Category Archives: Opinion

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

Dungeons and Dragons, It’s More Than Just a Trope

The Dungeons and Dragons Logo

A lot of people have probably heard of the classic and iconic table-top game known as Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D for short. For those of you who do not know what it is, here is a quick run-down: D&D is a Role Playing Game (RPG) where the players roll dice to conduct of the actions in the game and proceed through an adventure/storyline that is controlled by a dungeon master (commonly referred to as the DM). The adventure can either be a pre-made one that is available for purchase and handles all of the ins and outs of the game or it can be one made entirely from scratch by the DM where anything is possible. It is a fun, imaginative game but often one that is reduce to little more than a comedic trope.

Two popular TV shows have brought the game back into the public eye: Stranger Things and The Big Bang Theory. However, both shows then cast it into a less than flattering light. In The Big Bang Theory it is used almost solely to emphasize that the main characters are embarrassing but lovable nerds. The fact that they are playing the game is the joke, because the idea is that only the really embarrassing nerds that you’re a little ashamed to admit your friends with play it. Or in Stranger Things, the main characters are children and portrayed as “losers”. Admittedly, it is also their knowledge of the game that helps them ultimately prevail in the show. The show provides a more positive image of the game and of the people who play it, though it can still be played off as somewhat humorous.

The question that all of this poses is why is it seen as a bad thing that people play D&D? It is a game and people have fun with it, so why bring them down? It speaks to a larger issue where if something is not deem good by society them that means it is inherently bad and there is something wrong with anyone associated with it.

Specialization

Image from jacqueamitchell – WordPress.com

Robert Heinlein once said, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” I figure I can do almost half of those things. Many people can do even less. We are almost all imperfect, incomplete human beings by Heinlein’s standards. But being imperfect is no excuse for irresponsible action.

Take journalists, for example (people who write opinion pieces in college newspapers notwithstanding). Ask them why they do what they do. Many will point to a professional code of ethics. Those without a code will perhaps point to the old chestnut “The People Have A Right To Knowtm”, nod their heads sagaciously, and continue doing whatever they feel like. Perhaps what they’re doing isn’t even so bad; they find the most polite way to go about performing their duties in a way that best fits their personal morals.

But in these times, when the media as an industry has such an outsized impact on attitudes and beliefs, even the people with decent morals, honest work ethic, and no obvious bias towards the subject material can still cause harm. For instance, if someone were to say to you, “Do not worry. The reports of Cook Hall burning down over the weekend aren’t true,” what would be your first instinct? Many would be at first alarmed. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Who tried to burn down Cook Hall?” and then ask everyone in their vicinity about it. “Hey, did you hear about what happened at Cook Hall?” Before you know it, many well-meaning, sincerely caring individuals are trying to figure out what happened at Cook Hall, spreading fear, panic, and misinformation like a bad game of Telephone [1].

There are numerous reasons for why this happens. A lot of it has to do with the psychology of rumor-spreading [2]. Good reporters can separate the bunk from the gold. But these are people trained for years to find out this information and strip away extraneous layers and present us with fact (whether they still do or not is a matter of much debate). However, the general public is less equipped to calmly and patiently sift through reports, details, and statements before coming to an objective, well-reasoned opinion. They take the first reports they hear, focus only on the words that have the biggest emotional impact (“Cook Hall”, “burning down”), and blast it to all their friends.

In many ways, “The People’s Right to Know” must be tempered by the good sense not to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater until you see the flames. Just smelling smoke is not enough if all it is is burnt popcorn.

 

 

[1] https://icebreakerideas.com/telephone-game/
[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200811/the-8-laws-rumor-spread

The Stigma Surrounding Divorce

While marriage is not something that is on the mind of many Radford University students, it nonetheless hangs over us like a specter. Many people around college age, particularly women, are expected to get married sooner rather than later. It often seems like one is expected to get married as soon as they turn 18 or 21. For that matter, if someone has any sort of long-term romantic relationship with another person, they will often get asked, “Do you plan on getting married?” But the thing no one even wants to mention is the prospect of divorce.

There is a lot of societal pressure to stay married once you are, regardless of how bad the situation gets. If a couple does get a divorce, then everyone silently judges them. People think one or both of them must have done something horribly wrong, that they just did not know how to handle marriage and that it is their own fault for getting married in the first place. But why is that? Why can a married couple not just come to the conclusion that they are not happy together anymore and amicably split apart?

