I saw this on my Tumblr dashboard and I had to make a few comments. Let me start off by saying I have no idea who to vote for in this upcoming election. I don’t identify myself with either (or any) political party, though I might often tell others that I have liberal tendencies with a moderate bend of conservatism. Of course, all of that hog wash is just elitist rhetoric to provide myself with another label. #hashtag

In all seriousness, I continue to be astounded at the measure of politics in America. As I watched the Olympics, I was guaranteed to see a commercial vilifying Obama as a means to winning my vote for a conservative Wisconsin Senator. Moreover, these candidates were attacking each other, claiming the other wasn’t conservative enough. This sounds like, I don’t know… “You’re not skinny enough to be pretty,” or “You’re not normal enough to warrant my attention or friendship.” When is there ever a time to vilify someone? I’m not saying we have to be pushovers and accept everyone as they are. What I am saying is that there are more mature and productive ways in which we can rebuke someone in order to correct them. If a candidate running for Senator claims to be conservative but has voted otherwise, then point that out. Don’t cloud it in some ridiculous and horribly acted pathos and pay hundreds of dollars to air it on television. Get out of my face, I’m not voting for you because of that.

Anyway, I guess the nutshell of my post is this: It’s so easy to poke fun at Republicans, and I often find myself doing that. However, this doesn’t mean I esteem the Democrats. I’m actually very disappointed that Obama appealed to such a metaphor in that speech. It’s incredibly creative and very appropriate for him. But it vilifies the Republicans. I can’t stand for that. I can’t vote for that.

I just don’t know what to do. I want America to be a good country, a virtuous country. I want to cast my vote toward that end. If, somehow, we’ve decided that this mini-celebrity/tabloid-gossip route is the best way to secure our civic leaders, then maybe it’s best if I boycott my vote in an attempt to voice my opinion. After all, that’s what a vote is, isn’t it?

Last thought: Is it ironic to anyone that we call ourselves a united country? Never have I been more aware of the rift in the United States of America because of political ideologies. I’m convinced that if we are to progress from this hole, we have to abandon the generalizations and vilification of “the other party”. If we continue to have this “they vs. us” mentality, there will never be unity. In fact, the only thing we really are united on is the military. That’s a scary foundation.

UPDATE: I was just reviewing my entry and decided to watch the clip again. I couldn’t finish it. I cringed right when Obama said, “They…”

This post has nothing to do with Indiana Jones and everything to do with supporting indie projects pursued by my friends. In the spirit of unfounded associations, the above photo is of me my freshman year in college.


1) I met Quoc Quan Le through a mutual friend and discovered that we shared similar interests–namely our invincible romance for Taylor Swift and all things Taylor Swift. “Coco” is also a Vietnamese American student studying film at UWMilwaukee and is about to start his senior project. When I did my senior project (a 12+ page paper–of course my paper was just barely 12 pages), I didn’t ask for money because I didn’t need it… o at least I couldn’t justify someone giving me money so I could feed my finals week habits which would ideally include lots of “Chinese” takeout and many cubic centimeters of juice. Quoc Quan and I were supposed to film a short miniseries about two roommates (i.e. us) and their love for Taylor Swift. We never came around to filming it, though we did meet once or twice to brainstorm some ideas. Maybe we’ll be able to get to that someday–preferably before Taylor has to tell Coco that she’s marrying me and not him. Coco, she belongs with meeeeeee, can’t you seeeeeeee?

If you’re interested in learning more about Coco’s project and his bell and white motif he plans to use, check out his IndieGoGo page and consider helping out! http://www.indiegogo.com/taleofwomaninwhite?c=home


2) Joseph Taylor was my RA my sophomore year at Marquette University. The first weekend during school (or something like that), Jay invited me to go to a campus-sponsored (this way you know I didn’t drink nor did Jay) event. I politely declined, claiming I would probably go meet other friends AKA my roommate. He did give me his number though, so I guess I got that without asking. Jay, my roommate, and I also shared a mutual connection through Taylor Swift. One day, after dinner with those two guys, we went into the basement of our dorm hall and recorded a cover of Love Story. I played melody on my cello. I don’t know how to differentiate the two guitars between my roommate and Jay, save for the fact that Jay played the intro to Love Story and my roommate learned the chords on the spot (like any good hobby guitarist). We never recorded anything after that, but Jay did say he imagined me playing something else for him.

