Down the hole

by Andrada Costoiu

For some time, I have been thinking about some fundamental questions, such as the one of how did our societies became so polarized? Why are people so polarized when it comes to race, religion, why are people so polarized in general? I know that there are many reasons why, but I have recently come across a story that reveals disturbing facts.

I was listening to a New York Times podcast, that talked about the radicalization of a young man through YouTube videos. This was an aimless young man, in his 20s, who had a computer and spent a lot of time on YouTube. He became attracted by a far-right community, because he felt a sense of belonging. Besides the podcast, there is also an article in NYTimes about it. Here is the link for it if you want to read more about his story:

What struck me in this story was the evidence provided by a former YouTube employee, a French PhD, that explained how YouTube feeds you what to watch next….and next…and next. YouTube has an algorithm that controls what you can choose to watch next and based on your preferences (your history of watched videos) would suggest the same kind of videos. They say that this algorithm is responsible for 70% of the time spent online.

Now, not only YouTube, but many other platforms offer access to conspiracy theorists, extremists and all kinds of misinformation. Although YouTube and other platforms are outwardly liberal, they are still a place where all kinds of people that are arguing whatever they may, have reached large audiences. 

What if you fall into one of those rabbit holes? I think it is an efficient method of brainwashing. 

For YouTube and media alike, their business measures in time watched and in ratings.  They would give you the same kind of material, because they assume that you like it and that you would keep roped for long by giving you information on the same subject, from the same kind of sources.  For them, it’s all business. The more you watch, the more time you spend on their platforms, the more money they make. They’re not interested in providing a user with alternative narratives, with alternative points of view. 
For them, is not about the quality of information. It is all business. 

But is it all business for people? No. Not so much. For us, real human beings, it’s our lives. We possess an incredible neuronal plasticity that allows us to be shaped by our experiences. 

There are a lot of people out there, especially during this pandemic, who do not have wide social contacts and spend their time navigating the internet. If you involuntarily hammer your brain with the same, the same, you might not even realize that you are being misinformed, or that you start believing in who know what conspiracy theories. 

I think the best we can do is at least be mindful of this possibility. Be more aware and judge through your own lens whatever information we are fed. I think it is important to stop taking the information we are fed at face value. 

And, on another note, I have previously written a small article about how media controls the narratives. This is not new, in fact, media has been called the “fourth estate” because of its wide influence and its weight in steering one way or another the public affairs. Remember the Vietnam War and the photos of casualties and soldiers wounded? Did we see the same thing during the Iraq war and Persian Gulf conflict in the 90s and 2000s? No. We didn’t. Why? I’ll let you think for yourself and answer that question…..

The media controls what we see and hear. The media decides what we should hear and see.
A lot of things that should be said have been effectively silenced. 

I personally am trying hard not to be dumbed down by corporate biased news. It is hard. But I do seek information on things that are important to me and that are not talked in the media the way they should be because of low ratings ( i.e. climate crisis, community issues). I do seek alternative views on everything that I read and I do not believe everything is out there.  

Beginning of slavery in the US

by Andrada Costoiu

Hello everyone,
Few people, including myself, have started at our university a reading group about the history of slavery in general and in the USA in particular. I am posting here a brief slide show, if you would like to learn a bit about what we know, according to the historical records, about the beginnings of slavery here in the USA. I think that we need to excavate deep into the history to understand more what is happening today. Not born and raised here, I was oblivious to race, religion and all kinds of differences. I still am. I do not like when people are called names or treated differently based on their origins and their other characteristics. We are all people and we all have souls. Period. For what is worth, we could all have been born in different bodies.

Have a wonderful day,
A. xoxo

“The antithesis of obliviousness” published in Visual Verse Anthology

by Andrada Costoiu

Photo by Michael Easterling, for Visual Verse .

I have written this poem for Visual Verse Anthology of Art and Words, it is published on page 24, you can read their current issue if you click here: Visual Verse Anthology of Art and Words. The poem is based on the picture above and represents what I saw when I looked at it.

The antithesis of obliviousness
By Andrada Costoiu

Peeking through the gates of time and space,
I seek escape from the place I am stuck.
I do not belong to this sentimental ecosystem of hollow chests,
With people that smile to convince their bodies that are happy.

In the place where no one cares,
I water the tree of love,
Pluck its leaves and send them away
To the ones who play the same game.
We connect,
If there is a wind, there is a way.

They say that romantics make the most unreliable spies,
But this time I made it.
The whole in the fence is the path,
Not slow, but fast,
I bid goodbye to the place that sings everyday happy birthday to the death of souls.

I feel like a citizen of Hades blinded by the sun.
I stumble,
The heart is a small muscle with a tremendous strength,
It got me here, across the fence, back to the place where it all started.

I am an unbound soul smitten with the eternal light,
I sync with the others, across the flying leaves,
Maybe one day we’ll break the fences of all mundane places,
And save the ones that shrug and fade into the dark.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.

Choices

by Andrada Costoiu

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Above the foxhole everything is fire
Clouds are rolling,
Stained by the rage of the man made world.
His fingers are clenched on the wire,
That sends a screaming order to move forward
To all those destined to fill the infantrymen’ boots. 

Steel helmet in the rain, 
He joins the game of hide and seek with bullets,
And hopes to be among the winners,
As there is no replay,
The penalty of losing could take your soul away.

His team now takes the village,
He stops behind a wall, then points his gun,
The end and the tomorrow both dwelling by his finger,
And what he’ll choose will be the faith of one.

Astounding insight into the human soul,
Immersed in holiness and sin,
The battle is about primal survival,
And thus the man in front of him will lose, and he will win.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.

Shakespeare’s Globe

by Andrada Costoiu

I miss London and I want to share more of my experiences in the city with you.

