I Guess That’s What I Am

Howdy, kids! It’s been a while, huh? I’ve been crazy busy this semester, but I have a few thoughts I decided I wanted to share in the wake of all the madness of the past months. I’m writing on an iPad here, so bear with me.

On Tuesday night, I found myself rooting for someone I never thought I’d be rooting for, and was even more surprised when it started to look like that person would win. My roommate — let’s call him “Brett” — and I sat on the couch, pizza rolls and iced coffee in hand, as we quaked in anticipation watching the coverage of the election on one screen and Google’s electoral results on the other. We had already begun to see the outcry and uproar over what was looking like a red sweep on social media even before the results were final, and we took two very different approaches to addressing it: that of a hopeful optimist who hoped everyone could come together with a sense of unity following the final result, and that of a cynical conservative.

A few moments after it was an all-but-final result, Brett took to Facebook to post a message of relative positivity. To paraphrase, it effectively amounted to: “So Donald Trump’s gonna be our next president. Cool. Can I get back to my jazz now?” (A music major, you see.) It didn’t take long before he got his first reply: “Easy for you to say, as a white man.” After a number of similarly ugly responses, he attempted to douse some of the flames with another post– one with even more positivity– assuring his friends that, no, Donald Trump is not “literally Hitler,” and the sun would still come out tomorrow regardless of who won. Of course, this was followed yet again by a string of angry replies, admonishing him for his privilege and telling him to delete the posts. He was shocked by how quick they all were to turn on him. I wasn’t. 

It was at this point that I recognized a pivotal moment for Brett’s political life. Brett calls himself a liberal (nobody’s perfect), but is definitely more conservative-leaning than most (for which I take some credit). He’s pro-gay marriage, pro-legalization, pro-choice, and pro-gun control (all of these to varying degrees, I’d hate to misrepresent his beliefs), but we are able to bond over a mutual love of capitalism, hatred of feminism and social justice, and knowledge that Hillary is the worst thing for this country. Needless to say, he’s far more left-leaning than conservative old me, but he’s beginning to make the fundamental realization that all conservatives make.

I learned this in tenth grade, in part from my experiences on Tumblr, and in part from my interactions with my classmates. The simple fact is that it’s very difficult, nigh impossible these days, to just be sort of liberal. You can’t only agree with them on some points and think they’re wrong on others, and still be accepted by them. You’re not allowed to be a feminist and criticize their hatred of men. You can’t be pro-choice but think abortion is morally wrong. You have to be all in. I tried to make friends with liberals over our mutual respect for women, our love of country, or a general sense of compassion for our fellow man, but once I realized they all took issue with my usage of the phrase “fellow man,” I realized it was probably a lost cause.

To the left, if you’re not their friend on something, you’re their enemy on everything. They looked at me like a villain because I thought perhaps the wage gap wasn’t real, they vilified me for having the gall to value unborn lives, and they assumed that because I fought them on one thing, I’d fight them on everything. So now, I do. You want me to be your enemy? Fine.

This is the transition I realized Brett was about to go through. He’s not entirely a liberal, so he’s not welcome in their ranks. Meanwhile, his good friend who’s a conservative welcomes him to his side of the fight with open arms, despite the many things on which we disagree. I can recognize the good in someone amidst discrepancies, and the left can’t. He witnessed this when the only people who came to his aide were the so-called “intolerant” people who disagree with him on most things, and far more than anyone attacking him.

Brett went to bed hours before me, because I was staying up until Trump was assured victory. As he walked off to his room, he looked back and said, “I still can’t believe how quick they all were to jump down my throat.” 

I responded, “I can. Welcome to the Republican Party.”

Like the Rat in a Maze who Says, “Watch me Choose my Own Direction”

March 9th, 2016. 11:45

Whoops. It’s been a while, huh? This semester has kind of kicked me in the ass, plus most of my writing of late has either been for classes or for the ISI (columns coming soon!). That said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t do a little bit of venting about the stupidity that is UNLV’s room selection process.

