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Thursday, October 18, 2018

YOU ARE SPECIAL Because You Are An Individual

The fact is, you are special. Let me repeat that: you are special. No, you are not just another part of the big system out there. You are special because you are an individual. Everyone of us is an individual, with unique DNA, unique experiences, unique thoughts and unique beliefs, and that's why everyone of us has something unique to contribute to the world. You are not just a part of some pointless system. You are your own unique and meaningful system.

What you need to do, what we all need to do, is to find out how our unique gifts can be best used to better the world. And this searching may take some time. The journey towards finding this answer can be long and twisted. But don't lose faith, because you'll get there. The important thing is to keep this mission in mind. Your mission is not just to get through the day, but to look for the answer. The answer to the question, how can I, a unique individual, use my gifts in the best way. Always keep this question in mind, because clues that will lead you to your answer may pop up in unexpected places, and at unexpected times. Treat every day as an opportunity to find these clues.

I'll leave you with this: never forget that you are a unique individual, on a unique mission.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Taylor Swift vs Kanye West, the Ultimate Political Paradox?

Welcome to TaraElla Daily News, where we build a centrist classical liberal awareness, one day at a time, one issue at a time. If you are interested in real intellectual discussions about issues, you've come to the right place, and I highly recommend subscribing. Today I'm going to have a look at the recent political drama surrounding Taylor Swift, now presumed by many to be left-leaning, and her long-time critic Kanye West, now known to be a proud supporter of President Donald Trump.

Taylor the Progressive vs Kanye the Conservative? Surprise, Surprise!

We need to put this all in context. Just this time last year, Kanye West was a favourite among self-described progressives, who have seen Kanye as one of them ever since he criticised President Bush back in 2005. When Kanye started to proclaim his support for President Trump earlier this year, it disappointed many progressives. Some have even asked themselves if they should still like his music. Which is absurd, because his music has nothing to do with politics. On the other hand, Taylor Swift was often considered to be probably conservative by many people. Over the years, I have read many articles and casual comments from progressives, saying that Taylor Swift was the musical equaivalent of John McCain, whatever that meant; that she wasn't a good feminist, whatever that meant; and even that she probably didn't support gay marriage, which has been of course proven wrong last week. Conservatives also seemed to think that Taylor was likely one of their own, heaping praise on her family friendly style as far back as her second album in 2009. Needless to say, Taylor coming out to endorse two Democrats was taken as a very pleasant surprise by progressives, while conservatives have generally been disappointed. When President Trump now says he likes Taylor 25% less, I think many conservatives can't help but share his sentiment there.

But should we really have been surprised?

But let's look at all this from a cool-headed, centrist perspective, because that's what we always do here on this show. By the way, if you have any further thoughts you want to provide, please drop me a comment so we can continue this interesting conversation. From what I have observed, the fact is, we actually didn't know much about Taylor or Kanye's politics until this year. Quite a few people have assumed Taylor to be right-leaning, or Kanye to be left-leaning, based on their own prejudices, nothing more. It was always an assumption based on prejudice, based on stereotyping. The fact that Taylor did country music and presented a more traditional lifestyle didn't mean she was conservative politically, and the fact that Kanye criticised President Bush didn't mean he was necessarily left-leaning. In recent years, both progressives and conservatives have been too easily swayed by the aesthetics of personalities and ideas, and this has affected our ability to think rationally. Perhaps the twin political surprises of Taylor and Kanye are just what we need most, right now. The fact that people are surprised by Taylor and Kanye's politics says a lot about how prejudiced and irrational people have become, more than anything else.

