Category Archives: Editor’s Picks

Saving Lives, Bad for Business?

Recently a report has been published by Goldman Sachs analysts exploring the question “Is curing patients a sustainable business model?” The idea behind it being that as “one-shot cures” rid more and more people of their disease and/or medical condition, the need for that particular medicine will go down, as there fewer people to spread it. The report cited a study about treatments for Hepatitis C that have more than a 90 percent cure rate. As a result of that effective treatment, the need for that treatment decreased significantly, as did the profits from it. All of this begs the question, what in the world is wrong with medical companies?

It would seem that profit is the greater concern over improving lives and saving lives. This report appears to suggest that medical companies developing treatments and cures for sick people should focus their efforts on diseases that can and will appear on their own, without the need for carrier. It suggests that the research should focus more on disease like cancer or medical conditions like asthma not because they should try to cure it, but because it has a more sustainable business profit. That is to say, because people will always have to deal with these conditions, and therefore they can continue to profit off of the sick. And as for the people will curable or potentially curable disease or conditions? It seems they are just going to get ignore and be left to suffer. It is apparently a bad thing that so many people got treated for Hepatitis C.

What sort of world do we live in were profit is put above improving and saving lives? It is understandable that companies need to make a profit so they continue to fund medical research, but it should never be taken so as to even consider placing profit over the lives of their patients. If this is how things are going to go, how until we hear from our doctors that our illnesses are curable, but that they will not cure it because it would mean less money for them and the medical companies?

 

Photo from the Wall Street Journal

Some Advice with Paper Writing

Everyone in college inevitably has to write a few papers for some of their classes. It is all part of the college experience, especially when you end up writing a paper at 3 in the morning when it is due at 10 that morning. We have all had to pull a few all-nighters to get our work done. Part of the reason for that is always the time getting away from us. We think we have enough time, that the paper is not due for another week, or four days, then suddenly it is the night before it is due and none of us have even made the word document. It would probably work out better if we tried to write a small bit at a time rather than all at once.

There are some pros to writing a paper in a single night. You can spend all of the extra time working on the other homework that piles up. We all end up with an overwhelming amount of work eventually; sometimes the best course of action is to put off that big paper to get other work done, especially when it is due much sooner than the paper. But we could do better with a bit of time management and a willingness to spread the work around.

A more efficient way to go about writing a paper, especially as we near the end of the school semester, is to write small portions of it over the course of the week before it is due. Spend an hour and write an introduction. The next, you can take another hour to make your first body paragraph. Keep up that trend and before you know it, you will have a full and finished paper. Admittedly, this is just one way to go about writing it, and it has its cons too. It can be difficult to start and stop when writing a paper and maintain the same level of quality, but it is just some advice for the upcoming weeks of finals.

Line of Gemini – Part 9

They rolled into the hotel around 10 o’clock and after they checked into their room, Sunny flopped down on one of the beds. “Man, I’m exhausted. I hope this silly eclipse is worth it.”

Tod sat down on the bed opposite and pulled off his shoes. Eli stayed standing. Do you really like Sunny…in that way? Eli’s thoughts were harsh and cold.

Hey, none of your business. And so what if I do?

We need to go back. I’m serious about this. You don’t know what it’s like up there. You can’t just run away from who you are.

Watch me.

Sunny tilted her head. “I’m sensing some tension in this room,” she proclaimed. “What’s going on? Talk it out.”

Eli just shrugged his shoulders, turning away from Tod and moving aside the curtain to stare out at the Nashville skyline.

“Don’t you need each other to use your powers?” Sunny tried. “What if more people try to attack us?” She got to her feet. Her voice was higher than she meant for it be, but she didn’t care. These boys were driving her crazy.

“It’s fine, Sunny,” Eli said, his tone turning cold. “Just stay out of this, okay? It doesn’t concern you.”

At his words, Sunny shrunk against the nightstand, rubbing her thumb against her knuckle. “Okay. Geez.”

“Eli – ” Tod said.

“Just shut up,” Sunny said, not even knowing why she said it. She knew Tod had just been trying to stand up for her. For some reason, she felt close to tears and she angrily turned away, staring at a picture of a purple river cutting through silhouetted trees, a sliver of a moon pasted in the upper right-hand corner. She stared at the stars sprinkled around the moon and then looked back at Eli and Tod.

