16
Apr
15

20 Traits of TRUE Mental Toughness

Here are some things to work on for further happiness. Original article by Justin Gammill found here.

mentaltoughness

One aspect of life that will always remain a constant is that it will always challenge you. That’s just part of the journey, friends, and if you aren’t tough – life will eat you up. I’m not talking about being physically tough, any ogre can pull that off. I am talking about mental toughness. The traits of your personality that afford for thicker skin and shorter memories, which in my opinion are all you need to get through this life a happy, fulfilled, and well-rounded person.

These are my personal traits of mental toughness that we should all aspire to:

1. Pick your Battles
Some things in life you’ve just got to let go. If every little stimulus gets your hackles up, then guess what: you spend your life fighting. Even if you happen to be a third-world warlord, constant conflict isn’t something that makes for a productive life.

2. Judge Not, lest you be Judged
Instead of focusing your magnifying glass on everyone in your life, why not turn it into a mirror? If you want everyone around you to let you be yourself, then let them be themselves.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
Even the mightiest people you’ve even encountered in your life all need help at some point. Superman needed Lois Lane. Batman needed Robin. Bert Needed Ernie. Let go of your pride, and ask for help when you need it.

4. Forgive
Holding on to grudges is like holding on to poison. Let it go. Forgiveness is the antidote to hate.

5. Accept Criticism
The second that you think you are above criticism is the second that you quit growing as a person. Growth comes from stripping away your personal preconceptions of yourself just like pruning a tree helps it grow.

6. Give Freely of Yourself
Life is all about give and take, and I promise you, giving is so much more fulfilling than taking. Would you rather be the source of the water, or the sponge that sucks it up?

7. Be Humble
As great as you think you are, crushing your ego is the number one way to ground yourself in reality. There is a distinct difference between being proud of an accomplishment, and thinking that you are god’s gift to humanity.

8. Quit Worrying About What is “Fair”
“Fair” is a purely conditional situation that rarely exists in life. The sooner you realize that nothing about life is “fair” the sooner you’ll readily accept whatever life throws at you.

9. Embrace Change
Change in growth, and vice versa. Trying to live in a bubble is a sign that you can’t cope with life, because one thing about life is that it will always change.

10. Be Financially Responsible
This statement in no way mean “be materialistic”. What it does mean is that in life, in modern society, we all have certain financial responsibilities. Yeah, I’d love to waste all of my money on fun gadgets and lego sets, but I have bills to pay.

11. Be patient
The old cliche that “patience is a virtue” exists because it is true. Anything worth having is worth working for and waiting for. Even diamonds take time.

12. Build Upon Yourself
Self-improvement isn’t just a section of the bookstore you may or may not venture into. No one comes into this world perfect, and therefore we must build on what we have, and become who we want to be, instead of just expecting it to happen.

13. Take Care of Yourself
Our health, both mental and physical is a constant struggle. If you are sick all of the time, how can you be expected to face whatever life throws at you?

14. Manage Your Time
Time should be considered a currency, because it is all we really have on this planet. Dedicating your time to the right pursuits is essential to maintaining a life you want to live.

15. Not Everything is a Crisis
Again, this falls somewhere between time management and picking your battles. If you consistently make mountains out of mole hills, you lose the ability to focus on what really matters in life.

16. Co-dependence is Weakness
No one in this life will get you through but you. The more you depend on “crutches” in life, the less able you are to make it through on your own. No matter how much you think someone else will be there to get you through, often the hardest struggles in life are the ones you have to take on by yourself.

17. Take Responsibility for your Life
Slinging blame around like monkey sling poop is just as effective. This is your time on this planet, so taking ownership of your actions is the only way to truly live YOUR life.

18. Perfection Doesn’t Exist
Trying to achieve perfection is about as meaningful as trying to catch water with a sieve. Your idea of “perfect” and mine, and everyone else’s for that matter, are completely different. Be happy with who you are, instead of worrying about what is acceptable to anyone else.

19. Know Yourself, Trust Yourself
I believe in this principle enough to have it tattooed on my wrist. Knowing yourself is what leads to you trusting yourself, But you cannot trust yourself without knowing yourself. It is a cycle.

20. Expect Less
You’re going to get out of life what you put in to it, and even then – sometimes you get less. Don’t expect life to give you a break, because it won’t. Instead, learn to take what you get and make the best of it.

10
Apr
15

Inspirational Lauren Hill: I want everyone to know I never gave up

I hope that they keep the video up about this girl’s story. Great quote – “Dying is easy, the least of us will manage that. Living well, that’s the trick.” Original article found here. Such an inspiration to keep living regardless of how bad of a hand we are dealt.

Laurenhillvideo

Lauren Hill touched a nation with her desire to play for Mount St. Joseph’s women’s basketball team, even as she battled an inoperable brain tumor.

Her resolve, spirit and courage were celebrated Nov. 2 when she realized her dream at Xavier University’s Cintas Center. Cheered on by a sold-out crowd of 10,250 and a television audience, Hill scored the first and last basket of the Mount’s 66-55 victory over Hiram College.

She passed away Friday at the age of 19.

Mount St. Joseph’s will hold a celebration and prayer service on its campus to honor her.

“We are forever grateful to have had Lauren grace our campus with her smile and determined spirit,” said Mount St. Joe president Tony Aretz.

Hill death was acknowledged by several celebrities, including LeBron James, who wrote a series of tweets.

The Indiana native said at the game her goal was is to find a cure for cancer. Hill was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma shortly after her 18th birthday. The rare form of brain cancer typically affects young children ages 4 to 9.

