Posted Thursday, April 18, 2013, at 5:56 PM
This question originally appeared on Quora.
Answer by Samran Salik Virk:
I am a 22-year-old brown-skinned Pakistani Muslim living in a post 9/11 world.
How it all began: My first taste of racial profiling came when I left Pakistan for the first time in my life. I had been admitted to a well reputed private liberal arts college in the U.S. It was hard for my parents to send me away because I don't have any siblings. I believe that my $35,000r annual scholarship package was the decisive factor, and so I left home feeling lucky, fresh, and excited!
First Experience with Airports, TSA, Customs, Homeland Security, and NSEERS: My first connection was at London Heathrow, and that's when I first encounteredfor a "border preclearance." I was casually waiting in the middle of a queue when an officer grabbed me by my arm and took me to a screening area a few yards away. Apparently, it was a "random" security screening procedure (everyone else kept boarding). I was confused and startled, 18 at the time, this was my first interaction with a law enforcement officer. I was surprised because I had landed at Heathrow a few hours earlier and I never left the terminal waiting area. I couldn't understand why they felt the need to search me again. The officer thoroughly patted me down and then asked me to take off my shoes; I complied. After my shoes were screened for traces of explosives, I was allowed to carry on.
Somewhat baffled, I went on to board the plane, unsurprisingly as I walked down the aisle, I found myself being observed by many curious eyes.
I had been traveling for six hours and it was another seven hours before the plane landed at JFK, New York. I was scheduled for a three hour layover in New York before I could fly to my final destination, which was Columbus, Ohio. This was my first time eating foreign food on a plane, trying to sleep in a seated position with little leg room accompanied by the loud engine noise. By the time we landed, I was extremely hungry and exhausted and to make matters worse, I had a really bad migraine. Nonetheless, I was in America!
The joy of finally making it to America was short-lived. I had to stand in a queue at the Immigration for another hour. When I finally got to the "yellow line," I told myself that it was all going to be over very soon, this gave me some much needed energy. The officer at the immigration desk was polite, he even cracked a joke in the few seconds it takes to fingerprint. While everyone else's passports were stamped after which they moved on to claim their luggage and leave (having observed it for over an hour from a glass wall), all my documents were placed in a yellow see-through folder and given to another Immigration officer. He asked me to follow him in an indifferent voice.
Completely helpless, I followed him to a nearby hall where I saw a few dozen young brown-skinned guys like myself waiting for their names to be called out. This was the (NSEERS) office. I quietly sat there waiting for my turn, I tried not to make eye contact with anyone else. This was surely not the place to be socializing, and besides everyone else seemed just as tired and frustrated as myself. Cell phones were not allowed in this hall and everyone was asked to leave their carry-on bags outside the hall. Essentially, I couldn't even kill time with my phone, my iPod, or a book. There was a stack of see-through files like the one I was given siting on the table in front of two officers each of whom had a workstation in front of them. This was definitely the most agonizing part of my journey. I was tired, I was hungry, and I had a terrible headache. The worst thing about this waiting was that I had no idea how much longer it was going to take. In the meantime, I missed my connecting flight to Columbus, Ohio. Things couldn't get any worse, but they did. The temperature in this hall was incredibly cold and I was wearing shorts, it kept getting worse as time went on. The two officers frequently left their workstations to escort more exotic species like myself to this hall. At times, they started talking to each other and a few times they were visited by other colleagues from the immigration department for chit-chats. Even four years later, I can clearly remember how one of the officers dropped his pen; it literally took him three attempts to pick it up. All this time, I could see my bags taking several trips around the conveyor belt through a glass wall. Eventually an airport employee took these bags off of the belt and placed them in a corner along some other unattended bags. Finally my name was called after four excruciating hours of physical and psychological torture. I was asked a few questions, many of which I don't remember that clearly. Most of these questions were mundane formalities but I do remember being asked whether I was trained to use firearms and whether I had served in the Pakistani military.
Having missed my connection, I forgot all my pain and hunger and rushed towards Terminal 2, anxious to know what was next. It was late in the evening and the state that I was in, it was sort of hard to navigate through a gigantic airport that I hadn't seen before. After pushing a cart that had three loaded bags around JFK for a while, I made it to Delta's check-in counter at Terminal 2. I was told that there was nothing they could do to help (after all it was my fault that I was brown, Pakistani, and Muslim all at the same time) and that the next available flight to Columbus was not until the next morning. After paying $250 to secure my seat on the flight, I could not afford to spend another $150 to take a cab and stay in a hotel overnight, so I decided to crash at the airport. Terminal 2 remains closed at night so I dragged my sorry ass back to the International terminal where I finally got some food and crashed on the ground. The next morning, I woke up at 6 a.m on the airport floor surrounded by my bags and some amused passers-by. By then I had lost all self-esteem so I couldn't care less, I picked myself up and went back to Terminal 2. Boarded my flight, arrived in Columbus, took a 45 minute cab and finally reached my destination. I had made it...