Tod looked up at her, and Sunny saw the helplessness in his eyes, but she didn’t stay focused on him long before turning straight to Eli.

She looks right through me, Tod thought. Like I’m invisible.

“Of course she does,” Eli said aloud.

Sunny didn’t bother to ask, even though her stomach ached with not knowing. “Well, I’m going to bed,” she said. “Do you sleep?”

Eli nodded. “Some – “

Tod said, “We’ll just stay up and make sure that no one else is coming after us. Go to sleep.”

Sunny saw the softness in his gaze, the tender look that she must have missed a thousand times. She nodded thankfully. “Okay. Um, I’ll see you tomorrow.” After she went to the bathroom to get dressed she slipped under the covers. She’d never been afraid of the boys before, but now everything was different. She felt like she was in a room with two complete strangers. And looking up at the blank ceiling, she didn’t feel like sleeping.

Makeup is not Freedom

As I go into the final stretch of my undergraduate education here at Radford University, I’m preparing to enter into the adult world of employment. I, like many of my peers, am searching online sites and talking to different professors about potential job opportunities in my field. For the first time I’m looking at jobs that offer an annual salary and health benefits, wondering which ones I qualify for, and what to do to ensure I get the job I want. What to wear to an interview, and what to put in my resume. That’s what I’m focusing on in the last four weeks of the semester, not, for the first time in years, on my finals.

As a woman, I have a whole slew of things I have to consider when it comes to presenting myself to future employers. How high my heels are, how short my skirt, how to style my hair and most importantly what is the exact right amount of makeup. These questions are debated over and over until I finally perfect my interview outfit.

I’ve been told by many people that makeup is a tool. It’s a form of self-expression and it’s freeing. Strong women wear makeup, and they use it to show off their inner beauty. These same people were also trying to sell me thick concealers and foundations so maybe they were a little biased.

Here’s the thing. I love makeup. I’m the kind of girl that owns bright purple lipstick that I will wear around the house just for fun. But makeup isn’t freedom. It’s not strength. It’s definitely not a sign of great feminism. Women are expected to wear makeup in the professional world. Women who do are paid more and are more likely to be given promotions. Women who don’t are told they aren’t dressed appropriately. There are real-life consequences for me if I don’t put this gunk on my face.

No matter how people want to spin makeup to me, it still doesn’t change that fact. Girls can love makeup. They can become amazing artists and even make careers out of the field. But this one fact remains. Makeup isn’t freedom. It’s another way that society has made women feel like they are not enough. That we need to cover up our very skin in order to look appropriate to work in a cubicle. That’s damaging. Don’t buy into the idea that makeup is for strong women because that only deludes you into believing that you are benefiting from a system that preys on your insecurities and weaknesses.

Dahlia’s Secret; Part 2

“Ryan? Little Dowler, is that you? My, my, boy, have you grown!”

 

Ryan’s frown shifted into a brief grimace before he planted a courteous smile on his face and stood up to meet the newcomer.

August Elwood was a portly man, middle-aged, with a magnificent dark blond walrus mustache that nearly covered his mouth and curled upward elegantly at the tips. His head, most likely balding to begin with, was shaved and shiny, and his blue eyes twinkled as he looked Ryan up and down. Mr. Elwood had been a close friend of Ryan’s father, but the pair had had something of a falling out over half a decade before. While Ryan had not known Mr. Elwood well enough to care at the time, he could only guess that it had been some sort of business dispute. As he grew older, Ryan learned that Mr. Elwood and his father had been partners in banking—indeed, Dowler & Elwood remained to that day one of the preeminent banks of the area… despite the withdrawal of one of its founders.

“Good morning, Mr. Elwood,” Ryan said with a nod, gesturing instinctively towards the seat across from him at the table before he could stop himself.

The large man nodded in thanks before pulling up the chair. He was dressed in a fashionable black morning coat, the buttons of his shirt straining as he took his seat. In comparison to Ryan’s tweed jacket and tan pants, Mr. Elwood cut the image of an elite on business—what a banker would need at Clydesport, however, was beyond Ryan’s guess. A waiter boy rushed forward, but Mr. Elwood was quick to wave him away with a gruff “coffee.”

