Thursday, June 2, 2016

Discussion Blog

Few discussions divide us as evenly as the debate surrounding legal pot. When pot becomes legal (which we can almost all agree, is more a matter of 'when' than 'if' at this point) conservative parents everywhere will have less firepower when they argue with their teenagers about weed.

The thing is, teenagers are going to drink and smoke, and do whichever drugs they want, whether it's legal or not. Yes, drug addiction is a big problem in america, but doling out citations does nothing but send more funds the police departments' way, and does nothing for the greater good. People who are addicts need rehab, not jail.

Now, surprise, surprise, I know, I support legalization. The first side of the debate I'd like to explore is the side that's in support of legalizing weed. 

Compare to most drugs, pot is the least dangerous. Pot is not addictive. For anybody who'd like to argue that it is, anything moreish can be theoretically addictive, people can become addicted to drinking water. Caffeine and sugar are both more addictive than weed. If you become addicted to coffee, and you stop drinking it, you'll get headaches for a few days, and be especially sluggish when you can't have it. The closest thing I've experienced to pot withdrawal is having some crazy-ass dreams. 

The most notable negative side effect you'll experience while high is short term memory loss. The effect is temporary and wears off within a few hours. You will get the munchies, you'll giggle, and think of things you wouldn't normally think of. Pot has no measurable long term effects on the brain. I smoked for years and still test genius on IQ tests. My mental capacity has only increased over the years.

You should never drive under the influence of pot or alcohol, or a lot of prescriptions drugs, for that matter. You'll wreck your car driving drunk, pot may cause you to pull out in front of a vehicle, or not see a stop sign, but driving drunk you might drive 20 over the speed limit in the wrong lane. Pot makes you a more cautious driver. 

Pot is the safest of all drugs. It's safer to smoke a joint than to drink a 6 pack.

Pot re-allocates the brains resources. It may make you more imaginative, and come up with ideas you wouldn't think of otherwise, it makes you think outside the box. 

Pot affects different people in different ways. If you don't like the way you are when you get high, then you should stop smoking pot. Pot has a reputation for making people lazy, but I'm not certain if people are lazy in the first place, and are therefore attracted to pot, or if smoking pot is what makes people lazy in the first place. 

There is no logical argument against medicinal marijuana. It's been proven to shrink tumors in cancer patients, and treats countless diseases like glaucoma, and can help ease the symptoms of AIDS patients. 

Pot should be legal, it would benefit many people in America. I think many people would switch from alcohol to pot; pot being the lesser of two evils. It's less addictive, and far less dangerous. 

People who oppose pot
-The uninformed
-The government- few politicians are brave enough to support legalization because the establishment as a whole is decidedly against it
-religious establishments-"anything fun is sinful"
-people who see themselves as morally superior to others
-alcohol lobbyists-for obvious reasons
-tobacco lobbyists-pot has the potential to break nicotine addiction in some people
-law enforcement agencies-these agencies get a vast majority of their funding from pot related charges. They steal billions of dollars and private property from the people. If pot becomes legal, these police will have to chase actual criminals
-drug dealers-for obvious reasons
-the lumber industry-hemp could easily solve our massive deforestation problem
-private prisons

Twisted logic
-"90% of drug addicts smoked marijuana first"
really? and bet 90% of them attended church and played little league baseball first as well
-"over 400 chemicals are in the marijuana plant"
there are 400 chemicals in every plant, and 700 chemicals added to legal cigarettes
-"when a user begins to need the drug to feel well, the user is dependent or addicted to the drug"
this is redefining addiction in order to suit pot. By this logic, aspirin is addictive, and there should be a 12 step program in place to help those addicted to it.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Satire Blog

I think satire is a powerful form of writing. Satire might be the best method of voicing the truth, especially when it's about things that society doesn't like to talk about. Not everyone "gets" satire, and even fewer people are good at writing it, but satire that's in good taste tends to hit the nail precisely on the head.

