Being critical 101: academics, aliens and media.

What does being critical mean and what does it entail?

The not-so-secret secret I learned from a few of my university professors is that the academic institution makes one weighty promise to the Canadian government. That promise is to teach students critical thinking. Just like that, like it is so easy to learn in the four years of their undergraduate studies.

Unfortunately, academic essays and assessment rubrics do not scratch the surfaces of critical thinking. Critical thinking is a belief system: a matter of understanding what you are NOT thinking about, what you are disclosing, what you are NOT defining in concrete evidence, and what you personally have vested in the issue, among other generic definers. Critical thinking has a sort of worldly idea behind it; it is a matter of considering perspectives beyond their points of reference. It is a matter of navigating in a world of enclosed spaces and a matter of opening sealed envelopes.

So you have a way of thinking, a newfound belief system or a pre-existing one. Some people believe in God, some in fate and higher-not-quite-God power, and some in science. They find an explanation for reality and for their purpose in life through these various belief systems. What is the reason for this? It is a natural human instinct to want to know where we come from and what we are doing here.

Being critical means not believing in sugar-coated stuff. Being critical means doubting our natural ways of thinking. Going against the fibres of nature and leaving unpredictability in the hands of feasible systems that can provide concrete equations. Being critical should not be a war between science and God and should not be about rejecting the idea of God. Being critical should be about rejecting one-sided ideas, narrowness of the belief, passivity, and the inability to question what is in place. Critical thinking can be achieved beyond the walls of religion, culture and society. It is just a matter of leaving the comfort behind.

What we do not realize is that we are all natural critics and skeptics and are all guilty of criticizing (the negative connotation of this). Some of us just get criticism right, and others apply it in the wrong contexts. No wonder. The comforts of modern middle-class life, globalization and the growing entertainment industry leave us little time to get detached from the computer screen or the magazine spread. Media provides us with a rigid system of conditioning that replaces active thinking with pleasure.

We shut off, without questioning and donate ourselves to those who mold the popular opinion. After all, aliens are not at war with us but we are at war with ourselves and the imaginary force that has something against us. Recognizing the war with ourselves is sure as hell discomforting.


Chinese herbal medicines ruled out by Europe

Nature, the international weekly journal of science, reports that there is a growing dependence on herbal medicines within the Western populations. These are medicines which are considered tradtional within Eastern populations and have existed for hundreds of years.

For example, we use echinacea for colds, St John's wort for depression and anxiety, and feverfew for migraines.In US, herbal products are labeled as dietary supplements and are not registered with the Food and Drug Administration. In Europe, herbal products must be registred as "traditional-use products with the regulatory agency in every EU member state in which the product is to be sold." European nations have some of the strictest regulations in the world and may be simply missing out on Eastern herbal products.

What is the the reason for this?

Back in 1990's thousands of women attending a weight loss clinic in Belgium recieved a toxic Chinese herb for weight loss instead of an intended anti-inflammatory one. Over a hundred kidney failures were reported and later, cases of cancer in the urinary system.

The problem was that the Western practioners were confused with how some of the Chinese herbal medicine is labeled and with its traditional practice. This resulted in the new regulations from the European Medicines Agency:

Herbal medicines are only eligible for licence in Europe if they provided treatment towards a certain health complaint for at least 30 years, including 15 years in  Europe.

The question in place is whether after the 1990's incident and similiar incidents, Westerners are capable of regulating medicines developed in Eastern traditions. Supporters of herbal medicines worry that strict European rules may ban certain Asian herbal medicines.

A new European regulatory framework for herbal medicines has not yet been developed.

More research needs to be invested into tradtional Asian medicines. Asian medicines "could provide important new avenues for treatment." Such avenues for treatment can be lost if political, cultural and scientific changes are not made and if Eastern and Western medical traditions do not meet accordingly.

Source:  "Regulations: Herbal medicine rule book." Nature. 2011.


The better and underrated perfumes on the market

While I was wandering around the shop with drugs (Drug Mart, what did you think I was talking about?), I was seduced by powders, lipsticks and pretty bottles of perfume and cologne. Perhaps, this is why it goes by the name of Drug Mart. For people who are outside of Canada, this is your pharmacy/snack/beauty superstore.

