Friday, January 28, 2011

We Have A Right To Feel The Way We Do

We have a right to feel. To feel happy, to feel sad, to feel contemptuous, to feel selfish, to feel all ranges of emotion. So why do people feel the need to completely discredit these emotions?

Look at an example of a college student from a middle class family who has never gone without, never had a real job, doesn't know what hard manual labor is, doesn't know a thing about life's hardships, don't like going to the doctor or the dentist even though their insurance pays for it all, and is loved by all those around them. Sounds like a great life, doesn't it?

So does he or she have a right to be sad or depressed? Yes, he or she does have things to appreciate in their lives, but does the possession of these things in life exclude you from the full range of the emotional spectrum? If you look at it that way, a person with a boss that treats them like an idiot can't complain about it because they have a college degree or any number of good things going for them.

I see this every day. Someone has a wonderful life and a great situation, but they feel down because of something that seems petty to others but may in fact, be important to that individual. Maybe it's because they can't beat a video game. Maybe it's because they were expecting a higher tax refund. Maybe they pulled an all-nighter studying for a math test the next day that got put off for no reason. It doesn't matter. Because without a doubt, someone else is there to remind them that they have it good, that other people would kill to have what they have, and that they should be grateful for their opportunities. The fact that such a person feels anything other than happiness shows that they don't appreciate what they have, or so the other person says.

I'm sorry, but I just can't agree with this line of logic. We are all human. We all have good days and bad ones. We have different problems and successes. Is a rich man less entitled to his emotions, to feel bad, to voice how he feels, than a poor man, just because the rich man has a "better" lifestyle according to some?

Yes, I realize this sounds like an over-privileged whiny kid complaining about how he's sad and you should pity him, but that's not it at all. What I'm trying to get at is that people's emotions, particularly the negative ones, are constantly discredited just because they "seem" to have a better life than someone else. Yes, a college student may have a better life than a high school drop out, but does that mean that the college kid should be happy all the time? Can't they just have, once in a while at least, a little time to feel sad, depressed, angry, selfish, or even a little bit of contempt?

Moral of the story: We are all human. People nowadays seem to forget this fact. We have emotions, and we can't (easily) control them when they are expressed. If a person feels one way, don't make it worse by discrediting those emotions. That solves nothing and if anything just shows the contempt you have for that person.

In short, respect how people feel, and follow Wheaton's Law accordingly.

Agree? Disagree? Got a comment or opinion of your own? Post a comment or contact me and let me know.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Possible Conspiracy in Arizona

Look, I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but this Arizona shooting incident is just getting a little too weird

Basic conspiracy: The Arizona shooting was planned out (not by the government. Too messy) to advance the political career of Gabrielle Giffords. 

It fits. Just look at the people and the situation.

Jared Lee Loughner was obviously nuts. He had a history of it and his college professors were even scared of him. He gets a gun from Wal-Mart. He isn't in the system or is over-looked at least, and makes a clean, legal purchase. He then continues to be crazy, making all those weird posts. He was not stopped or even reported. Someone had to know something was up. He was going to do something crazy eventually. A perfect pawn.

Giffords was portrayed as a perfect politician, well liked, has an astronaut for a husband, and a promising career. A huge plubicity event, and she could move on up quite quickly.

The day of the shooting, Loughner makes the shots and runs off. A judge got killed, and just to criminalize him even more, he also shot a 9 year old girl who just happens to be born on September 11, 2001. That seems a little bit too perfect for me. Giffords then survives a bullet shot to the head, with few bone fragments damaging her brain. It was a clean shot. Yes, it could have been a lucky shot, but really, a shot that does not cross hemispheres, is clean enough to not leave many bone fragments, and is not overly debilitating? Quite lucky indeed. 

Loughner is caught quickly and easily. He gives a mug shot that makes him look insane and slightly evil. A note is found in his safe alluding to the crime. Giffords gets great publicity and is making a great recovery.

