The Official Soundtrack of Kurdish Independence

opinions

It looks like we’re about to have a new state on this planet soon – an independent Kurdistan. It’s not going to happen in a couple of days, but it could happen quicker than you think.

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The Iraqi Ship is sinking. Cartoon by The Economist.

Now Iraq, as a state, is falling apart already. What is known as ISIS (they have now changed their name to IS for ‘Islamic State’), has taken over a significant portion of Sunni Iraq. In the meantime, Iraqi flags are no longer flying in the northern Kurdish part of the soon-to-be-excountry. The Kurds who have had a semi-autonomous region to begin with want a referendum soon.

With Turkey in favor of Kurdish independence (which was pretty unlikely for a very long time), Israel and the US will follow giving support, too. By the look and smell of it, Kurdistan will be a reality, sooner than we all expected.
As a Kurd myself, I am extremely thrilled about these new happenings. To think that the world is now collectively debating Kurdish sovereignty, this was on top of most Kurd’s wish lists for too many Christmases.

Speaking of lists…

Watching and reading the news lately for me feels like a Thriller, a dramedy (drama coupled with comedy) and sometimes a romance, too. If I were to make a movie out of what’s been happening, to explain to you clearly, Westerner, what really is happening, this is the track list of the official soundtrack of Kurdish Independence. I put it into a Spotify list for you to subscribe to it.

Let me justify my selection by commenting on the tracklist:

(Hint: I took lyrics that fit and put them in Italic or in direct speech)

1) Destiny’s Child – Bills, Bills, Bills: Kurdistan realized, it needs someone to help it out, instead of a scrub like Maliki, who don’t know what a man’s about.

2) Frank Ocean – Bad Religion: ISIS came, wanted to convince the Kurds, they’re the better custodians of the Kurdish land: “Allahu Akbar”. Kurdistan said: “Don’t curse me.”

3) Disclosure – When a Fire Starts to Burn: Kurds know how to play this game because “when a fire starts to burn, right, and it starts to spread, she gon’ bring that attitude home”. They know, they have to be quick now.

4) Jazmine Sullivan – 10 Seconds: So, the Kurds started to really become determined and angry at what was happening all of a sudden. It was enough. Enough was enough. “You really should look for an exit, ’cause you’re running out of time. You know that I can get crazy. When I go off, ain’t nobody to tame me”, Barzani told to Maliki.

5) Eamon – F**k it: Barzani continues, “F**k what I said, it don’t mean shit now. F**k the presents, might as well throw ’em out.”

6) Medina – Lonely: “I guess I have to admit, I was afraid to end up lonely”, he says and wishes for him to feel lonely from now on.

7) David Guetta – Love is Gone: It really is gone. Nobody can’t “deny that simple truth” now.

8) Gotye feat. Kimbra – Somebody That I used to Know: The whole world is now remembering how it was like when Iraq was still together. A real couple. Political commenters were kind of addicted to a “certain kind of sadness”. With the recent numbers of death due to terrorist attacks in Iraq, everybody’s kind of “glad that it is over”.

9) Puff Daddy feat. Rick Ross & French Montana – Big Homie: They’re all glad because Kurdistan is kind of a ‘big homie’. You can go to any hood, everyone now knows about Kurdistan because they be calling all the shots.

10) Kanye West – Stronger: Kurdistan knows it really is stronger. After all what’s happened, all the political oppression, they can’t wait for this referendum to happen soon enough. Everyone’s chanting: “I need you to hurry up now, ’cause I can’t wait much longer.”

11) Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop: Because then, they can do whatever they want with the oil money they sit on. “This is our house, this is our rules and we can’t stop”, Barzani reassures.

12) Christina Aguilera – Fighter: Really, ISIS, Kurds are thankful for the opportunity you gave them. After all what you pulled them through, you think the Peshmergas would despise you, but in the end, you made Kurds so much stronger, you made them work a little bit harder and a little bit faster in pursuing independence.

