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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Dreams

  After hearing what Randy Pausch had to say about achieving your dreams, I believe it's not so hard as many think. The difficulty is following the steps to get there. Based on what Pausch said I picked up on these few:
Be kind to everyone. Always. Even if they are unkind, they may be of help later in life.
Make good connections with people.
"Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted."
Work hard, because you won't get anywhere if you don't.
Most of what he said were things that I already knew. Tips to success that I had already heard. However, he was able to reopen my eyes to how important these facts were by giving life examples where they came in handy. Pausch became living (or rather dying) proof that these common tips are true. He checked off all the dreams on his childhood list and made it seem easy. He was clever enough, well connected enough, outgoing enough to get what he wanted. 
When Pausch was talking about the offer Disney made him to become an imagineer, I was absolutely silenced by shock. The sheer amount of creativity, intelligence, and willpower it would take to land a job at THE WALT DISNEY is so out of reach to so many people that refusing a job offer is an actual sin. When Pausch started talking about Disney is when I really started to listen, and when he stated that he refused the job offer I think I lost the ability to hear. 
Working as Disney is a dream of mine as well. Getting offered a job would be the highest honor. I found myself thinking this guy must really know how to achieve one's dreams if he can become an imagineer. And so I listened to everything he had to say very carefully from that point on. 
I realized that Randy Pausch got to achieve most of his dreams by being clever. Can't go in zero gravity because your a teacher? Well journalists are allowed. Become a journalist. He also had a lot of friends to help him along the way. People that gave him a chance. But in order for me to get any help I had to go farther back, because before people give you a chance, you have to prove yourself. Be a good student and a better person. Everything seems to trail back to being good to people. Be kind to one person and they'll help you out. Help one person with something, and they owe you a favor. 
After thinking through it enough, I got some information from Randy's lecture that was never explicitly said. The world doesn't really care who you are. It just sits there and lets you shape it however it wants. If there was only one person on earth, they could shape the world however they wanted. But there's not just one person, and this is where we run into problems. Now the world isn't yours, it's yours and everyone else's, but there is just one world to shape. One reality to mold. Now that there are other people, you have to fight for what you want and you can't do it alone. You need to make friends because the world doesn't run on money it runs on favors.
Randy Pausch got everything he seemed to want. He was so pleased with his life and his impact on the world that he didn't much care that he had 3 months to live. To achieve everything I want and die without a care is my dream.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Technology Transforming Creativity

Creativity is the most important part of human function. Without it, Steve Jobs would have never had the vision to create Apple technologies. Without it Van Gogh may have never painted Starry Night. Without it, our favorite movies and music may not even exist. So when Larry Lessig states that laws are choking creativity, a slight panic is understandable. If laws take away, or limit our creativity, what do humans have left? Many don't realize it, but humanity would become little more than a shell of it's former self without creativity.
During his "TED Talk" Lessig provides an incredible explanation, and argument. His passion and extensive research are on display in this video. He starts with the earlier beginnings of technology, and how a man by the name of John Philips Susa saw the "talking machines" as "infernal machines" that would "ruin the artistic development of music in this country." This is interesting because the idea that technology is ruining the younger generations is not uncommon. However, it is easy for someone to look at something new and unknown and say "It is not good. It is dangerous. It will ruin the current state of the world." It is hard for someone to look at that same new, unknown thing and say "This is an opportunity. What comes out of it may be bad, but it may also be fantastic." Lessig goes right ahead and informs the audience on why the latter is true and the former is a close-minded way of thinking. He gives examples of technology producing a new form of creativity. People now combine music and video and things that have already be created and they reimagine them into their own form of creativity. Philips was wrong; technology did not erase creativity, it transformed it.
The world needs creativity. It provides hope, and supports imagination. Creativity is an escape from the real world. Humans have been creating and imaging for just about as long as they have existed, and now that technology has grown and improved we can expand even further on our creative abilities. Technology should be embraced as a new form of creativity.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Taking the "Fun" out of Fundraising