“When I was diagnosed I remember kind of feeling lonely because nobody understood. And now that more people know about this story and the awareness of DIPG. I’m so happy that people know about it now and that we can get some research going and hopefully find that home run cure for cancer,” Lauren said.

“And even though I’m probably not going to be around to see it, it’s going to help a lot of people. And that’s why we need to keep staying with this and not end it with this game, and keep supporting research.”

LaurenHill

An announced $40,000 was raised the day of the game for The Cure Starts Now Foundation and pediatric cancer research. Overall, her nonprofit foundation has helped to raise more than $1.5 million for cancer research.

“Through Lauren’s fundraising and advocacy efforts, she not only became a spotlight on the lack of funding for cancer research, but she most certainly has become a beacon guiding researchers for years to come,” The Cure Starts Now co-founder Brooke Desserich said.

Dr. Mariko DeWire, Lauren’s physician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, said fundraising has allowed doctors to study DIPG more closely in the last five years. The condition is incurable.

DeWire explained what HIll endured physically at the basketball game – that loud noises affected her balance and bright lights bothered her. The forward wore sunglasses and headphones on the bench and earplugs throughout. None of it stopped her from having a memorable day in the short time she played, or gracefully accepting a halftime award from legendary Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt.

“As you can see, Lauren is strong. She was going to rock it, and she did,” Dr. DeWine said. “She did more than rock it.”

The NCAA granted an exemption for the game to be played ahead of schedule so she could participate. It was an emotional day for Lions coach Dan Benjamin, who said Hill committed to the Mount in October of 2013 and told the staff 49 days later that she had the tumor.

Coach and player bonded instantly, and then the team followed suit.

“The two biggest thing we wanted to accomplish is team and team chemistry, and Lauren helped us do that. But along the way she’s made a lot of our girls become very mature, which is apparent. That’s what you always want to do. You want your kids to understand what life’s about,” Benjamin said.

“And here instead of me teaching them, it was Lauren teaching them. She’s made a great impact on these young ladies. I think they’re going to remember this life lesson forever and hopefully they carry it out and help her carry the mission in their own lives.”

08
Apr
15

Dad is in need of help!

The last time I saw my Dad before he drove home and I am hoping not the last.

The last time I saw my Dad before he drove home and I am hoping not the last time I see him.

Things have been a little stressful around my house here lately as my pops has gone ill.

He drove out here the second week of March to see my brother and myself as well as checking off two of his bucket list items – drive cross country in a convertible and see some Cincinnati Reds spring training games. He was able to see three games and his two boys and then headed home. Upon returning home he has been bed-ridden, unable to eat (no appetite), and unable to hold anything down if he does eat. He has been taken to the doctor but they cannot tell anything without testing.

And that is the catch – he has no insurance and is not eligible to get on a state program so all his medical care is up to us siblings. At the very least he needs a colonoscopy and probably some blood work.

If you don’t know my Dad then I’d like you to know that he is one of the most laid people, always happy, and always optimistic. He hates to inconvenience people – even when it comes to his health he would rather suffer than bother someone. While that might work for a heartburn, that doesn’t work when you are staying in bed for 20+ hours a day and unable to eat either due to the pain of eating or simply because you can’t hold it down. Even in the above picture I am pretty sure he was in pain – but didn’t want to inconvenience my brother or myself by saying so and “ruining his trip.”

I don’t like asking for donations but I think that charity is one thing that is great about people. My dad has always embraced the idea of charity – he was the guy who waited to be the last one at the drive-in movies to jump anyone that ran their battery down, would give his life savings to his sibling just because they asked, would mow the neighbors grass if he knew they were sick/old, or buy the less fortunate a burger who was begging on the corner. His willingness to donate to charity even if he wasn’t in the best position to do so has definitely been something that has stuck with me and been adopted to me in my own life.

So if you have anything to donate, it would be welcome. If you have any connections to any medical outreach programs in Dayton, Ohio, that is also very welcome as it is extremely hard to do all this from Arizona! Simply click the logo below if you’d like to donate – anything helps!gfm

28
Mar
15

IDMA 2014 Winners

Results found here for the 30th International Dance Music Awards – 2014.

Lifetime Achievement

Frankie Knuckles

1. Best Underground Dance Track

Conjure Superstar – Maceo Plex
Crossfade – GusGus
Forget – Patrick Topping
Ghost In The System – Pleasure State
Okay – Shiba San
Talk To You (Groove Armada Remix) – Drew Hill
Walking With Elephants – Ten Walls

2. Best Alternative/Indie Rock Dance Track

Ain’t It Fun – Paramore
Can’t Do Without You (Tale Of Us Remix) – Caribou
Dangerous – Big Data
Digital Witness – St. Vincent
Get Away – CHVRCHES
Sleeping With A Friend – Neon Trees
Stolen Dance – Milky Chance

3. Best Indie Dance Track

Apart Feat. Sísý Ey – Kasper Bjørke
Bugatti – TIGA
Do It Again – Röyksopp & Robyn
Do You Feel The Same – Hercules & Love Affair
High Feat. Nicole Miller – Peking Duk
Holding You Tight – Sure Thing
Not This Time – The 2 Bears

4. Best Latin Dance Track

Adiós – Ricky Martin
Bailando Feat. Descemer Bueno- Enrique Iglesias
Can’t Get Enough Feat. Pitbull – Becky G
Fireball – Pitbull Feat. John Ryan
La La La (Brazil 2014) – Shakira Feat. Carlinhos Brown
La Luz – Juanes
Pura Vita – Don Omar