To my knowledge, Jay has recently been experimenting with music making. The tracks on his Soundcloud (lost the link) were actually quite pleasing; I would listen to them as I studied. I’m not sure if he meant for this to be study music, but Jay is one of the most eclectic individuals I’ve known and he got me into skinny jeans (he wears slim fits). If you want to check out Jay’s music and support his just-released album for $2.00 (or more), check out his…. spitbubble? http://spitbubble.com/

Off the Wall, Motown Superstar Series (an anthology of sorts), and the original Thriller (a gift from my roommate)

I’d hate for this to turn into a “What’s Nate up to today?” sort of blog since this is supposed to be the representation of my left brain, but I wanted to pull out the DSLR and snap some shots as well as check out what this Image Post Format on WordPress is all about. UPDATE: It appears that the Image Post Format turns the rest of the text in the post grey–a means of drawing attention to the image, I suppose. Accordingly, I’ve turned this into a Standard Post Format.

I haven’t shot photos on my T2i in a long time. I’ve been using the 50mm 1.8 (nifty fifty!), but I’m growing very upset with it. The crop factor is just immense and it is annoying having to back up and hold the camera in awkward positions to get the shot I want. On the other hand, though, I don’t want to go back to using a zoom lens since that just feels tacky–and of course I can’t get the apertures I want with zooms. Perhaps I just have to develop an intuition for my 50mm.

Michael Jackson’s birthday is coming up. I have an idea for a tribute. I wasn’t able to prepare for one adequately for his death anniversary, but I’m hoping that this idea is good enough to celebrate and recognize: 1) His 3rd death anniversary 2) His 54th birthday 3) The 25th anniversary of BAD.

I walked with my friends in May 2012, but I actually graduate in August 2012.

Since I’m graduating and more heavily and realistically realizing the burden of debt I have accumulated (in addition to more intimately knowing the value of a dollar earned), I have decided to forego my private hosting plan with Surpasshosting that I’ve had for many years since high school. I will retain my domain name, but I will have it redirect to my new blog hosted at WordPress.com.

I’m excited about the new change! In a few ways, it takes off a burden. I’m relinquishing the rotating banner at the top of the page, but I never added another photo to that rotation since high school. Moreover, I hardly find myself with enough time to open up Photoshop (or to even learn it, for that matter–my heart is still with Paintshop Pro). I also relinquish total theme customization, but that is something I can live with. I feel as if I’m migrating even more to a more minimalistic web presence in terms of thematic and aesthetic; my current WordPress theme services this adequately.

Graduation approaches! I sat for the MCAT a few days ago, and now I begin (albeit very lately) the application process to medical schools. I have a list of 14 MD schools and a handful of DO schools that I’d love to attend.

Hopefully I will have more time to write and share my thoughts in the coming year. I won’t be in school, but I will be working, balling (so hard), and volunteering my life to do justice.

I’ve seen this image pop up on my timeline (isn’t it weird that I can just say timeline and you know what I mean?) and I have a few thoughts.

  1. It is very cute and clever. Ladies, you deserve a Boaz. That is to say, you deserve a man that will respect and love you.
  2. I have to speak out against this idolatry of relationship and marriage. Why are you in a hurry to have a boyfriend or get married? Unless it is something you and your partner believe God is calling you to, you shouldn’t be glorifying it. The same goes for men.
  3. It legitimizes, in jest, the use of profane language within a Christian setting.

