Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Six Weeks A-Wander

Coming, all is clear, no doubt about it. Going, all is clear, without a doubt. What, then, is all? – Hosshin, 13th c. Japanese death poem.

There would be no revelation. Nothing learned that couldn’t be otherwise learned through careful practice.

I spent just under six weeks in nine cities - eight of them new to me. I was in airports, train stations, ports, metros, busses and taxis.

I walked probably 200 miles, often on bumpy streets and dragging a bag that I came to call Petit Pierre because it weighed as much as a French kindergartener.

I gazed at contemporary buildings, legendary stadiums, old churches, art, parks, mountains, fjords and people.

I “communicated” in seven foreign languages, two of which I had studied before.

I was constantly lost. I was physically lost for practically the entire time, reinventing the wheel every 4-5 days when I arrived in a new city. At times, I felt lost altogether. Wondering how the story would end.

I ate the best and worst food possible. The breakfast buffet that was so welcome the first morning in Helsinki became detestable by the last morning in Copenhagen. I managed to find some great kebab in almost every city.

I paid 1 euro for a glass of rose at a restaurant in Barcelona’s Gothic District and $12.50 for a beer at a cheesy bar on Oslo’s Karl Johansgatan.

I met gypsies and representatives from the World Health Organization, beautiful women and executives from Nokia, rude Parisians and affable Spaniards, former lawyers and future lawyers, colleague connections and ephemeral hostel party-mates.

I read several books, but Don Quixote was the one that mattered most. It took me longer to read this masterpiece than it did to finish my MBA. It is the longest and most meaningful relationship I’ve ever had. I spent two years wondering how it, too, would end.

And in the end, it was exactly as it should have been. We realize that everything we have been doing along is frivolous, the fodder of simple enjoyment. Others laughed at us and we reveled in it. We will sulk at misfortune and giggle our heads off in sheer ecstasy, and, eventually, the vibration of the strings dulls into silence.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Couple Snaps

Perfect avocado. 

Venice biker gang.

Can't get more Venice than this: Mikey, Otheroom, Abbot's Pizza. 

Mom made buffalo wing meatballs. Amazing. 

(Gratuitous sunny day photo) 

Purple sky. 

4th of July, booze, King's cup. 

Mo daddy looking smooooooth. 


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Porn Conundrum

One day, long ago, man's sole responsibilities were finding food and sex by any means necessary. He hunted and usually found a mate who would gather other food as well as bear children. She didn't have to be perfect, just good enough.

In the last 100 years, as the Western world has become industrialized things have changed. People started to marry for love more than family pressure or business sense (though we still do this all the time). Men and women connected, accepted each other's flaws and lived satisfactory lives.

In the last 10 years streaming video has changed everything. Enter the Entitled Generation and the porn conundrum. Today, our food needs are cheaply and easily (not nutritionally) satisfied through fast food. Our generation is proud to say we don't cook and we plan on staying single for a long time. As one handsome British gentleman I spoke to the other day put it, in light of a conversation about his bride-to-be, "People around here wait forever to get married as though they're waiting for something to happen, like 'Oh, I'm 36 and I've only fucked 150 girls, maybe I'll find the right one soon.'"

He had a point. There is a difference in the type of person who seeks relationships and marriage. Our generation feels entitled to cheap thrills. The good life. Fun brands! Coachella! If we don't like a girl, we have a catalog of 10,000 gorgeous women ready to look into out eyes and please us at 500 KB/sec. No wonder we go from woman to woman. The average relationship with a porn clip lasts about 45 seconds.

None of this is bad per se, I just wonder how it affects social structure in the next couple decades. Do we grow out of this or do younger generations begin to accept this as the way to organize? Do women start to accept that men also like to beat their drums, or as I once heard it described, accept that sex and masturbating are like eating and drinking? They're similar activities but both are required to survive.

As is often the case with WisslinDixie, I don't know how this one ends. If you'll excuse me, it's time I get back to my YouPorn.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Statistics Don't Lie

Statistics don't lie. They're cut and dried, and come from calculators or excel formulations. People, however, lie and make mistakes quite often. I have 2 examples of lying: market research on the Hispanic community and the Wal-Mart class action lawsuit.

One of my professors was talking about PRIZM research. This company conducts demographic and psychographic research for the United States and creates categories for different types of people. (Click here: http://www.claritas.com/MyBestSegments/Default.jsp?ID=20&SubID=&pageName=ZIP%2BCode%2BLook-up , put in your zip code and see where they place you, it's hilarious.) This company did some research on Hispanic Americans' consumption habits and found that they love BET, Jet Magazine, The New York Times, and canned chili, but don't like pork sausage. Interesting huh? Sounds like some companies need to adjust their marketing strategies.

