“Confidences is…

“Confidences is infectious, sexy and attractive – and you don’t need to spend as much money as I did to find it. That which gives us confidence is inside us waiting to come out”

In looking through other blogs, I came across a young woman’s post about her lack of self-confidence. She spoke of her troubles in adolescence and as a young adult due to her appearance. Deb explains how she had a massive overbite, gaps in her teeth, and was overweight. She did not allow people to take her picture and always hid from the public eye. This is very common in women as we always find flaws within ourselves and try our hardest to hide them, or hide behind them in this case. 

I find her quote from the blog very key, because it doesn’t take perfection or the achievement of societies expectations. Confidence comes from within you, not the cosmetics on the outside. It is often found that the most beautiful, sweetest, and great people are not the prettiest or drop dead gorgeous. Deb gives to advice to find happiness within you, smile, don’t be afraid to let what’s on the inside out. She made the mistake of fixing her cosmetic problems before understanding who she really was. I believe everyone should learn from this, because it is true. 

The desire for confidence is infectious, and it can be an amazing thing. Aren’t we all jealous of those who are so happy and sure of themselves? Those who are well developed and have a goal to get somewhere? It’s a human attraction both in jealousy and intimacy. Guys enjoy looking at the girls who can walk the walk and portray a sense of confidence in who they are. 

Many times confidence will come with maturity and age, a sense of superego. However I find that many high-school are finding confidence in themselves through all the daily challenges of being a teenager. 

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The Debates

In September and Early November I was paying a lot of attention to the election and especially the presidential debates. My first reaction was disgust. The amount of disrespect the candidates had for each other was ridiculous. The entire thing was a chaotic mess of each candidate and the debate leader each trying to control the debate. If you watch from about the 34th minute to the 35th minute (I obviously don’t expect you to sit there and listen to the entire hour and a half debate), you can see just one of the many examples, where the moderator is trying to stop each candidate to stop talking, while each of the candidates are still arguing with each other. You realize just how ridiculous the two candidates are being, when you hear how much of the vote is actually decided by the debates.

In political scientist, James Stinson’s, study, Tides of Consent, he reveals that close to none of the vote is actually decided by the debates. So, basically the presidents are just arguing for pride.

In my personal opinion, someone running the country should at least have enough decency to respect when others are talking, and understand when it is their place to talk. Imagine a president going into another country and just interrupting the leader of the foreign country the entire time. Respect earns respect, and neither candidate seemed to understand this during the debates. I have always stuck by my belief that more important than anything, a president should be a good person. They should be someone who is personable, and seems all around friendly. However, after watching these debates it seemed like each president thought that they were above everything else. They did not even respect the moderator. How can a president represent the populous, if they cannot even act appropriately in a controlled environment?

I know that the presidency is about more than respect, it’s about policies, charisma, and if you can put a whole country onto your back, but something about those arguments really just irked me.

Jazz Music is Dead

This blog almost applies exclusively to my generation because perhaps all of you middle-agers out there still get down to John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, or any of the classic jazz cats in which we were so fortunate to have walk this earth and bless our ears with their sweet, sweet musical creations. Now, speaking to my generation (90’s-00’s kids)…come up with ONE jazz artist that has established a significant place in the music industry in the last ten years. An artist as old as perhaps Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Pearl Jam, or even the grunge princes of the 90’s, Nirvana.

The key is commercialism, and jazz artists just don’t have it! There’s no market for jazz music. Perhaps 40-60 years ago, yes indeed there was a market for jazz. That is what people danced to, not any of this auto-tuned crap. It also appealed to a plethora of minorities, African-Americans specifically, as being a gateway out of the oppressing times of the mid-1900’s, coinciding with the blues. As Miles Davis once said,“If you stop calling me a jazz man, I’ll sell more.” A recent survey from the National Endowment for the Arts has documented a steady decrease in attendance at jazz concerts in the last 26 years.

Jazz has become interpretive, like the weird kid with green hair and the long trench coat that nobody talks to and just thinks is weird except the one normal kid who knows him for who he is, and tells everyone that he is actually cool. Music is a cesspool of corporate domination and marketing techniques. Jazz doesn’t swing that way (pardon the pun). I only wish it was this easy…

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Dexter Gordon

In photo: Iconic jazz saxophonist Dexter Gordon.

