Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

26 September 2012

In a move regarded as unusual by the media, the French research group refused to provide copies of the journal paper to reporters in advance of its publication, unless they signed non-disclosure agreements. The NDAs would have prevented the journalists from approaching third-party researchers for comment.
- "Group Promoting Rat Study of Engineered Corn Forced Coverage Rush", The New York Times, Andrew C. Revkin.

I'm not a fan of GMOs, but I don't believe in pursuing lesser evils for a greater good, either. This kind of behaviour harms the credibility of journalists as well as scientists for a public whose interests are already so fractured that they're quick to find reasons to write things off as bullshit.

The Man & the Myth

A century ago, entrepreneurs sought to pass themselves off as parasites: they adopted the style and manner of the titled, rentier class. Today the parasites claim to be entrepreneurs.

- "Mitt Romney and the myth of self-created millionaires", The Guardian, George Monbiot.

I love this article for pointing to the mythologies that flourish in a culture, and how those same mythologies -- however steeped in truth, or not -- are used fervently to defend a society whose values have completely 180'ed.

The stories we tell ourselves don't just help us get through the day; they justify our political positions as well as our worldviews. It's one of the reasons why the latter can be so hard to change.

I also want to clarify by saying I do believe in self-created millionnaires, although I don't think they consider themselves self-creations: for every Mitt, there are too few Warren Buffetts, Bill Gates and Richard Bransons. But these people don't preach the same story Mitt's espoused in his candidacy; we ought to ask ourselves why.

06 September 2012

All those things.

It is late, I just got home and I am tired. But I just went through my agenda, and I am surprised and impressed by how much I have managed to actually do — not in the sense that I’ve surpassed benchmarks, which of course is nice too, but in the sense that all that stuff was in my book and not only is it now in the past, I’ve survived it. Today I can attest that I didn’t drown.

It makes looking at the weeks to come a lot easier.

05 September 2012

On Success

I don't see Estée Lauder quoted very often, but the words resonate deeply with me.

I was raised to pursue what I wanted with conviction and commitment. Dreaming was only meant to be a springboard. But gathering the momentum to push off from it isn't easy.

When I decided to quit a cushy marketing job and become a freelance journalist, a lot of people I trusted critiqued my choice. Near tears, I called my dad. He said, "There will be times when everyone treats you as if you're crazy, and as a reasonable person you'll wonder if they are right. When this happens, look at your results. If you're accomplishing what you intended, you're not the crazy one."

What he meant was, up to this point had I gotten what I expected? Were the right kinds of people paying attention, and gravitating to me? This became a compass.

I haven't stopped following it since. It's grueling work that demands everything from you, but it is also satisfying. Things I've learned along the way:
  • There is never a reason to throw your hands up and say "It's not fair." Life doesn't know our rules; you just get over it and keep getting up. This is character.
  • The right people do notice. They watch you from a distance and lend help if you ask. They don't just become friends; they become useful constellations in the dark.
  • Pursuing your path doesn't have to mean stepping on or demeaning other people. If you enrich and help those you come across, and surround yourself by the competent, the hungry and the loyal, the journey goes from being lonely to being incredibly rich. With few exceptions I've always felt taken care of and listened to in an industry that isn't known for its nurturing qualities.
  • Being honest, with yourself and with others, pays the biggest long-term dividends. It is the hardest thing to do, and you have to decide to be that person every time you come across a point of ambiguity. This never gets easier, but it's also a compass -- one that shouldn't be disregarded.
  • Cover your ass. My boss at Sunglass Hut taught me this and it's another useful thing to remember. Never leave things to chance: save meticulously, be clear in your language, prepare for alternate outcomes.
Success is arduous work. And in order to make it worth it for you, the first thing you have to do is define what success is. We have a lot of social cues but feedback from others -- getting rich, private jets, corporate accounts -- doesn't really help you prepare your own yardstick.

It may take years before you've shaken off what you think you want and discovered what is really worth your trouble. I thought for the longest time that I needed to be a millionnaire by age 25; I know now that what I really need is a good quality of life, to live in a place that makes me feel whole, to do challenging things that force me to renew myself regularly, and to populate my life with people who are good, in all senses of the word.

Then there are the little things: that half-hour in the métro that I can read, time away from the 'net and work, a new pair of beautiful shoes, Cleaning Day, a glass of wine alone in the sunshine, time to write, falling asleep on Romain's shoulder, and that moment when I get home and our moody cat -- who hates being touched -- rolls over in righteous wait for his belly rub. These things mean so much more to me now than "millionnaire at 25," and I would never have found them if I'd stayed where I was supposed to and done what was expected.

The road is harder, but the trade-off has been very good.

04 September 2012

On Meditation

No worries, wee monk, you'll get there.

I have a client who's gone away to meditate for a month in one of those countryside meditation places. To make conversation, I not-jokingly said, "I tried meditating last week, but I'm not sure if I did it right because I think I fell asleep."

He gave me a smile of uncondescending sympathy and said, "The problem is, today, we're just tired all the time. When you go away on a meditation retreat you basically spend the first week falling asleep. Then you get to the point where you're actually rested. And that's when you can really start working on stuff."

I liked this and have been thinking about it ever since. It's silly to say, but it never occurs to me that everyone else is just as tired as I am, that this is an epidemic, and that falling asleep while trying to meditate isn't some expression of your inability to attain inner attunedness, it's an expression of how goddamn dragged-across-the-cobblestones we feel all the livelong day.

Isn't that reassuring? And doesn't that make you want to get to the place where you're rested, if only to see what you're like once you arrive?