Next four years: In the several trips that I had to make back and forth between home and college, I dealt with , , , and many times. I had to see NSEERS every time I was leaving the US as well. At times, I was asked to remove my shirt in front of everyone when for everyone else a simple pat down seemed to work. I was often told to empty my bag and assist in a physical baggage search. Explaining ordinary contents of my baggage became a norm. There was not a single occasion when I was trying to board a plane and I was not selected for a random security search. On several occasions, I found TSA cards in my luggage bags that notified me of a post check-in search in my absence.
Once I was flying from Chicago to Columbus and when I collected my bags at Columbus, I found out that the zip on one of my bags had been torn apart to check what was inside. Apparently they couldn't unlock it and an X-ray scan wasn't good enough.
Now: I graduated last summer and this ordeal is over. A new agony has taken its place. It's ironic that in Pakistan, I'm labeled a "pro-American." In social and political debates, my contributions are invalidated by the fact that I lived in America for four years, somehow that makes me an outsider. My concern for Pakistan is belittled and my neutrality and unbiasedness is perceived as western bias.
So how does it feel? I'd say it's pretty hard to put it in words.
I would like to mention here that most of the ordinary people I met in the U.S. were polite, respectful, and friendly. Some of my best friends are Americans, and I plan to go see them in spite of all the problems that I face while traveling.
More questions on Racial Profiling:
Posted Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at 4:16 PM
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
This question originally appeared on Quora.
Answer by Rick Bruno, retired cop:
I was a police officer for 37 years. I was fortunate to have some outstanding supervisors in that time.
There were two exceptions.
The first one was when I was a police cadet in 1974. I was assigned to a veteran officer, who really seemed inconvenienced that I (18 at the time) was riding with him on patrol.
We drove past a secluded vacant restaurant parking lot near a forest preserve, and we noticed about 40 men gathered there. They were kind of scruffy looking, and it just did not seem "normal." There should have been no one in that lot.
So, we pulled into the parking lot to investigate. Our squad stopped about 30 yards away from the group. I asked my partner if he wanted me to call the situation in to the communications center, and he gruffly said, "No."
My partner said, "Stay here," as he stepped out of the squad car and started walking toward the group of men. As he came up to them, I saw one of the men push my partner, and another man reached for my partner's gun, then my partner was swallowed up as the group surrounded him, and he was out of my sight.
I was afraid my partner was in serious trouble, so despite his orders, I picked up the radio microphone and called in "Officer needs assistance" and our location. Then I exited the squad car with the only weapon at my disposal, a night stick (cadets were not allowed to carry firearms).
An "Officer needs assistance" call gets immediate response from other police officers, and I could hear sirens coming closer as I ran up to the group to find my partner. When I got there, I saw my partner standing there with a smile on his face, joking with the men. He said, "I thought I told you to stay in the car?" I told him I thought he needed assistance. Then he told me these guys were all undercover narcotics officers from various jurisdictions, and they were about to serve some search warrants. By now, squad cars were pulling into the parking lot and officers were reaching for shotguns.
I ran back to the squad car and tried to get the other units to disregard my call for assistance, but once cops get excited, it's kind of hard for them to pull off a call like that.
So as some squad cars were pulling up into the lot sideways, my partner began to chew me out BIG TIME. It was the worst downgrading I ever endured. I was tempted to just take my star off my shirt, leave it on the dashboard, and walk back to the police station to get my car and drive home.
Then three of the undercover guys came up to my squad and told me I did the right thing. They said my partner should have told me he knew them in the first place, and that he was never in any danger. And they said the fact that I ran out to protect him with just a nightstick, knowing I would get my ass kicked—or worse—was the right thing to do, and then one of them said to me, "You can work with us any day, kid."
They must have laid into my partner about it, too. It took him an hour or so, but he eventually apologized to me. And in the end, my police career went a hell of a lot farther than his did.
Here is the second time:
An armed robber was holed up inside an abandoned warehouse, and the incident commander called for me and my canine (I was a canine handler for about eight years). My partner Bach and I arrived, and the commander told me they had the warehouse surrounded, the guy had a gun, and he wanted me to send my dog into the building to find out where the guy was hiding.
I said, "No way, sir." He said, "Excuse me??"