Let's start treating Individuals as Individuals

So how can we become more rational? We need to start treating individuals as individuals, rather than stereotypes. We need to respect that individuals are unique in all sorts of ways, and that can be a good thing. This is one of the biggest themes of my work. Real freedom is based on respect for individual differences. We need to accept that the people we like aren't always going to be exactly like ourselves, because everyone is unique. For a start, progressives need to be able to respect Kanye's right to his political views without feeling differently about his music; and conservatives need to do the same about Taylor Swift. Right now, many conservatives may feel like liking Taylor 25% less, but there's really no reason to do so, because Taylor Swift is a musician, not a politician. Her politics do not matter. Furthermore, conservatives who can't agree with Taylor's politics can still praise her relatively family friendly style, like they did back in 2009. Nothing has changed in that regard. Similarly, there's no reason for progressives to stop listening to Kanye's music, if they were previously into that. His music hasn't changed.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Real Friends should have been the breakout hit for Camila Cabello

Camila Cabello stunned the world last year with her single Havana, which went to number one in several places around the world. To be fair, I acutally enjoyed Havana quite a lot, it was my song of the month last October. It was also quite a special song.

But I have to say that, Camila's new one, Real Friends, is even better. It's one that you can enjoy with your friends, sitting back and relaxing. I mean, it's kind of ironic that the lyrics are actually about the lack of real friends and the many fake people out there. But the way the song sounds, it's really made for hanging out with some real friends.

The TaraElla song that I would choose to go with Real Friends would be Beauty. They both have the same kind of relaxed vibe to them. I mean, Beauty doesn't have the kind of irony about the lyrics, but both are the kind of song that you would enjoy with your friends, sitting back and relaxing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Chloe Grace Moretz uses Personal Experience to make a Case Against Conversion Therapy

Actress Chloe Grace Moretz, talking about her recent film in which she plays a young person forced into gay conversion therapy, has spoken out about her opposition to this practice. Specifically, she drew upon the experience of her two gay brothers, who faced a difficult time growing up in small town America.

I believe in using personal stories to make one's case. I mean, I have little patience for most academic social theories, and I don't believe in 'systematic oppression'. But I do believe in making people's lives easier, and I do believe that listening to people's lived experiences is the way to achieve that.

So good on Chloe!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Anne-Marie takes us back to 2002: Well, sort of.

Anne-Marie's latest single 2002 has got me interested. After all, 2002 was a great year for me, and it had a lot of great music.

There's just a problem: the 2002 described in the song may well not be 2002 at all. It's like the time machine malfunctioned, and brought us to another time. You see, the song included lyrics of songs supposedly popular in 2002, but from my memory none of them were actually from 2002.

Anyway, nostalgia is not a real time machine, and memory is often inaccurate. So maybe we should forgive her for that.

Now, I think I wrote this song in 2003, but since memory is often inaccurate, could it have been in 2002 instead?

Friday, May 18, 2018

Is there Cultural Appropriation everywhere, from Utah to Eurovision? I don't think so.

Israel's Netta has won Eurovision with her great song Toy. But this victory was not without controversy: as you see, she dressed in an Asian-styled costume, and her stage was decorated with Asian items. This has predictably caused some people to cry 'cultural appropriation'.

This also brings to mind a recent unrelated story from Utah, USA, where a girl who wore a Chinese-style prom dress provoked a national discussion. In both cases, none of the Asians I know were offended: most were simply bewildered.

You see, the reason why cultural appropriation is considered bad is because comedians in the US and UK used to do blackface, where they would paint their faces black and act in ways that were demeaning to black people and black culture. I can understand why black people are very offended by anything similar to blackface. But wearing an Asian dress? That's completely different. There's simply no parallel here. In fact, Asians living in Asia are arguably the most pro-cultural fusion people in the world. Every Asian I know has no problem with people of other races adopting aspects of their culture, provided that they do it respectfully. In fact, my Asian relatives quite enjoyed Netta's performance.

From my perspective, it really wasn't 'cultural appropriation'. It was just, well, special

Monday, May 14, 2018

Contrary to Popular Belief, Babe Proves that the Old Taylor Swift is Alive and Well

"The old Taylor can't come to the phone right now. Why? Cause she's dead!" So proclaims the lyrics to What You Made Me Do, Taylor Swift's first single off her Reputation album released last year. At that time, even the most die-hard fan of country Taylor had come to accept the reality: the old Taylor simply wasn't coming back. If she said it herself, on her own record no less, it had to be true.

