How to Live With Less Stuff


I hate stuff, and by “stuff” I mean material objects. I hate lugging stuff around, packing stuff up every time I move, storing stuff, cleaning stuff, searching for stuff when I misplace them. My dislike of physical items might be a reaction to my father’s pack-rat habits. Our garage is filled from floor to rafters with never-used gardening tools, dilapidated sports equipment, unfashionable bookshelves and chairs, and all sorts of tchotchkes. My father brings home this ever-growing collection from the local recycling facility, aka the dump. Wellesley’s dump has a reusables section where someone who doesn’t want his ugly-looking garden gnomes can drop them there and rest assured that some crazy, old lady with a penchant for jolly, ceramic creatures will give it a nice home.

How Can We Monetize Quality Journalism?


I recently read an article published in the Atlantic Monthly about how Google is trying to save the news industry. I was a bit skeptical when I first read in the book Losing the News that Google CEO Eric Schmidt said at a magazine publishing trade conference that he wants to save the business. Tech people typically don’t have much respect for content-creators. But apparently Google, a company built on the idea of making money from organizing the wild web’s seas of information, sees high-quality content as a vested interest. Sucky content = no readers = no money.

Citibank’s Advice to Women: Grow a Pair


Follow-up post to this whole blogosphere hullabaloo. And the follow-up to the follow-up.

[update] Commenter Jessica writes below that

As a female employee at Citi, I have one of these on my desk. They were NOT handed out by the HR department, but rather by the Head of Diversity, Patricia David, who is no longer with the firm. (Currently at JP Morgan I believe.) They are handed out at workshops geared towards women, often hosted by “Women’s Councils” that exist in various Citi locations.

While interviewing at Citibank, my friend stole something from their office. He doesn’t know why he did it. He just did. When he showed what he filched to friends, some were outraged at Citi, others just found it strange and funny. Post your reactions below.

[update] My rationale and defense for posting the photo rests on the fact that this card is not confidential information and it’s…thought-provoking. Releasing something like this on the web, the wild, wild west of all mediums, however, has the danger of distortion and exaggeration. Just imagine a game of telephone with thousands of people, some don’t listen carefully while others are just mildly retarded. So I clarified some things with my source who passed me the photo.

Citi had these cards lying on every desk in the HR department, a department dominated by women in many firms. According to my friend, this card was on some of the desks on a floor he suspects was the human resources department. It is unclear how these cards fit in with official company training material, how widely and to which employees Citibank distributed them, or the financial institution’s broader policy towards women in the workplace. I personally don’t doubt that Citibank takes its treatment of female employees very seriously and that this card was handed out with the best of intentions.

11. Grow Testicles

Real Native American or Not, a Test


Dave Chappelle once cracked a joke about how he tested whether someone was a real Native American:

I didn’t know the background behind Chappelle’s joke until recently. It’s from the 1971 Earth Day public service announcement showing a Native American named Iron Eyes Cody who seeing the pollution around him, sheds a tear. Apparently, this PSA was such watershed moment we are still laughing about it today.

Newspapers Doomed: A Comedy


Here’s a hilarious fake news article titled “Last Newspaper Reporter Fired.” Here’s an excerpt to convince you to click the link and read the whole thing:

A DAY IN THE VERY NEAR FUTURE — In what Wall Street cheered as a long overdue and welcome cost-cutting measure, the very last newspaper reporter in America was fired yesterday, capping years of newsroom cuts and officially eliminating basic newsgathering as a journalistic function.

Where’s Waldo, the Asian Man’s Burden


Warm welcome to my friend youarethepan who contributed this post.

At some point between middle school and high school, I realized that I could no longer just look at the opposite gender and see women for what they were — human beings who typically had longer hair, curves in areas that I didn’t, and no lump behind their zippers. Instead, there would be an assessment of whether or not I found that person attractive. In the beginning, this assessment, if you will, was more deliberate but not intentional. As I grew older and my voice deepened and turf grew just under the belt buckle, this assessment was instantaneous, like reactions to an inkblot test. Her…I’m attracted to. Her…I am not attracted to. (This is not to say that she is not attractive. I am simply not attracted to her). I actually witnessed this happening before my very eyes. I remember asking myself, “Why is it that I can’t just look at females any more and think nothing?” It’s as if I must determine whether or not I find them attractive, physically at least. My theory begins with our coming of age into that mode when we walk into a room, go to a new place, start a new job, begin the school year or attend a first class and instinctively look around our environment for people we find attractive; it’s like an animal coming into a new territory and sniffing around to find potential prey. For those of you who have been to college, you remember orientation week or moving onto your freshmen floor? You scope out the scene, you introduce yourself to people in dorm rooms at parties and on your floor. For some people, the thought “Who can I hook up with?” flashes into their minds. For others: “He’s cute. I hope I get to know him better.” Regardless of what thought crosses your mind, you are mindful of the people you find attractive. Not only this, you usually remember that person’s name.

My First Valentine’s


Another post by youarethepan. Can anyone stop this writing machine? No, seriously. Can you? I don’t know whether to take him paint-balling and then to a monster truck rally or refer him to Victorian sonnets and kitschy Korean soaps.

In order to honor the integrity of the individuals mentioned and written about in this piece, I have changed the names, except for Elizabeth (because I don’t think she’d care or ever read this). This excerpt was also supposed to be a part of a larger piece that I will post in the near future.

I grew up with my parents telling me that I couldn’t have a girlfriend until I was in college. That didn’t mean I didn’t try. I remember my first crush being a girl at church. I was in the second grade. She was a fourth-grader. Taking after my old man1, I wasn’t afraid of experience of a young woman two years my elder. Her name was Elizabeth, and I looked upon her as if I were a wide-eyed Mr. Darcy. I have a few salient memories from the experience of my first crush. The most salient of these took place at an elementary school event held at church for Valentine’s Day. Each student brought a small gift. I remember going to Toys-R-Us because this is where every man does all his shopping. They have all your necessities—action figures, video games—back in the day, you would pick them up behind a glass booth2 after you purchase, bikes, Halloween costumes, stuffed animals, and chocolates. For Elizabeth, I went above and beyond and picked up both chocolates and a stuffed animal.

Just Friends


Another contribution from youarethepan.

“Guys are the scum of the Earth,” Parker thought, sipping on his Stella and eyeing the frat kid hitting on the girl across the bar. Parker couldn’t hear what he was saying to her, but he knew she was eating up every word. All the signs were there. Her back was turned, but he could tell she was giggling and looking shyly down to avoid the frat guy’s gaze. He was grinning from ear to ear. With just a few more drinks in her system, he’d be taking her back to his frat house for a romantic evening which she’d later regret.

You Wish Your Town Had This Park


Centennial Park is one of the local parks in my town. I often bike or walk there to enjoy its wildlife and scenery. I’ve seen snakes, deer, hawks, and tadpoles there. There’s jewelweed, rhubarb, milkweed, and bittersweet vine too.

At the back of the park, on top of a hill, there’s a bench with a plastic container filled with journals. The container’s lid reads, “A little book for your thoughts as you sit in this beautiful place.” Regular townsfolk walking with their dogs, spouses, sweethearts, or simply by themselves will sit down and share their lives.

To Kill a Mockingbird Turns 50


I read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird in tenth grade and remember Scout, Atticus, and Boo to this day. The classic novel about racial inequality, coming of age, and gender roles celebrates its 50th anniversary on July 11. If you haven’t read Mockingbird yet, do it (full text in PDF here). Then watch the black-and-white film adaptation starring Gregory Peck. And please, in that order. If my word isn’t enough, take it from everybody else.