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Reel Big Fish covering Unity by Operation Ivy

15 Jul

Speaks for itself.

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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.”

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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.

Sh*t Pop Punk Bros Say

2 Jul

 

AKA: “A Retrospect of 9/10 of the Dudes Who Try to Chat Me Up”

Clearing up Asinine Misconceptions of Bisexuality

2 Jul

Many bisexual bloggers have posted about their gripes, so I decided to make a masterpost of sorts about all the ridiculous things people have said to me upon finding out that I was bisexual before I discovered the college party scene.

“You’re so lucky! You have twice the options!”

First of all, I like to tell people that being bisexual is twice the disappointment, because people of all genders have the potential to find you unattractive. Plus, we all have standards. I have no more options than anyone else. Also you’re taking genderqueer people out of the equation, who have the same potential for attractiveness as anyone else. I could write a whole page about transphobia and bisexuality but I digress.

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This will be on my tombstone.

“You’re dating a man, I guess you’re straight now.”

I mean, I can see where this logic comes from. I’ll give you the fact that walking down the street with my large, masculine boyfriend gives me “straight privilege” or what have you. My relationship means that the part of my brain that’s attracted to women has been completely shut off. Right.

“You’ve never dated a girl, how do you know you’re bisexual?”

Because I can look at both girls and boys and say “gee whiz, I’d like to take them out for pop and a cheeseburger”. Come on, this is first grade stuff.

bisexualunicorn2

Are you seducing me?

“You can’t call yourself queer because you dig the opposite gender”

First of all, don’t tell me what to identify as, because I’ll get an entire queer army to come to your house and toss sharpened unicorn horns at you. Second of all, I’m not even totally comfortable with the term “bisexual” because I feel like for me it excludes trans* people. So queer is a better catch all.

“The pride parade isn’t for bisexuals”

This was said to me during an LGBT workshop. I deserve a medal for not throwing a table at this kid. The LGBT community’s unwillingness to accept bisexual people because they aren’t gay enough is just as bad as everyone else disapproving of us because we aren’t straight enough.

That being said, I usually prefer to fly the rainbow flag to the bisexual one. Because, you know, I’m for everyone’s equality.

bisexual flag

Rainbows are more fun anyway.

“You’re just experimenting because you’re in college”

I’ve known I was bisexual since I was thirteen years old and saw Kat Von D on whichever tattoo show she was doing at the time. I didn’t come out to my friends until my junior year of high school and didn’t come out to my parents until I turned eighteen because I didn’t want to risk being cut off from them as a minor. That didn’t happen, but it’s sort of a given that coming out is hard. Anyway, experimenting is perfectly fine for some people, it’s just not what I’m doing.

On another note, I’ve encountered two girls who pretended to be bisexual for attention. That shit isn’t cool and it makes us all look bad, not to mention the women they had hooked up with felt incredibly blindsided and had an understandably biased opinion of bisexuals. Don’t do that.

“You must be pretty confused.”

Attraction isn’t a very confusing thing. It’s basic biology. I don’t know if there’s a gay gene or anything, but being attracted to someone is hardly confusing.

“Did you cut your hair off to look dykier?”

This shit bothers me a lot. Lesbians are just as varied as bisexual women are just as varied as straight women. I happen to present as feminine because wearing pretty dresses and loading up makeup on my face makes me feel good about myself. I cut my hair because I was sick of dealing with my poofy 80s looking mop and wanted a change. Also, gender presentation and sexuality are two different things. Please go back to Queer 101.

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Imagine trying to mow a cornfield. That’s what brushing this was like.

You don’t need me to tell you to be confident in yourself and your sexuality. Not everyone is as open about their issues as I am, and obviously not everyone who is bisexual feels the same way I do about certain things, but bear in mind that one reason it’s difficult to come out as LGBT is general misunderstanding of how this stuff works.

The LGBT community could take a lesson from Bill and Ted: “be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes!”

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Banned From The Roxy – Covered by Jeffrey Lewis

2 Jul

This came up on my Mountain Goats Pandora station and now may well be one of my favorite covers ever.

Screw Your Elitist Crap, Thrifting is Awesome

1 Jul

So recently, Macklemore decided to make thrift shops cool again with this jam:

Which I’ll admit, I bumped in my whip on the way to NYC for an intense thrifting adventure. Although Buffalo Exchange only bought two of the things I brought in, and I had about $20 on me that needed to go towards gas, I dug walking around and poking my head in thrift (vintage, for all you upscale New Yorkers) stores to see the stuff they had out. I worked at two thrift shops in high school, and being able to sift through the stuff people brought in to claim the coolest stuff for myself in exchange for my paycheck was one of the most fun work experiences I’ve had.

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Who needs to pay for a car when you’ve got a bitchin’ genie lamp?

Although most things in thrift stores don’t smell like R Kelly’s sheets, for some reason people I know seem to have an aversion to buying people’s old stuff. Which I don’t understand at all. I think there’s a lot of merit in the barter system, especially for people like me whose current profession is begging their parents for money, and thrifting is sort of like that, you have more space in your living quarters, and someone else gets your old stuff. I have some horror stories about stuff people have brought in, but as a whole, most of us are pretty clean in general. Also, washing machines were invented for a reason.

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It’d be bitchin’ if someone would send me Polaroid film in exchange for blog posts.

Plus, throwing your stuff out is no fun. Wouldn’t you rest easier knowing some broke kid is spinning your Revolver record and pretending to be cool?

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This was totally necessary to my survival.