Divorce has long been seen as this terrible thing that only happens in dire circumstances, (as if marriage is the best thing that can happen to you and divorce is the worst thing that can happen), but that simply is not the case. The stigma surrounding divorce needs to be removed; people need to understand that getting a divorce does not make you a bad person and that you can get one simply because you’re not happy in your marriage. People are not required to be miserable because they married the wrong person. Life is a lot of trial and error and given the massive amount human beings that exist, there is a good chance that the first person you marry will not be the person to make you happy for the rest of your life. Which is not to say you cannot marry that person on the first try. Just know that you are allowed to be happy, and if that means getting a divorce then that does not make you a bad person.

 

 

Photo from Huffington Post

The Deal With Participation Trophies

"If you had fun, you won!" - Photo from 4Tests Blog
“If you had fun, you won!” – Photo from 4Tests Blog

We have heard all about them; everyone knows what they are. Participation trophies have become almost infamous for everyone in our current generation and in the older generations. The funny thing about them is that almost no one seems to like them. People in our generation were constantly told about them and received them during most events, especially in sports. The older generation thinks that this creates a problem because it removes any form of competition from our lives and it coddles us by giving us the idea that no one can have their feelings hurt.

The thing is, no one from our generation, the millennials, ever asked for them. There was no big push for them. It is the older generation that gave them to us and decided to make them a part of our lives. There was never a group of children or preteens that wanted participation trophies, but enough of the older generation thought we needed them.

The irony is that our generation does not want them anyway. It cheapens our effort and shows that it does not matter what we do. They make our accomplishments meaningless and make people wonder why they should bother trying if they get the same thing without all of the effort. Yet, it is the older generation that constantly complains that we need them. But ultimately, the real question becomes why in the world this even became an issue. It seems like the whole thing became a scapegoat for the sake of finding another thing to complain about. It is almost like the older generations hold something of a grudge against the younger generation.

Dealing with Death: A Reflection

After losing someone our minds go into overdrive, analyzing every moment ever spent with them, grieving over the bad times, and cherishing the great memories. It seems hard not to blow things out of proportion. If only you had one more day, one more moment, one more chance to say the things you should have always said—knowing that you could’ve been there more than you were is a feeling that could haunt someone for the rest of their lives.

Nothing feels right after suddenly losing someone—wondering if there was something you could’ve done, going through the motions of a normal day, knowing that someone is gone. Having that unavoidable pit feeling in your stomach… no amount of talking or crying can make this feeling go away.

On October 4, 2015, K.j. Bettner was taken from his friends and family too soon. K.j. was someone who was known for his bigger-than-life smile, making this loss even more tragic. Never in my life did I imagine that I would be sitting here trying to write an article about losing K.j., but two years later, here I am.

“K.j. was someone who was known for his bigger-than-life smile…” – Photo from Annie Schroeder

I can remember the day of his service like it was yesterday, with friends and family gathered in front of the church in the middle of our hometown. It was a hot and sunny Sunday in October. Our close friends were piled into hard wooden church pews and sat in silence for a long time, thinking of the right thing to say to one another. It was during this service that reality hit: we were not invincible. I remember how hot the sun felt coming in through the glass stained windows on our tear-soaked cheeks, and the looks that the adults were giving us, thinking that we were all too young to be experiencing something like this.

Two years later, my friends and I have all learned a lot about ourselves. I think many people deal with death by wanting to be alone, but every year when October 4th rolls around I can’t help but to want to be back in my hometown, surrounded by the world that K.j. knew and loved.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Every year around the anniversary of his death, we all try to come together and talk about memories spent with our dear friend. This might be the only time of the year we get to see some of our friends, with our crazy college schedules. Sometimes it gets pretty emotional, and sometimes it’s just relieving to be surrounded by people who know exactly what you’re going through. The only silver lining to this story is the bond that has been created in grieving the death of our lost friend.

Make sure that you reach out to friends you haven’t spoken to in a while. Pay attention to people when they speak. Always take the chance to see an old friend when you can. Tie up loose ends and resolve any conflicts. Take the time to reflect on who you are.

When a friend passes, take a piece of how they lived and turn it into your own. Keep a support system that couldn’t be beat, and truly enjoy each day on this earth as if it is your last.

