Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas

Hope you all had a good Christmas. I know mine was lackluster, among other things, but hopefully you all had a better one than I did! Another post is soon to follow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thoughts on US Education Standing

Link to article found here: U.S. Standing at Risk: Education Leaders Propose Action Agenda

For months now, I've heard about how America's global standing in terms of education - namely technology, science, and mathematic fields - has been slipping. A few nights ago I ran across the article linked above, and it does seem that people are attempting to bring the issue to ahead.

One of the most interesting things that caught my eye in this article is the quote that it ends with:
"These are demanding recommendations that will require the commitment of everyone — schools, colleges and universities, parents and students, and state and national leaders — but the dividend will be historic... We must create a system that works, a system that propels all students toward success and rejects anything less."

It spoke to what my own philosophy about all of this is - everyone involved has to want to improve the system before anything substantial can be done. And since I'm sure that this problem will only get worst before it can get any better, I'm left to wonder what tactics will be done to try and scheme students into performing well. One such method I can think of is paying children to do well in school.

Fundamentally, I have a severe issue with this. I don't believe that anyone should be paid some type of monetary stipend for their success. It was recently brought to my attention that a fair amount of a certain grade in my school is either in danger of failing, or plainly failing their classes and now things are trying to be done to fix it. One of the students in that grade then suggested that they get paid to encourage people to pick up their grades. And to me, this just kills the point behind learning and what school should ideally be about. Once you start to pay for success, I believe that it will set up a dangerous precedent leading people to believe that for every 'good' action they do, they'll get some form of material award. This is not a realistic reflection of how life truly is - not to mention it will then shift the focus of school away from whats being taught and absorbed even more than it is now.

So here is my suggestion to the educators at Collegeboard and elsewhere: Emphasize the act of learning itself, not the grades or any type of scale that is measure with a high-risk mentality. If you're able to instill a love or at least genuine interest in topics - especially the ones we're lacking in - our world standing will surely increase. It will create a much wider culture that would value education instead of the crap we have now.

Finally, what does this mean for the world that I will graduate into? I use to think when I was younger that my American citizenship and education would allow me to go anywhere I wanted in the world, but as I get closer and closer to the finish line, I'm not too sure anymore. The pool of competition keeps growing and growing and I'll be one more fish in the sea. Will my education, even if it is from a prestigious institution in America, be a joke on the international stage? All I can say is Americans need to 'step up with our game' as goes the slang. No longer can we lackadaisically blunder along while the rest of the world carries on without us - its this type of ignorance that is leading to our asses being kicked in many more areas; education is not the only grave obstacle we have to overcome.

The Singularity and Duality of God

I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.


The commonplace and simple religious understanding of God is of a single nature - to think that God is purely based off the basic principle of goodness. Yet, this doesn't manage to sit well with me. How could any being - holy or otherwise - be so perfectly aligned to one side of morality, while we mortals are forever doomed to trudge along the dividing line, slipping back and forth between the darkness and the light? For after all, were we not made in His* image? It is clear from just living that the world around us is a reflection of our own mislaid souls - both are capable of unquestionably fantastic things, while at the same time proficient at destruction.

Indeed with this singular comprehension of God, one could argue that Satan provides the opposing counter-weight. One pure good, the other pure evil - two essences - that lend themselves to the label of sharing a dual existence. But then, it also understood that Satan is and always will be weaker than God, the good one - the better one.

It is here that we also run into another problem. Duality calls for balance between the forces - one can't have more of a pull than the other - So here is another theory: What if instead of God and Lucifer being two separate - but in no way independent - beings, they were two sides of the same individual? Such an individual would be a much more accurate demonstration of our own psyches - it would be easier to perceive our creation from its hands than the hands of a do-gooder, no? For why and how could something of pure light make such muddied creatures. How could it had even known or possess the ability to grasp shadows, unless it did in fact leave some in its wake?

To me, it is this version of god that makes the most sense - that seems the most human.

Or course, perhaps God is truly neutral in our lives, merely being without much sway towards anything?

*Who is to say God is male of female? Doesn't that bring up the question of duality itself, should we give the concept of god a gender? Where is the counter-part?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Angels and Mortality

The abyss that is mortality -

Can one say that this very world - the one we as a race have created, not the natural world we 'tainted' - is an effort to escape it? After all, we are the only beings that have gone so far as to leave our stamp upon time. But, is it worth it? In the end, we all shall succumb to it and its magnitude of a complete and utter end. To what lengths are we willing to go to make sure that the thought of our beings, outshine the actual staple that was 'us'?

And what about Angels? Do they represent the possible √úbermensch within all of us, or are they truly monsters simply by virtue of their perceived perfectness? Do they fear that very same abyss as we do, despite their proximity to God? After all, they have been drawn as humanoids throughout the centuries so that we may feel a connection between us and them. And many a times, they still have they're humanity among them - that weakness of heart and dilemma along with the strength and courage deep down within.