Congressional fundraising doesn't sound like much of a bad thing when one first hears of it. However, John Oliver makes it obvious that congressional fundraising is in fact a dark business. In his video, Oliver humorously unveils the deeper secrets of fundraising in politics. Congressional fundraising is when politicians ask for donations to help them campaign. The problem appears when one learns how this all happens. Call rooms are set up in buildings "just a few blocks from the capitol." Having to work in the call rooms was described as demeaning. Complaints about working in the call rooms included being confined to a small cubicle, long hours, and poor hygiene (causing the room to smell). Oliver even interviewed former Top House Democrat in New York, Steve Israel, who said after announcing his retirement "I don't think I can spend another day in call room making another call begging for money..." The fact that this would be mentioned in such professional statement shows that the call rooms are just that terrible. During the interview, Israel also described the poor working conditions in the call rooms, and how he had to frequent them approximately once every three days.

The real issue behind the darkness of congressional fundraising is money. There never seems to be enough of it. Everyone seems to always need more in order to do what they want. How one obtains money can also be a problem. For example, the presidential candidates often brag about how much money they have raised and how they got it. Bernie likes to exclaim how all of his money comes from contributions of the people. Trump, on the other hand, is practically funding his entire campaign with his own enormous wealth while trying to write it off as donations. If people saw the reality behind call rooms many would be upset, maybe thats why the truth is wrapped up in so many layers. Oliver even mentioned that they could find no video footage of inside the call rooms.

Money has always been the problem. There are few issues that money cannot solve. The greed humans have for wealth often leads them to dark places. It seems that many politicians have managed to find one of those places in the call rooms of congressional fundraising.

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Scott McCloud on Comics

Comics are often seen as childish or an undignified reading source. They are so rarely taken with seriousness. This is likely because they are similar to children's book, which also contain many pictures. No one wants to be seen with a comic (or children book for that matter) for fear that they might be seen as less of an intellectual than their novel-reading peers. However, the truth of it all is that comics are simply another way of telling a story. As Scott McCloud explains in his graphic essay Show and Tell, adding images to a story allows the author to expand upon it even further. Personally, I like having images because I am able to visualize exactly what the described scene would look like. Making a high quality comic also takes a lot of work, perhaps even more so than a book with no pictures. The author of a comic must plan out both a good story that will keep the reader interested and pictures that will follow along with the story. Then the author must either draw out the pictures themselves or hire someone to do so. Either way it takes a tremendous amount of effort and skill, only for the final creation to be looked down upon by those who cannot appreciate the work that goes into a comic.
McCloud's essay does a fantastic job of describing comics, how they are seen by society, and their many different forms. His essay may have been overlooked, however, if he did not show that he is a reliable source of information. He does this in a few ways. One is that he made his essay into a comic. This proves that he knows enough about graphic essays to write one himself. It also proves his point that images and words combined help the reader understand better because the reader can experience it for themselves. Another way McCloud proves that he is trustworthy is his extensive knowledge on the subject. At one point he names, describes, and gives examples of seven different types of comics, or books that involve pictures. The information he supplies is not common knowledge meaning that he either has done his research, or he knows his comics.
It is unfortunate that many people see comics as some kind of joke, but reading something like this essay proves that change might be on its way.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Blame Game

