, walk outside, with the possibility of being shot at any point in time, that’s kind of nerve-wracking every day to do,” says Trevor Watson, 14, one of the youngest members of the group. “You can be at the most safest place that you think, and then some type of violence busts out.”

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Codeacademy: A Half-Assed App Review

Codeacademy Hour of Code
This week, millions of adults and youth are “celebrating” learning to code by actually sitting down to learn some aspect of code for one hour. This event (known as Hour of Code) has gotten a lot of hype, which I think it deserves. As I was updating my apps today I noticed that, front and center in Apple’s App Store, was a featured section for apps and resources specifically geared to help parents and teachers learn/teach code. I had heard of Codeacademy (and the app was free), so that’s the one I tried.

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general

The Stealth of Racism

Shell Ad
I saw the ad above today whilst pumping gas and it struck the same nerve that’s always a bit raw from growing up in America half-Japanese, half-white. I’ll be the first to admit I’m racist, and I also believe that means different things for different people.

I think (or hope perhaps) that there is “obvious racism” that’s easier to spot. For instance, most people notice statements like, “You’re Asian, you’re supposed to be good at math.” or looking at any written language that resembles Chinese or Japanese saying, “Hey, can you read that? What does it say?”

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general

Man, I Just Need to Go to Bed

zzz#nerdlution has been killing me this week. I. Am. Tired. As my “nerd resolution” I’m trying to write every day for 50 days. I suppose there’s been a reason (up until now) that I haven’t been writing regularly, and it isn’t because it’s not important. Trying to work in writing every day has (re)reminded me that my life is full. Sometimes things just don’t get done, and being a perfectionist, I have a hard time letting things go. Over the past few years I’ve worked towards focusing on what’s important though, not over-extending myself, and just letting things go when I can. No one’s judging me but me, and I’m pretty sure no one would look at my life and think I’m slacking off.

Late night is my favorite time, always has been. I love when everyone goes to bed and I’m left alone with my thoughts and a place to type. The problem is, I have three young children and they basically have no concept of “sleeping in.” So what I need to do is rearrange some priorities and time during the day, and get my writing done at a more sane hour. This will be good practice for making sure I do the things that are important to me before it gets too late, so I can still get some sleep and not be a grouchy bear when those adorable, sweet children come do back-flips on me when the sun rises. (And yes, they basically just see my sleeping body as a lumpy extension to the bed/trampoline.)

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general

Cicada 3301

cicadaI love me a good conspiracy theory. Some I actually believe and some I just want to believe—I guess one might just say I have a subversive side. And today, I read this article from The Telegraph: “The internet mystery that has the world baffled.”

The article introduced me to a series of internet puzzles, or tests, that have come to be known as “Cicada 3301” and they’re puzzles that basically only skilled cryptographers and hackers can decode. In 2012 some people found these secret puzzles or messages in “underground forums” that began with

“Hello. We are looking for highly intelligent individuals. To find them, we have devised a test. There is a message hidden in this image. Find it, and it will lead you on the road to finding us. We look forward to meeting the few that will make it all the way through. Good luck.”

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working out loud

Coding for Democracy

Today, for work, I had the pleasure of watching a webinar on Connectedlearning.tv (also embedded above) where a panel of people heavily involved in making/coding/connected learning discussed the +/- of the “learning to code movement.” On the panel were some Writing Project folks (and friends of the Writing Project)—Mia Zamora, Joe Dillon, Doug Belshaw, and Mitch Resnick—and they had some really smart things to say about why learning to code is important.