5. Best House/Garage/Deep House Track

F For You – Disclosure Feat. Mary J Blige
Gecko – Oliver Heldens
Go All Night Feat. Jennifer Hudson – Gorgon City
Hey Now (Sasha Remix) – London Grammar
Hideaway – Kiesza
Pushing On – Oliver $ & Jimi Jules
Talk To You (Groove Armada Remix) – Drew Hill

6. Best R&B/Urban Dance Track

Aerosol Can Feat. Pharrell Williams – Major Lazer
Don’t Tell ‘Em Feat. YG – Jeremih
Flawless – Beyoncé Feat. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
It’s Your World – Jennifer Hudson Feat. R. Kelly
La La La – Naughty Boy Feat. Sam Smith
Loyal – Chris Brown Feat. Lil Wayne & Tyga
Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson Feat. Bruno Mars

7. Best Electro/Progressive House Track

Arcadia – Hardwell & Joey Dale Feat. Luciana
Bad Feat. Vassy – David Guetta & Showtek
Five Hours – Deorro
Gold Skies Feat. Aleesia – Sander van Doorn, Martin Garrix, DVBBS
Heroes (We Can Be) – Alesso Feat. Tove Lo
Virus (How About Now) – Martin Garrix & MOTI
We Were Young – DVBBS

8. Best Rap/Hip Hop/Trap Dance Track

Anaconda – Nicki Minaj
Fancy Feat. Charli XCX – Iggy Azalea
Get Low – Dillon Francis & DJ Snake
Heavy Metal & Reflective – Azealia Banks
Studio Feat. BJ The Chicago Kid – Schoolboy Q
Take You There Feat. Kiesza – Jack Ü
Turn Down For What – DJ Snake & Lil Jon

9. Best Trance Track

Dark Warrior – Andrew Rayel
Dynamite – Gareth Emery Feat. Christina Novelli
Hystereo – Armin van Buuren
Letting Go – BT, Fractal & JES
On Fire – Luke Bond Feat. Roxanne Emery
Remember This – Markus Schulz
Together (In a State Of Trance)- Armin van Buuren

10. Best Dubstep/Drum & Bass Track

All Is Fair In Love and Brostep – Skrillex
Changing – Sigma Feat. Paloma Faith
Dirty Love Feat. Talay Riley – Wilkinson
Dirty Vibe – Skrillex, Diplo Feat. CL, G-Dragon
Give It Up – Knife Party
My Love (Sigma Remix) – Route 94 Feat. Jess Glynne
NRG (Skrillex, Kill The Noise, Milo & Otis Remix)- Duck Sauce

11. Best Tech House/Techno Track

Burnfire – UMEK Feat. Jay Colin
Conjure Balaeria – Maceo Plex
Crossfade (Maceo Plex Remix) – GusGus
Don’t Stop No Sleep – Radio Slave
Exceeder (UMEK & Mike Vale Remix) – MASON
Eye I Eye – Claude VonStroke
Forget – Patrick Topping

12. Best Chillout/Lounge Track

Connected – Melosense
Love Sublime -Tensnake Feat. Nile Rodgers & Fiora
Only You Can Tell – Croquet Club
RedLight – Krono Feat. VanJess
Sordid Affair – Röyksopp
We Fall In Love – Lamb

13. Best Commercial/Pop Dance Track

#SELFIE – The Chainsmokers
Bang Bang – Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Niki Minaj
Blame – Calvin Harris Feat. John Newman
Booty Feat. Iggy Azalea – Jennifer Lopez
Break Free Feat. Zedd- Ariana Grande
Chandelier – Sia
Summer – Calvin Harris

14. Best Compilation or Full Length DJ Mix

A State of Trance 2014 – Armin van Buuren – Armada
A Town Called Paradise – Tiësto – Casablanca Records/ Republic Records/ Musical Freedom
Balance 025 – Danny Tenaglia – Balance
Balearica 2014 – Chus+Ceballos – Stereo Productions
dirtybird BBQ – dirtybird
Revealed Volume 5 – Hardwell – Revealed
Ultra Dance 15 – Ultra Records

15. Best Global DJ

Armin van Buuren
Calvin Harris
Carl Cox
David Guetta
Hardwell
Martin Garrix
Skrillex
Tiësto

16. Best North American DJ

Claude VonStroke
Danny Tenaglia
Deorro
Dillon Francis
Diplo
Kaskade
Porter Robinson
Steve Aoki

17. Best European DJ

Afrojack
Alesso
Avicii
Axwell
Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike
Nicky Romero
R3hab
Zedd

18. Best Break-Through DJ

Apollonia
Blasterjaxx
Dense & Pika
Duke Dumont
Oliver Heldens
Patrick Topping
Robin Schulz
Ummet Ozcan

19. Best EDM/Pop DJ

Afrojack
Avicii
Calvin Harris
Dash Berlin
David Guetta
Kaskade
Steve Aoki
Zedd

20. Best Trance DJ

Above & Beyond
Aly & Fila
Armin van Buuren
Dash Berlin
Ferry Corsten
Markus Schulz
Paul van Dyk

21. Best House/Garage/Deep House DJ

Dixon
Dusky
Hot Since 82
Justin Martin
Louie Vega
Marc ‘MK’ Kinchen
Mark Knight
Seth Troxler

22. Best Indie Dance/Underground DJ

Andy Butler – Hercules & Love Affair
Benoit & Sergio
Erol Alkan
Jamie Jones
Jamie XX
Madeon
The Juan MaClean
The 2 Bears

23. Best Progressive House/Electro DJ

Alesso
Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike
Eric Prydz
Fedde le Grand
Hardwell
Kryder
Laidback Luke
W&W