You see, the housing complex my friends and I all live in is for freshmen only, and as such the room renewal process available to everyone else that lives on campus is unavailable to us. That said, a surprising number of people in on-campus housing don’t renew their rooms and as such must be subjected to the same torment as the rest of us. There are three other housing complexes on campus, none of which are too huge considering a vast majority of UNLV’s students are commuters. First, there’s the Tonopah complex, the first one built and in general the saddest-looking one. It’s comprised of two tall buildings, with three wings total, and the rooms are pretty small. There are only a few singles and triples, with the rest being doubles. Interestingly enough, every room in the complex in which I currently live is a double, but the 8 of us that are National Merit finalists are entitled to a single room with our scholarship, meaning that we just get two of all the furniture pieces in a room that would otherwise house two people. I go to Tonopah every week to play D&D with my group, and I just kind of feel … sad … every time I go there. Plus, it’s smack-dab in the middle of, well, everything, and I really just am not a huge fan of the rooms.

This brings us to the next complex, UCC, which is made up of four buildings: Faiman, B, C, and Hughes. That’s how the alphabet works. Faiman and C are made up of mostly double suites, in which the rooms are smaller still, but they’re connected by a balcony in addition to the bathroom. The balcony’s pretty decent, and each building has a communal kitchen, which of course means I could make bacon anytime I want. There are also a few single rooms done in the style mine is, meaning that I’d ostensibly have two of all the pieces of furniture again, but they’re divided by a wall that’s the height of the average UNLV student, meaning it comes up to my chest. Apart from UCC and Tonopah, there’s the South complex, which is sequestered away on the, well, south side of campus, and it’s even worse than Tonopah. People legitimately get stabbed there, and the whole place reeks of some unidentifiable odor that I highly suspect is a combination of bodily fluids. I’ve never met a single person who lives there and is happy about it.

Which brings us to the crown jewel of UNLV housing, UCC B and Hughes. B and Hughes are comprised of what they call “deluxe single” suites, which are the same size as the other rooms, but are actually designed for one person, meaning that you don’t get two beds, closets, and desks, but rather on one side you get the basic pieces of furniture, and on the other side you have a sitting area with couches, chairs, and end tables. It’s pretty neat, and, naturally, these ones are always the first to go. Given the high demand for these rooms and the possibility that the current residents of said rooms are renewing for next year, you’d think it would be a pretty big deal to make sure everything was in order if you wanted to snag one. And it is.

Unfortunately, as they say, the best laid plans of mice and men often get completely destroyed by bureaucracy and idiotic event management.

The whole process of reserving a room for the next year is handled in one fell swoop by an event called the “Priority Room Selection Party”. On paper, it works as follows: the doors to the student union ballroom open at 5pm, and on a first-come, first-serve basis, students are handed tickets with a number on them. When your number is called, you go up to the table that corresponds to the building you wish to live in, check what rooms are available, and put your name on the one you want. Once you do, that room is reserved for you and only you; no one else can get it. As such, you can imagine it’s important to get there on time, probably even early. My RA suggested we get there around 2 or 3pm. Luckily, I knew better.

My friend (we’ll call him “Brett” for the sake of continuity, considering that’s his name) with whom I planned on getting a deluxe single suite in UCC B next year, and I, planned ahead. We each had four classes on Tuesday, the day the event was to take place, and talked to our professors about missing them. Knowing about the scarcity of these rooms, and considering I was also proxying for another friend (the process whereby you also deal with the paperwork for someone who can’t make it to the event and reserve their room for them) who also wanted a single in UCC B, we knew we’d need to get there bright and early to wait in line. So we got there at 8:15 in the morning. And there were already people there.

It wasn’t too bad, though. We were 14th and 15th in line, and had packed enough snacks and entertainment to keep ourselves contented for the 9 hour wait. Brett thought to bring a pillow, and a few hours in I was envying his foresight, but apart from that, all was well. Until it wasn’t.

Y’see, we had been repeatedly told that holding someone’s position in line was a no-no, which was why we made sure to get out of all our classes and arrive at the same time, to be sure that we would be able to sign up for what we needed to, at the same time. We were even reluctant to use the restroom, but sometimes nature calls, and the girl next to us was perfectly fine with us needing to answer. As by-the-book as we were with the rules, apparently others didn’t have as much regard for them.

