Peruvian beauty pageant contestants steal a moment

Contestants competing in the Miss Peru 2018 beauty pageant were supposed to take the stage and recite their body measurements for the judges and the audience.

Why this still happens is beyond me. 

Beauty pageants of all kinds are sad, disgusting vestiges of a sexist, patriarchal world that saw women as objects of beauty rather than people of equal or better worth. They are the kind of thing that a man like Donald Trump would own.

But just imagine having to parade in front of judges and an audience and announce your measurements like you're a piece of meat. It's as if they are trying to make the beauty pageant as disgusting as possible.  

However, in this instance, these women ignored this ridiculous, demeaning requirement and instead took the opportunity to highlight a statistic related to violence against women in Peru.

"My name is Karen Cueto, and I represent Lima, and my figures are: 82 femicides and 156 attempted femicides this year."

"My name is Juana Acevedo, and my figures are: More than 70 percent of women in our country are the victims of street harassment." 

Watch the video. It's an inspiring moment. 

I wish that the Miss Peru contest didn't exist. I wish the female contestants would boycott the pageant altogether. I wish advertisers would refuse to support the pageant and audiences would refuse to watch. I yearn for the day when we look upon beauty pageants in the same way we look at a time in American when women weren't allowed to vote:

Archaic, ridiculous, sexist, and demeaning to women.  

But if these pageants must exist, I can't imagine a better way for women to take back a small part of it for their own purposes. 

Heroes have a way of making you realize how small-minded and ungrateful you have been.

Meet former US Special Forces soldier turned humanitarian aid worker David Eubank, running through ISIS gunfire in the embattled Iraqi city of Mosul in order to rescue a toddler who was sitting amidst a pile of dead bodies.

Eubank formed the Free Burma Rangers (FBR) as a Christian humanitarian group in 1997, providing emergency relief in war zones. Since January 2016, FBR has traveled to Iraq for relief trips.

After watching the video, a few things became clear to me:

  1. I can never be grateful enough to be born in a land of perpetual peace and stability. 
  2. My problems are trivial.
  3. I'm a coward compared to these heroes.

If you are reading this, it is very likely that you don't deserve the fourth cookie

"You owe a debt to the unlucky."

Michael Lewis's 2012 commencement address is a truly outstanding speech.

So often I am told that a speech is great when it is not.
A speech is inspiring when it is packed with platitudes.
A speech is brilliant when it merely mundane. 

Michael Lewis's speech is outstanding. Lewis advises the graduates of Princeton University to remember how lucky they are. How blessed they have been with parents, country, university, opportunity, and ability. 

Hard work played a role in the graduates' success, no doubt, but millions of people around the world have undoubtedly worked much harder than these graduates and do not earn degrees from Princeton because of circumstances beyond their control.

It would be easy for me to claim I have been unlucky.

  • Kicked out of my childhood home after high school
  • Arrested and tried for a crime I did not commit
  • Homeless
  • Victim of violence that resulted in a lifetime of PTSD
  • Victim of an anonymous smear campaign that nearly destroyed my career.

Instead of going to college after high school, living on campus, traveling overseas, and immersing myself in the learning and lifestyle of my peers, I went to school four years later after putting jail, my trial, and homeless behind me. I worked 50 hours a week while double majoring at two different universities in order to survive.

It was not fun. It was not what college was supposed to be. I did not graduate college with lifelong friends or a bounty of memories of time spent in marble halls, crowded dorms, and green quads.

It was not the college experience that I had once dreamed of.

Still, I have been so lucky. Lucky to live in a country that provides freedom and opportunity. Lucky to be healthy and able to work as hard as I did. Lucky to be a white man who was not forced to battle the discrimination, hatred, and the glass ceilings of my female and minority friends. Lucky to find professors, bosses, and mentors who guided me. Lucky to find a family willing to rescue me from the streets. Lucky to survive horrific violence relatively unscathed. Lucky to find a brilliant and beautiful woman who was inexplicably willing to marry me. Lucky to have two happy, healthy children.    

Michael Lewis urges the graduates of Princeton to remember how lucky they are. How their success is predicated more on their good fortune than anything else. He reminds them of what can happen when you begin to believe that you have risen to the top through merit alone. 

It's the right message for the right audience at the right time, and it was spoken succinctly, clearly, and without qualification. 

Michael Lew is right, too. Wouldn't the world be a far kinder and gentler place if the successful people of our planet would be willing to acknowledge the degree to which luck has helped them to rise and while keeping other people down? 

We owe a debt to the unlucky. If only more people would be willing to pay that debt. 

A tribute to Carrie Fisher

I've always thought that Bruce Springsteen should be frozen in time. Not permitted to die. Experienced by all future generations. 

I think Carrie Fisher fits that category as well. 

Below is a moving, tear jerking tribute to her by the Star Wars team.

But anytime I see someone so young and vital who is no longer with us, it kind of destroys me. 

United Airlines is its own worst enemy. They need help. I have offered.

You've probably seen the video of the United Airline's passenger being forcibly removed from an aircraft bound for Louisville.

In case you haven't here is one of the many videos: 

The airline said in a statement that the flight was overbooked, and that no passengers agreed to voluntarily give up their seats. United said airline representatives randomly chose four passengers to leave the plane, and that one man selected refused to leave his seat.

Officials then requested the assistance of law enforcement, who forcibly removed the man. The seats were being cleared for airline employees on standby who were needed by the airline for shifts in Louisville.

After the leggings incident of three weeks ago, United Airlines is looking as bad as an airline can.

United Airlines CEO released a statement regarding the incident. It's a disaster. 

