Monday, November 9, 2009

Politics on Campus: How A College Club Talked About Politics

Sorry about the lack of updates, due to school. I'm having a great time, save for all the work. Speaking of work, this post is an ethnography I did for my Cultural Anthropology class which explored a club on campus's efforts to promote their political value and the contexts in which they did so. Without further ado, Enjoy!

Political activism has a special place in the hearts of American college campuses. Campuses often possess a young politically aware population, some of which band together based on common political values and create clubs. These clubs exist to help further the agenda of their designated affiliation. Nina Eliasoph, in her book Avoiding Politics, questions how much politically based conversation actually takes place surrounding groups that form around a set of motives. These motives then reflect themselves into politics. Susquehanna’s student group, the SU Democrats (SU Dems for short), operated in a free market-like system in which they had to remain mindful of the amount of support they could receive from the same body that funded other campus groups. This created a need for a different approach towards discussing politics. Existing in a closed community brought along a number of circumstances Elisaoph, in her otherwise brilliant account, didn’t get a chance to explore.

For this study, I attended five meetings from September to November, each lasting about forty-five minutes. I participated with the ‘Public Relations’ committee of the group that dealt with organizing how the group came into contact with the rest of the student body. I also participated in the various brainstorm sessions that semi-regularly took place.

The notion of a public sphere is important for understanding how the SU Dems came into contact with politics. Eliasoph’s definition of it is as follows:
“The public sphere is, theoretically, defined as the realm of institutions in which private citizens can carry on free and egalitarian conversation, often about issues of common concern, possibly welding themselves into a cohesive body and a potent political force. It is not just a closed, hierarchical workplace and not just family but is a third setting for conversation with three main characteristics: participation is optional, potentially open to all, and potentially egalitarian.”
[Eliasoph 1998:11]
Public spheres are forums in which people can discuss social issues that they feel are important to them and create a dialogue that can engage them in a larger scale of politics. Everyone in the community has access to it at anytime and, ideally, there is no power structure. Without it, Eliasoph argues, “democratic citizenship is impossible: there are no contexts to generate … relations to the wider world that democracy demands” [Eliasoph 1998:11].

Because the SU Dems is a group with a clear political identity, the first circumstance I looked into was how they either helped to foster a public sphere or muffle it. One method they used to create a public sphere was a large display they called the healthcare wall. Healthcare has been a pressing issue in US politics, and so the SU Dems set out to create a large poster that attempted to ‘clarify’ what they felt were myths put out by the political right. In addition to that goal, a significant portion of the poster was left blank with markers beside it to encourage students and faculty to chime in with their views on healthcare. By doing this, they effectively had people enter into a conversation (however anonymous it may have been) with each other over which no one had control. Eventually, the conversation turned into a debate with many sides protecting their own thoughts while pointing out what they felt were follies in others. Even if people didn’t put up their own opinions on the board, the public record of the conversation was still on display for all to read and consider.

However, the board was not without its problems. While people largely took advantage of the situation and used it as it was intended, some comments simply insulted those they disagreed with. I saw this as a potentially chronic complication of public dialogues; not all members of the community will view a conversation or even a debate as a critical thing that must be held. However, they can’t be effectively ostracized, especially in an anonymous environment. The best the SU Dems could do was press on and hope it didn’t happen very often. Though, those comments on the board showed that as a group, they didn’t prevent any measure of the student body from expressing itself – an impression I believe would help prove a measure of worth.

As the SU Dems actively created dialogue, they accidentally ended up stifling it among members, which happens to be the second consequence of the environment the group existed in. It wasn’t in the way they asked their members what they thought about a particular plan or idea; they did plenty of that. It was more in the manner of expectations. After a few meeting or so, I began to see how it was assumed that by being at the meeting, everyone present was already on the same political page. This assumption then meant that there was no need for discussing our own personal politics. No discussion meant no public sphere. No public sphere meant that our individual ideas were not challenged or developed.

Yet, it is comprehensible why things were like this internally. The proper goal of the group was to focus on affecting the political conversation of the campus as a whole, not the conversation between the twenty of us. Time had to be allocated towards accomplishing that goal and moving against the SU Republicans, who have been constructed as the opposition. There was also a need to make efforts clearly visible to the community at large to indicate that the group was being active; improving the political understanding of the members didn’t hold many opportunities for showing off.
The third element I noticed was the way the group had two different patterns when discussing issues publicly and internally. This relates to Eliasoph’s theory of the front and backstage behaviors of groups. For the volunteer groups Eliasoph was studying, they “created ‘front stage’ group contexts that made publicly minded conversation seem out of place and discouraging” (Eliasoph 1998:24). When members were not in a group, in their backstage dialogue they recognized that there was a problem with what they said front stage and spoke with politics un-divorced from the issues they aimed to fix (Eliasoph 1998:24).

The front and back stage concept changes for a group such as the SU Dems. Because they are rooted in politics, they can’t avoid speaking in that vein all together. Instead of the issue being how in the public eye, politics finds its way out of the conversation, it is how to go about publicly speaking about politics. As the group was designing flyers to compliment their work with the healthcare poster, a great deal of care was taken by the Public Relations committee (of which I was a part of) to select their words carefully. One member said that they were aiming to be a little snarky, while still being respectful. They were seeking the perfect balance between clearly stating their message and being aggressive towards dissenting students.

In open conversation within the group though, people were much less cautious about expressing their views. For example, during a discussion about the Republican student group’s kickoff movie night in which they were showcasing the movie “Gran Torino”, jokes went around about how they felt that was the best way to perpetuate the stereotype of the grumpy, old, Republican white male who doesn’t take kindly to minorities. One person even shouted out “Have fun with your racist movie night!” This was something that would have never been said out in the open air, but was more than okay to be said within the context of the group. There were no concerns about offending anyone backstage because everyone belonged to the same party and had the same rival. On a more public front stage, the rules of loyalty are gone and with it the protection it granted. You are much more liable to step on someone’s political toe and so treading lightly was a necessity.

As for the tension between being too forward and making themselves clear on the front stage, Eliasoph noticed a similar conflict in the activist group she studied.
“After about a year of meeting regularly, though, members began asking what was the relation between personal style and political ideas. The group explicitly discussed the conflict between looking respectable and expressing feelings, and tentatively decided that it was more important to ‘play the game’” [Eliasoph 1998:177].

The issue for the activists was how to be thought of as ‘respectable’ while discussing how they felt about their issues. The decision that ‘playing the game’ was of more importance meant that they saw how people had a number of expectations from groups like theirs. And in order to get what they want, they would have to do things to alter expectations. For example, as they went about figuring out a name for their group, they rejected names that would imply too much negativity and radical behavior or names that were ‘sappy’ [Eliasoph 1998: 177]. For the SU Dems, finding the balance between their extremes was playing the game; they had no third alternative to run to. Unlike the activists, if the SU Dems didn’t respect the values of all on campus, a higher authority could very likely stop them.

The SU Dems’ hierarchical structure is a fourth consequence of operating within the campus. Power was in many ways a clear top-down model. They had a president and numerous officers as most if not all the other groups did on campus. The times I had arrived early for the meetings, those in seats of power would already be inside the meeting space, discussing private business while those of us outside began to socialize. I also noticed how people reacted towards seating arrangements. When members came in for the meetings after the doors had been open, there were many who hesitated when they saw empty seats at the far end of the table. It was understood that the end of the table was where the officers and president sat and so no one wanted to cross a line of territory. Interestingly enough, there was never an incident in which any of us were actually told where we could and couldn’t sit; it was just an unspoken way of conduct. Had power been spread around, the hesitation people expressed when looking for a seat would likely not had existed.

