We all know the classic fairy tales. Without a doubt, they end up happily ever after. That’s not what I want. I don’t care about having one conflict in life, then going on with life until I die a painless death after many years of a perfect life. I don’t want to be Prince Charming, or find a princess to marry. Hell, I don’t want a wonderful life, even. What I want is to be able to show how I care about things. As a nerd, I’m going to use Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings as two prime examples. Both of these are adventures, but I’ll throw in other genres as well. The fact of the matter is, you know who these people are. You bond with these characters, both good and evil. I’m a firm believer that words will never suffice when you’re trying to explain emotions. You may try, but there’s no way of explaining exactly how it is something or someone makes you feel. Actions help, but even they aren’t perfect. The problem with not living a storybook life is that I can never show what I’m willing to do for someone. The next statements I’m about to make I mean in every literal sense of the word. There are people I would take a bullet for. There are causes I would sacrifice myself for. I’m willing to starve. I’m willing to leave all my friends behind. I’m willing to endure the elements. There are things I would gladly do all those things for. The thing is, we’re never given the chance, and pop culture isn’t helping. I can’t even begin to list all the songs that have used something I said I would do for a cause or person I loved and believed in that’s been used metaphorically. These phrases have become so common, they’ve lost all meaning. In Star Wars, there are multiple characters who give up everything for something they love. Even though he’s evil, I sympathize with Anakin. He was willing to forfeit his integrity, join the forces he swore to destroy, slaughter innocent children, and even fight someone who loved him. Why? Because he loved Padme. He sought answers from Palpatine because he loved her and thought he’d be able to save her. His good intentions may have been his downfall, but dammit, his heart was in the right place. The fact he was willing to do so much is selfless. In the end, he even sacrificed himself for his son. In The Return of the King, the combined forces of Rohan and Gondor march upon the Black Gate. Calling that a suicide mission is an understatement. They’re going, completely undermanned, without preparation, and without any advantage, to Sauron’s domain, and facing the thousands of orcs inside Mordor. All that for two Hobbits. They were willing to die for them. All they were was a distraction. That’s heroism at its finest. Now let’s take a look at reality. I’ve fallen in love. What I did for her was write a song. Doesn’t nearly compare. Albeit, I don’t know that I would have died for her. Let’s look at some of my friends. I can name countless I’d die for. But oh look, I live in a suburb. What’s the last tragedy that happened here? A drunk driving accident. They only died because they were stupid. If one of my friends’ houses caught on fire, I would rush in to help them. Of course, houses rarely catch on fire anymore, and since we live in suburbia, I probably wouldn’t know until the firetrucks were there, and by that point I wouldn’t be allowed any closer, being physically restrained by a cop most likely. A more likely option is if one of them needs medical help. Not in an emergency situation, but say a kidney transplant. Alright, I can give up one of mine. Assuming we’re compatible. The general point I’m trying to get across is that if I could truly show how much I care about the people I love, I would. In a heartbeat. The problem I have is that with all the passion I have, all the emotions, and as much as I care about them, the opportunity to truly show how much I care will never present itself. I would do so much for love, but no one will ever know.
Years ago I saw plans for a skyscraper. For the life of me, I can’t remember which company designed it, or what it was called, but I’ve been searching ever since for it. It wasn’t an ordinary skyscraper. It was enough to house a small town. The basic premise behind it was that we only have so much area we can house. So they did what larger cities had been doing for years, only with their sights much further in the future. They built what must have been a skyscraper that could hold near to a few thousand people. The idea is that if we build up, we use less room. This isn’t put into an existing city: it is the city. Think about it. Near the bottom, the farmers could live, and there could be a train station to connect to other city skyscrapers. With everyone stacked on top of one another, the amount of arable land would greatly increase, and the town would likely be able to be self-sustaining. They’d be connected to one another by a system of trains for easy access. People wouldn’t need cars because the transportation system would be adequate. As far as internal structure, it’d be easy to make it into what we already do with skyscrapers: homes, offices, stores. The hard part would be infrastructure. What happens if there’s a fire? Normally, people evacuate. The problem here is that if they can’t put it out soon enough, the entire city is lost. As far as evacuation, parachutes. There could be some external fire escapes, but not all that many. Parachutes are the best option I see. Or perhaps hang gliders. Then containing the fire so not an entire city is lost. This could be helped with sprinkler systems and fire walls, but only so much could be done. There would have to be some innovation to help. As far as crime, everything is inside. Literally every square foot of this city could be monitored at all times. Monitoring inside residences would be unethical, but we could see their entry ways. If someone were to steal or murder, we could instantly see it, see where they go, and where they hide. Crime would most likely fall because the chances of getting caught rise so much. As far as power goes, with a skyscraper that large, it’d be very easy to get windmills to power a good bit. Solar panels could be used to help, and failing that, perhaps another option. As far as a building like this goes, I’m all for it. In previous posts, I’ve voiced my opinions on large suburban houses. We’d be much more efficient this way. Expansion could be dealt with by building larger than needed. Then just advance slowly up. Or perhaps building the top so that it could be continually added to easily. One skyscraper in Chicago was purposely built so that it could be made taller at one point. We could do the same with this skyscraper.