A girl I passingly know as a friend of a friend was sitting near the front with her boyfriend when we got there, and as the day went on and people filled the line behind us, they kept letting friends sit with them. For the first few hours, we didn’t say anything, assuming (hoping?) they were just visiting, as we’d seen others do. However, by around noon, our position in line had gone from 14 and 15 to 26 and 27. And we were getting angry. Brett had called his parents a few times to vent and console himself as the line in front of us got progressively longer (I looked to the music of Rush for guidance in this time of tribulation), and as he said, we wouldn’t really have cause to be mad about it if it weren’t something as important as where we were ostensibly going to live for the next three years.

The other issue for me was that I didn’t really have a fallback. Brett had a back-up plan to get an apartment set up, but I not only lack the monetary fortitude and the will to make such an expenditure, I’m also entitled to four years of on-campus housing with my scholarship, and it just doesn’t make sense for me not to use it. A representative for the RHA (Residence Hall Association) was to arrive at 3 to enforce the line, but until then it was basically a free-for all. The people around us were getting progressively angry, as were we, at the state of affairs at the front of the line. While those of us a little further down were fairly organized, the front had turned into a massive cluster of people.

Once 3 o’clock rolled around, an RHA representative came down the line looking for a “Brett”. We were confused, but Brett surmised that his mother had called them to complain after one of his phone calls (we later found out that she hadn’t, so we actually don’t know why they came around looking for him). We explained the situation to them, but we didn’t want to be stoolpigeons, and we knew there wasn’t much they could do about it (we kicked ourselves for not thinking to take a picture of the line as it was when we got there), so we were pretty much resigned to our fates. The RHA girl assured us they’d do something about it.

Soon thereafter, they made an announcement that no cutting would be tolerated, and went around giving everyone in line a stamp and a number on their wrist. Now, we were 36 and 37, somehow. The number actually increased by ten after they made the announcement about cutting. The next two hours were spent waiting, and rocking back and forth between anguish and the moderate insanity that comes with sitting in the same place for 7 hours. As if that weren’t enough, the girl and her boyfriend who caused all the issues decided to stand up in line and proceed to become incredibly … intimate … with each other for the duration of the hours preceding the opening of the doors. Literally everyone in line was sickened, but nobody had the balls to say anything to them. (The irony of my desire to yell “get a room” was not lost on me.)

We finally got our wristbands and entered the ballroom where the event was being held, watching with dread as the preceding 35 people in line were called up and went to the tables for the rooms we’d been hoping for. Not all of them went to the table in question, mind you, but many did. When they finally called our numbers, we bolted for the table with as much energy as we could muster for being tired, sore, and subsisting only on potato chips since breakfast at 7:30. There was one suite left, and two single rooms available for Haley, the friend for whom I was proxying. So, despite all of the crap we suffered through, there was a happy ending. Barely.

While it worked out in the end, we still couldn’t help being angry at the way the entire event was handled. As we sat in line, we came up with a myriad of better ways to handle it. Luckily, given that I won’t ever have to do that again (we plan on renewing our rooms the next two times), I’d be more than happy to sit there (in a chair, please, not on the floor) for the duration of the day and make sure no one cuts in line, for a small compensation.

I guess I just can’t fathom how that was the best system they could come up with to handle something this important. Somebody at the top must be really stupid, or just not realize how seriously people take this stuff. There were a total of 100 deluxe singles, all told, and maybe 60% of them were renewed. All of them are full now, of course.

The moral of the story? Bring a pillow.

I Can Learn to Resist Anything but Frustration

January 21st, 2016. 11:27 [Yes, this is my second post in a row with a title taken from “Resist”. Leave me alone, it’s a good song.]

Yesterday I had perhaps the worst experience I’ve yet had in my short college career.

In high school I really enjoyed my drama classes and performances, and have been told by several people I respect that it’s something I’m fairly good at. I’ve been pondering potentially minoring or dual majoring in theater at UNLV due to my appreciation for the thespian arts, and to that end I enrolled in an “Acting: Basic Technique” class this semester. I attended the first class yesterday. Two hours later, I dropped the class.

