Archive | July, 2013

The University of Michigan Makes Strides for Undocumented Students

26 Jul

More Collegiate stuff!

I didn’t really bother including this in the article, but I should probably point out that policies that make life easier for undocumented immigrants in the US have the potential to begin alleviating the drug war. Simply put, lots of people in Mexico really have no financial options upon deportation except to join violent cartels. Making the US a better place for immigrants will hopefully reduce the amount of people involved in the drug war and provide a safe haven for those targeted by drug cartels. Also, students who choose to bring their American education back to Mexico can hopefully work to improve the infrastructure down there. Making education accessible has the potential to do wonders for many.

Plus, no borders no nations, and all that anarcho-crap! \m/

 

Advertisements

Are Grading Systems Not Subjective Enough?

25 Jul

I promised I’d show y’all my content from The Collegiate, you can read my latest op-ed here.

Four Solid Reasons Animals are Better than People

20 Jul

I think it’s a pretty well-known fact that animals kick ass. Yesterday I watched a documentary on animal friendships that really solidified the notion that animals are far superior to people in a bunch of ways. Recent studies have shown what I’ve been called crazy for saying: that animals can indeed show compassion and form bonds of friendship with each other. Don’t worry, I’m not going PETA on you guys, but I don’t think animals get the credit they deserve.

1. Animals Don’t Discriminate

We live in a world where a goat will gladly help his blind horse friend, a cheetah and a dog can be best friends, and a deer will come out from the woods every day to see his dog buddy, yet, there are still white people who won’t be friends with black people, straight people who won’t be friends with queer ones, and what have you. Come on, humans, get it together.

horse and goat

Picture links to the other odd animal couples. Prepare to aww.

2. Animals Probably Know Everything

Can you imagine what animals would say if they could talk? House pets get a front-row seat to family and relationship conflicts and could probably provide some profound third party advice if given the chance. Wild animals get to see parts of the rainforest, desert, ocean, and maybe even environments that no humans have ever even thought of venturing into. They also communicate with each other, sometimes more effectively than humans can. Ever seen the way ants build their anthills? Imagine if cities were nearly as well-planned and efficient.

anthill

Not to mention as clean.

3. Animals Don’t Have Big Governments

While this isn’t entirely true, what I mean is that the leaders of most animal packs are biologically destined to be so, and do not gain power through money and corruption. While it may not be fair by human standards that the biggest in the pack gets to be the leader, this is what has worked for the majority of species for billions of years. Animals go with the anarchic nature of the environment; while they often work in tandem with each other, they work as a part of nature rather than try to conquer it, and each other, as humans do.

republidemocrat

GMOs are getting pretty out of control.

4. Animals Follow their Instinct

Although most animals are capable of compassion and understanding, for the most part, they follow their survival instinct and end up being way more productive in reaching their goals, which are much simpler than human ones. Animals may reach disagreements, but at the end of the day, they do what they do to survive. You don’t see animals doing recklessly stupid things to jeopardize their survival like shooting heroin, jumping out of planes, or eating McDonald’s.

beefy skateboarding

We can all learn from Beefy’s skateboarding safety.

So there you have it, the next time you enjoy your status as the “dominant” species, remember that the majority of animals have their lives way more figured out than you ever will. Feel free to leave more reasons animals are superior to humans in the comments!

Anyway,

Readers! I know that there’s been a shortage of new content here, I’ve been writing some pieces for The Collegiate and taking care of some gigs on Fiverr as of late, so I decided to have some fun. I’ll post my serious pieces when they’re published and there’ll be more angry political type stuff soon enough.

True Norwegian Black Metal

17 Jul

 

When Ben Anderson (Vice filmmaker – This is What Winning Looks Like) did his AMA a month or two ago, one piece of advice he gave me when I asked what he had to say to people looking into international journalism was to highlight interesting characters. This documentary is a prime example of Vice documentary makers’ (documentarians? is there a word for that?) ability to do just that. Plus, I don’t think you can get any more Vice than the b-roll of the serene shots of rural Norway with the metal music in the background, or the concluding shot. Stuff like this is what really makes me want to make documentaries. I’ve always assumed over the top black metal was cheesy and uninspired, and I’m pretty sure concerts smell bad enough without sheep carcasses onstage, but this definitely held my interest.

