May, 2011

May 11

What Are You Listening To?

Photo Credit

Have a look at this surprisingly entertaining video of a man asking strangers on the street what they’re listening to.

It’s an interesting opportunity to break into the mind of an individual wrapped in a musical bubble as they encounter the world.

When asked, most people smile and appear genuinely happy that someone took the time to ask what song was currently soundtracking their perception of the events around them.

Given the ubiquity of portable music devices, it seems nearly everyone from every walk of life has one now and the interviewer does a great job of hitting nearly every demographic group.

Take a few minutes to watch video below as it will certainly bring a smile to your face.


May 11

It’s Grillin’ Time

Memorial Day is here and I’m eager to meat up (oh! badump chhh) with the rest the Pluck gang to get some quality barbequing time in.

One thing that we always have on hand for our cook outs is some amazing Memphis-style ribs. Simply, follow these instructions for what may be the best ribs you will ever eat.

We found that after letting the ribs marinate, the best way to cook them is to place them in the oven in a tinfoiled baking tray for an hour with a can or two of dark beer. After letting the meat get nice and tender, put it over a charcoal grill with the mop sauce to sear in the flavor.

On a side note, while Memorial Day is a great opportunity to spend time with friends and family, let’s not forget that it is meant to commemorate the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives for this country.

Take a moment to thank those soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines that are currently serving overseas as well as to honor our fallen heroes.  

If you can spare a few dollars, donate to the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) charity today. Their work is sadly more relevant now than ever.

Medical technology has advanced so that there have been fewer casualties in the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, but improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have left more men and women disabled than ever before.

DAV helps those gravely wounded in combat continue to live meaningful lives, so donate a few dollars if you can.


May 11

Building The Foundations for a Higher Salary


Engineer Jean Perronet made a living building bridges in France during the 1770s. He spoke about his creations with no shortage of pride, saying, “A great bridge is a great monument which should serve to make known the splendour and genius of a nation; one should not occupy oneself with efforts to perfect it architecturally, for taste is always susceptible to change.”

It looks, at least in the job market, as if Perronet was prescient. According to new research from the Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, undergrads who major in engineering still earn higher lifetime salaries, while undergrads who focused on the humanities seemed to suffer at the ephemeral whims of ‘taste’ when it came to salary success. To give an idea of the salary breakdown across academic majors, take a glance at this chart (pictured below) from The Washington Post, and the write-up of the findings here.

With the cost versus benefit of a college degree being weighed more heavily now than it has been in generations, for many undergrads it’s becoming more and more difficult to make a purely intellectual, non-economic decision on an academic major. Many in the academy worry that, in the graduating classes of the recession, the humanities are seen as a luxury, and the argument that they advance critical reasoning and writing skills comes off as hollow.

Even long-time academic Stanley Fish despaired at the news that SUNY Albany would cut its French, Italian, theater, classics, and Russian programs due to low enrollment. Fish saw this as the university world in miniature, a landscape strewn with dying humanities programs, beached and stranded by a changing tide of economic necessity.

Professor Campbell McGrath is quoted in The Washington Post piece on academic majors and life-long salaries, and he may sum it up best. “It would be a better world if we all studied humanities,” Professor McGrath, who is a poet, said. “But it’s not a good dollars-and-cents decision.”

For now, at least, it seems like we are living in a dollars-and-cents world.

Of course, being an engineer doesn’t always take you on the paths you expected- just ask this Pluck Magazine contributor.


May 11

Time To Hit The Road

As the days grow longer and the sun shines ever brighter, I’ve got the itch to hit the open road once more. It doesn’t help that the photographer behind one of my favorite blogs, A Time To Get, recently documented his road trip across America.

Have a look below at a few of these stunning photos or head here to see the full collection.

If these photos don’t make you want to jump in a car, then our recent article about a months long adventure across America will. Check it out here.


May 11

It’s Tough Out There


It seems that the recession that initially drove us here at Pluck to start this magazine has no signs of letting up anytime soon.

A recent survey by the New York Times found that only 56 percent of college graduates from the class of 2010 had found a job by this spring, compared to 90 percent from the classes of 2006 and 2007. In addition the median starting salary for students graduating from four-year colleges fell $3,000 to $27,000.

More despairingly, the majority of those jobs were dead-end jobs that didn’t even require a college degree like waiting tables or delivering food.

With more college grads competing for these types of unskilled jobs, folks that are less qualified have been pushed out themselves, resulting in a spiraling domino-effect to the bottom.

To make matters worse, more than 60 percent of graduates within the last five years say they need a Master’s degree or a Ph.D to find a job, leaving them saddled with debt.

All together this makes for a pretty bleak outlook – the job market is terrible, the jobs are menial and low-paying, and more and more people will have crushing debts from student loans.


Read the full article here, but for some more positive reads head over to Pluck Magazine to read the stories of a few individuals who faced similar circumstances and overcame them.

Check out the story of one contributor who quit her job to wait tables and learned from it, or this story about a graduate who is pursuing her dream of becoming a writer at any cost, or this story of one contributor who was fired, but reinvented her life, started her own company, and now makes six figures.


May 11

Spring/Summer 2011 Armageddon Must Haves

Sadly, Judgment Day passed without even one zombie infection or demonic swarm sighting, but had we been beset by hell’s forces, we know what our weapon of choice would have been.

When considering Armageddon weapon options, the important thing is to strike the appropriate balance. You want to look like you took the necessary time to get ready for the end of days, but not like you obsessed over it.

