IWA #5

Fashion. T-shirts, jeans, hoodies, crew necks, collars, tennis shoes, casual shoes, skateboard shoes, caps, beanies, rings, bows. These are all accessories that we equip on to ourselves and contribute to an individual’s fashion. But fashion is not limited to what we simply put on every morning, or in my case the night before. Fashion refers to the way one presents his or herself so it includes hairstyle, long nails, short nails, make up or no make up and etc. It is more than just a word to categorize how you present yourself, it describes who you are and is a part of your identity.

There are some people who ridicule fashion and don’t care what they wear. They say that people shouldn’t be judged on how they dress. This is true. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but how you think and how you identify yourself correlates to how you are presented. For all those who don’t care what they wear are under the category of people who don’t care what they look like. Even though there seems to be no standard for this specific type of fashion, there is; people who don’t care about how they look in public belong in the category of people who don’t care about how they look in public. This means that they are a reserved character and are most likely less materialistic  and conscious about social status than most people.

Fashion is also used to make a statement. In middle school, I went through a dramatic transition in how I presented myself in public. Back then, having long hair was the cool thing to do. Prior to those days, I didn’t care about what kind of hair I had but when I entered middle school, I wanted to conform and identify myself with others through growing out my hair. It sounds silly but it was how I felt. I wanted to belong with others and for others to identify me as a part of a group of people.

I think that the feeling of being a part of something had a big influence on my opinion of my hairstyle. Isn’t that what all people wish for- to be somewhere they belong, to be a part of a society no matter how big or small. This was my wish. I wanted to be a part of that punk kids with long hair and were anti conformists. Through fashion I was able to shout to the world who I was and by doing so make a statement about myself.

This however, was a fashion “crime.” I grew my hair out until it reached my eyes. Even though my thin hair made my head look like a mushroom, I took pride in it. My family however, didn’t. I grew out my hair against my parent’s will. They didn’t like the fact that I had the same hair as my friends because they thought that my friends were being bad influences on me. In Chinese culture, you are heavily judged by whom you associate and identify yourself with. My deep rooted grandparents saw my long hair as a wrong turn in life.

They didn’t like that, through my hair, I was identifying myself as a punk rock kid who were socially viewed as loud, rude and bad to the public. On and on I would hear them mention my hair whenever I saw my grandparents and they would worry about how I am doing in school, thinking that the way I presented myself revealed a steep change in my behavior and study habits. Instead of worrying about how long my hair was, according to Chinese culture, I needed to worry about my school work and hanging out with people that were smart and looked like they had a bright future ahead of them. In an attempt to “save” me, my grandparents would constantly lecture me on how people are influenced by the people they associate with and that associating with successful people with make you successful.

Having long hair was the rebel thing to do. Teachers would think that you were a trouble maker if you were a guy with long hair. They would have a tighter leash on you and wouldn’t give you the benefit of the doubt.

My long hair also tore away at my masculinity. Guys have short hair, girls get long hair. That’s the way society categorizes hair with sexuality. The guys that kept their hair short would look down on people who grew their hair out and would think that they were physically superior because of it. Adults were the same way. They would say that men should only grow their hair out to a certain length and once it got to long, you needed to cut it.

For a period of time, the more crap I got for having long hair, the longer I wanted to have it. It told others that I didn’t give a damn about what they thought and that I wasn’t going to conform to society.

I had a different experience in public with long hair than I do with short hair today. I normally buzz my hair because I no longer prefer long hair. With shorter hair, I feel that I command the respect of others more than I did with long hair. People take me more seriously and treat me better. Having long hair was an interesting experience. I now fashion my hair accordingly to how I feel is most comfortable. I started to hate the way my hair felt when I woke up in the morning so I decided to just cut it and that was the end of Rayshone with long hair.

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IWA #4

Jay Smooth’s IllDocterine features video blogs of Jay Smooth, expressing his opinions and whatever is on his mind. The fact that he’s from the east coast gave me the impression that he would have a rude attitude since people from the east have a more sharp and rigid personality. I was wrong about this and could only see this stereotypical east coast attitude in the way he made fun of people in his videos.

Although the topics that Jay blogs about have a wide range, each video specifically discuss a single issue or thought. Jay has a hip hop background that greatly influences his perspective. I myself listen to underground hip hop music and I feel that the issues that Jay addresses in his blog and the way he talks about things is closely related to the topics hip hop music. A lot of hip hop artists rap about what they see wrong in the world such as racism, social injustice and hypocrisy.

I think Jay’s perspective on things is important because he feels like a very ordinary person; it’s almost as if because of this we can trust the guy and his opinions. This makes him very influential to others and people might give him more credit than he does or does not deserve. I think that Jay has a realistic view points on most things and he tries to see things for what they really are instead of what others try to make it seem like. At the same time, his hip hop roots tend to make him stray away from mainstream issues or ideas because most hip hop is anti mainstream.