I said I am not sending my dog into that situation to be killed. You don't bring a dog to a gunfight.
He told me he was going to write me up, and I'd be fired, and all kinds of bad things would happen, but I told him I was not going to let my dog become cannon fodder.
Turned out we caught the guy and didn't need to deploy the dog. I got written up, but when I had the chance to tell my side of the story, I was exonerated.
No one is bound to obey an unlawful or unjust order. At least that's been my experience.
More questions on morals and morality:
Posted Tuesday, April 16, 2013, at 12:49 PM
Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
This question originally appeared on Quora.
Answer by Jane Yu, student, Harvard Business School:
I was running in the marathon toward the end when I received a call from my friend, who very calmly told me there were two bomb explosions and I should be careful. This was around 3 p.m. He said he'd keep me informed. I grew really concerned, and a nearby runner told me he had heard the same thing, but it turned out the "bombs" were just problems with the electrical wires near the finish line. His story seemed more probable, so I assumed my friend was misinformed.
As I passed the 25-mile mark, I noticed a lot of people were walking in the other direction, calmly. Police men who were routinely minding the edges of the marathon path seemed calm as well, although they were speaking into their walkie-talkies more frequently than before. I kept running, assuming the other people were simply spectators leaving after their friends had finished and the "bomb" really was just a problem with the electricity. But suddenly, someone in my training group grabbed me and told me not to continue. She confirmed there were indeed bombs up ahead, and they closed everything off up ahead.
We gathered as many people from our group we could find and everyone made their way to an acquaintance's empty office building, where there was heat and water. It was getting pretty cold at that point, especially with singlets and shorts on.
I went to go look for my friends and family. As I got closer to the finish line area, there were hundreds of people roaming the streets, looking really confused and lost. The air smelled sharp and smokey. I saw some people crying and hugging each other. Police had cordoned off lots of areas and were directing people to go around five to six blocks away from the affected site. I was shivering, limping, and disoriented ... and desperately trying to get my cell phone to work so I could get in touch with my family and friends (it kept dropping calls). A random woman on the street saw me standing there, cold and distressed, and without any hesitation she took off her coat and put it around my shoulders. When I turned to thank her and ask her how I could return it to her, she acted surprised that I'd asked. Another woman saw me walking around and she invited me into her home to have a warm drink and calm down. When I refused, she ran into her home and got me some warm pants and gloves. She dashed off, probably to help someone else. I'll always remember the kindness of these strangers, who really helped me without expecting anything in return.
I eventually met my loved ones at a friend's apartment in the area. It was soon evacuated also because there were reports of an undetonated bomb in the nearby park. As the building's residents trickled out, two ambulances and two school buses full of soldiers swarmed the area. Everyone around those few blocks seemed hyper-vigilant and a sense of muted panic was everywhere.
My friends and I then walked to our car, which was parked at a nearby hotel. On our way there, I noticed there were soldiers holding large rifles standing at every street corner. It looked like a war zone.
I came home (15 miles away) and spoke at length with some other friends who were near the finish line. One friend was close enough to the blast to have slightly injured her ear from the deafening noise. She said after the first bomb went off, no one really knew what to make of it. Some people even believed it was a cannon to celebrate the race, but she found that odd because it was so late into the day. But once the second one went off moments later, everyone started panicking and shoving each other. She saw a man jump on top of a moving taxi in a desperate attempt to flee the area. She saw elderly people being shoved to the side as masses of people tried to run away, scared that more bombs would go off in the area.
Now, although I'm home safely, I'm still having a hard time sleeping, and it's nearing 4 a.m. Marathons are supposed to be happy and inspiring events. The last mile of this year's marathon was dedicated to the 26 victims of Sandy Hook, whose families were seated at the finish line as guests of honor. I still remember, quite vibrantly, the encouraging, cheering faces of spectators along the sidelines of the first few miles, as well as the inspiring people who ran alongside me: the blind runners, the soldiers, and the cancer survivors. It's impossible to juxtapose the beautiful moments of the day's beginning with the horrifying events of the end in my mind without an overwhelming amount of sadness. My heart is with those who were affected by the blasts, and my gratitude to those who have and are helping others get through this all.
Answer by Alex Song, hedge fund analyst:
I work about a block and a half away from where the explosions occurred. I live about three blocks away, so I was very close to where the action was.
At around 2:50 p.m., I was at work, on the 36th floor, facing west, where I had a clear vantage point of the last mile stretch of Boston Marathon finish line. That's when I heard a massive bang outside. It doesn't sound like anything like the explosions you hear in movies, with the bass cranked all the way up. It sounded much more like a loud pop, or fireworks on the 4th of July (now I know). I glanced outside and saw a lot of white smoke, and people running in every direction. That's kind of when I figured out that something was wrong, but I still didn't know what was up.