Can mortality swallow them up whole, just as easily as it can us?

To be Inspired and Rebuke To The Nature of Inspiration

Here are somethings I wrote awhile ago.

To be Inspired:
Inspiration, to me at least, is realizing just how small you really are, relative to all that surrounds you. But then, within that smallness, that great minuscule sum of being, you start to become cognizant of the fact that you can create a difference.



Rebuke To The Nature of Inspiration:
At that same token, one that important, it must be understood that inspiration has a dark side. Coming to the realization of your own infinite smallness, while being able to spark that great light within, can also diminish whatever was previously there. Being small and surrounded holds the possibility of feeling lost. Of feeling that your will has no impact on the proceedings ahead and behind you. And so, you allow yourself to float away with the ever constant river of time. For it doesn't stop, not even for a second.

The state in which inspiration is created, can also be where all hope is lost.

All of Kanye's Samples

Hayley showed me this a few days ago and seeing as how I'm a fan of Mr. West's work, it was indeed a treat. I have to give the man credit - reaching out to other work that helped to define the music we have now shows a sense of appreciation.

Anywho, heres the video. Its a bit long, so not all of it is completely worth watching.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saturday's Outing

Lately I've used this blog for mainly intellectual purposes, that in no way means that I haven't had any fun. These past few weeks have been entertaining, to say the least, and Saturday was no exception. I headed out to meet Hayley at her place and somehow, we ended up detouring to Central park. As we were strolling along, freezing our nips off - cursed cold! - I was mindlessly talking about my favorite area of the park being Bethesa Terrace and Fountain when we ran into it.

Earlier in the summer, whenever I had to be at hunter, I'd get all my friends together and head west just to see this fountain. I had forgotten I entered from the West side of the park this time and wasn't expecting to run into it. Heres a view of the boathouse:



And one of Hayley herself:

Thanks to the cold, we ended up quickly leaving and ran back to her place. Met her family and friends and ended up in a discussion about the use of blogs in schools that then evolved into talking about technology being an extension of ourselves - both of which would be better addressed in another post, or maybe even podcast - during lunch.

All in all it was pretty relaxing, which is something I guess I needed both in my life and on my blog - even if just a little.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

College Essay: What is my potential? - Fifth Draft

Have I reached my Potential?

This past year as been full of visiting universities and hunting for my potential as if it was a tangible object that could be worn like a pin on my shirt – of seeing all these different possibilities around every corner. All of this wonder, while at first making me feel lost, has allowed me to find an answer to this question.

Simply put, yes I have reached my potential – the potential of my high school self and the potential to stand out and excel on whatever campus I may be going to in a few month’s time. My potential has been deeply correlated within everything I’ve put myself out do.

Take my work with computers and technology, especially with the XO machine used in the One Laptop Per Child Project. I led the development of a student wiki guide since most of the documents on the machines are for developers – an experience that led me to grapple with the severe rift that divides education levels around the world and help dispel it. This work lent itself to my consideration of the graver issues world poverty possesses. I’m still amazed at how it truly holds the potential of solving an issue larger than itself and manage to cross into many different areas of interest. Its own prospects can’t be limited to merely one sphere, much like my own.

Yet, despite all of this and countless more experiences that have made me more than capable of adding charisma and worldliness to any college student body, I’ve learned some thing about the very nature of potential. Potential is not a fixed value that once it’s reached can then be shelved and forgotten. Instead it behaves more like a variable, and it is with that new found knowledge I must answer with an equally resounding ‘no’ – I haven’t reached my potential. As I chased after it, I saw that with the more I did – the more that my accomplishments stacked up – my potential shifted and morphed itself into something grander than what I was originally possible just days before. I see that it was the driving force behind my own development and why it couldn’t have just kept still and how it became a complete and utter hunger to learn. If it did come to a halt, I wouldn’t be ready for what is to come. It is that determination that has gotten me to this point.

And perhaps, this is what it means to attain my potential. Knowing that now that I’ve grown to the best of high school self and it is only through college I’ll discover an older and wiser me; that the bar of accomplishment will also rise and it is my job, not only as a student but as a human being, to always keep up with it. This is my potential, and while its not the pin I first thought I was after, it is something that I am much more proud of – something that will no doubt manifest itself and flourish within the walls of your classrooms and impact your school at large.

500 Words?

So I decided to check in with my high school counselor to see just how many words I could get away with on my college essay. I already had a feeling that 800 words was far over the limit of what any reasonable admissions rep would read, but I was hoping that I could go above the 500 word limit to say, 600 words.

Nope, not going to cut it.