13) Nas – I Can: “I know I can be what I wanna be if I work hard at it, I’ll be where I wanna be”, this mantra has almost been forgotten in the Kurdish political arena. All these years, they’ve been trying to move towards independence but unfortunately efforts didn’t result in successes. Now, things look different and Nas was right after all.

14) Valerie June – Wanna Be On Your Mind: Now, Kurdistan wants to be independent, be its own state. And to the international community it sings: “Wanna be on your mind, stay there all the time, you can call my name!” And the name is Kurdistan.

Here is the complete Spotify list, enjoy!

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I want my opinions back, technological progress!

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Alright, so we have Internet. It’s really awesome and I am really grateful. But Cheryl Cole was wiser than me. In the opening lines of her song ‘Fight for this love‘, she says “too much of anything can make you sick. Even the good can be a curse.” I should have listened. Hell, we all should have listened.

This was 2009 and five years ago, while Cheryl was singing this live on stage somewhere, I was somewhere happily stuck in the nowhere land of the Internet. 19 at the time, curious as a cat, I was thrilled to be online. I tried out every forum, regularly changed my music taste and watched every film noir movie I could get my hands on. Why? Because it was all for free and everything was there, all the freaking time.

Facebook hadn’t really kicked off in Germany back then. We – or better they – were all still stuck with StudiVZ and other platforms. (Germans used ICQ instead of MSN, too.) The internet enthusiast that I was, I was already using what the rest of the world was using.

I got my news from news sites, my music from YouTube or torrents – I was sharing news personally which means that I was forced to really read and digest the news articles I was referring to, so I could actually talk about it if anyone had further questions. (Quality control!) I shared music by burning them on CDs or USB sticks which means I was forced to really filter and select only those which I thought were the best of the best of the best. (Quality control!)

There are so many other things that are now different. But that’s ok. It really is. The thing is, I think my brain might be a little overwhelmed. My life, especially my thought processes were slow, five years ago and I miss being slow. It felt way more efficient than it does right now. Right now feels fast-paced, unorganized and not at all focused.

Okay, yes, you might say that I was also 19, young and likely stupid, but I remember so much more of what I read and listened to from my youth than I remember from two or three years ago.

I am sure I am not the only one. We, Internet fans, absorb so much of this world, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed and in a strange way, powerless.

I want to take control of this happening. Any suggestions?

Comments will save my life.

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Featured image shows Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. Steeped in both nostalgia and futurism, the attraction’s premise is an exploration of the joys of living through the advent of electricity and other technological advances during the 20th century via a “typical” American family.

Two kids, different childhoods

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Let’s move inbetween parallel universes and imagine two kids and two childhoods. Let’s call them Mateo and Hala. Both have been reported about in the media in the last two weeks – for different reasons. Mateo strikes more search results, Hala isn’t that good in getting noticed on the world wide web.

Linda honey

Google search results for Mateo

This is Mateo. He is 3 years old, lives with his parents. He is terribly sweet and he likes terribly sweet things – cupcakes to be exact. He has run out of cupcakes to eat. Here he is trying to persuade his mommy, I’m sorry, Linda to make him happy again. Over 5 million people watch him begging for happiness and food security. Ellen Degeneres is one of them. Ellen is ultimately Mateo’s angel and gives him a happy ending. One month later, at The Ellen Show, Ellen wheels out a superhero-festooned trolley loaded with the longed-for cupcakes. For mommy, uhm Linda, there was a well-deserved spa voucher and a cheque for $10,000 for the family. 2 million people are witnessing this. Mateo’s cupcake quest is told in 9 minutes and 26 seconds on the internet.

