Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Island, entire of itself

I spend large amounts of time on an island.

Roatan, Honduras to be more specific.

45 miles long, 2 miles wide, perched in the western most part of the Caribbean Sea. A former hideout to Blackbeard the pirate.
Home to the Garifuna, an African tribe that found themselves there after over-throwing their Spanish captors.

A beautiful place to say the least, and trust me that is the least I could say. A visual candy store of colors and life. Crystal oceans that feel like heated pools, and creatures that challenge the atheists dogma.

God simply had to have made this.

I work here.

I'm the financial administrator for a development. A great time to develop, no matter what they say.

A group of Stanford students/missionaries recently came to our property. They came to build houses, because this is the third world. I once knew how the third world got its name but I don't care anymore. All I know is this place makes grown men cry. They cry because they see beauty that is unequaled by anything they're eyes have had the pleasure to absorb, then they keep driving.

They drive past the west end teeming with Bars and hotels full with Americans, Italians and Canadians, spending... spending... spending...

They drive past world class resorts. Places like Nikki Beach that will soon have rooms that fetch $15,000 a night. Places well secured and entirely self contained, nestled flush against the most pristine white beaches and turquoise waters you could imagine.

They drive until the road is no longer paved.

They drive until they can no longer drive.

And here they build a house.

They build a house for Ms Dena. Because hers is falling down. A widow and mother of three, it is only a matter of time before one her children fall through the rotting floor into the ocean/sewage below.

They cry because of the juxtaposition of depravity and beauty. A disparity not easily untangled by the American mind. Our world is a comfortable one.

We are certainly no strangers to poor. But we do not know depravity. We do not know the world of those live with nothing, truly nothing.

Even our poor have freeways.

Even our poor have water.

Our poor are entitled to the basic infrastructures and social safety nets that we have long since taken for granted. The third world is a reminder that such things are not entitlements, they are blessings. They are the fruit of development. The fruit of freedom. That moment is difficult. Torn between thanksgiving and lament. No longer ignorant to blessings, but now in full knowledge of depravity. Tears of equal parts joy and sorrow.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I know how...

I can throw a baseball pretty damn far. And I can catch one pretty damn well too.
I know what to do when I’m getting rag-dolled by a wave… relax.
I know how to swim.
I know how to appreciate art and the beauty that those around me create.
I know how to choose my words wisely.
I know how to listen.
I know that patience really is a virtue.
I know the value of hard work, and the value of those that work hard.
I know how to create.
I know how to treat a woman, how to make her a queen.
I know how to laugh.
I know that a picture is worth far more than a thousand words.
I know how to kick a ball, and throw myself at balls already kicked.
I know that our mistakes do not define us, but their consequences suck.
I know there is a God, and I know that he knows me.
I know how to drive a stick.
I know how to parallel park.
I know that life isn’t worth living, if it means living without coffee.
I know that those who don’t speak much, are taken far more seriously when they do.
I know that love is all you need.
I know that style and grace are way better than tricks.
I know that arguing for arguing sake isn’t really that cool.
I know loyalty.
I know how to check my fluids, and how to jump a car.
I know how to serve a tennis ball.
I know how to play the net.
I know that pain only makes you stronger.
I know that real men cry, but not very often.
I know that war is pain.
I know that when you have nothing to give, you still have your talents.
I know how to be a man,
and you taught me.

Happy Birthday Dad...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Life Long Learner

I guess you could say I’m a thinker.

I suppose thinking is universally pretty constant, which makes my condition rather un-spectacular.

I think therefore I am.

Sometimes I think that I think much more than to be expected, but then I think about how constant thought should always be thought to be expected. Even though a certain mind may lack the more complex cognitions, the moment that a mind ceases to perpetually perform, is the moment that its existence is irrevocably checked.

Why such big words…

I have no choice but to perceive the world around me in a way that is uniquely mine. My mind is what makes me no different from any other, but it itself is of its own kind. Unmatched, unprecedented, unequaled but still a mind like every other that ever has, and ever will, think. Education (institution and non-institution), has not changed the foundational identity of my mind, (me) but it has worked tirelessly to change the process by which my ultimate judgements are achieved.

I am a life-long learner.

Scribed amongst the top goals for any and all graduates of my Alma Matter is the following: “To be a life-long learner”. What’s funny about institutional education is how un-important the facts we all try to learn really are. Institutional education’s true aim is to teach us how to think, how to exist. We are taught how to co-exist with those around us, and how to forge the potency of our own existence into something more meaningful, at least by their standards. We become life-long learners by grasping the dichotomy of true education. Universities and other such institutions are only a part, a half perhaps, or maybe such ratios are erroneous. Because where the conformities of instution end, life begins.

Abri sus ojos.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Age of Information

"What's offensive is not their lying - one can always forgive lying - lying gets you closer to the truth. What is most offensive is that they they lie, and then worship their own lying."

~Fydor Dostoevsky~
Welcome to the age of information.

Five minutes ago I was faced with the daunting task of finding a quote that had stuck with me while reading Dostoevsky's 'Crime and Punishment'. Rather than traverse to the bookshelf housing the book and then spend an annoying amount of time trying to pinpoint the exact quote, I turned to my good friend Google. 30 seconds, and some strategically arranged search terms later, I had all the information I needed.
Amongst the internet savvy, Google has become a verb, and a verb used quite often (much to Yahoo's chagrin)
Harry: Hey, what time is that movie playing
Sally: I don't know, Google it.

Harry: What does the "T" in James T. Kirk stand for?
Sally: ummm.... Google it?
The internet has revolutionized the world we live in, and the way we live in it.

Consider the following:
Forbes magazine reported that Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in existence with Assets toppling 1.5 billion dollars at the ripe old age of 23. He got there by creating Facebook, arguably the most popular social networking site on the web, and in turn selling Facebook for an estimated 750 million dollars.

Facebook is free.
For zero dollars a month I stay in touch with my friends and family (my Mom and Dad both recently joined), I share pictures, articles, videos and links, I update my status regularly with witty comments to show how cool I am, I join interest groups and heatedly debate whatever topic suits my fancy and I spend an embarrassing amount of time doing it all. In essence, Zuckerberg and other internet moguls have expanded the mold of traditional economics. Their industry is one in which value is not decided by how many, and for how much, its products will be sold. Instead, valuation is dependent on one variable: information. Matching those who want to be known, with those who want to know.

Of course, our world is one of balance in which every action has an opposite and equal reaction. The age of information has streamlined our businesses, opened up worlds of knowledge that were once unreachable, and connected people in a way that would have been impossible only a short time ago. The benefits seem to be infinite, but the existential laws of nature bow to none. There is a dark side to our progression that cannot be ignored.

Consider nuclear energy.... As quickly as one plant can light the homes of thousands, it can destroy them. The benefit or harm of any advancement is entirely dependent on the hands that use it.

The age of information is only now blossoming. The momentum of progression is unmatched by any point in history. Yet as we celebrate the vastness of the possibilities before us, we must also guard ourselves from the evils that come equally.

Truth is always some form of information, but every form of information is not necessarily truth.

p.s. the "T" In James T Kirk stands for Tiberius. But I didn't need Google for that, I just knew it.