“So,” Mr. Elwood started, retrieving a handkerchief from a pocket and wiping his bald head, “what has it been? Three years? Four?”

Ryan smiled politely but offered no reply. Luckily Mr. Elwood was not looking for one, as he simply nodded sagely at the young man’s silence and continued: “Too long. How’s your father doing, by the by?”

“Well.”

In truth, Ryan had no idea how his father was doing—not for nearly two years now. After undertaking his current job, Ryan thought it far better to remove himself from any sort of home environment. What Mr. Elwood’s words did do, however, was make him wonder; wonder about his father, his mother, and Mary. It was hard to keep the smile plastered on his face as the old banker took his coffee with a muffled “thank you” from the serving boy.

“Good, good.” Mr. Elwood drew from another pocket a silver hip-flask, which he proceeded to upend over the porcelain cup. “Of course, I’ve seen Edward out and about. Good man, your father. Respectable.”

Ryan’s eyes narrowed behind his stained spectacles. “What brings you out to Clydesport so early, Mr. Elwood?”

Ryan’s question seemed to catch the older man by surprise, and he nearly coughed as he lowered his drink. Before he could answer, however, Ryan continued. “Surely an expansion out here would be a waste? No need for banks while fishermen are happy to sleep on stuffed cots.”

Mr. Elwood chuckled, but his face visibly tightened. “Oh, nothing special… a deal that I would like to be present for.”

Though his words were offhanded, it was easy to guess that Elwood was hiding something. Ryan pondered this for several moments, but did not want to push the subject—he was too, after all—and so took the older man’s words with a nod and turned his gaze out over the cresting waves.

There was an awkward silence between the two, which ended when Mr. Elwood seemed to spot several suited men that he knew further down the pier. The banker’s farewell was hurried, but its sincerity puzzled Ryan as the older gentleman rose from his chair and bustled away with a nod.

Dahlia’s Secret; Part 1

The air was heavy, full of the sound of crashing waves breaking over the harbor. Mist was borne aloft on the breeze, bringing with it the smell of salt and shore. Every now and then a man’s shout, the horn of a disembarking ship, or the cry of gulls would shake Ryan Dowler from his reverie as he sat there, seated at a coffee table near the pier’s wrought iron fence, awaiting the vessel that would carry him far away.

It had been the gulls this time, their call breaking the monotonous sound of the ocean and causing Ryan to start. The young man straightened, looking down the dock for what seemed like the hundredth time in half-hearted search for his transport. When only the crashing waves greeted him, he sank a hand into the pocket of his tweed coat and drew from within a golden timepiece, which he flicked open. Minuscule hands made their slow dance across the polished backdrop—half-past noon. Ryan shut it and gave another look down the dock, a puff of derision escaping from nostrils.

Of course, Ryan expected such a wait and had prepared his patience accordingly. Captain Jasper had earned a bit of a reputation around of the docks of Clydesport as an excellent navigator, but somewhat unreliable in terms of punctuality. It was common for the old skipper’s ship, the Meredith, to take port hours after its intended arrival time, usually to the detriment of whatever contract Jasper had offhandedly signed days before. Ryan, after learning of this, had taken the necessary steps to avoid such a situation, and had arranged for their meeting some four hours early in order to try and assuage any lateness of the eccentric seaman.

Nevertheless, Ryan had made sure that he had been there for the initial meet-time at eight-thirty that morning on the off chance that Captain Jasper may keep his word. It had been peaceful then, the sun dampened by thick gray clouds and the sounds of the ocean surrounding the pier. He had sat at the same table he was now, nursing a small cup of coffee as he looked out over the waves through darkened spectacles. The Meredith had remained absent, which annoyed Ryan somewhat, but he recovered quickly and chose instead to simply enjoy the morning.

When a familiar voice boomed from behind him, however, Ryan could hardly help but frown.

“Ryan? Little Dowler, is that you? My, my, boy, have you grown!”

Stop Defending Racists

“He’s from a different time!”

“He’s only a kid, he doesn’t know any better!”

“It’s how he was raised!”

