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An open letter to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Logo: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High SchoolI received the following tweet asking for people to send letters of support to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Here is my letter.
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It’s time for a revolution

Image from Max PixelTo be clear, this is not a violent revolution. There is enough violence in the world, and most violent revolutions replace one brutal regime with another.

The revolutions that have the biggest impact in history are ones of the mind. Agriculture, religion, writing, medicine, cosmology, democracy, industrialization, and technology. The realization that the earth orbits the sun, slavery is immoral, and people should have equal rights. These revolutions forced people to change how they saw the world. They made it impossible for them to go back to the lives and beliefs they once had.

Not that there weren’t those who tried to turn back the clock. The old order always tries to reassert itself and undo the progress that has been made. They will cry heresy, pass restrictive laws, ban books, and use fear and lies to convince people to reject newfound truths. They often resort to violence. But their successes are short-lived. Old beliefs die with the old people who hold them, but progress cannot be contained. It builds on itself and carries humanity forward.

What we’re seeing today is the death rattle of privilege and patriarchy — beliefs that cannot exist in an open and interconnected world. While the old order rages about the death of “traditional values” and ridicules today’s youth as “Tide Pod eaters,” they can’t turn back the progress that has been made. Those who have thrown off the chains will refuse to put them back on. Truth cannot be easily dismissed as “fake news.”

We are moving towards a global community that wants to take care of our environment and each other. We want schools where children and parents don’t have to worry about getting massacred, and workplaces where women can pursue their ambitions without being harassed. We want to be valued for what we can contribute, not how we look, who we love, or what we believe. We choose respect over ridicule, openness over hostility, and compassion over judgement.

It’s a revolution that is already happening. We can resist or support it, but it can’t be stopped.

Black Panther: Character development matters

Theater lobby for Marvel's Black PantherI had the opportunity to see an advance screening of Marvel’s Black Panther in 3-D IMAX. It has everything you would expect from a superhero movie: thrilling action set pieces, brilliant CGI-driven special effects, and a Stan Lee cameo. But what really got me into the story were characters I could care about.

This is lacking in most superhero movies. Both heroes and villains are drawn larger than life with unrealistic powers and motivations. It’s hard to relate to any of them, so you can’t get invested in the story. Even the most action-packed battle sequences seem empty because you don’t care who wins or loses.

Black Panther solves this problem by focusing on character development. (Since Marvel and its fans get fussy about spoilers, I won’t include any here.)

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Songs to raise your spirit

We hear plenty of bad news every day. What we need is something to raise our spirits, inspire us, and make us feel better.

I’ve always turned to music for an emotional boost. Part of it comes from years of performing in choirs and musicals. Most of it comes from how music makes me feel. It drives me through workouts, sets the soundtrack for my novels, and keeps me focused at work. In difficult times, music inspires me to keep pushing.

Here are some of the songs that raise my spirit. They might inspire you too.

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IQ is just a number

On Quora, I find a lot of questions about IQ. “What is it like to have an extremely high IQ?” “What is the relationship between IQ and BMI?” “Does an IQ of 142 give me bragging rights?”

Yes, these are actual questions. And an IQ of 142 does give you bragging rights over me, since my IQ is 141. Still, that qualifies me for being gifted, or a stable genius, or something like that.

But here is something I learned: IQ is just a number.

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