The structure that was chosen for the group also helped to ensure things got done. As mentioned before, I was a part of the ‘Public Relations’ committee. During the second meeting I attended, everyone was asked to pick one of three committees to join (the remaining two was ‘Events’ and ‘Fundraising’) and focus their efforts within. Dividing the existing amount of manpower the group had was done in order to become more efficient with their time. Both the power issue and division of labor hint towards how the group was in many ways run like a business. The preference for this type of organization is a ramification of the school’s free-market. In order to stay alive the group has be active, and if the way their organization isn’t conductive to their goal, they’ll sink in the sea of other campus clubs.

After having studied in the SU Dems, I participated in a focus group, questioning a bunch of students and one faculty member to express their thoughts on how the school I did my research in lived up to their mission statement. The group made a clear dissention between the success of the academics and the extra- curricular (which would include the SU Dems). They said the extra-curricular clearly helped to prepare students for lives of achievement and leadership. And so, I asked about the free-market nature of the sea of campus groups and it was explained to me that such a system helped to ensure clubs followed the interests of the students at large. When people have lost the passion needed to keep a club alive, another that better fits the internal current replaces it. Basically the old give way to the new. This is the challenge for all campus clubs: how to remain relevant while at the same time retaining your collective values. The SU Dems merely shaped themselves in a way that does both – they fight for their right to exist (funding, members, etc) and push their political agenda. The resulting positive and negative effects on the discussions of politics in a closed system are never completely considered. Eliasoph was right to explore this matter – how people are able to relate to politics are important to understanding the development and sustainment of democracy, particularly within halls of academia.


Eliasoph, Nina
1998 Avoiding Politics: How Americans Produce Apathy in Everyday Life. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

One Month Down, Four More Years To Go

I still can't believe I'm a Freshman.

Honestly, it was rather hard to imagine myself as a proper college student in the months leading up to my arrival here, but now look at me. I'm running through the halls of academia trying to avoid being late for class, fostering newly forged relationships with people dramatically different from those I know back at home, seeing another side of America I've never intimately known before and guess what?

I'm having a ball.

While I'm fervently attempting to keep my head above water in terms of my course work (to which I must admit lazy days), I also am just as fervently striving to create my self-perpetuating niche - the people and environment that will allow me to play around and find new ideas.

But this means understanding what lies around me and concreting my plans. I'm so transfixed by this, that I even made myself a nice sheet of goals for the years that I'm here (the goals are separated by 1st year, 2nd year, and so on. Yes, I'm that serious). Do I intend to keep them all? Of course not. However, I know have a better visualization of what I want from my time here - I'll be damned if I let so much time out of my life go by with nothing but a diploma to show for it.

And I have already begun to take steps to realize those objectives. I've leaped at chances to expose myself to and reflect upon culture. So lets see what the month of October has up its sleeves?

One month down, four more years to go, eh?

Bring it on.

Interview w/ Cornel West on WNYC

I absolutely *have* to go read this man's memoir at some point in my life. And you should too.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

To Mac, Pc Users: Get Over It

I shall begin with a simple statement: I don't believe in participating in the argument between Mac and Pc users over which system is better. Each system has its ups and downs, thus it is up to the individual user to decide what their preference is.

I thought this mentality was simple enough to understand, but it appears I was wrong (as always). I really hate it when Mac and Pc users alike bash the other side due to their own 'horrific' experiences and/or lack of understand of the rival platform.

It seems that people fail to grasp that this one and only truth: All computers, regardless of its maker and the software installed on it, will at some point in its life time malfunction. The degree of the malfunction varies, but the statement stands true. Trust me. After seven years of repairing computers and a summer working at a repair shop, I've seen the hellish side of it. That pretty little Macbook Pro you've got there - most likely gonna be the bane of your existence. And to make things worst, you're probably going to be the reason for it flipping out on you.

There are so many elements that both sides like to nitpick at each other for - be it price, customization, power, whatever. The list can go on forever. The machine costs more than you would like? Don't buy it. You want more control over your machine parts? Go somewhere else and don't complain. Want a nice design? They pony up the money for it.

My own personal preference is the Mac. And that is perfectly alright. But I'm not one of those people who go around as if they're in a missionary in Africa and try to convert as many innocent looking folks as possible. Like what you like people - just don't impose and use that tone of not so repressed disgust when you encounter others who don't agree with your tastes.

If you do, well then, I pray your machine will blow up in your face one day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A War For Your Soul

Thank you Google Reader and this site for bringing this to my attention. And its just perfect considering my previous post from earlier today. Anyways, hopefully this will drive my point home -- If it doesn't, then I don't know what will.

A War For Your Soul-regular version from Erisai Films on Vimeo.

On the N-word

This past Monday, my cousin and I were having a discussion on this particular word. I normally fall into the camp that believes that word shouldn't never be uttered. Let alone by the African American youths, and in come cases grown ass adults, that have made the word such a popular statute within our culture. However, my cousin made a rather compelling argument.

Me: What have I told you about using that word?
Cousin: Yes, I know. However, there are some black people that deserve to be called N*ggers.
Me: What?!
Cousin: Think about it. People who live around here - *waves hand indicating the rest of the block* - N*ggers. People who go to The Club - N*ggers. There are just some people who play the part, so they deserve the title. You're not a N*gger. I'm not a N*gger. But they are.

Took me awhile to get over that bit of the conversation, but when I thought more and more about it, I saw his point. There are those who just simply fall into the stereotypical atmosphere that the word creates.

Is this by any means right? No, but it is what it is. It is far more realistic to deal with the nature of the word than to just hopefully wish it away.

So then, seeing as how people are black folks are going to use the word from now to kingdom come, what does this mean for racial interactions? How can I say anything about perceived racism towards my race when I use a word that has historically been used to degrade my very people?

I couldn't, shouldn't and can't say a damned thing. I would be doing a lot more damage to my own cause than any little overzealous cop who, let's say, gets his kicks by pulling over as much black males as he can in a day. I would be perpetuating the very set of social norms that I say helps to confine me to - abstractly speaking - the hood.

I will now step off my soapbox - the point has been made. Before crying racial fowl - which DOES still exist - please look at your own habits and find where you are slipping up. Finally, here are reasons why not to be a n*gger. Especially a self-proclaimed one. Oh how I hate those...

Update: Click here for an additional video that drives the message right on home even more.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What Does It Mean To Be Educated? - Allegory Of The Cave

Every year, Susquehanna has an university theme that their summer common reading is centered around. The theme that I've been so lucky to come into school with is "What does it mean to be educated". At Orientation, we were all handed an anthology that promised to explore "how we learn from formal and informal educational experiences".

One chapter of the book is Plato's Allegory of the Cave. It is a dialog between Socrates and Glaucon in which they discuss the duties one who has escaped the cave has to his fellow brothers still in chains. Take this quote in which Socrates tells of what should be the State's goal with those who pursue an education:

Then, I said, the business of us who are the founders of the State will be to compel the best minds to attain that knowledge which we have already shown to be the greatest of all - they must continue to ascend until they arrive at the good;but when they have ascended and seen enough we must not allow them do to as they do now.

What do you mean?

I meant that they remain in the upper world: but this must not be allowed; they must be made to descend again among the prisoners in the den, and partake of their labours and honours, whether they are worth having or not.

In short, Plato through Socrates is saying that yes, our leaders should and must encourage those that are after an education. That is needed. However, once they reach a certain point, they must then be made to serve the greater populous - those that remain in the cave, instead of completely leaving them behind.

There we have our first question: Those that become educated -whatever that may be-, should they be forced to partake in something that benefits everyone? Or should they be left to do as they wish?

