putting thoughts into words regarding the entangled state of mind which is my existence

New Town Hall, Munich

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New Town Hall, Munich


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Watch: Improv Everywhere Crashes TED Conference


The colorful icon that Apple computers use to indicate a page is loading (or about to crash) has become lovingly known as the “Spinning Beach Ball of Death.” Every Mac user knows it — and dreads it. So when Colin Robertson was presenting his vision of crowdsourcing solar energy at the 2012 TED Conference and saw the icon spinning on his slideshow presentation, he knew he was in trouble.

But the technical glitch quickly turned into a jaw-dropping performance as flash-mob pranksters Improv Everywhere staged a full scale invasion of the illustrious conference. The performance-art piece brought to life the so-called Spinning Beach Ball of Death with song, dance, and confetti and made light of the icon of Mac-user anxiety, as well as the gathering of influential tech A-listers.

And don’t feel too bad for “Colin Robertson,” because his real name is Eugene Cordero, and he was in on it.

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Instead of waiting for there to be some idea for me to toil over, I think I’m going to write just to write. I think it’s always great just to see where you end up once you’ve started. As far as arguments go, this is especially true, seeing how that a lot of times we have a preconceived idea of where we’d like our argument to conclude, before realizing in the end when all is said and done that the conclusion is nothing like we thought it’d be like. I often find that there’s something unpredictable in it all, and even though that might keep the logic from carrying out when we want it to, I think it’s a necessary step in better learning about the ideas that we think we know about.

I’m no longer a hard-nosed skeptic, really. That may or may not be good, but there’s just something invigorating in just going where the wind takes you and not getting ensnared in the details. I like having the opportunity to actually breathe and go about my day, doing the best I can not to worry about things that don’t matter. It’s not to say that things can’t be treated seriously, but it’s about finding a middle ground where you can be more or less comfortable, while not being facetious. I think this is the hardest part about it. Temperance is a virtue that not many people actually possess. Although I’d like to behave in a way that everyone will not be put off by, it doesn’t always work out. Some things you can tone down, build up if need-be, but I always want to think that there’s just something about people that just cannot and shouldn’t be changed for anybody. In some cases, we just are what we are, and there’s no point in trying anything differently to re-think and unfix our personalities.

Eradicating stigmas is always a tough issue, though. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as an undesirable set of sensibilities, but the combination of certain characters and events in one’s life can make for something like this. People look down upon people who have above-average tendencies to be sensitive, or do empathetic acts for others, for example. Of course no one wants to be a pushover, but the stigma comes up when people misunderstand one’s intentions. It’s not always a matter of pleasing other people when people go out of their way to help, it’s just their nature. There’s no use in fighting against yourself just to try and make yourself look good.

There’s a component of culture integral to the following question: When people act a certain way which is visibly outside of established social norms, how is their behavior analyzed to begin with? What I mean is that one would think there needs to be a fair measuring stick to make for a universally applicable description of what is expected in social situations, and in most cases there is. It’s given to us by our intuitions. But the problem arises when different cultures disagree on some of the smaller things, such as what is an acceptable way to receive favor, do good; when and how to properly give/take. I think there’s a useful conversation to be had here, and I wish different groups of people with different cultural beliefs would end their silent ongoing debate and just learn to understand each other’s differences.

I’ve been recently having this experience as a guy who’s just been recently relocated to a very mixed ethnic demographic. I am having a major culture-shock, now that I think about it, as I am working in an area which boasts 40% hispanic/latino. But it’s only shocking in that my behavior is not readily understood and/or appreciated when I try to be courteous and engaging in making friendly conversation. It’s unfortunate, but I often feel like I’m getting a load of sultry stares whenever I go out to the local laundromat, for example, where there is usually no other white person inside but me. I want to bridge the gap, learn from other people, actively shape people’s impression of me for the better, and to hear everyone’s story on their own terms. But this idea of social expectations that stem from various cultures makes this a complicated task – at least in the way that I see it when I stop to think about it.

But I’ve already decided that I won’t be doing that as much, really, so that’s probably as far as I’m going to go with that. Life needs to be lived while it’s still there for the taking. And every day is a new adventure to be had, so I’m not waiting.