I’ve lived in the suburbs for all of my life. Quite frankly, I think it’s terrible.
Our ideas of status in America is pretty equal to the house we live in and what car(s) we have. Even though they’re extremely impractical. Starting with the house, we don’t need the size houses many people have. A family of four can live in a house that’s 2 bedroom, 2 bathrooms. It wouldn’t be comfortable, but they could. Even comfortably, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms makes sense. Of course kitchen and some more living space is necessary, but houses don’t need to be nearly as large as they are right now. College dorms fit two people in a usually 10x10 room, and four people share a bathroom. Of course, as we get older, we want more room, but we definitely don’t need the amount of room most modern houses have. Furthermore, individual houses are completely inefficient. Heat is lost through surface area. The larger the surface area, the more heat is lost, and the more must be used on heating and cooling. So that means free-standing houses are by far the least efficient energy wise, then townhomes, and that apartments that are surrounded on all but one side are the most efficient.
And this isn’t even beginning in yard space. Most yard space is just something you have to take care of. I understand if you’re raising children how it’d be nice for them to be able to go outside and run around, but in large cities there are parks. Some are better than others, but there are parks. For everyone else, I don’t see the point in having something you either have to take care of, or pay someone to take care of. Especially considering land isn’t abundant. In America there’s plenty, but not everywhere else. If we were to live more compact, we could have more room for wildlife, helping endangered species, global warming, or even use the land to grow more crops. We’d then probably have plenty leftover that we could it, helping our economy, or be good people and give it to charities.
Then there’s the issue of cars. Although not all suburban families do, many have more cars than people. My next door neighbors have 4 cars for a 3 person family. Down the street, there’s a family of 5 with 6 cars. There’s no point in having that many. Walking, or even biking, is much more practical. Not only does it save money to walk or bike, it has numerous health and environmental benefits. There are people who have difficulty walking or riding bikes. For them, cars would be more necessary. But even so, if we had a decent public transportation system, it would still be more economic and environmentally friendly.
There are many people who don’t have cars. The group I’m most familiar with are children and teenagers. Whenever they want to do something, they rely on parents or friends for rides to places. By living in a more compact setting, they’d be able to walk places, and become more independent at an earlier age. The other main group are people who are having economic difficulties. For them, commuting is very difficult because the lack of decent public transportation, and the distances that must often be traveled.
Overall, I think cities are a much better choice. You aren’t dependent on a car for transportation. From where I live, walking or even biking anywhere would be impractical. In larger cities, driving is impractical. That means we’re no longer a society dependent upon cars, we’re less dependent upon oil and fossil fuels, and we’d be a healthier nation. Our houses would be more efficient, and there’d be significantly more land for use.
Not to mention, the sense of community in suburbs is lacking. Out of the 6 houses immediately closest to mine, our family is really only friends with 2 of those families. Even then, it’s mostly just greeting one another in public.
Humans are social animals. It’s both in our nature and in our benefit to form bonds with other people. By being spread out from one another, we inhibit ourselves from doing so.
Everyone’s been in an uproar recently about corporate personhood: how unethical it is, how they aren’t really people, and that they shouldn’t have a say in government. But then again, we’ve seen this exact same situation before when other groups have earned their say in government. So now, we can go through the same vicious cycle of hate, or we can be good neighbors and welcome our new corporate neighbors. We should attempt to connect with our new neighbors, and gain friendships so we can see past the stereotypes. This may seem like a daunting task since it’s hard to see how corporations can be people at all, but really, it isn’t that difficult to do. If we understand what have always been classified as humans, then understanding and befriending corporations will be that much easier.