This is Hala. She is a bit older than Mateo, lives with her 5 siblings in a tent in Lebanon. She is incredibly cute and incredibly strong. Her pHalaarents died, not too long ago. A famous Hollywood actress visits her. Hala tells her that the house fell down on her mom as bombs dropped from the sky into her hometown in Syria. She talks about their big, beautiful green garden where they would play and wait for Mommy to prepare food. Her brother talks about pyjamas. Her older brother doesn’t talk much anymore. He is busy trying to forget about his mom’s death. Hala takes care of all of them. Fortunately, her brothers help her. They collect and sell trash. They say, “it is not fair that we have to live like this.” Hala’s story is told in 7 minutes and 9 seconds on the internet. Not many witness her story.

Both are kids. Both have childhoods.

From The Archives: Girls in Riyadh, 1935

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Saudi Aramco, officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., is the world’s most valuable company – and a Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company, founded in 1933, based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

The origins of Saudi Aramco lie in the oil shortages of World War I and the exclusion of American companies from Mesopotamia by the San Remo Petroleum Agreement of 1920 (this is where  France was given a 25% share of Iraqi oil – but that’s another story). The US Republican administration back then, during the times of President Hoover, had popular support for an ‘Open Door’ policy, he himself initiated as secretary of commerce in 1921. Standard Oil of California (SoCal) was among those US companies actively seeking new sources of oil from abroad. This is a photo from the archives of Saudi Aramco in 1935 that I found from this tweet.

 

 

Explaining Kurdish Songs: Naser Rezazî’s “Newroz”

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Around 400 million people are celebrating New Year’s Eve right now. Yes, right now. Mardin Baban knows why.

Happy new year! Or ‘Newroztan Pîroz’ in Kurdish. You might think it is a bit odd that I wish you a Happy New Year in the middle of March, but it’s not. I’m going to tell you why I do.

Newroz is celebrated by around 400 million people around the world today, and the name means “A new day”. It refers to the celebration of the Kurdish, Iranian and Afghan New Year. The reason why it is celebrated today is due to it being linked to the Northward equinox, i.e. when the sun crosses the celestial equator and heading northward, or in other more common terms, when the day becomes as long as the night. It is a celebration of light, welcoming spring and celebrating the end of winter. Fire has a central role in the celebrations, descending from the pre-Islamic religion of Zoroastrianism, where fire was worshipped. People gather around a big fire, dancing around it, giving the fire all the sorrow and grief that has been collected over the year, and also receiving its strength and warmth back.

Back to the roots

There is a lot to be told about Newroz, why and how it is celebrated. I’d like to do that by sharing one of my favorite Kurdish songs – a song that is played on this day that has a special place in most Kurds’ hearts.

Before doing that though, I’m going to share a bit about the Kurdish mythology surrounding the celebrations. I would also like to stress that the reason why I haven’t included Persian or other nations mythology surrounding this day is due to limitation of space.  Newroz has poetic and historical roots in Kurdish mythology. The mythological story has played an important part in shaping the Kurdish relation to Newroz.

Written in a Kurdish opus by Sharaf Khan Bidlisî in 1597, the story entails one central figure, namely “Kawa the blacksmith”. Kawa was an ordinary hard-working man living in ancient Iran (Persia) that later became a revolutionary legend tired of the tyrant Zahak’s oppression. Zahak ruled ancient Iran with great evil for a thousand years – with serpents growing from his shoulders needing be fed by the brains of two sacrificed males each and every day. Kawa, having lost six of his sons to Zahak, became the natural leader of an uprising that finally put an end to the evil rule of Zahak. It is said that Kawa and the rebellions were ancestors to the Kurds today, thus giving Kawa a special place among Kurds for being the first rebellion to fight for Kurdish freedom. This is, of course, mainly if not all together fictional. However, it has shaped the romantic portrayal of Kurdish nationalism that still plays an important part in Kurdish folklore.

A melody of tradition

The songs which lyrics you can read below are a translation from Kurdish to English. The lyrics of the song were written by one of the most famous Kurdish poets of all times, Pîremêrd, in 1948. This version of the song is performed by a living legend among Kurds, Naser Rezazî, although the most known version of the song is performed by another, unfortunately not living, legend, Hassan Zîrek.  I chose to show you this video because it visualizes how Kurds traditionally celebrate Newroz.