UA repsonse.jpg

"I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers?" 

The whole statement is awful. It's worse than meaningless corporate talk. It's mealy-mouthed cowardice that only serves to perpetuate the story by introducing the world to the phrase "re-accommodate passengers."

The Internet is having a field day with this one.     

I would like to propose (with all sincerity) a rewrite of the statement:

United Airlines made a terrible decision to forcibly remove a passenger from one of our aircraft. This was an indefensible decision, and as CEO of this company, I take full responsibility for everything that happened on that aircraft. I apologize to the passenger who was removed, as well as every passenger on that plane who was forced to witness his removal. I will be contacting the passenger in question personally and doing all that I can to make this right. This will never happen again as long as I am CEO of United Airlines. Additionally, I will be conducting an extensive review of the policies that led to this situation, including United Airlines overbooking problem, to determine how this happened and what needs to be change policy-wise.
— Oscar Munoz, CEO, United Airlines

Some may argue that a statement like this would expose the company to a lawsuit. I'm quite certain that United Airlines exposed themselves to a lawsuit when they chose to forcibly remove that passenger from the plane.

That cat is out of the bag already.

But even if this statement makes it more difficult to defend a potential lawsuit, the money saved in goodwill and a demonstration of actual leadership would more than make up for the settlement costs.

United Airlines reported offered $800 in travel vouchers, and it was only after this offer was rejected that they began randomly removing passengers. Rather than offering $1,000, $1,500, or more in order to entice passengers to be bumped, now they have this.

United Airlines has a market cap of $22.7 billion. In an attempt to save a couple thousand dollars, they have instead produced video footage that has been seen millions of times and reported on by every media outlet around the world.

Perhaps they should stop worrying about the nickels and dimes and start worrying about their reputation with customers. 

Yesterday I reached out to United Airlines and offered my services as head of my proposed Department of Common Sense and Decency. 

They have yet to respond to my offer. If they do respond, I'll add "CEO statement writer" to my list of proposed responsibilities as well.

Rogue One on VHS: A taste of the perfect childhood

I am happy that I live in a digital, HD, Internet-infused world. 

I am also happy that I grew up in an analog, low-definition, Internet-absent world. 

I did not touch a computer or the Internet for the first 18 years of my life. After graduating from high school, I left home, moved in with a friend going to college to study computer programming, and became an instant early adopter of both personal computing and the first iterations of Internet: localized bulletin board systems (BBS). I played games, chatted with friends, and even wrote a blog online (though it wasn't called a blog back then) as early as 1989.

When I finally made it to college in 1994, I was often the only person in any of my classes who understood what the Internet was and how it could be used. I was using the Internet for research on a regular basis (Lycos and Alta-Vista, anyone?) while my classmates spent hours digging through the stacks in the library. 

But my childhood was blessedly analog, and I wish my children could experience the same simplicity and patience that the analog world required. My generation was the only one to grow up as children without the Internet but live all of our adult lives with the Internet.

I humbly suggest that this might be the best way to live. 

It's also why I love this Rogue One VHS recreation so much. The sound and look brings me instantly back to the days when media came in a physical form, you waited all year for the Peanuts Christmas special on television, and my mother would tell me to drink out of the hose when I wanted to come inside the house for water on a summer day.

Those were good days. 

Beautiful but temporary: Why would an artist ever choose such a fleeting medium?

This is remarkable, beautiful, unbelievable, and maddeningly temporary. You must watch. 

It's hard to imagine why someone so talented would create art that lasts for such a short period of time. 

Perhaps he doesn't suffer from the existential crisis that plagues me.

Dan Kennedy on life and the nature of success

Dan Kennedy is the author of American Spirit (a novel I adored), as well as a memoirs Rock On (which Elysha and I listened to and loved) and Loser Goes First (which is sitting on my desk, waiting to be read). He is the host of The Moth's podcast and frequent host and storyteller for The Moth. I've gotten to know Dan over the years, and I adore this man. He is soulful and clever and lovely.

Dan posted a series of tweets (@DanKennedy_NYC) a few days ago on the nature of life and success, specifically speaking to those of us whose path through life was not predetermined or blessed by the financial support of parents, a traditional academic track, or employment in a family business.

The bootstrappers. The shiftless. The frightened. My people. 

These words spoke to me, and perhaps they will speak to you. Dan posted more than the four tweets I have transcribed here, but there were the four that meant the most to me. The four sentences that said so much about what it is like to maneuver through a complex, difficult, unyielding world while the people around you speak about college as if it's a forgone conclusion, live happily with parents for extended periods of time in order to save money, furnish homes with tables and sofas that were bought in actual furniture stores, and land jobs in family businesses and with family friends when their creative dreams failed to materialize.

I do not begrudge these people. I just want to remind them that there are so many other people living outside that bubble of expectation, not because we wanted to but because there was no other choice. These are the people who have rented rooms from strangers, gone without heat or electricity for months at a time, wondered how they might eat tomorrow, and thought that their dreams would likely remain dreams forever, no matter how hard they worked.

This is what makes me love Dan's words so much. They remind me and so many of us (the "cross between the pirates and the little kids") that we are not alone in our ridiculous, impossible, oftentimes invisible struggle.

Dan's words:    

That’s the thing: success takes risk. We go through straits... skate by w/o insurance... operate on cash...live where nobody else will...

If you don’t have a family break, automatic money, pre-destined academic track, you put it together any way you can.

When shit finally gets great, people applaud you. But all those other years (a decade, two, forever?) you’re the “problem.”

But for a long time you’re a cross between a pirate and a little kid. Breaking rules, full of heart, working your ass off.
— Dan Kennedy