 

In loving memory of Kevin John Bettner. October 19, 1995 – October 4, 2015

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

Fighting Video Games are still Kicking (and Punching)

Video games have become a heavily integrated part of our daily lives. It is common and in fact expected that most people have a video game system and some type of favorite game. Admittedly, this is not universally true. Poverty is something a lot of people deal with; financial situations are different for everyone, and they are ever changing on a person by person basis. Nonetheless, most of us (of the younger generation, at least) often ask about the video games others play, especially if you are getting to know someone. Who doesn’t play video games, right? But let’s save the class issues for another time.

Moving on, there are many different video game genres to pick from and an increasing number of video game systems to pick from. Most people will usually answer something like the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One for the system of choice and then something like first person shooters or RPGs (Role Playing Games) for the genre. A genre that is not necessarily popular per se but has a steady fan base is fighting video games.

Photo from injustice.com

Fighting games are enjoyable and desired because they offer a simple premise and objective while still offering countless scenarios, changes, and options to the player. They can stay consistent without being boring. The idea itself is simple; fight and defeat your opponent by making them run out of whatever represents their health/ stamina. But the player has countless options for how to go about doing so, from stringing attacks into combos to using whatever special, and usually character specific, attack they have at their disposal. Then they also have to deal with an opponent, either controlled by the computer or by a person, who has the same amount of options available to them.

No two fights or matches are ever exactly the same. You can always expect something new and different (to a certain extent) each time you play. This is especially true nowadays with games like Mortal Combat X and Injustice 2 that have increasing rosters of new and familiar characters to choose from along with long lists of attacks and combos. More options mean greater possibilities. These days, the games even offer downloadable content (DLC), almost always consisting of at least one new character, as time goes on to keep players interested and invested in the game. There is something to be said for a form of interactive entertainment that can keep a (relatively) simple and basic format while constantly changing.

Political Trouble in the World of Sports

There have been several days of controversy and criticism since NBA player Stephen Curry suggested he would vote against accepting Trump’s invitation to the White House. When Trump heard about this development, he decided to un-invite the entire Warriors basketball team and has since sent out a number of tweets regarding both the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Football League (NFL). The latter is the result of Trump’s comments that NFL players should be fired for taking a knee during the National Anthem and the resulting protests from NFL teams such as the Steelers.

Stephen Curry – Photo from NBA.com

The Steelers decided to remain inside of the locker room during the performance of the National Anthem. The head coach of the Steelers, Mike Tomlin, stated that he did not want the team to feel divided and that, essentially, he wanted the team to stay out of the politics going on. However, being absent during the Anthem is something of a political statement in and of itself.

Trump has stated, both at his rally in Alabama and on Twitter, that he believes anyone who does not stand up or takes a knee during the Anthem should be fired. He has also stated on Twitter that the games have been losing viewers because they are “boring” but people would keep watching if the NFL teams were loyal to the U.S. That being said, Trump is probably not the best person to give commentary on how viewership has increased or decreased for sports teams. Or in a position to really give any commentary at all. What the President has to do with a NFL game or NBA team is unknown, especially when he has more serious matters to attend to. Regardless of what Trump says, and in fact because of it, many players and teams are now making a stand and/or protesting, such as a number of players at the Jaguars and Ravens game in London. Perhaps it is time to listen to what other people have to say about why they are protesting, instead of threatening them.

Social Class Unawareness

It is not something we think about often. In fact, we almost never consider it in any real seriousness, not unless it is a direct issue for us. I’m talking about our social class and more specifically our financial status. Most of the people who go to Radford University can be considered fairly well off. Not (necessarily) rich or wealthy but obviously they have the means to go to a university. Not everyone is in quite that position, some manage to get by entirely on scholarships and those people should be applauded and congratulated for their hard work and dedication. The effort and work they put into maintaining those scholarships and grants is amazing. Nonetheless, many of us come from a middle class background and typically did not have to worry about how much money we or our family had. But that is not the case for a lot of people.

Photo from LinkedIn.com

We are usually unaware of our own finical situation and of the situations of others, especially those without as much money as us. We tend to just assume most people are in the same boat as us, unless they show blatantly obvious signs of wealth or poverty. It is easy to assume that the person sitting next to you in class has a car like you or a game system or the newest (or one of the recent) cellphones. While this way of thinking does not necessarily make you a bad person, it is important to stop and consider the fact that other people are not as well off as you.