So, to summarize so far, we have a promising politician who is well liked, young, attractive, has a model American family, and has a lot of political potential. We also have a guy who is nuts, acts as such, and is easily demonizable by the media. 

In court, he's happy, smiling, laughing to himself, and noticeably, not looking as bad as he did for his mug shot that is plastered all over the news. 

Meanwhile, he gets a lawyer who is a public defender, but also has handled all the other high profile scumbag murders in the past several years. She's a recluse, leaving Loughner in the spotlight. And his court case will be held closer to the scene of the crime, and he may not be pursuing a psych defense. There's no doubt that he's going down. 

And I'm not sure if you've noticed, but not a single news article about him (as far as I have seen, at least) doesn't mention Giffords and her miraculous recovery, and how well she's doing, and how she's progressing faster and better than anticipated. The two of them are constantly talked about together.

So who's to benefit from this? Obviously Giffords. Loughner is the perfect patsy. Everything was pinned on him too perfectly. He goes down, and she gets bumped up. She may even be recovering fast enough to run for president in 2012. It's about that time, and the way I see it, unless the Republicans get a total loser to be on the ballet, Obama isn't getting re-elected. He came in with high public approval, made some major changes, ticked a lot of people off, and if the Democrats want to keep it up, they need a new, fresh figure head. A woman who has an all American family, survived an attack from a horrible person, and made a great and timely recovery just in time for the primaries would do nicely. Now, where to get one of those...

I'm not sure who pulled off this whole game. I doubt it's the government or the Democrats or Republicans as a whole. This is too clean and too perfect. I would more believe a small group of people planned this. I would also be apt to believe Giffords was completely out of the loop on this one. Who would agree to be shot in the head and use that to her political advantage? Not many people. This was set up by some people around her who are now pulling the strings. She's practically a hero now, and they will help her move forward by manipulating her like a puppet, all while she's unsuspecting. 

Maybe I'm wrong. I know for sure that the incident was a tragedy, and should have never happened. But like I said, it's too perfect and too clean. 

Think I'm wrong? Think I'm right? Think I don't know all the details and you want to add your own? Let me know about it! Comment below or contact me. I want to know what you think!

*EDIT 1* I said something wrong in the beginning of the article. Loughner bought the Sportsman's Warehouse, and bought the ammo from Wal-Mart. I apologize for the misinformation. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

College Does Not Promote Individual or Group Health

"Well, duh!" you may say to yourself after reading the title.

The long hours, bad eating habits, lack of sleep, sedentary lifestyle, dangerous chemicals (depending on your major), large groups of people all sharing door knobs and stair rails and germs, and all the other obvious factors all lead college kids to be unhealthy.

But that's not what I'm talking about here.

What I'm talking about is the pressure for college kids to go to class when they are sick as dogs (by the way, "kids" here is the best collective term I could come up with. Yes, I recognize non-traditional students and older adults who go to college, but "college kids" sounds better than "collegians")

Professors tell college students to not show up to class if they are sick. This seems reasonable. If you are sick, stay home, rest up, get better, and don't infect the rest of us healthy people. In any other area of the workforce of education system, you would follow this logic. College kids can't.

It's not even so much that college kids are that thick headed. Speaking as a college student myself, I would love to stay home and get better. But we have pressures on us that literally FORCE us to go to class when we can barely keep our heads up.

Professors unwittingly intimidate sick kids to go to class.
Professors are intimidating. Don't believe me? Try going toe to toe with someone with a Ph.D., a masters, several years of professional experience, and a few more years teaching at a university, and tell me that you don't feel a bit jittery. You can't do it. So when a professor tells you that it is vital that you show up to every class, you do it! Yes, they also said that if you're sick don't show up, but that line in the syllabus that says "You can only miss 3 days before you are dropped a letter grade" or "If you miss X amount of days you will fail this course," you start to wonder if you're really too sick to go to class.