I came in with no intention to buy anything. I came out with no purchases (surprisingly) but with an idea for this post. I am typically not an avid user of perfume because I can never find one that I can have a long term relationship with. You know, until the contents are empty and we divorce or renew our marriage vows. Well, that is one reason. I also feel like I am depriving myself of fresh air. But anyway, below are some of my finds (collected over several trips to several stores) of the better and underrated perfumes on the market.


"Candy" by Prada is extremely sensuous and makes you hungry: Don't judge the book by its cover with this one. It looks girly and generally lame, but I think that the scent can be both young and grownup. Recently released in the spring of 2011, this one is a real heart breaker. "Candy" is warm, spicy and sweet with caramel, vanilla and Laotian Benzoin (a tree resin that smells like root beer). YUM!

"Nina" by Nina Ricci is a sexy little secret: Nina Ricci might have some of the best fragrances out in the market, but "Nina" is her original and the most tempting. This scent is very feminine with a touch of soft floral notes, yet also very seductive with hints of light woods and citrus. This is the type of scent people wonder about as you walk by them.

"Poppy Flower" by Coach is perfect for drawing compliments at anytime of the day: This one is very light and versatile (good for any occasion and for any time of the day). With grapefruit, lychee, jasmine, rose, apricot, amber and ivy, you can just imagine how good it smells. "Poppy Flower" is chic and playful.


"L'Eau d'Issey Pour Homme" by Issey Miyake is SEXY, SEXY, SEXY: Buy it for your blonde boyfriend (or someone with lighter features), and that is all I have to say. "L'Eau" is light and fresh with a herb-infused scent. This cologne still carries the manly smell but it is very zesty. I will never get over this scent.

"Versace Pour Homme" by Versace is strong like Sparta: Buy it for your brunette or blonde boyfriend. This one is not the manliest one of them all, but it is still masculine in its unique aromas of weird stuff like bitter orange leaves,  orange blossom flower, geranium, sage and tonka bean (which smells like vanilla, cinnamon and almond). Despite all the fruit medley, this cologne is very crsip and very strong. Strong like bull!

"John Varvatos Vintage" by John Varvatos is either for Jersey Shore or for the classiest of them all:  Buy it for your brunette boyfriend. Yes, I can't decide on this one. It is either meant for a muscle-bulging, fist-pumping hulk or for a very sophisticated man in a suit. The reason why I say this is because "John Varvatos" smells VERY masculine, yet in a distinctive smooth type of way. Basically, this is a classic for a well groomed man. The type that makes you wish that the elevator would just get stuck. Enjoy notes of  suede, tobacco leaf and oak together with cinnamon and rhubarb. Awesome.


Traveler's Note: Amsterdam

Welcome to Traveler's Note, a quick impression & feedback editorial on different cities around the world in a nutshell. Note: All the writing material in Traveler's Note is that of my personal experience and opinion, thus it does not necessarily reflect nor portray how this location may appear to you on your own travel time.

Amsterdam. The city of freedom and relaxing your otherwise tense, restrictive lifestyle. This is the vibe I got from the never endless dams dominating the scenery, chill people, take it easy attitude, coffee shops where coffee is the last thing on people's minds (the first would be weed of course), fresh as well as windy air that geographically reminds you exactly where you are, strong presence of multiculturalism, and yes I gotta say overall a true feeling of a Liberal-minded atmosphere.
What's the most important thing you gotta know heading into the City Of Freedom (as I like to call it at least)? Well, as a tourist you'll be glad to know that everyone speaks great English. From what I've seen and heard, it is incredible just how good people's English is there knowing that Dutch is their native tongue. I mention this because you will NOT find such a large amount of fluent English in much of the rest of Europe (except UK, duh).

Now take a look at the menu sample below. It's from a Coffee Shop.
You'll find many, and I mean many Coffee Shops in Amsterdam. Yes, you've got it right it is perfectly legal to smoke marijuana when you're there.

Have you got a sense of just how free and laid back Amsterdam really feels like compared to just about anywhere else? No? Then hop on a plane on your next Euro trip and make sure you give Amsterdam some quality time.

As far as the expenses go, well, it is pretty much the same as any other European country that uses the Euro currency as far as food and restaurants, meaning reasonable. If you plan on living in Amsterdam however, the apartments there get very pricey. Oh and be prepared to see at least a million Heineken advertisements. Dutch beer is Dutch beer.