The New Year’s day is today. Newroz is back.
An ancient Kurdish festival, with joy and verdure.
For many years, the flower of our hopes was downtrodden
The fresh rose of spring was the blood of the youth.
It was that red colour on the high horizon of Kurd
Which was carrying the happy tidings of dawn to remote and near nations.
It was Newroz which imbued the hearts with such a fire
That made the youth receive death with devoted love
Hooray! The sun is shining from the high mountains of homeland.
It is the blood of our martyrs which the horizon reflects.
It has never happened in the history of any nation
To have the breasts of girls as shields against bullets
Nay. It is not worth crying and mourning for the martyrs of homeland
They die not. They live on in the heart of the nation.

– Pîremêrd 1948

A political message

As you see, the lyrics have quite a strong political undertone. The reason for this is clear. Newroz, although it is mainly a cultural occasion, shared among many different nations, is without a doubt a celebration with political and nationalistic undertones within the Kurdish context. Even the mythological part of the celebrations are in the Kurdish context very much formulated in order to capture and evoke nationalistic feelings, feelings that shall be directed towards fighting any oppression of the Kurdish nation. Due to the oppression and division of the Kurdish nation after World War 1, Newroz has become the day where Kurds from all four parts of Kurdistan unite to express their unity and wish for freedom.

The lyrics are a tribute to not only the Kurdish nature, but above all a tribute to the young men and women that have sacrificed their lives in order to bring about a Kurdish spring. The metaphorical elements are right there, Newroz being the day where spring pushes away the cold grip of winter in the same way that Kurds shall push away those who have oppressed them. It is a song about the hope to see something new, a brighter tomorrow; leaving the hardships and grief behind in order to witness a Kurdish nation arise.

If one takes a brief look at Kurdish history and the present situation of millions of Kurds, one will hopefully be sympathetic towards why the message of Newroz, as portrayed in this song, has such political undertones.

Btw,

Don’t miss to read about the Newroz celebrations in the city of Amêd (or Diyarbakir) tomorrow in Northern Kurdistan (Turkey). Millions of people will gather around together and celebrate Newroz, a tradition that was strictly forbidden in Turkey just a couple of years ago.

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Did you find this interesting? Hêja explained another Kurdish song: Omer Dizeyî’s “Xewn le xewda”.

Let’s Listen To Abdel Halim Hafez & Jay Z At The Same Time

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Among the most popular Arab singers of all time (maybe even to be included into the club of the Great Four of Arabic music), Abdel Halim Hafez was and still very much is an icon. That kind of ‘icon’ whose songs influence revolutions, like the 2011 Egyptian revolution – 35 years after his death.

His early life and music career could have been that of a Edith Piaf – only he was an orphan living in extremely poor Cairo, and not Paris.

Abdel Halim Hafez, 1929 – 1977

Like Piaf, Hafez was rejected for his style of singing in the early days of his career but moved on to become enjoyed by all generations. Unlike the French icon, the ‘King of Arabic Music’ never or rarely recorded a studio album, always performing in sold-out arenas and stadiums; sometimes with him playing many different instruments as well.

You have heard him – not just on your trip to any part of the Middle East. You wonder when? Whenever you listen to Jay Z’s ‘Big Pimpin’, know that producer Timbaland used two complete bars from Hafez’ song ‘Khosara’. (In fact, Jay Z is currently facing legal drama over this.) Listen below.

You know I, thug em, fuck em, love em, leave em. Cause I don’t fucking need em“: The ode to the ‘pimping’ lifestyle, meaning sex with girls without becoming emotionally attached to them – I’m quoting rap genius – Jay Z’s ‘Big Pimpin’ is not unfamiliar to your ears.

Hafez used the same melody decades earlier. I translated (and summed up) the lyrics for you. Let’s see what meaning he gave to the song as opposed to his admirer. Listen below.