24. Best Techno/Tech House DJ

Adam Beyer
Ben Klock
Carl Cox
Loco Dice
Luciano
Maceo Plex
Richie Hawtin
UMEK

25. Best Dubstep/Drum & Bass DJ

Andy C
Bassnectar
Diplo
Jack Ü
Knife Party
Netsky
Skrillex

26. Best Hardstyle DJ

Angerfist
Brennan Heart
Coone
Frontliner
Headhunterz
Noisecontrollers
Radical Redemption

27. Best Podcast or Radio Mixshow DJ

A State of Trance – Armin van Buuren
Diplo and Friends – Diplo
Evolution – Pete Tong
Global DJ Broadcast – Markus Schulz
Global Radio – Carl Cox
Hardwell On Air – Hardwell
Club Life – Tiësto

28. Best Artist (Solo)

Avicii
Calvin Harris
David Guetta
Deadmau5
Hardwell
Kaskade
Martin Garrix
Sia

29. Best Artist (Group)

Art Department
Axwell /\ Ingrosso
Cash Cash
Daft Punk
Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike
Disclosure
Krewella
Röyksopp & Robyn

30. Best Break-Through Artist (Solo)

Ariana Grande
FKA Twigs
Kiesza
Kryder
Oliver Heldens
Robin Schulz
Sam Smith
ZHU

31. Best Break-Through Artist (Group)

Broods
Clean Bandit
Galantis
Gorgon City
Jack Ü
VINAI
Yellow Claw

32. Best Full Length Studio Recording

A Town Called Paradise – Tiësto
The Feast Of The Broken Heart – Hercules & Love Affair
Forget Me World – Afrojack
Sirens – Gorgon City
Syro – Aphex Twin
The Inevitable End – Röyksopp
While (1<2) – Deadmau5
Worlds – Porter Robinson

33. Best Featured Vocalist Performance – Title, Vocalist/Artist

Bad – Vassy – David Guetta & Showtek
Do It Again – Robyn – Röyksopp
F For You – Mary J Blige – Disclosure
Gecko (Overdrive) – Becky Hill – Oliver Heldens
Go All Night – Jennifer Hudson – Gorgon City
Heroes (We Could Be) – Tove Lo – Alesso
Rather Be – Jess Glynne – Clean Bandit

34. Best Music Video

Chandelier – Sia
Conjure Superstar – Maceo Plex
Hideaway – Kiesza
I Got U Feat. Jax Jones – Duke DuMont
My Love Feat. Jess Glynne – Route 94
Summer – Calvin Harris
Turn Down For What – Dj Snake & Lil Wayne

35. Best Producer

Avicii
Calvin Harris
David Guetta
Deadmau5
Diplo
Hardwell
Porter Robinson
Zedd

36. Best Remixer

Cash Cash
Dave Audé
Deetron
Hardwell
Kaskade
Maceo Plex
Marc ‘MK’ Kinchen
R3hab

37. Best US Club

Avalon – Hollywood, CA
Beta – Denver, CO
Hakkasaan – Las Vegas, NV
LIV – Miami, FL
Output – Brooklyn, NY
Pacha – New York, NY
Space – Miami, FL

38. Best Global Club

Amnesia – Ibiza, Spain
Berghain – Berlin, Germany
Fabric – London, England
Ministry Of Sound – London, England
Pacha – Ibiza, Spain
Space – Ibiza, Spain
Ushuaia – Ibiza, Spain

39. Best Music Event – Event, Location

BPM Festival – Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Coachella – Indio, CA
Electric Daisy Carnival – Las Vegas, NV
Life In Color Festival – Miami, FL
Shambhala – Salmo, BC
Tomorrowland – Boom, Belgium
Ultra Music Festival – Miami, FL

40. Best Radio Station (Internet, Terrestrial, Satellite, App)

BBC Radio 1
BPM – SiriusXM
Digitally Imported
Fusion Radio
Ibiza Global Radio
iTunes Radio
Pandora

41. Best Music Media Resource (Online or Print)

Billboard
Dancing Astronaut
DJ Mag
DJ Times
EDM.com
MIXMAG
Resident Advisor

42. Best Music App

Digitally Imported
Hype Machine
Milk Music
Mixcloud
Shazam
Soundcloud
Spotify

43. Best EDM/Dance Music Retailer

Amazon.com
Audiojelly.com
Beatport.com
iTunes
Junodownload.com
Trackitdown.com
Traxsource.com

44. Best Global Music Label

Anjunabeats
Armada
Axtone
Defected
Revealed Recordings
Spinnin’ Records
Toolroom Records

45. Best American Music Label

Astralwerks
Big Beat Records
Dim Mak
Interscope
Nervous/Nurvous
OWSLA
Ultra Music

46. Best Indie/Underground Music Label

dirtybird
Drumcode
Hot Creations
Innervision
Noir Music
Objektivity
Suara

47. Best Music Label Promoter Or Exec In-House

Ayelet Schiffman – Sony Music Columbia
Eelko van Kooten – Spinnin’ Records
Gina Tucci – Big Beat
Glenn Mendlinger – Astralwerks
Maykel Piron – Armada Music
Phil Nieves – Ultra Music
Stacey Gamble – dirtybird

48. Best Independent Music Promotion/Marketing

Citrusonic – Orlando Puerta
Loren Chaidez Promotion – Loren Chaidez
Oracle Entertainment – Debra Eriksen
Pro Motion- Brad Lebeau
Promo Only Promotions – Cary Vance, John Suraci & John Parker
Your Army – James Pitt
Zero2Fifty Group – George Hess

49. Best Promo Subscription Service/Music Pool

DJcity
FATdrop
iDJPool
Masspool
Next Music Group
Promo Only
ZipDJ

50. Best New Product of the Year

Ableton Live 9
Native Instruments – Kontrol S8
Numark NS7II
Pioneer DDJ-SZ
Pioneer XDJ-1000

