Friday, May 27, 2011

Hello Mr. Politician. Are You Even Listening?

Let's look at Tennessee for a moment, shall we? I'm embarrassed to say I live here. The state has almost blatantly called open warfare against homosexuals, and it's so conservative you would think it was Victorian England. It begs the question, how far out of touch have these and other elected officials drifted from the people that voted for them?

This may seem like a offshoot of a previous post, and to an extent it is. But this time the main point is "Why do politicians have their heads so far up in the clouds?" For example, for the first time in American history, equal rights for gay marriage is supported. This is especially true among young adults, who are overtaking the baby boomers finally. Yet, Tennessee is not only trying to erase homosexuality from the world by sweeping it under the carpet,  they are also full out attacking homosexual people. And yes, those are in the headlines now, but a few other bills are going through the legislature now to eliminate breaks from teachers' day and take away their rights to control their work environment.

It just seems to me that everywhere, not just in the Volunteer state, that politicians are increasingly flipping the bird to the people they represent. Why do most states not have medical marijuana laws? With the overcrowding of jails and prisons, why are those who were only arrested for cannabis possession still in there? Why are all the big wigs so concerned about "protecting the sanctity of marriage" when most them can't keep down a marriage themselves, they do little to curb teen pregnancy, and each week it seems like a new mistress for someone comes forward?

I would love to say that in order to fix this we should vote against incumbents, but really that does no good. No matter who you vote for now days, you're still getting basically the same guy (or girl). To get into politics in the first place, you need to be good at networking. You also need to get to know the right people. Later, once you're a big shot, suddenly you have to repay and help out the people that helped you, and you have to start with the ones with the deepest pockets or the ones that can either make you or break you. Once you make it past the city level (and sometimes not even that far), your constituents no longer matter. Only the people around you who line your pockets and keep you in office. Such is the nature of the beast I suppose.

There is no fix. Even an overhaul of the political system or even a new one won't help. The only thing that would come close would be a "golden boy," who had no scandals, listened to voters, and completely bucked the system, yet somehow managed to keep getting re-elected. In fact, there would have to be a fleet of these golden boys and girls to make change. But this is impossible. Mavericks only get so far before they trip and fall. Then we're back to the same old thing: Politicians serving their own interests and ignoring the people who REALLY got them there.

How far off base am I? Or did I hit a home run with this one? Please let me know! Leave a comment or contact me so we can discuss this issue further! 

Also, thank you to Surviving the World by Dante Shepherd for inspiring this post and providing the initial links to get this argument started. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Art Needs to Wake Up and Smell The Stench Around It

There are all kinds of different art, and definitions that define art. To you, Andy Warhol's "Brillo Boxes" are art, to someone else, they aren't. We (the public) are expected to respect what others call art, and live with it, no matter what it is. I say, shouldn't the public be taken into account more?

Art at it's finest

The above image is called Tilted Arc. It was placed in Federal Plaza and the public was expected to appreciate it as art. It wasn't well liked, and rather than being relocated (the artist didn't want that) it was removed and destroyed. To the people, it was a relief. To the art community, it was a travesty. An artist's work was destroyed because some people didn't like it! 

Was it art? By modern definitions it was. But outside the community, it was just ugly. My question is, shouldn't public taste be taken into account when displaying art in public? (Allow me to define public: Outside a museum. As in exposed to the elements. In a window of  business or inside a privately owned business, that's the curator's or owner's decision.) If the people of a particular area who have to directly interact with a piece of art on a regular basis, shouldn't their preferences be taken into account more than a committee of people who are supposed to determine if it should be displayed?

A counter argument: If the public got a choice of what art would be displayed in public, the Eiffel Tower would have been tore down. This is correct. But by this same logic, it wouldn't have become an icon, and it wouldn't have been missed, so it wouldn't have mattered. 

What do the people want? Why not ask the people near the area where the art will be displayed? People vote for American Idol and Fox News polls, why not vote on art? Artists submit their work, a panel narrows it down to the top five, and the people have a week or tow to make their voices heard. After that, they live with what the choice the majority chose. This allows the art community to have their say, and the public to not have to deal with a huge, rusting wall in the middle of a plaza that was already designed that way by another artist. After all, isn't pleasing the public and beautifying the area the point of public art? 

Am I right? Or is my argument dead on it's feet? Let me know! Contact me or leave a comment! 

Friday, May 13, 2011

He’s Dead. Been Dead In Fact.

So maybe I’m a bit more prone to creating and believing conspiracy theories than I’d like to admit, but this time I’m on the other side of the fence. I think we got Osama Bin Laden, just not in the manner described.

The way I see it, there’s no way that we could have lied about this. Osama Bin Laden is dead, and was killed by American troops. This much I believe. Think about it this way: If we hadn’t have gotten him, wouldn’t he have sent a tape to anyone and everyone calling us dirty liars? This close to elections, I really don’t think President Obama would want to take that risk. Yes, the photos haven’t been released. As much as I don’t like a lot of what Obama has done in his term so far, I honestly believe this was a wise choice, and al-Qaeda is trying to goad the pictures out of us to incite violence. As for the body, think about it: What country would really want him on their soil? If nothing else, that would be an international relations debacle. I don’t know if there really would be pilgrimages to his grave site, but the body would definitely be stolen and possibly fought over, so the burial at sea would defiantly be a desirable option. We got him, he’s dead, end of story.

