Why So Cynical?

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We’re all so damn cynical these days. How can we not be? So much of our lives have grown to resemble some kind of twisted safari ride. Welcome to Your Life™, we hope you enjoy the ride. On your left is yet another story of prejudice based police brutality. On your right you’ll see two male congressmen in their wild habitat, engaging in the ancient ritual of partisan gridlock and getting nothing done. Oh, and what are we approaching straight ahead? That’s global warming! We’re all going to die… Hooray! ISIS here, ignorance there… what? We’re in luck! That furry orange animal in the corner is the rare Donald Trump; it is said that as a larva the Donald burrows under piles of money getting more orange as he grows, only to resurface every four years bringing with him a swarm of locusts, plague, and the pent up anger of an entire race!  What’s that Donald? We should torture and kill people with animal entrails? Good plan! Engage in another full-scale war with a people we don’t like? Of course! Why not? It’s only human lives at stake, nothing important.

It’s no wonder that so many of us have just surrendered to cynicism and apathy. Why vote? My vote won’t do anything. Why recycle? No one else is going to. Why try? One person can’t accomplish anything. Why hope? Nothing’s ever going to change anyway. Every day seems like a hollow binary, choosing between the lesser of two evils, wading through a sea of grey hoping to find a even a pixel of color. That’s no way to live. What’s even the point of a life that only gets worse day by day?

CHOO CHOO

The worst part is that we too often find ourselves on that train of thought, which would be fine if we didn’t have to constantly shovel in our misery for fuel. That outlook on life just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s a waste of what little time we have to spend it wallowing in pity of ourselves and our world, and I think we would all stand to benefit from a little bit of idealism and a dash of optimism. But how would we do that? Continue reading

For the Epidemically Lonely

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We live today in a world of social ubiquity. Connected instantaneously to the world, we have become a generation known for its tweets, its followers, and its selfies. So, of course, we must be the most socially content generation, and with hundreds of friends and hundreds of followers how could we not be? We have every reason to be satisfied, to be fulfilled, by our social relationships; so why aren’t we? Why do studies show that one third of adults report feeling lonely, a number that only seems to be growing? In a world where we are becoming increasingly connected why do we increasingly feel isolated?

lonely-robot_00445841

This robot is alone. It sucks.

Ironically, the very instruments that sparked this age of unprecedented connectivity have also simultaneously catalyzed the modern epidemic of loneliness. Yes, we may have 200+ friends on facebook but what good are 200 friends if you can’t talk to any of them about the issues that matter to you, if you can’t confide in them your deepest fears, your most earnest hopes, and the unsure worries of day to day that keep you up at night? What good can 400 hundred followers be if they will only follow an incomplete version of you, a mask of false perfection meticulously designed to display only your joys, happiness, and triumphs while hiding those parts of you deemed too unacceptable for public exposure?

As social animals we feel an instinctual need to fit in, to belong. And so we try; we hide our imperfections and put our best foot forward in the hopes of social interaction. But as humans we have developed the pesky trait of needing depth in our interactions as well. We long to be accepted for who we are in our totality, not just for the false projection that we cast into the world. But social media by its very nature can often only provide the latter.

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When Machines Rise

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The phrase “Deus Ex Machina”, or “God From Machine”, comes from ancient Greek stage play lingo, describing the machines (cranes and the like) that would bring Gods upon the stage. Their presence would often create a massive upset in the plot usually resulting in the hero magically being rid of their problems and tying up the plot in a neat little bow. But when the machines of our day bring forth the Gods, it may not play out so well for us.

The march of progress has steadily brought humanity forward. We came from nothing. With only ingenuity and curiosity we have domesticated wild beasts, conquered agriculture, and built upon the corpses of ancient beings a concrete empire that stretches the world over. To connect that empire we have constructed in silicon and steel a new world, a digital world. We are not the inhabitants of that world but outsiders, able only to look inside through programs and Artificial Intelligence. That world is teetering on the edge of revolution and one that can spell doom if misdirected. Continue reading

A World Of Total Security

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Warning: Satire Ahead

A MODEST PROPOSAL

FOR PREVENTING TERRORISM IN ALL OF ITS FORMS AND THE FURTHER EXPANSION OF SECURITY AND PROTECTION OF ALL CITIZENS

In recent years, the sad stain of terrorism continues to linger like a cancer in the national consciousness, feeding on public fear and growing. Who can’t remember the blood that stained the streets of Boston, the bodies and appendages that littered the finish line, or the thundering boom of the two towers’ ill-fated destiny, of the mournful cries of families torn apart, and the shrill screams of those innumerable innocents in their last moments? And what of those whose lives have been touched by the immortal darkness of terrorism; they are fated to live on, a blessing their loved ones can no longer enjoy, not because they chose that path for themselves, but because hard-hearted men in foreign countries could not feel enough love in their soul to understand the value of human life.

I think that we would all agree that our lives and livelihoods, our families and friends should not have live under the perpetual shadow that is the ever looming threat of terrorism, that our safety should not be hinged upon the decisions of radicals, pushing their insane agendas. The war on terror has not served to end or even diminish this threat, so any person who can devise a simple and practical method for eliminating the threat of terrorism would have done a great service to society and should be crowned a hero and live on in history books as the savior of modern society.