Also, if you’re familiar with Greg Graffin’s Anarchy Evolution, it may occur to you that a lot of what Gaahl says about god and nature parallels things that Graffin has to say. Who knew that Bad Religion had so much in common with a Norwegian black metal band?

Video

Reel Big Fish covering Unity by Operation Ivy

15 Jul

Speaks for itself.

Let’s Stop Pretending News Objectivity is a Thing

15 Jul

If there’s anything that makes me more nauseous than the first week I took Zoloft, it’s journalism students who think they’re going to overhaul the entire American news system into this objective utopia where no one has an opinion and events are reported in the exact way they occurred. These people tend to think of the news as a gridlock battle between liberal and conservative, MSNBC vs. Fox. They harp on about how “both sides” of an issue need to be addressed, as if anything in the news can so easily be reduced to point and counterpoint, and their main criticism of any given network, reporter, or story will be that they’re “too biased.”

objective unicorn

This unicorn is pretty realistic though

I find little wrong with being biased. I personally dislike large news networks because they act in corporate interest, choose not to cover less pleasant instances of state oppression, and play into partisan politics, rather than because they’re “too liberal” or “too conservative.” Legitimate criticism of a given news source or story would be bad writing, bad fact-checking, and inconsistent coverage. While news companies will swear up and down that they strive to present nothing but facts, this is close to impossible because the way “facts” are presented are largely affected by the individual presenting them. Deliberately making things up is totally dishonest, not to mention stupid. But Reporter A wording something differently from Reporter B, and you spouting off on the Internet about how both of them are full of shit, is the First Amendment at work. The alternative to news bias is 1984-esque state-owned news companies that churn out “facts” that they want the public to believe to be objectively true.

bush 1984

Anti-Statist Rule #1: Everything You Dislike is 1984.

Film and photography come closest to being objective mediums because they show things rather than describe them, and even so, there are a billion ways to manipulate pictures and videos into how you want them perceived (case in point being the above, although obviously it’s not always that extreme!). One of the reasons I’m so interested in Vice travel documentaries and world news is because Shane Smith and his correspondents have perfected “immersionist” journalism; they take part in the everyday lives of the individuals they want to profile rather than ask stilted interview questions. Even so, this cannot be fully objective because the footage they choose to use for the documentaries, the video edits they use, and even the small details in the camera angles are all deliberate. Think back to the Motherboard documentary Click, Print, Gun, that I posted the other day, if you bothered to watch it. The ominous music in the introduction tells you all you need to know about how whoever made it wants you to think of  Cody Wilson, but ultimately it’s up to you to decide.

While it’s true that the facts of a story are important, the various nuances of everyone’s writing and reporting style contribute to how they’re going to report an event. For example, I grew up middle-class with NYC in my backyard and first became heavily politicized through left-wing social justice politics, and although I’ve strayed from that a bit, I still have a strong distrust for the government. Of course my reporting style is going to be different from someone who is immersed in the religious right and grew up dirt poor in the South. One of America’s redeeming qualities is that both of us are eligible for jobs in the journalism industry, where it’s up to the public to decide who they want their information from, and it’s up to publications to decide who they want to hire. The amount of variations that exist in political philosophy and individual perspectives make it pretty insulting to the public’s intelligence for the media to present everything as a partisan issue. Niche publications like Reason are fantastic because they know and openly discuss their “bias” (I prefer to think of it as perspective) and how it affects the way they view events. Within even the most niche publications and networks, you have a plethora of individuals who all have something slightly different to say even if they’re all roughly on the same end of the political spectrum.

free speech zone

America, fuck yeah!

As Evelyn Beatrice Hall said (although it’s most often inaccurately attributed to Voltaire): “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Journalists worldwide are at the forefront of the battle for free speech, and their duty is to protect that rather than censor themselves in the name of objectivity.