The "I'm paying too much money to miss this stuff" dilemma.
Have you priced college recently? Even a non-ivy league school like I go to is expensive. And before you say "Well, you should have done better in high school," let me tell you that most all grants and scholarships are awarded to the lower class kids. Middle class people fall between the cracks quite often. But I digress. College is expensive. A lot is riding on it. Pressure to get a decent job, pressure from parents and neighbors helping to pay for your way through school, not to mention student loans, and you really feel like every class you miss is money down the drain.

Lack of "good" medical care.
The first week of my sophomore year of college, I was miserable. I had a 103 degree fever, couldn't keep food in me, and just wanted to sleep all day. But the first week was super important. Everything happens in that very first week. So I went to class. I figured that if it got too bad, the campus nurse could help me out. WRONG! The campus nurse leaves early most days. Early, as in I went to see her (him?) at 2 o'clock in the afternoon and they had already gone home for the evening. But, as one of the assistance told me, she can give me some Tylenol and a list of doctors in the area. I took the list. I got treatment for..whatever I had...but the doctor wanted to treat me with steroids and antibiotics, without really knowing what I had. Not very reassuring, especially after all the MRSA reports still fresh in my mind. And that's just my experience. My friends have similar horror stories, all proving the same point: campus nurses have the stigma (properly?) of being insufficient and unreliable, and doctors in college towns (like all businesses in college towns) just want the money in the student's pockets. Yes, the doctor made me better. But I'm not sure how. Was it luck? They couldn't explain what I had, and it seemed to me like they were taking a shot in the dark. Kind of scary when you think about it.

The old favorites.
Of course, there is the normal "I'm not sick enough," "I can tough it through," and "Screw it, I'm going anyway" mentalities. But that's to be expected.

So sick college kids are going to class, infecting more people who still go to class, causing a whole pot full of yuckiness. And the longer a person is sick, the more prone they are to more sickness, and the longer on average they're sick. I have no idea how to fix this. I guess it's just an occupational hazard. Do you have any bright ideas to fix this?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What This Blog Is All About

I was browsing 4chan during a study break earlier tonight, and I stumbled across a very inspirational thread. This one picture really struck me. With this one picture, I realized what this blog is all about. I know what I said in the past, and I still stand by this. But this...

I know that some of what I've written seems unoriginal (like the "Is Life Really Worth Living Anymore?" and the "Dead Baby Rating System" posts), but I do try to look at things, digest them, and make my own decisions on them and report them here.

I don't know if this resonates with you, but it sure as heck did with me.

Friday, January 14, 2011

When Real News Happens, BS Dominates

I really hate the modern news broadcasting agencies now days. My hatred goes from the local news all the way up to the national news. They just don't know what they're doing anymore.

Prime example: The Arizona shooting. That's major new right now! On the particular day that inspired this post, the gunman had his first court appearance, police found a note he had written in a safe, President Obama had a moment of silence for the victims, and  Gabrielle Giffords was claimed to be stable but still in intensive care. It was not a slow news day. 

However, the day before, it snowed in Memphis (near where I live). Evidently, this "Snowpocalypse" was more news worthy than the shooting of a congresswoman. Now, I can understand if it was an obscene amount of snow. I can even understand if several neighborhoods had no power and people were freezing their butts off. But no, none of that happened. Just the normal reports of drivers who can't drive, people saying how good it was not to have to go to work or school, and the usual complainers who hate the snow that the news puts in there to seem "balanced." One news source even went so far as to devote an entirely too long segment to how little kids were having fun in the snow. Stock footage of little kids sledding, snowball fights, and little kids saying how great the snow was and how they were so glad that school was cancelled. And to clear things up, this wasn't the morning news or the afternoon news. This was the 5 o'clock news. The one where all the working stiffs come home and get caught up on the happenings of the day. Snow just isn't that important in the overall scheme of things.

