Does Listening To Music While Writing Help Or Distract?

Today, most people listen to music when they write. 

Scientific evidence and expert advice tend to recommend against it. But because it’s accepted that that’s what people do nowadays, many instructors don’t bother trying to dissuade.

That’s a mistake.

We often become comfortable with giving in to what we like. Other times, we want so badly to be accepted and liked that we back down from even the slightest constructive criticism.

Listening to any kind of music while studying or writing can waste time and dull creativity. It’s a form of multitasking. Our brains are not hardwired to multitask. We can…and do. But it doesn’t mean it’s healthy or as productive as it would be if we arranged our lives so that we don’t have to.

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Bloodline Does Not Equal Ethnicity

Ethnic Map of New York City

The American media became obsessed with race and identity a decade ago. As the gap between the globe-trotting haves and the monocultural have-nots widened, cultural elites became more emboldened to flex their elitist bona-fides by dunking on the less fortunate — those uninterested in turning their communities into United Nations oases.

But since diversity remains such an explosive and controversial obsession in our American culture, it behooves us to talk about it.

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It’s Okay to Not Write

Staring at a blank page, not knowing what to write can seem time-wasting.

That’s because it is.

In the gig era, it’s hard to justify not doing something you like as a side hustle. If you consider yourself a writer, the thought of not pursuing your craft all the time can seem wasteful — lazy even.

What was it, though, that made writing your preferred side hustle and hobby? It isn’t your 9–5 for a reason.

Passion drives most writers more than anything. However, even the most passionate of hobbyists and side hustlers hit dry spells occasionally.

Sound advice teaches us to write even when we don’t feel like it. Some days I don’t feel like exercising. It doesn’t mean I should come up with excuses not to.

Writing, however, is different. It’s an art. You must force it if it pays the rent. But if it doesn’t, it’s okay not to write at times.

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What To Do If Your Phone Overheats And Won’t Turn On

Ever left your phone in the car and come back to find it’s overheated and doesn’t work properly?

Ever just left it exposed to the sunlight for half an hour of blistering heat?

If you have, you probably found out the hard way — as I did — that smartphones aren’t made for sunbathing.

This can be frustrating — and unnerving if it’s the first time — if you need your phone right away.

I’ve experienced both extremes.

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Tales of Working Fast Food

Photo by @edibleindy

Fast food is as American as apple pie — only less healthy.

For those with no choice but to work in the greasier underbellies of this industry, it creates an unforgettable love-hate relationship with burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, nuggets, and even soda.

Like many broke undergraduates, fast food provided me with quick employment. It has the highest turnover rate of any industry for good reason. But for those needing a quick paycheck, McDonald’s is always hiring.

These drive-thru grease buckets rarely provide much of a resume boost, but they’re rarely dull. And while some of these places I wouldn’t recommend an enemy work at, they provided me with great multi-tasking practice and a few unforgettable experiences.

Here are a few of them. Continue reading…

What If Young Adults Just Won’t Take Advice

Mentorship can help people avoid costly mistakes in their 20s and 30s, but what if they’re too stubborn to listen?

Financially, I struggled pretty badly as an undergraduate. Working part-time for a company that cut every employee’s hours as much as possible, I needed a way out.

Desperate for something that paid a college student’s living wage, I turned to

After several applications and a couple of interviews, I found what I thought I was looking for. The position promised career growth, on-the-job training, and the ability to hit six figures.

Great, I thought. I won’t be able to earn that with my history degree. Maybe, I can just do this job full-time and teach history part-time at a community college.

I would soon learn, however, that selling life insurance on commission isn’t a job for college students or transplants.

My first red flag was when a family member who’d been down that path tried to convince me against it.

My second red flag was when the life insurance office manager asked me if I was sure I wanted to quit my minimum wage job after he hired me.

But tired of being undervalued and underpaid, I heeded none of it.

It turned out that selling life insurance is similar to selling a pyramid scheme.

They start you out with a blank sheet of paper and a pen and ask you to write down the names of everyone you know. Then, they want you to contact those people, some of whom you haven’t spoken to in years, and try to sell them your product.

If that doesn’t work, they give you existing customers to try to up-sell and to get leads from.

If that fails, they take you to service prospects and existing customers so you can “see how it’s done” and gain leads in person.

If that still gets you no leads, you’re basically on your own.

The home office isn’t paying you a salary, so if you stick around without making sales, it’s no skin off their back.

After two months of making $1,200 in pity money, I contacted a friend who once told me he worked in life insurance in his younger days.

He made it very clear that he wasn’t in the market to buy insurance and invited me to his home for lunch.

I explained that I was only working the job for survival until I could get my degree. I had interviewed at a few places without receiving any offers, and I was desperate.

He told me that most people who sell life insurance plan to make a career of it and questioned whether it was wise to rely on it short-term. He knew the manager at a nearby Lowes, where I’d previously applied, and urged me to let him contact his friend and see if he could get me hired there.

He told me that since I was getting a degree and planned for a career in that field, it’d be best to work a basic hourly job for a couple of years until I got out of college.

He explained the problems he’d had with the life insurance profession and his boss — problems I was already seeing myself.

He made convincing arguments. But, in my stubbornness, I wouldn’t listen.