It takes a certain degree of intelligence to appreciate satire.

and it's an effective way of getting your point across, so long as it's done tastefully. The best satire toes the line perfectly. It allows you to tell the sad truth about a topic without having to follow the usual rules of journalism.

 Satire is my favorite thing to write. If I could make a living writing it I think I would feel as fulfilled as I would if I chose a more traditional career path, like being a lawyer, or a doctor. It's just one of those things that has always come to me naturally, like playing the guitar, or playing basketball, but considering that my chances of becoming an NBA player or a rock star stand slim to none, I think writing satire is a viable third option, a reliable Plan C. If not a satire writer, being a writer of any kind would probably be a gratifying job. If I find that I'm not good enough, or I burn out on writing, the fallback is becoming college professor. If I can't handle 8 years of college, I'll be a teacher.

Who Owns Our Reality?

Print media is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Soon newspapers will become as antiquated as the average person that reads them

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Digital media is the future, and the future is now. The general populace consumes their media through their smart phones, laptops, and various social media outlets; the common denominator being a high speed internet connection. Millenials seem to get their news almost exclusively online

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I think we stand in the latter half of a sort of "wild wild west" era of the internet. I hope it stays this way for as long as possible. I think freedom of information is important, and the internet is the ultimate vessel for information. I wouldn't be surprised to see my generation regarding the internet as a basic human right in the next 20 years. I am a socialist (and will probably stay that way, until I work my way into the 1%; if I ever work my way into the 1%), and I think society will flourish if we provide each and every person with the basic necessities of place to live, food and water, and clothing; free rehab for the addicts, and a livable minimum wage. Only in a socialist America would we see the internet access become free and available to everyone. The problem is that it becomes a slippery slope when you give the government that much control over something as powerful as the internet, there would have to be plenty of checks and balances in place to ensure that the privacy of the people is protected; perhaps the government would contract the services of a broadband giant like Comcast to serve as a universal provider, and provide them with subsidies and money to create a nationwide broadband network. But maybe that would be just as terrible, to give one company a monopoly on the internet. (keep in mind that I have no idea the logistics of how any of this stuff would work in real life; just spit balling, really)

The job of the reader is to maintain an objective worldview in spite of the bias all media presents us with. You have to be able to hold two opposing ideas in your head at once.

Monday, April 18, 2016

What does your news say about you?

Reading the New York Times for a week, I never really saw any bias that I didn't disagree with. That's to say, it doesn't deviate too far from my usual palette of news sites. NPR, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and the New Yorker all share a decent level of liberal political skew. The New York Times, like most of the news outlets I read and listen to, is known to serve a bit of a bleeding heart audience. While it's reputation as being a part of the machine that is 'the Liberal Media' may precede it, I didn't see it as being particularly slanted. At the very least, it isn't nearly as liberal as it's neighbor, the New Yorker. It's no easy task to find where the Times stands on the spectrum of political bias. While it definitely isn't moderate, it's liberal enough to do it's fair share of Sanders-pushing. The problem is, I feel like the Times is that friend that gets all gung ho about Bernie and ultimately caves and votes for Clinton; still decidedly liberal, but I have a sneaking suspicion that deep down they really do serve the man.

People who don't take their news these days without a grain of salt are fooling themselves. I think most mainstream media outlets tend to lean left (NBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, USA Today), so the average political moderate must take a guarded approach when they read the news.