I believe that more often than not, those that are clearly educated have a way of flocking to positions that have varying degrees of 'public service'-ness in the job description. Senators, presidents, judges, doctors, cancer researchers, teachers etc - of all of these, the best of the best have been awarded an education and it is their job to do what they can for the embitterment of everyone.

Of course, that is the general aim of such positions and I'm speaking in rather ambiguous terms here, but bear with me. Just looking at the words 'presidents' and 'senators' in that sentence above makes me laugh, but remember its more often than not. Hopefully.

Anyways, back on tract. I can't completely agree with Plato when he says that they have to be forced into such roles, but I believe that especially with a liberal arts education, most people have the Mensch, do gooder attitude instilled into them. I can't force people to give up their own happiness for the happiness of others - I feel like such a thing would cause resentment in some hearts that would then grow and jeopardize their performance.

Does this mean that I would allow for people to put their own happiness above the well being of others? Does that mean that those with the opportunity to gain seats of 'power' should be allowed to exploit that power at the cost of their people, much like we've seen throughout history.

Plato has something to say to this. A page or two later he writes:

Whereas the truth is that the State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and quietly governed , and the State in which they are most eager, the worst.


You must contrive for your future rulers another and a better life than that of a ruler, and then you may have a well-ordered State... Whereas if they go to the administration of public affairs, poor and hungering after their own private advantage, thinking that hen they are to snatch the chief good, order there can never be; for they will be fighting about office, and the civil and domestic broils which thus arise will be the ruin of the rulers themselves and the whole State.

He writes that those who have no interest in ruling will be the best suited for the job, and will provide order. Those that have an interest in ruling will only cause disorder because they want to jobs to serve their own goals and ambitions.

If I don't have an interest in something, no matter how much I know it is important, I'm likely to just not put effort into it and only do what is needed. I wouldn't go above and beyond for the people.

However, he does have a point about the others. I simply need to look at our own government to see what happens with officials are fueled by their own self-interests. Take the progressive hell that plagued the Albany the past month or so, take the retarded actions of the republicans during the 2008 election trail up to this very day. Order has gone out the window and progress is the true victim here.

So what would be the best solution? I'd be willing to wager that the answer lies in having a balance between duty and self-interest. You're own wants and needs shouldn't overcome your duty to your people, nor should you become a slave to them. This is also wherein lies the concept of wisdom - of knowing how to deal with both screaming fools at the same time.

And for what it's worth - Plato seems to be implying that only certain people should be taken and nurtured to fill positions of the such; of picking out those who you want to place into a special track of sorts. This goes against what everyone says America is all about - its the land where anyone can work their way up. And while this may be true, there is still the existence of that special track for *certain* people. It is possible for those not on that path to find their way to it, but its only makes things harder. Thank you life chances.

I'll conclude with one last question: Should our elective officials be wise? Keep in mind the hell Ms. Sotomayor has gotten in the past week for calling herself a 'wise latina woman'. I'll give you a minute to answer that question.

Tick, tock.

You done? Good. You should have answered with a resounding 'Hell to the yes!' or something of the sort. If you didn't, well, I'll let you ponder your own silliness. Now go sit in the corner till I'm done.

Of course I want my officials to be wise. I'm trusting them to make deicisons that impact all of our lives and while wisdom is a attribute gained through one's life experiences (unlike what some would want you to believe otherwise) wisdom is still wisdom. Wisdom is knowing where to come to a compromise that actually gets something done. If you can't do that, if you won't be willing to hear other ideas and take them into account, if you will say 'no' as if its your magic wand for getting what you want, then sir/madam I want you off the stage. Just leave. I've lost all my patience with such people. Granted, doesn't that (in someway) make me as narrow minded as they are? Yes, I do believe that argument can be made, but at the same time, I don't care. What I care about (and what others should care about as well) is finding how we can make life better for all.

After all, shouldn't that be an end goal of education? Making life better?

And if I banished you earlier, you may come back now from your timeout in order to discuss this with the rest of us. Just remember to behave yourself. Or else...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Favorite Pic of the Day

A Stain on SOF Pride

Within the past week, there have been ny times articles highlighting the arrests of two of my fellow classmates.

Let me start by saying that this is a source of shame for the rest of us. Facebook has been lit with condemnations towards both individuals - none of us expected such behavior from them.

That said, here at links to both articles:
Teenager Is Arrested in May Starbucks Bombing
Manhattan Man, 19, Arrested in Anti-Gay Robbery Attacks

Looking at both cases, I'm not sure what I'm more shocked from. First of all, a bomb? At Starbucks of all places! What did the mocha guy behind the counter run out of mocha so you decided to blow up the place? And where the hell does one even get bombs? I understand guns and knives but a bomb (whatever the strength) is a whole other ballpark. I would go on, but the other things I want to say would get myself in trouble, and I don't need that.

And as for the anti-gay robbery, considering he went to such a liberal school that tolerates just about any and everything, I don't get this. He never stuck me as the anti-gay type (nor did the other guy strike me as a 'terrorist', so obviously I suck at this). As I read the article, I kept trying to recall any form of hostility towards them during my short and often air-fulling conversations with the boy.

As I said earlier, we are all disappointed in those two and collectively shake our heads saying "Those damned fools" under our breaths. If you're going to screw up, don't end up in the nytimes for god's sake.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More Micheal Steele. This Time, With Chicken

This has been circling around a bit, so I figured you lot should hear about it as well.

First and foremost, I will not be won over with fried chicken. Knowing you, you've likely laced the chicken with something that will actually make your damn rapping make sense.

Now why does he think that fried chicken would help him, after he was made King Rush's erm, um, pet? I don't think there is enough chicken in the world to make the masses of black folk forget that. (Unless, it was he who came to the rescue that day when a Popeyes had run out of chicken. That was just bad...)

And why should he stop at chicken? What about pig's feet, kool-aid, and yams. He might as well make it a whole banquet. Perhaps he can get people so stuff off of food, that he can then say "Hey, you all now owe me a favor". That may be his only hope.

Favorite Pic of the Day

I didn't say it. I'm just putting it out there.

A Little Mumbling About Race

Thanks to my currently being unemployed, I've had a lot of time to simply stay at home and read. For a number of months now, I've been intrigued by the thought of looking for a site where 'black intellectuals' - for what that term is worth. A friend of mine (black as well) recently said to me "but isn't that an oxymoron?" - may gather and converse. Granted, I didn't find a site that had fit all the parameters I was looking for, but what I did find may be of more weight.

I stumbled upon blogs and news sites galore. All of this has made me realize that race is likely the topic that most excites me and my sociological studies.

In the age of post-Obama politics, race is *still* an issue. Anyone who says otherwise is a poor, misguided fool. Hell, it seems like now even more than ever, people involved with politics are repeatedly showing their true racist colors. As far as I'm concerned, Race will (at least for the considerable future) always be an element that one must be mindful of. As I get ready to move to Central Pennsylvania, I leave with that premise in mind.

That said, I intend to keep up with these sites - they offer a little more of a window into other issues.

Yes, A 'Wise Latina' Is Just What The Doctor Ordered

I'm sitting here in my arm chair(a rather comfy one, mind you) watching Sotomayor hold her own against the Senate, simply marveled by her performance. I can not see how anyone who has half a working brain - and there are a lot of people out there who don't - wouldn't want her to serve as a judge. This woman is able to talk with such skill and flow that I can't but be charmed by her.

Yet, we have that damn 'wise Latina' comment keep popping up. Why is there this line between white political candidates promising to help people of non-white origins out and non-white political candidates promising to help others like themselves out at all? Is all this fear that they would help the affirmative action agenda go too far in this country?