All I heard was a challenge. I was going to succeed where this old-timer failed. Continue reading…

How Would Washington and Jefferson Have Reacted to Lockdown Protests?

Would Washington and Jefferson have joined anti-quarantine protesters with AR-15’s on their shoulders, urged state governments to crush them mercilessly, or just ignored them and let Covid-19 sort them out?

The Coronavirus hadn’t been a pandemic for three weeks before protests erupted in American cities over quarantine measures. How would America’s two most revered Founders have reacted to these demonstrations?

Although the protesters were few in March and mostly limited to those of more anarchic persuasions, the continued lockdown caused the grumbling and demonstrations to go mainstream in many states. Michigan and San Diego were major hotspots for these anti-quarantine protests

Much of the restlessness stemmed from the government’s failure to give Americans a realistic expectation of when they could resume a normal life. This uncertainty and the mixed signals in the age of social media caused many simpletons to believe all forms of conspiracy theories. Even level-headed people began to believe that their state governments would unnecessarily quarantine them for several months.

But as Walter Olson shows here, this is not the first time state and local governments have quarantined citizens, and they have the constitutional right to do it in this type of situation.

Jefferson was a liberal in his day. Before the era of Progressives and New Dealers, to be a liberal meant to support maximizing personal liberty and limiting the role of government to the most necessary of functions.

Washington, meanwhile, liked to think of himself as apolitical and most Americans thought of him this way as well. But being president revealed that he too was incapable of rising above the factional fray, and he allied firmly with the conservative Hamiltonian camp.

In Washington’s day, to be conservative meant belief in an ordered, tiered society that respected tradition, common law, and the willingness to crush all those who tried to disturb the peace or rouse rabble. It didn’t have to mean supporting monarchy, but it did favor a far more powerful executive than the liberals.

Jefferson would’ve most likely sympathized with anti-quarantine protesters. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe that governments had a right to forcibly protect citizens from pandemics. Everyone believed that because pandemics were more common and deadly in their day. Governments usually didn’t even have to force people to self-quarantine. They did it gladly.

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Coffee Is A Stimulant, Not An Alarm Clock

Coffee works best when used to help us get stuff done quicker. Waking up really isn’t one of them.



So, the alarm goes off, and you hit snooze. It goes off five minutes later and you hit snooze again. It rings a third time, but now you have to get up. You stumble out of bed, barely remembering who you are and head straight for the coffee maker — after any other necessities.

You finish the first cup, but barely notice any difference in your mood or alertness. The second cup comes and goes, and it seems to be getting better. But you still have trouble carrying a conversation. So, you go for your third and final cup with breakfast. That does the trick — after a  whole hour of being awake.

You probably know someone who doesn’t want to talk — and whom you don’t want to talk to — until they get their first cup of Joe. The problem, however, is that they are simply not a morning person, and the need for coffee is an excuse to act groggily. Notice, they’re never much better after they’ve had their first cup, or third.

Drinking coffee first thing in the morning is a bit of a habit for most Americans. Forty-four percent drink it with breakfast — myself included. But for those of us who drink it religiously, it helps to ask what we’re expecting it to do for us.

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No, Your Kid Can’t Be Whatever He Wants When He Grows Up


One of the saddest facts of American society is the unrealistic expectations American parents, for decades, have set for their children. Much of this stems from their living vicariously through their kids.

You know, the “Johnny, you can be whatever you want when you grow up if you put your mind to it.”

Or, “In America, if you can dream it, you can do it.”

Although the United States indeed offers more opportunities than most countries, it’s important to be realistic.

If a child has parents under six feet, his likelihood of becoming a professional basketball player is diminished. It’s not impossible but is highly unlikely.

But physical handicaps alone don’t determine a person’s career limitations. Even in America, who a child’s parents are and what they do matters career-wise. If you’re a waiter, and your spouse is a mechanic, your kid is probably not going to become a doctor, lawyer, or a professor.

We all know the inspirational stories of people raised in poverty who went on to make millions. But that’s not the norm, and if you look at the exceptions, these millionaires or successful professionals didn’t come upon their millions or professions by setting out from an early age to succeed.

They often started out doing something similar to what their parents did. They then used their instinctive know-how, work ethic, and practical sense their hardworking parents taught them to start businesses, make wise investments, or achieve professional success later in life — often at the expense of their health and relationships.

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Google IT Certificate Program: Post-Secondary Education Of The Future?


Google’s certificate programs that it offers at community colleges provide a snapshot of how future corporate-academic cooperation could better match college curricula with needed job skills.

Despite the stock market’s doing well and low unemployment, Millennials are still underperforming relative to previous generations, despite being better educated. No other generation in history has wasted more money and time taking college courses and learning skills that do not translate into earnings.

This owes largely to the fact that universities aren’t teaching students the skills that companies want.

For decades, colleges did their thing, companies did their thing, and students did their thing (made good grades, graduated, got jobs, and moved up the corporate ladder). Before the internet, it mostly worked out because the skills companies demanded in employees didn’t change much from decade to decade.

But unless a student is planning to become a professor, universities are training students to work for otheremployers in an internet world with changing technological demands. Why should universities, taxpayers, and future employees have to foot the entire bill for training conglomerates’ future workers? Corporations too should have some skin in the game in preparing their next generation of employees.

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