About 10 seconds later, I saw the second explosion about another block to the west of the original explosion. I think that's when people at the office figured out that something was seriously seriously wrong. We work in the tallest building in Boston, so for good reason, we evacuated immediately. People quickly grabbed all of their stuff. We ran down 36 flights of stairs.
A ton of people were milling around in the lobby when I got there. I thought that was a really bad idea, so I quickly got out of there with a few co-workers and headed straight to the South End (a much quieter neighborhood to the south of Back Bay, where the explosions took place, and where all the people were crowded in one place).
The next several hours were mostly spent in shock. We watched the local news but really, no one had any answers. Most of that time was basically spent checking Twitter, Facebook, and Bloomberg for any updates. There was next to no cell phone service for the whole afternoon (parents and girlfriend both tried calling me repeatedly apparently), but texts and emails were working perfectly so at least I was able to keep in touch.
At about 8 or 9 in the evening, I finally decided that things have probably quieted down in the Back Bay and decided to head home. My path took me straight through the Copley Square area, which is completely quiet and mostly deserted. There were a ton of soldiers milling around, lots of ambulance vans, lots of news vans, and literally hundreds if not thousands of tagged yellow plastic bags containing the personal effects of the people who fled. Hopefully they get their possessions back at some point.
That's about it. This was a horrible event. The site of the explosions wasn't just a random street in Boston, and it wasn't merely the Boston Marathon finish line: it is literally one of the most highly trafficked streets in the city. I've been to most of those stores/shops in that one-block stretch of Boylston St. more times than I can count. There's a Lenscrafters there, a Dunkin Donuts, an awesome restaurant called Uno, and a Max Brenner (one of my favorite restaurant chains anywhere). It's terrible to think that things won't be the same again for a long time. No one deserves this.
More questions on Boston Marathon Explosions (April 2013):
Posted Friday, April 12, 2013, at 3:34 PM
This question originally appeared on Quora.
Answer by Leitha Matz, ecommerce leader for an online grocer:
Minneapolis. I'm working as a proofreader and fresh out of a divorce. I got a tip from a friend that a businessman was looking for a copywriter. I called the fellow up and he invited me to come to his home office.
In retrospect, this was probably red flag No. 1. But I was 22 and hadn't had too many job interviews, so I thought it seemed reasonable.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Arriving at his "home office," aka the den of his ranch-style home, this guy was about 15 years older than me and had two kids from a previous marriage. He struck me as a sharp dresser and a slick presenter, though I thought he might be a closeted gay man.
He asked me a few basic job interview-type questions, but didn't bother to look at my résumé or copy samples. Then he proceeded to introduce me to his line of products, his patents, his business philosophy, his life story, and his weirdly continuous internal/external monologue.
He seemed kind of ADD and a bit of a loose cannon, but he was clearly successful (the car! the house! the merch!) and refreshingly honest. I was going through a confusing time in my life, so I was already questioning whether my natural impulses were 100 percent reliable.
Hours went by. He loaded me down with his merch and asked me to dinner to continue the conversation. I thought, "Well, this feels a bit personal, but I've heard about job interviews that include meals, so why not?"
We got in his expensive silver sports car and went out to a Mexican chain. He bought me drinks. He talked about how perfect I'd be for the job. I was scared, but also kind of psyched at the prospect.
He dropped me off at my car and promised to pick me up the next day after work so we could go see the site of the future office. He showed up (on time) in the expensive silver sports car with a cooler of beers. He took me across the state line (into Wisconsin) to a location in the middle of the woods.
At this point, I seriously considered jumping out of the car. I was thinking about how he'd cut me into tiny pieces and my family would never know what happened to me. He may have been coked up. He was certainly a reckless driver. I tried to continue casually chatting and appearing blasé about everything.
At some point, he parked the car in a field, and we got out and hiked up a hill. He showed me the river valley below, picked up a stone shaped like a heart and told me it was a sign.
He told me all this could and should all be mine ... or ours, really. Here was my office. There was his. We'd do this together. He wanted to get married, after a reasonable dating period, of course. He wanted to hire me. I was terrified. I took his heart-shaped rock. I drank a beer. He kissed me to seal the deal. I told him I needed to sleep on a life change as big as that.
He jabbered all the way back to Minneapolis and dropped me off at home. He called the next day and said, "So? What do you say?" I felt jittery, even over the phone. I said, "I've decided this isn't the right opportunity for me at this time."
"For what, the job or the relationship?"
"Both," I said.
