Tremendous reads and listens

Summer Reading

In honor of summer, here’s a mashup of all the great things I’ve been reading and contemplating:

This vintage piece by Gloria Steinem “If Men Could Menstruate” is a tremendous read that had me thinking for days. Even if women’s issues aren’t really your thing, it’s in part about how unseen assumptions and questionable justifications can shape and influence our perspective.

Great reads via Longform.org worth finishing: Sports Illustrated’s 1996 complex and thought-provoking recap of the people scarred by rising teen basketball star Richie Parker’s sex abuse conviction. Hat tip to Longform.org, Outside’s investigation “Did North Korea Kidnap an American Hiker?”, a first-person review by famed financial and sports journalist Michael Lewis of his failed affair with a New Orleans mansion, a Texas bank-robbing family and Mallory Ortberg’s The One Time I Went to Connecticut, which is seemingly as much about an encounter with well-intentioned but sexist headhunter as it is about the strange, difficult and complicated journey of figuring out a place in the world for one’s self when you’re in in your early 20s.

Media mahem: Jill Abramson’s dismissal as the first ever female executive editor of The New York Times has spawned more write-ups than I can read, but I think this Politico piece on Editing While Female, written by a former Washington Post editor Susan Glasser is a worthwhile reflection on the gender dust storm, made all the  more insightful by Glasser’s own experiences leading newsrooms. New NYT executive editor Dean Baquee’s interview with NPR’s David Folkenflik’s is guarded but worth checking out.

Duo: Pair reading The Atlantic Monthly’s mui popular read on The Confidence Gap with Hillary Clinton’s experiences with women staffers who tend to overly question themselves.

 “Too many young women are harder on themselves than circumstances warrant. They are too often selling themselves short. They too often take criticism personally instead of seriously.”

Possible antidotes: Tara Sophia Mohr’s 10 Rules for Brilliant Women. She suggests removing “does that make sense?” and “just” from your vocabulary. Try also saying “Thank you” when complimented and “You’re welcome” when thanked instead of “Oh, it wasn’t that great/Oh, I thought it was a dumb color on me but I wore it anyway.”


Photo credit: Julie Falk

Blog, Life, Stories

Remembering a friend: Sujal Parikh

Last week, I learned of my friend Sujal’s passing. He died in an accident in Uganda, and my mind is still reeling with sadness and shock. Part of me still can’t believe that he’s gone.

Sujal had been working in Kampala, Uganda on AIDS research and education at the time. It was the last of the many good, world-changing things he set out to accomplish. He was killed when a car struck the motorcycle taxi he was riding. (The story was featured an msnbc.com article about international roadway safety, and also written up in the local paper in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he attended school.) I found Sujal’s blog chronicling his time in Uganda. Tears streamed down my face as I read about all he was doing, and how happy he seemed.

Sujal and I attended high school together and worked alongside each other in student clubs. Even at 16, he was eloquent, organized, passionate and vocal about helping those who were suffering in the world. Many of us remember him well for his relentless work on global health and his ability to lead, even when we were in high school.

There were many wonderful things about Sujal I had forgotten. Reading through the old AOL instant messenger conversations, I started to remember them all. We had talked about serious things, like poverty in Africa, as well as random stuff like bad reality TV shows. No matter the topic, he always had insights that I hadn’t thought of.

In our serious talks about what it would take to change the world, he would quote famous leaders like Che Guevara. “At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolution is guided by a great feeling of love,” he once told me. Ghandi was one of his favorites: “The planet has enough for everyone’s need, but not everyone’s greed,” he once shot at me when were were debating economics and the scarcity of resources.

When the powerful call-to-arms “World on Fire” music video went viral, he sent me the link, and talked of how it made him want to leave school, roll up his sleeves and begin assisting the poor.

In high school, Sujal juggled a staggering number of things, all while keeping up his grades. Some of it was stuff most high schoolers do — he worked at Subway for a summer, and once in a while hooked us up with sandwiches. But most of it what he did, whether it was college-level lab research or volunteering in his spare time, was extraordinary. Continue reading


The status of Kuo

Wow, I’ve been a slacker when it comes to this website. All for good reason (or so I tell myself).

After a whirlwind and wonderful trip to the AAJA 2010 national convention in Los Angeles, I landed a new freelance gig as the green writer for VentureBeat, a very cool Silicon Valley blog that ferociously covers the intersection of business and technology. As you might glean from the name, we cover a lot of startups and venture capital.

I’ve been at it for almost two months now. You can read my work here. (I’m still based in Houston, FYI.)

VentureBeat itself is a startup based in San Francisco, and working with their talented and forward-thinking staff has been a pleasure thus far. It’s been an adjustment to write for a blog — almost all of my training has been in newspapers and traditional media. VB’s doing some cool things when it comes to pushing the digital edge of news — all very relevant to the future of news and media organizations.

The culture of a startup is also markedly different from that of a traditional newspaper’s newsroom. It’s also very fun. We tweet about it sometimes.

The challenges of the new gig and new beat have kept me from posting (ah, it’s probably a cop-out to say that, but rest assured this blog is never far from my mind).

What else can I say? As one of my favorite editors often likes to end his emails: More to come.

(Picture of San Franscisco by alsakr, via Flickr)

Blog, Life

Inaugural post

Originally I intended for this to be a test post. But I liked the music so much that I think I’ll leave them on here. The album, “Weathervanes,” is quite nice, even if their band name is a little self-indulgent. Then again, after watching this vid, I think I wanna be a Freelance Whale too. (Hey, I’m already a freelance writer. It’s a start, no?)

P.S. – That instrument in the middle is called a glockenspiel. Which, incidentally, is one of the coolest words ever.