Comfort in Disguise

The appearance among millions of girls in the United States is associated with the concept of covering themselves in makeup. From the ages of children to adults, makeup has always been part of the culture in the United States but now more than ever. Television ads, magazines, celebrities and the want to look like a “barbie” is what drives the makeup fascination. Many girls are mesmerized by how models look in magazines and want to be like them. At girl’s younger years, they feel as if wearing makeup makes them look like princesses, and dolls they play with. But the major influence in a child’s want to wear makeup comes from the reflection of their mother. It is very typical if the mother wears lots of makeup than the child wants to also. As years go on, girls continue to use makeup as a way to change what they look like. Makeup is a way to disguise what girls really look like without any mascara, eyeshadow or lipstick. Many girls, in america think that beauty defines them in the way that they look because of the way the social media is evident in our society.

Youtube, one of the most popular social medica sites in the world, has a huge influence on the way in which girls see themselves as beautiful. The new thing now is girls called “Beauty Gurus”. Beauty Gurus are girls on youtube that vlog (video blogging) about the type of makeup they use and the way  in which they use it. These Beauty Gurus get millions of hits a day, and many of those views of our girls looking at how to change the way in which they look.

Here’s a video

In this video, it shows how someone would transform their face from wearing no makeup to putting lots of makeup on and feeling beautiful.

Comfort in wearing makeup, allows girls to transform themselves into a person with different feature. For instance, mascara makes girls eyes look bigger and lipstick defines girls lips. Many girls dont’ go out in public without wearing makeup because they feel that without makeup they look ugly. Makeup makes girls feel good about themselves, and comfortable in their skin. There are many brands of makeup out there, brands that are very expensive. Some mascara tubes can cost up to $66. However woman and girls are able to still feel just as beautiful as the celebrities that wear expensive makeup by going to target or cvs to buy makeup that isn’t as expensive.

However, although makeup has always been a huge part as the definition of major celebrities many of them have a different view on makeup in the way that they think Beauty is defined.

“The key to beauty is always to be looking at someone who loves you, really.” – Julia Roberts

“I look my best after an entire hair and makeup team has spent hours perfecting me. When do I feel my best? When I haven’t looked in a mirror for days, and I’m doing things that make me happy.” – Anne Hathaway

“A lot of people come to me, and they’re like, ‘Will I look like you after I have a baby?’ And I say, ‘Well, how were you before?’ You can’t kid yourself.” – Heidi Klum

“Just recently I’ve learned to be okay with myself without wearing makeup. I think it was a special someone telling me that I didn’t need it. I started taking care of my skin and realised I didn’t need as much as I thought I did.” – Vanessa Hudgens

“Being beautiful is all in the attitude, it’s about confidence.” – Ciara

“You know when I feel inwardly beautiful? When I am with my girlfriends and we are having a goddess circle.” – Jennifer Aniston

Even celebrities say that, makeup is not the true definition of beauty however with this said they still use makeup in a way in which to disguise themselves in feeling comfortable infront of people. I am sure that none of those celebrities would go to a concert or event without wearing makeup.

Makeup has also been used to feel comfortable since ancient times, in 4000 BCE Egyptian Queens used makeup to show their prestige. It was a way in which they displayed themselves as being beautiful and perfect because they were the Queen.

Today I walked into Calm

I sat in school all day and watched the snow fall straight. The flakes were large and fell at even rates of speed. The accumulation was rapid because the flakes would hit the ground and with the lack of wind they had no pressure to push them down, no wind. The snow was as fluffy as it could possibly be with the temperature sitting just below freezing so it was bearable to walk outside. I watched if fall all day and when it was time to go outside I knew just what I would walk into. The environment was completely still. There is nothing I love more than to have things slowed for me. Now the snow had made the pace of life bearable and calm enough to enjoy. My heart rate was at a resting pulse even as I walked to my car. The sensation I received from the contact of flakes on my cheeks was like nothing else.

Bon Iver’s Holocene is not necessarily about snow and the lyrics are not relevant to my post, but the sound applies perfectly to the feeling that comes with a light dusting of snow.

I have no hope…


I have all lost hope that this blog business will end soon…
It is truly difficult choosing a word and thinking of all the different things that could be associated with it.