And the national news isn't exempt from this either. I had it on CNN Headline news over the weekend just to have something to listen to while I was cleaning. It repeats the same 10 or 12 stories every half hour, retiring a few stories and adding in a few more to keep it "fresh." And the one story that kept coming up over and over and over, past all the refresh cycles of the day from 10 until at lest 2:30: a dog that was owned by a roofer who climbed a ladder to be with his owner. What. The. Heck. Can someone explain to me why this is news worthy? I mean, I can understand a slow news day. Some days not a lot of stuff happens. But since when is this news? Ever? Go to YouTube right now. Do a search for "dog climbs ladder." In fact, I'll even do it for you. The first thing you'll notice is that there are several videos of it. This is not unique. The second thing you'll notice is that the story used in the article on CNN happened AT LEAST A YEAR AGO!!! News should be stuff that happens recently, not stuff that happened so long ago that no one remembers it, making it ok to re-use to kill air time. 

And of course, there's the one thing that ticks me off so bad that I can't see straight. Every local news agency is guilty of it. It happens every summer at least once. And always during the premier of the new episode you wanted to watch, or during a live broadcasting that they will never show again, or at the climax of the show you've been wanting to watch for so long but never really have had the time to sit down and watch until now.

The weatherman. To tell you it's raining.

Evey summer, it thunderstorms. Every summer, it gets bad. Yes, there is a possibility for tornadoes or hail or both. And yes, it is the weatherman's job to inform his viewer ship of the occurrences of the weather in the viewing area. HOWEVER, if nothing is happening but hard rain with some thunder and lightning, why bother interrupting in the middle of a show to say that nothing is happening but hard rain with some thunder and lightning? Interrupt during a commercial break, or only when necessary. If a tornado is about to touch down, please tell me. But if you are explaining what to do if a tornado hits your house FOR THE FIFTH TIME IN TEN MINUTES, go away! I just want to wait out the storm and see who gets voted out of Survivor this week!

There is only one real outlet to get good news now days, and that's from independent news sources. But their so hard to find, and even then they all seem to have some kind of agenda going on (like Fox News and CNN, the Communist News Network), so you have to read several of them to make a decision yourself about what's going on.

Thankfully, there's Reddit (who is not paying me for this, but if they would like to give me money I will take it. I'm not THAT proud as to tun down college tuition money). For those of you who don't know how it works, it's simple enough understand. People find interesting articles and links, they submit it to the Reddit collective, and they vote it up or down depending on its merits. The result is several articles that pertain to major events (or at least worthwhile things) so you get quality news. Yes, the democratic system can be abused, but generally it gets into more detail than the normal press does on certain subjects. Wil Wheaton and Dante Shepherd both turned me onto it, and I have since been using it to my advantage.

I'm really upset with the news media. It has gotten absolutely ridiculous. If the outlets don't have an agenda, they're being annoying, misinformed, or jumping on one bandwagon or another. Other than submitting yourself to the internet collective, I see no way that news media can ever rebound.

Friday, January 07, 2011

The Dead Baby Rating System

Now, many of you have read the title and are screaming "WTF???? AH!!!!!!!!" This is understandable. But bear with me. This is going to be good.

Before I can introduce you to the system, however, it is vital to know what a dead baby joke is.

How many babies can you fit into a telephone booth?
Depends on if they're blended or not.
How do you get them out of the booth?
With a lot of Tostitos.

Why did the baby cross the road?
Because it was stapled to the chicken.

How do you get a baby to crawl in circles?
Nail one of its hands to the floors.
How do you get it to stay in place?
Nail it to a tree.

You are now initiated to dead baby jokes. You are very welcome.

Ok, if you're still reading this, either A. You are a sick, sick bastard, B. You are too horrified to stop reading or C. You like these kinds of jokes because you enjoy life.

I am the third kind of person. I try to find pleasure in all the small things, and I am a happier person for it (I think at least). A further discussion on happiness can be found here. Dead baby jokes are tasteless, lame, horrifying, and in real life would be horrifying. But it's a joke. Just a joke. Nothing more. Laugh at it. That's it purpose.