Also, I hope you're down to see some half naked women while you're there, 'cause boy you'll be getting it in the Red Light District (you may get more than just that) in a big way.
Guys and gals, animals and aliens, this was just a tiny glimpse at Amsterdam which is the purpose for Traveler's Note. There is of course much more to share, but there's no way I'm spoiling it all for ya. So to quickly wrap it up, I'd say it's your 10/10 place if you're looking for some completely new experiences. If you're very conservative, you might find it a little "too wild".


The English language is in question

The English language and I do not get along. In fact, we are enemies. As a blogger, editor and book writer, I face the challenges of English daily. Not because it is my second language, although I do get asked “how is your English so good if you are an immigrant?” to the point that the question no longer has the lengthy answer attached to it. To me, the English language is a multi-purpose, universal tool without the advanced features.

I keep this tool in my pocket and use this tool for survival in real life and in online life. Through the English language I have two lives and can connect with all of the other peoples that have the same tool, thanks to English-speaking immigrants killing Indians by “war, murder, and introduced diseases” (Diamond 328) upon entering the Americas, and forcing them to adopt English. The world now is too forced to adopt English like a new infectious disease. But thanks to its infectious character, this tool provides me with water, food and sleep, with physical safety and economic security, with love and acceptance and with prestige and status. I am more fortunate than those who do not have the same type of tool and have to stay cold during winters and thirsty during summers, have to fight war and have to hold onto their dear civil rights.

The English language is a tool that provides a base, but from the top of hierarchy of needs, it cannot provide me with self-actualization: with challenges, with innovation and with creativity. I want to tweak the English language. I want to apply different settings and commands. But all I get is wit, wordiness and rhymes.

I have to re-invent the English language; I have to create a culture for it. Although this tool is easy to use, it requires manual application of extra features.
The English discourse, as defined by Alastair Pennycook, is another problem I have with the English language. The English language as the object of linguistic imperialism provides that I am contributing to domination of other peoples. Not because the English-speakers are smarter or better at anything in particular, they are just better at borrowing and persuading.

Am I marketing the English language tool, am I justifying domination? Am I the living proof that English is a neutral, natural and beneficial tool because it is a tool of survival for me? Am I really just looking at the Eurocentric side of the English language and praising it as the only smart tool, the only tool that is bigger and better than the rest?

Jared Diamond, an award-winning professor and American scientist travels and works around the world for decades in order to write “Guns, Germs and Steel.” He takes on a quest to explain how history became known from a Eurocentric approach, how Africa became black and how China became Chinese. One question Jared asks: “why are the Eurasian societies literate?” Historical science and evolutionary geology and biology explain this.

The English language as a tool of survival has insane amounts of history in these fields. The way history describes dominantly white and dominating continents versus Asia, Africa, New Guinea and Pacific Islands is just one example of why English is the not-so-new tool of the more fortunate. Before the English language, there were “infectious diseases, steel tools and manufactured products(23)" which paved way for domination: this is the history of haves and have nots, the history of borrowing and winning.

The English language too, borrows and plays a role in world domination. It borrows, because there isn’t much of the actual language itself (only 10% is actually English). The English language becomes the tool of “progress”, “unification” and “betterment of the human societies.” It was the language of colonialism and it is now the language of Americanization and modern globalization.

Jared Diamond explains the “impending disappearance (17) of world’s 6,000 surviving languages” as the English replacement of those languages, even if 1,000 of those come from New Guinea (27). The English language tool is bigger and better because it encompasses all of the other tools smarter and faster.

Items Cited:
“Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond.
“The Cultural Politics of English as an International Language” by Alastair Pennycook.


Hunger-fighting late night snacks that won't break your diet

We have all experienced it once too many times. The hunger monster knocks on the walls of our stomachs late in the evening/night and then we ravage the fridge like deprived honey badgers. Or go to bed feeling horrible. At times like these, I feel like I could totally eat a cow.

Eating 'a cow' late at night would not be good as 'the cow' would take about eight hours to digest (inproperly during sleep) and would not convert into any good energy.

