The Power of One

The Power of One

Many people, maybe even MOST people, don’t think they can make a difference. Take a look at this photo. This is a picture of the current protests in Turkey. Consider, if you would, the number of protesters relative to the number of police. If ONE of the protesters in the front decided to charge, you can bet your ass two more would join him. And two more would join each of them. And pretty soon, several thousand people would be coming down on..maybe 50 police officers, and armed as they may be, they would not stand a chance. Even that truck would have some significant damage. Yeah, they would almost certainly retaliate, but the point is: That one guy in the front knows he isn’t alone, but he has NO idea how not-alone he really is. And if he could somehow figure out that there a few thousand behind him, and 50 in his way, he’d know that he could absolutely make a difference.
“They have the guns but we have the numbers” ~ Jim Morrison
[Photo Source: Reddit user monopixel, though he didn’t take it, not sure where he got it, unfortunately)

I give it 2 stars so far

My review on the first 16 chapters of the book, Courtland’s Life:

The opening was shocking. A couple, the wife pregnant, was in a car wreck, causing the protagonist’s mother to go into labor. After that, it was pretty crappy for awhile. (get it? Crappy? Because diapers..)

Chapter 2 was just terrible. (Terrible twos? Anyone? That also makes TWO terrible jokes…)

The first several chapters of this book were horribly boring, I don’t even remember much before chapter four.

Although as a whole, the first 10 chapters or so didn’t carry much excitement, there were little happenings that kept me reading. For example, in the fifth chapter, the protagonist (who we have now learned to be named Courtland) is sitting at his Kindergarten class waiting for his mother to pick him up, when he poops his pants. This is pretty funny in itself, but it gets better: Courtland has a crush on a girl, who he is sitting by when he poops his pants. The girl moves when it happens, but he follows her. At least three times. This is nice use of foreshadowing as to what is to come, and what is to come is a very painful couple of chapters: Chapters 12 and 13.

I’d hate to skip 7 chapters like this, but nothing particularly interesting happened between chapters 5 and 12. Not entirely sure why I kept reading, to be honest, but I did. Chapter 12 was very interesting. This was when Courtland started to REALLY get into girls. Courtland also became a pretty major attention-seeker around this time, often pretending to cry in class in order to get attention. A risky move from the author, if you ask me, but it definitely serves to develop some tension in later chapters, by estranging his peers. He also liked to pretend to be asleep at his desk, and moan/hump as if having a wet dream. I feel that the author took it a bit too far with that one. But it got him a great place to have his peers think he was really odd, which was obviously his goal.

Courtland also developed his first major crush in chapter 12, which is where the fun really began. You know how sometimes, tv shows or movies with have a stereotypical “super creep?” Well, Courtland was that, but 12 years old. He would always stare at her, sing her love songs, tell her how much he loves her– and he didn’t even know her! (I’m a few pages into chapter 17, 5 chapters later, and these troubles have only gotten a lot better: They’re definitely still there.) He even used his birthday money to buy her a $100 ring, which was just painful to read. Chapter 12 was when I started questioning how much I REALLY wanted to continue reading, but that wouldn’t become prominent until chapters 14 and 15.

To begin chapter 13, Courtland moved across the country. My initial thought was “Good! A fresh start, this is how the whole ‘everyone thinks he’s a f**king dork’ thing will be resolved!” Oh, how wrong I was. He had a better idea of how “not creeping girls out” works, but he was still of the opinion that girls like it when less-than-attractive guys stare at them, which contributed greatly to his new peers still thinking he was a major dork. That, and him still being a major dork. At this point in the book, readers have not been enlightened as to what makes him such a weirdo. But he’s started to notice it as the case, so he should soon start to figure out why, an fix it, right? Wrong. After he figures out that staring is bad, he moves on to posting about eight statuses a day to Facebook about his crush, referring to his crush as “she.” Very painful to read, but Courtland is only slightly aware that this is inappropriate behavior at this point in time.

