A festering past, unacknowledged wrongs, and our role at present

A festering past, unacknowledged wrongs, and our role at present

Born and raised in the Midwestern United States, I learned quickly not to bring up subjects (past, present, or future) that might cause strife at the dinner table. Not with my immediate family – where discussions, dissent, and even discord were welcomed as long as tones and topics remained respectable (and even the word “respectable” remained rather broad and undefined) – I was raised into a family were the idea of talking about something/talking things out was the only way that they would/could actually get solved/be addressed. But elsewhere I found this to be a problem: The holiday tables of my grandparents and great-grandparents. My second-cousins and their friends. The unfamiliar homes of classmates and their parents. The tables of strangers and in the workplace. Riding public transportation. In the aisles of grocery stores. At neighborhood barbecues, where everyone laughs and drinks beer, but-don’t-offend-the-man-who-sometimes-shovels-your-walk-for-you-in-the-winter. I was born in Hackettstown, New Jersey.  I don’t remember the coast. My older sister, Kaela, born two years before me in Freiburg, Germany, remembers more. She remembers leaving, at least. We moved to Huntsville, Alabama for a brief period, where my sister was born in the humid, mid-August heat And then drove north to St. Paul, Minnesota. This is being written in the time of Donald Trump. Judge Roy Moore was recently defeated in the Alabama special election, arguably the largest shift of the tide since the election of Donald Trump to the presidency in November of 2016. Moore, an accused sexual molester, at best, and the owner of such regressive philosophies as homosexuality is “sin” and deserves punishment, and that times were better...
The future of love (NSFW)

The future of love (NSFW)

In what some people call the “Age of Narcissism,” we have to be bigger than the universe. We have to be most important. And we have no time for other people who don’t add value to our lives. We have already moved away from traditional “meet-cute” love, i.e. we’ve digitalized love through apps like Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, etc. And with the advent of “sex robots” (soon to be without such a clumsy description – “sex robot” seems how we might have thought of android love in the 1950’s), it will only be a matter of time before the accessibility and readily-available nature of artificially-intelligent partners will supersede the time and effort it takes to impress a real one. Watch the trailer for “The Sex Robots are Coming” below for an illustrative example. Humans, for being such social creatures, have been struggling to meet and maintain romantic partners, and maintain especially in the long-term. Why, then, wouldn’t we just buy the copy? Why wouldn’t you just go to the store to get the latest model which takes no work on your part (besides spending a set dollar amount, and probably dignity amount as well) to woo? And then, consequently, having a real, warm-to-the-touch partner would become an “artisan” experience; the organic alternative to those made in a factory. The future of sex Let’s back up for a moment; this relationship is already moving too fast. When we talk about the future of love, we’re really talking about the future of sex. One precedes the other; the idea that people will come to prefer the company of artificially-intelligent humans over the...
The Guilt of Tangential Crimes

The Guilt of Tangential Crimes

“The point of civilization is to be civilized; the purpose of action is to perpetuate society, for only in society can philosophy truly take place.” – Iain Pears, from The Dream of Scipio As a German-American raised in Minnesota after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, my relationship to the Cold War, to a divided Germany, and to the war that led to it, was very tangential. Talked about in abstracts, pointed out in black-and-white photos, running together with all the other great and important and terrible events in history for which – I was taught – there is no place in the world today. It wasn’t never discussed in “Remember when…” terms, because it was before, what seemed like a long, long time before, my time. Grandparents who had lived through it, one set in the United States, and one set in Germany, were my only true connection to this time in American history. But Germany has treated history very differently than we have here: It’s 2017 now, and long has America ignored its responsibility to the past. We have parades, yes, where we wave flags and sing songs of patriotism. And we have museums. Museums dedicated to the past and everything that the country was/is built upon so we can look at them, nod our heads in deep understanding, and then leave it all behind. We have the History Center here in Minnesota. There’s the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C., which only opened in 2003. And we have monuments, which some people have trouble differentiating from the...
Desire: Wants and Needs