The article Celebrity Bodies started out with exactly what one might expect from the title: another discussion about the unrealistic body standards set by celebrities and models. However, it didn't take long for the essay to change course. In fact, it continually changed its direction throughout the essay without ever leaving the subject of celebrities. Although it was not set up in the best way, the article certainly made some good points. 
After reading I realized that the phenomenon that is "celebrities" is a strange (and ironic) one indeed. Society creates celebrities. It chooses the select few that interest it most and says "These people are the best people. We shall put them on a pedestal, and all the other people who are not as good as them will aspire to be." After that point though, there is an ironic twist. Now that society has idolized these people, it wants to break them down, tear them apart and show their insides to everyone. The only reason we do this is because their lives are made to be so much more interesting than our own. Celebrities' lives are dramatic and exciting, and society wants to know about them. But why are we destroying these idols? Are humans simply so sadistic that they immediately want to break what they built? Perhaps we do it without truly realizing it, hiding behind the excuse that "they're celebrities and, therefore, want their lives shown to everyone."
The worst part of it all is that the whole thing is actually hurting regular members of society as well. Boys and girls look at the celebrities they see on television and think about what it would be like if they looked like whats-his-name or whoever-that-is. Then that girl goes to the bathroom to vomit up what she just ate because she's "too fat", and that boy works out at the gym way too much because he's "too weak".  The rest of society sees the boy and girl and blames the celebrities, even though society made the celebrities. But society would never, ever, ever blame itself. So it blames its creations the same way Nero blamed the Christians. 
Celebrities give us something to aspire to, but sometimes that aspiration goes too far. Society makes celebrities only to crush them. What might the world be without celebrities?
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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Beware the Zombies

Zombies are real. Maybe not in the way we might think, but they certainly exist. We see "zombies" every day. They are the evil creatures that we know how to defeat, but still overwhelm us. They are the demons that we can slaughter over and over and over again, but there will always be more. Some people only have one zombie, maybe the ones that walk real slow. Others have more than one like the ones that crawl and the ones that run. If I thought about it a lot for a long time, I could probably come up with approximately seven different types of zombies that I have. But right from the start, in the forefront of my mind, there is one kind of zombie that swarms and overwhelms me in massive numbers. It's a zombie that wants to push me down to the ground and keep me there forever so that more and more can pile on top and leave me forgotten under the weight. Although I find it easier to call it Laziness.
Sloth is my ultimate deadly sin, or, in this case, my "zombie". I adore being lazy, but I also loathe it. It is so wonderful to do nothing and have nothing required of you, but this of course means that you get nothing in return. There is nothing to be gained from sloth apart from its initial satisfaction, but even that wears off once you realize that you need to do something at some point in time. It is the same way with zombies. The idea seems great at the time. Perhaps the zombie apocalypse would be thrilling. Then you start to remember the effects, the danger, and you think "maybe the zombie apocalypse isn't so exciting...", but now it is too late and you are trapped.
When I am being lazy, I am happy. Even if there is that tiny voice whispering in the back of my mind saying "YOU ARE DOING NOTHING! GET UP! BE PRODUCTIVE! LIVE FOR GOD'S SAKE!"(it's a voice that one becomes quite good at ignoring), I will still be content. The worst part of the whole mess is that I know how to defeat this "zombie". All I have to do is self motivate, which is so much easier said than done, and the zombie will be dead. The problem is that there will always be another zombie that wanders over and attacks, and then I must defeat that one as well. I can only hope that I will never be completely overwhelmed by sheer numbers and swallowed.
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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Hip Hop Planet

McBride writes about hip hop in his article. Its beginnings, its history, what it is, and what it means. Then he ends by saying that "the drums are pounding out a warning", but he never comes out and directly states what that warning is. By interpreting what McBride said before that line of warning, he means that hip hop music as well as rap is music that often dresses current world issues. This is music that warns the world of the problems it is creating. It is music that says "Look at what's wrong with the world! The people will eventually rise against it!"
I believe that McBride's idea of hip hop as a warning is true in some senses but not in others. In earlier areas of his essay he states that rap and hip hop has been used in the past as a way to point out issues that then grew into enormous problems. The lyrics often describe what people are struggling with under current circumstances. Some of the hip hop and rap music of today also does this. The music describes problems such as inequality between races and genders, and sexual harassment or assault. Lady Gaga just recently wrote a song about sexual abuse. These songs call attention to the topics they discuss, and they warn that these topics will become or already are serious problems.
However, there is another side of this music. Much of the hip hop and rap music of today does not touch upon such serious subjects. Most of the time such music means hardly anything at all and simply has a good beat. This music is still powerful, but I don't see it being any type of warning.
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