Quite frankly, I’m sick of hope. I’m done with it. I’m even done hoping this blog will be over soon!
When something feels as though it drags on and on, the truth is that in reality it is not so bad. In reality there is no reason to lose hope. –Losing hope is a thing for fiction.
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Sure, this blog may take away some hours of my day that could be spent doing homework, running, applying to colleges, watching movies, or just lounging around, but is this blog really that bad?
All the posts I have posted so far have been fun to plan, fun to write, and have been interesting to research. I have learned some new things and I have been able to express my opinions about some of the subject matters. This blog experience is also a unique way to do homework. I’m not sitting up at odd hours of the night attempting to write a ten page essay for class the next day.
No.
I’m sitting here typing away on a keyboard, looking up pictures, watching interesting movies that correspond to the subject I’m blogging about, and I’m complaining.
Now this must stop.

I know most people wait for a new year to make resolutions, but I’ll make one right here, right now:

I’d like to change. I’d like to complain less and do more.
With the luxuries I have, I have no right to complain at all. Not one word in complaint that I utter is equal at all to the suffering of others around the face of the planet.
You are my witness to this promise, let’s see if it works.

I look forward to blogging more. And I hope that at the conclusion of this experience I’ll touch upon the promise I made to you in this post. Hopefully, it will stay true.

In Search of America

John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley”,  is his 1960 road trip with his poodle Charley, to write about America and how Americans act today. Steinbeck’s trip roughly encompasses the outer border of the United States starting in New York, going towards the pacific northwest, and the Salinas Valley through the deep south and back to New York.  Thomas Steinbeck, John’s son says that the real reason for the trip was because his father knew he was dying and wanted to see his country one last time. Steinbeck’s journey to see american’s as they really are ended only in disappointment. He wrote: 

“American cities are like badger holes, ringed with trash–all of them–surrounded by piles of wrecked and rusting automobiles, and almost smothered in rubbish. Everything we use comes in boxes, cartons, bins, the so-called packaging we love so much. The mountain of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use.”   

However despite his overall disappointment with America we also a get a portrait of modern America, both regionally and in the country as a whole.  He also says that:

“I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation- a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any Here. They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something but away from something. I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every states I visited. Nearly every American hungers to move.”  

Steinbeck’s book has come to idealize the classical American road trip, almost all Americans take some form of road trip at some point in their life’s, though very few have adventures as long as Steinbeck and his dogs.

On the Road

Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel “On The Road” is an adventure of sorts but not one that is all to ordinary.  Between 1947 and 1950, key members of the beatnik generation met up in various parts of the country and essentially just traveled back and forth, cris-crossing the country, picking up a new guy here, working a job there or getting married several times.  The book retains popularity today and is ranked as the 55th on the list of best novels of the 20th century, despite the fact it is written fairly sloppily in the “spontaneous prose” format.  Shortly after the Beatnik generation faded out but before the hippie and anti-war movement came into play was the generation came Ken Kesey, infamous for his book “one flew over the cuckoo’s nest”.  Kesey once proclaimed at an interview in 1999 “I was to young to be a beatnik and to old to be a hippie.”  Kesey’s book takes place in a psychiatric ward in Oregon, which is under the thumb of Nurse ratchet who is ranked 5 on the all times villain list by the American Film Institute.  The main character of the book has little background information but from what is given we can assume that he lived a life similar to the one Kerouac’s alter ego Sal Paradise lived in “On the Road”.  The adventure that both men face,  either on the road, or in a mental asylum,  just shows that someone who goes against the grain is bound to have an adventure.

Is Art Beauty?

While most people perceive beauty through people, artists view beauty through their work. Paintings, drawings, etc are many times made to express beauty in something that perhaps is not seen as beauty to others. By doing this, artists work to satisfy their ideals while also trying to open the eyes of the world.

In much of art, lighting is used to express beauty. When lighting is used in one specific area of art, their intentions are to highlight the key parts of the work that they want the audience to notice. On the other hand, darkness is used to perhaps tone down another part of the work or even play down its beauty.

Along with lighting, color is used to express beauty in art. When there are bright colors in an artist’s work, the audience feels warmth and happiness than then transfers into ideals of beauty. When dark and dull colors are used, the viewers associate the art with ugliness. Color truly makes art pop and leave a lasting effect on the viewers.