The majority of human actions are based on needs. If we didn’t need to buy food or pay for shelter, few people would have jobs or go to college for that matter. But the bare, physiological needs are only the base of the pyramid. Maslow’s pyramid of needs, to be exact (Fig. 1). People’s motivation to go to school or work is based on this, but also are most things people do every day. Going to lunch with a friend, gossiping to a co-worker, and even some new high-tech alternatives such as updating Facebook statuses or Tweeting are all based off of humans needs. As humans, we have a certain biologically based need to form connections with other people. People don’t really ever think about it, but most of their actions are to fulfill some need.
Humans are social animals. It’s genetically engineered within every single one of us. Lack of human contact for long periods of time can lead to people developing feelings of anxiety, depression, and even distortion of time and perception. Lack of social connections can also increase rick of heart disease, viral infections, and cancer. Friendship increases humans value of worth; when we’re with other people sharing laughs, we feel better about ourselves. Due to these factors, humans innately seek out intimate relationships others. Because of this, people generally treat others with kindness and compassion, in hopes these sentiments will be returned, and so we can form emotional bonds.
Another common need is to feel like we’ve changed something, or that we’ve done all we could. When we feel like we haven’t, we fall into the common “midlife crisis.” These needs aren’t universal, but specific to the individual: one person may only want to be a good parents, while another may want to find the cure for cancer. Either way, all people wish to fulfill all of what they’re capable of.
For the most part, we aren’t motivated by outside forces to fulfill these needs, but we have intrinsic compulsions to seek out certain goals. Of course, there are some things we’re obligated to do, and some limitations on the goals we can reach, but for the most part, people are able to do as much (or as little) as they please. At the end of the day, no one will force us to work; no one will force us to form friendships; no one will force us to reach our true potential. It ultimately comes down to the individual to reach these goals. We set our own goals, and we achieve them as we see fit. Our new corporate neighbors don’t.
Corporations still have needs. For the lower parts of the pyramid, they follow needs as we do: they have certain physical needs such as natural resources and employees, need some sense of security, often in the form of insurance or stable management, but the difference is in the higher levels.
It’s very often corporations make friends so they can have someone to share their feelings with. In fact, corporations generally don’t like sharing information about themselves, and share as little as possible. Although corporations do sometimes form bonds with others, it’s in the form of contracts; and contracts aren’t exactly the equivalent to friendships.
The main difference between humans and corporations goals is the execution and motivation for those goals. Corporations have specific obligations to make as much profit as they can for investors. This extrinsic force is what drives corporations to do what they do, and since corporations don’t have the need to form bonds with others, they don’t have to worry about if their friends will be upset that they did something morally incorrect, or if they do something that’s purely narcissistic. Corporations are extremely narcissistic by nature. The rise and fall of other corporations only becomes a concern when it will affect their own profits. Human suffering and immorality don’t concern them unless it affects their profits. And because of the pressure on corporations to make as much profit as they can, and that they’re held accountable to this goal by other external forces, they sometimes resort to immoral behaviors. What’s most profitable for the corporation isn’t always what’s best. Factories would be more profitable if they didn’t have to filter their smokestacks or if they could just dump their waste anywhere they pleased. It’s only government regulations that limit corporations to being somewhat moral.
Because corporations aren’t in control of their own goals, they differ very much from humans. Corporations might have the same freedoms laid out in the Constitution as humans now, but they’re not at all free. They’re regulated by strict government standards, and pushed by outside forces to attain certain goals. This lack of control over their own fate, and the controlling outside nature should sound familiar, since we’ve seen it in humans before: it’s the very basis of an abusive relationship.
Since it appears our new neighbors are here to stay, it’s time we stopped ignoring what happens behind closed doors. Our new corporate neighbors have been in this cycle of abuse long enough, and it’s time we got them the psychological help they need.
People seem to like arguing about whether global warming exists. That’s not the argument. A few thousands years ago, there was a period in time historians called “the ice age.” It was called so because it was so fucking cold. Even during the 18th century, there was a period called “the mini-ice age.” That being said, the entire globe is now significantly warmer than those periods of time. Hence the name global warming. The Earth naturally goes through cycles of heating and cooling on a global level. The debate isn’t whether or not global warming exists, it’s whether or not humans are speeding it up.
I’ve always been fascinated by space. When I was young, being an astronaut always seemed like the coolest job in the world. And being lucky enough to live in Florida, I had the chance to see plenty of shuttle and rocket launches, and went to the Kennedy Space Center. All of this only fueled my desires. And if I’m being completely honest, one of the biggest factors was probably the fact I was in love with Star Wars (not that I’m not anymore). Now, I have a slightly different approach. I still believe our future is in space. We’ve been confined to one planet for too long, and we need to reach out. And as much as I want that to happen, I’m sad to say it won’t. At least not for a long time.