Ok, time to get to the rating system.

I have no idea how I developed it. It just stuck me one day. My friends and I enjoy dead baby jokes, and we make them often. One day I was off watching a movie with my girlfriend, and I decided that I wanted to inform everyone on Facebook and Twitter of how good it was. So I updated both of them with something like "Just saw [insert movie name here]. Good film. 4 dead babies out of 5." I laughed at it, my girlfriend rolled her eyes at it, and we moved on. Some friends were horrified that I did that, some laughed, some know that I'm that sick and twisted and just brushed it off as another one of my things that makes me "unique" (the polite way of saying WEIRD AS HELL!!!). Later, I saw another movie, used the system again, and it stuck. I've applied it to everything, from movies to books to TV shows. It can be used ANYWHERE! It is that versatile.

So how does it work?

In the early days, It ranged from 5 to 10 dead babies, with the higher number being better. In other words, 5 out of 5 dead babies is better than 1 out of 5 dead babies. Now, I more or less standardized the system (as much as a system based on death can be standardized) to be out of 5 dead babies. Then I added live babies. Live babies are bad. Like, conspiracy theories that we staged the moon landing bad (WE LANDED ON THE MOON IN '69 PEOPLE! GET OVER IT!). So, 1 live baby out of 5 dead babies is really bad, and something rated 5 live babies out of 5 dead ones should be doused with holy water, crushed up, burned, buried, and nuked. Thankfully, I have never had to go that far with a rating.

Some examples of the system in use:

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: 5 DEAD BABIES OUT OF 5! OMG!!! SO GOOD!!!

The Repairman Jack Series: 4 dead babies out of 5. A good series, but it drags in some places. Overall, an excellent read though.

Burlesque: One solid dead baby, two still borns, and a Baby K. Good film, but predictable, saved by its wit and humor. (Yes, a bit complicated, but all those mean something to me. So there.)

So that's how its used. I even had a spin off that I only used once, and it was very effective. It was called Good Day Baby. That's a for another post, however.

And that, my readers, is the Dead Baby Rating System I developed. You may now steal it.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

My 2010 Year In Review

Ok, so this was originally going to be titled "My Crazy, Nutso, Chaotic Year...In Review." In it, I was going to say why my 2010 year absolutely sucked and how I hoped 2011 was going to be so much better. I thought it seemed a little bit whiny, but I didn't care. Then I went to a party at my grandparent's new house, and as I was talking to all of my friends, I noticed that all of my friends had really crappy years too. I felt a bit reinforced in what I was going to write about today. But then after the party, me and my girlfriend were laying in bed together talking, and she made me realize something, and I think it has greater meaning and isn't quite so whiny.

The realization was that for every bad thing that happened to me this year, something good came out of it. And I think that this is more signification than any of the other ideas I had for this post. So here is the major highlights of my year, in no particular order.

1. My grandma got cancer. 
Colon cancer to be exact. Yes, this sucks something quite fierce. The doc gave her just three months to live. She had blood clots in her legs and couldn't walk or get out of her bed. She was on Hospice. Things were not looking good. But then we looked into alternative medicine, and we got her on some herbs that were supposed to help out the clots and stuff, and she got good enough that we could move her from Alabama to where I live in Tennessee. Once we got her here, we set her up with an amazing cancer specialist, and he said that the docs in Alabama should be shot. She still had plenty of hope. Now she is doing much better and is fighting it quite well. But that isn't the only good thing to come out of this. I have always lived no closer to my grandparents than a seven hour drive. Because of the cancer doctor and the amount of time it will take to beat it, she decided to move just down the road from me, so I can literally walk to my grandma's house. But this is the really weird thing: a few days after my grandparents closed on their new house, their house in Alabama got broken in to. They live in a high crime area, full of murders, rapes, prostitution, drug dealing, gangs, and all that fun stuff (<-sarcasm). They had an alarm system installed on their house, but the idiots who put it in did something wrong, so when the alarm went off, the cops got sent to the wrong house. As in, a house somewhere in MISSISSIPPI! And on top of that, no one knew about the break in until several days later. So if she had somehow survived long enough to be in the house still, or if she had stayed and died and my grandpa had been staying there alone, they could have been murdered. Now, nothing could have happened as well, but with the crime rate there, it's more plausible the expect the worse. So, on a certain level, it was almost good that my grandma got cancer and now she is doing quite well.

