Weekend Reading: 3/5/2017

Trump’s wiretapping accusation may backfire:

Schumer: ‘The president is in trouble’ (Politico): President Trump’s wiretapping accusation seems poised to backfire. Though the claim is likely false, it seems like a no-win situation for the president even if it is true. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer:

If it’s true, it’s even worse for the president. Because that means that a federal judge, independently elected, has found probable cause that the president, or people on his staff … have probable cause to have broken the law or to have interacted with a foreign agent.

President Trump’s tweet seems to be driving further divides between him and his allies in congress as  congressional Republicans were caught off guard, though they seem to be willing to investigate the matter.

Preliminary reports from CNN also say that the FBI has asked the justice department to refute President Trump’s claims, according to unnamed sources.

 

Weekend Reading: 3/4/2017

We have lost our sense of normality (Axios): Donald Trump accuses Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the election, possibly stirred on by this Breitbart story. Evidence:

The allegation is bizzarre, and leads to a point that BBC Newsnight’s Evan Davis made to Trump’s deputy advisor Sebastian Gorka: Does president Trump realize he won the election?  

Trump fumes over Sessions’ recusal from Russia probe (Politico): More evidence of disorganization among the current administration, also evidence of the challenges of a  non-politician faces when ascending to the highest office in the land. Jeff Sessions’ recusal, regardless of whether he had inappropriate contact with Russian diplomats, was a conventional move for an established politician – however there’s overwhelming evidence suggesting that Trump’s governance style is anything but.

US suspends expedited processing of H-1B visas (CNN): The first concrete move (that I’m aware of) around the Trump’s administration’s rumored efforts to curb  the number of H1-B visas administered to foreign workers. ( H1-B visas are typically given to highly skilled workers). The move eliminates the expedited processing program, where applicants can pay $1,225 to ensure a response from the US Citizenship and Immigration services within 15 days. Supporters of the the move will point to outsourcing firms that flood the system with applicants who who take home lower wages then their  American counterparts.

The Curious Case of Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s New Terrorism Guru (Foreign Policy): Interesting analysis of Sebastian Gorka’s (deputy adviser to President Trump) role in the White House, as well as the numerous ways he seems to contradict himself when he gives interviews. Gorka  seems to have underwent a significant policy shift over the past decade: In a 2007 doctorate dissertation, he called the use of the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” deeply problematic in the fight against extremism; now, he berates the media for not using it.

Author Colin Kahl, former adviser to president Obama, also wastes no time throwing shade (“When I was a deputy assistant to President Barack Obama and national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, I didn’t have a lot of time for media appearances or keeping up with my Twitter feed [we had a lot of meetings]. That doesn’t seem to be a problem for Gorka”)

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Coding

I’m re-learning how to program, and it’s a blast.
 
When I was younger, I studied simple programming. I bought introductory books on C and C++, and I took a BASIC class in Jr. High. But around 9th or 10th grade, I stopped once I learned that writing a game, which is what I really wanted to do, would take forever.
 
I’ve decided to give JavaScript a go. It’s easy to pick up and it’s pretty similar to C. What’s surprised me most is how many free resources are available for aspiring programmers who want to get fluent in JavaScript. Code Academny and Kahn Academy both have excellent free courses, and there are many YouTube channels devoted to teaching people how to code in JavaScript.
 
I don’t blog much so I won’t promise any updates on my progress, but I’ll try to link to any noteworthy programs I write in the future.
 

Did it

December 21, 2012.
 
3 years after I graduated college.
 
6 months as a freelance writer, 2 teaching jobs, 2 internships and a short stint as a hotel receptionist.
 
I’m finally employed full time at a PR agency.
 
It was one hell of a journey.

How to Start Over [Career]

Your career is in shambles. You have no money. You’re living with your parents. Where do you go?

Step 1: Make a plan

Head to a coffee shop and write out the steps you need to take to be successful. Too broke for a coffee shop? Brew a pot at home and write out how to get where you want to go. You need a plan for when depression hits. Plus, a plan will make you feel a lot better.

Step 2: Perform Step 1 of your plan

It sounds simple, right? But it’s strange how procrastination, depression or other external factors can get in the way of starting over. Build up your courage, psyche yourself up, kick yourself out the front door; whatever you have to do, make sure you do perform the first action item on your plan. You’ll be surprised the amount of confidence you gain from making the first step.