51. Best Manufacturer of the Year

Allen & Heath
Denon
Native Instruments
Pioneer
PK Sound

52. Best Studio Product of the Year

Apple Logic Pro X
KRK Rockit 8 G3
Native Instruments – Maschine Studio
Roland – TR-8

53. Best DJ Software

Ableton Live 9
Native Instruments – Traktor Pro 2
rekordbox
Serato DJ
Virtual DJ 8

54. Best Mixer

Allen & Heath – Xone:DB4
Pioneer – DJM900Nexus
Rane sixty four
Vestax

55. Best DJ Controller

Allen & Heath – Xone:4D
Denon – MC6000MK2
Numark NS7ii
Pioneer – DDJ-SZ

56. Best Media Player

Gemini CDJ-700
Numark Mixdeck Quad
Pioneer – CDJ2000Nexus
Pioneer – XDJ-1000
Denon – SC3900

57. Best Headphones

Philips A5-Pro DJ
Pioneer HDJ-2000
Senheiser HD-25
Sony MDR-7506
V-Moda Crossfade M-100
24
Mar
15

Why Mass Surveillance Can’t, Won’t, And Never Has Stopped A Terrorist

Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” So when do we step back and ask what is working and what is not – and also what freedoms are we giving up to gain this temporary security?

Original article found here.

Photo by pulparindo

Photo by pulparindo

In his latest bestseller,Data and Goliath, world-renowned security expert and author Bruce Schneier goes deep into the world of surveillance, investigating how governments and corporations alike monitor nearly our every move. In this excerpt, Schneier explains how we are fed a false narrative of how our surveillance state is able to stop terrorist attacks before they happen. In fact, Schneier argues, the idea that our government is able to parse all the invasive and personal data they collect on us is laughable. The data-mining conducted every day only seems to take valuable resources and time away from the tactics that should be used to fight terrorism.

The NSA repeatedly uses a connect-the-dots metaphor to justify its surveillance activities. Again and again — after 9/11, after the Underwear Bomber, after the Boston Marathon bombings — government is criticized for not connecting the dots.

However, this is a terribly misleading metaphor. Connecting the dots in a coloring book is easy, because they’re all numbered and visible. In real life, the dots can only be recognized after the fact.

That doesn’t stop us from demanding to know why the authorities couldn’t connect the dots. The warning signs left by the Fort Hood shooter, the Boston Marathon bombers, and the Isla Vista shooter look obvious in hindsight. Nassim Taleb, an expert on risk engineering, calls this tendency the “narrative fallacy.” Humans are natural storytellers, and the world of stories is much more tidy, predictable, and coherent than reality. Millions of people behave strangely enough to attract the FBI’s notice, and almost all of them are harmless. The TSA’s no-fly list has over 20,000 people on it. The Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, also known as the watch list, has 680,000, 40% of whom have “no recognized terrorist group affiliation.”

Data mining is offered as the technique that will enable us to connect those dots. But while corporations are successfully mining our personal data in order to target advertising, detect financial fraud, and perform other tasks, three critical issues make data mining an inappropriate tool for finding terrorists.

The first, and most important, issue is error rates. For advertising, data mining can be successful even with a large error rate, but finding terrorists requires a much higher degree of accuracy than data-mining systems can possibly provide.

Data mining works best when you’re searching for a well-defined profile, when there are a reasonable number of events per year, and when the cost of false alarms is low. Detecting credit card fraud is one of data mining’s security success stories: all credit card companies mine their transaction databases for spending patterns that indicate a stolen card. There are over a billion active credit cards in circulation in the United States, and nearly 8% of those are fraudulently used each year. Many credit card thefts share a pattern — purchases in locations not normally frequented by the cardholder, and purchases of travel, luxury goods, and easily fenced items — and in many cases data-mining systems can minimize the losses by preventing fraudulent transactions. The only cost of a false alarm is a phone call to the cardholder asking her to verify a couple of her purchases.

Similarly, the IRS uses data mining to identify tax evaders, the police use it to predict crime hot spots, and banks use it to predict loan defaults. These applications have had mixed success, based on the data and the application, but they’re all within the scope of what data mining can accomplish.

Terrorist plots are different, mostly because whereas fraud is common, terrorist attacks are very rare. This means that even highly accurate terrorism prediction systems will be so flooded with false alarms that they will be useless.

The reason lies in the mathematics of detection. All detection systems have errors, and system designers can tune them to minimize either false positives or false negatives. In a terrorist-detection system, a false positive occurs when the system mistakenly identifies something harmless as a threat. A false negative occurs when the system misses an actual attack. Depending on how you “tune” your detection system, you can increase the number of false positives to assure you are less likely to miss an attack, or you can reduce the number of false positives at the expense of missing attacks.

Because terrorist attacks are so rare, false positives completely overwhelm the system, no matter how well you tune. And I mean completely: millions of people will be falsely accused for every real terrorist plot the system finds, if it ever finds any.

We might be able to deal with all of the innocents being flagged by the system if the cost of false positives were minor. Think about the full-body scanners at airports. Those alert all the time when scanning people. But a TSA officer can easily check for a false alarm with a simple pat-down. This doesn’t work for a more general data-based terrorism-detection system. Each alert requires a lengthy investigation to determine whether it’s real or not. That takes time and money, and prevents intelligence officers from doing other productive work. Or, more pithily, when you’re watching everything, you’re not seeing anything.