The dude is saying “ass” and Christian girls all over facebook are raving at the cleverness. What’s the significant difference between the image above and:

To all the girls who are in a hurry to have a boyfriend or get married, a piece of Biblical advice: “Ruth waited patiently for her mate Boaz.” While you are waiting on YOUR Boaz, don’t settle for any of his relatives: Brokeass, Po’ass [Poor Ass], Lyingass, Cheatingass, Dumbass [Wow… that’s low], Drunkass, Cheapass, Lockedupass, Goodfornothingass, Lazyass, and especially his third cousin Beatingyo’ass. Wait on your Boaz and make sure he respects Your Ass.

Perhaps my conservative friends will respond that this slide is improper and the speaker (assuming the man in the image is the speaker and perhaps pastor) should not have utilized such creative rhetoric, that this proves to be a silent stumbling block for weak believers. I, however, hesitantly applaud this for much of the same reason.

I think he properly utilizes the word “ass”. If he is trying to portray all those types of men as asses (i.e. persons of low standard or quality in regard to being Ruth’s mate), then he is doing a proper job. Whether I would call someone an ass to their person in their face, I don’t know I would do nor approve of… Lastly, his use of “Yoaz” is to be understood as “respecting a girl’s ass”. Colloquially, this is justified with the understanding that speaking of a one’s ass is meant to speak of one’s self. However, the association of girl and ass is highly charged and grounds for sexual moral discussion. I would label that use of “ass” as questionably improper.

The depth of thought and attitude I take toward profane language is intensely calculated, and the rare times I decide to use a profanity are with great reserve. I do not expect the Christian body to be like me, but it is my dream that they would.

I Voted

So, in the spirit of election season, I am writing to share my thoughts about the voting process: I think it is discouraging and too confusing. Politics and the illusion of a participatory democracy is, in fact, the plaything of the privileged and educated. I will refrain from embarking on voluminous diatribe, and, instead, present to you a nice list of bullets (symbolism to your interpretation; UPDATE: For some reason my stylesheet removes the bullet points, so you all you see are ugly and unseparated pargraphs, so I’ve taken the liberty of turning them into NUMBER points).

  1. When people make a deal about voting as our civic duty, I think they are quite mistaken. I suppose that a democracy requires its constituents to vote. If they did not, how would a democracy function, continue to exist as a democracy? More accurately, I believe that the act of voting is a civic burden. If you vote for someone, you are effectively exhibiting a hope and your support of the candidate. Can it mean anything otherwise?
  2. The corollary to the first bullet point is that we should not vote if we are not ready to fully place our hope in or support our candidate. A vote means that you are prepared to take responsibility for the person you placed in office. It would also follow that, should the candidate fail to represent your interests whilst in office, you reserve the right to recall the candidate.
  3. It is my suspicion that no majority of the population is ready to carry the burden of voting. They are simply uneducated on political matters, indifferent, or preoccupied with more pressing matters of life.
  4. The process of educating one’s self on the candidates (no less, the political system and issues themselves) is a nightmare to the masses, but a playground of philippics for the privileged. I don’t give a rat’s ass about the partisan nature of American democracy. Campaigning is one of the stupidest things I’ve learned to-date and also one of the cruelest and inhumane; please remind me when it became an effective and acceptable strategy to vilify your opponent. It is with great reservation that I vote for candidates that defame another human being.
  5. This will speak to my illiteracy of American politics, but I believe there needs to be an online and central hub for any election. Present the candidates and their proposals for political issues and their plans for policy. I want to be able to read, in friendly and accessible language, what each candidate wants to do. Strip them of their rhetorical prowess and mazes. I want to know what I’m voting for.
  6. I don’t mean to espouse any hint of classism or elitism, but if I, an educated 22 year old male in university, am discouraged and unable to comprehend the political process, then I wonder what uneducated persons do. Do they vote blindly and only by certain issues? Is that what we want in a democracy?
  7. Voting, the act itself, needs to be easier. It is intimidating to go wait in a line or to ask for help at a voting center. Is there any possibility that we can just show some sort of identification and then vote? Or if we are registered anywhere, can’t we just vote where we are? Perhaps I’m just being lazy. After all, you do just vote once a year (and what is an inconvenience one day out of a year?). (Do we just vote once a year? This definitely showcases my political unastuteness.)
  8. If we cannot bring ourselves to vote for a candidate, then I would go so far as to say that we should not vote. To that end, you are not held responsible for the candidate elected into office, but you still preserve the right to recall that elected official. I just think it would be beautiful if one day no one in America voted–it would exhibit, what I perceive to be, a growing discontent with politics. If no one voted, politicians might wonder why. Might.