I mean, it’s true you only get judged once by God, but hell is rising up and consuming the earth after all, so let’s not overdo it.

The baseball bat? Too obvious.

The chainsaw? Too fussy. Plus, you really don’t want to have to rely on a gas or battery powered device as hellspawn chase after you.

You want a to walk the line between primal resourcefulness and modern advancement.

That’s why for that perfect dash of refined nonchalance –what Italians call sprezzatura – we here at Pluck strongly recommend the board with a nail in it.

It’s casual yet looks like you put some thought into it. And, more importantly, even during an Armageddon, you should have the materials around to slap one together in no time at all.

So for the next end of the world (we hear the ancient Mayans say 2012), no excuses, get a piece of wood and hammer a nail in it. Like this gentleman below:


May 11

Prepare To Be Judged

Just a friendly reminder that tomorrow, May 21st is Judgment Day, the day God will send all us heathens to burn in hell and face excruciating torture for eternity.

In case you’re not all that familiar with the earth-shattering event happening this weekend, here’s a quick rundown.

According to the Oakland based religious group Family Radio, it was conveniently marked in the Bible that on May 21, 2011, God would descend from heaven and destroy earth because of mankind’s egregious sins.

I never thought about it, but Judgment Day is a lot like Christmas. God is basically Santa Claus and decides who was naughty and who was nice. But instead of getting shiny plastic toys or electronic gadgets, God doles out bone crunching punishment or eternal passes to the world’s best Club Med.

As we inch ever closer to THE END, Family Radio has seen a massive spike in its donations. In the last seven years, the non-profit has raised more than $100 million and owns 66 radio stations around the world.

In recent months, the group has spent millions of dollars plastering the news that Judgment Day is on May 21st on more than 5,000 billboards.

When asked what Family Radio would do with all that money after Judgment Day, Harold Campling, the organization’s president, said, “If we have any money left, and we will because we have to pay bills up to the very end…”

Realistic question though, what time zone does God live in? Because if he’s operating on some Asian time zone, that would really be inconvenient for me if the whole fire, brimstone, and destruction thing started when I least expected it to. I mean that would totally ruin my Judgment Day Eve plans.

Although, that brings me to an interesting question: How will you spend your last day on earth before rivers of blood flow through the streets?

Does anyone have plans?


May 11

Miami Horror

I’ve just found the perfect soundtrack for my summer. I have a sneaking suspicion that Miami Horror’s sunny electro-disco jams will be the only thing blasting from my speakers for the next several months.

Hailing from Melbourne, I suppose it’s no surprise that they resemble fellow Aussies Cut Copy a bit.

Insanely catchy beats, bouncing synth filled melodies, and blissed out vocals – need I say more.

Listen to a few stellar jams from “Moon Theory,” the band’s debut album, below.

- Eugene

Note: This post originally appeared on my daily blogAesthetes Anonymous

May 11

Holy Ghost! – Wait and See

Musicians Alex Frankel and Nick Milhiser are the band Holy Ghost!, and when they set out to make a music video for their song “Wait and See”, they decided to ask their dads to step in.

“My dad was appalled at the sizing options at American Apparel,” Frankel said in an interview, but nonetheless they managed to persuade the family patriarchs to perform on-camera as their sons.

The concept worked because, as Frankel says, “the joke wasn’t on them — that it was actually kind of making fun of us getting older and still living like teenagers.”

Take a look below.

Holy Ghost! – Wait & See from DFA Records on Vimeo.

For an insight at other up-and-coming musicians and the music they love, take a look at these recommendations from the band Weekends over at Pluck Magazine.


May 11

Culture Clash: Hindus and New York’s “Ganges River”


It’s not surprising that immigrants continue their traditions in whatever land they emigrate to, but it is always interesting to see how this phenomenon can lead to unintended consequences.

The resulting comprises and cultural shifts as a result of these two differences is the core to identity expression for new immigrant groups in how they adapt and maintain their culture in the face of a strange new land with its own unique customs laws.

For instance, a recent New York Times article details how Hindus living in Queens, New York are actually contributing to pollution in Jamaica Bay as a result of their traditional rituals.

Hindus routinely give offerings of clothing, statues, cremated ashes, and candles to the gods as part of rituals to mark festivals, births, and deaths. But Jamaica Bay is actually a federal wildlife preserve and because it is an enclosed habitat, the trash accumulates and winds up littering the beaches for miles.

“It’s been a mounting problem for years,” said Kathy Krause, the supervisory park ranger. “The breakdown of these items is very, very harmful.”

Apparently the ecosystem in Jamaica Bay is quite fragile and the introduction of these foreign objects can greatly damage the area. For instance saris strangle the sea grass, birds choke on flowers, and fruit disrupts the local food chain.

While many Hindus understand that littering can be harmful to the environment, they find it difficult to let go of their most sacred customs because of it. More recent immigrants have refused to adhere to the law whereas others have recognized the damage that they are doing to the environment and have helped cleanup efforts.

Aside from regularly organized beach cleanings, some local religious leaders are striving to find compromises that honor traditions as well as the local habitat. For instance, some have suggested dipping offerings into the water several times before taking them home to throw away.

This may be better for the environment, but at the same time it cuts against the very meaning of leaving an offering to the gods.

Asha Kanhai, who now takes home the offerings she would traditionally leave in the water, said, “In your heart, you feel like your offering is not accepted, but we have to obey the rules.”

To read more about different cultural experiences in America, check out one contributor’s experience watching the Cricket World Cup at a bar in New York in a recent Pluck Magazine article.


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