Here's the problem.

Hispanics are most prominent in Los Angeles, Miami, Texas and New York. What Hispanic person in Los Angeles, Miami or Texas reads the New York Times?? What countries do Hispanic New Yorkers come from? What ethnicities, outside of Hispanic, do New York Hispanics belong to? The research shows a strong bias toward reporting done in New York, where people of all ethnicities read the NYT, and Hispanic people are more likely to have Dominican or Puerto Rican roots, along with African roots.

Then there's food. Do Mexicans really like chili? The reporting indicates that Hispanics were asked, "Do you eat chili?" to which they answered an emphatic, "Yes!" because they eat chiles in almost anything they make. And pork sausage? They eat it all the time and call it "chorizo."

Now to the Supreme Court's denial to hear the Wal Mart class action suit, in which 1.5 million women sued the behemoth for gender discrimination. Something like 70% of Wal-Mart's hourly workforce is women, but less than 1/3 of management jobs are held by women. That's statistics!


First of all, this compares management jobs to hourly jobs, which are not the same thing.

Second, the women in the class action suit were not part of the same "class" of worker, as the Court pointed out. Some are looking for management jobs, while others are grandmas trying to make a couple extra bucks, and other are in between.

Third, similarly to the last point, women often have different orientations toward work than men. True, gender is a protected class as it should be, but many women choose to place family as a higher priority than work. The kind of women who work at Wal-Mart likely over-index when it comes to this. Women who want to have management jobs should be able to reach them if they have the skills and put in the work. (And I do believe that Wal-Mart discriminated.) However, to use statistics to say that men are overrepresented in management jobs to prove systematic discrimination is systematically flawed. What if these hourly workers simply weren't trying to get promotions? Or continually requested schedule changes in favor of family obligation? That's fine if they can keep their jobs and do this, but it doesn't make them promotion material. And it shouldn't make them part of a discriminated-against class worthy of a large judgment.

The point is that the specifying kind of women who work in hourly Wal-Mart jobs matters, just like the location of Hispanic market research matters, and specifying food names matters. Otherwise statistics can't uncover actual lies.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011




Purple People Eater.

Yeah, I love clouds.



Monday, May 30, 2011

Leave A Message

A couple weeks ago Nike came out with a women's surf video called "Leave A Message." I watched some of it and the girls were ripping, except for the hot ones who were just hot. I'm cool with that.

In the aftermath of this release has been an interesting discussion and series of op-ed pieces in the surf world about women's sponsorship money and the whole female professional surf world. It's wrong, claim some women (http://www.theinertia.com/business-media/proliferating-stereotypes-for-profit/), to sponsor women for their looks while men are sponsored (ostensibly) for their talent. Not so fast, says I. 

This whole debate functions around this assumption that the powers that be in surfing have some sort of conspiracy against women who are talented at surfing but don't look cute in bikinis. They must be a member of the same secret society that chooses good looking women to sponsor in every other professional sport. Or the slightly larger secret society that chooses attractive women to be more successful in the workplace. My point: It's fucking nature.

Men are athletes who like to look at good looking women. Women like to watch men compete and like to see good looking women modeling the clothes they're considering buying. There is no sport at which women compete at a higher level than men. Tennis is close, but Kim Clijsters gets smoked by a one-arm, one-legged Rafa Nadal any day of the week. 

The author of the article I linked above is a former professional longboarder and is not particularly attractive nor unattractive. I get her perspective that we should focus on talent. The problem is that men and women alike prefer to watch men compete because men are better. She points out that men make $3.45 for every $1 female professional surfers make. Well, fine. Men make more money for the surf brands that sponsor events and the men themselves. There are other careers that are more lucrative for women than men, like hosting talk shows. 

At the end of the day we only have nature to blame. Men and women are built differently with brains that operate differently. Trying to force equal prize money for men and women does not make a lot of sense. We can promote fairness (like not always sending the women out in the shittiest conditions), but how do we determine what is fair? Is "fair" is taking sponsorships away from cute girls who can surf decent, and giving them to a girl who rips but looks like a trog?

If we look at how much female professional surfers contribute to the sports popularity and profitability versus what percent of prize money they get, they're probably overpaid. You can fight it, but you'd just be fighting human nature.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Venice Pier

El Porto, windy and tiny 

Mr. Fox 


This morning, Venice/ MdR 

Wind= bad surf and awesome clouds