People, white people specifically, have this weird desire to defend racists. We know racism is wrong; we’ll happily say it. We talk a big talk, especially on social media where real-life problems can sometimes seem distant and distorted. We rake in useless ‘ally’ points when we post about how we support black people or the LGTBQ community but when we see someone acting racist first hand we balk. We step back and defend and justify the actions of white people around us.

Sometimes, we even go so far as to defend the racist actions of long dead people. We’ll read literature written by white men who depicted people of color and women in awful ways and defend it by saying that the author didn’t know any better, that it was a different time. When the discussion of slavery or Jim Crow laws comes up, (laws which still have actual impacts on black people today), we dither over whether or not those white people knew their racism was wrong.

Let me tell you this. They knew it was wrong and they didn’t care. Our ancestors weren’t stupid. They had the same ability to think things through that we did. We can all read about and find old studies done by scientists hundreds of years ago. These studies found that black people were lesser, less evolved, brutish, dangerous and in some cases more animalistic than their white counterparts. Science that didn’t have any basis in fact. These studies were funded by the rich, the rich that wanted to justify what they were doing. The sheer volume of the literature out there seems to imply that they needed a lot of stuff to justify making their wealth by owning and torturing other people.

We need to stop justifying what they did by claiming it was a different time or that they were ignorant. Our grandparents lived through the 60’s, which means they were teens and children through one of the greatest civil rights movements in American History. They were there, alive and able to witness those moments in a way we couldn’t. They were the ones who failed to learn and understand what it meant. It’s not being from a different time; it’s being racist.

When teenagers or people our age say racist things, we try and play it off. Make them seem ignorant rather than malicious. When we do that, we prioritize the feelings of a racist over the feelings of people who are being oppressed. We side with the oppressors, and every time we justify what they do we only further prove that we find racism in any form acceptable. All of us have things we have to unlearn and relearn as we grow. It’s part of life. But justifying things as being how we were raised is just immature and empty. If we want real change then we need to hold ourselves and those around us to a higher standard; we need to stop defending racists.

Learning the Lesson of Stephen Hawking… Never Give Up

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up- Stephen Hawking.

Stephen Hawking; photo from bbc.com
Stephen Hawking; photo from bbc.com

Famed physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at the age of 76 in his home in Cambridge, England, early in the morning of March 14. In a statement from his family, they stated that Hawking died peacefully.

For over 50 years, Hawking had battled a form of ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease and he was orignally given only two years to live when first diagnosed. Instead of giving up, Hawking took this as another part of life.

Stephen Hawking was born on January 8, 1942 in Oxford, England to Frank and Isobel Hawking. Stephen had two sisters, Philippa and Mary and an adopted brother, Edward. The family was known for their intelligence and eccentricity.

Hawking was known to be “lazy” and “bored” when it came to his work, especially when he felt the work was easy. This showed itself while at college in Oxford, and later on, Hawking would gain popularity by joining the University College Boat Club and serving as coxswain.

Everything was going well until Hawking started to experience increasing clumsiness during his final year at Oxford. It got to a point where his family noticed the changes. A medical investigation had begun, and the worst possible outcome had been diagnosed: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a neurological degenerative disease that eventually left Dr. Hawking unable to move on his own.

Hawking was given two years to live. Though tempted to give up, he soon noticed how slow the disease was taking affect on him. H decided that rather than falling into despair and letting the disease control his life, h would instead delve into something that he loved–science.

With all of the work that Hawking did for the world, it’s even harder to began to think about how much pain he went through on a daily basis. That alone should be enough to make us appreciate all of the work he did in physics, which will be discussed, tested, and lead humanity into the future for years to come.

God Speed, Mr. Hawking… see you on the other side.

 

 

Cover Photo from The Telegraph

The Problem with Consent

Imagine, if you will, a seven-year-old me going to her 2nd grade classroom to find the room filled with sugar cookies and balloons. It’s one of my classmate’s birthdays and their mom had brought in some store-bought birthday themed cookies to celebrate. I was what adults called a picky eater; I still am actually. I hate those store-bought cookies—the ones that come in those difficult to open plastic containers and have frosting that sticks to the roof of your mouth like cement. My parents never bought these cookies and so the only times I ran into them were at events like these.