Now we get to chapter 14! Courtland is now in high school, and things are no better for him socially. He has stopped doing all the super weird stuff, to very little, if any, benefit. This is where the urge to stop reading really became severe; but I didn’t, because people kept reassuring me that the book would get better. His social life pretty much stagnates for the next couple of chapters, but he does get his first girlfriend and first kiss at the beginning of chapter 15!

This relationship ends after two months, and the book starts to get painful to read again, without anything worth reading happening, leading me to become tempted to stop reading very often for the rest of chapter 15, and almost all of chapter 16.

I recently started chapter 17, and its really starting to look like it’ll be worth reading again pretty soon. After therapy and antidepressants, Courtland has started to gain..some..confidence, he finally has a good friend, and the book isn’t focusing nearly as much on his situation with girls.

Overall, I give it 2 out of 5 stars so far, but I haven’t finished reading yet, and it definitely has the potential to become a 5 star book.

A brief, slightly amusing anecdote from the 2012 presidential election

I live in a small, Republican town in Nebraska. Last Halloween, just a week or so before the election, my friend and I went trick-or-treating. This, of course, was the same time that Bob Kerrey, a Democrat, was running for Senate. One of the houses we went to had a Kerrey yard sign. When we knocked on the door, an elderly lady answered, and I complimented her on her sign. Her response was “We had to bring our Obama one inside or we’d lose it,” which I thought was funny.

It also upsets me that having a yard sign or bumper sticker that disagrees with the mainstream of your area, gets your property vandalized or stolen. Much akin to the fact that, with exceptions, most would be hard-pressed to find someone with a Darwin fish car decal, which is the first one they’ve bought, and both the decal and the car are in good condition. No dents where the decal is, no torn decal, no keyed car.

I’m sure this is the case in reverse, too–in, say, Massachusetts, Romney yard signs were probably stolen—– is what I said before remembering that Romney was the governor of Massachusetts. I would have just deleted it, but I thought it was funny, so replace Massachusetts with like, New York, or Michigan. And I’m sure that in a particularly atheistic town, (in Sweden, because there wouldn’t be one of those in America, unfortunately) there have been Christian bumper stickers vandalized. Which upsets me just as much as the atheistic or Democratic stuff being vandalized.

… Okay, maybe not just as much, haha, but similarly. People really should be more open-minded and tolerant of out-of-the-mainstream ideas :/

Silver Linings

There aren’t many things I can think of uglier than ignorance. Scientific ignorance, especially. I heard today that 10% of Britain thinks that it takes the Earth a month to go around the Sun. (Don’t quote me on that percentage, I may remember it wrong, but its something like that) That’s a very disappointing lack of knowledge, but it isn’t ignorance. Scientific ignorance is when you try to get our public schools to “teach the controversy:” evolution and intelligent design. I won’t go into my beef with creationism right now, it is fine-ish as an idea– but it is not science. Evolution has been peer-reviewed, using observations and experiments (usually observations, I’m sure) dealing with DNA and fossils and other things which are above my pay grade to explain. Intelligent design is just a bunch of people like “ya know, I think this is what happened.” Which is fine and dandy–but it is not science and it does not belong in my science classroom.

A lot of people don’t seem to like evolution because it is “just a theory,” failing to understand that a theory in science is very different from a theory in everyday conversation. Which, again, is only a lack of knowledge, not ignorance– until you try to argue that to people who do know what they’re talking about.

But, I can talk at more length about this later; this is about silver linings. While there is no doubt that ignorance at its current level is bad; I feel that it results in higher esteem being placed on those of intelligence. Such as myself. Just kidding. Like, say, Carl Sagan. I mean, of course people like him would be held in high esteem anyway, but I feel like they’re held higher as a result of the “escape from the ignorance of your peers” factor.

Or maybe not, who knows.

Slavery and Rip-Offs

At my school, we have this group called FFA. I can’t remember what it stands for, but it has to do with agriculture. They do like, land judging, and stuff like that.