The first thing I noticed entering the room was that I was one of only four men in the class of around 25. Okay, no big deal, it’s not the first time that’s been the case. Doing another cursory sweep, I noticed that, what’s more, I was probably the only straight man in the class. Again, okay. Not the first time for that one, either. I was surrounded by the type of person I’m realizing is commonplace on this campus, the gangly (or enormous), gauge-wearing, purple-haired, pierced-lipped “artsy” types, who I generally do my level best to avoid in day-to-day life. I know, it sounds elitist, but I find that my first impressions of someone are usually on the mark, and if I don’t have to expend effort befriending someone I know I’m not going to have any interest in being friends with, why should I bother? I don’t really have anything against these types of people, and not all of the girls in the class were repulsive to look at, so I figured I could muscle through it for the sake of the class.

Then I met our teacher, a thirtysomething, rambunctious black woman with a whole lot of opinions. Again, not a big deal for me. Most of my teachers have been women, and growing up with two sisters and no brothers I’ve learned very well how to get along with women. That’s why almost all of my friends are female. In fact, I think I only have two male teachers this semester, so this wasn’t a dealbreaker for me. As for how opinionated she was, I really didn’t mind that either. It was a theater class, after all, and if you don’t have something to say about a play you sure as hell can’t act in it. But as the class went on and she gave us an introduction to herself, my stomach filled with more and more dread and I sank lower and lower into my seat, almost as if I was trying to avoid being seen.

One of the first things she told us was that she was a “proud black woman,” a phrase I’ve never understood. How can you be proud of something you have no control over? Am I allowed to be a proud white man? I’m not even proud of the fact that I’m tall. Pride comes from achievements, not just facts about yourself. That was her way of telling us that many of the plays we were going to be reading and performing parts of would be written by “minorities,” and would all be contemporary. Okay, so … no Shakespeare? Awesome. She also noted how much she loved “gay plays,” which … great.

She gave us her life’s story, which was fine. She told us she was a single mother, which I feel bad about not being surprised about in the slightest. She told us she had a reputation for being a bitch to her students. Actually, “bitch” wasn’t even the word she used. She used another, even fouler word, one of the few curse words even I won’t say. I’ll also note how generally unprofessional she was, with every other word out of her mouth being a f-bomb, and her attitude about it being flippant at best, and downright disrespectful at worst.

She told us she really likes discussing things and having conversations about plays, which I thought might be at least constructive in some way. Then she went on to tell us a story about how a student last semester (one of those nasty Republicans) brought up that Mexicans don’t pay their taxes (which I’m almost 100% sure was not the argument he was making) and how she nearly “lost her shit.” So, apparently, she’s into discussions, if people agree with her.

She did a little bit of preaching about Bernie Sanders, the plight of the black woman in today’s society, and how people with “privilege” don’t have any room to speak in discussions she wants to have. Interestingly, this might be the first time I’ve ever heard someone actually use that whole “privilege” argument in the real world.

The scary part was how into it the rest of the students in the room seemed to be. Either they totally agreed with her, or they didn’t need to be in that class, because they already had the acting thing nailed down. But then she said the worst thing I’ve ever heard a teacher or professor say.

“Last semester, I had this guy in my class. You know, one of those Republican, super-religious, [scoffs], ugh. Anyway, one day I heard him tell someone about how he didn’t like the play we were reading because it had gay characters in it. [laughs] So, of course, the first scene I had him do was kissing another guy. Shut him up real fast. [more raucous laughter]. If you’re gonna come in here and be all Republican, I’m gonna make you as uncomfortable as possible.”

That might not be verbatim (I wish I’d recorded it, in hindsight), but she said it. She said that. A professor said that to her class.

The saddest thing here is that I was really taking this class because it was a prereq for a class I really wanted to take: a voice acting class. But she mentioned that she’s also the professor for that class, too. Awesome.

So, long story short, I’m down to 14 credits now. I can’t take any other CS classes concurrently with the one I’m taking, and anything that looks remotely interesting is full up at this point. So … I guess I’ll sign up for guitar lessons, or something.