Before, whenever a parent would come in with these cookies, I’d be given one, which I’d immediately sneak into the garbage can when no one was looking. I hadn’t yet learned the skill of eating something just to be polite. This year though I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to waste the cookie. I told the woman passing out cookies that I didn’t want one, that I didn’t like them.

If you’ve ever been in a situation similar to this one you know how persistent people can be when you tell them that you don’t like a certain food. They’ll cajole, prod, and sometimes even trick you into eating the food. Convinced if you try it just one more time that you’ll love it. This woman bothered and harassed me so much about her gross cookies that I ended up taking one and biting into it, even though the taste made me gag. From then I started lying, telling people when they offered me those cookies that I was allergic to one of the ingredients inside.

On the surface this seems like more of an annoying thing that people do rather than a real societal problem, but it’s actually a larger symptom of the problems with consent in America. In that classroom that woman taught everyone in that room that it doesn’t matter what you want. “No” didn’t mean no. “No” wasn’t the end of the conversation, it was the beginning of a siege. You can see parallels in how people pressure others into drinking at parties or even having sex.

This woman thought she knew better what I wanted inside my body than I did. She wasn’t my mother, my doctor, or me. I’m not trying to demonize her, but to merely show that we have a serious problem with how we teach kids about consent. She taught every child in that room that the word “no” was meaningless and that others can and will bully you into doing things you don’t want to do. We can tell children that “no means no” all we want, but unless we put the weight of our actions behind it, then it’s meaningless. Teaching people about consent starts when we respect people and their own personal wants.

Whether its about cookies or sex, No should mean No.

 

Cover Photo from “Forks in the Road”

Katy Perry Kiss

We often hear about women having to deal with unwanted sexual attention, sexual harassment, and situations were consent was ignored or belittle. There are, unfortunately, many stories like that out in the world and it is never hard to find a recent one. Not to mention the recent “Me Too” movement that has happened in Hollywood and around the nation. But what happens with a women is in the place of the harasser and the man is in the place of the victim?

Katy Perry is a judge on the television show “American Idol” where she coerced a 19-year-old male contestant into kissing her. The contestant said that he had never kissed a girl before and Katy Perry beckon him over and got him to kiss her, despite his protests. Afterwards the contestant said he felt uncomfortable during the whole exchange, and that he had been wanting to save his first kiss.

This is unacceptable. If people want to make real advancements in ending sexual harassment, women have to be held just as accountable as men when they are the perpetrators. Katy Perry harassed this young man, and frankly it is creepy and gross. Many people are blowing this off because “who wouldn’t want to kiss Katy Perry?” Just because she is a celebrity does not give her a free pass to do as she pleases.

Imagine if this was a 33-year old man forcing a 19-year old girl to kiss him. There would be public outrage. The public as a whole would call for this man’s head. But because it is a woman, and a famous one, many do not see a problem there. It is a double standard, and one that should not exist. Men can and do experience sexual harassment and when it is done so publicly, this is the time to stand up for them and do something to support them and state that this type of behavior will not be accepted, regardless of the gender of the victim or perpetrator.

 

Cover Photo from E News

Change in Graduation Plans

There has recently been talk of changing the plans for Radford University’s graduation ceremony starting this year for the Spring 2018 graduation. The university wants to change the plan from an individual college graduation that gives recognition to each department to one single all-college ceremony. That is to say, Radford University would have a large graduation ceremony for every student, instead of each college receiving its own ceremony.

The biggest issues with this new plan is that it drastically increases the time for everyone involved and the ceremony becomes much more impersonal. This new ceremony plan forces students, and their family, to sit through several hours of graduation that has nothing to do with them. Individual departments will no longer receive recognition; departments like Geology, Geospatial, Anthropology, Women Studies, and others will be forgotten. Students will no longer have their moment of real recognition; instead they will be quickly cycled through for the sake of efficiency.

Our university has always advertised and prioritized small classes and personal connections among faculty and students. Students are able to develop close connections with their teachers, and on a day that celebrates a student’s personal work and achievements, this new plan suddenly strips them of that and makes them anonymous. Radford University prides itself on its close-knit community. This is a major selling point of the University. Yet, suddenly that key aspect of our community is being tossed aside.