"Wow. OK. Your loss." He said. I thanked him and hung up.
We never spoke again. In the days after, the whole thing came to seem like a strange dream. I kept the heart-shaped rock for a long time to prove to myself that it had actually happened.
More questions on Job Interviews:
Posted Thursday, April 11, 2013, at 1:10 PM
Photo by Paul Schiraldi/HBO
Warning: Some spoilers below.
Why is Tyrion Lannister so compelling? A number of reasons:
1. He's the ultimate survivor: This guy is a dwarf in a time and place where size and skill at arms are hugely respected, but he does not let it become a weakness and uses his wits to far greater effect than a warrior uses his sword.
2. He had a terrible childhood: He suffered humiliation, ridicule, and disdain at the hands of his father, Tywin Lannister, due to his deformities and the death of his mother when he was born, when all he wanted was a bit of love and respect. He was also abused by his sister in his childhood and his brother Jaime is the only person with whom he has had any sort of a close relationship.
3. He's cunning but kind: He is capable of extreme cunning and takes calculated measures against his enemies, but is also capable of sympathy and genuine kindness toward those whom he perceives as helpless or outcasts like himself.
4. He's heartbroken, but not hopeless: He has suffered heartbreak of the most terrible form possible, when his father had his wife raped by his entire guard and made them pay her, calling her a prostitute. However,Tyrion doesn't lose his capacity for love as he again falls in love. This affair too, however, leads to heartbreak.
5. He's an experienced, undaunted, witty dude: This is one person who has been through all kinds of highs and lows in his life, but his spirit remains undaunted, unbroken, and fearless. He has known immense power in his homeland and has also been a bound and chained prisoner in a foreign land. He is regularly taunted and ridiculed due to his size and deformities. He is threatened and beaten up for his sharp, acerbic tongue. However, none of that ever tames his spirit (or tongue) and he retains a sense of humor throughout, which is pretty darn impressive.
"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burnt. The Drowned God wants his enemies drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious c*nts? Where is the god of t*ts and wine?"
More questions on Game of Thrones (TV series):
Posted Wednesday, April 10, 2013, at 3:27 PM
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty images
Answer by Tre Critelli, attorney, barrister:
What is it like to be the defense attorney of someone you strongly believe to have commited the crime? A whole hell of a lot better than being the defense attorney of someone you strongly believe did not commit the crime.
Representing the guilty is pretty straightforward. The burden is on the government to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. If your client tells you they committed the act, you look for an affirmative defense (e.g. self-defense) that is supported by the evidence. If they haven't admitted the act to you, then you do your best to hold the government to its proof by impeaching its witnesses, questioning the foundations of its evidence, and arguing against the inferences being made.
Representing the innocent, however, is completely different. In addition to the above, you also have a constant gnawing at you that no matter what you do, it isn't going to be enough. The burden has shifted to you to prove their innocence, and it is much, much harder to prove a negative (that someone didn't do something) than it is to prove someone did something. The case will easily consume you, trumping everything else in your life because someone you have become convinced is truly innocent is at risk of going to prison or facing the death penalty and you are the only one that can prevent it.
If they are convicted, you then get the pleasure of trying to go to sleep each night knowing that if you had just done a little bit more, perhaps asked a different question of a witness or spent just a few more hours digging through documents looking for exhibits, the outcome would have been different and the innocent would be free. It becomes your fault that the innocent person is in prison, even though you did all you could to prevent it. You should have done more. Why didn't you do more? What could possibly have been more important than that? The case gnaws at you for months, years even decades and becomes one of the things that you will never, ever forget.
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Posted Tuesday, April 9, 2013, at 1:10 PM
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Nintendo.
Without going into too much detail, Mario (generally) lives and works in the, one of the largest kingdoms—but not the only kingdom (see geo-political structures on Mushroom World [ ], in the in, yes, the .
For the purposes of this answer, I will deliberately restrict the terms to discussing Mushroom World, as a comprehensive answer on the entire Mushroom Universe would require covering 20 to 22 (depending on how you count)and frankly, I doubt it would be any more fun to read than it would be to write.
So, let's focus on Mushroom World. Mushroom World is a very large and extremely diverse planet in terms of its inhabitants, ecosystems, political systems, and types of governance. NB: While Mushroom World does contain many Earth-like features, such as (some) fauna common to both planets, matching ecologies (deserts, jungles etc.), it is important to note that they are in fact separate worlds, and transfer between the two is possible only by means of.
Mushroom World contains at least 202 separate zones or jurisdictions (Mushroom World, Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia). These include (but are not limited to) examples of:
- , e.g.
- , e.g.