The plain fact is that we can’t even manage ourselves on one planet, so there’s no way we can manage more. Forgetting the economics behind colonizing another planet, or even the moon for that matter, we’d never be able to agree upon a way that made everyone feel equal. Doling out pieces of Antarctica was hard enough. Could you imagine trying to have people try to agree upon portions of the moon? With as many nations as there are, giving everyone equal pieces seems unrealistic. Even giving people pieces based on population. But of course, even with Antarctica, there are nations that end up without a chunk. But where does that leave them in the years to come? Eventually, we might expand past the moon. And those countries will still be stuck on Earth. In their minds, they’ll be ones who got the short stick and has to stay home while everyone else goes out and has adventures.
That being said, this brings me to the point that really scares me. What happens when a majority of our funding does go towards space colonies? What sort of condition will that leave Earth in? Space travel is a very expensive endeavor. One Apollo spacecraft costs nearly $8 billion back in 1966. Once we add in the expenses for ground control, training the astronauts, and all the other special equipment, the price is through the roof. And those missions were only putting two men and a tiny lander on the moon, then bring back some rocks. If we were to colonize, we’d need so many resources that the price would be so great, it’d almost be impractical. So let’s assume for one minute the government decides to go through with all that ridiculous spending. Where does that leave everything else? Either taxes go through the roof, or we make pretty big cuts to other areas. So if we find the money to make the colony, great. We did it at what cost to the nation? There’d no doubt be adverse effects on the population and society. And that wouldn’t even be the end of it. Once we get a colony on the moon, great. Except they have basically no way of getting food. Water and oxygen can be renewed somewhat, but they’re probably going to need shipments on a regular basis until they can find a decent way to grow enough food inside the colony (or find some cool species to hunt). So that’s even more money going towards this colony, and even less money going to things like infrastructure and education back on Earth. So the moonbase will no doubt be cool, but that basically leaves Earth as the solar system’s ghetto. We don’t even need to find examples of colonization to prove that. As cities grow, the wealth tends to move to the newer parts of town. Once the wealth moves, the older part becomes run down, and generally isn’t a wonderful place to live anymore. Now imagine that on a global scale. Not a pretty image.
The reason colonization the Americas worked is because it was funded mostly by individuals. Some were funded by the government, but for the most part, it was some guy who decided he wanted to be miserable somewhere else, and convinced plenty of people to go with him. Not to mention, that was fundamentally different than space colonization. All they had to do was go out and buy a boat. Hell, any angsty little boy could find his favorite black guy, build a raft, and just set out on a body of water (and consequentially make high school students suffer for years). But it was still only buying a boat. Hell, they could swim if they were really determined enough to get there. Space travel is different. Not any idiot can do it. And we’re not at the point where you can just buy your own shuttle yet (believe me, I tried. NASA said even though they canceled the program and has no use for the shuttles, they wouldn’t give me one.). Not to mention, space travel is infinitely more difficult. With the boats colonists were using, you could pretty much fuck up as much as you wanted. If it really came down to it, you could use the planks to float around. Even flight is easier than space travel. Any idiot can find a big enough tarp, string it over something, and make a glider. Attach a motor to it, make it a little bigger, and you could fly short distances. That wouldn’t exactly work with space travel. Yeah, I’m sure if enough idiots tried, eventually one of them would figure out how to use thermite to get themselves into space, but it’d result in quite a few deaths. Unlike the first attempts at flying, where the people basically only made fools of themselves in public.
As much as I truly hate to say it, we’re not even close to moving off this planet. And when we do, it probably won’t be nearly as neat and organized as we plan it. The colonial period caused some pretty brutal wars. It’s possible we could avoid the war this time, but there’s still a lot we have to figure out here before we can manage getting somewhere else. Until we fix the problems at home, we won’t manage much else.
As a band kid, and a general music enthusiast, I spend most of my day listening to music; both actively and as background. So through the years, I’ve managed to develop quite a few opinions.
I’ll go ahead and say it outright: I’m not happy with where popular music is right now.
This isn’t going to be your typical rant on how it’s all sex and drugs, or how it isn’t quality music. Musically, I like quite a bit of it, and some of the lyrics are well-written poetry. The problem I have with most of the songs that get played on the radio is how they manage to brainwash people into believing things that aren’t true and they’d be happier not believing.
