Monthly Archives: December 2011

Terrible Song Lyrics (In Pictures)


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A difficult but effective way to be a better person

Five years ago, I read a brilliant article on self-improvement by Rabbi Noah Weinberg. He explains an exciting personal exercise (here) for figuring out how you can be a better person and extolls the virtues of loving criticism.

I asked a close friend to do this exercise with me in 2008 and he came up with three big things:

1. “Try overlooking 3 things everyday.” In friendship and romance, overlooking things that do not really matter makes life happier and more joyful. I had to learn the hard way that I can’t make everything that annoys me a “hill to die on.”

2. “Try to not be so sensitive. I think people don’t think through things as much as you do.” I think all human traits are adaptive in a group context, but being sensitive is often a limiting, crazy-making, isolating trait in my life. Every time I see the humor in a ‘bad’ situation or respond thoughtfully to a rude comment, I feel myself growing.

3. “Be Bold.” This friend encouraged me to try out for a singing competition, start this blog, and apply to a competitive internship. I made it to the finals of Michigan Idol, gained an important outlet for my thoughts in my blog, and got the internship at the Human Rights Commission of Korea. Now, I don’t think I’m a total wiener; I enjoy new experiences and I take pleasure in risk-taking. But taking the steps to actually achieve all of my wild, unrealistic dreams is a challenge for me.

These are all things I am still working on, and I commend him for being so honest! I feel like my life-long task is self-improvement. Although hearing my flaws pointed out was jarring, I don’t think I could have articulated these personal goals myself.

What are your New Years Resolutions? What personal goals do you need to set today? Who can help you identify the things you need to work on?

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The thinly-veiled, dirty secret of “The Secret of NIMH”

‘The Secret of NIMH,’ also known as ‘Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH,’ is a beloved children’s movie about friendship and perseverance. Originally released in 1982, ‘The Secret of NIMH’ received much critical acclaim, because it was both beautifully-animated and not a Disney production.

The secret behind “The Secret of NIMH” is that it is an 82-minute piece of thinly-veiled animal rights propaganda against the National Institute of Mental Health, one of the most famous and productive mental health research facilities in the world.

Don't think you can distract me by using the enchanting voice of Sir Derek Jacobi, you sneaky bastards!

Let’s ignore for a moment the fact that the film contains many scenes that look like a terrifying PCP-induced hallucination gone wrong, the images the film shows of the “laboratories” in NIMH look more like pictures of a violent animal hoarder’s house than an actual laboratory.

The lead scientist is made out to be some sort of Dr. Mengele, but what the scientist in the movie actually does is inject the rats with a drug that gives them super-rat intelligence. The rats are able to read and even understand mechanics (I am a human and I can’t even understand mechanics).

A soothing, happy movie for children of all ages

After a multitude of terrifying scenes describing the origin of NIMH and the protaganist rat’s journey into NIMH (keep in mind this is a children’s movie), the mouse talks to a rambling, psychotic crow and then meets a scary owl, who mercifully decides not to eat her.

As a child, I didn’t draw the connection between the movie NIMH and the place where my mom worked (the actual NIMH). I just liked the movie because it was the most edgy, scary thing I was allowed to watch.

But let’s get serious about the implications here.

Many of us are alive today thanks to animal research. If you are against animal research and are going for moral consistency, I hope you don’t take insulin to treat your diabetes, antibiotics to treat infection, or really any FDA-sanctioned medication to treat what ails you.

Animals in laboratories are treated with care and respect, a far cry from the treatment animals in the factory farming industry receive. Working with laboratory animals is not fun or sadistic. It is often allergy-inducing, and depressing. But what people have done with animal research is truly incredible and life-changing.

I support this NIMH, not the cartoon rat one.

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Anxiety Girl to the Rescue!

Let’s take a moment to honor the anxious people in our lives.

When we consider the entire species, all traits (even the obnoxious ones) can be seen as adaptive for the species in some way. Anxious people are sensitive, perceptive, and generally realistic about the world. Yes, we are difficult to deal with, but we are valuable members of society, too.

I am a highly-functioning anxious person.

I AM the 18.1%!

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Awkward new building in Seoul looks a lot like the twin towers on September 11, 2001

Does this look familiar to you? It looks familiar to me, too. And the association is not a good one.

This building was drafted by the Dutch firm MVRDV, and is slated for completion in 2015.

I definitely think art and architecture should be progressive and thought-provoking, but these buildings still struck me as “wrong” in a 850-foot-high-fashion-faux-pas kind of way.

Take, as a parallel example, early Americana artwork. For instance:

Early Americana art pieces are considered valuable collectibles (mostly in the South) and were highly sought-after when they were first produced.

Should this art exist? I guess, since it’s “part of American history” and represents an important (again, largely Southern) spirit of the times. Should the artists have been more sensitive? Probably, but they weren’t. Would I display this art in my home or make a racist caricature of a black man into an apartment building? No. A thousand times, no.

Part of me suspects the Dutch firm that designed this 9-11-reminiscent building was not innocently ignorant of the evocative design they proposed and that they were trying to garner attention for their design company. But if this was meant as a serious proposal, they underestimated Koreans.

Many Koreans value the US as a dear ally and know 9-11 is a sensitive landmark in our history. They would likely be humiliated if a creepy memorial of this attack were erected in the heart of Seoul.

View this and other images of the drafted building on

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We are not meant to be perfect

“We are not meant to be perfect. God is perfect. We are meant to be whole.” -Jane Fonda

Forgiveness and acceptance are the hardest lessons for many of us to learn. But look what forgiveness has done for Jane Fonda; she is balanced, healthy, and beautiful at 74! Watch Jane Fonda talk about her childhood and the healing power of exercise and forgiveness.

How often do we hide parts of who we are because we are afraid that we will not be accepted as a “whole?” How many times have we devalued others for what we perceive as their flaws?

We are whole and complete and good as we are right now. Although we should always strive for self-improvement, that doesn’t mean we should be overly-critical and disapproving of who we are today!


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Lesser-known Art

Image: Christine White

What I love about photography is the way it makes the photographer view the world. Art allows us to see things comprehensively, to see the beauty in the mundane, and to communicate universally. Photography can be funny and light (as in this intricate Barbie and Ken wedding photo-shoot), or evocative and thought-provoking (45 Most Powerful Images of 2011).

Inspiration for art is everywhere. And people are making art out of everything (The human body, Toothpicks, Street art, Underwater ink, and brown paper bags). I remember playing with beautiful interactive wood sculptures at the Technorama in Zurich, Switerzland when I was little.

Fashion is a source of inspiration and a creative outlet for many, although the art of the fashion industry is often sadly obscured by the many scandals in selling and producing garments. Alexander McQueen is an artist. Garance Dore, the famous fashion photographer and illustrator has been sharing her beautiful work in her blog since 2006. There are thousands of women who are devoting their lives to making other women look more beautiful with makeup art.

Artists live to share their creative gifts with the world. They are creating things that will educate and inspire for many years to come.

What has inspired you today?

Let Meryl Streep school you if you still think fashion is silly:

“‘This… stuff’? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.” -Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) in the film The Devil Wears Prada

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