Thursday, November 12, 2015

Episode 1: Taylor Swift thinks Cool is Overrated. Do we agree?

Tara: Country singer Kelsea Ballerini recently told media that her friend Taylor Swift told her cool is overrated, and warm and human is always going to win. I think I have to agree here. I mean, everyone is always trying to be cool, but it's meaningless. On the other hand, warm sounds like a much better way to be. I mean, you can show off 'cool' friends for a few minutes, but 'warm' friends will always be there to help you when you really need it. Also, some people aren't naturally 'cool', and have to fake it. But nobody needs to fake 'warm', in fact 'warm' can't be faked. So a warm friend is always real, whilst a cool friend may not be, and may even lose her 'cool' if circumstances change. I definitely have to agree with Taylor here.

Katie: Sorry, but I cannot ever agree with Taylor Swift because I think she's fake. I think she's neither 'cool' or 'warm', she's just fake. And whilst both cool friends and warm friends can be good friends, fake friends just disappoint. Like how you have been disappointed by her 'betrayal' of country music.

Tara: Not really. I mean, I do like country Taylor better, but you can't call people fake just because they decide to do something else. And Taylor Swift is a great friend, Kelsea Ballerini said it in her interview.

Katie: It's not just that. I don't know why you like her, but, in my opinion, not only is she fake, she doesn't even do it too well. Does Fearless, Red or 1989 represent the real Taylor? Will the real Taylor Swift please stand up?

Tara: Once again, trying different things doesn't mean one is fake. I don't think I've ever worn a striped dress, but if I wore one tomorrow would I then become fake? Anyway, let's get back to the topic.

Jess: In my opinion, Taylor Swift might just have proven herself wrong. I mean, I think she used to be more 'warm', but since Red and especially in 1989 she's more 'cool'. I think she changed because 'cool' is popular and sells records.

Tara: So you think Taylor is fake too? You're agreeing with Katie?

Jess: Not really. I don't think Taylor is fake, I just think she doesn't know what she's talking about there. Honestly, I think she's like that a lot of the time.

Tara: You can't be serious.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Life is Driven by Vision and Dreams, or it is Driven by Nothing

Have you recently been feeling 'down'? That your life is going nowhere, and that things are not going to improve? Or maybe you know a friend feeling this way?

An important root cause for the aforementioned feelings is a lack of vision. Without vision, there is no real drive to do anything. Trains and buses only run properly when they have a defined route and destination for the driver to follow, and our lives are the same. If the route and destination plan for your life is not yet available, you need to develop one. Even a rough draft will improve things.

Unlike trains and buses, where the route has been taken many times and is well known, you life is for you to explore, it is not somewhere that you or someone else had gone before. It is a journey into an unknown. Therefore, there will be a need to navigate obstacles, as they come up inevitably. Life visions can only be sustained in the longer term by dreams, and being both optimistic and flexible about them, but always holding tight onto them, never giving up, in the face of obstacles. A fundamental belief in your destaintion, despite temporary setbacks and difficulties, like the bus driver who sits in a traffic jam, but clearly still knowing that he will arrive at his destination, is the attitude we should have.

The Road to Where I Am Heading

Download the full song here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Thanks Selena Gomez. We Should All Stand Up to Bullying, in Any Form.

Selena Gomez recently told the world how bad she felt when she was having treatment for lupus earlier this year, and the media was calling her fat.

In my opinion, this was bullying, and Selena was right to take a stand against it. In fact, everyone involved in calling her fat should now be ashamed. It was not just some fun game you were playing, it was a real human being you were hurting. And I believe that had Selena spoken up earlier, this bullying would have ended immediately back then, too.

For everyone else currently or previously being bullied, maybe you can learn a thing from Selena too. It's often in our nature to not tell the world that we're hurt, that we're fine with whatever people say, even though we're not. This is not helpful, however. Tell the world how you're feeling, how they've hurt you, and that it's not OK. It's the only way bullying will end. And maybe, just maybe, the bullies themselves will be human enough to be ashamed of their actions too.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Ariana Grande Kissed a Girl then Laughed. I'm Disappointed, Frankly.

I'm not sure where the trend started, but too many people have taken 'pretend gay' actions just for fun. The latest appears to be Ariana Grande, who posted a video (by mistake, she claims) of herself kissing another girl and then having a laugh.

As a strong gay and lesbian community ally, I have to say that I am frankly very disappointed. Imagine if someone pretended to be disabled and then having a laugh. I don't think it would be very well received, especially in the entertainment industry. However, the same industry has been more than OK with things like Britney Spears fake-kissing Madonna (2003), Katy Perry's ultimately disrespectful hit I Kissed A Girl (2008), and now this. It's really time people stop pretending it's OK.

Pretending to be something and then having a laugh is really the same as laughing at that something. There's no way around this, in my opinion. Even anti-PC me needs to say this. Sorry.

Download the full song here.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The New, Modest Janet Jackson? Very Welcome Indeed!

Janet Jackson has been dressing much more modestly recently, and this has got the media speculating on reasons. Some think it may be out of respect of her husband's Muslim beliefs.

Whatever the reason, I think it's a very welcome thing. If only she could have done it in 2004, it would have made quite the statement. Still not too late to change now, really. If the star at the centre of one of the biggest 'wardrobe malfunction' controversies of all time can change, it just says that everyone else can too.

