The Art of Recovery

The Art of Recovery

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (like any criticism that I suck as a writer, because I know it, let’s move on), the courage to change the things I can (learn how to write well) and the wisdom to know the difference. The Serenity Prayer is something that is spoken in almost every Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other anonymous 12-step recovery programs, and for good reason. It is such a simple lesson, and addicts like simple; we just choose to complicate the shit out of everything along the way. Learn how to accept what life throws at you, learn to take charge of life when you can, and learn when NOT to interfere. Pretty simple right? Now, if only we can live by it. Because as an addict, and speaking from my personal experience, anytime I tried to do things my way, or manipulate things to work in my favor when it was so painfully obvious that wasn’t in the cards, shit got fucked (as they say). So let’s back up and see where it all began and where it all went wrong… No, we’re not actually going to do that, because teacher said this only has to be a 500 word essay. Besides, that story is too long. What I can say is that I am the product of an alcoholic family, so I was doomed from the start. That’s not necessarily true. Did I mention addicts tend to lie a lot? Anyway, there’s always a chance that children of parents who are addicts can turn out perfectly “normal.” However, that was...
Are humans going to go extinct?

Are humans going to go extinct?

It’s pretty common these days to think about the human race going extinct. From the doomsday clock sitting at 2 and a half minutes to midnight, to Elizabeth Kolbert’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Sixth Extinction, to dozens of novels, movies, and soothsayers calling for our demise, it’s a pretty dark time to be a human. But is going extinct really something we should be worried about? We’re a fairly resilient bunch, and the short answer is no. Not anytime soon, at least. But how? With so many terrible things out there trying to kill us, including ourselves? Let’s take a look: Giant asteroids are a common villain in the story of humanity’s demise. But it’s extremely unlikely (more or less impossible) that something like that is going to wipe us out. Plenty of species survived the Chixculub impact about 66 million years ago (though not the dinosaurs), and humans, being more adaptable (more on that later), and with technology and tools, would likely survive as well. Plus, the solar system calmed down about three billion years ago, so we’re not going to see any asteroids worse than that one, or even of that size, coming our way anyway (as we have learned from studying the cratering record of the inner solar system). And, just to help you sleep even more soundly tonight, we have technology now to see asteroids coming and take care of them long before they make impact with earth. Then, we can just send Bruce Willis up to save us (though Ben Affleck won’t be joining this time, he is too busy with Batman). Other popular ways doomsday...
A brief history of Black Lives Matter

A brief history of Black Lives Matter

The murder of Philando Castile has placed tragedy on St. Paul’s doorstep once again. Marcus Golden was shot and killed by police in January of 2015, and, in the seemingly short year and a half since, there have been a startling number of black men and women across the country killed by police. This is not a 2016 phenomenon; this clip from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, for example, dates back to 1991: There are two ends of the spectrum. On one, those who offer unequivocal support. On the other, those quick to cast aspersions; those who don’t think the officers did anything wrong, believe that the black men and women who lost their lives perhaps “deserved it,” or simply don’t believe something like Black Lives Matter should exist. It has been called a “terrorist organization,” it’s been accused of inciting violence, and it’s been dismissed by anyone upset that protesters haven’t stayed out of the way when protesting. Okay, so maybe it isn’t that simple. There are plenty of people unsure of what the movement is and what it stands for. Few know the actual story, the philosophy and the goals of Black Lives Matter, and the reason why it is so necessary.   Black Lives Matter: More than a hashtag, more than a disruption of your daily commute, and certainly not a terrorist organization.   After the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in the summer of 2013, and the subsequent acquittal of George Zimmerman, the movement began with a simple hashtag: #BlackLivesMatter. Co-founded by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, community organizers and friends from San Francisco, it began as a...
Be responsible with the internet

Be responsible with the internet

The internet has made information accessible to almost everyone. We now turn to social media to get our news, as platforms like Twitter and Facebook are often the quickest way to get information when tragedy strikes. These platforms can also seem more real and honest, without the bias and agenda of major news outlets. But the rapid influx of (mis)information can also quickly run amok. In 2016, we are all citizen journalists when we post something online. We have the ability to send and receive information quicker than ever, and while this is not inherently a bad thing, we have to hold ourselves accountable. We have to hold ourselves to the same standards of integrity and accuracy that we demand from our sources. When tragedy strikes, it’s important to put aside previous notions and look at the situation objectively to avoid jumping to conclusions. Avoid the internet bandwagon It’s far too easy to latch onto virulent posts and rants and opinions you agree with online. Emotions run high, especially when it’s a situation that’s personal, unjust, unaddressed, or simply wrong. And social media can offer a voice to those who might not normally have one. Or, more than that, it can give us information we can’t get elsewhere. In the heartbreaking case of Philando Castile, for example, social media was the only way to cry for help (read more about that in the Wired article: For Philando Castile, Social Media Was The Only 911). Far too often does mainstream media ignore those with strong facts and important points of view, and social media is the only outlet we have....
The Juno spacecraft, one of NASA’s greatest achievements, is part Minnesotan

The Juno spacecraft, one of NASA’s greatest achievements, is part Minnesotan

After launching in 2011, Juno, the unmanned NASA spacecraft charged with uncovering the secrets behind Jupiter’s formation and evolution, entered into the gas giant’s orbit earlier this week. Juno will hang around Jupiter’s atmosphere studying fluctuations in gravity, visualizing the magnetic field, and taking some pretty epic pictures for all of us back on earth, for about a year. None of this would be possible without the Jovian Auroral Distribution Experiment (JADE), which will study Jupiter’s Auroras by measuring electrons and ions in the planet’s atmosphere. And none of that would be possible without polyetheretherketone (just call it PEEK), a semi-crystalline organic polymer thermoplastic that is incredible strong, incredibly light, and incredibly resistant to ultraviolet radiation. It’s a necessary piece of JADE, and a good portion was made right here in Minnesota by Diversified Plastics Inc., a Brooklyn Park-based company that provides a “full-service plastic injection parts manufacturer providing prototyping, manufacturing and assembly.” That’s a lot of jargon… what’s important is that there is a probe floating around Jupiter making groundbreaking discoveries that wouldn’t exist without the help of a Minnesota company. Most notably, Diversified Plastics created an insulated shield that will prevent electrical arcing. They also molded PEEK around aluminum rings, and produced a dozen metal inserts in their Design Tool and Engineering division. Okay, so Juno is only a little bit Minnesotan. But you know, one small step and all that. The prevention of electrical arcing is crucial to the mission, as Jupiter’s magnetic atmosphere could very easily send electric shocks through any electrically conductive material (like the metal hull of a spacecraft) and fry Juno’s computers. And if that happened, well, the...