Last year, walking the Thames River path, near Blackfriars , I saw a white building, with a roof covered in moss. I didn’t really know what to make out of it! Was it a small castle? Was it an arena?
These were the questions that were running through my mind when I noticed that many people were seating on the ground, in a cue, as they were waiting for something. I went and asked ….and it turned out to be a theater. Not just any theater, but Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, which is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre for which William Shakespeare wrote his plays!  

The original theatre was built in 1599, destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1613. The theatre was rebuilt in 1614, and then demolished in 1644. This modern Globe Theatre is an academic approximation of the original one, it is considered quite realistic, though it accommodates only 1,400 spectators compared to the original theatre’s 3,000. It was opened to the public in 1997.

I’m a lover of arts, so of course, I wanted in! There were no tickets for that night, but I did buy a ticket for “As you like it,” for the following night.

I had no idea what to expect, but let me tell you this: I have been inside hundreds of cultural landmarks and this one is one of a kind. When I entered, I felt like a portal to another era has opened. Shakespeare’s era!

The theater has an arena where people stand and then there is seating across the arena, in balconies and galleries. All these have benches, wooden benches! I got one of those seats and I’m so happy I got a pillow, because….let’s put it this way, you need a cushion when you’re seating on a wood bench with no back rest for couple of hours…..

The play itself was a transformative, radical experience. Ever seen those movies where they show how old theater was done? Those ones where the audience becomes rowdy and occasionally some unlucky actors get pelted with rotten tomatoes? It’s funny, but it was just like that! The audience, including me, often exploded in ovations and laughs.  But of course, there was no tomatoes or food produce throwing! 
This is me, happy this place where past meets present.

After the play I went to their small library, which is filled with souvenirs and great books. I couldn’t leave without buying some, one book for me and two for each of my kids :).

I think during the pandemic the Globe is closed. They have performances online, but nothing is the same as watching a play inside the venue. I think the pandemic will be over soon, wishful thinking! So…when it opens and if you are around that area, go and experience. You’ll feel as you entered the somewhat more complicated emotional world of Shakespeare.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.

Merry Christmas

by Andrada Costoiu

I wish everyday would be a holiday. Why can’t we keep the lights on on our streets, houses and souls, all the time? I wish we would.

Today, I am sending you my very best wishes, my good thoughts and my love, and I hope that you are celebrating (for those who are celebrating), together with the ones you love.

Not really a Christmas desert, but I am going to share with you a very easy recipe of Lava Cake, for the chocolate lovers, that my son had found on the internet. He said, “Mom! I found something that you can actually make!” . He knows I am not a master, but I am alright:)

So, here is the easiest Lava Cake that has been ever invented:)

The picture may not look fancy, but it is really good. 🙂Here is how to make it: Mix in a bowl 1/4 cup flour(30gr)+1/2 powdered sugar(70gr)+a pinch of salt+2 large eggs+2 yolks. In a separate bowl, put 1 stick unsalted butter(100gr) + 1/2 cup (I put more ….2/3 cup) of chocolate chips(170gr) and melt these in a microwave. After this is melted, mix with the other composition of flour and the other ingredients.Spray a tray of cupcakes so the mixture would not stick , pour in the mixture and put it in the oven for 8-10 minutes (the oven has to be preheated at 400F-200C). That’s it!

Happy holidays to you all!
Andrada

From London , with Love

by Andrada Costoiu

I live in memories lately, wishing that I could have my old life back, whisking that I could take a plane to a different part of the world. I’m not tired of mine……but I am bird and I like to fly.
Like most of us though, I think I am now only capable of mind flights…around the world.
So, I am going to share with you few pictures and insights from a trip I took to London, the summer of last year.

London. For any it is the city where they live, where they work, where they go to the grocery store….or the restaurants. For me, it was a wonderful adventure.

Westminster Abbey 

I always wanted to visit this abbey, because of its impressive history. I don’t know what it is like now, it might be closed because of the pandemic, but last summer I learned that if you want to visit the abbey you should buy tickets online:). I remember getting there around 12, and the lines were huge.
The Abbey is beautiful inside, the history floats in the air and is under your feet. I liked it so much that the next day I woke up early and went to the mass. I thought it’s going to be in the church but the sermon was held in the small chapel. Bummer! It was funny, because there was a girl next to me that had angels ears. She kept laughing and seemed a little bewildered. That’s when I lowered my gaze and noticed the priest’s shoes – he had style! I tried not to think about priests’ fashion and concentrate on giving thanks and praying for a better world! I still have these memories….:)

Westminster Church

If you walk few streets from the Abbey, there is another church, Westminster Church. This one is impressive too. Cannot stop but thinking that the church was and is so powerful! They had and have a lot of money to build such impressive buildings. In this church there were many chapels, each with their history. Among other things I was impressed by the body of St John Southworth, a man that was killed in 1535 because of his faith. This made me feel sad, his body looked so small; it was enclosed in a glass shrine. His mummy was fully clothed and had a mask on his face.

Last……this is a random picture I took on the streets of London…..

Everyone should enrich their life with around the world travel…..I think I have complied with that today :).

One

by Andrada Costoiu

Blue,
A stare of unparalleled depth,
Whispering thoughts and sending desires.
A stare that has these built-in effects,
That shake you and churn you.

Audacity on the fly,
Coming from an absolute beginner 
That had just arrived.

This is the place where no one cares,
A world filled not with willful ignorance
But with colorless 
Blind eyes.

Blue,
You jam up the system,
Clog up the pipes through which indifference was flowing…
You make me feel.

That’s all it takes,
One……to be different
To change the place where no one cares.

At a first read, you’d think this is a poem about love. It is, but not only…..
I’m not going to say anything, but try to think about it from your own lens, your own feelings….and your own world.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.