But my plan, it extends far past the reaches of terrorism, it will encompass a much greater degree of security and protect us from almost all the ailments that plague society, chief among them terrorism. It will be the ushering of a new age of order and stability sure to last for at least a thousand years, a Thousand-Year-Reich if you will.

There is likewise another great advantage to my scheme, it will prevent those pesky whistle–blowers traitors from releasing classified information that would serve to threaten national security interests and the lives of our great and honorable military heroes overseas. These traitors are vile creatures who do not think twice about sacrificing the lives of our people, of our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters, good American lives, to satisfy their own petty desires for idiotic things like “Freedom” or “Liberty”. Freedom will not protect flesh and blood from the blast of C4, nor will it safeguard against the force of an oncoming jetliner; the dead have no use for liberty. Even Benjamin Franklin, one of the fathers of the American republic, has stated “they that can give up essential safety to obtain a little temporary liberty deserve neither liberty nor safety.”*

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I have been assured by a very knowing German of my acquaintance in Berlin, that the only method towards absolute security is to render null and void the “freedoms” that we so wrong-headedly have given our citizens.

I therefore humbly offer it to the public consideration that we immediately enact marshal law and coerce each citizen into confining himself to a personal cell in the style of a maximum security prison. This will not be a major issue as many already voluntarily confine themselves to their homes, content to live out their lives in virtual reality rather than ours. The issue of constructing these fine living quarters will be tasked to the poor and unemployed. This would do to instantly improve the health of industry in this country and play an essential part in bringing our economy back to the heights not seen since before the Great Recession. Any casualties caused by this “Great Leap Forward” will quickly be forgotten; the media never focuses long on poor when there are celebrity scandals to uncover and discuss.

Each person will be allotted daily rations, a television, and a computer as to assure that they can continue to entertain themselves; I am not cruel, entertainment is almost as important as fighting terrorism and to deprive the public of that would be inhumane. In this manner we will endear ourselves to the public for our endless generosity. A great man once said, “By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise”*. We shall make then live in paradise.

Of course, we will have multiple cameras in each and every one of the cells and all communication and internet use will be carefully monitored and analyzed. Lethal force and other appropriate measures will be authorized depending on the likelihood of the citizen turning towards terrorism. Each cell will be equipped with enough cement to seal the room and the criminal inside so as not to disturb the neighbors in nearby cells.

In the beginning there may be some… minor issues. The decrease in food production may cause a couple of unforeseen deaths among the populace but the poor among us will take the brunt of that damage, they already don’t make enough money to feed themselves now, so nothing major would change under my plan. The reduction in population would only make it easier to monitor possible terrorists and ensure the safety of our populace and it would ease the global overpopulation that has been plaguing this planet.

I have too long digressed, and therefore shall return to my subject. I think the advantages by the Proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance. Terrorism will become a thing of the past and our citizens will enjoy the absolute security and protection that this plan will provide. Immigration will be put to an end to eliminate extraneous factors in our system and all visitors to the country must subject themselves to at least thirty one background checks and biological and psychological tests to ensure that they have no intention of harming our citizens.

Jobs relating to production of goods will be mechanized to limit human factors and intentional biological warfare by terrorists. Jobs in the service and other industries will be eliminated or mechanized depending on necessity. Scientific development will be shut down so terrorists will not be able to take advantage of new unpredictable means of wreaking havoc.

I can think of no one objection, that will possibly be raised against this proposal, unless it should be urged, that the people will have lost their liberty under this plan, but that was decision the public made long before this proposal. I have only served to explore the possibilities that have been opened up by the slow destruction of these rights over the past decade. Mine is a proposal uniquely suited for the United States, and no other nation on Earth, for it only serves to expedite us on the path that we have already started upon.

Therefore let no man speak of other expedients: Of waging devastating wars on foreign nations, of sending machines to kill when our soldiers will not, of secretly spying on allies and citizens alike (there is no need for secrecy), of continued belligerence toward harmless nations, of torturing of POWs for information, of war crime after war crime in the name of fighting terrorism, of institutionalizing xenophobia, of the endless increases in security checkpoints, of hiding the wrongs of the government behind a wall secrecy that states, “confidential”. Therefore I repeat, let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, till he has at least a glimpse of sanity, that these attempts will be any bit more effective than the proposal that I have put forth without taking away the precious “rights” and “freedoms” that we claim to hold so dear to our hearts.

But I am not so bent on my ideals that I would persevere in this proposal if an equally cheap, easy, and effective counterproposal were to be offered, one that would not require us to give up on the inheritance of American democracy, one that would allow for absolute security and absolute freedom, but that proposal does not exist. Instead what we are left with today is an incomplete version of the former and a hollow imitation of the latter.

* Franklin actually said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little     temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

* The great man was Hitler.

The Cave

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Long ago in a cave somewhere,
Lay a tired man with an empty stare.
Shackles of steel held him down,
And on his head lay a golden crown.
He sat alone, chained to stone,
A king upon his rocky throne.