I do believe that her being a Latina will bring something a little extra to the Supreme Court. One's life experiences can not help but be present and influential when doing anything in life, much less applying law.

It is evident that the end result of her education, experience in law, and what she has seen in life in general has indeed made her wise. Just watch the women as shes on the plank. Look at what we get when figures who have opportunities at positions of power are unwise to say the least. We get Palin, Steele, and a slew of others that make me have no hope for where this country is going.

I want these people wise. I want these people to come together from different backgrounds in order to make decisions. Quite frankly it scares me when one group - especially one who's every ideals are rapidly losing ground yet ferociously (and foolishly) defend them - wants to keep the idea pool collectively monotone.

But of course, only time will tell whether she will be appointed or not. Good luck, Sotomayor - I look forward to hearing the good news in the future.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The 11th Hour

Ever thought that the grass would be greener on the other side on the fence, but then on your way over, you start to realize you're not as interested as you once were?

Perhaps that's how I'm currently feeling about going off to college. In this 11th hour - as the days keep rushing to August 27th - I find myself not all that excited as I originally was.

Take for example, the fact that I'm done with high school. I thought I would bask in the glee of graduation but instead, I feel no different. There is no sense of 'OMG! I can't wait to get out of here' as I've seen in my friends.

There are two things about college that I'm looking forward to: The topics I'll explore and graduation. I get to fuel my readings and reflections on race and it's ramification and if I'm able to stay within the honor's program, I will graduate cum laude. At least. This will hopefully put me in a great position to reach the goals I have for after graduation, but more on those later.

I think, that after a week or two at Susquehanna, I'll get more excited. For now, it shall remain some far off distant reality.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Palin 2.0

It just keeps coming back. Oh god, we can't kill it! WE'RE GONNA DIE!

Seriously, didn't we get enough of her the first time 'round?

I guess not since it appears shes positioning herself for something (2012 anyone?). Now seeing how much political hell has broken loose, I'm a bit paranoid. My friends say we have nothing to worry about - that she made enough of a fool of herself so shes a goner. But, with the Republicans and their cohorts looking for some kinda of face to tie to their brand of bull, she might just be want they need. She might be the one to organize their rhetoric and drive them back to the White House in 2012.

Just thinking about that possibility makes ill. I've been hoping for someone within the party to get their people back in shape, but that is looking more and more like a pipe dream. Should by the grace of the devil himself allow her to even be a contender for 2012, I'm not so sure I want to be around to see the result.

Now where's my passport?

A Pro-Choice Stance

Abortion has gotten quite a bit of press in past months, thanks to a late-term abortion doctor being gunned down by a pro-life fanatic (ironic, no?). As much as I normally would like to avoid taking stances on certain topics, I do think its about time to me sort out my own feelings on the issue.

To put it clearly: I am pro-choice.

Does that make me morally incorrect? Perhaps more likely to being shot as well? Or is it that I'm relatively safe until I start being one to actually perform an abortion.

My train of thought is simple: As a male, one who gets rather sickly when he contemplates anything childbirth related for too long of a time period, how dare I turn on the American female population and demonize their right to do what they feel is right for themselves. No one should be able to control others' desire to control their life as they see fit.

Should someone one day come to me and regulate who I choose to have a child with, when I want to have that child and so on, I would have to tell them where to get off. I know full well that if I don't want to have my reproductive freedom taken away, I can't do the same to anyone else - a nice application of the "Do on to others what you would have them do on to you" rule.

Even the argument of late-term abortion I find to be a silly extreme that must be laughed out of validity. Who do you know would seriously carry a child - would allow another being to share in her existence - only to then decide months before birth to back out of her commitment. Late-term abortions are usually none when there is very little hope for the well being of those involved. People are, for the most part, creatures of morality. Those who are willing to do a fairly brutal process without due cause are a rarity. No argument should be contingent on such a unlikely prospect.

Finally, I close with this: While I do believe that life is something worth protecting, I am much more focused on the lives of those who are already here. They are more tangible, and in much more serious need of help. If you only set out to insure those on their way to this world safe passage, but let the mothers - their entrances become slaves to your beliefs and ideals, whats the point of protecting the newcomers? In due enough time, they will likely follow the mothers' fate.

Where have I been?

Indeed, where have I been?

The short answer: I've been around, just living life.

Since we last spoke, I became a high-school graduate, traveled down to DC for NECC, and attended orientation at Susquehanna.

Now where have you -the world- been since we last spoke? Micheal Jackson and a slew of others past away, all hell broke loose in Iran, and Palin stepped down from her post.

Amazing how times flies, no?

Everything and everyone changes. As I try to keep up - to take note of as much as possible, I see more and more that I need to use this place for what it was meant to be: a nice little corner of the web for my thoughts. Its about time I stop neglecting it so much.

So, more blogging is on its way. Let us rejoice in the stream of words!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Taken from Newt Gingridge's speech at the 2009 GOP Senate/House Fundraising Dinner:

First, we must strengthen our unique American civilization. Let me be clear, I am not a citizen of the world. I think that the entire concept is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous. There is no world sovereignty, there is no world system of law - there is in fact no circumstance under which I would like to be a citizen of North Korea, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba, or Russia. I am a citizen – I am a citizen of the United States of America. And, the rest of this speech is about the United States of America.

What the hell is that? Excuse me, but there are responsibilities that everyone must uphold, just by being on this earth. It is this type of American Ignorance(TM) that has gotten us into the hell hole we're in now. Please think next time before you try to rig on Obama's reaching out to the rest of the world. Maybe if you thought that part of your speech through you would have found, surprise, surprise, Regan said that "I am a citizen of the world" line once before.

I would rather be a citizen of the world along side Regan than be a citizen of America along side you, sir.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

"The Future of Affirmative Action"

Very, very interesting debate. I must say that I for one, feel that Affirmative Action is a blessing. I do think that it did play a role in my college admittances. However, there is need to discuss what it is today, and what it needs to become in the future. I found this video to be rather informative.

Prom: The Pinnacle of the Collective High School Existance

A little over a week late, I orginally planned to post this last Saturday. Oh wells, better late than never - Enjoy!

After months of steadfast refusal to attend, I ended up going. During the 'senior trip' to the nearest Six Flags, my guidance counselor did in two minutes what my fews couldn't do weeks on end - convince me to get my sorry behind to go. How ashamed I was that my convictions - however antisocial or stuck up they were - about not going came tumbling down at a mere look. This was in the morning and by the end of that day, I had myself a date.

I move very quickly.

I must say that I was shocked that my date didn't already plan to attend the event with someone else. There were six days till prom and she is a lot more popular than she seems to realize, or at least pretends to realize. I can't imagine that no one had bothered to ask, so how lucky was I? Granted, she wasn't the only one I had asked. Before I entered my stage of "Prom is the devil" line of reasoning, there were at least two people I had asked. One of the girls is so far away and the other has literally dropped off the face of the earth. But hey, with the date situation solved, I didn't really have any need to fret.

Fast-forwarding six days, plans for prom were completed. The limo was rented - thank you Brandon, Corsage was picked up, and sleeping argements had been made. Seeing as how difficult it is to organize my group of friends, I'm still shocked everyone moved so quickly. Yet, the biggest shock was Prom itself.

Prom was - as much as I don't care to admit it - FUN. No clickiness
from my grade; everyone just had enjoyed themselves. I was told that I would regret not going and I must say that I actually would have. And time just seemed to melt away. I can't believe how disappointed I was to hear that midnight had aproched us so soon.