Anyway, their biggest (and only) fund raiser is a labor auction. (used to be called a slave auction, but they figured that was politically incorrect) Most of us still call it the slave auction. What it is, is people can bid on people for a day of labor. I’ve been told that the highest this year was $875, but most people get “bought” for about $250.

Assuming that one day is eight hours, which is a pretty safe assumption:

$250 is $31.25 an hour. Kinda up there, right?

Well, $875 is $109.38 an hour. When I worked at McDonald’s, it took me two or three days to make what they’re making (Well, making for FFA) in an hour.

In 1850, an American slave cost (adjusted for inflation) about $40,000. On average, they lived to 21 years old and started work at, as a low estimate, 5 years old. So lets say 16 years of labor. 16 years comes out to about 5,840 days. $40,000 over 5,840 days comes out to $6.85 a day.

A modern slave costs $90, and has a lifespan (after purchase) of 7 years, or 2555 days, Which comes out to 4 cents a day.

So, to recap:

FFA “slave:” $250- $875 for one day

Slave in 1850: $6.85 per day

Slave today: $0.04 per day

Why would I pay almost $1,000 for a day of labor, if I could pay less than $100 for someone to do absolutely anything I want?

I do realize how ridiculous this sounds, I just thought it’d be funny to look at

The Great Society

I’ve had a busy couple weeks, sorry I haven’t posted in awhile. Today’s post, a not-that-in-depth overview of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s domestic plan, called The Great Society, is brought to you by an exam in my Sixties class.

                The Great Society. Aldous Huxley novel, or President Lyndon Johnson’s domestic plan? The answer is the latter, as Huxley had died the very same day John Kennedy did. So did C.S. Lewis. That was an awful day. But I digress. The Great Society, Lyndon B. Johnson’s domestic plan, (his liberal agenda) is summed up well in this quote by White House aide Joseph Califano:

“We simply could not accept poverty, ignorance, and hunger as intractable, permanent features of American society. There was no child we could not feed, no adult we could not put to work, no disease we could not cure, no toy, food, or appliance we could not make safer, no air or water we could not clean.”

                If one knew nothing about The Great Society, as many do not, Califano’s quote would do well to introduce them to it. By the end of Johnson’s term in 1968, poverty had been cut in half. This was the second-highest cut in American history, just behind FDR after the Great Depression, and just ahead of Clinton in the 1990s.

                This was not easy for the President. As all presidents who wish to help the poor do, Johnson had much opposition in Congress. A prime example of this is seen in one of the first things he did as President: tried to pass tax cuts for the poor and middle class. Before Congress would pass it, Johnson had to include spending cuts. Was this bad? Not necessarily, but it exemplifies the struggle Johnson sometimes had in passing his New Deal-esque programs.

                Tax cuts alone did not cut poverty from 22.2% to 12.6%, however. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 created the Office of Economic Opportunity. The office oversaw the Job Corps, created to help not-so-well-off teenagers develop trade skills, and, for a time, Head Start, a program aimed towards small children.

                The war on poverty, while the biggest part of The Great Society, was not the only part. Civil rights were a big issue during this time as well. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned job discrimination and segregation of public stuff, such as water fountains and restaurants. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 assured minority voter registration, by banning 12-generation residency tests and constitution tests and whatnot for registration. While the 14th Amendment made it legal for all minorities (except women, that was later) to vote, the South doesn’t always catch on. Heck, Alabama didn’t ratify the 13th amendment abolishing slavery until 1996, and Mississippi just did a couple months ago. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 closed loopholes left open by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as banning discrimination in housing, and extending constitutional protections to Native Americans living on reservations.

                The impact of the Great Society can still be felt today. There is a Job Corps…somewhere around here. Either Mitchell or Minatare, I think. It is likely that poverty would be much higher today if it were allowed to stay where it was during Johnson’s administration. Blacks and Native Americans have rights that Nixon certainly wouldn’t have granted them, and I’m not sure Ford would have either, pushing these civil rights back, at the very least, to 1976, drastically changing today’s world in ways unimaginable.