- Proletariat Collectivism, e.g.
- Theocracies e.g. . Although NB: you could also argue that Yoshi's Island is a:
- Necroarchy, or "ruled by the dead," e.g. , which itself is a sub-type of an:
- Absolute Monarchy, e.g. the Mushroom Kingdom, and the . Monarchies are the most common form of political organization on Mushroom World, with the Mushroom Kingdom representing the main superpower currently, in much the same way that the US fulfills this role on Earth, and with the same precarious dominant status.
- Areas with no political organization at all and contested by various warlords, e.g. .
A variegated planet therefore, analogous to Earth in medieval times with an equivalent variety of types of rule and organization: think of the kingdoms of feudal Europe with contemporaneous empires in China, Japan, Mezoamerica, and theocracies, city states (e.g. Venice) etc.
Of all these jurisdictions, the Mushroom Kingdom is by far the most significant, although its prime position is under constant threat.
The Mushroom Kingdom is currently ruled by, who is a member of the . As the least-numerous faction, humans in the Mushroom Kingdom are under constant threat from within and without. Internal threats include a significant terrorist faction led by , the leader of the Koopas, one of the most populous species in the kingdom.
It is important to note that Bowser does not command the allegiance of all Koopas, but those under his authority are organized into paramilitary ranks or units () in a caste-like system. This concentration of political power in a single leader arguably makes Bowser a fascist. Although as he self-styles himself "King Koopa," it is apparent that he claims (or is seeking) parity of esteem with Princess Peach; that is to say that he does not regard himself as a "terrorist," but as a "freedom fighter" or entitled ruler in his own right.
It is precisely this self-contained, quasi-military structure that has allowed Bowser to remain a thorn in Princess Peach's side for this long, culminating in his kidnap of her, in an attempt to force her to marry him and therefore achieve "legitimate" control over the kingdom. Only the intervention of the independent oligarch (or "war-chief," depending on your point of view) known as "Mario"—see below—prevented this from occurring.
Externally, the Mushroom Kingdom is under continual pressure from its neighbors, for example, the Beanbean Kingdom with which it shares a (South-West) border and whose ruler,, launched an unprovoked attack against it while under the influence of outside agencies. Again, this was thwarted by Mario, with the assistance of his brother, Luigi.
Most serious of all external threats has been the recent extraterrestrial invasion attempt by the, led by Princess Shroob and her sister, the curiously named Elder Sister Shroob (this title may be an inherited one—there is little extant documentation on the nomenclature of the Shroobs). While driven by classic Platonic reasons (for invasion)—lack of resources and/or lebensraum ( ), this assault was nonetheless completely unprovoked and serves as an example of a typical external threat to the political integrity of the Mushroom Kingdom.
In the context of this fractured and chaotic world, we must now consider the oligarch known as, and to an extent his brother, . Both are Italian-Americans of Earth origins and as such themselves represent a foreign influence on Mushroom World. Mario, in particular has been an iconic figure in all events of political significance in Mushroom World and the Grand Finale Galaxy as a whole. Opinions differ greatly as to whether his influence has been a benign one. While he indeed saved Princess Peach, Toad, and other notable leaders from the various threats described above, it is also known that his enormous wealth (in the form of Gold Coins) has been accumulated through non-conventional means and further, that he made extensive use of techniques in combating what he unilaterally perceived as threats to the status quo. These techniques include the use of incendiary munitions, growth hormones, camouflage, and dimensional shifting, among others. He is known—indeed famous for—ritual drug use, specifically mushrooms, in prosecuting his attacks on others, chiefly Bowser and various members of the Bowser, Boo, and tribes. In an analogue of Earth- , Luigi can be seen as the 'prince-regent' of the Mario faction, sharing his brother's aegis and appetites (wealth, the expression of violence, mood altering substances, and preference for unconventional combat techniques), waiting for his opportunity to rule alone.
In short, for everyone who sees them as saviors or "heroes," there are other—often majority—voices who would call them rogue agents, using their wealth, unique access to the ruling clique, and foreign technology to further their own agenda.
So in conclusion and to the question as asked: What is the political situation in the Mario universe?
It is a never-ending condition of war within and war without, fraught and constantly changing as one faction or another vies for control, riven along racial and ideological fault-lines, and held together only by the intervention of foreign interlopers, propping up the dominant superpower and whose ultimate motivations are shrouded in secrecy.
More questions on Nintendo:
Posted Tuesday, April 9, 2013, at 11:13 AM
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Allow me to draw a picture. I'm going to assume that everyone is heterosexual and in one-to-one marriages (e.g., not polygamous marriages), that there's the same number of men and women, that they marry at the same rate, that there's the same percent of attractive women as attractive men, and that the attractive people of each gender marry at the same rate. I'll deal with these assumptions later.