Horace once said, “A picture is a poem without words.” Through this, he is saying that the beauty is seen without needing its beauty to be told in words. With this being said, art is furthermore created to tell a message without literally writing it out in words. Through every work, an artist strives to transfer a message to their viewers with simply a look.

SS Edmund Fitzgerald

 

The 37th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald just passed the other week.The legend of the Edmund Fitzgerald remains the most mysterious and controversial of all shipwreck tales heard around the Great Lakes. Folksinger Gordon Lightfoot inspired popular interest in this vessel with his 1976 ballad, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

 

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The Edmund Fitzgerald was lost with her entire crew of 29 men on Lake Superior November 10, 1975, 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point, Michigan.  The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS) has conducted three underwater excusions to the wreck, 1989, 1994, and 1995.

A low-pressure system moved its way towards the Great Lakes on early November 9th, 1975. By the time this system reached Lake Superior it would be called a Cyclone by the American Meteorological Society. Twenty-nine men , the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald, lost their lives in this storm.

 

Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”

 

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early

The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin
As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
With a crew and good captain well seasoned
Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
Then later that night when the ship’s bell rang
Could it be the north wind they’d been feelin’?

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
When the wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the captain did too
‘Twas the witch of November come stealin’
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the gales of November came slashin’
When afternoon came it was freezing rain
In the face of a hurricane west wind

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck
Sayin’ “Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya”
At seven PM a main hatchway caved in
He said, “Fellas, it’s been good to know ya”
The captain wired in he had water comin’ in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when his lights went out of sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Does anyone know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searchers all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay
If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her
They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have broke deep and took water
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
In the rooms of her ice-water mansion
Old Michigan steams like a young man’s dreams
The islands and bays are for sportsmen
And farther below, Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the gales of November remembered

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed
In the Maritime Sailors’ Cathedral
The church bell chimed ’til it rang twenty-nine times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early

Stage Fright

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Stage Fright is a fear that almost everyone has when presenting themselves infront of a large audience of people. I myself have fallen victim to stage fright. Sometimes it is not expected and sometimes people know that it is going to happen. Why do we get stage fright? Stage fright comes from nerves and the fear of being judged. When many eyes are looking upon you and watching your every move, it is easy to feel like your’e going to mess up. No one wants to be the person that is up infront of people and get laughed at. The affects of stage fright include, shaking, sweating, and stuttering. These affects are all due to the fact of a person being uncomfortable.

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Dealing with Stage Fright:

Stage fright can be cured by training yourself to be or act a certain way. One way of curing stage fright is rehearsing over and over again infront of people so that you become comfortable in the words you are presenting. If someone is not afraid to mess up because they have practiced many times then they feel comfort in what they are presenting. Another way to cure stage fright is taking the nerves and excitement that you may have and translating them into good nerves for when you talk on stage. The last way in which to cure stage fright be yourself is  to use humor and imagination. By doing this people can imagine the audience naked or with their underwear on. This method helps the person giving a speech to relax and not be scared of what the audience is thinking of them because they are the ones vulnerable.

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However the best way in which to help with stage fright is presenting a performance with other people. Comfort in numbers, is the best way in which to cure stage fright because you are not by yourself when presenting a speech. With comfort in numbers a person can have a voice but is not defined by themselves but rather in a group of people. This may be why certain boy bands sing together so that they get rid of the fear of a big audience. Boy bands like one direction, n-sync. The individuals may have not wanted to become a singer because of all the hype and may have felt more comfortable performing with other boys. Comfort in people is very common when presenting a speech.

Defeat in the 2012 Presidential Election

As we all know President Barack Obama emerged victorious and Governor Romney faced defeat. If ever there were a time for Governor Romney to be humble, that was election night on November 2012. Yet, Romney failed to be as such, Governor Romney did not even write a concession speech, only a victory speech…overly confident?

But the votes do not lie. After all the poles had closed President Obama won the popular vote as well as receiving the appropriate amount of electoral votes to win the election.

Still, Governor Romney could not simply accept defeat. In an interview with the New York Times, following the election of President Obama, Romney stated that “With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Mr. Romney said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”

Romney went on to say he was “troubled” by the victory, saying that President Obama only one because of his big policy “gifts” to the minority and lower class community. Romney acted as if Obama played dirty by catering to the minorities and lower class during the election. Saying that he used the “old playbook.” Did Governor Romney not realize how great the population of minorities is? and how many people are sinking lower and lower into monetary depression?