What a loss, what a loss
Your separation, oh neighbour
My eyes are weeping for you with bitterness
What a loss
Every day I’ve been searching for you
Only to find out that I see life through you
My eyes are sleepless
My tears are bewildered
What a loss, what a shame

We forgive Jay Z though. Jay has reportedly expressed embarrassment for and disclaimed the song’s subject in years since: “I can’t believe I said that, and kept saying it. What kind of animal would say this sort of thing?” Hafez certainly wouldn’t.

Kurdish Youth Festival – A Constructive Criticism

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This year on January 3-5, the fifth edition of the Kurdish Youth Festival was organized in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Festival itself and its aim to bring together Kurdish youth from all over the world is a fantastic idea. The importance of not forgetting ones culture, celebrating its positive sides and  building bridges between human beings are all valuable features that this festival brings with itself.

Further, it also embraces and highlights the value of tolerance among a divided nation’s youth, brings them together and connects them for a greater cause.

OUR INTENTION

With that being said, it is also of importance and relevance to direct some constructive criticism towards the Festival. Note, the criticism is not formulated or sent in order to take anything away from the founders and committee members of the festival, quite the opposite; it is addressed towards a will to improve the Festival even more to the next coming years.

OUR PROPOSALS

The areas where we believe the Festival can improve are summarized in three different but yet cohesive points.

APPEALING TO ACADEMIA
First, in order for the Festival to grow and hopefully form into a Festival where Kurdish academia can direct their focus towards, it would be of interest to think of ways on how one can attract Kurds with a passion for academics. If the Festival committee finds it of value, the Festival can improve in serving its aim by including academic workshops for Kurdish Master’s students and PhD candidates from all over the world. For example, this year’s essay question was very generally formulated and did not have any connection with Kurds or Kurdistan in any way.(“What is the best advice that you have ever received, and how have you implemented it in your life?”)

As the Kurdish nation is a nation with a great need of new thoughts and cutting-edge ideas, it is in our interest to create as many forums and incentives as possible for those who wish to contribute. By creating an opportunity and attracting students of various kinds and levels, a unique chance will be created to bring together the nation’s leading academic youth under one roof. One way of doing this is to call out for both Master’s and PhD essays, finished or in the making, to be presented at the Festival. The essays should, of course, be of direct relevance to Kurds or Kurdistan.

ADDING A POLITICAL DIMENSION
Secondly, the Festival has the potential to attract decision makers, Kurdish as well as foreign, which share an interest in understanding and participating in the discussions that Kurdish youth can bring to the table. By formulating half a dozen political topics, for example, which can be formulated in advance, future participants can and should be given the opportunity to write their views and comments in order to take part in workshops which address the different topics. The youth of a nation has always been an innovating force, and the Festival should encourage this further. Moreover, this type of initiative which naturally will attract various kinds of views and opinions is well in line with not only serving the Kurdish cause but to also function as a forum for tolerance and compromise.

INCLUDING AS MANY AS POSSIBLE
Last but not least, the Festival has great potential by not only restricting itself to the US. There are large and significant Kurdish diasporas in Europe, for example, which would benefit from being included in the spirit of the Festival. A fragmented Kurdish voice is a challenge to unity and can be detrimental to achieving common ground. By changing the place of venue from year to year, more Kurds, especially youths with strained financial situations, will have the opportunity to participate. A more democratic approach could also be to arrange two different events at the same time, one in the US and elsewhere. By using modern technology, one event can turn into an international forum. The Festival has a great chance of being an important platform for creativity and new approaches to old but yet important questions.

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

This criticism is directed at you, founders and committee members of the Kurdish Youth Festival. Not because we are not thankful for what you have built, quite the opposite: we find this format to be of an incredibly great potential. We hope that this will be appreciated and that it may initiate an open discussion, too.