Now, on the other hand, I’m not entirely sure he was killed when and where it was described. I have two reasons to believe this. One was the timing, and the other is history. This close to elections, Obama needs a boost. Yes, he got points for slamming Trump (and if the Republicans nominate him I’m changing my voter’s card), but that only goes so far. His popularity is still down, and as elections draw closer, they will continue to go down as people consider other candidates. The announcement of bin Laden’s death came at a time when it could be used to strengthen the President’s campaign for re-election without coming too soon or too late. It’s a weak theory, yes, and that’s why I mostly think the second idea is the more plausible one.

Ever heard of the Gulf of Tonkin? It helped the U.S. start the war with Vietnam. No one was sure of an attack, but they used the possibility of one to start the war. I think something similar happened here. After all those years in Afghanistan, it’s hard to believe that we never found anything over there. Obama promised to bring the troops home, but never did. This tells me that he either lied (possible), or there’s more going on over there then we know (more likely). If we found and killed bin Laden over there, that would be mission accomplished and the troops could come home and we could celebrate a victory for America and democracy. However, if we wanted to keep the troops over there, finding bin Laden was actually set-back. By setting up a fake stronghold in Pakistan and saying we got bin Laden there, we would have sufficient reason to invade that country next, either because they are “harboring terrorists,” or because they got made that we violated their sovereignty and they retaliate against us. Now we can keep our troops over there for whatever reason, and the war has a new, refocused purpose again. And because we got one major player, The People will be more willing to stay there for just a bit longer.

So, if what I say is true (which would be scary), how did it all go down? My idea:

We found and killed bin Laden in Afghanistan. This seemed like a victory, until the higher ups realized this meant the war no longer had any justification whatsoever (as opposed to the weak one they were working off of). The plan was then hatched to use a stronghold of a warlord in Pakistan to use as the set up. The place would already be a good fortress and have a decent back story. A bribe here, a bit of misinformation there, and the place was in American hands. The day of the alleged operation, the copters and troops fly in, put some holes in the wall, and plant the evidence. To anyone outside the stronghold, it would look like they stormed in, killed bin Laden, and left, just as described. The man who live tweeted the entire thing was just a stroke of good luck.

After this, it unfolded perfectly. The President made his speech, the world celebrated, Obama’s poll scores went up, a reason was made to keep the troops over there, and the world was one terrorist lighter. It works out well, don’t you think?

What do you think? Am I right? Or completely wrong? I am honestly very interested to know what you think! Leave a comment or contact me to share your thoughts!

Friday, May 06, 2011

The Need For "Staging Schools"

So if you've read this blog for a while (thank you for those who do), you know by now that I am a college student. Being a modern campus, we have many foreign students on campus. I never really thought about it until my girlfriend took a social work class, and part of it was having a conversation partner from overseas who was taking a class learning to speak English. This is where I had  great idea: We need staging campuses in the United States.

Here's how it would work: Rather than foreigners going to a college campus from the get-go, they would go to one of several campuses around the country, based on what their native tongue is. There, the professors would do nothing but teach them English. The tuition would be considerably lower than regular universities. There would be no pressures to worry about math, biology, or keeping up with what is going on in other classes. They would do nothing but learn English.

But these campuses wouldn't be cut off from the world. That would be a waste. Instead, the local community would be welcomed to the campus to speak with the students, improving their language skills and teaching everyone about a different culture. Think about it. A specific cultural hub where the American people could learn about the French, Chinese, Saudis, German, Spanish, Brazilian, Russian, and a mix of other cultures too. All the while, the students are also learning about different cultures (not only American culture, but other cultures too. Last I checked there's a difference between a Portuguese person and a Brazilian), all while surrounded by a familiar language and immersed in a foreign one.

Now, this may seem a bit racist. On the surface it looks like we're just putting foreigners into certain spots until they learn what we want them to. This couldn't be further from the truth. By creating a cultural hub, both groups can benefit. Americans learn about a group, thus gaining tolerance and understanding, while the foreign group learns about the culture they will soon see once they go to an actual university and practice their language skills so they can graduate faster. Also, because the staging campus is cheaper and more focused than learning the native language on a non-specialized campus, they will save more money, learn faster, and can start on equal footing once they graduate.

Unlike other plans that I have set forth in this blog, I actually think this one can work. Even if just a satellite campus was set up, or a kind of community college, this could be possible. Volunteers could be used to save money, tuition would pay for the construction fairly quickly, and the benefits certainly outweigh the cost. Just something to consider as elections are coming up.

Enjoy what you just read? Or am I missing something? Let me know your thoughts! Leave a comment or contact me to fill me in!