The fact remains, the President Obama was the best man for the job. You may or may not believe in what the President stands for but you cannot dispute that he is a better man for the job (as the country stands currently)…or can you? Perhaps, there is no reasoning with some. However, I stand by the conviction that whoever is the best man should get the job. Republicans just do not like the fact that their ideas are antiquated and do not suit this ever changing world. If Republicans do not begin to accept more Liberal ideas than they will not succeed in this country’s presidential race…

I hear a lot of people saying, “Oh, now that Obama is President, we are all f**ked. I am moving to Canada.” Please do! They are more liberal in Canada than we are.

“Well, fine, I am moving to Australia because their President cares about his people and his God!”

Nope. Their Prime Minister is a woman and she’s an atheist. Suck it up and wait 4 more years. We had to put up with 8 years of Bush. 

Is there Hope for the ‘Holy Land’?

Most people do not realize the issues going on around them in the world.
They know that bad things are happening, but they don’t stop them.

History is great for providing lessons. History has shown us that appeasement does not help. It did not help in World War Two’s Holocaust and it certainly did not help in Serbia and Bosnia’s genocide. What makes people think that appeasement will work now? Why is injustice ignored? And why is an oppressor supported?
It would have been blasphemous had the United States aided Nazi Germany. Likewise it is it not blasphemous for the US to aid another occupier?
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In order to fully understand the issue at hand (an issue very dear to my heart) I must first induce a state of verstehen, we must step into the shoes of those in need:

It is present day, United States.
The US is a neutral party facing the wrath of a war between two of its allies, for the purposes of this story, let’s say China and South Korea.
China has been defeated. But the South Koreans feel as though they can no longer reside alongside the Chinese, they must obtain new land in order to prosper.
Boatloads and airplanes full of South Koreans arrive in the United States. It appears to be a relatively unpopulated area of land (in comparison to the world) that would easily house South Korean populations…
(Note that the Americans and the South Koreans were previously allies and shared no historical enmity between each other)
Americans have no say in the issue, the government overruled by South Korea’s and the support of another ally, Japan.
As more and more Koreans arrive, room must be made.
Korean armies arrive supported by Japan, forcing Americans out of their houses and left homeless.
In the wake of these oustings, devastating massacres occur killing thousands of Americans.
As more Koreans arrive the Americans are pushed by the Korean army into unfertile regions of land. Houses have no running water or electricity.
More and more Koreans arrive, 40% of the population is now Korean. They live in 70% of the land space.
Americans are not allowed to enter cities without passing through time-wasting checkpoints where they are humiliated and taunted by the Korean army. Americans cannot go to work, cannot go to worship, cannot go to shop, and cannot go to the hospital.
Soon a wall is erected, taller and longer than the Berlin Wall, separating the Americans from the Koreans, also further impeding movement.
Americans protesting the Korean occupation or attempting to go to school are shot at and in many cases, killed.
More Koreans arrive and the Korean army is supplied with the latest military technology from Japan.
The American people are hopeless. They have lost their homes, their families, their lives, everything.
Revenge and hatred is all that is left because hope has abandoned them. Their old ally Japan, is a now a supporter of the perpetrator.
Your neighbor from down the street lost his daughter to a soldier on her way to school. His house was just blasted by an airstrike last night, killing the rest of his family. He has nothing to lose. He has only hatred. Revenge is the only word on his mind.
In the morning, he puts on a vest filled with explosives, slips through the checkpoints to a new Korean settlement filled to the brim with happy, smiling, functioning families, and blows the bomb after shouting “God Bless America!”

This is a rather farfetched story that does not directly blame any of the countries mentioned nor does it showcase my political views on the countries involved. However, if this story shocked you, then it might also shock you to realize that this story actually did happen, in real life.

It happened to Palestine.


It appears as though there is no HOPE for Palestine. However  you, me, anyone, and everyone can change that. Support a people in need and do not stand for ignorance, intolerance, or oppression. End the Israeli-Palestinian Aparthied.

Hope, living to see tomorrow.

Each day we live as though we have a right to be here. A right to walk on this very land, breathe this very air.
But where has this “right” come from? Do we really have a right to be here? Is each day taken for granted?