You should not feel bad for being well off (financially speaking). It is not something to be ashamed of or feel guilty about. It is a good thing and you should be happy about. But instead think about how that waitress might need that tip at the end of your meal or how the pizza delivery driver could use a few extra dollars to help cover the cost of gas. Take a little bit of time and consider what type of situation someone else might be in.

Mormons, Are They in a Cult?

The answer is no. Mormonism, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not a cult. They are a denomination of Christianity, no different than any other denomination of Christianity like Protestants or Baptists or Methodists. They believe in the same things that other Christian people believe, except that they believe in modern day revelations. This means that they believe people can still receive divine inspiration from God. Many of the additions to their version of the Bible come from revelations from the first prophet of their Church, Joseph Smith, who was also the founder.

Logo of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – photo from Wikipedia

While people of the Christian faith as a whole have not had to deal with discrimination for hundreds of years (there was some nasty business with the Romans), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has had to deal with some persecution in recent history and there is a lot of misconceptions about them nowadays. For example, in Missouri in 1838, the Governor of the state issued an executive order for people to literally hunt Mormons. No, that is not an exaggeration, and no, you did not read that wrong. It was legal to hunt and kill Mormons in the state of Missouri. I believe the word the executive order used was “exterminate,” as in exterminating Mormons. It was that or drive them out of the state, and they were driven out of the state, with state military forces. It was not until 1976 that the order was actually repealed.

There are a lot of misconceptions about them, like the idea that they practice polygamy. They do not practice polygamy. They are not in a cult. They are just regular nice people trying to go about practicing their religion. You shouldn’t discriminate against a person because of their religion. This is a basic concept that should be applied to everyone and every religion. While Mormons do not face massive persecution today like they did in the 1800’s, there are other religions, like Islam, that do. It was not right to hunt down Mormons then, and it is not right to do the same thing to Muslims today. We need to remember our past and learn from it.

The Results of an Unjust Justice System

On Saturday, September 16th, there was a peaceful protest over a judge’s acquittal of white police officer Jason Stockley, who was charged with the first-degree murder of Anthony Lamar Smith, a young black man. In 2001, on December 20th, Officer Stockley shot Smith five times and killed him, claiming that Smith was chasing him. His partner attempted to arrest him for a drug deal and Stockley said he feared for his life because Smith had a silver revolver on him. However, the prosecutor believed the gun to be planted since it had Stockley’s DNA on it but no trace of Smith’s DNA. Officer Stockley was also recorded via body cam saying that he was going to kill Smith.

After the peaceful protest had officially ended, saying they would reconvene on Sunday, several protestors stayed behind and continued to protest. Police officers arrived and told the remaining protesters to go home, saying that their protest was unlawful. Things quickly turned violent and several windows of surrounding businesses were smashed and several arrests were made.

This is yet another result of the justice system failing and people are, quite clearly, sick of it. There was strong evidence that Officer Stockley was guilty but he got away with murder. So we have people protesting in the street, decrying this injustice, and even people who believe simple protests are not enough and feel the need to resort to violence. And if protests and words will not work, and more African Americans continued to get killed while their murderers go free, who can blame them for escalation? If the people we put our faith in to uphold the law and treat everyone equally fail to do so, then the people will inevitably and eventually take matters into their own hands. This is not to say people will start mobs and attack whoever they believe is guilty, but that the public can and will find a way to make sure people pay attention to injustice and do something about it. An entire group of people cannot be discriminated against and killed without that same group fighting back.

 

Featured Photo from Yahoo! News

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.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Big Brother

Edward Snowden – Photo from PBS.org

The web article ‘Government Surveillance and Academic Thought Policing are Taking us to 1984′ by Art Carden [1], talks about progressive policies and their effect on the conservative half of our 2-party system. It isn’t framed that way, but that’s what it refers to. It’s framed as a critique of our modern-day society as seen through the lens of a perfect socialist dystopia set 33 years ago. He explores some of the preliminary results of the Sexual Revolution. It hints at the depths and pervasiveness of changing attitudes in institutes of higher learning – and the unforeseen psychological impact of those attitudes outside of that social circle.