Desire: Wants and Needs

We all know the things we want. And we all know the things we want that we don’t tell anyone else about. We lust, we hide, we lie, we cheat, we need. We desire. It’s inherently, truthfully, human. So, what is desire? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, it’s to want or wish for (something) : to feel desire for (something) to want to have sex with (someone) to express a wish for (something) We have tried to explain our wants and needs since the days of Antiquity – why they hold so much sway over our actions. Desire is what drives all of us, and, at least according to Hobbes, is the reason we as humans do anything. “The object of man’s desire is not to enjoy once only, and for one instant of time; but to assure for ever, the way of his future desires.” Or, even simpler, desire is wanting. And as Elizabeth Anscombe says, “The primitive sign of wanting is trying to get.” Pleasure-based desire The most ubiquitous, and perhaps the most powerful, is pleasure-based desire. Why spouses cheat on spouses, why people break laws, why Fifty Shades of Grey (pictured) makes housewives blush en route to $85 million on opening weekend, and a grand-total $571 million worldwide. A simple explanation for this comes from Denise Cummins, Ph.D. in her interview with Psychology Today: “Part of it, of course, is simple curiosity in bondage and sadomasochistic sexuality (BDSM). That part is simple to explain: The pain and fear that comes with sadomasochistic sex causes the brain to shunt blood flow away from its executive “decision-making” areas (frontal cortex), which results in an altered state of consciousness in both...
Pics or it didn’t happen: Our obsession with permanence

Pics or it didn’t happen: Our obsession with permanence

Something happens. Something memorable, or kinda cool, or not really that interesting at all, but we take thirteen pics of it anyway. We have to take pictures; record it, show the world, share, for posterity’s sake. That we were there. That we are here, now. This is really nothing new. And this is nothing we would put on the shoulders of the Millenials (Gen Y) and Pivotals (Gen Z) who have had the luxury of social media basically since day one (and therefore the normality, and subsequent pressures, of performing online). It’s just the latest form/different version of the photo books mom/grandmom pull out every time you start dating someone new. It’s just the logical next step for a species that started in the dirt, moved on to cave paintings, invented the camera in 1888, and now has a tool to share who they are with the entire world in the blink of an eye. This is just progress. But why is it something so rooted into our DNA, or just our sense of identity? Why do we feel the need to capture everything and look at it over and over again? And for other people to do the same? Why, ultimately, do we feel like something isn’t really real, something didn’t really happen, something isn’t worth remembering, unless we have the physical photo of it to look back on and share with others? Memories There are countless studies (here’s one, for example: False memories in highly superior autobiographical memory individuals) that will tell you that many (most) of our organic memories are junk, and can be created from...
For the record, Antifa =/= Nazis

For the record, Antifa =/= Nazis

Antifa has been a much talked about group lately. The discussion started in earnest when they clashed with white supremacists, Nazis, and Confederate sympathizers in Charlottesville a few weeks back during the “Unite the Right” rally. President Trump struggled with the comparison, saying that both sides were at fault. Both sides were wrong. Both sides were morally reprehensible. Equally so. But after the recent violence in Berkeley, even Daily Show host Trevor Noah came out against Antifa’s more aggressive tendencies when battling Fascism (Antifa = Anti + Fascist). The role of Antifa, then and now In general jargon, Antifa became associated with the left, and Nazis became (though, really, they always have been) associated with the right. But that shouldn’t be the discussion – it isn’t about “sides” as much as the president would like it to be. Nazism/Fascism is something that history has already thrown in the trash regardless of what the America political spectrum looks like today. It was defeated, both as a mantra/philosophy and as political movement. It has been soundly condemned as something awful and never to be repeated. Rightfully so. This goes without saying. Is Antifa a slightly more menacing and erratic, and perhaps less well-dressed, version of Indiana Jones? He punched Nazis too. Because they were Nazis. We’ve discussed the power of ideology (Don’t Kill Hitler), and we won’t say/we aren’t here to say that the approach that Antifa and other groups have taken to combat the recent rise in visible Nazism is pure and simple the “right” course – or necessarily the course of action that will help solve the problem in the long term....