2. I almost broke up with my girlfriend several times
Yeah... See how this could have gotten very whiny very quickly? It's true. We almost broke up several times. We've been dating for about 19 months, and we've been friends for at least 4 years before that. Most of the things that we fought about that nearly broke us up were my friends and family. Both do not particularly care for her. But then, before I left for Disney World for a family vacation, we really did break up. And then all hell broke loose. We realized #1. that we really do need each other and #2. while people on my side of the fence openly don't really care for her (except my family and bestest of best friends, who have come around to liking her), people on her side of the fence had both of us bamboozled and her family hates my guts and just didn't say anything. The break up (that lasted all of about 4 hours), the getting back together period (which lasted a week), and the return to some semblance of normalcy period (which is ongoing) has showed both of us where the real allegiances lie and who is really on our side.

3. I almost failed two classes and missed several deadlines
If you know me, you know that I have never failed a class and very rarely miss a deadline, especially one that has a $5,000 dollar consequence for not reaching. Thankfully, it all worked out. First, in my second semester of freshman year, I almost failed Biology. This was major. My advisor screwed me over in the registration while I was still in high school, so I shouldn't even have been in that particular biology. The class was about all the cell processes in detail, such as the Krebs cycle, the electron transport chain, every part of photosynthesis, and all that. It was almost a chemistry class, and I'm not good in chemistry AT ALL (which is why I'm a psychology major. More interesting, fewer formulas). Going into the final exam, I had a 43 F in the class. I needed at least a 70 to pass. The final exam could count as two test grades and replace my lowest test grade that I had. I had a whole lot riding on this one test. My girlfriend helped me study for SIX HOURS STRAIGHT before the test, and I was confident going into it. I'm not sure what I made on the test, but I do know that I went from a 43 F to an 84 B. In the process, I actually learned more than what the professor taught, and grew closer to my girlfriend. The second class was Experimental Psychology, which was basically a specialized statistics class. High school ruined any hopes I had of doing a math based career, and thus the engineering path that I was on (gotta love hick schools), so math is not my strong point. I studied so hard for the class that I almost missed writing a paper to keep a scholarship so I can stay in school. I got the report done (at the cost of an entire night of sleep), and I passed the class (barely), but I at least built a small relationship with the professor that I will have many more times before I graduate.

4. My roommates suck. But then they rocked.
My freshman year, I had roommates from hell. An alcoholic, a pot head/Jesus freak/Bible thumper/prep/douche bag, and a stereotypical frat boy. We almost got thrown out of our dorm, but that's for another post. In the end, one got busted for driving high and was expelled (or something to that effect. It was all handled quietly. Ah, how a little graft solves all problems...), one had a GPA so low he was asked (read: told) not to come back for another semester, and one made it through ok and is living in the ATO house now.
But now, I have a new set of roommates (who are also freshmen), but this time we get along fantastically. I really couldn't ask for better roomies.

5. Miscellaneous good things
But plenty more good things, major and minor, happened to me too. I got to go to Disney World, I have a pretty decent GPA (a 3.48/4.0), my family is happy, I set up this blog, (and even made a commitment to it, myself, and the world), and plenty of other small things that I can't recall right now that lead to overall happiness.

So in conclusion...
Yes, I had a lot of major bad things happen during my year. So did my friends. We were sitting around talking about how we hope 2011 would be better, and we got caught up in all the bad that happened. But I am choosing to look at all the good things that came of the bad, and in that light, 2010 wasn't so bad. So bring on 2011! I can make that year great too!