We all say we’ll do things “tomorrow”.
-I’ll clean my house, tomorrow.
-I’ll call my old friend that I’ve been meaning to, tomorrow.
-I’ll visit family, tomorrow.
-I’ll apologize for my mistakes, tomorrow.
-I’ll tell someone how much they mean to me, tomorrow.

However, is tomorrow guaranteed?
Did anyone ever say, “Yes, tomorrow will be there.”

Tomorrow may never come.
It may be permanently delayed.

Some people live through each night, hoping to see the light of tomorrow.
While others live oblivious, care-free, and never get to see the dawn of the new tomorrow.

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Some people live in fear that they won’t see the light of tomorrow simply because they don’t have enough of a simple commodity many of us take for granted, water.
Their lips parched, they walk miles a day to a well polluted and stricken with disease. Their only hope, the force that keeps driving them forward, is the hope that tomorrow things will be better for them, for their children.

Others are afflicted with irreversible diseases, almost completely destroying their hope for tomorrow. HIV and AIDS affect a multitude of people. People who live each day knowing they are dying, living with a devastating disease without a cure. Leprosy not only has physical handicaps, but social ones as well. Those devastated with the disease are shunned from their families and forced into exile. Each day they live lives without happiness, not even having any reason to wake up to see the world tomorrow. People living with epilepsy hope that they will survive the night, they sleep with the fear of an attack during their slumber.

Wars create the fear of not being able to see tomorrow; for the soldiers involved as well as the civilians. Civilians in war zones fear for their lives constantly as shots and blasts ring out all around them 24/7.

Human slaves, torn from their families generally in hopes of finding a job in a foreign country no longer see the reason to live tomorrow. And if they do, the willingness is driven by drugs and highs provided for by their captors.

Yet others still do not have a guarantee about tomorrow. One could be completely healthy and lead a happy life, but they may not see tomorrow. Walking down the street, they could be hit by a bus. Driving their car, they could be in a fatal crash. An old tree could fall on any unsuspecting victim. Accidents happen and when the time comes the time comes.

So…
Make the most of your each and every day. Don’t do anything brazen or insane, just live up to your expectations. You don’t want to have lived your life only to be disappointed with its overall outcome. Just do something your heart yearns for each day. Clean that room you’ve been meaning to. Spend time with your family. Tell someone how much they mean to you.

For some people, the hope to see tomorrow is crafted upon the belief that:

With every hardship comes ease. Verily with hardship comes ease.

Should There Be a Minimum Wage?

Economics can be a tricky subject to grasp without prior knowledge, so please watch this link that highlights the basic points of my argument.

Before economics class, I believed that the minimum wage was beneficial to the welfare of society. People got paid more and that was the point I focused on. However, after a few weeks of class, I learned about price floors and ceilings.

This is an example of a price floor. Basically, the x-axis represents the quantity of, in this case, workers and the y-axis represents the wage given to them. The blue line is supply and the red line is demand. The green line is the price floor. A price floor is the minimum price that an employer can pay his workers (aka minimum wage). Normally (the dashed black line), the price paid to the workers is medium and the number of workers employed is also in the middle. However, with the price floor, the quantity of workers demanded by employers (dashed red line) goes down and is less than normal. The amount of employers available to work for that price goes up (dashed blue line). This means that more people are willing to work, but there are less spaces available – this is unemployment (or a surplus of workers). (See price floors video)

In the short-term, minimum wage is good for the people who are receiving payment – they get more money. In the long-run, the entire market is negatively affected as explained by the video. Less people are employed and the company has to limit production (because they have less workers).

If the minimum was was to be removed, business production would spiral upwards. If the cost of production (wage) goes down, the cost of the products made can also go down. When the cost of a product goes down, the demand goes up and total revenue goes up for the employer. Now, the employer has more money and can hire more people to fill his demand. More people are now employed. This cycle repeats itself. More employees means more products made and more of these products are sold (because of their low costs) and total revenue goes up.

The major demographic of people working for minimum wage is teenagers. I know that more money is good, but I also acknowledge that I do not need the money. I could take the bus instead of driving to school. I do not have to go to the movies every month. If teenagers were to receive less money, they would not be endangered. Teenagers do not have great financial burdens because the money is usually spent on luxury. With no minimum wage, wages would still be reasonable (if no one is willing to work for five cents an hour, employers will have to raise the wage). The people who depend on higher minimum wage for financial stability are a grand minority and it would be neither efficient or equitable to limit economic growth because of them.