A fire blazed with lulling light,
As if to mock his unfortunate plight.
He sat there quite contently though.
As if he himself didn’t know,
That his cave was his cage,
And his whole world was a stage.

A play of shadows filled the walls,
And he stared intently at it all.
Not realizing that with every wasted breath,
His story drew nearer to the dance of death.
Days became months and they to years,
Uncertainties became doubts and they to fears.

This king of clowns began to wonder,
Wonder, which tore his illusion asunder.
Yet life’s monotone and dreary clone,
Was all that he had ever known,
And to venture into the unknown,
Was too much for this unhappy drone.

As his final hour was drawing nigh,
He mustered the courage to finally try.
The shackles faded into air,
As if they were never truly there.
He climbed higher and higher,
Past the illusion, past the fire.

And upon escaping he felt a light,
Warm, welcoming, shining bright,
But with that light came a chill,
That soon silenced all his thrill,
As he turned and saw the sky,
Death’s grip freed his soul to soar and fly.

If you enjoyed the poem, please leave a like and/or some feedback it would be much appreciated. Thank you for reading!

What is the Meaning of Life?

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Since the dawn of humanity, we have always had one question in the back of our minds. Why are we here? Is there any meaning to our brief existence on this planet? For thousands of years, philosophers and academics alike have debated this point endlessly. It is one of those great mysteries of life that you really can’t give an answer to. So of course, as someone who has no idea what they’re talking about, I have to throw in my two cents.

There is no meaning to life, well… no objective meaning anyway. If you look at life from an objective standpoint you won’t find a goal that you put here to achieve, nor a purpose that you are here to fulfill. (This is a branch of philosophy known as existential nihilism). The idea that we go through life with no objective purpose might as well be a fact because, no matter where you look you won’t find one. Of course if you’re religious, you may believe otherwise and while I respect those objections, I can’t completely agree with them. Even from a purely scientific standpoint, where you literally only inspect the facts with no subjectivity whatsoever,  you will find no purpose. If you really scrape the bottom of the barrel, and I mean scrape it really hard, the only “purpose” to life, if any can be found at all, is reproduction. (which raises whole bunch of other problems that won’t be discussed now.)

This process may seem purposeful and linear but it is not.

This process may seem purposeful and linear but it is not.

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The Sound of Silence

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We’re all so busy these days. Too often, we find ourselves hung up in the endless routine of life. You get up, work, eat, sleep, and repeat. Before you know it you’re another year older, another year more tired, and another year closer to death. On your deathbed, like so many others, you’ll wish you spent more time with friends, with family, and doing what you love. We’re all here on a time limit and sometimes that’s just too easy to forget.

You need to check instagram right now. Who liked your photos? You’re checking twitter. Gotta keep up with the people you’re following. Your other twenty-three tabs are open to keep you from experiencing even a moment of boredom. Your friend just texted you. He wants to go out for lunch. You can’t because you have work that needs to be done by Friday. Your boss is threatening to fire you. What about that assignment you were given four weeks ago that you haven’t started? Your phone just went off again. You have keep going. Go! Go! Go!

It's calling. Can't resist... Noooo.....

It’s calling. Can’t resist… Noooo…..

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The Case for Space

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The age of space is rapidly approaching; that is a fact. The question is whether we will recognize that fact and be among those who venture to stars or ignore it and be left behind in the dust of those who do. From the dawn of space exploration, we have lead the charge, the second country into space and the first to put a human on the moon. We had the most resources and the best talent and we used it to its fullest. The US of A , #1, you know, the good old days.

Sadly, that’s all we can say these days. All we do is reminisce about a past greatness that we will never reach again. Remember when we landed on the moon? Well, it was so long ago half this country doesn’t. Those glory days have long since ended. NASA is now a shell of its former self, the punch line at the end of countless jokes. They have almost no funding and now do little more than janitorial duties on the ISS and the Hubble, a far cry from its early days when the goal of space exploration was pursued with pragmatic determination.

Here we see Atlantis vacationing in Florida. Sadly this means we have no more shuttles.

Here we see Atlantis vacationing in Florida. Sadly this means we have no more shuttles.

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Why Do We Learn History?

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We’ve all been there, sitting in a classroom while the teacher drones on about the interregnum after the death of Augustus or something else no one cares about. It’s always the same question that pops into our heads. “When am I ever going to use this?” The thought leaves as quickly as it appears with a short curt “never”.

But, as it turns out, history has a multitude of uses (surprisingly). History provides the lens by which we can see more clearly our world. Everything around us, the machines, the cultures, the governments, even the people, can be understood only in the context of history.

History provides the answers to those questions that cannot be found through observation of the current state of reality. The dominance of the multinational corporations that saturate today’s markets can be easily tracked to their immense growth at the advent of the industrial revolution. The huge role that the US plays in global politics and its place as the world superpower can be only understood as the result of its development during World War II through the Cold War era. All of the geopolitical interactions of modern times can be traced back to historical roots and explained through interpretation of those records. Continue reading

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