Stand Your Ground: This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Policies

14 Jul

The Huffington Post, at around 10:00 PM last night, posted a Breaking News headline that George Zimmerman, who recently killed a black teenager, Trayvon Martin, claiming self-defense, was declared not guilty, despite pretty solid (IMO) evidence in favor of Martin. I will say that the prosecution dropped the ball, but that’s another story.

Now, “stand your ground” and similar policies are all in all a pretty good concept. Wikipedia (I know, I know) says:

“In the United States of America, stand-your-ground law states that a person may justifiably use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of an unlawful threat, without an obligation to retreat first”

I’ll always be for self-defense and freedom of the individual. I carry a knife on me at all times, and I’d sooner take matters into my own hands than trust the law with any altercation I might find myself in. As a white woman, chances are, I’d be free to go if I proved that someone who screwed around with me deserved it. You don’t need me to vomit out things you’ve already heard about how “postracial” America is bullshit, how the law system and the media is overwhelmingly in favor of white (or white-appearing) individuals. But the fact that there is anyone in this country who is denied civil liberties under the guise of a policy that appears to enforce civil liberties really should make you angry.

What should make you angrier is that there’s no set definition of “justifiable force.” Zimmerman definitely had injuries that appeared to be inflicted by Martin, but there’s no evidence that Martin didn’t use this same “justifiable force” while being provoked by Zimmerman, and now he obviously can’t tell his side of the story. I’m no law expert but it doesn’t take a genius to see the glaring inconsistencies in how this policy is handled. CeCe McDonald was certainly standing her ground when she defended herself from the men who were attacking her. So why is she in prison while Zimmerman gets off scot-free? Marissa Alexander was charged for “aggravated assault” when she fired a warning shot upon being threatened by her abusive husband, and is now doing 20 years in prison. Although doing so may have put her children in danger, where’s her right to self defense? Is it reasonable to assume that her husband could’ve done more damage? Now these are just cases highlighted by the media, and I’m sure you could write a whole book about how race and gender play a role, but if these are just a few examples, it raises more than a few questions about the extent to which Americans are able to defend themselves, and how well American courts can protect the right to self-defense. The government is trying to disarm citizens, while cops literally get away with murder all the time. Claiming self-defense in court in any case is not as viable an option as it should be.

If you bothered to watch the Motherboard documentary I posted yesterday, you’ll remember NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre stating, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” As problematic as the NRA can be, I’m with him on that. At the end of the day, a 17 year old kid was killed in the US and no one was held responsible. To all the people who love to point out that kids get killed overseas and in America’s inner cities every day, ask yourself, does that really make this outcome justifiable?

Video

Click, Print, Gun: The Inside Story of the 3D Printed Gun Movement

13 Jul

 

Unsurprisingly, this topic came to mind because of a video featured on Vice.

The notion that people will be printing out cups and plates and furniture within the next decade made me snort. Come on, can we please reform policies on weapons that work instead of trying to make our own?

Image

The 3D Printing “Revolution”

13 Jul

One of my favorite things to recently happen on the Internet was every single libertarian collectively shitting their pants over “The Liberator”, while a gun made out of plastic probably poses more danger to the user than anything you’d be shooting at. While the idea of making your own guns is hella cool, the fact that 3D printing is expensive as shit, and not very accessible (yet) sort of puts a damper on the Internet antistatist community’s excitement. Also, the notion that DIY guns will hurt companies like Smith and Wesson is sort of ridiculous, because established gun companies make products that… well, products that work.

To be honest, I’m way more scared of the stigma placed on people with mental illnesses with state gun regulations than a libertarian running around with a plastic gun. 3D printing is extremely cool technology no doubt, and the fact that it’s been used for things like hip replacements and sex toys is fantastic, but it’s gonna be a long time before anyone has a 3D printer in their home, and an even longer time before homemade guns oust Smith and Wesson.

Link

Financial Aid in Nontraditional Families

11 Jul

Financial Aid in Nontraditional Families

My first post for The Collegiate! Overview of how students’ financial aid can be affected by their parents’ marital status.