Beyond the Rhetoric


The Quandary of Standing Out and Fitting In

July 22nd, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Two legged FREAK

Common wisdom, as it turns out, is neither common nor wise. If one idiom tells us that “birds of a feather flock together,” then why does another tell us that opposites attract? And as we make our way through this crazy world of ours, we are faced with another contradictory quandary.

On the one hand, many of us aim to be someone special or exceptional. On the other hand, there is a burning desire to be normal and not to be labeled as the oddball. This cognitive dissonance can lend itself to much undue stress and angst.

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Sony Xperia M2 Smartphone Unboxing Video

July 21st, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Sony Xperia M2

When it comes to the world of smartphones, it’s easy to be interested in the highest end models. Flagship smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8 are meant to represent the absolute best that the company has to offer, but these devices inevitably come with more of a premium price. And for the average consumer, the step up in specs and features may not necessarily justify the added cost.

For those of you who are interested in simply having an adequate smartphone at a more affordable price, there are devices like the Sony Xperia M2.

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Sunday Snippet: John Oliver

July 20th, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

“The reason a British person has to do that is that we’re raised in a rigid class system where we have all hope beaten out of us. And your [American] optimism is overwhelmingly positive, except when it leads you to act against your own best interests.”

You are, at least in part, a product of your upbringing. If you grew up in Scandinavia, then the Law of Jante may have been thrust upon you from a very young age, reminding you to be humble. If you grew up in the UK, then you may have been bombarded with the almost comical sense of pessimism expressed by comic John Oliver. And if you grew up in the United States, you may have been taught that you are only limited by your imagination and that anything is possible.

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Grammar 101: Wreak Havoc or Reek Havoc

July 18th, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Grammar 101 with Michael Kwan

It’s very convenient that most modern devices will automatically check and even correct our spelling for us. However, this has also led to many people using the wrong word under the wrong context, because it’s not technically a spelling error. Havoc can be roughly defined as absolute disorder, disaster or destruction. If you cry havoc (as in the play Julius Caesar), then you are warning others of this danger. So, should you be writing “wreak havoc” or “reek havoc” if you mean to use the popular idiom meaning to cause a lot of trouble?

To Wreak Is to Cause

The verb to wreak (pronounced as “reek” to rhyme with “meek” or “leak”) means to cause or inflict, typically in the context of causing damage or harm. It has a negative connotation to it. For example, you could say that hunching over a computer keyboard all day will wreak havoc on your back. If you are planning a family road trip, getting a flat tire could wreak havoc on your travel plans.

The most common phrase is to “wreak havoc,” but wreak can still be used under some different contexts too. You could say that a warrior aims to wreak his revenge on the man who murdered his father.

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What Freelancers Can Learn from “Weird Al” Yankovic

July 17th, 2014 by Michael Kwan

What Freelancers Can Learn from Weird Al Yankovic

Amish Paradise. Smells Like Nirvana. White and Nerdy. Gump.

“Weird Al” Yankovic has become something of a cultural icon through his countless song parodies and he is celebrating the launch of his newest album, Mandatory Fun, by releasing one new music video a day for eight days. And in many ways, musicians and comics like Weird Al have careers that mirror those of many freelancers: you primarily work for yourself, you may get contracted for one-off projects, and you become responsible for much of your own marketing.

Given this, what can a freelance writer, photographer, web designer or consultant learn from this decidedly quirky artist?

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What’s Up Wednesdays: You Gotta Eat Here

July 16th, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Phnom Penh Cambodian Restaurant, Vancouver

We start our weekly speedlink journey by visiting with Melody Fury in Austin, Texas. She recently had the opportunity to eat some delicious food from Jasper’s Gourmet Backyard Cuisine, which incorporates Asian influences into classic American dishes. You get some great Thai green curry mussels, for example, as well as five-spice calamari with sweet chili vinaigrette. She was particularly impressed with the pork tenderloin with jalapeno-charred corn.

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You Can’t Plan for Every Contingency

July 15th, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Google Space Plan 2010  (1 of 3)

Always be prepared. The Boy Scouts have been pushing this kind of philosophy for years and it really does make a lot of sense. You’ll have a far easier time surviving in the middle of the woods when you already know how to set up a shelter, start a fire or forage for food. At the same time, we have to be careful not to take this line of thinking too far. It’s good to be ready, but you can’t possibly plan for every possible situation.

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On Smartphones, Food Porn and Restaurant Etiquette

July 14th, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Taking Pictures of Asians Taking Pictures of Food

Over the weekend, my friend Joseph shared an article about a NYC restaurant that compared security camera footage from 2004 with footage from 2014. They say that the number of customers that they serve each day today is roughly comparable to the volume they handled ten years ago, but they’ve been receiving negative reviews online. Most of these negative reviews cite slow service.

Long story short, they found that patrons to the restaurant today are far too preoccupied with their smartphones. They’re wasting the first little while trying to connect to the Wi-Fi network, they waste more time snapping selfies and pictures of their food, and they’re occupying a significant portion of the servers’ time by asking them to take group photos for them.

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