So those are my thoughts. I’m a discontented democratic American (in the political sense–not the partisan sense; I’ve no idea where I stand between the parties). But today, in the Wisconsin recall election, I voted. I took up my civic burden and voted–albeit quite uninformed due to the conjectures in the bullets (UPDATE: numbers) above. Bang bang.

Please share your thoughts. Please correct me. Please help me be a better American (insofar as politics and the voting process is concerned; I’ve other ideas about how to be a better American).

Note on the image: Originally I was just going to vignette and do some predictable Instagramming to the photo, but I was messing around on my phone and couldn’t help posterizing the photo. Interesting that posterizing photos now carries some sort of political connotation and weight. Also, I was attempting to go for a sort of “mug shot” with the “I Voted” sticker. I wanted to evoke the idea of a convict holding his jail card, but rather I, a free citizen, would stand in place of the criminal with an “I Voted” sticker instead of the jailer’s barcode. It’s a loose way of asking the very loose (and perhaps idiotic) question: Are we really free?

Martin Luther King Jr. met a number of girls in Boston as a student at Boston University, but he never met a girl that he was particularly fond of. On the point of cynicism, Martin called a friend and asked, “Do you know any nice, attractive young ladies?” He received Coretta’s number from his friend and left the following message for Coretta: “This is M. L. King, Jr. A mutual friend of ours told me about you and gave me your telephone number. She said some very wonderful things about you, and I’d like very much to meet you and talk to you.”

They met and talked for awhile. Then Martin said: “You know, every Napoleon has his Waterloo. I’m like Napoleon. I’m at my Waterloo, and I’m on my knees. I’d like to meet you and talk some more. Perhaps we could have lunch tomorrow or something like that.” Coretta agreed, and Martin said: “I’ll come over and pick you up. I have a green Chevy that usually takes ten minutes to make the trip from B.U., but tomorrow I’ll do it in seven.”

At lunch, they conversed in depth about things other than music, Coretta’s field of study at the New England Conservatory of Music. Then Martin said, “So you can do something else besides sing? You’ve got a good mind also. You have everything I ever wanted in a woman. We ought to get married someday.”

This is a cute love story. It’s especially sweet since it demands a democracy of King that we rarely allow. I like that he was so bold. I’m not saying we get to choose our spouses, but King knew what he wanted in a spouse because he knew what he wanted to accomplish in life. Coretta couldn’t be the sort of wife to hide behind a man (not that any wife should). She had to be doubly as strong and doubly as determined as Martin. Alongside every historical man is a strong woman. King said that he and Coretta went down their path in life together — he didn’t lead her.

If I am blessed with the institution of marriage, I cannot wait for my Coretta. Otherwise, I will continue to be blessed and to be a blessing as a single man.

(originally written for my tumblr)

Something that has bothered me for quite some time is my web presence and how I present myself in general. I want to have a clean image, but I also want my image to be authentic and reflective of my thoughts and beliefs. I like to think I embody some provocative ideas, and I wonder how readily apparent those ideas should be in my presentation.

