Current Events, History, Holiday Weekend, music

Looking For America On The Fourth Of July

This is was supposed to post on the 4th but I scheduled for the wrong time. 

One of my favorite songs ever. It encapsulates the journey of an individual and their loved one (Paul and Kathy) as they journey across the United States and also serves as an analogy for the search of the American dream and ideals.

Volkswagen released a great commercial that used the song in the background of a story about an Irish family taking a vacation throughout America to fulfill the last wishes of their grandfather. (side comment…. Volkswagen is always on their advertising A game when it comes to giving the audience all the feels in their commercials. Does anyone know which agency VW uses?)

 

They had three generations of Americans in the new VW Atlas traveling across the US. Talk about an existential cake of thoughts, views, and experiences. The VW video and Paul’s song remind me we never may get a chance to see the best America has to offer but we owe it to those who came before us (mostly immigrants, slaves, and natives)  to continue the search and work toward a more perfect union for all.

Happy 4th of July!

History, Leadership, Random, Self-Revelation

Disrupting History

***Writer’s Note: 🙂 I literally was finished with this essay (2500+ words) and decided to delete it. Hopefully this will be a more concise and focused attempt.

For a majority of human history, we relied on oral delivery to bring the events of our past to life. We’d sit around a campfire and listen to stories of our forefathers adventures, unstoppable monsters, and through those stories, we’d understand a little bit more about where we came from and where we were going.

Fast forward to the present. We have so many mediums and the ability to capture history is just a click away. History went from a singular narrative to a multi layered complexity that will require a new set of research skills to truly get the big picture. Imagine your neighborhood historian developing a machine learning algorithm to sort through a bunch of tweets to use as primary documents for an event? How about developing a program that sorts through pictures on Facebook to evaluate sentiment of an event? The future historian aggregates all experiences and perspectives and tries to draw inferences. Some would say very similar to current historians. Yea sure, but the pools of information are digitally structured and maintained. There’s a whole new set of skill required to analyze that amount of information.

For the common historian ( the rest of us), we have to prepare ourselves to understand historical events have multiple narratives and view points. We should look to past events and understand there’s more to the story, they just couldn’t capture it. There’s a little boys perspective on his dad going to die in the 100 years war. There were women who had a lot to say about their husbands and sons being taken on the coast of West Africa. When we digest history, our first question should be, “whose perspective are we missing?” We should understand that history is exactly that… His story.

I hope by having a more integrated and inclusive understanding of what and who history affects, we can make sure as many people’s narratives are captured as possible. Ultimately, we’ll create a better picture of how history affected people involved, and how we can all learn to be better or different in the future.

 

 

 

#MentalNote, Current Events, Education, History, Self-Revelation, Why?

Sapiens and the Oscars

I have very few newsletters that I hold in such high esteem as Farnam Street. If you enjoy thinking about things in new ways and awesome book recommendations, I suggest you sign up here. It’s so good, I’m giving a free shout out. The newsletter will change your life, but I digress.

One of the most recent book recommendations from the Farnam Street is called Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.   I haven’t gotten a chance to read the book yet but I was totally enthralled with the descriptions in the newsletters. It’s definitely on my to read list.

One of the most important takeaways from the book is captured in this short quote below:

What was the Sapiens’ secret of success? How did we manage to settle so rapidly in so many distant and ecologically different habitats? How did we push all other human species into oblivion? Why couldn’t even the strong, brainy, cold-proof Neanderthals survive our onslaught? The debate continues to rage. The most likely answer is the very thing that makes the debate possible: Homo sapiens conquered the world thanks above all to its unique language.

Most people would agree that language was a huge game changer but not for the reason you’d think:

As far as we know, only Sapiens can talk about entire kinds of entities that they have never seen, touched, or smelled. Legends, myths, gods, and religions appeared for the first time with the Cognitive Revolution. Many animals and human species could previously say ‘Careful! A lion! Thanks to the Cognitive Revolution, Homo sapiens acquired the ability to say. ‘The lion is the guardian spirit of our tribe.’ This ability to speak about fictions is the most unique feature of Sapiens language…You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven. 

To Harari, the most important function of language is we can describe things we cannot see or understand. “It is our collective fiction that defines us” By doing this, human beings are better suited to work in large groups effectively and flexibly than other animals. Real world applications of this is state, religious, fraternal, or basic assumptions we take as truth.

The collective myth and our ability to believe or not, is what differentiates us from other animals. To be clear, not all of these myths are lies but some of them are. We believe them because the opposite is too difficult to handle. For example, sapiens are horrible at evaluating talent or a subjective “best”. We’ve seen it in finance, education, entertainment, and other industries. We rely on human evaluations and get burnt. We consistently overvalue and undervalue, which leads to faulty and less than ideal outcomes. If we look at this from Harari’s perspective, we’ve bought into the myth that we can make objective evaluations.

Earlier last week, the Academy released their nominees for the Oscars. There were complaints about the lack of diversity in the nominees. I agree, there should be more representation, especially from a 2015 that saw quality movies from minority leads. However, its a symptom of a larger myth; A group of industry leaders can make an objective evaluation on what are some of the best performances the year prior. I say this as a huge Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christopher Nolan fan. (None of them have won Oscars)

I’ve started to take human informed decisions with a grain of salt. I can’t afford to buy into the idea that a group of us can make the best decision. Now, believing that is difficult to handle because it has implications larger than the Academy Awards. I’ll just let your mind wander…

History, Random

Changing the Game

It’s been a while since I’ve written on here. I figured what better time to start back up than now? I’m living in Washington D.C, have a bunch of random experience and adventures to talk about. It will be nice to look back at these stories a year from now and laugh and reminisce about a crazy time. So, be on the lookout for posts on interesting pictures, random adventures, and my job at city year DC!