Is the person who makes you miserable happier than you are?

Is the person who makes you miserable happier than you are?

Or, is my optimism misplaced? Smell the lilacs. Kick the leaves. Watch the cat in the window with his lazy paw dangling from the ledge, his ears twitching in the sun. Feel the sun on your face. Smell the air. Nod at the passing parents and their stroller, and the something small and soft and round sleeping inside. Somewhere there is a car accident. Somewhere there are sirens, shrill and strident. But they are worlds and lives away. Here and now we need nothing but simple existence. Because people always want something to happen. Need something to happen. (Simply existing in this world is not enough.) But there is no need to force a plot forward, no need for a catalyst or a deus ex machina. Just the simple beating of an imagination. Just the world around you and all the details that bring it to life. There are people all around, sure. These people have lives – of course things happen to them. (Car crashes and police sirens.) But they can happen naturally, normally, without begging for a result. Without video footage, responses, likes, shares. When something is forced to happen in a world as beautiful as this it cheapens the experience: Like trying to describe/define perfection instead of basking in its glow. Drama so miserable It’s been defined as drama like “omg I’m so done with all this drama” and it’s been defined in reality television like Osbournes and Kardashians and looking for eternal love in an elimination game with a poorly-done soundtrack. It’s watching someone else’s life because it lets you escape from your own. It’s comparing and...
The beautiful people or: Viewing people viewing people

The beautiful people or: Viewing people viewing people

What do we know about people? Or rather, what do we know about ourselves? Because, whether we like it or not, much of what we think we know about others comes from what we think we know about ourselves. We often use other people as a mirror; as a reflection of our best and worst qualities. It’s no wonder, then, that we are either drawn to, or repulsed by, certain personality types/different people. Science says we’re attracted to those with the same DNA as us; that we’re predisposed to like those who look/think/act/live similar to the way we do. This seems like such a small-minded, and limiting way to live in a world where “looks like me” is becoming an increasingly subjective, and polarizing, basis of judgment. But it shapes much of our day-to-day, even (especially) when we don’t realize it. Inclusivity In recent years, the cultural trend seemed to be one of celebration; of differences and similarities alike, of togetherness. After electing Barack Obama as the first black president in U.S. history, same-sex marriage was legalized across the United States (on June 26, 2015, at which point over 1/2 of states were already there). The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that denying the fundamental institution of marriage to same-sex couples violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. But perhaps more importantly are the almost intangible gains made during the last eight years, and for many years before that; the general push toward acceptance and progress. We’ve come a long way since the days blatant/accepted discrimination (women’s suffrage, Jim Crow, Japanese internment camps…),...
Is technocracy the answer to America’s troubles?

Is technocracy the answer to America’s troubles?

Technocracy is a system of government where leadership is comprised of technical experts; experts in specific fields who also have bureaucratic experience, as opposed to elected officials and appointed politicians. The United States looked fairly technocratic when it was first founded: Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, for example, were both renowned inventors, and much emphasis was placed on intellect. But the U.S. has strayed far from the merits of technocracy. Officials without background in the agencies they are running, or without expertise in any field for that matter, is an issue that must be addressed if we are to make our government more effective. Out of 535 members of Congress, only six are engineers and one is a physicist; there is actually a higher number of musicians, accountants, and former entertainers among the ranks. Even of President Obama’s 23 cabinet members, only the Secretary of Energy and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had engineering or natural science backgrounds. Most of the rest were lawyers.   Understanding technocracy The idea is that the experts run the show – those with experience in the fields over which they’re making decisions. This removes political agendas from the equation, and it removes (however controversially) the need for anything other than proof and fact when making decisions about the future of our country. It means the bible no longer plays a role in reproductive rights, for example. At it’s core, though, it’s simply a respect for knowledge and skill. An understanding that technocracy is about the people who have dedicated their lives to a certain subject, and are therefore most qualified to make decisions...
Don’t kill Hitler: How the past becomes the present becomes the future

