Prison Pecking Order

By Christopher Zoukis In the world outside of prison, everyone wants to know what others do, where they work, how much they make, where and in what type of house they live, what they drive, and the answers to many other personal identity questions which help us to quantify and categorize others. These are social […]

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By Christopher Zoukis Tyre.  An ancient city, a major port long ago, along the Phoenician coast. Tyre was the birth-place of a rare purple dye used to color the garments of kings.  The secret ingredient to the purple dye was the blood of worms. That was then; now it is called Lebanon. Tyre had a church, […]

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Michel Eyquen de Montaigne-Delecroix

By Christopher Zoukis He was buried in the family cemetery near his chateau, which is actually a castle in the center of an opulent park.  Construction of the castle began in 1477.  It is located on the borders of Perigord and Bordelais, in the Dordogne part of France.  A tall white floriated cross, or ‘cross […]

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E. M. Cioran

By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtesy

It sits in the elongated, latticed shade of the Eiffel Tower.  Stippled with Gothic architecture:  ribbed vaults sit like blackened bones of whales, flying buttresses which paralyze viewers with indecision, pointed arches which could summon convenient elemental spirits if need be, and steep roofs down which certain arcane energies slide.  No longer au courant in today’s hypercivilized world, all this Gothicism pushes back the odor of progress.  But you must agree it has a certain charm.

Here is the palpable reality of the doctrine of worth through magnitude.  The prevailing virtues here are bigger, better and more flamboyant.  All this Gothic architecture shouts of sophisticated hylotheism, which states that matter is God and that there is no God except matter. 

All that matters here and now is the fancy hem of matter – the ornate tombstones – under which the residents reside.

The tourists come, tiptoe around, and look.  They don’t say much, and when they do they whisper.  For here words are stale, emotion spends its force against nothing.  For here are the dead, and the famous.  The dead famous, the famously dead.

Gothic cemeteries have a smell, the scent of smooth bourbon and vanilla flavored Cavendish tobacco.  The odor of an elusive familiarity.  It mixes with sounds half-muffled by massive Gothic monuments – low arias for the dead.  All together, the sights, the sounds, the scents, they form a necessary overcompensation.  For the dead are not interesting, only their lives are interesting.  Embarrassed, they make up for their present humdrum condition by not-so-subtle sensory hallucinizers.  

It is Montparnasse Cemetery.  The place of petrified history.  The French know it as Cimetiere du Montparnasse, located in the 14th arrondissement of Paris.

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Huffington Post Article Round-Up

Image courtesy By Christopher Zoukis It is with great delight that I announce my acceptance as a Huffington Post contributing writer.  If you have a chance, I would greatly appreciate you reading, liking, sharing, and tweeting my following articles at HuffPo: Growing Up in Prison: What I’ve Learned During My Eight Years of Incarceration […]

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Caryl Chessman – 1

By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtesy

A few years ago, in 2004 to be exact, Rosalie Asher died.  After her funeral, her niece Bonnie Fovinci was sorting through Rosalie’s office, making two piles of stuff.  One to save and one to throw out. 

She picked up a black vase from the shelf next to Rosalie’s desk.  Junk, she thought, preparing to toss it on the ‘throw out’ pile.  Instead, she weighed it in her hands.  It was heavier than a vase needed to be.  Looking closely at it, she discovered it was metal.  And not really black, but more of a dark, smokey gray color.  There were some scratches on the base.  No, they were letters inscribed into the metal.  A name and two dates.

Holding the vase up to the sunlight, she angled it so she could read the name.  When she read it she stopped breathing for a few seconds.  Slowly she sat down in Rosalie’s chair behind the desk.

Setting the black vase on the desk in front of her, she stared at it, lost in thoughts of a past gone by.  It wasn’t a vase.  It was an urn.  The kind of urn that held the cremated remains of dead people.  Only this urn was empty.

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ASSORTATIVE MATING: Is there such a thing as a soul-mate or is that just a marketing ploy?