Below, are some foods which I found to work in late night hunger-fighting. Some of these options aren't the healthiest. You may want to avoid them if you watch your sodium or sugar intake.

Let's roll! But before we do, make sure that it isn't dehydration that is making you dream of food at odd hours.

Apples: sweet and nutritious, they fight the monster through substantial water content and negative calories. Yup, you heard right. Apples are one of the many foods that are considered to be a part of a "zero calorie diet." Simply because they are filled with enzymes that break down their caloric nutrients. ie: your body does more work digesting apples than storing their calories. Apples may actually help you LOSE weight.

Calories: 40-110; depend on size

Tomatoes: another negative calorie fruit (vegetable). They pair well with some sea salt and pepper for an extra kick.

Calories: approx. 20 per tomato

Pickles: these savoury and salty treats fill you up like no other. Plus they only have one carb and no fat. If you are concerned over vinegar or added sugar, eat a cucumber.

Calories: 0-5 per pickle; depend on brand

Sauerkraut: may be found a bit nasty to some and very tasty to others. The point of selling is that you can't eat a lot of sauerkraut due to its sour pickled taste, so you end up feeling fuller on less. But the reason why sauerkraut fills you up is because it has 4g of fiber and even 1g of protein per cup. Plus, it's bomb in Vitamin C if you are feeling under the weather.

Calories: 30 per cup

Popcorn: no butter and plain in every other way. Low in fat and full of fibre and protein. Win.

Calories: depend on brand


How to get the job you want

7 billion people in the world and you. Those people in your undergraduate class are all going into the same field. There is always someone way smarter and better than you at something or at everything. There is now global competition from students all around the world, trained in better facilities or with more experience than you will ever have. So how do you find your place and how do you stand out?

Let's say it harshly: if you don't keep up with the changing dynamics of the labour force, you will not get the job that you want. EVER.

The following tips aren't a world-problem-solving guide. They are simple and do-able. However, you already need to feel successful and confident in yourself, because that, like everything else here, is in your hands only.

Get to know yourself: You have a character that comes with quirks and assets. Maybe you like to build LEGO or you read books by only one author, or maybe you are always late everywhere. Take a notebook and brainstorm why you are DIFFERENT from your neighbour, your friends, your classmates, your employers, etc. This is a great moment of narcissism. Think of all of the things you don't do right, as they are probably much more interesting than all those things that you think you are perfect at.

Recognizing your faults is healthy and the best thing you can do for yourself. If you really can't think of anything, ask the people close to you. Then, turn those faults into positives. Employers want to see that you are a human. Yes, just like those "prove that you are a human" text boses with some weird combination of wavy/unreadable letters that you are forced to transcribe online.

Example 1: You suck

Employer: "So tell me about your weaknesses."
You: "I am an overachiever, and that usually hurts me as I try to take on too many projects but it's cool because I have great multi-tasking skills."
Employer: "Next."

1. Being an overachiever isn't a weakness. 2. You sound like a robot. 3.You are lying.

Example 2: You stand out

Employer: "So tell me about your weaknesses."
You: "Everytime I am about to do something, I can't resist the urge to draw, it's my form of procrastination. But although I waste a lot of time, I relax while at it and then I feel my brain getting sharper closer to the deadline."
Employer: "That's interesting, what do you like to draw?"

1. The conversation just switched to casual. 2. They wanna know more about you.

Choose your niche: Information Technology is a huge field. Find a specific job/title that you are sure you are the best in doing. Or become the best at it, because you want it THAT much. Train yourself in any extra skills/knowledge required, because it is okay to not know everything. Then pretend that you are an apple on the grocery shelf beaming "look at me, I look and taste the best."

Think like a boss: This is the part that I can't coach you in, you either break your walls or you don't. You absolutely have to feel SUCCESSFUL. This is your "I AM THE BEST" moment. Just believe it. I can't stress enough how important this is.

Forget what school taught you: So you were getting all A's on your academic essays, but nobody gives a sh*t. Whatever wordy, theory-crazy, over-the-top things you learned in college won't suffice. Simple, to the point, don't waste my time. The more conscise the better. The world doesn't have the time or the money for inefficiency.

Apply all of those opportunities you had in college, like all those inspirational, real-life tips your professor taught you.

