Response to Michael Goodwin’s “Why it’s time for a Trump Revolution” in the New York Post

I read Michael Goodwin’s article “Why it’s time for a Trump Revolution”, was dismayed and disappointed, and then tried to move on. It stuck with me, though. There are so many half-baked justifications for supporting Trump, and this article captures a few of them. The problem with these justifications is a lot of the logic doesn’t actually follow through. Continue reading

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For the Love of The Saga

starwarscomplete

It’s now less than two weeks until the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I am at maximum excitement. I was pleasantly surprised that I could still get this excited about Star Wars. My anticipation for the new movie has also fostered a renewed appreciation for the Star Wars Saga as a whole. Continue reading

A moment of reflection on my life trajectory

Today I watched Engadget’s mini-documentary Citizen Mars, which provides a glimpse into the character of five different Mars One candidates who have made it to the Final 100. Since I’ve finished it, I’ve been thinking about my priorities, my ambitions, and my goals. I’ve been focused on graduate school and my goal of becoming a math and physics teacher for the last few months. My attention has been on the day-to-day because I’ve had so many short-term commitments. I haven’t really thought about the overall direction of my life for a while.

When Mars One first put out the call for candidates to go on a one-way trip to Mars, I applied. Getting to Mars was my ultimate goal. It still is. As I watched the Citizen Mars videos, I realized that I feel just as passionately as those candidates.

Can teaching get me to Mars? Maybe. A true colony will eventually have children, and children need to be educated. What will education look like within a Martian colony?

I still have Ph.D. ambitions. I need to find a critical need of a colony mission and pursue solutions to that need as my graduate work. I need to make myself an obvious and necessary addition to such a mission.

In pursuing teaching now and Mars overall, I’ve chosen to leave behind other ambitions. Robotics and artificial intelligence are now merely hobby interests. My interest in user experience remains that. Even my further study of physics or mathematics has been halted. Yet, I cannot give up my drive towards Mars. I am not yet ready to cede this ambition to something more realistic or pragmatic.

To Be Better – My Vow of Constructive Silence

I am a hypocrite.

Yesterday, I failed to live the morals and ideals I espouse. In a spectacular show of self-righteousness I responded gracelessly to a family member’s comment on one of my Facebook posts. Based on my own prejudice against that side of my family, I assumed the worst about his meaning and intention. Instead of engage him in constructive, compassionate dialogue, I assumed I was smarter, more critical, more compassionate than him and asserted my voice over his.

In the Facebook thread I did apologize to him, but only on the heels of him calling me out. I’m glad he called me out. I needed and deserved it. I want to take this one more opportunity to unequivocably apologize. Steven, I am sorry for the way I treated you. It was inexcusable. You deserve better.

I want to do better. I want to be better.

I am both embarrassed and incredibly disappointed in myself. I realized that I’ve become self-righteous. I have not practiced the critical thought and compassion that I preach are essential to improving the world. I did not assume benevolent intent, a central tenant of my faith in humanity.

So, as penance and to strive to be better I am taking a one-month vow of constructive silence. I’m just making this up. Basically I will not insert my voice into conversations or discussions other than to ask questions of genuine curiosity and interest as I seek to engage more deeply with people. I will remain silent about my opinions, point of view, and feelings unless I am explicitly asked to share.

I will fail at this. I will try everyday, though. And, after a month, my hope is that the effort will have developed a habit of compassionate, curious dialogue.

Reflections on Discussion About the Charleston, SC Shooting

I’ve been reflecting on the tragedy that struck Emanual African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina the evening of June 17th. I’ve been silent in my reflection. What is there to say, now? Nothing can be done to lessen the heartache of the friends, family, neighbors of those nine people. We must support them as the mourn.

What can be done, what I can do, is learn from this event, to call it what it is. We can hold people accountable for the language they use to discuss it. We can insist that this atrocity be illuminated clearly so we can see all the ugly facets. We can hold the perpetrator fully responsible, and yet examine our own role as a society in which the perpetrator could go this far. Continue reading

Problematic Gender Politics in Jurassic World or An Argument for Its Own Sake

promotional image for Jurassic World featuring Bryce Dallas Howard

I just got back from seeing Jurassic World, the long-awaited successor to Jurassic Park. Movie-goers spent over $208 million in the US, giving the movie the most successful opening weekend ever. It’s not hard to understand why. It’s incredibly fun. Chris Pratt nails his role as a velociraptor trainer. Think of him like the most badass falconer that could possibly exist. Basically that.

Excuse my swoony digression. The rest of this post discusses plot developments from the movie. This is your spoiler warning. Continue reading

False Equivalence: the Fool’s Empty Quiver

This is no revelation: people on social media are incredibly polarized when debating social and political issues. Many debates on my feed begin when someone posts a meme. I often wonder how much thought people put into re-sharing these vaguely evocative images overlayed with simple rhetoric in block text. Once it hits their feed, though, comments follow in one of two modes: vehement disagreement or unwavering support.

In my own feed, I’ve been noticing a particular–and awful–type of rhetoric in these memes: the false equivalence. These are typically expressed as support for some social construct or idea, with the unstated implication being that any criticism of that construct is tantamount to a denouncement. Thus the false equivalence: Continue reading