By Christopher Zoukis

No image captures our attention quite like the human face — its ability to communicate is unparalleled.  All of mankind believes they are ‘face readers,’ too.  Phi, or the golden section, would appear to be the universal standard of beauty (whether we like it, or not).  Phi is 1 to 1.618.  Shan Baker, the president of the AAFPRS (American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery) puts it this way:  “While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, there’s a real mathematical equation for measuring a person’s attractiveness.  In fact, the skeletal proportions are the true determining factors.”  According to the AAFPRS the perfect face looks like this:  high cheekbones and a clear complexion are givens, but the well-proportioned face also divides into equal thirds when lines are drawn through the forehead hairline, the brow, the base of the nose and the edge of the chin.  For women, short, delicate jaws, fine chins and graceful noses, along with prominent eyes, full lips and visible cheekbones.  For men:  broad foreheads, deep-set eyes, imposing brows, and strong jaws make up the most desirable male.  Photo courtesy

And that, ladies and gentlemen, brings us to the concept of ‘assortative mating,’ i.e., the attraction to others who are like oneself.  “Wanna’ go for a ride?!”  Well, here we go:  most couples, husbands and wives, tend to be similar.  They come from similar religious backgrounds, from similar ethnic backgrounds, have similar levels of innate intelligence, and many similar personality traits, including moral codes.  From whence comes this congruity?

Well, Aristophanes, the comic satirist, presented a unique take on the concept.  It goes like this:  the god, Apollo, divided man into two parts, each part desiring its other half; and once they came together, throwing their arms about each other, they entwined in mutual embraces, longing to once again become one.  Eventually, they were on the verge of dying from hunger and self-neglect, because they did not like to do anything apart from each other.  But when one of them died and the other survived, the survivor sought another mate, man or woman as we call them, and grabbed hold of that. 

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Application Boo-Boos

By Christopher Zoukis

More than likely you’ve read about the obvious boo-boos you want to steer clear of in your business school application.  Since you’re already aware of those, let’s talk about the dangerous but not very obvious missteps that lurk like quicksand in the application process.  This article is for applicants who already know the rudiments of the process and want to move on to the more cryptic elements.  They’re cryptic because they’re hard to see and hard to explain.  Admissions committees don’t want to admit they exist, but they do.  So if you’re gunning for one of the top three schools, learning how to dodge around these veiled pitfalls can be the difference between acceptance and rejection.  Image courtesy

Mistake 1:  Don’t Get Grandiose

In a perfect world, everyone wants to be Mother Theresa and save the world.  A lot of applicants, just like Miss America contestants, believe that’s what will get their foot in the door at the school of their choice.  If you demonstrate how unselfish and compassionate and caring you are, everyone will melt and think this is the kind of person we want at our school, right?  You can peddle the saccharine all day long, but if your philanthropic pitch doesn’t align with your personal history, it won’t sell.  For example, you tell the committee that your heart’s desire is to work on developing microfinance programs in West Africa, yet nothing in your background indicates any such prior interest.  The only way such an assertion would be true would be if you actually came from Ghana and have already worked with, a microfinance non-profit organization, for the last few years.  Your skill set matches your aspirations.

Many applicants believe expressing an attraction to the non-profit field is the key to winning the hearts and minds of admissions officers.  That approach did not work well in the Viet Nam War and will fail just as miserably with admissions officers, who, through experience, know when someone is blowing smoke in their face.

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The Best

By Christopher Zoukis

The 2012 Summer Olympics are over.  Most of the Olympians have moved on to new challenges.  One of the most decorated Olympians is a woman most people have hardly heard of.  Her name is Kim Rhode, and she’s won five medals in Olympic shooting.  She shoots skeet. 

She’s a 21st century Annie Oakley.

In any other sport, she’d be endorsing products – like Winchester or Perazzi shotguns or alliant powder or Ray Ban shooting glasses – and making lots of money.  But not in shooting.  Only aficionados of the sport care what products she uses, and there aren’t very many of those.

In 1996, when she was only 17 years old, she won a gold medal in Atlanta in what’s called the double-trap competition.  Four years later, in Sydney, she took home a bronze medal.  Then in Athens, she won gold again.  At that point, the Olympics dropped the double-trap competition.  So Kim took up skeet shooting. 

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