The US intelligence community also likens finding a terrorist plot to looking for a needle in a haystack. And, as former NSA director General Keith Alexander said, “you need the haystack to find the needle.” That statement perfectly illustrates the problem with mass surveillance and bulk collection. When you’re looking for the needle, the last thing you want to do is pile lots more hay on it. More specifically, there is no scientific rationale for believing that adding irrelevant data about innocent people makes it easier to find a terrorist attack, and lots of evidence that it does not. You might be adding slightly more signal, but you’re also adding much more noise. And despite the NSA’s “collect it all” mentality, its own documents bear this out. The military intelligence community even talks about the problem of “drinking from a fire hose”: having so much irrelevant data that it’s impossible to find the important bits.

We saw this problem with the NSA’s eavesdropping program: the false positives overwhelmed the system. In the years after 9/11, the NSA passed to the FBI thousands of tips per month; every one of them turned out to be a false alarm. The cost was enormous, and ended up frustrating the FBI agents who were obligated to investigate all the tips. We also saw this with the Suspicious Activity Reports —or SAR — database: tens of thousands of reports, and no actual results. And all the telephone metadata the NSA collected led to just one success: the conviction of a taxi driver who sent $8,500 to a Somali group that posed no direct threat to the US — and that was probably trumped up so the NSA would have better talking points in front of Congress.

The second problem with using data-mining techniques to try to uncover terrorist plots is that each attack is unique. Who would have guessed that two pressure-cooker bombs would be delivered to the Boston Marathon finish line in backpacks by a Boston college kid and his older brother? Each rare individual who carries out a terrorist attack will have a disproportionate impact on the criteria used to decide who’s a likely terrorist, leading to ineffective detection strategies.

The third problem is that the people the NSA is trying to find are wily, and they’re trying to avoid detection. In the world of personalized marketing, the typical surveillance subject isn’t trying to hide his activities. That is not true in a police or national security context. An adversarial relationship makes the problem much harder, and means that most commercial big data analysis tools just don’t work. A commercial tool can simply ignore people trying to hide and assume benign behavior on the part of everyone else. Government data-mining techniques can’t do that, because those are the very people they’re looking for.

Adversaries vary in the sophistication of their ability to avoid surveillance. Most criminals and terrorists — and political dissidents, sad to say — are pretty unsavvy and make lots of mistakes. But that’s no justification for data mining; targeted surveillance could potentially identify them just as well. The question is whether mass surveillance performs sufficiently better than targeted surveillance to justify its extremely high costs. Several analyses of all the NSA’s efforts indicate that it does not.

The three problems listed above cannot be fixed. Data mining is simply the wrong tool for this job, which means that all the mass surveillance required to feed it cannot be justified. When he was NSA director, General Keith Alexander argued that ubiquitous surveillance would have enabled the NSA to prevent 9/11. That seems unlikely. He wasn’t able to prevent the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, even though one of the bombers was on the terrorist watch list and both had sloppy social media trails — and this was after a dozen post-9/11 years of honing techniques. The NSA collected data on the Tsarnaevs before the bombing, but hadn’t realized that it was more important than the data they collected on millions of other people.

This point was made in the 9/11 Commission Report. That report described a failure to “connect the dots,” which proponents of mass surveillance claim requires collection of more data. But what the report actually said was that the intelligence community had all the information about the plot without mass surveillance, and that the failures were the result of inadequate analysis.

Mass surveillance didn’t catch underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in 2006, even though his father had repeatedly warned the U.S. government that he was dangerous. And the liquid bombers (they’re the reason governments prohibit passengers from bringing large bottles of liquids, creams, and gels on airplanes in their carry-on luggage) were captured in 2006 in their London apartment not due to mass surveillance but through traditional investigative police work. Whenever we learn about an NSA success, it invariably comes from targeted surveillance rather than from mass surveillance. One analysis showed that the FBI identifies potential terrorist plots from reports of suspicious activity, reports of plots, and investigations of other, unrelated, crimes.

This is a critical point. Ubiquitous surveillance and data mining are not suitable tools for finding dedicated criminals or terrorists. We taxpayers are wasting billions on mass-surveillance programs, and not getting the security we’ve been promised. More importantly, the money we’re wasting on these ineffective surveillance programs is not being spent on investigation, intelligence, and emergency response: tactics that have been proven to work. The NSA’s surveillance efforts have actually made us less secure.

23
Mar
15

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Pardon the language in this article, but I thoroughly enjoyed this article. All of us, me especially, could learn a bit about caring less about things that don’t matter so that we can direct our energies towards people and things that do matter.

Original article by Mark Manson found here.

In my life, I have given a fuck about many people and many things. I have also not given a fuck about many people and many things. And those fucks I have not given have made all the difference.

People often say the key to confidence and success in life is to simply “not give a fuck.” Indeed, we often refer to the strongest, most admirable people we know in terms of their lack of fucks given. Like “Oh, look at Susie working weekends again, she doesn’t give a fuck.” Or “Did you hear that Tom called the company president an asshole and still got a raise anyway? Holy shit, that dude does not give a fuck.” Or “Jason got up and ended his date with Cindy after 20 minutes. He said he wasn’t going to listen to her bullshit anymore. Man, that guy does not give a fuck.”

Chances are you know somebody in your life who, at one time or another, did not give a fuck and went on to accomplish amazing feats. Perhaps there was a time in your life where you simply did not give a fuck and excelled to some extraordinary heights. I know for myself, quitting my day job in finance after only six weeks and telling my boss that I was going to start selling dating advice online ranks pretty high up there in my own “didn’t give a fuck” hall of fame. Same with deciding to sell most of my possessions and move to South America. Fucks given? None. Just went and did it.