Step 3: Create a side-goal

Odds are that your plan will take some time to come to fruition. So set a side goal that will fill the time between steps. Finish a book, set a fitness goal, or make it a priority to finish your spring cleaning. Don’t let yourself mope about where you’re not, and don’t let yourself daydream about the future too much.

Continue reading

Street Photography: Portraits

Street photography can be intimidating. You’re out on the street with a camera trying to capture interesting moments, but at the same time you’re trying to blend into the background and not look like a creep with a camera. After all, it would be disconcerting if you were taking a stroll downtown and saw someone trying to snap your picture without you knowing it.

I think the best way to get over this fear is to do street portraits. In street photography, you’re trying to capture moments without anyone noticing. With street portraits, you have to confront the issue of consent directly.

Getting up the nerve to do this can be difficult (Danny Santos has an awesome post on how to overcome your fear of approaching someone for their portrait). But once you do get up the nerve, you will get some pretty unique photographs.

Continue reading

Hunger and Perspective

Two conflicting ideologies are battling for prominence in my life. To me, they epitomize “yin” and “yang” in that I need a healthy balance of both.

Staying hungry

I’m at a  good spot in my career. I feel like I’m at a great company doing an internship that’s relevant to the field I want to break into. But being a PR pro isn’t all I want. I feel like there are three areas in my life I want to develop:

1. Physical – I want to be in the best shape of my life this time next year. I’ve been off-and-on with my diet in terms of what I eat and my daily calorie intake, but I feel like I can hit my goals 100 percent of the time if I try. On top of that, I want to be stronger.. a lot stronger than how I am. It’s always been a goal of mine, but I feel like I finally have the tools to make the physical transformation I want to make. Continue reading

Thoughts on coffee drinking and the coffee culture

Picture of coffee beans

Let me start off by saying that I’m not a coffee expert. I’ve been drinking coffee for nine years, and I only took it with cream and sugar for three months when I was starting out. I drink mochas, lattes and frappachinos, but those are all in a different category than coffee to me.

I am not an expert in what makes a good coffee great. I understand how different regions have different flavors (and have gotten better at telling where a bean came from just by its taste), and I can have basic conversations about how you’re drinking a roast (when the coffee’s flavor comes from how the bean is roasted) or you’re drinking the bean (when the coffee’s flavor comes mostly from the bean).  But my understanding of coffee is limited.

But I do know what I like about coffee and what I hate about coffee culture. Being an avid drinker of coffee has given me insight into the mysterious black liquid of a non-technical sort. As someone who has worked as a journalist, a college student and a freelance writer, I like to think I’ve downed more than my fair share of coffee. As such, I’ve welcomed some trends in coffee and shaken my fist at others. Continue reading

Google +: A better tool for PR than Facebook?

I’ve been using Google Plus for two or three weeks now, and I love it so far. It still has a “shiny” feel to it and I love seeing how people are adapting to its features.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed about it, however, is that it is not, and never will be, a Facebook killer. Far be it from me to attempt to predict the future, but I don’t see Google + intruding on Facebook’s territory. Here’s why.

Internet Sharing Culture

Most of what I see on Google + so far is stuff people share from the Internet. It’s kind of like twitter, but with a higher character count. I’ve been directed to a lot of stuff that is interesting to me by the people I follow. I think this is because I’m in special Google circles with my friends, and the things they post to people in the circles I am in are directly related to my interests. (I’ll explain the emphasis later.) Continue reading

Make no mistake: The US Women’s team lost to a better team

Let’s get something strait: the US should not have won the Women’s world cup final. Let me repeat:  the US should not have won the women’s world cup final. The Japanese team proved that they were the better team, despite the fact that the US team controlled the pace of the game for a good 70 minutes.

Before there’s any misconception, I was pulling for the women’s team. I don’t think there’s any disrespect in saying that they lost to a team that was simply better.

But I do think it’s disrespectful to the Japanese team to say the US team simply choked. It detracts from the Japanese team’s talent and (Warning: cliche ahead) their will to win. And it overlooks the obvious: Japan was the better team on March 17th, 2011.

Here’s why: Continue reading