Unfortunately, we haven’t had the privilege to participate at any of the Festivals. We have however, live-streamed a lot of hours and been in touch with participants who have been attendees and have expressed their similar concerns. Nevertheless, we both recognize that by not being a participant, that it may be unfair to criticize in the form that we do. However, until we will experience the Festival for ourselves, which we hope to do next year, we think that writing is a form of action.

OUR APPRECIATION

We want to end our criticism with a sincere and warm Thank You to everyone who have made the Festival possible. We are impressed that a group of Kurdish youngsters have taken an initiative that should have been the responsibility of a newly established regional government. By saying that, we mean that the Kurdish Regional Government should be a much more willing, active and contributing sponsor for such events.

Thank you for reading,

Mardin Hêja Baban and Sham Jaff

Hobby: Critical Thinking

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More than a month ago, I created a Facebook page called “Dinge, die ein Politikstudent nicht sagt” (>3 500 fans), following the example of its successful English Version “Things Politics students don’t say” (>6 000 fans).

Among the most successful posts have been following posts:

The money is in studying Politics, you end up poor if you do Economics.

I have finally found a simple definition of politics that everyone can agree on!

or my favourite

My parents were so happy when I studied this instead of law.

As it is with all things, they’re funniest when they’re true. To anyone who has just finished his A-Levels, look for these pages on Facebook, relevant to your desired program. They will tell you more about your next three years in college studying – let’s say – politics than any student counselor.

When I first started studying Politics back in 2009, Facebook was not as popular in Germany as it is today. As there was nobody to truly tell me how it would be like to study what I had always had an interest in, I was left with my intuition, people’s opinions and experiences about studying Politics and my parents’ disapproval.

I dived in naively, not knowing the relatively unstable job market for political scientists-to-be. While it is true that most political scientists find Jobs within federal governments, think tanks, nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities, political lobbying groups, and labor organizations. Now, three years later, I cannot stress enough that getting a job is highly dependent on one’s own efforts and luck to become a good job candidate.

I now understood why my parents were not particularly keen on seeing me sign up for three, and most likely, five years of studying Political Science.

But 2011 changed everything.

In 2011 within just a few months, “pretty stable” regimes collapsed, Japan’s nuclear catastrophe irreversibly changed Germany’s energy policy and Denmark returned to its infamous border controls. Nothing seemed safe, everything was unpredictable. Questions were asked, answers were needed. The more complex the news, the more necessary became those who could explain them: political scientists turned into overnight celebrities. What they were taught are what they can do best: organize chaos, explain mysteries, foresee hindrance. Explain the world.

Luckily, my parents now, too, understand.

Why You Should Listen To Stupid Ideas

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There is a man that haunted, crippled and talked me down for years and his name is Earl Keith Miller. He is a successful cognitive neuroscientist who studied at Princeton University and taught at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). As a scientist, his work comprises of a lot of research. As a scientist, he serves humanity in the most honorable way: he collects information, analyses it and tells us what to do, not to do and what is wrong and right in a lot of cases.

In 2009, four years ago, I was in my first undergraduate semester – a freshman eager to do everything right from the beginning until the very end. 2009 was also the year when I read an article on the Ethiopian Review about him and his new, important findings.

This is where the drama begins.

Successes are more informative than failures”, Earl said, meaning: If you fail at something you probably know why. You got fired because you showed up late most of the time. Your spouse left because you showed up too many times at the wrong place, with the wrong person. You already know the reason you failed.

But “if you succeed, everything has gone right, so there’s a lot more information in successes than failures,” Miller continued, meaning: We learn more from success, not failure.

And this is where the climax begins.

Naturally I assumed I should study the successful if I wished to be successful. And I did. For years and years, and even until now, I read biographies of people who are held to be successful members of our society, in their own way, in their own niche – not telling me that most of them rarely talk about failures in their lives. Having founded a startup magazine myself, I regularly read about the successful startups that the Fortune magazine displays so heroically – not telling me that most startups don’t actually start up. And I studied night after night wanting to become like the average A – students – not knowing that there are a lot more reasons why I had not as many As as them than just my IQ. In short, because failure became invisible, the difference between failure and success became invisible, too.