Practice your 30-second elevator speech: This goes in hand with the previous point. You have 30 seconds to tell that big guy why he should hire you, even if you don't qualify for the job. Brand yourself, sell your soul, make him feel that his business cannot surive without you.

Questions to think about: How will you make the company the next hot thing? Why is the company perfect for YOU (because you tell them that you only applied to this one)?

Throw out your cookie-cutter resume: Employers don't care that you worked at every single grocery store, restaurant and coffee shop for those top notch customer service skills. They are also tired of hearing that every single applicant is "hard-working with great initiative, multi-tasking abilities and has excellent communication skills." Boring, boring, boring.

Also, get rid of the objective part. It's outdated. Your resume should include your TOP achievements, MOST RELEVANT qualifications, education, and only the workplaces or volunteer positions that relate to the job you are applying to.

Make it up or beautify your achievements.Nobody is gonna know.

Give back to the community: The best and easiest was to get the job you want is by doing free labour for them or for your niche field. If they can't afford to give you up, they will hire you after.

Get on your employer's nerves: Ok, not really. But, do send them an email asking if they are recruiting. If not then, ask if they are looking for interns and who you can speak to if they are not able to answer these questions. They will know your name before you even apply and when they go through that pile, it will happen like this:

"Oh I know this guy, he is the one that emailed me three times...I think he really wants the job, lets call him for an interview."

Become more insistent: This part is simple. You walk in and slogan in any possible way that you can: I WANT THIS JOB and there is no other way around it.

Good luck!


Young Entrepreneurs Challenge 2012

Charles Atkinson, VP of Strategy and Development at HP Canada, stands infront of a room full of potential young entrepreneurs. Charles holds an artifact: a chest box full of notes with his childhood goals. These are the goals that helped him stay focused on his road to a VP position.

"Integrity, perseverance, commitment, and a dedication to excellence," he coaches the university students at Young Entrepreneurs Challenge 2012, excellently hosted by University of Toronto Mississauga and it's DEM Society.

On a Saturday night, there were a million things that these students and young entrepreneurs could be doing. But they chose to attend the YEC.

The event ran from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. and was launched by the Mayor of Mississauga herself, Hazel McCallion.

The event featured a series of keynote speakers, like the COO of Mobilicity, the Director of User Design at Kobo, and the President of MacLaren McCann, among many others. The VPs, Co-Founders and CEOs helped students get inspired in entrepreneurship and believe in their assets. Most importantly, students got to see what it is like in the prosperous world of good business, from the guys who had already taken that road.

The participants gave back to the community and learned something from the students themselves: initiative and potential for innovation.

"[Because you live in Canada and have all of your needs covered], You are the one percent," Michael Hyatt, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of BlueCat Networks, says in one of the best speeches of the evening. "Only work on your strengths and hire your weaknesses."

Students had plenty of opportunities to network with the showcased businesses and ask questions. Especially during the two hour lunch break which featured a buffet and free poutine. Beautiful cupcakes with the DEM logo were also served at breakfast.

The YEC event was a great opportunity for everyone. One idea to take away was that the key to a lifetime of happy work is commitment, persistence and more commitment and persistence.

Success - WTF?

What is success? What does it mean to be successful?
I watched and listened to many good speakers at the Young Entrepreneur Challenge today but none of them really defined success. Let's put that in the theory pile.

The word success is both overrated and overpriced. It is used in so many various contexts that I really don't even know what it means anymore. Success is overrated.

Originally, someone somewhere decided that success meant achievement and usually in monetary value. Large monetary value, COO type of stuff. Success is overpriced.

Anyway, if we are to think of success in those terms, we are falling behind. It's like the Mayans predicting that the the world will end. Well, of course it will end because the sun is a star and stars eventually become supernovas and black holes (Earth Science 101). But if you believe in the Mayan calendar hype, you might as well believe in witches.

We rule out things based on various factors like innovation and necessity. The calendar was probably a step forward and a necessity at the same time: the Mayans needed a timeline. Success should not equal monetary achievement and should not be measured in a timeline, rather in milestones with their own time restrictions. Success is what you are without a finish line and the steps you take towards bettering yourself and putting value into yourself.

Success is doing something with your life. No, not traveling to Africa. Success is recognizing your faults, failures, confidence, strength, hobbies, true passions and ETC.