Will other celebrities follow suit? It's too early to tell, but if they do, it will be the beginning of a revolution. Whilst I'm not being judgemental of those who don't dress modest, there really is no reason for musicians and actresses to have such a high rate of skin exposure. It's not healthy for body image reasons, frankly. And choosing to be healthy is something we can always support.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Justin Bieber and JoJo: Comebacks Show Us People Do Better With Age

Justin Bieber's recent comeback with What Do You Mean has not only topped the charts, it has got people talking too. Many Bieber fans (or Beliebers - or do they still say that?) have said that they miss him so much, and are so happy that he's back. But what strikes me most is how much he's improved. I mean, it probably didn't sound so bad at the time, but Baby does seem silly in retrospect, almost just as bad as Friday by Rebecca Black in that regard. What Do You Mean sounds so much better, really. The Biebs was always going to make a great artist, it was just not going to be in 2010. Five more years was what it took.

But Justin Bieber isn't the only comeback this year, nor is his the most spectacular, in my opinion. That would have to be JoJo. JoJo's first release, Leave (Get Out), topped the charts in mid 2004, when she was 13. Which is quite an achievement. But really, it's nothing compared to her latest stuff. Tracks like When Love Hurts and Say Love show an emotional maturity that just wasn't there before. Which is not surprising, considering that JoJo is now in her mid twenties. She has always had a great voice, but the new emotional depth to her songs has allowed her to use that voice much better.

Contrary to the media's obsession with being young forever, people do actually do better with age - even just going from their teens to their twenties, as these examples show.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The 80/20 Rule In Life

The 80/20 rule is simple. 80% of results come from 20% of actions (and hence also the other 80% of actions bring in only 20% of results). As it applies to most things, it probably applies to many parts of your life too.

The 80/20 rule means that we need to review our lives every now and then, and cut out actions that are done out of habit, but really don't contribute much to our success or wellbeing. This may include habitual actions and activities, toxic friendships where the other party really isn't interested anymore, or even an unattainable long term goal where it would make better sense to quit rather than to invest more. 80/20 rule reviews are painful, but are worth it in the end.

However, we shouldn't get too obsessed with the 80/20 rule, for example by applying it continuously in life, even pre-emptively judging any new activity or relationship by it. New activities and relationships, new goals in life and new commitments all have three things in common: 1) the likelihood of success cannot be determined right away, or even perhaps in the first year; 2) the first investments are often the most difficult and come with the least return; and 3) if you don't get fully into it and try your best at it, you aren't going to know what you can get out of it. Therefore, those who apply the 80/20 rule too soon often quit before they get any returns. It is best to not apply the 80/20 rule until patterns have become settled, which usually takes a year or more.

In conclusion, the 80/20 rule is very useful to go by, and can clean out much dead wood in our habitual lives. However, to apply it to new commitments would be a grave mistake. Like everything else, there is indeed two sides to this coin.

Download the full song here.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Taylor Swift's latest video racist? What nonsense!

Taylor Swift's latest music video for Wildest Dreams has been predictably popular, like most of her other stuff. But unexpectedly, there has also been a weird suggestion floating around: that it is 'racist'.

What? How is it racist? That was my first reaction, and it is likely to be yours too, I think.

Apparently, they accused Taylor of not having enough Africans in the video, even though it is set in Africa.

From that accusation, you would imagine Taylor walking through a major African city, but surrounded by only white people, like in a white-only part of apartheid South Africa, for example. But no, the reality is nowhere like that. Instead, there simply are not many people at all in the video. It may take place in Africa, but the animals seem to be the other main attraction, besides Taylor herself.

So the charge of racism is nonsense after all. Not that you would expect Taylor Swift to be racist. People should stop saying nonsense like this. It distracts from the fight against real racism.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Tale of Two New Political Leaders: Malcolm Turnbull and Jeremy Corbyn

In case you haven't noticed, (and it's not unlikely for many Americans, for example), just this past week the political landscape of the English speaking world underwent a major shift, with the election of two party leaders, Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister of Australia, and Jeremy Corbyn as opposition leader of the UK.

The election of Turnbull is a triumph for moderatism and liberalism. His predecessor Tony Abbott was widely seen as too conservative for Australia, out of touch on major social issues like marriage equality and climate change. This was seen as major reason for his continued poor polling, ultimately leading to his party replacing him with Turnbull. It's a lesson that you cannot force your beliefs onto the electorate, and that democracy works, after all. People want leaders who can unite, not leaders who are divisive.

The election of Jeremy Corbyn, on the other hand, is anything but a triumph for moderatism and liberalism. Corbyn is a committed socialist, and is seen as far too left wing for the UK. He received great support from members of the Labour Party, but it does not look like the rest of the UK would feel the same way. Already, people are predicting Corbyn to lose the next election badly. But even if he wins, if the story of Tony Abbott is any guide, he is likely to struggle to unite his country.

In the end, no country benefits from having a divisive government, and therefore the majority of people would not want one. We all have our passionate beliefs, but we need to respect the wide range of cultural feelings out there too. The Abbotts and Corbyns of this world may have passionate support from their base, but this is unlikely to ever result in a happy ending for all. This should be something we need to keep in mind, when championing any cause.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Life Journey Ideas :: Stumble Your Way Towards Your Dreams

Life can be a hassle to get through sometimes. What makes it all worthwhile in the end are the dreams we hold, and the possibility of achieving them. Yet the road towards any dream is usually not straightforward.

This means we often stumble our way towards our dreams. And by stumbling, I mean that we often have to move along, not knowing where the current road we are travelling on will lead us to, and even often walking paths that will lead to nowhere, only to realise and turn back, but with important lessons learnt. With this kind of stumbling, and with our dreams still firmly planted in our minds, we eventually get closer to our target.

In the journey of life, it is rare to be able to see the destination early on. But if you let your dreams guide you through your stumbling journey, you will get there one day.

Download the full song here.

TaraElla's Latest Single Not That Kind of Retro

This song is now available at the TaraElla Google Play shop.