I wrote this because I used to strongly believe in the opposite. Learning economics has shown me that even my own opinion can be changed completely. I want the reader to see the other side, despite their prior beliefs. The argument about minimum wage was foreign to me before economics class, I want others to know about it.

 

Confidence: Nature Vs. Nurture

Confidence: Nature Vs. Nurture

In a previous blog I touched upon the topic of Self Confidence, and it was my belief that it is developed through your environment and upbringing.
Ray Williams debates where our self confidence comes from in an article called “Self-Confidence: Nature or Nurture?”

The idea has been for some time that it is mostly nurture, however new research leads us to believe that we may be predisposed self-confident. “Researchers like Albert Bandura have argued that the initial efficacy experiences are centered in the family. But as the growing child’s social world rapidly expands, peers become increasingly important in children’s developing self-knowledge of their capabilities. So, until now, an individual’s self-confidence was seen to be based on upbringing and other environmental factors.” Explains Williams. To argue this point, Corina Greven of King’s College in London and her colleague, Robert Plomin of the Institute of Psychiatry, claim that confidence is a predisposition. Greven and Plomin also found that children with a greater belief in their own abilities often performed better at school, even if they were actually less intelligent. The same held true for athletes, with ability playing a lesser role than confidence.
In truth, there is no definite answer to nature vs. nurture. There is evidence and critics supporting both sides.

The Blues

When you think of blues, you probably think of either some big black woman scatting and belting out some gospel inspired comfort lyrics or Eric Clapton, but I’m here to talk about chaotic blues. Contrary to popular belief, blues does not always sound slow and depressing. Music from artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa, and Jimi Hendrix (might get some argument on whether Hendrix played blues or not, but I definitely think that he did) is upbeat, and I love to roll down my windows and drive to some dirty blues. Every one of these musicians primarily used three tools: The blues scale, slurs, and flurrying.

It is interesting because that one blue note (called the blues note, also known as a flat 3rd) in the diagram above changes a solo from having just a classic rock feel, to a muddy, dirty blues feel. That one note is the one that clashes with the rest of the solo, yet still works for some odd reason. Pretty much any blues musician, even singers will use these blues notes to spice up their vocal routine and keep the listener interested because that note just stands out to your ear.

Slurs make blues “cool.” Guitar players usually call slurs hammer-ons, pull-offs, or slides. This technique just adds a feel to the music that livens it up. A classic SRV (Stevie Ray Vaughan) technique is sliding up to start a riff. If one listens closely to his solos, you can hear it in probably 1 out of 10 riffs he plays. Personally, I love starting riffs off like this it’s such a classic sound that is now a staple in blues music.

Everything I have described so far makes a blue solo, but flurrying is what makes it chaotic. Flurrying is basically just playing riffs really fast. This is a signature of Joe Bonamassa. He plays his entire solos with flurrying. Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix would mix flurrying in with slowhand blues, which is why they are so renown, but Joe Bonamassa is probably the most chaotic blues player that I know. The strange thing is that he is also more knowledgable about music than either SRV or Hendrix. For some reason, even though he knows a lot of theory, he decides to play more chaotically than SRV or Hendrix (don’t get me wrong, they definitely are chaotic blues).  This sort of reminds me of when English teachers say, authors can break the rules because they already know all of them.

I’d like to end with a classic blues video of Stevie Ray Vaughan absolutely shredding. Hopefully you can hear a little bit of the techniques I talked about above!

 

 

Calm in Chaos

I found it ironic how the two word categories “calm” and “chaos” follow each other in the category choices. Of course this means that they follow each other because of the alphabetical arrangement they are listed in, but the two words are polar opposites and that in itself is something worth writing about. I searched “calm in chaos” and found this picture/poem that I thought was very cool. On the surface we can see the calm. There are only the two colors of green and white, so that keeps it simple. I love how the snow is freshly fallen powder that seems to give the branches of the trees a great reason to slouch and be limp. Almost like they had a hard days work and they are bundled up on the couch covered in blankets, muscles relaxed and still. The snow forms little lumps that are very nicely rounded off. The lumps sit on the branches with such a large amount of surface area, but so little surface area makes contact with the branch itself. This makes the snow very unstable and very vulnerable to falling to its ground and blending in. But the weather is so calm and without motion that the snow is allowed to stay and give the branch reason to relax.