What every woman needs to have in her diet

Technically, I am pro-vitamin. So, I will start off by saying that you should really be taking more than what is listed below in one form or another (like Vitamin D and B complex). Contact your doctor for that because I don't want to be responsible for overdoses.

BUT, below are a few foods that are beneficial for us the unfortunate.

Seaweed : It's main ingredient is Wakame which has tons of iron and calcium. Both are essential for women. Just imagine these plants growing in the oceans absorbing all of those nutrients and fish poop.

Seaweeds are known as the most nutritionally dense plants with 8-10x more calcium than milk and beef. Bonus: Seaweeds helps reduce cellulite and boost weight loss as natural iodine works on the thyroid gland and breaks down food fuel before it turns into fat.

Buckwheat: Although most carbs like rice and bread remind me of food shortage, such carbs are the highest in magnesium. Most women don't get enough of magnesium. Probably because we are too busy caring about our diets to eat carbs. Who eats buckwheat anyway? Oh, I know one person, my grandma! Love you grandma.

In all seriousness, *serious face*, magnesium protects against heart disease, anxiety, migraines, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Women's multivitamins do not provide enough magnesium as you need about 320mg.

Caviar: Who would have known that the Russians got something right? Hey! I'm Russian so I am allowed to make that joke.

Caviar is super high in vitamin B12 which every woman absolutely needs. B12 helps with PMS (haha your boyfran can't use that excuse anymore!) and general mood swings, anemia, fatigue and depression. Yes, it will wake you the hell up. If you are taking B in its pill form, then take it before noon.

Cranberries: UTI, nuff' said.
Yogurt: Prevents a certain type of infection. You know what I mean. Make sure the label says "live and active cultures" and the yogurt is PLAIN for it to work for that purpose.


What men and women want

I don't want to break your heart but there is no recipe for a good relationship, just like there isn't a recipe for the perfect pie. Everybody probably has their own idea for that one. My grandma especially likes organic apple pie.

But don't lose all faith. Despite all the women running around blabbing about their boyfriend's money situation and all the men running around complaining about their girlfriends' recent weight gain, there are many many happy couples. Wait. Rewind. If you are one of those two examples you should start a charity because you are SHALLOW.

So who am I to talk on this topic? Let's just say that I am an expert with a phD in love-ology and leave it at that. I had my fair share with some very very bad relationships but as you may know through work and school, relationships require as much learning and as many compromises. Once I did my learning, the road was as smooth as a baby's ass.

So, my findings are simple. Approaches to a relationship vary between genders. Both men and women want love equally because that is a basic human need. However, partners often don't understand that they differ in their needs FROM the relationship.

These creatures want trust. However, you either trust him or you don't. You can't trust every man you meet but the one you can trust, doesn't feel like much work. Trust me. No pun intended.
In addition, you should trust that work to him is a lot of the times super duper important, because without his job he doesn't feel like a man. So stop the whining and get a hobby.

These creatures want attention. A compliment a day keeps the drama away and don't you dare blame it on PMS. Men make the common mistake of thinking a nice paycheck or a vacation at the end of the month shows everything they worked for. What they don't understand it that flowers (how cliche) are worth as much as that "honey, we are going on vacation!" moment to the woman.

Anyway, these things should be given and received from both sides. It takes two to make babies.

Other good points: Watch less TV, focus on putting value into yourself and don't forget LOVE at the end of the day.


Editorial: The demise of RIM

I bet that looks familiar to you. I bet you've owned / used a BlackBerry at least once in your life.

Remember the glorious days when having a BlackBerry drew instant respect towards you? Yes, RIM was a dominant force in the mobile world once upon a time, believe it or not. Heck it was the king, alongside Nokia of course (though the latter was ruling European market), and it seemed that there was no stopping the Canadian Waterloo-based giant.

Fast forward to late 2011.

You're right, RIM is still hanging in there but for every new quarter result it continues to plunge down drastically. Moreover, these charts (doesn't matter which source) continue to extinguish any proof of what was once a true powerhouse.

So what went wrong? Or should we ask, what went terribly wrong for Research In Motion?

When dissecting a company's downfall it's usually unjust to point fingers as it often speaks of everyone's contribution in one way or another, however for the sake of this editorial it's crystal clear who the elephant in the room was: RIM's leadership. More precisely Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the two former co-CEO's of Research In Motion.