Here's a chart representing married people that I've color-coded for ease of elaboration.
- For every attractive woman that marries an attractive man, an attractive man marries an attractive woman. Therefore (with the earlier stated assumptions), the frequency of attractive women marrying attractive men must equal the the frequency of attractive men marrying attractive women. That is, PINK = PINK.
- The frequency of attractive women marrying unattractive men = the frequency of attractive men marrying unattractive women. That is, GREEN = BLUE.
So your question is: Why do good looking women often marry men who are way less attractive [i.e., why is GREEN > PINK] while good-looking men more-often marry good-looking women [i.e., why is PINK > BLUE]? That is, why is GREEN > PINK while PINK > BLUE?
The answer, of course, is that it's not. GREEN = BLUE. Thus, if GREEN > PINK, then BLUE > PINK.
Thus, if what you were saying is true, then the earlier assumptions must be faulty. So one of the following must be the case:
- Everyone is not, in fact, heterosexual and in one-to-one marriages. (This is obviously true. However, polygamous marriages are relatively unusual in the Western world and thus do not substantially skew the numbers. The percent of gay people is relatively equal between men and women and also would not skew the numbers significantly.)
- There aren't equal numbers of men and women. (This is basically false.)
- Men and women don't marry at the same rates. (This is false. As every heterosexual marriage requires a man and woman, they must marry at the same rate.)
- The percent of attractive men != percent of attractive women. (This may or may not be true, depending on what it takes for someone to be considered "attractive" to you.)
- Attractive men and attractive women don't marry at the same rate. (Ah, here is a weak point! In order for attractive women to marry unattractive men [GREEN] at a higher rate than attractive men marry unattractive women [BLUE], attractive men would have be getting married at lower rates then attractive women. To be observable / obvious, it would have to be a pretty substantial difference. I can't necessarily rule this out entirely. But, then the answer to your question has nothing to do with what people look for in a mate and has everything to do with an undersupply of attractive men who want to marry. Also, it would still mean that pretty women are just as likely to marry attractive men as attractive men are to marry pretty women (which, in another comment, you said wasn't the case). PINK still equals PINK.)
In other words, either gays and polygamous people are ruining everything, attractive men just don't get married as often, OR this is all in your head / has something to do with your standards of attractiveness. I'll bet on the last of these.
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Posted Friday, April 5, 2013, at 4:33 PM
I had been in prison for a period of months and had developed a reputation for no bulls--t. This was called into question by someone in a very public setting, and in a manner showing the worst form of disrespect.
People in prison are grouped according to many varied criteria: Some are hustlers, some are muscle, some are freeloaders; the majority are consumers, also known as suckers.
Photo by Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Thinkstock.
I fell into the hustler group, and this person fell into the muscle/freeloader group. These types use their physical size and willingness to fight, along with their affiliations within the system as leverage to muscle in on other people's hustles and income streams. They are not above causing pain, threatening violence, and in most cases outright extortion.
I am not a victim and was not about to be seen as one. Since the disrespect was a public show of force, and an attempt to humiliate me, I felt I had no choice. We were scheduled to work together the following night in the Officer's Dining Room, and I was in charge of the deep fryer. Use your imagination, and be assured I used mine.
Prisoners who live and work together can sense their environments in incredibly perceptive details ... It is not unusual for someone to figure out what is about to happen, even when nothing has been said, or otherwise signaled. More so when they are a witness to a triggering event.
An inmate who was unknown to me, and a little bit older, came up to me after the incident, and again on the following day, and slowly changed my mind about what I was thinking about doing to the moron. He pointed out the fact that I had a son waiting for me to come home, that the walking dead man had six children of his own, and most importantly, he reminded me that God would never forgive me for such an act.
He knew how serious I was, and somehow took a substantial risk of his own to try and talk me out of the impending murder.
It worked: Despite an avalanche of anger, and substantial resolve to do something about it, I let it go.
The next evening, the guy that had signed his own death warrant came up to me and apologized. We discussed the fact that his apology was in private, but the insult was in public. I told him that I was over it, but that if he was truly remorseful, he could state his apology to the whole crew, and that would make everything square. (I have cleaned up that exchange for public consumption.)
To my surprise, he did so at the next break, and explained to everyone how he had been getting hate mail from home and was under a lot of stress. He apologized to the whole crew.
The man that had talked to me about the mistake I was about to make, was on the verge of going home, and he took the risk of interfering in something that was none of his business. He did so out of kindness for me, and for my potential victim. He saved us both, and I am forever grateful for that.