There is currently a petition that is going around in opposition of the new graduation ceremony. The online petition is searching for 2,500 signatures. There is also a report available on the Radford webpage for the plans, factors, and decisions leading up to the new graduation ceremony.

The Line of Gemini – Part 1

Photo from iStockPhoto

Sunny jumped into the truck and started the engine, a smile lighting up her face. Eli, however, hung back, and didn’t even budge when she stared at him, slack-jawed. Then with a sigh he set the can he’d been using to water the tomatoes on the front porch.

“What are you doing?” Sunny finally spoke, trying to refrain from gesturing wildly. “Stop waffling and get over here.”

Eli stared at her, lifting one eyebrow. “Waffling?”

Sunny groaned, throwing her head back. “Let’s go,” she nearly shouted.  

Eli shook his head. He couldn’t leave, not now. He glanced behind him. His eyes flicked over the quiet trailer, surrounded by trees and bushes, and encircled by a weed-ridden fence. Stepping stones decorated with hand prints and colored glass and shells led to the wooden steps.

“I need to talk to Tod,” he said. “I told you.” He thought they’d just been going outside to water the plants, not jump in the Chevy and leave in a cloud of dust.

“No!” Sunny beat the steering wheel, honking it by accident.

Eli’s eyebrow raised, and Sunny felt a little violated, the way his gaze burned into her. “I want him to come with us,” he said.

“Eli. First off, Mom and Dad are so over protective – ” She pushed a strand of strawberry blonde hair behind her ear and sat back in the seat. “We went over this already.”  

“He needs to come with us.”

Sunny scoffed, but her eyes widened at his stern tone. She couldn’t believe this right now. “Dude. You want him in the car with us?” She remembered the last time she and Tod had driven alone together. After that, her parents had yelled at her as if it was her fault. Blame the meteorite that landed on the car. Not me.

It was nearly six o’clock now, and they were just about to leave on a four-hour drive. Call her superstitious but it was true; Tod was like a bad luck charm. She gave him rabbit’s feet, four leafed clovers, but his bad luck just kept getting worse. Nothing could counteract it.  

“Well, yeah…” Eli swallowed. “I thought I made that clear.”

“What? You – okay, you know what, I’ll try to convince my parents.” She lifted a finger. “And you know that’s not going to happen.”

“No, don’t worry about it. I’ll convince them.”

Her mouth dropped open, and she struggled for words but found none. Now that she hadn’t expected.

Horrors of Hollywood’s Harvey

The land of Hollywood is known for its gossip and scandals but recent events have brought forth a serious and shocking, and apparently not so secret, secret. Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault by an increasing number of women in the film making industry, with famous names such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelia Jolie being among the women to come forward. Harvey Weinstein has reportedly been harassing (both sexually and not) women for decades, as well as harassing men and almost anyone he has worked with. It was something of an open secret among the people who work for him. Weinstein was a movie mogul and could do great things for his movies and the careers of the people who worked with him. This gave him a lot of power and it was power he blatantly abused.

Among other things, Weinstein was reported to have badgered women to give him a massage while he was naked, to offer to help their careers in exchange for sex, or even force himself on to the women. This was behavior that he was allowed to get away with for two reasons: because he was Harvey Weinstein, a movie mogul with all of the power in these situations, and because many women felt that nothing would get accomplished if they did speak and, in fact, that it would hurt or even destroy their careers. This is a horrendously disgusting mindset and environment that has been cultivated over the years. No one should be in a situation where they have this much power that they can abuse whoever they like, however they like, nor should anyone be made to feel this powerless, especially in the case of sexual assault.

This man should lose everything he has because he gain his reputation, his power, and his wealth through a manipulative system of various kinds of abuse, the most prominent being his sexual abuse of women. It is horrifying that this went on for as long as it did, but, on a brighter note, this man is finally being held responsible for his actions and many organization, including the company he started, are readily denouncing him and striping him of many of his titles and rewards. This is also encouraging many people to come forward with their stories of abuse and letting them know they can speak up with fear of punishment. Terry Crews has even announced on twitter his own experience with sexual harassment, where he was blatantly groped at a party, in front of many people. Hopefully, this will be an experience that will prevent further abuses of women and power and one that encourages everyone to speak up in the instants that it does happen.