While it is unfair to single out these two individuals as being solely responsible for the downfall of the popular BlackBerry brand, you're not missing the target too far off either. After all, you're a CEO for a reason.

Leadership. What does that word mean to you? To me it means to take initiative to drive something forward. In RIM's case, the force was drawing to a halt. A jockey that hit a little too many errors.

However what was the "it" factor? What caused a now possible demise of RIM? The answer is quiet simple: competition.

With the rise of Apple's immensely popular iPhone and a bit later on Google's Android, RIM's BlackBerry was bound to get a few pushes from the other boys. In fact, it was supposed to be a good idea for RIM to get pushed around by competitors because it would turn their attention to something they never exceed upon once iPhones and Androids came knocking on the door: innovation.

While Google and Apple continued to rain on RIM's parade with releasing high-end innovative mobile devices that pushed average consumer's interest to a new level, BlackBerry remained mainly the same. Same design, same software, same hardware, same focus on what was popular "back when they were on top" kind of mentality. This carried on and on resulting in an outdated mobile OS, hardware, design, lack of apps, yesteryear specs, and so forth.

Somewhere along the line of struggling to keep up with the sudden boom of the iPhone and the surprising storm of green bot army Android, as well as failing to define what it meant to keep its consumers craving at an all time high, RIM lost the battle. Lost it in a big way.

Nowadays, lack of leadership from Research In Motion can be seen on just about any of the moves that the Canadian company makes. Where do we even begin? The underwhelming OS 7, the continuously delayed QNX phones that are supposed to stop the bleeding, complete failure to excite the consumer market with the company's first tablet 'PlayBook', truly outdated phones in nearly all parameters, a purported bid from Microsoft, Nokia, and Amazon, constant drop in consumer interest and market share (especially usage), and boy do we need to go on? That sounds bad enough.

Of course, if we know anything about RIM it's the company's success in the government market due to BlackBerry's high security and manageability. One thing you could never take away from the BlackBerry brand, no matter how rocky the road got for RIM, was its top of the line security. This was always the reason most government officials used BlackBerry handsets since RIM's beginning up to...well 2012 really. However, sadly this is also changing into a negative for the folks in Waterloo, Ontario. It seems that even the federal government is making a shift to Apple and Google naturally dragging alone most of the big tech companies since the phones offered from RIM's rivals are offering on-par security (well....Android got some work to do in that department let's be honest here). Don't believe me? See it from Washington Post for a further read.

So you ask, is this the end for RIM and in turn the curtain call for BlackBerry?

Absolutely not. However, its shaky future depends solely on its leadership. If there's a way to explain it more easily, let's just say for RIM it's simply now or never.

Do you have a case of a bad relationship?

According to Psychology Journal 2011 (affiliation: University of Southern Maine), hypercompetitiveness affects more than romantic relationships.

As you may have guessed, "hyper" refers to something of the extreme. The psychology term for the lovely big word is the need to compete and succeed at "all costs." Symptoms of H-C typically include aggressive tendency to want to dominate through manipulation and exploitation of others. The goal is to boost one's self-worth.

H-C is destructing and backwards, as it typically goes in hand with low self-esteem and unhealthy arrogance. Individuals with H-C are less psychologically healthy.

In romantic relationships, H-C results in low levels of trust, jealousy, little emotional support, in need for domination and in conflicts.

However, H-C partners do not show lesser levels of satisfaction with their relationships or out-of-the-ordinary commitment issues comparing to non H-C partners.

A 2011 study on undergraduate men and women shows that men are naturally more hypercompetitive than women. Men also voice to have "greater" problems with family and friends, having less close relationships with these groups than women.

Finally, hypercompetitiveness could be blamed on the nature of American life and American "win-at-all-cost" attitude. THIS IS SPARTA!

Written from Hypercompetitiveness and Relationships: Further Implications for Romantic, Family, and Peer Relationships. Psychology 2011. Vol.2, No.4.


(Almost) everything you need to know about white wine

Whether you like aromatic whites or rich whites, I am sure you often find yourself strolling around the liquor store wondering how good your wine knowledge really is. At least I do, and I spent two years pouring and serving wine at a bar. I didn't learn much. Anyway, since wine is no longer just for old folks (younglings like it just as much), I have compiled a simple list to help you get around all sorts of major white wines.