It begins by drawing parallels between the Party’s incessant spying on its own citizens and the current surveillance practices of our government. With each page, Orson Welles envisions increasingly inventive ways to strip the privacy, dignity, and sanity from his imaginary citizens. Two-way cameras, government surveillance, and the torture of anyone who dares question the regime. If the reports released by Edward Snowden are to be believed [2], smartphones, Smart TV’s, and tablets are being regularly used as 2-way surveillance devices. If anyone remembers Abu Ghraib, then the idea of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ being used on citizens and non-citizens alike going as far back as the Vietnam War [3] should come as little surprise.

And the data collected from the surveillance of said devices is actively archived by the NSA [4]. Look at that thoughtfully planned, perfectly benign tagline in the link: “Defending Our Nation. Securing the Citizens.” Gosh, doesn’t that inspire warm, cuddly thoughts? Programs like this only serve to increase our distrust of our fellow citizens, black, white, and brown. But where some might be prone to praising the initiative, others condemn it for the ethical implications of such a widespread devaluation of basic human privacy.   Complementing this racial division, exacerbating class divisions that have existed for most of human society, are the sexual and gender-based divisions that have seen increased media attention. The past 3 years have been rocked with campus sex-scandals: high-school students getting molested [5], college rapes [6], and more have created one of the most isolated generations of citizens in U.S. history. Add to that a decline in social skills due to technology [7], and it’s a wonder anyone ever finds time to consider social issues.

We are living in one of the lowest crime rate periods of time in our nation’s history [8]. But abuses of power and subsequent infringements of civil rights are more pervasive than ever. And that frightens me.

 

 

[1] https://www.learnliberty.org/blog/government-surveillance-and-academic-thought-policing-are-taking-us-to-1984/

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/wikileaks-says-it-has-obtained-trove-of-cia-hacking-tools/2017/03/07/c8c50c5c-0345-11e7-b1e9-a05d3c21f7cf_story.html?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.e3f3cf5e6f38

[3] http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/02/201322772747965573.html

[4] https://nsa.gov1.info/utah-data-center/

[5] http://ktla.com/2017/09/14/female-lakewood-high-school-teacher-accused-of-carrying-out-3-year-sexual-relationship-with-teen-student/

The Other Side of Last Minute Food Orders

It is late and you just finished that last minute homework assignment or that essay that’s due tomorrow. You check the time and realize there is just enough time to either order from your favorite pizza place or Chinese place or run up to the nearest fast food restaurant and grab a late night meal. You pick up the phone and place your order or you fast walk to your car and hurry to that fast food place, thinking how lucky you are to get your order in just before the restaurant closes for the night. Meanwhile, the employees there are wondering what they did to deserve this. That is because those last minute orders can ruin a lot of hard work and force the employees to stay much longer than they want to.

Photo from The Sun

All places that serve food have to clean up and prepare their place of business for the next day each and every night. This takes a lot of time and effort and usually has to be done in between food orders and/or deliveries that the employees have to make. Because the big, not so secret, secret of working in the food industry is that the employees there do not get any time set aside for them to clean the store up. They are expected to have the store clean or mostly clean by the time the store closes. If they have any time allotted afterward, it is usually only about thirty minutes. Anyone who has worked in food service can tell you that is not nearly enough time.

The way to get around that is to clean during operating hours. And while they know not to completely shut everything down until the store is closed, those last minute orders can create a big mess and cause the employees to reuse already cleaned equipment that they were not expecting or planning on using again that evening. No one wants to have to stay an extra hour because you decided to come in at the last minute or order food two minutes before close. This is not to say you cannot order from them or order late. Just do not do it five or ten minutes before the store closes down and undo a lot of work of the employees.

Another Trump Tweet Debacle

Twitter can be a great resource for sharing news or entertainment with almost anyone. It seems like everyone has a Twitter account nowadays too. You can search for and find almost anyone who is even mildly famous on there, including, unfortunately, Donald Trump. Most everyone knows that Trump has a certain amount of Twitter infamy. He is known for short, poorly worded tweets that often attack people and are often posted at three in the morning when most people are conveniently not up to defend themselves. And Trump has made yet another mistake on Twitter yet again.

In the .gif, President Donald Trump’s golfball is edited to have hit Hillary Clinton in the back, causing her to fall over – Capture from Twitter

Trump retweeted a gif that makes it look like he is hitting Hilary Clinton with a golf ball. While the gif may be in poor taste, it is ultimately harmless. Unless, of course, you are the guy hitting Clinton in the video and also the president of United States. And you have also threatened (with federal investigation and jail time) the person you appear to be hitting. And in general, you are known for having a great dislike of that person and have said a number of “nasty” things about her. This man is supposed to be the president of our country, not a child incapable of any form of critical thinking.