Of course, the repricussions of that night was something to behold. A certain set of photos surfaced on Facebook, causing a recus for the eniter weekend and - much more closer to home - brought some issues to light. Things that weren't really paid any mind before took center stage. A week later, and I'm still not sure what truly happened.

At least I wasn't bored, right?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wow ABC. Thanks for the 4 Hours

Its season finale time! All of the major shows that run on a fall-spring basis have begun closing down shop for the summer, leaving us with 2-3 months of wondering what will happen to our favorite characters.

Of the many season finales I've watched in the past weeks, none got to me as much as Lost and Grey's Anatomy did.

Say what you want about the shows, but those were some damn good four hours of television.

I'll begin with Lost. Lost is a show that I used to make fun of, simply because I didn't have the patience to deal with so many unanswered questions. Yet, this season I decided to give it a chance - it played either before or after another show I liked to watch (Life on Mars. Was great, but the ending left me with mixed feelings) so I figured I'll stick around and see what all the hype was about. I thought that since Lost was entering its fifth season and already had a locked fan-base that I wasn't apart of, I wouldn't get into it.

Boy was I wrong.

Week after week I watched and slowly got dragged under. So much so, that during the season's ending, I was at the edge of my seat. As a nifty bonus, there was the prospect of the nature of time through out the season. Anyways, here are the final scenes:

I swear I had a fit when the screen flash to white. I can't believe I now have to wait till 2010 to see how everything wraps up, but in the mean time, I'll just have to catch up by watching the first four seasons.

As for Grey, I must say that throughout the ep I was rather bored. It was a fairly pleasant two hour ride with a few bumps, but nothing I thought was be too shocking. Izzy had went under the knife to remove a tumor in her brain, George joined the army, and so on. But then, in the last five minutes, it all shot to hell.

I completely didn't see this coming. And that double O seven scene - I just couldn't get it out of my head for days. I personally think that George is dead, but we'll see in the fall.

All in all, it was a well spent four hours. Nothing to do now but wait. Damn it.

Why College? A Discussion

Recently, as my friends and I had our usual water-cooler talk, the topic of what we all planned to do after college came up. Many of us have plans to pursue a Master's degree and some even want to obtain a Ph.D! I'm no less than proud to hear that we all have higher goals.

But it did leave me wondering something: Why is it that we have such aspirations? Other than the obvious expectation upon us to go, what is it that we hope to gain out of college?

What is it that I hope to gain out of college?

The problem with trying to answer this question is that it is way too multi-dimensional. I can of course say 'I hope to become a better person', but in no way does that actually constitute as an answer.

If college is indeed such a life changing experience as everyone describes it to be, then what I get out of it will vastly over-shadow any of the preconceptions and expectations I have now. In addition to that, there would be no way for me to even begin to cover the so said changes - they would only be truly apparent in how I carry myself and my memories. For if I try to single them out one by one, most would be simple and pale on their own.

Yet, maybe hoping is the best place to start. If I use the 'becoming a better person' statement, what are the standards that I want to use? I want to become wiser, witter, a more fluid writer, improve on my language skills/computer skills/ and my knowledge in sociology. I want to increase the variety of things I've experienced by traveling - just being in the middle of PA should provide me with a slew of things I've never encountered here in New York. I want to be well suited for the (now abysmal) job market and make a good living.

I want to change my world. And maybe even the world while I'm at it.

I suppose, I'll just have to wait to see the results. Three month's time isn't a lot when you think about it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An Economic Toll of College

Yet another topic I hope to get to soon.

I've been wondering lately, 'just why is it that I'm going to college?'. Instead of the fact that its expected, what is it that I'm expecting to get from the experience? Well, this piece from the Takeaway deals with the economic value of college. A great listen, if you have the time.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ITP Spring Show 2009

Monday afternoon, I went to the ITP Show at NYU. I went last year and had such a great time, that I invite some friends to join me. Hopefully I can attend next year's as well, should I be in the city.

Here is my post about it from a year ago: ITP Show '08

Sag Harbor

I implore you to click on this link and listen to the piece. Its about Colson Whitehead's new book 'Sag Harbor', in which well off black teens deal with coming to terms with their 'blackness'.

The reason why I want you to listen to it is because it creates a superb backdrop for a post I'm hoping to get to this weekend. I would write it now, but it doesn't deserve some 15 minute downtime between homework assignments.

I will however say this - there is the term 'Post-black' that I want you all to remember. I believe its something that everyone should strive for, in order to move past the current stereotypes of black culture - stereotypes that people play into way too often.

Now when can I get my hands on this book?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I'm Online!

I forgot to mention this a long time ago, but I got me a Flickr account. I wanted some place to put my pics online, and Facebook just wasn't cutting it.

I believe this goes back to my desire to have more of an online presence. A blog isn't enough! I want to be connected in every possible venture imaginable. So off to the right side of this post, you'll see my Flickr stream and Twitter updates.

This brings to mind a very interesting idea for a future post....

Eighteen Jitters

A month ago, I turned 18. Normally, that should be something one wildly celebrates.

Of course, it was something that I dreading. On account of me being abnormal at best.

And how could I celebrate it - especially when I was told on numerous occasions that 18 is the age of being 'legally liable' for your actions.

The notion of getting older is double-sided for me. While its nice to have more freedom, along with that freedom comes a sense of nostalgia for what once was. A lot like how I felt back in when I first got to middle school - I was accustomed to running around on an opened field for 5 years, only to have that activity taken away. It was replaced with the ability to actually leave the school grounds to buy something to eat, but it just wasn't the same.

Its all rather disorienting. I'm forced to keep finding some new stable ground. Yet, isn't that how life always is? And if my life pans out in a way that I would like for it to, I suspect that this feeling with always be just over the horizon.

On another note, this past month has seen repeated events in which people have underestimated my age. For example, two weeks ago I was at an education expo up in Harlem and one guy I met there begun to try and guess my age. He started at seventeen and when I said no, went down to sixteen. He reached fifteen before I stopped him. While it does wonders for my vanity, it irritates me to no end when I'm carded. I tried to buy a game that happened to be rated M - which is something I've been legally allowed to do since I turned seventeen - and the cashier simply didn't believe me when I told him my age. I'm curious to see just how long this will last, 'cause its becoming awfully annoying.

Meh to being eighteen. Just, meh.

Wanda Made A Funny

I completely love Wanda Sykes. This video, while at times possibly may be a bit too much, still had me laughing. Yet, after surfing the web, I've noticed that there is resistance towards some of her jokes. And of course, I can't help but say to these people, "shut up and take a joke".

She completely hit the mark when she called King Rush's remarks on his hoping 'the country will fail' treason. For someone supposedly pro-American, any remarks of that sort kinda is treason, isn't it? I can't even blame her for saying that she hopes his kidneys fail - at this point, I'm sorta hoping for it as well. Then again, I'm comfortable with morally gray.

No one can tell me that after eight years of lies, confusion, and (as it now seems) torture, that this country is in great shape. Nor can anyone tell me that people like Rush and his camp followers have the country's best interests at heart, so forgive me for laughing when people poke fun at them.

It is the only way I can possibly make myself comfortable with their very existence.

Oh and by the way, I would pay top dollar to have Keith Olbermann waterboard Sean Hannity, but thats just me.

Obama Cracks Some Jokes

I'm rather glad he has a sense of humor. I suppose he has to given all the crap he has inherited.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thoughts on Disciplinary Actions of Schools

Some of you may have heard about the now college student girl who was strip searched by school officials when she was in middle school(click here for news article). Her case is getting ready to be heard by the Supreme Court and I'm very interested in it's outcome.

My interest stems from what the verdict may possibly mean for discipline in schools. What are the lines that schools can't cross and how would they allow unruly behavior to either go rampant or remain in check?