Dry vs. Sweet: self explanatory

Low Acidity vs High Acidity: grapes from warmer climates result in high sugar and low acidity, cooler climates result in low sugar and high acidity. Basically, if the wine is sour and fresh to the taste, it is high in acidity and if it is flat, it is low in acidity. Common fruit with acids: apple, grapefruit, grape, lemon, etc.

Unoaked vs. Oaked: Fermented in stainless steel vessels versus traditional French oak barrels. When unaoked, wine has light and citrus-y nature of its grapes without the overpowering aromas of oak barrels.

1. Aromatic White
- Riesling, Pinot Grigio and Gewürztraminer with fruity and floral aromas.
- Usually low in levels of alcohol and light in taste
- Can be dry (Pinot) or very sweet (Riesling/Gewürztraminer)
- Can be aged (Pinot, 5 years) or young (Riesling/Gewürztraminer)
- Can be high in acidity (Riesling) or low (Pinot)
- Good with seafood, chicken, curry dishes, salads, cheese, egg

2. Crisp White

- Unaoked Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Riesling, Unaoked Chardonnay with crisp citrus aromas
- Can be very dry to dry and usually high in acidity
- Usually not aged for that fresh taste, except for Dry Riesling
- Best paired with seafood, fried/spicy chicken, thai dishes, heavier salads with cream sauce, light seafood pasta

3. Rich White
- Oaked Chardonnay, Oaked Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, etc., with rich flavours like citrus and tropical fruit, as well as honey, spice, nut and vanilla aromas from oak barreling.
- Dry in taste
- Full in body and with low (Viognier) or medium acidity (Sauvignon and Chardonnay)
- Usually not aged for long
- Best paired with heavier seafood, pasta with cream sauce, turkey, veal, risotto, sushi

Hope that helps.
PS: I am not favouring white over red. I will write on red a bit later cause I would rather not bore you to death.

People care about the weirdest things

Apparently someone named Beyonce and Jay-Z gave birth to some baby today. OMGICANTBELIEVEITSOAMAZINGICANTWAITTOSEEPICTURES!

Settle down honey badgers. Beyonce is (likely) completely unrelated to you, so you are not having a brother or a sister. Why didn't the world care when I was born? Time to write an emo note.

*cries for an hour*

Here is the trending topic of the day on twitter. Warning: you might feel a sudden outburst of excitement and will want to figure out the meaning behind a random child's name. It is very authentic and will make you want to become the next Sigmund Freud. I think 2012 really is true.

Anyway, I have compiled a list of historical events that also happened on this day. But you probably won't go crazy over them, cause they are insignificant comparing to Beyonce.

1642 - Astronomer Galileo Galilei died in Arcetri, Italy.

1918 - U.S. President Woodrow Wilson announced his Fourteen Points as the basis for peace upon the end of World War I.

1998 - Scientists announced that they had discovered that galaxies were accelerating and moving apart and at faster speeds.


A must-have on your 'classics' shelf

You want to see something good? You want to see something really, really damn good?

Even after years have gone by, some movies deserve to be in your collection forever, whether on your shelf or in your iPad, PC, cloud storage, e-reader, or wherever it is you keep your hidden stash in. If that sounded wrong, don't worry, you've just won extra points for having a wide imagination.

To the point, if you haven't seen "21" then you are missing something tasty in your life. Really, it is a great, great movie and it will get you watching it again and again in the future. Also, it features one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been to: Boston (ohhh nostalgia...).


Apparently vino is super cool

According to this Ecosalon article, wine isn't just a classy way to get tipsy drunk. Well, yes, whites and reds remind me of some of the most amazing nights of my life (cause i'm classy like that), but someone over at Ecosalon invented use for some of those crappier bottles in my house.

Are you ready for this?

Vino can also be used as a fabric dye, skin softener, kitchen disinfectant, glass cleaner, fruit fly trap; and for flavouring icing cubes, removing grease stains, cleaning veggies and fruits, healing bruises, boosting brainpower, slowing the process of aging, cleaning other wine, etc...etc...etc. Read the rest here.


I bolded the ones that make me excited.