What we see on top is beautiful and serene. But what lies underneath is hellish. The trees are twisted and mangled by the overbearing weight of the snow that it cannot handle. There are exposed root systems and animal homes buried and destroyed. Underneath lies cold death of once fantastic nature. Just as we have on the side bar of categories to blog under, calm is on top of chaos.

Death of the Twinkie

I would not go as far as saying that I was deprived from sugar as a child, but my parents felt it necessary to expose me to good, natural foods at a young age. No matter what I was trained to eat, I longed to bite into the fluffy, golden, cream filled wonderland that was the Hostess Twinkie.  Perhaps you know of this golden goblet of greatness from the notorious myth of the “Eternal Twinkie”, where it was believed that a Twinkie could last upwards of 500 years on the shelf, or perhaps survive a nuclear fallout. Or even the myth that the Twinkie could ferment into alcohol. Whatever the myth may be, the Twinkie is synonymous with the American cuisine, perhaps even parallel to the hotdog or the hamburger.

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Hostess, the corporation and mastermind behind the chemically perfected, nutritionally abysmal, and the source of bringing multiple consumers’ taste buds to orgasm, has announced that they are bankrupt and will be liquidating the contents of their factories. I see this piece of news as the death of not only a tremendously successful corporation, but a source of happiness and the source of that warm tingly feeling in your stomach. Though, in another view, this may be the death of a company, but perhaps a chance of new life for the consumer. On November 16, 2012, Hostess announced that it was ceasing plant operations and laying off most of its 18,500 employees. It stated that it intended to sell off all of its assets, including the well known brand names, and liquidate. The CEO, Gregory Rayburn, stated, “Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”

 

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Here are some of the Nutrition Facts for the Twinkie:

A single Twinkie contains 2.5 grams of saturated fat, representing 13% of the recommended daily intake of saturated fat based on a 2,000 calorie diet. It is 42% sugars, 21% complex carbohydrates and 11% fat by weight.

 

Ingredients (I dare you to pronounce some of these names):

Enriched wheat flower sugar, corn syrup, niacin, water, high fructose corn syrup, vegetable and/or animal shortening – containing one or more of partially hydrogenated soybean, cottonseed and canola oil, and beef fat, dextrose, wholeeggs, modified corn starch, cellulose gum, whey, leavenings (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate), salt, cornstarch, corn flour, corn syrup, solids, mono and diglycerides, soy lecithin, polysorbate 60,dextrin, calcium caseinate, sodium stearoyl lactylate, wheat gluten, calcium sulphate, natural and artificial flavors, caramel color, yellow No. 5, red #40.

 

This can be seen as the death of a company, the death of consumer happiness, the death of income for nearly 20,000 employees, and perhaps the death of a childhood memory or a guilty pleasure of a middle-aged crisis. Nonetheless, I salute you, Hostess and your delicious products. You will be dearly missed.

 

RIP Hostess 

1930-2012

Why Should We Read?

We ought to read more. I know, it’s quite a hoary idea, but like most overstated suggestions, we probably should be listening to them.

I’m in a reading mood. Every so often, I find a good book that I simply cannot put down and I fall into reading binges. In this case, it was Margaret Atwood’s, Oryx and Crake, truly, a riveting novel. I finished it last Sunday at one in the morning. I had to finish it. It’s difficult to find a novel that makes you sad that it is over and this was one. But I digress. So, I am in this reading mood and already half way through Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale, and I think about how little it seems, we read. During these periods, I am almost entranced by reading and I cannot comprehend how people could not want to read.

Now I can see why. Books are not readily available. Of course, there are public libraries, but there is no way to read a book off your computer without paying (in most cases). Also, I know personally, that I do not want to read off a computer screen. Why would I waste my time driving to a library to pick up a book when I can sit comfortably in my chair watching Youtube videos or watching TV. I believe that people read more a century ago because there was little else to do for entertainment, but now that a plethora of cat videos and movies on demand are available in a matter of seconds, we can do easier things.

“Easier” is not where we want our minds to go. Almost like a muscle, you need to work your brain and stretch it capabilities to become better. If our minds lay around watching TV and munching potato chips, it will get lethargic and fat.

We should read because reading can make us better in countless ways.