Let this be a lesson to you: If you’re conservative, and you want to be in theater, you’ll have to pick one. I picked conservatism. I hope that someday in the future that feels like the right choice, because it doesn’t feel like it right now.

 

You Won’t Get Wise With the Sleep Still in your Eyes [Guest post]

[The following is a guest post from my sister, an ME student at the University of Alabama and itinerant intern/co-op/resident smart person.]

November 9th, 2015. 23:15

I’m sitting at my desk tonight with a hot cup of cocoa (courtesy of my awesome grandmother who sends me delicious care packages) ostensibly studying for a test tomorrow. Instead, I’ve decided to take a break to document an interesting happening from a few weeks back that sparked some pondering.

As any good story needs a setting, we’ll start with a little background. It was a run-of-the-mill Monday morning in my mechanics of materials class. The professor for this class, we will call him Dr. A, has a Ph.D. and is, once you get used to his thick Indian accent, generally a good communicator. Overall, I have been satisfied with his course. He sets clear expectations and has a no-nonsense way of approaching assignments and grading. He even has some fairly positive reviews on the infamous “rate my professor” site. This particular Monday, however, he did not live up to my expectations.

We started off the lecture normally, beginning with a brief overview of the day’s topic of beam deflection. I’ll spare you the super technical details, but in layman’s terms, we were discussing what happens to solid structures when specific loading and constraint conditions are applied. Usually, Dr. A will work through an example problem before sending us off to, ideally, complete the three assigned homework problems on our own before the next class period. The example for this topic was a man on a diving board. We were basically trying to find how far the board would bend, given the shape of the supports and the weight of the man. We got about halfway into the problem before Dr. A wrote an equation that did not seem to be true. I stopped writing in my notebook and elbowed my neighbor. I pointed to the equation I had written down and asked if she thought that was right. She shrugged nonchalantly and went back to finishing up the homework that was due at the end of class. I turned to the girl on my other side and she looked at it, then looked at his notes and frowned saying uncertainly that it seemed off to her, but then continued copying down his notes.

I continued to stare at it, still fairly convinced that it was not correct. I finally came to the conclusion that I was going to have to be that kid that everyone hates: I raised my hand in the middle of lecture.   Dr. A stopped writing and asked what my question was. I directed him back to the offending equation and tried to articulate what I thought it should be.   He listened briefly, then jumped into an explanation of why he had written what he had. I listened, frowning, still unconvinced. He finished his explanation and started to move on. Two guys in the row behind me, however, had started muttering to each other as soon as I asked the question, and they had apparently come to the same conclusion that I had. They jumped in when he began to move on, and asked the same question that I had, this time phrased in a slightly more accusing manner. He once again began to explain his equation using much the same explanation he had just finished moments before, this time with interjected arguments from the two guys behind me. They finally acquiesced after a few minutes of back and forth, and he once again moved on.

At this point, about ten minutes had passed and class was nearing the end. I was still not satisfied, and the guys behind me were now angrily muttering to each other about him being wrong, but we had all given up after hearing him explain it the same way 3 or 4 times.   I heard the guy in front of me complain to his neighbor that we wouldn’t even be able to finish the example in class today. The professor hurried through the rest of the problem and we were dismissed. I left with a large X through the equation in question and a big “?” next to all the work after it which was based on that conclusion.

Not two hours after the class ended, we all received an email with the following:

Please find attached correction in Boundary condition (B) of Problem 7-3-7 solved in the class today. Slope of deflection for v1 and v2 at a X = L are equal but not zero for roller support in this particular problem(Check Table 72 page 469).  On that basis corrections are made in page 3. Sorry for inconvenience.

Ah, the mass apology.   This sort of email must truly be the bane of any professor’s existence. He carefully avoided directly saying that he had been wrong, but still at least did correct himself and in a relatively timely manner.

The following lecture, he went back and worked through the offending problem again with the corrected equations and I was much more satisfied with the result.