It isn’t even that music is brainwashing people to think something radical, like supporting the communists or something, and they’re not even actively doing it (or at least to my knowledge). But people have a tendency to see or hear something on the radio or in movies and think “that’s what my life should be like,” or “I wish my life were more like that.” And for what they can, they make connections to the media. It may even be something as small as a similar sentiment, or similar emotional state, even though the rest of the song, movie, or book doesn’t relate to their situation at all. But having the one point that they relate to gets the foot in the door, and can lead people to either assume their situation is more like the media and less how it truly is, or actively attempt to change it. And it tends to lead to some pretty bad situations.
And this isn’t really that far-fetched of an idea. We see people emulate plenty of things. Show a little kid an action movie, and they’ll pretend to be Batman or a Jedi. People recreate things they see and hear all the time. There are plenty of examples from children who see violent actions (such as wrestling or video games) that then do the things they were shown.
My example of this is from The Great Gatsby. For those of you who don’t know (and if you don’t, I really encourage you to read it. It’s definitely one of my favourite books.), it’s a story about a man whose goal is to win back an old girlfriend. He’s spent so long away from this girl that he doesn’t completely remember how she truly is, and has romanticized her so much that there’s no way she could possibly live up to those expectations. I did something very similar to this. I had a girlfriend 3 or 4 years ago that was pretty amazing. Long story short, she moved. And from time to time, I’ll still think about her. In this case, I’m exactly like Gatsby. I’ve romanticized her to the point that there’s no way I’m remembering how she truly was, and if we were to ever meet up again, there’s no way she’d live up to my expectations. See, but at the time I was reading The Great Gatsby, I didn’t realize it. Relating to this made me almost go out and try to win her back, in some of the same ways Gatsby tried (I won’t go into specifics so if any of you want to read it, I won’t ruin it).
SPOILER: It wasn’t until the very end when Gatsby is shown dead in his pool that I realized this wasn’t a book about romance. At which point I felt very silly for wanting to use Gatsby as a role-model for getting my ex back. END SPOILERS.
Of course, The Great Gatsby is an entire piece of literature that has as much time as the author wants to make the points he or she wants to. Music is different. Songs are usually only about 4 or 5 minutes long, and record producers tend to be less lenient than publishers.
And after that detour, back to my main point about music…
The biggest thing I think people are being led to believe through the music industry is that life, and especially relationships, need more drama than is necessary. What makes matters worse is that most of these songs are targeted at a teenage audience. Teenagers really don’t need the help screwing themselves over (pun completely intended) in relationships. I can list countless lyrics from bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco where there’s tons of drama in the song. And while no, they never say that the drama is wonderful, that’s where people hear what’s happening, and since everyone fantasizes about being a celebrity, thinks they should jump on the bandwagon, and that if something isn’t wrong with their relationship, then there’s something wrong with it. Which makes absolutely no sense.
And now it’s time for more stories from my life. A different girlfriend (one from about a year ago) and I were doing pretty well. I think I can say it was the best relationship I was ever in. I mean, this was a girl that I spent 3 days straight (and I mean three days straight) talking to about Star Wars. We managed to talk about everything, and we really didn’t actually have fights. Every now and then we’d disagree, but it’d be tame. And then I went and royally hosed the situation. After hanging out with some other friends, I was exposed to Fall Out Boy (yes, I’m very behind on most pop culture). Thinking at first, “Hey, this is pretty jammin’. I can dig it.” led me to start listening to them, and actually comprehending the lyrics. Since it had already set in and I had a taste for it, I kind of believed the lyrics. And as far as my relationship went, it totally screwed it. Within about a month we broke up.
Looking back now, I see how stupid I was. And hearing other people’s problems with relationships gives an even better perspective of the problem. I’ve heard a lot of people use song lyrics as relationship advice. Not being emotionally invested in the situation, I was able to actually think rationally about it. And I noticed how stupid some of that advice was. And this advice wasn’t just about a few problems, it was about everything you could possibly imagine about relationships. I heard peopletalk about their dream guy or girl, using lines from songs as what they’re looking for. Sometimes the lyrics they were quoting were so specific, they’d be lucky to ever find anyone even close to that person. And almost all the advice seemed like a backhanded way to get their friends to break up, not help.
That being said, I think there are a lot of things in music that aren’t detrimental. The following is a few lines from the song by The Maine called “Whoever She Is.”
She could be money, cars, fear of the dark
Whoever she is, whoever she may be
One thing’s for sure, you don’t have to worry
She could be rainy days, minimum wage,
A book that ends with no last page
Whoever she is, whoever she may be
One thing’s for sure, you don’t have to worry