In his video “T-Pain and the Know Nothing Know It Alls,”  Jay bags on T-Pain for being a hypocrite and an overly arrogant at the same time. Most of this video ridicules T-Pain for being arrogant and saying that he doesn’t know anything about politics only to later to comment on politics. Jay’s anti mainstream perspective is not fooled by T-Pain’s fame. Normally people might reason with T-Pain and stand in awe at how smart T-Pain might really be for being able to comment on politics. Jay however, brushes whatever T-Pain says aside because he knows that if T-Pain doesn’t know anything about politics then he has no right to make the slightest comment about it. Jay continues to smite T-Pains image by making fun of T-Pain’s hypocrisy. By doing so, Jay is educating viewers by showing them that it’s important to separate a person’s message from their fame and to be able to think for yourself instead of trusting the words of famous people. Jay has developed a mature way of thinking and I think that it is greatly influenced by his hip hop background.

Another piece of work by Jay is his video on Martin Luther King on Extremism. Here, Jay recites parts of a speech written by Martin Luther King. By doing so, Jay actions declares that he agrees with Martin Luther King’s ideals in the speech. The speech talks about how the public generally views extremism as something negative. Martin Luther King contradicts this stereotype by providing examples of good extremists. Thomas Jefferson was an extremist of freedom, while Jesus was an extremist of love. These two people are known for all the great things they did in their lifetimes. Jay’s approval of this speech shows that he has a similar perspective that embraces unorthodox ways of thinking.

Phil Yu’s Angry Asian Man blog is composed with an Asian American perspective. It features many posts about Yu’s observations of Asian activity in America and anything he observes that stereotypes Asians. His post Big Phony, Jane Lui and the Sweet Hurt is an attempt to advertise Asian artists in the US. Yu has similar posts about Asians in the news in general. By doing so, he is creating a sort of community website for Asians. His posts are not limited to a specific race of Asians but just Asians in general. Another post features a script from a pilot episode of a new show. Yu points out the Asian character in the show who is very stereotypical. He comments how unoriginal the comedy in the show is by making cheap jokes and laughing at the Asian man. Yu is definately influenced by his Asian roots and because of it, he is offended by the show. His Asian pride also propels him to post news article or upcoming events that feature Asians. By doing so, Yu exposes his intent to spread Asian awareness through his website. What he does is important because he is voicing his thoughts while keeping his identity evident. If we lose touch of our roots and ancestry then we will lose part of our identities.

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Informal Assignment #2: red pill or blue pill

The Matrix first appeared in 1999. I was in second grade at the time and although I had no idea what was going on in the movie, the action was in the movie was very appealing. In the following years I had watched the sequels, still without truly comprehending what the plot of the movie was. My older brother and his friends tried to explained it to me but I was too mesmerized by the super human  fighting scenes.

It wasn’t until a year ago when I watched The Matrix again that I saw the scene in the movie where Morpheus explains to Neo that the machines were harvesting human beings to convert into energy.I never understood this scene as a kid and it was last year, 2010, that I truly realized what the movie was all about.

If you were to ask me in early 2000, while I was still a second grader, which of the two pills I would choose to take, the red or blue pill, I would have said the red pill. What young boy wouldn’t want to go to a place where men can fly, learn kung fu in an instant, have an arsenal of guns at their disposals and beat up the bad dudes? The question would be a no brainer when posed to a child when things are taken for granted and all there was in life was candy and video games. If I was given the choice today, I would be absolutely tormented between the two pills.

I would feel like this guy on the inside D:

The reason why the decision would be so hard for me today leads back to how most people take things for granted in their lives and for life itself. I knew about death when I was little, but I had yet to comprehend what it meant. For an atheist  as myself, death can be interpreted as an eternal nap.

I think that I speak for the world’s population that everyone love naps and wish they could take more throughout the day. In Pluto’s Apology, Socrates also describes death as something almost enjoyable if it is truly an eternal sleep. After all, his logic dictates that since we cease dreaming when we are dead, death is void of nightmares. However, when Socrates spoke of death, he seemed at peace with it. But if death is void of nightmares then won’t death also be void of good dreams as well? At the same time, if I were to die today, I would no longer have the joy of seeing friends and loved ones or the joy of satisfaction. Although I would no longer feel pain or loneliness, I feel that pain is proof of existence and I would rather live the rest of eternity damned to a monotonous lifestyle like Sisyphus, who forever pushes a boulder up a hill, than to fall into a dreamless sleep.

The reason why I compare death to taking the pills is because when you take the red pill, you experience a rebirth. But according to logic, doesn’t one have to die in order to be reborn?

In The Matrix, after taking the red pill, the scene where Neo wakes up in a pod of ooze symbolizes his awakening; it is almost like he was reborn into the real world. By taking the red pill he left behind everything he had in the world engineered by the machines. Although whatever happened in that digital world was not technically “real,” his feelings made those experiences real. That being said, it would make it very difficult to leave behind your friends and family in the digital world. I think that it was easier for Neo to take the red pill because he seemed to have lived alone nor did it seem like he had any friends. This means that he most likely didn’t have any significant others, which makes it much easier for him to leave his life in the digital world behind.