Don’t kill Hitler: How the past becomes the present becomes the future

If you could go back in history to kill Hitler, would you? The popular answer is, Yes. Of course. This makes you a hero. Humans love to speculate. We spend time in our own heads imagining scenarios where we do something important that changes the course of history. We ask the question, if you could go back in history and kill one person, who would it be? Hitler. But perhaps the better (bigger, more important) question is, Would that actually change anything? Does a single individual make the difference? Do individuals matter? Or would it have happened anyway? The romantic view is that of course individuals matter. The Third Reich would never have happened without Hitler. The atrocities of the Holocaust could never have happened without the singular Adolf Hitler. But that’s not a realistic point of view. And it simply isn’t true. The man is only a symbol. He represents something. A sentiment. A feeling. An idea. Killing the man does not kill the idea; the sentiment remains; the feelings only grow. Today, there are comparisons between U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler. Beyond the increasingly-present Godwin’s Law (the longer an argument goes on, the more likely it is that comparisons to Hitler will be made), there has been serious speculation into the similarities between the two. Is the point then to kill the situation that allowed Hitler to arise? And if history is repeating itself, what does that mean for today? We then also cannot blame Donald Trump for creating the sentiments that got him elected. Why people are comparing Hitler to Trump Are the comparisons justified? There...
Bringing the country together

Bringing the country together

The United States seems as divided today as it has ever been. Racial, economic, religious, and intellectual divisions have spread us further and further apart. And while it’s in the country’s DNA to be divisive, things are seemingly at a breaking point. Politicians call for the country to come together. Is it even possible? Is it possible for there to be “one” America?  Or maybe a better question is, has there ever been one America? A country founded on dissent, based on bringing different cultures together. The term “melting pot” has been used over and over. When imagining the “great” America that Donald Trump seeks to return to, something painted by Norman Rockwell comes to mind. That is one part of the U.S., and it is the one that dominated politics and society for much of recent memory. This is where the problems arise. The idealistic/idyllic white families sitting around a dinner table and talking swap meets with a dog dreaming at their feet and a white picket fence around the front yard only worked for one portion of the country. That is no longer the predominant culture (whether symbolically or otherwise). The painting pictured right, aptly titled Freedom From Want, depicts the only piece of the country that could actually afford freedom from want. This is the demographic that had it all/everything, and they feel as though it is slipping away. As in the video posted by the Atlantic, the U.S. is no longer a white, Christian nation. But the notion that it is only the subjects of those paintings struggling with the social progress and equality embraced by modern society...
Real websites, fake news

Real websites, fake news

Fake news has existed from the earliest days of journalism, long before Bat Boy became Hillary Clinton’s alien baby. In 1835, Richard A. Locke published a series of six fake articles about the discovery of life on the moon, now known as the Great Moon Hoax, in The Sun newspaper. Sales of The Sun went through the roof. Writing false news stories and calling them real is generally protected by the first (and 14th) amendment (though libel can be prosecuted, and harassment). A groundbreaking 1931 case here in Minnesota defined journalistic freedom for the decades to come. The Near v. Minnesota case, dealing with a small newspaper that attempted to report corruption in the Twin Cities, went all the way to the Supreme Court. It set a precedent for recognizing freedom of the press by disallowing prior restraint on publication. (If you want to know the full story, read Minnesota Rag by Fred W. Friendly) This isn’t satire we’re talking about. We all know The Onion, or the New Yorker’s Borowitz Report, as reliable sources of satire. The number of humor-free sites attempting to convince an audience of authenticity without any real truth or foundation in them has been growing. As has their audience. At first these sites were easily identifiable. They were cheaply made and clearly unprofessional. But it was only a matter of time before duplicity got a makeover and began looking a lot more legitimate. The Big Hoax Facebook is perhaps the biggest offender. 66% of Facebook users get news from the site, and falsehoods have spread there like the plague. As outlined in the Select All article Can Facebook Solve Its Macedonian Fake-News Problem? the ability to generate income through ads...