Since the start of this quarter my first two blocks have been occupied by online classes, allowing me the luxury of getting up at 7:30, making some coffee, and watching the morning news. My morning news consumption usually consists of listening to MPR on the way to school in the morning. For the most part, they stick to important news relating to global politics, the presidential race, and hard news like shootings and crime; rarely delving too deep into the realm of pop culture. Switching from MPR to the Today Show these past two weeks has been surprisingly arduous. Why? I think it has a lot to do with the broad spectrum of news covered by the show. Like most white males, I have a go-to news outlet when I want news, and then I have ESPN. The Today Show, I've found, covers a ton of inconsequential crap that I don't care about. The most trivial part of the show, the Kathie Lee and Hoda show features roughly a half hour of unadulterated B.S. It'd be a great news show, if it weren't for how heavily diluted the "news" is.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


I'll preface this blog by saying that I'm not afraid of algorithms; what I do fear is censorship, and I am afraid that algorithms that spoon-feed us what we want to hear have the potential to evolve into a new kind of censorship. Social media sites that use algorithms to deliver what they think we want to hear right to our doorsteps are the mortal enemy of those who want to widen their perception of the world around them. Divergent thinking means being able to understand two concepts that oppose one another at the same time; when our news is tailor-made to agree with us, our preconceived notions about the world around us will never be challenged, and our global perspective will shrink. There's nothing that impedes humanity's progress more than closed-minded people, and I don't want to see a world where people have an even greater lack of awareness of the other side. People are too quick to criticize what they don't understand as is, and in the direction the world is headed now, the rich are going getting richer, the poor are dying, and the ignorant are going blind. At the heart of this problem lies the two-party system. The two-party system is our version of democracy, and it tells us "vote democrat if you're liberal, young, black or hispanic, female, or living in poverty, vote republican if you're conservative, religious, white, or wealthy, and throw the damned ballot in the garbage if you consider yourself independent". It is institutional. Nobody really thinks it's the way it should be; anyone can tell you that it's what causes the "us vs. them" format of politics, but it's isn't going anywhere any time soon because the whole system is rigged. Anyone who wins a presidential election wins because they knew how to work the system. Virtually every elected office is the same way, independent candidates like Ralph Nader are something of an inside joke in politics. They make it seem as if you can vote for whichever candidate you'd like to see in office, but everyone knows that there are only two candidates with a chance in hell of winning the election. All this train of thought does is contribute to cynicism, if you actively acknowledge that "the system is rigged, man" you'll sound like nothing more than a garden-variety beatnik, and if you actively try to topple the bureaucracy, you're labeled an anarchist, which, let's be honest, nobody wants to be.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Journalism is the art of reporting.  I consider it art because it involves writing; a dry art form, but still a form of art. It's dry because it's all about objectivity and accuracy, rather than creativity, but it's art because everyone has a unique voice and style of doing it. Modern journalism has evolved to look nothing like journalism did when our parents were kids. The internet has essentially put the nail in the coffin of print journalism, and social media has changed the landscape of journalism as a whole. Instead of reading the newspaper, today young people get their news from a new platform, one that is constantly shifting gears. Getting your news from Twitter wasn't always commonplace, but it's quickly gaining momentum. I predict it won't be long before televised news becomes obsolete, even antiquated in comparison to social media.

We may soon find ourselves in the midst of a sea change in the world of journalism. Social media has shifted the focus of the news to being about what the consumer wants to read, rather than what the individual journalist wants to write about. If the people don't want to read hard news, it's futile to write about anything harder than Kanye's latest rant on Twitter. What's more is that social media has made our news living. We now get the news in real time, and I think that's a good thing.

Another big change lies in how the news gets to the consumer. Using the internet means that our experience is tailored to us based on data that's been collected from our IP address. A classic example of this is pop-up ads. If a website knows that you frequently browse bodybuilding forums, be prepared to be bombarded by "This guy weighs 175, benches 300 lbs using one simple trick!!". This same method is used by websites in a more subtle way in that the stories you see first are the ones the website wants you to see first. Websites know so much, some would say too much, about our interests, hobbies, occupations, and political stance.

Journalism is important, and the impact it's had on the world since the first printing press has been incalculable, and as the world continues to grow and change around us, only time will tell the direction it's headed. I hope that it continues to become more focused on the individual journalist than it is today, as well as continuing the trend of increased globalization.