Now, while not giving a fuck may seem simple on the surface, it’s a whole new bag of burritos under the hood. I don’t even know what that sentence means, but I don’t give a fuck. A bag of burritos sounds awesome, so let’s just go with it.

The point is, most of us struggle throughout our lives by giving too many fucks in situations where fucks do not deserve to be given. We give a fuck about the rude gas station attendant who gave us too many nickels. We give a fuck when a show we liked was canceled on TV. We give a fuck when our coworkers don’t bother asking us about our awesome weekend. We give a fuck when it’s raining and we were supposed to go jogging in the morning.

Fucks given everywhere. Strewn about like seeds in mother-fucking spring time. And for what purpose? For what reason? Convenience? Easy comforts? A pat on the fucking back maybe?

This is the problem, my friend.

Because when we give too many fucks, when we choose to give a fuck about everything, then we feel as though we are perpetually entitled to feel comfortable and happy at all times, that’s when life fucks us.

Indeed, the ability to reserve our fucks for only the most fuckworthy of situations would surely make life a hell of a lot easier. Failure would be less terrifying. Rejection less painful. Unpleasant necessities more pleasant and the unsavory shit sandwiches a little bit more savory. I mean, if we could only give a few less fucks, or a few more consciously-directed fucks, then life would feel pretty fucking easy.

What we don’t realize is that there is a fine art of non-fuck-giving. People aren’t just born not giving a fuck. In fact, we’re born giving way too many fucks. Ever watch a kid cry his eyes out because his hat is the wrong shade of blue? Exactly. Fuck that kid.

Developing the ability to control and manage the fucks you give is the essence of strength and integrity. We must craft and hone our lack of fuckery over the course of years and decades. Like a fine wine, our fucks must age into a fine vintage, only uncorked and given on the most special fucking occasions.

This may sound easy. But it is not. Most of us, most of the time, get sucked in by life’s mean trivialities, steamrolled by its unimportant dramas; we live and die by the sidenotes and distractions and vicissitudes that suck the fucks out of us like Sasha Grey in the middle of a gangbang.

This is no way to live, man. So stop fucking around. Get your fucks together. And here, allow me to fucking show you.

Subtlety #1: Not Giving A Fuck Does Not Mean Being Indifferent; It Means Being Comfortable With Being Different

When most people envision giving no fucks whatsoever, they envision a kind of perfect and serene indifference to everything, a calm that weathers all storms.

This is misguided. There’s absolutely nothing admirable or confident about indifference. People who are indifferent are lame and scared. They’re couch potatoes and internet trolls. In fact, indifferent people often attempt to be indifferent because in reality they actually give too many fucks. They are afraid of the world and the repercussions of their own choices. Therefore, they make none. They hide in a grey emotionless pit of their own making, self-absorbed and self-pitied, perpetually distracting themselves from this unfortunate thing demanding their time and energy called life.

My mother was recently screwed out of a large chunk of money by a close friend of hers. Had I been indifferent, I would have shrugged my shoulders, sipped some mocha and downloaded another season of The Wire. Sorry mom.

But instead, I was indignant. I was pissed off. I said, “No, screw that mom, we’re going to lawyer the fuck up and go after this asshole. Why? Because I don’t give a fuck. I will ruin this guy’s life if I have to.”

This illustrates the first subtlety about not giving a fuck. When we say, “Damn, watch out, Mark Manson just don’t give a fuck,” we don’t mean that Mark Manson doesn’t care about anything; on the contrary, what we mean is that Mark Manson doesn’t care about adversity in the face of his goals, he doesn’t care about pissing some people off to do what he feels is right or important or noble. What we mean is that Mark Manson is the type of guy who would write about himself in third person and use the word ‘fuck’ in an article 127 different times just because he thought it was the right thing to do. He just doesn’t give a fuck.

This is what is so admirable — no, not me, dumbass — the overcoming adversity stuff. The staring failure in the face and shoving your middle finger back at it. The people who don’t give a fuck about adversity or failure or embarrassing themselves or shitting the bed a few times. The people who just laugh and then do it anyway. Because they know it’s right. They know it’s more important than them and their own feelings and their own pride and their own needs. They say “Fuck it,” not to everything in life, but rather they say “Fuck it” to everything unimportant in life. They reserve their fucks for what truly fucking matters. Friends. Family. Purpose. Burritos. And an occasional lawsuit or two. And because of that, because they reserve their fucks for only the big things, the important things, people give a fuck about them in return.

Subtlety #2: To Not Give A Fuck About Adversity, You Must First Give A Fuck About Something More Important Than Adversity

Eric Hoffer once wrote: “A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.”

The problem with people who hand out fucks like ice cream at a goddamn summer camp is that they don’t have anything more fuckworthy to dedicate their fucks to.

Think for a second. You’re at a grocery store. And there’s an elderly lady screaming at the cashier, berating him for not accepting her 30-cent coupon. Why does this lady give a fuck? It’s just 30 cents.

Well, I’ll tell you why. That old lady probably doesn’t have anything better to do with her days than to sit at home cutting out coupons all morning. She’s old and lonely. Her kids are dickheads and never visit. She hasn’t had sex in over 30 years. Her pension is on its last legs and she’s probably going to die in a diaper thinking she’s in Candyland. She can’t fart without extreme lower back pain. She can’t even watch TV for more than 15 minutes without falling asleep or forgetting the main plotline.

So she snips coupons. That’s all she’s got. It’s her and her damn coupons. All day, every day. It’s all she can give a fuck about because there is nothing else to give a fuck about. And so when that pimply-faced 17-year-old cashier refuses to accept one of them, when he defends his cash register’s purity the way knights used to defend maidens’ virginities, you can damn well bet granny is going to erupt and verbally hulk smash his fucking face in. Eighty years of fucks will rain down all at once, like a fiery hailstorm of “Back in my day” and “People used to show more respect” stories, boring the world around her to tears in her creaking and wobbly voice.