In 2009, I firmly believed that there is an infinite number of ways to fail and only a few ways to succeed and in 2013, I must correct myself: there is an infinite number of ways to fail and an infinite number of ways to succeed.

But herein lies the difficulty: the hard part is pinning down the cause of success.

Most people just point at highly visible things, and make claims like

 “StartupX is successful because the founders worked extremely hard, the office culture was well-developed, and there were lots of team building activities.”

Or

StudentX gets a lot of A grades because he studies a lot.”

The problem is that this ignores the 5,000 other startups and eager students that did all those same things, but failed. Perhaps it turns out that StartupX really succeeded because they had a sales guy with lots of good connections and et cetera. Or StudentX really had better grades because he studied with the right people, had the right routines and et cetera.

Causation is not relation, everybody knows that. But it is damn hard to figure out what and often the people themselves are biased and don’t really know why they have become successful. I would say a big percentage of tips you get are less useful than you might think, perhaps even harmful, but to figure out which one of them depends on your judgment.

In the words of one of my favorite journalists, David McRaney on his blog youarenotsosmart.com:

If you spend your life only learning from survivors, buying books about successful people and poring over the history of companies that shook the planet, your knowledge of the world will be strongly biased and enormously incomplete. As best I can tell, here is the trick: When looking for advice, you should look for what not to do, for what is missing, but don’t expect to find it among the quotes and biographical records of people whose signals rose above the noise. They may have no idea how or if they lucked up. What you can’t see, and what they can’t see, is that the successful tend to make it more probable that unlikely events will happen to them while trying to steer themselves into the positive side of randomness. They stick with it, remaining open to better opportunities that may require abandoning their current paths, and that’s something you can start doing right now without reading a single self-help proverb, maxim, or aphorism. Also, keep in mind that those who fail rarely get paid for advice on how not to fail, which is too bad because despite how it may seem, success boils down to serially avoiding catastrophic failure while routinely absorbing manageable damage.

Sites like Admitting Failure and events like FailFaireDC 2012 which have recently attempted to bring together stories of projects gone wrong, addressed the need to discuss failures. I will try to do that, too.

An Apology To Barbie

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While a Barbie-themed restaurant opening was hailed with general delight and fanfare in Taipei earlier this year, the opening of the blonde doll’s new crib in Berlin revives a discussion that is long obsolete.

Left-wing feminists are protesting the Barbie Dreamhouse Experience – a 27,000-square-foot lifesized pink estate – opening in Berlin tomorrow on May 16.

For decades, the world’s new women have taken Barbie for granted. The consensus is: Barbie is evil. She is too sexy, they say. She is too thin, they claim. And above all, she reduces women to a domestic, sexual slave of today’s patriarchy. I mean, even Mattel, Inc., Barbie’s producer, sued the band Aqua for their song ‘Barbie Girl’, saying they violated the Barbie trademark and turned Barbie into a sex object, referring to her as a “Blonde Bimbo“.
On trial, judge Kozinski however dismissed the case by concluding: “The parties are advised to chill.

And I agree. I dare to go further: women owe Barbie an apology.

Plastic doll little Barbara is the epitome of early feminism. She was women’s first alternative to being a mother.

Let’s all remember the old standard dolls back in the days: that one toy girls were taught to take care of, change its diapers, feed and pay extra attention to. And then came the 60ies, and our long-lost best friend Barbie arrived.

Girls dressed Barbie because she has fun with fashion, not because she is helpless. Barbie bakes cakes because she invites girlfriends over, not because she has to feed her baby. The first women-self-help sit-ins were at her place. There is a Ken in each Barbie’s life but Ken is not her boss: he is an accessoire who has (way too much) fun wearing fashionable clothes and having tea parties with the other girls.

Barbie is everything an emancipated woman wants to be: grown up, emotionally independent, confident, financially and sexually free.

So, yes, you all need to chill.