 

Photo from Washington Post

Las Vegas

When more than 95 people die and more than 6,000 are injured daily [1], I never see a militarized media response to it. There is no soul-searching, there are no pontifications of what lies in the dark hearts of men that drive them to such mindless violence. Certainly there are no suggestions on increasing the number of regulations regarding the means by which such a tremendous number of lives may be snuffed out.

We just call them “car accidents”.

Gun violence is mostly not an accident, certainly not in the case of the recent shooting in Las Vegas. The worst shooting in modern history is a light day in car death terms. But the fact that it has become such a rallying cry in a way car accidents never have, makes me think that the motivation for such disproportionate focus is largely political in nature. It certainly cannot be empathy for the victims; I find it hard to believe the grieving families have approached every political media machine and begged, “Please use the deaths of my husbands, wives, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, and cousins at your earliest possible convenience to make sure such tragedies never happen again.”

“Gun violence is mostly not an accident, certainly not in the case of the recent shooting in Las Vegas.” – Photo from CNN

No, I find the root cause might be much more basic: we are more ubiquitously in love with our cars than our guns. If you’re a liberal, you may look to Musk’s Tesla, Toyota’s Prius, or the Chevy Volt as a vehicle worth attaining. If you’re poor, you may look to 1980’s-1990’s era vehicles for the ease of maintaining them. If you’re rich, you make look to the stylish new Mustangs, Challengers, and or Porsches. Whatever your tastes, even with declining Millennial interest in getting a license [2], you probably can appreciate the freedom owning a car provides, or at least utilize it.

Less so with guns. Guns have always been used to kill people; there is little ambiguity there. They are used for sport, war, relaxation, and self-defense. “God made man; Samuel Colt made them equal” as the saying goes. No political issue in our country’s history more divides our nation than one’s stance on gun control, save women’s suffrage and slavery.

Because they are not viewed as universally beloved a facilitator of freedom the way cars are, firearms receive less care and more scorn. The real issues aren’t mental health, gun control, or even what the founding fathers meant in their 2nd Amendment wording. Perhaps it’s just how willfully blind we are to the negative consequences of the things we love while remaining critical of the things other people enjoy.

 

[1] http://www.nsc.org/NewsDocuments/2017/12-month-estimates.pdf

[2] https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2016/01/19/drivers-licenses-uber-lyft/7899452

 

Cover Photo from CNBC

The Biological Imperative

What does equality mean? Is it merely everyone having the same things, or is it everyone getting what they need? What about when the needs are so far out there that the government cannot legislate them into people’s possession? In an article published last year [6], there appears to be a certain measure of equality; men and women are stepping out of their marriages at roughly equal rates. Maybe it’s time we reevaluate the role marriage ought to play in our lives.

Perhaps it’s merely a timing concern [2]. The median age for the first marriage is 27 for women and 29 for men. It is interesting to note the article had to specify “first marriage.” In a sort of Hobbit-esque twist where the Tolkien characters have a meal more or less every hour they are awake, people seem to cycle through marriages not quite as quickly, but just about. 40% of people getting married today are not doing so for the first time [3], and 20% of marriages are both partners’ second (or more) marriage.

What does that tell us? Are people even meant to be bound together? Do we only need to get together to have sex and occasionally crank out another red-blooded tax-paying American, but for all intents and purposes live separate lives? White America, Black America, Male America, Female America, till death do we part, as long as we both shall live, so help us generic Deity/random quantum fluctuations? Much like an afterlife, it’d be real nice to think there’s something more to marriage than just a business arrangement and contractual obligations. Making a plan that does not account for reality has been, historically, a piss-poor recipe for success.

Is everyone getting what they want here? [4] Millennial women, as voiced by the author Jessica Jacobs, would seem to say they are not. Millennial men, as voiced by statistics [5] and anecdotal accounts [6] would also suggest a growing dissatisfaction with the way things are. All of us here in academia are free to debate the causes, but it’s clear that the vast majority are going to move on and find their own solutions whether we agree about why it’s happening or not. We’ll be unable to instill vital information in the latest crop of college entrants about the world the education system is self-tasked with preparing them for.

That’s a problem.