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Posted Wednesday, April 3, 2013, at 2:59 PM
Photo by Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images.
I would suggest that you study the culture, products, and service style of Australian coffee shops and cafes.
Starbucks tried to penetrate the Australian cafe market in 2000 by opening 84 stores, only to close 61 of them eight years later because they could not compete with the small independent stores. 95 percent of the 6,500 cafes and coffee shops in Australia today are independently owned, with big chains like Starbucks and Gloria Jeans making up the remaining 5 percent.)
Interestingly, Starbucks' first store in Australia opened just one block away from my own cafe in Sydney, so I got first hand feedback from my customers on Starbucks' potential threat. The concern I had before they opened dissipated within a week. I concluded very quickly that Starbucks was good for tourists and those folk looking for brand association, but their appeal to the quality-espresso-seeking locals was limited to just one curious trial.
Here is how the small independent Australian cafes and coffee shops countered the invasion of the global giant Starbucks and won. Some of these strategies may be of value to other independent stores who are required to compete with Starbucks in other locations as well.
- Offer the espresso-coffee-brew method only: Build your entire offer around espresso and forget about all other coffee-brew methods that Starbucks offers. This gives you a focused niche reputation, fewer management issues, less serving-space clutter, less customer confusion, fewer capital costs, and the opportunity to be the best at the one thing that matters in building a viable and sustainable coffee business ... fine espresso coffee.
- Copy the Italian espresso culture: Copy as much of the Italian coffee culture as possible; that is another country where Starbucks has no stores, because I suspect they know they can't compete with the existing independently owned espresso bars. For example, Italians know that big is not better; in fact, big drink servings typically generate a poorer quality output and rarely leads to much-needed multiple sales. Learn to make coffee the Italian way because it was the Italian immigrants that taught Australian baristas how to make the quality of espresso coffee that Starbucks found so difficult to compete with. Without being snobbish, Starbucks espresso just does not reach the benchmark required of fine Italian espresso coffee. Just ask an Italian who has tried Starbucks! Unlike Starbucks, Italians don't need to add syrups or special sweeteners to their coffee to make it taste good.
- Quality above all: Forget the Starbucks-style marketing hype, the special merchandising, and the roasted bean sales. Just sell the finest espresso coffee drinks you can make to every customer ... every time. Take the time to learn the art and science of fine espresso making. Anyway, marketing costs are not needed in this high-repeati, high-referral business, provided your espresso coffee is top quality. Anyway, your best margins are in the prepared drinks rather than the roasted beans and merchandise, so put all your efforts into your product with the highest profit: the manufactured drinks.
- Make your store a "home away from home": Promote a warm, welcoming, and friendly environment rather than copy Starbucks' style of self-promoting visuals, structural sameness, and regimented layouts. Unlike other service and retail businesses, customers can engage multiple times per day with a cafe or coffee shop, so make them feel like it's a "home away from home" in your cafe with interesting and changing visuals, a variety of seating arrangements, and let the customer alter the furniture to suit themselves. Even put together a bunch of off-beat, eclectic, and quirky furniture pieces.
- It's OK to be familiar with your customers: Chains like Starbucks can't risk their brand value by allowing service standards to be determined by their transient university student staff, so they create and enforce strict codes and processes for "serving" customers, which I think is inappropriate for the high-repeating clientele. Long-term independent cafe owners are not so constrained and can leverage the opportunity that multiple visits creates, to become familiar with their customers. So get to know your customer's names, learn their drink preferences, chat about all sorts of things that friends do, and trade the professional process-driven service for a very personal and familiar one. Your customers will love it!
- Avoid the tourist locations - Starbucks's marketing and global presence gives them a huge competitive advantage in tourist areas because they have a brand that tourists trust, while your brand is an unknown to tourists and perceived as a risky option. The greatest competitive advantage for independent stores is next to or under office towers in the central business districts or in areas that service a static repeating clientele. A study of the 22 Starbucks stores remaining in Australia reveals that all but 3 would be classified as serving predominantly tourist markets.
- Don't copy Starbucks's high profile/high rent strategy: If you build your business on consistent high-quality espresso, your devoted and addicted customers will "go the extra mile" and walk past the main street Starbucks locations to the more obscure low-rent ones anyway. Your customers will love introducing their friends to these hidden gems, which once found can attract as big a repeating and referring clientele as Starbucks' Main Street stores, but at a significantly lower rent.
The Australian experience shows that the passionate and skilled independent cafe proprietor selling quality Italian-inspired espresso in off-prime locations can compete with Starbucks.
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