For this reason, I refrain from profanity and alcohol in my blogs and tweets. I refrain from sharing certain videos that I think people would take out of context. My measure for whether I associate something with my web presence is whether I would feel comfortable having my little siblings and cousins see it. It’s sobering sometimes…

which makes me wonder if my measure is too harsh. Shouldn’t I account for the fact that I am 22 years old? I’ve grown to understand certain things with maturity, and I believe I have intelligent contributions. Should I guard myself from such things because kids are too young to understand or properly process?

I think of the web icons that I admire and how crushed I would have been as a kid to see them talking about “adult” things. I was very disappointed when Clara Chung, in one of her tour vlogs, decided to say at the beginning of her live show, “We sold out the motherf*cking Roxy!” Perhaps in that context, it would have benefited Clara to use my measure. But what about in other instances?

The contemporary concept of beauty is not so much the idealization of the skinny build as much as it is the condemnation of the obese and overweight. We are equally capable to appreciate the beauty of both body forms, but we choose to love one and hate the other.

I remember once remarking to a friend that I felt obesity and the shame associated with it was worthwhile and good. Obesity is unhealthy, undoubtedly. Our bodies were not created to support incredible amounts of weight. My line of thought assumed that the shame associated with an obese person would be cause for them to lose unnecessary pounds. My friend, however, argued to me that they should not have to be shamed. That is, they should not have to endure public humiliation. My friend is a very sensitive and thoughtful person. She made me consider what it would be like to be obese or overweight. Instead of being a detached intellectual, she pressed me to empathize. If I were obese, would shame be enough to make me want to lose weight? It’s nice to think, “Yes,” but we all know life isn’t that easy.

If you are obese or overweight, you are still beautiful–but this does not mean that you should be happy remaining obese. Treat your body the way it should be treated–and this extends beyond weight. Beauty is how you maintain your body, personality, and beliefs; the maintenance of your individual parts into a coherent and beautiful whole. It is something we all will be working toward for the rest of our lives. It seems that today, however, we are stuck on the idea of beauty merely being our appearance and no more.

Oh shhhhhhhh! Darren Sharper! One of the most hardest hitting safetys in the league!

If you know nothing about the bounty program in the NFL, let me summarize. The New Orleans Saints had a system in place in which their defenders were paid bonuses of thousands of dollars for knocking players on the opposing team out of the game. Basically, they were given incentive to intentionally hurt other players.

“Oh gosh, that sounds awful,” you might think. Yes, it is awful. I particularly found this quote by Cam Newton, QB of the Carolina Panthers and a target on the bounty list, very moving:

“If I’m a running back, if I’m a receiver, if I’m a linebacker, if I’m a D-tackle, you always have to respect that other person’s career because they’re feeding families just like I’m trying to feed my parents,” Newton told the Los Angeles Times. “And if you take those joints, those ligaments away by taking a cheap shot, it’s bigger than one, little `Yes, we took down their starting quarterback.’ This quarterback can’t even throw no more because you took a late hit on him. Yeah, it’s 15 yards. But you’re limiting this guy’s whole career.”

I can too easily imagine men acting tough, claiming they would pound the snitch that snitched. That pisses me off. That’s not manly–that’s barbaric. This is the NFL–not a battle. If you want blood and guts, I’ll build you a time machine so you can watch the gladiator games. That ought to quench your thirst for blood.

That’s the problem of the NFL. It’s such a violent game inherently, and the league is trying to protect itself from becoming an unregulated fighting match. People want to see bigger booms, louder smacks, and nastier collisions. But we forget that these are young and grown men sacrificing their bodies for our viewing pleasure.

Go ahead and lecture me on brotherhood and camaraderie if you think this bounty program is something normal and to be expected. I won’t accept that. Just read Newton’s quote. The NFL is a job. It’s full of men trying to provide for themselves and their families. And you think providing incentive to harm those men, to decapitate them from their work? That’s like me coming after your dad with incentive to get him fired from his job.

Bounties in the NFL are stupid. They are a moral corruption of the game. If you defend them (fans or NFL players), you need to reassess your moral character. Bounties are for Boba Fett.

Newton’s quote also gives me a more profound respect for him.