It seems to me that everyone calls for a tougher school system, until its their child caught doing crap and has to be dealt with. Unfortunately, I see this continuing for quite a while because lets face it - people are simply raising assholes.

Yes, thats right - people are raising asshole children. Now before everyone gets up in arms, lets look at some examples:

The student who got the girl in trouble in the afore-mentioned case by lying about where she got her pills from - an asshole.

The students I've mentioned in some of my previous posts (here and here are doozies) - all assholes. Grade A assholes because I have to live with them.

So there, prime evidence. Be aware though that this isn't to say that every child adheres to such standards of asshole-dom, it is merely to say that as a culture, we are raising some wicked evil things.

Now, if the parents are indeed doing this, what could possibly have a chance at correcting such behaviors from roaming the streets, night and day infecting the younger masses and effectively making them our future liabilities. Schools are the answer - they are the second line of defence when the parents right out fail at these things.

However, I've noticed that most educator's hands are tied. One can't do this and one can't do that - all of it makes for a very bad environment to learn. And the reason this happens is because the limits on disciplie makes it non-existent - like I said before, parents and others alike call for a stronger staff and rules to prevent extreme incidents - school shootings perhaps? - yet they are the first to call fowl when the crap hits their door step.

I see this case as the big one that will set the stage for the next wave of disciplinary reforms to come. This will either make it so that schools will do their job or make it so that things become worst. I personally advocate for a system that downright forces parents to see their child for what the really are and take action accordingly along side of the school - that way, no one can dear point fingers at another party due to the fact that all hands were involved*.

Of course, all of this really makes me question what am I going to do in regard to my own children's education. It seriously makes homeschooling look like a positive alternative.

*And even this will cause its own problems. "YOU can't tell me how to raise my child!" type rhetoric and crap. ::sighs::

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Damn Tea Baggers

Can someone please tell me what these tea baggers actually want? I get the whole "governement extravagant spending" argument, but this seems a little too late for such things. Where the hell were they these past eight years? I really just can't comprehend what they're after.

I do however see this as a potential horse for the now debunked Republican Party to ride back in favor with the populous mentality. For some odd reason this country has a way of seeing some random, foolish as all hell school of thought rise up from obscurity and bite the rest of us in the arse - this is that next random, foolish as all hell school of thought. Lucky, some of us has been able to identify it for what it really is - but I fear it may be too late. I see it has been able to take root and it isn't dying (judging by the fact I'm still seeing this crap on my television screen). I'm quickly becoming fed up with the Republicans running around like chickens with no heads, attempting to rebuild their fallen throne. If they are allowed to, they will make this nonsense their core of their revival movement - a core that may be even more convoluted than it before all of this mess.

So I make this plead: Can someone please, in great detail, explain to me the premise of tea bagging? What is hoped to be accomplished and what are the fundamental ideas behind it. Maybe then I can come to understand the - most likely flawed - rationale fueling my latest political headache.

And by the way - the Boston Tea Party was about taxation without representation and now you lot have taxation with representation, so how is tea bagging the most effective effort to your clause?

The Proposed Rail Network

There has been some talk lately about Obama's plans to create a rail network, allowing travel across America to become easier. I, for one, really like this idea. Whenever I travel its either by car or by plane so if this makes a third possible mode of transportation more accessible and worthwhile for longer distances trips, I'm all for it. Here is a map of what lines are being proposed:

The one thing I've noticed is a lot of grey area where there isn't any rail. Does this mean that the towns in those areas are out of luck and will have to stick to transportation now readily available to them? Wouldn't the best thing to do be to set up smaller scale systems that interact with the overall national grid?

Another issue of mine is how these rails would either utilize or cooperate with existing railroads, namely tracks that aren't in use anymore. I would like to see tracks that are just lying around be taken up and used for this project - for example, there are some rails here in New York that I've yet to see in 18 years have a train of any sort on them. It would be nice to see them used for something rather than remain ignored during all of this development.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thoughts on Potential Majors

Lately, I've been going through the Susquehanna course books to familiarize myself with whats offered. With a highlighter in hand, I burned through the book looking at fields of study that interest me. This post will be a nice little pros and cons list of each possible area.

Pros: Fell in love with it ever since I took an Intro to Sociology class at Hunter. The one thing I'm sure I'm going to study in college.

Cons: I always asked the question "What does one do with Sociology after college?". Now I have a better understand of what the answer is, but its still not clear. Also, I'll most likely *have* to do a Master's in this field before I can get to the good jobs.

Pros: Cognitive Science has always been a thing of beauty to me.

Cons: It can be a bit 'clinical' at times. I don't care for that.

Political Science
Pros: I enjoy politics...
Cons: ...not enough to actually major in it though. Though, those political circles would be great to get into.

Computer Science
Pros: Computers are my life. Its what I have the most experience in and one of the things I enjoy most.

Cons: CALCULUS - I have a thing against math. Plus I have to keep in mind my GPA (Honors program mandates that it can't drop below 3.4). Also, I'm sorry - some of those courses sound nice but must be boring as all hell. Do I have that type of tolerance?


Pros: A language would make me an interesting threat on the market. Also, theres no Japanese at the school so French won that fight.

Cons: I was already warned that if I don't test into a certain level of French, it might be an ill-fated idea.

Susquehanna allows for the combination of two majors into one - a nice curtail to double majoring *shudders* - so at my current idea is to combine Sociology and Computer Science while minoring in French. Perhaps I'll mix match things and minor in Comp. Sci., then move French up to the combining major. After all, I do think French and Sociology would mix better and wouldn't sound as odd as Sociology and Comp. Sci. would together.

In the end, the overall element to determine it will come from my experience with the classes and the 3.4 requirement. Whatever I pick for my major/minor, I have to make sure I kick ass at it should I want to remain in the program.

Great TED Talks - A trickster's theory of everything

Way too funny.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Journey to Susquehanna

The weekend of April 3rd finally saw me at Susquehanna. My family and I squeezed into a car and made the so called three and a half hour drive to the campus in Central Pennsylvania.

I should take some time to explain what is likely to be the worst part of what is otherwise a great trip. There were nine of us in one car. 9 in 1. What had happened was I invited everyone to come because three cousins of mine are reaching the stage of college looming over one's head - the very stage that I'm emerging from. And of course, their parents had to tag along. That drive became a war for space between everyone in the backseat of the car - a battle that left my sides rather sore for some time.

After the drive through hell, both inside and outside the car - we drove in rain, fog, and sunshine. Blasted bi-polar weather - we arrived. And I was charmed over. Everyone I met was completely friendly and helpful. I truly can see myself there for four years. Just one thing of interest - Central Pennsylvania.

See, I'm not a person who has much experience with America outside of major cities - namely New York City. In the countryside we past by, the houses were so far a part. When the night falls, its actually dark. Of course there were lights here and there, but that was just a darkness of night that I'm not use to - it was reminiscent of the Caribbean. Visiting Susquehanna had showed me something that I knew, but didn't really get until I got there - there is a different way of life out in the world.

What really emphasized this was my meeting with the Sociology faculty. There was a round table in the center of the room where the faculty members and accepted students sat - I being the lone student from New York. The conversation had somehow gotten to animals other than dogs and cats and the sort running around when one of the professors had - in the most nonchalant of ways - mentioned that there was once a bear in his back yard.

At that point, my mind went blank. Bears was not something that I signed up for, especially seeing as how I can just barely stand rats*. Maybe I'd make an allowance for Winnie the Pooh type bears, but then again everyone from that series has some sort of damage**. My face must have been some sort of reflection of my thought processes at which the professor turned to one of his co-workers and said "I really wanted to see the look on his face."