But recently, there is evidence that the old Taylor is, in fact, alive and well, just hidden somewhere. What is this evidence I am talking about? A song called Babe, a collaboration between Taylor and country band Sugarland. Not only does Taylor sing on a country record, she still sounds just like the old Taylor from the Fearless era.

Taylor, I know that you still want to make country music. Don't let the pop fashion of the day stop you from doing so. After all, you may just need a new vision:

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Avicii was yet another Tragedy of the Music Industry

When news broke of the death of Swedish DJ Avicii at just 28, many of us were surprised, and of course, sad. Avicii was a musical genius: even somebody like myself, who is generally not into EDM or club music, can agree with this. His 2011 hit, Levels, was his best, in my opinion.

Avicii was ultimately a victim of the music industry. All he wanted was to make music, and share it with his fans. The industry provides a route for musicians to take their craft to the next level, but being a multi-billion dollar industry, it also makes a lot of tough demands of the musicians under its wings. It is scarily common for young musicians to suffer from health problems not normally seen in young adults.

One day perhaps, no musician will need the music industry. But for now, the industry remains a double-edge sword, attractive to many aspiring musicians, even in the face of tragedies.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

A Decade Later, Love Story by Taylor Swift has become a Classic of an era

It is coming up to a decade since the original release of Taylor Swift's iconic single Love Story. The first single on her second album Fearless, Love Story was released in 2008, and had entered the top 5 in the US and Canada by October that year. In early 2009, Love Story was released to similar success in other markets like Australia, the UK and other European countries, and also enjoyed a second top 5 run in North America. Many people around the world first learned about Taylor Swift through Love Story. In fact, many mistakenly believed that it was her debut single, since her first album was not very well known in many countries.

Love songs have always been Taylor Swift's main offering, and I argue that Taylor has been instrumental in the revival of romantic love songs at the last turn of decade. I mean, pop ballads were big in the 1980s and 1990s, but much of the 2000s were about hip-hop and hip-hop influenced RnB. In a way, Taylor brought romance back to the charts, even if it was not as grand as what the likes of Celine Dion, Shania Twain and Mariah Carey used to offer in the 1990s.

In the spirit of celebrating romance, let me leave you with this, well, sort of romantic love song:

Friday, May 4, 2018

American Idol is not Discriminatory, just because it doesn't have Affirmative Action

Last week on American Idol, the elimination of contestants Ada Vox and Michelle Sussett caused predictable outrage. Accusations of homophobia (in the case of Vox, a drag queen) and racism (in the case of Sussett) came flying through social media platforms. For long time fans of Idol, there is indeed nothing new here. I mean, top 7 week in Season 3 (2004), which saw the elimination of Jennifer Hudson (who still went on to have a great career by the way), provoked even greater controversy. Somehow, people always want to find evidence of American Idol (or should that be America itself?) being discriminatory.

It is true that American Idol doesn't have affirmative action. Therefore, it doesn't particularly protect minorities from being eliminated through voting. But neither does this mean that Idol is discriminatory. Quite the opposite, in fact. Idol has had many non-white winners (Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Jordin Sparks, Candice Glover), and has also been the launching pad for gay musicians like Clay Aiken and Adam Lambert. In fact, Aiken himself took to Huffington Post to say that he believed Ada Vox was eliminated simply because she was not the best singer, not because she was a drag queen. Plus, the fact that Ada Vox entered the top 10 already represents a better result than the first-ever Idol drag queen anywhere in the world, Courtney Act, who was on Australian Idol 2003 (and who later became one of the world's most famous drag queens). I'm sure Ada will have a similarly successful career.

So, calm down and enjoy idol. After all, even though Idol is often about singing old songs, it is definitely 'not that kind of retro':