This incident left me with much to consider. You’re probably expecting this to turn into a rant about terrible professors who only teach because they cannot do. Although my immediate reaction was to be frustrated at Dr. A and his refusal to admit his mistake, in the end I cannot really fault him for getting a little flustered at the accusatory remarks and sticking to his guns, annoying as it may have been. I do appreciate how he eventually handled it and redid the problem instead of trying to cover up the fact that he did it wrong.

It was not only a test of Dr. A’s teaching, however. This was also a test of the students in the class, and I have to say, many of them failed. From the guy sitting in the front row copying homework solutions from the internet in the middle of class, to the guy sitting near me complaining that other students’ questions made us unable to finish the example, I am left with an unsatisfactory view of my classmates.

How many of them were blindly copying without bothering to try to follow along or understand why? How many of them were even listening at all and not just playing on their phones or copying homework solutions? What does it say that finishing the example is more important than doing it right? Is this the kind of mindset that our future engineers will have once they start designing our bridges and airplanes and elevators?

It is a common complaint that “grades are more important than learning” but the problem is bigger than that. It is easy to blame the universities and the professors themselves for creating classes where good grades are the most important things. It is even true that some professors would rather have all of their students pass than have all of their students understand the material. And yes, there is a problem with a system that acts like all students deserve to get an A.

But we also must find fault with the students themselves who are so easily trapped by this mindset. They are led astray by methods that promise instant gratification without any sort of effort, and they see no issue with that. They truly believe that they deserve the A and the fancy job offer and whatever else they set their heart on for no other reason than the fact that they want it. They have no sense of pride in their work, no desire to earn the things they want. As long as they get what they want in the end, it doesn’t matter to them how they got there. They take no responsibility for their own success, but expect that it will simply come to them because they desire it. In their minds, the world is a place where everyone simply deserves the best just because. After all, if someone else can get an A or a nice job offer, then obviously I deserve it too!

This is what really bothers me about my classmates at school. Obviously, not all students are like this, and I am happy to have found many students who think like me. But there are more than a few who refuse to see reality. They act entitled to the world simply because they desire it. The worst part about it is that no one will call them on that behavior. I used to think that there would be a point where they’d all have to face the music and realize that the real world is not such a fantasy land where you never have to work to get what you want.

But I’m starting to think that maybe they won’t. The way the world is going, it seems like these fantasy dwellers will be able to get all the way through life without ever landing in reality. And that is what really scares me.

You Can Fight Without Ever Winning, But Never Win Without a Fight — A Review of ‘How to be Right’

December 21st, 2015. 22:56

As someone who regularly watches Fox News (shocker!), I’ve become fairly familiar with their anchors, hosts, and contributors. One of my favorites, if not my absolute favorite, among them is Greg Gutfeld. For the uninitiated, Gutfeld got his start on Fox via Red Eye, a sort of off-the-wall satirical late-night program that looked like it had about the budget my elementary school’s TV studio. Years went on, and when Fox needed a replacement for the increasingly unhinged Glenn Beck, they started a new show in his time slot: The Five. Gutfeld is one of the six (wait, that’s not right) hosts of that program, which was how I got introduced to him. I’m now an avid viewer of his more recent program which airs on weekend nights, which retains the comedic elements of Red Eye with a little bit more of a newsy angle a la The Colbert Report or The Daily Show — just not full of liberal twits. To the unfamiliar, he’s perhaps best described as a more level-headed Glenn Beck, with Dennis Miller’s wit, Bill Cosby’s love for sweaters, my four-year-old cousin’s love for unicorns, and my love for plaid shirts.

At any rate, as a follower of Gutfeld’s and supporter of his work, I of course had to buy his latest authorial escapade: How to be Right: The Art of Being Persuasively Correct.

gutfeld

As a young conservative college student with the onerous daily task of navigating the masses of thick-skulled, thin-skinned, Bernie-loving, Christian-hating, white-guilting college students (forgive my redundancy) I had hoped Gutfeld’s book might perhaps shed some light on possible argumentative methods I might employ, as well as offer some amusement via Gutfeld’s trademark sense of quirky (read: weird) humor. To my delight, How to be Right delivers on all fronts.