But this is what going to college is all about. The whole 'getting out there and seeing new things' bit. Central Pennsylvania should be good for me.

However, so help me god should I end up staring at the teeth of a hungry bear hanging over me...

*Get it? Bear and barely? Ain't I witty...
** Really, just think about it. Pooh had an addiction, Piglet was deathly scared of just about everything, Rabbit was anal-retentive, Tigger needed Ritalin and the list goes on and on. Most important was Christopher Robbin who needed serious help for hallucinating all those characters.
I'm a very, very big fan of anything NPR/NPI/ public radio type being, and so I have to put up links to pieces that I love.

Today's selection? Bits from On The Media, April 3rd's broadcast page. I would personally suggest Darwin's in the Details, The Net Effect, and The Future Brain. Those are some seriously great pieces, well worth spending time to listen to.

Have fun.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What ails the Internet?

Yet another great clip from NPR. Apparently, the net is 40 years old and its time to rethink its structure. Of course, it ended making me a bit more worried than hopeful in the end...

In honor of Friday the 13th, A discussion on Superstition

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

MOUSE Legacy Project - Proposal

I finally finished my proposal for the MOUSE Legacy Project - a three month long gig. As some of you may remember, my project last year was the OLPC wikispace page. Hopefully, this is new endeavour will see much more usage...

The basic premise started off with the creation of a browser. After a week or so of playing around with Xcode - Apple's development software - I finally had one up and running. It was ugly, had no tabs, and couldn't bookmark, but it actually showed the real internet; for that, I was happy.

However, a simple browser isn't going to cut it. While the technical aspects - tabs, bookmarks, design, etc - are to be worked on in the upcoming weeks, the actual core of this project is what, in my opinion, makes this simply shine. The plan is that once a presentable browser is up and running, we then start to create documentation that provide people guides to the code written. The idea is that, by looking at the lines of code we write, and the text, screencasts, or anything else we make to give directions and explanations, people will be able to build upon our work and even make their own.

This concept was inspired by some ideals behind open source and programming languages such as Scratch. I liked the idea of having programs open to change from the public, and languages that were made for the teaching of children, so I attempted to just blend the two together.

Hopefully, this can not only be done, but can be done well and have it catch on. It would be great to see these types of programs more often - those that are built for use just like any other, but also come with something that acts as a programming learning aid. I really do believe that such a thing would help many people who think "This is great. I would love to make my own", actually go out and achieve those goals.

College Apps - 3 Months Later

I've completely seemed to have forgotten to post updates about the whole 'getting into college' bit. Which is funny, seeing as how I posted so many drafts of my application essay up here.

So heres the rundown. I applied to around 10 schools - I've forgotten the exact number actually. At this point, I've made getting my acceptance letters into a bit of a game. I'm really just interested in seeing who takes me and who doesn't. So currently, I stand at four for four - out of the four colleges I've heard back from, I was accepted into them. The list is as follows:

Hunter College
Brooklyn College
Oswego* - State College of New York

Back in December my top three schools were Susquehanna, NYU, and Brandeis. I don't expect to get into Brandeis and its very likely that if I do make it into NYU, I won't attend. Why is that? Because at the time of writing this, Susquehanna is the college that has offered me the most - notwithstanding financial aid, which very well may be the true deciding factor in all of this - plus, its the college I'm most 'gunho' about.

Let us focus on Susquehanna for a bit, shall we? I've noticed that not a lot of people that I talk to - friends, a few teachers, family members, etc - have heard about the school before. Yet, those who have say awfully good things about it. I originally applied because a good friend of mine who attended mentioned that I should take a look at it - an action that, in hindsight, I'm very glad I did. They were the first college to get back to me at all, and shortly thereafter, they offered me a $15,000 per year scholarship (remember, this isn't financial aid...) and a spot in their honors college. I believe that it was the honors college bit that most floored me, but should I attend in the fall its the thing I'm looking forward to most. My hope is that it'll give me something more to stay focused on throughout the four years so that I don't stray too far off course.

I think that the worst thing I could say about Susquehanna (which actually is a good thing as well) is that its in a small town in Pennsylvania. Seeing as how I've lived in New York all my life, I figure such a thing is going to take a while to get use to, but at the same time it provides the perfect place to get away and experience something new. After all, I have every intention of returning back here once I graduate.

That being said, there is now a growing list of things I want to do here in the city before I possibly leave on my desktop. I want to hit up all those great parks and museums once last time (especically Inwood Park - I've been planning to head up there again for six years now!). All those neighborhoods I've come to grow and love after eightteen years; all the people I've met... It really does feel odd to be seriously thinking about leaving all of it behind for four years.

*Interestingly enough, even though its one of my favorites, it took me so long to finally learn how to pronounce the name correctly (sometime in the last two weeks, to be exact). To make things worst they even have an audio clip on their site that sounds it out for you. As a lot of people have pointed out to me: "How can you go to a school's whose name you can't pronounce?" Well, so long as I don't get the same over dramatic responses I get from people when I tell them I go to "School of the Future", I don't really care.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

DL Hughley Breaks The News, Appears To Be Canceled

As the title states, it appears that D.L.'s news show is to be canceled.

I'm personally disappointed by this. I really did enjoy this show. I'll admit that at first, the humor was a bit... strenuous at times, it indeed picked up in later weeks. To me, D.L. presented himself as an intellectual from the way he talked about the issues with his guests. Yet, I'm aware of the resistance from the black community, stating that his humor was - among other things - embarrassing to us.

Let me say this: I never felt embarrassed nor thought that his humor held any ill intentions (to our race). The reason why I enjoyed this show was because it had placed a comedic spin on the week's news and even informed me about things I may have missed. It was a great show to unwind with on a Saturday night, in light of all the hell going on with the economy and other social issues.

Of course, this show's cancellation has made me think of a certain theme that bothers me - one I hope to discuss a bit later, but is outside of the scope I'd like for this post to possess.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

And The Republican Ship Is Sinking...

I was watching this episode, this past Saturday night, and besides the crap about the Republican Party needing a "Hip-Hop Makeover", I was actually feeling hopeful about this man. Even though I disagreed with him at some many points, he presented himself in a way that I could come to respect. Of course, I was quite pleased when I heard him say that he was the 'leader' of the Republican Party, not Rush Limbaugh - along with a few other comments that gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

However, recent events have forced me to recalculate my opinion about this man. After hearing that he issued an apology to Mr. Limbaugh just days after those comments were made, I can't help but to think of him as merely a stooge and a myriad of other words that all come down to him being nothing more than a tool.

How dare you issue an apology to such a man, Mr. Steele? Do you know that you've managed to show this whole country what little power you truly have so fast that I hope you whiplash (and please do not let me start on the whips bit, cause that would only lead everyone into trouble)? After the joke of a speech by Governor Bobby Jindal, Limbaugh outright saying that he hopes Obama and/or his ideals fail, and you're party's public fits on the Senate and House floors, you have the audacity to rather than take a sharp step toward establishing your leadership turn around and kiss that ass' behind. Your party is quite litterally falling apart, sir. Get some backbone and step on a few toes. Lest, you really are just their courtjester after all.

Yet still, as a democract - for better or worst... - I must say this: Please, keep on fighting. Create more holes in your already travesty-infested vessel. And once it does sink, I hope from it rises a new Republican gathering - one capable of actually working towards a collective good of the country. One actually worthy of my respect, cause let me tell you something: things are shifting fast. If you lot can't get your act together, we will leave you behind, and trust me, eight years of vandalizing this country is still very much fresh in all of our minds.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

To push that little red button….