If you find yourself consistently giving too many fucks about trivial shit that bothers you — your ex-girlfriend’s new Facebook picture, how quickly the batteries die in the TV remote, missing out on yet another 2-for-1 sale on hand sanitizer — chances are you don’t have much going on in your life to give a legitimate fuck about. And that’s your real problem. Not the hand sanitizer.

In life, our fucks must be spent on something. There really is no such thing as not giving a fuck. The question is simply how we each choose to allot our fucks. You only get a limited number of fucks to give over your lifetime, so you must spend them with care. As my father used to say, “Fucks don’t grow on trees, Mark.” OK, he never actually said that. But fuck it, pretend like he did. The point is that fucks have to be earned and then invested wisely. Fucks are cultivated like a beautiful fucking garden, where if you fuck shit up and the fucks get fucked, then you’ve fucking fucked your fucks all the fuck up.

Subtlety #3: We All Have A Limited Number Of Fucks To Give; Pay Attention To Where And Who You Give Them To

When we’re young, we have tons of energy. Everything is new and exciting. And everything seems to matter so much. Therefore, we give tons of fucks. We give a fuck about everything and everyone — about what people are saying about us, about whether that cute boy/girl called us back or not, about whether our socks match or not or what color our birthday balloon is.

As we get older, we gain experience and begin to notice that most of these things have little lasting impact on our lives. Those people’s opinions we cared about so much before have long been removed from our lives. We’ve found the love we need and so those embarrassing romantic rejections cease to mean much anymore. We realize how little people pay attention to the superficial details about us and we focus on doing things more for ourselves rather than for others.

Essentially, we become more selective about the fucks we’re willing to give. This is something called ‘maturity.’ It’s nice, you should try it sometime. Maturity is what happens when one learns to only give a fuck about what’s truly fuckworthy. As Bunk Moreland said in The Wire (which, fuck you, I still downloaded it) to his partner Detective McNulty: “That’s what you get for giving a fuck when it wasn’t your turn to give a fuck.”

Then, as we grow older and enter middle age, something else begins to change. Our energy levels drop. Our identities solidify. We know who we are and we no longer have a desire to change what now seems inevitable in our lives.

And in a strange way, this is liberating. We no longer need to give a fuck about everything. Life is just what it is. We accept it, warts and all. We realize that we’re never going to cure cancer or go to the moon or feel Jennifer Aniston’s tits. And that’s OK. Life fucking goes on. We now reserve our ever-dwindling fucks only for the most truly fuckworthy parts of our lives: our families, our best friends, our golf swing. And to our astonishment, this is enough. This simplification actually makes us really fucking happy.

Then somehow, one day, much later, we wake up and we’re old. And along with our gum lines and our sex drive, our ability to give a fuck has receded to the point of non-existence. In the twilight of our days, we carry out a paradoxical existence where we no longer have the energy to give a fuck about the big things in life, and instead we must dedicate the few fucks we have left to the simple and mundane yet increasingly difficult aspects of our lives: where to eat lunch, doctors appointments for our creaky joints, 30-cent discounts at the supermarket, and driving without drifting to sleep and killing a parking lot full of orphans. You know, practical concerns.

Then one day, on our deathbed, (hopefully) surrounded by the people we gave the majority of our fucks to throughout our life, and those few who still give a fuck about us, with a silent gasp we will gently let our last fuck go. Through the tears and the gently fading beeps of the heart monitor and the ever-dimming fluorescence encapsulating us in its divine hospital halo, we drift into some unknowable and unfuckable place.


07
Mar
15

Remove everything that might be offensive!

I don’t get these people who eagerly try to eliminate everything that might be offensive. Seriously though, if you try hard enough couldn’t you find offense in everything? Original article found here.

 

americanflag_closeupIRVINE, Calif. — The student government at University of California, Irvine has voted to ban display of the American flag — or any flag — from its lobby.

A resolution that was narrowly approved by the legislative council of the campus’ Associated Students calls bans all flags from the common lobby area of student government offices, according to the Orange County Register. It prompted removal of the American flag from a lobby wall.

The student council approved the resolution on a 6-4 vote Thursday, with two abstentions. The executive cabinet was expected to consider a veto on Saturday.

The resolution authored by student Matthew Guevara of the university’s social ecology school lists 25 reasons for the ban, saying that the American flag has been flown in times of “colonialism and imperialism” and could symbolize American “exceptionalism and superiority.” The resolution says “freedom of speech, in a space that aims to be as inclusive as possible, can be interpreted as hate speech.”

The American flag had hung on a wall in the student government suite. A few weeks ago, someone removed the flag and put it on the desk of Reza Zomorrodian, the Associated Students’ president, with an anonymous note saying it shouldn’t be in the lobby.

The executive members decided to put up the flag again. Then the resolution was brought to the council.

Zomorrodian, an opponent of the ban, said the American flag was “an iconic and symbolic representation of our values in the U.S.”

On Friday, state Sen. Janet Nguyen, R-Santa Ana, said she and other legislators may introduce a state constitutional amendment to prohibit “state-funded universities and college campuses from banning the United States flag.”




Quotes:

"We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth... For my part, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst; and to provide for it." - Patrick Henry

"Politicians and diapers both need to be changed, and for the same reason." - Anonymous

"Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it." - William Penn

"Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country" - Hermann Goering

"I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do this I keep on doing." - Romans 7:18-19

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

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