Trump is our president, whether we like it or not, and therefore he is held to a higher standard. Arguably, the highest of standards. But here he is back at it again with petty, childish tweets against Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, we have half the country of fire, literally, two massive hurricane relief efforts going on, and rising tension with North Korea. Forgive me if I feel like the president has better things to do than retaliate against someone who released a book recently criticizing him. This would not be quite as big of a deal if Trump was not known for going on Twitter rants against anyone he dislikes and obsessing about it. As president, his attention needs to be elsewhere, and this does not bode well.

Opinion: Global Warming and A Note to Rush

This was the final straw; I have had it.  What Rush Limbaugh said about hurricane forecasts being “liberal conspiracies” so scientists can advance their “agenda” on global warming was completely erroneous.  Mr.  Limbaugh, hurricanes have been going on for thousands of years now and as matter of fact, the deadliest hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean was in the 1700’s. That hurricane killed over 20,000 people. Now, you want to say hurricanes are conspiracies – they are a part of the earth’s natural weather cycle! What’s next, are blizzards completely fictional storms from Frosty the Snowman or do we take tornados too seriously; they ain’t that bad, they’re just spinning clouds? Even that wasn’t the low blow. You tucked your tail between your legs and “evacuated” from Florida.  Oh come on Rush, you said yourself that Irma was not even that bad of a storm; it was blown out of proportion to advance an agenda. Wait, you changed your mind; you want to live so you can keep spitting out the same old crap that you have been saying for years now.

A mugshot of Rush Limbaugh; photo from The Smoking Gun
A mugshot of Rush Limbaugh; photo from The Smoking Gun

Nothing is going to change the fact that Irma is not a normal hurricane; that’s why Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has tried to beat into everyone’s head that they need to evacuate from the vulnerable areas in Florida. Then what Limbaugh said most likely led to thousands of his “followers” staying put while he goes and hightails it out of Florida.  How can you believe in what you say, then retract it by leaving yourself? That’s just being a hypocrite, and I hate them; I hate to even use that word. That word is only used for special occasions when you catch someone in a lie. I’m not here to defend or support liberals but I’m not here on the conservatives’ side.

Rush, I hope you pass by this page and read this article; I will gladly give you the link to Science Magazine’s website and a history lesson in science on the studies of weather.  Most likely you will start talking bologna on that “talk show” of yours. Who knows, maybe you might say sorry to the people whose lives that you risked with your comments. I won’t be holding my breath on that one.

P.S. I hope you like the mugshot. I didn’t forget and neither should you.

 

A Look at the Charlottesville Riots

One of the most significant rights that the American Constitution grants its citizens is the right to gather and protest. This right was originally made a part of the Bill of Rights so that the citizens of a nation could publicly voice their concerns and show that they will not stand for unfair treatment. This is not what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12th, 2017.

What happened could only generously be called a rally, and in reality, it was nothing more than a gathering of hateful white supremacists throwing a violent and disgusting tantrum. The reason? Because discriminated citizens are standing up and demanding fair and equal treatment—something they should already be given but are not because of the deep-rooted, systemic racism, sexism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia in this country. The past few years in America have seen a rise in large protests across the country, especially since the election of Donald Trump as president. All of them have been advocating for fair and equal treatment of one discriminated group or another. There was the Women’s March on Washington D.C., for example, and there was also the formation of the group Black Lives Matter (BLM).

Photo and title photo from CNN.com

All of these movements have angered the white supremacists that live in (and run) our country and they decided to have a “protest” of their own. The irony of this idea was that it simply revealed them as the white terrorists many already know them to be. And terrorists they are. What else do you call a group of people marching around with torches and guns (many of them were armed) shouting things like “Jews will not replace us” and “blood and soil,” all of which are reminiscent of the rallies Hitler used to hold and are, obviously, extremely anti-Semitic.

The simple fact of the matter is that these people, these white terrorists, were never being discriminated against. They had no reason to hold a “rally” to demand fair and equal treatment; they already have it. The real reason for their protest is they want to continue to hold power over everyone else, and that power is being threatened. This power needs to be taken away from them—these are not the people who should have it. They use it to benefit only themselves and their ideologies and destroy the lives of anyone and everyone who is not them.

And they have shown they are willing to kill to keep it.