Anyone here remembers my post about the 9h and 10th graders in my school and how much I disliked them? For those who do, I applaud you. For those who don’t, shame on you! Go read it right nao!

Anyways, those little terrors are now in 10th and 11th grades, respectfully. I have classes with the 11th grade so I’ve grown use to the few that I come into contact with and have grown to like said few. However, the rest of them and the rest of the school for that matter has become a pool of retardation that needs to be dealt with swiftly.

Now let us go into context. My student body ranges from 6th to 12th grades, with about 100 kids each. I’m currently in 12th and every grade below is acting the fool. Somehow they all seems to think they own the place when, oh I’m sorry, its my peers and I that should be at that throne without contest. Yet still, we’ve been run to the corner of the room while every other ego gets to run around.

It has gotten so bad that my friends and I have been wondering about pushing that little red button and declaring war upon all those little monsters. For too long have we let them get away with their arrogant crap and it has to stop. The funny thing, in many ways, we already have pushed that button, or at least I have.

Twice in the past months I had to tangle with miniature agents of hell. Here is what happened:
The first time I was put in charge of the computer lab and told to take care of the place. So, the teacher left and a few of my fellow seniors were around doing whatever they were doing. What to know why I don’t remember what they were up to? Its cause they were flipping quiet. Much unlike the fleet of 10th grade ‘loud as all ghetto hell’ bastards. So it finally started to piss my people off and I had to step to the plate to quell the situation. I went up to the loudest offender of the peace and asked very nicely for her and her group to stop.

Know her response? The girl – really want to use another word here, but didn’t. I must get points for that - looked dead at me and laughed. So as she turned to walk away, I stuck out my leg, tripped her then said when she hit the floor, “I wasn’t done yet” in the coldest voice I could muster.

I will pause to let that marinate.

Before everyone gets on my case you have to understand that 1. I have a tendency to be a wee bit sadistic. Yes, I admit that. So it is clear from here on out that I will enjoy all of this and am willing to deal with what happens (hence why I’m ok for posting this). And second, I have an ego – points to this blog - and while I do try to keep it in check most of the time, you don’t laugh in its face and expect nothing in return.

So, after that she knew better than to mess with me again. I even got a laugh out of my friends. But still, the other 10th race of people weren’t so easy. One was about ready to fight me.
The second story is more recent. Some midget 6th grader felt he had the right to yell at us ‘big kids’ when their time for gym had come and we were trying to hurry to leave. He directed his crap at me, so I stopped and looked at him. He made motions for me to go at him, but I just left it alone. Later that day, the kid popped up again behind me still slinging his bull at me so I got fed up. I jumped after him, caught him, then dragged him down a half flight of stairs and when we reached the landing, I threatened to throw him down if he ever did it again. Of course, he was pleading for his life the whole time.

Perhaps, the most beautiful part of the story is what happened when I let him go. I was yelling after him “Run! Keep running or else!” when a teacher came down the stairs. She looked at me, I looked at her and she just laughed and moved on.

All of this now brings me to my point. Seeing as how I only have a few months left, I’ve lost all my ‘social niceguy-ness’ to these children who think they get away with it. If they keep on this path, many more incidents of pain will occur, and I haven’t been the only one to be administering these blows. The 12th grade is waking up and will reclaim our spot at the top of the natural food chain. That is the only way peace can be set in place.

Or, my favorite alternative could could happen where everyone could just get wiser and not piss off those older than you, but hey, either way works for me.

Notes to the rant:
Some may wonder why the 12th grade isn’t fighting within ourselves and let this happen in the first place. It is because everyone is so wrapped up in their own affairs, they don’t care to deal with each other, thus relative peace. However, these people are throwing it into our faces and many of us want to be able to walk the halls without having to hear stupidity.

And people wonder why I refuse to teach. EVER.

(Relatively old) New Blog Design

Not too sure anyone noticed, but a long while ago now I changed up the design and colors around here. This feels really nice and clean and easy to deal with, so its going to stick around till I get bored of it or something. Now, what would be great to start making my own, but thats another story.

Oh, btw incase you all didn't catch this by now: I'm back to blogging. Been out of it for too long - quick sickness, laziness, life, etc got in the way, but no more. Well, more honestly not for a while at least. Lets see if we can start things rolling again, shall we?

Guns, Germs, and Steel - An Overview of Part I

Given the nature of the book, the only proper way to begin it would be with a brief run through of history, starting from around 11,000 B.C. Diamond focuses on an event he coined as the ‘Great Leap Forward’ - in which the human race began to set off down the path we all benefit from – and our expansion into the other continents from our cradle in Africa.

The whirlwind history lesson wasn’t at all overwhelming. In fact, I rather quite enjoyed it. There were two anecdotes that just happened to stick out to me: the first would be the events on the Chatham Islands involving the Moriori and Maori, found in the second chapter; and the other being what took place at Cajamarca, found in chapter three.

The Moriori and Maori were two groups of people that could be traced back to the same ancestral group. When they had split apart, they followed two different paths – the Moriori remained a hunter-gather population with low-level technology while the Maori became a culture of farmers with better technology. The Maori eventually came to violently conquer the Moriori.

What had happened at Cajamarca that the book detailed was the capture and murder of Atahuallpa, an Inca emperor by a conquistador named Francisco Pizarro, and the consequent slaughter of Inca troops. Pizarro and his relatively small force of men were able to take out large – I do mean seriously large. I believe that the book has mentioned upwards of 60,000/80,000 men - chunks of Inca warriors.

Both incidents hold similar patterns – patterns that illustrate the author’s point behind why certain groups are able to overcome others. The gap of technology and the exploit of such a divide is an obviously important one. Another which I expect to be explored in later chapters would be the difference in the habitats the different cultures where raised in. This is most likely going to be one of the cornerstones of conquest because it helps to influence many different prolific and individual factors of a civilization.

This, interesting enough, didn't seem to be anything exceptionally new or groundbreaking to me. I, almost naïvely, at some level understood that technology would be a major deal breaker in taking over any people. Though, I did enjoy the stories and background even to show this point. I felt that what the book did instead of introducing something new, was to expand on a shallow understanding that was already there - which at times is more valuable, especially when I'm expecting GGS to start dropping some very wicked ideas at some point.

So there: a run-through of the first part of Guns, Germs, and Steel. This was long over seeing as how I promised to do so quite some time ago, but hey. Better late then never, no?

Friday, January 23, 2009

What I'm Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Time is generally divided into three general categories: Present, Future, and Past. Lately, everyone's focus has been on the present while hoping for the future - our now President Obama's inauguration is still fresh in our collective consciousness.

Yet, I find my own attention more directed towards the past. In many ways, his inauguration has called for much reflection, and I'm quite pleased at how this book - Guns, Germs, and Steel - has seemly dropped into my lap.

I've just finished the book's prologue and I can tell its going to be a fascinating ride, fitting in perfectly with my sociological and ever growing anthropological interests. The first reaction to the book is that I'm glad its focus will span throughout the world's societies. In school, they've mainly targeted Eurocentric curriculums, and while Europe holds so much to learn, it is but a drop in the bucket on a global scale. Not to mention that a more wide-spanning cornerstone of understand is probably going to be critical in the years ahead.

It is with that statement, I would like to write a few posts as I progress in GGS (typing its full name has gotten irritating...) detailing my thoughts on what I read. I was told just yesterday that this book is something to digest in chunks - I hope reflecting about it here would aid in that process. Also, I want to see what discussions will arise from these posts.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thursday's Snowfall

I liked this picture. It was snowing that morning, so I got my camera out as I went to my internship. Look at the snow flakes falling <3.