How did a sarcastic status turn into a statement about society?

About a week ago, I posted a status on Facebook advocating gay marriage. It was sarcasm, and what it really sounded like was that I was against gay marriage, and stupid. But I thought it was still pretty obviously sarcastic. This was followed by a well-intentioned person, lets call her Sarah, thinking I was being serious and “gettin’ in my grill,” as they say. What follows is that status and her comments.

Number one reason to keep gay marriage illegal: We, as Americans, are almost out of people to look down upon as second-class citizens

Sarah: You’re probably gonna end up gay, stop talking s**t

Me: Cause you know, this totally isn’t sarcasm or anything. If I were being serious, would I really say “look down on” and call them second-class citizens? People who are actually prejudiced usually don’t know they’re prejudiced.

S: Not wasting my time with this. I’m not even going to waste time reading your comment. Bye court.

M: Sarah… does this status sound like someone who is actually homophobic to you? There are two things you can do to answer that question: a. Actually read my comment, and b. use your brain for a second. I am extremely liberal. For a month or so, every status I posted was advocating gay marriage. And, as I said in the comment that you won’t waste your time reading, this is not the language someone who is anti-gay would use.

S: Bye court again I’m not wasting my time

M: Are you retarded? [I realize that wasn’t cool of me, but put yourself in my situation. Justified? Absolutely not. But I’d like to think its more understandable)

S: Are you?

S again: Maybe you should get off Facebook and go do something with your life. You won’t win this Internet fight/battle. Bye.

M: Sarah… I am for gay marriage. THIS STATUS IS SARCASM

And that is when she stopped commenting. More comments followed, all of them calling Sarah stupid, but she wasn’t heard from again. I even messaged her a couple days later to make sure she knew I was pro marriage equality, but she probably didn’t read it.

Now, why am I telling you about this? Because it’s funny? Yes, I think its hilarious, but that’s reason #2. Reason #1, as the title suggests, is that I believe this made an interesting statement about society.

Most people would probably just think she’s stupid (especially since this isn’t the first hint I’ve gotten towards that conclusion) and move on with their lives, but I didn’t. I found it so surprising that anyone could think that a status using words such as “second-class citizen,” and “look down upon” was serious; because those are words that people would use if they know they’re being prejudiced, and like I said, I find that most people who are prejudiced don’t realize it; that I figured it must say something deeper than that. So I thought about it.

I think this says very upsetting things about the state of discourse on this issue, and others, today. I could say I’m against gay marriage, not because of religious reasons or anything like that, but because I look down on gays and don’t believe them to be first-class citizens like the rest of us–and someone took that seriously. She didn’t stop to think that I’m being sarcastic, even given the ridiculousness of what I said, and even given what a tolerant, liberal person I thought she knew me to be. As I’ve said several times, yes, she was just being stupid, but after awhile, I started to see why she might have thought that. Although I’ve never had the displeasure of meeting them, stories from others tell me that there are people out there who would indeed say something like what I said, not being sarcastic.

I think that’s just pathetic. I can kind of see why you’d be against it for religious, or even moral, reasons. But the fact that there is a fairly significant number of people out there who oppose same sex marriage because they look down upon homosexuals as second-class citizens is just sickening. A lot of times, these are the very same people who talk about how offended they are that Republicans are second-class citizens in this country. Which is, first of all, an opinion that draws nothing from reality to reach its conclusion. And second of all, do they not see the hypocrisy in that? “It really grinds my gears that conservatives are so persecuted in this country! Oh, the gays? You mean our second-class citizens?”

I’ve forgotten the point of this. I guess it just kind of turned into a rant. But even without the point that I originally intended, it is a pretty interesting thing to think about, I think.

P.S.  I think its pretty funny that my page says “updated nightly,” but I don’t update often enough to remember where the publish button is xD I’m sorry, I’m trying to work on that.