 

 

 

[1] http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/women-now-committing-adultery-same-rate-men

[2] http://www.bentley.edu/impact/articles/nowuknow-why-millennials-refuse-get-married

[3] http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/02/how-many-people-in-america-get-remarried.html

[4] https://acculturated.com/millennial-women/

[5] http://www.businessinsider.com/statistics-unemployed-men-drop-out-workforce-video-games-2017-3

[Featured Image] Huffington Post: The Five Best and Worst States for Getting a Divorce

More Trouble From Apple iPhone

The new Apple iPhone X – photo from Apple.com

Apple has just recently announced their latest and “greatest” iPhone, the iPhone X. Why they called it the iPhone X and not just the iPhone 10 (be consistent, at the very least) is the first and the least of many baffling decisions that the Apple Company has made with their newest product.

With the iPhone X, you do get their latest and most impressive technology, including a bigger screen with better resolution, improved camera functions, and the A11 bionic chip. You also get a price tag that is well over a thousand dollars. And in terms of function, you could get the same thing from the iPhone 8 for half the price (literally). The iPhone 8 has the same A11 bionic chip as the iPhone X does. So really all you are paying for is a prettier screen. Not to mention, with the glass screen extending all the way to the very edge of the iPhone X, and with the phone’s glass back, it is much easier to break or damage the screen. And with the Apple insurance plan jumping roughly seventy dollars, that’s even more money out of your pocket.

The iPhone X is also seeing the loss of the home button and thumbprint identification in favor of new finger swipes to navigate the device and face identification to unlock the phone. Needless to say, this is going to make using the phone much more difficult and it will require some practice and memorization to actually use (aren’t upgrades supposed to make things easier to use?). With the face ID software, there has already been a number of problems for people with darker skin (i.e. not white), which makes using the phone more difficult than it already is. There could also be issues if you try to unlock your phone in low lighting (a lot of people play on their phone in bed at night) or if you make any major changes to your appearance. What if you grow a beard or have to start wearing glasses or get a scar? And if it all does work properly, what if you get arrested and the police take your phone and simply use the face ID software to unlock it and look through it? You aren’t legally required to unlock your phone for the police and they aren’t allowed to look through your phone. There seem to be a number of issues and potential issues that go along with the iPhone X, including its price tag. Instead, you could get the cheaper, more reliable iPhone 8. Or switch over to a different type of phone entirely and leave Apple behind.

Another Abuse of Power by the Police

Salt Lake City in Utah is one of the newest homes to an abuse of power by the police. Alex Wubbels is a nurse at the University of Utah hospital who had a frightening and shocking experience with Salt Lake City police detective, Jeff Payne. After a head-on collision on a Utah highway, William Gray was rushed to the hospital’s burn unit. The police came to collect a blood sample from him, which is standard procedure. Nurse Wubbels informed Detective Payne that he would need a warrant for the blood sample, but he still insisted, despite being told by his colleagues and superior that they could get the blood sample another way. When Wubbels held her ground, Payne decided to arrest her and drag her screaming to his police car. The police detective was clearly agitated and took out his frustrations on the nurse.

Alex Wubbels, the nurse arrested in the Salt Lake City hospital, shares the story of her arrest.
Photo and featured photo from nbcnews.com

Once again, a police officer has taken advantage of their power and breached the civil rights of another person. This nurse was assaulted and wrongly arrested for simply following the law and doing her job. A person’s blood is legally considered their property and it cannot just be taken without consent or a warrant. The police officer had no right to touch her or arrest her and he knew that; she was later released and was not charged with anything.

This is just another example of the deteriorating standards that police are held to and it shows that something needs to be done. Fortunately, this incident did not devolve into something much worse and end up with someone being injured or killed, as has happened before, usually with African Americans. For now, the officer is on paid leave and the situation is being investigated, but this officer should be reprimanded and punished for this abuse of power. Far too often police officers are allowed to get away with gross abuses of power and that needs to stop. A message needs to be sent that says the police force is not above the law and that they will be held accountable for their actions and misdeeds.

Sources

  1. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/officer-arrested-utah-nurse-after-he-was-told-let-her-n800021
  2. http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/officer-arrested-utah-nurse-after-he-was-told-not-to/ar-AArynJM?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=ientp