While it is essentially a how-to guide for successfully instigating and carrying on discourse with the Left, it reads more like an entertaining blog post which wouldn’t be unwelcome on a website like Breitbart.com. Gutfeld smartly walks the line between informative and entertaining, and while I laughed out loud at almost every page, I also felt compelled to take notes on some of his tips (I didn’t, which could explain the quality of this review).

How to be Right is a fairly comprehensive guide in addition to a funny one, and while some chapters offered me advice that I felt I already knew, others seemed to be especially geared toward helping me deal with problems I find myself struggling with on a daily basis. Chapter 6 is titled “Discarding your Outrage,” for instance.

Each chapter focuses on a central theme, expounded upon with a wealth of timely examples, ranging from explaining the necessity for humor by way of debunking the concept of white privilege, to the differences between Ben Carson and Donald Trump (turns out there are at least five). Gutfeld injects these examples with reminders of what the ultimate goal of the book is: to help conservatives like myself learn how to persuade others that their views are, in fact, the correct ones. He gives us examples of some of the primary arguments used against the Right and different ways to approach the answer without coming off as shrill, stupid, or any other way of saying “not persuasive”, in addition to maintaining a greater sense of satisfaction and deriving more pleasure from the debate than your opponent.

They say: “Your [political] party is sexist.”

They mean: “Explain to me you aren’t sexist.”

You say: “I’m not sexist. Some of my best wives are women!”

It’s easy to see that Gutfeld speaks from experience, and any conservative person who has spent time at a coffee shop, college campus, or public restroom will recognize several situations they’ve run into in the ones Gutfeld describes. Throughout the book are anecdotes and stories that at times help to drive his points home, and at other times are merely just well-written and entertaining breaks from the pseudo-lessons offered. Particularly amusing ones involve a gay bar for Muslims at Ground Zero and midgets at a magazine industry conference, but I’ll let you read the book for yourself. The stories help not only to maintain the balance of levity and depth, but serve to ground the book and show us just how much of an authority Gutfeld is on the art of persuasive correctness. He’s done his homework (another piece of advice he offers insistently), and it shows.

Because, as How to be Right demonstrates, persuasive correctness, particularly (or perhaps only) for conservatives, really is an art. It requires finesse, and the ability to simultaneously “out-compassion them”, “be Columbo”, and “say junk that people will remember”, all of which are chapter titles in Gutfeld’s book. Gutfeld really is a master at this, but his down-to-earth, conversational, and damn funny method of delivering his message makes his book not only impossible to put down, but surprisingly informative and helpful.

I honestly didn’t expect How to be Right to help me as much as it did. I still doubt that I’ll engage many of the liberals on my campus in lively debate any time soon (I’ve only recently managed to stop retching when I’m in the same room as one), but I feel far more confident now after having some of the tools offered by the book in my arsenal.

How to be Right: The Art of Being Persuasively Correct is not only consistently entertaining, it’s surprisingly informative, and even more surprisingly accessible. I’d recommend this book for anyone like myself who has trouble keeping their blood from boiling with rage when met with Hillary-worship, or not knowing how to answer a question from a liberal, even if it’s only because it’s a profoundly stupid question.

Which, let’s face it, almost all of them are.

 

Bitterness Breeds Irritation, Ignorance Breeds Implication

December 13th, 2015. 23:39

Sorry, it’s been a while since I wrote anything that wasn’t … well, we’ll say incendiary.

Since last I wrote, I’ve finished my first semester of college, which wasn’t as exciting as I was led to believe it would be, but what can you do? Nothing. You can do nothing. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — college is high school, but with dumber people. I wasn’t given too much trouble by this semester on the academic front (something I anticipate will change considering my chosen path of academia), but I did have to learn a few things about myself and how to successfully and positively interact with those around me. Given that you’ve made it this far, I take it you would like to know what those things are.

First and foremost, not everyone likes Rush, and while they are all wrong, it’s not something they’re going to change their minds about. That is a fact.

Perhaps more importantly, one does not win anything with anger or volume. That, too, is a fact.