And thus, my night was then fulled of me going back to my paper with a cleaver and flat out chopping it into pieces. Made me quite sad actually - most of those funny little phrases I used (I really loved "inquiries of limitation") are now gone to the wayside, never to be heard from again.

Yet, there is one thing that I'll take solace in - the fact that the full, unabridged version of it is here on this blog for all to see. And, that we're not yet done. I've yet to come up with a truly final edit, though I believe I'm on the final stretch (hopefully!). I'll post it up here in just a comment.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thoughts on the third draft of College essay

This post is a reflection about the essay posted here. Its really so that I have a record of my thoughts behind it, and where I was planning to go with it.

So I've bloated my paper. Seriously, 800+ words is just a ridiculous amount to expect anyone to read.

But why did I do this? Why did I stuff so much into it?

I'd like to say that at the time, I decided to place all of that into it to see what would fit and what just didn't have a place. I believe after reading it over, I know what to take away, but I'm very interested in hearing what you all have to say about it, to see if I was correct in my judgement.

As for where I want to go for the fourth draft, I want to aim for 600 or so words - nothing more than 700 though. I've found that in the applications, there are more than enough places for me to explain and show what else I've done. I believe that I will instead choose to focus on but a few accomplishments - that gives me more room to get deeper into them.

Heres to a healthy and slimmer future draft.

College Essay: What is my potential? - Third Draft

Have I reached my potential?

For the past four years, that has been the question I’ve always asked myself. In everything I did, that question loomed overhead - at times out of sight, but never out of mind. Then, when I’d finally sit down to take a break from school, work, or whatever was going on, it would come out of hiding to taunt me with its inquiries of limitation. And so, now that I’m at the threshold of college - a series of decisions that will not only impact the next four years of my life, but ripple out into the rest of my adult career - I can’t help but be consumed by the nuances the word ‘potential’ carries upon its back.

This past year as been full of visiting universities and hunting for my potential as if it was a tangible object that could be somehow worn like a pin on my shirt; Of seeing all these different possibilities around every corner. All of this wonder, while at first making me feel lost, has allowed me to find an answer to this question.
Simply put, yes I have reached my potential – the potential of my high school self and the potential to stand out and excel on whatever campus I may be going to in a few month’s time. My potential has been deeply correlated within everything I’ve put myself out in the mix to do.
Take my normal school workload - something that has forced me to seriously develop my writing and literature capabilities by dabbling in a little of everything and at the same time ended up creating the bedrock on which I’ve stood -- academically and mentally - and will continue to stand on as I reach out to redefine myself many more times to come.

Take my classes at Hunter College which gave me a more in depth look into the field of sociology and consequently psychology, subjects that I can’t wait to pursue once I walk past my college of choice’s door. Observing not only the structure of human society, but being able to look at the individual units which form the very fabric of the framework is something that can’t and shouldn’t be neglected. After all, this is where the question of potential within us mortals as a whole takes center stage and manifests into exceptional constructions, evil and good alike.

Take my work with computers, especially with the XO machine used in the One Laptop Per Child Project - an experience that led me to understanding the rift that divides levels of education around the world and what is being done to dispel it. This of course lent itself to the graver issues world poverty contains for me to expose myself to. I’m still amazed because of how it truly holds the potential of solving an issue larger than itself and manage to cross into some many different areas of interest. Its own prospects can’t be limited to merely one sphere of importance.

Yet, despite all of that and countless more experiences that have made me more than capable of adding charisma and worldliness to any college student body, I’ve learned some thing about the very nature of potential. Potential is not a fixed value that once it’s reached can then be shelved and forgotten. Instead it behaves more like that of a variable, and it is with that new found knowledge that I must answer with an equally resounding ‘no’ – I haven’t reached my potential. As I chased after my potential, I saw that the more I did - the more that my accomplishments stacked up - my potential shifted and morphed itself into something grander than what I was originally capable of just days before. I see that it was the driving force behind my own development and why it couldn’t have just kept still and why it became a complete and utter hunger to learn. If it did come to a halt, I wouldn’t be ready for what is to come. It is that determination that has gotten me to this point.

It is also here where I see goals that I’ve yet to fully grasp, but am still hard at work towards - my journey to learn French and Japanese deserving of special attention here. I have definitely made strides on the long path that encompasses learning languages; this is still something that I have ways to go before obtaining a mastery of them. This is but another aim for my college years.

And perhaps, this is what it means to attain my potential. Knowing that now that I’ve grown to the best of high school self and it is only through college that I’ll discover an older and wiser me; that the bar of accomplishment will also rise and it is my job, not only as a student but as a human being, to always keep up with it. This is my potential, and while its not the pin I first thought I was after, it is something that I am much more proud of – something that will no doubt manifest itself and flourish within the walls of your classrooms and impact your school at large.