The torment of the choosing between the two pills spawns from dying in the digital world to reborn in the real world. Depending on how I feel the day that Morpheus asks me whether to take the blue or red pill, I just may feel adventurous and curious enough to take the red pill.

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Informal Assignment 1: Examined Life

Astra Taylor’s Examined Life features thought provoking thinkers discussing some kind of idea that they have obviously contemplated very deeply. Each host has their own topic and range from a large spectrum. The host that resonated with me most was Peter Singer.

In Peter Singer’s Examined Life, he raises the question of whether people should see a moral problem with what they spend their money on. I think what he is getting at is that should we feel bad for spending large sums of money on things we don’t need when people in other parts of the world or even some in America don’t even have enough to feed themselves or provide shelter for their family. Is it moral for people to be able to acknowledge the less fortunate yet live ours with such gusto? If we are able to afford ipods and cellphones for even young children, then shouldn’t we be able to look after our own kind? The moral questions that spawns from Peter’s thoughts are so real because they apply to just about everyone who owns anything more than he or she needs in order to survive. There are only three things man needs to survive: food, water, and shelter. So the question is do people have a moral obligation to take care of others? If so, then where does it end? Should one be so selfless that he or she gives away all of his or her possessions away so that they may help others with financial needs? Is there a point where one can say that he or she has help enough  strangers and is free from these stabs of guilt? Does this mean that no one is allowed to have any fun or leisure until everyone else in the world has the same exact opportunities? These are some of the questions that were ignited while thinking about Peter’s question.

Peter brings up a scenario near the beginning of his scene. He says to imagine that there is a child drowning in a pond. The first thing that comes to mind is to save the child. But what if you were wearing five hundred dollar shoes. Surely those shoes would lose their worth if you were to immediately dive into the pond. Still, a person’s life cannot be measured by money so the obvious choice is to forgo the shoes and jump in. However, think about how the value of the shoes and what that money could be used for instead. Well, half a grand can buy some medicine to treat simple disease that kill many other children in poorer parts of the world. Now the dilemma has been tweaked. Should you have even bought those shoes in the first place? They could save lives, but it is your money, you earned and so you can spend it however you want.

Peter’s thought comes across in my mind as should our society in America be able to live comfortably while people in third world countries are simply struggling for a basic need such as clean water. In America, water can be found just about everywhere. Water is also being wasted just about everywhere so is this something we can justify?

To me, this resembles a drop in a bucket problem where everybody has the ability to help aid change in the world one way or another but will it make a difference? Furthermore, what obligations do we really have and to who. But to me, what I wonder, is how much of our time and money should we allocate to others either in our society or to strangers. Do we have to completely devote our lives to other people or is it acceptable to spend most of our time improving our own lives rather than those around us?


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Implicit Association Test

The first test I took for IAT was the Money vs Leisure test. I am not sure if all the test required categorizing words but that’s what I was told to do. Random words were thrown at me and I was supposed to put them under the corresponding category. I thought it was a more interactive way to survey people than just answering questions. Although the survey did ask some questions, it was restricted to a minimal. Ultimately, the data suggested that I prefer money over leisure. What does that mean? I have a few guesses but lets start by defining the terms. Money is probably more obvious than leisure. Money was categorized with wallet, cash, dollar, etc. Essentially money equals wealth. Meanwhile, leisure was categorized with hobbies, free time, etc. In a nutshell, I am guessing that the survey concluded that I would rather get paid large sums of money over having free time and doing things I enjoy such as eating. If free time was equivalent to leisure than anyone could have tons of free time if they quit their job. But if people quit their jobs they would have no money! These two things go hand in hand. Yet I see how working too much and obsession with money can interfere with leisure. This survey was helpful in reflecting on my thoughts about how much time is worth putting into money when leisure is easily accessible without too much money.

The next study was the Advertisement Study. It had me write down a bad experience and then revealed an ad. My response was taken by playing the same category game as I did for the other test. The hypothesis was that if I wrote about a negative experience, then I would respond positively to a negative ad. I think that the reasoning behind this is that if I am in a bad mood then seeing something else negative will lighten my mood as it will comfort me. But I think that this survey largely depends on the effort of the subject to remember and visualize a bad experience, otherwise the conditions will not have been met. For me since the ad was about a body spray, I had a negative reaction. My opinion on body spray is very positive in itself since in middle school body spray was way overused and now every time I smell it I think of little kids trying to act tough.

These IAT tests are nice and short. You also don’t have to answer too many questions which I think is good because you cannot give a specific enough answer for multiple choice questions. This way of taking surveys in very effective and I am interested to see what other tests they have.

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