For all that I enjoy my family’s proclivity to engage in yelling matches with one another on all manner of topics, be they music, politics, or apparently Star Trek (TNG is just better, I’m sorry), I must also understand, as must everyone else who partakes, that in doing so we’ve effectively ended the facade of engaging in polite, and thus productive, discourse.

Anyone who’s met me knows that I do have a tendency to speak loudly; I chalk that up to my experiences with the theatrical arts and my tendency to project my words rather than just say them. When this becomes yelling, I of course have necessarily admitted defeat. While the arguments among my family members have never reached any logical conclusion (at least not in my lifetime) I can say with some authority that those among myself and other (normal(?)) people have resulted in losses, and often on the part of he who deigns to yell or shout.

This isn’t to say that I ever try to argue about anything substantial or important with anyone at school, because I obviously don’t. It’s just not worth it. But even the small, unimportant arguments I’ve had with the friends I’ve made always seem to come down to the winner being declared by default and no real conclusion actually being reached. For instance, the girl across the hall from me lost the argument that The Flash is a television show worth spending any time on by becoming loud and emotionally invested in it (which is just beyond me), but I admittedly lost another when I became indignant about my perception of the genius of Neil Peart (which is completely well-founded, I’ll add). As a matter of fact, I can’t think of the last time I ever had a rational argument with anyone outside of my family and very close friends that wasn’t won purely on the basis of one side arbitrarily forfeiting the victory by raising their voice. And it’s a bit sad.

Not just because we, and especially those by whom I’m surrounded at school, seem to no longer be able to partake in polite, dispassionate disagreements, but because, on a grander scale, it means fewer problems actually get solved.

For instance, when Donald Trump and John “Ohio” Kasich take up arms against each other on the debate stage, and the moderators allow them to do so, those who actually wish to discuss the important issues in the little time they have don’t get to do so; especially damaging considering the small amount of time allotted to the debaters, and the general padding of the GOP field in general, with people like Lindsey Graham and George Pataki somehow still bothering to show up at all. We also see our president answering horrifying acts of terrorism by raging about people in his own country who disagree with him, and the plight of the polar bears.

I could go on about this, but as Polonius says, “brevity is the soul of wit,” so I’ll keep my wit soulful and move on.

Another thing I’ve realized is that we can’t afford to be bystanders anymore.

Not just “we” the right, or the royal we, but we as a country, and perhaps even we as a race. I don’t mean this in regards to the climate, or anything, either, in case that’s what you thought I meant.

As I see these terrible things happening in the news every day, and I read about the growing strength of ISIS and how they’re recruiting people to come and join them over the internet, I can’t help but feel how easily preventable these things would be if we had the sense to stop worrying about offending people and get our shit dealt with.

Take the gun control debate. It’s going nowhere, and we all know it. Regardless of your stance on the issue, you know neither side will budge, and as long as we’re still listening to that pesky Constitution, nothing is going to change. So why do people still constantly bring it up every time something terrible happens? People are so quick to jump to the question of “how can this help me?” instead of “how can I help them?” these days, that it’s just embarrassing. Like when the president said that we could stop ISIS by working against climate change.

I’ve realized this within the scope of my college life, as well. So many of my fellow classmates are ignorant of the world around them. All they seem to know is “Trump bad, Hillary good.” They have no concept of what’s actually going on in the world, how the media is skewing things in favor of the left, or how even a cursory glance at an article or fact sheet would lead them to the truth. Because they don’t really care. All they want is free education, the unfeasibility of which seems to escape them.

There’s no sense in trying to convince them of what they’re not realizing, or getting them to do their own research, but rest assured — if we continue with our ignorance and navel-gazing, we’re just as responsible for the problems as those causing them.

The last thing I’ve realized is that I’m not a very happy person.

I don’t mean to be all “woe is me,” because to hell with that, so I’m going to be clear here — I’m perfectly satisfied, grateful to be where I am, have the things I have, and be a part of the family of which I’m a part, and I acknowledge and thank God for all the things I’ve had access to that the less fortunate do not — but I’m just not a very happy person. Sue me.

Actually, please don’t, because statistically speaking, I’d lose that lawsuit. Actually, that aside lends itself rather well to the next thing I was going to talk about, and I didn’t even do that on purpose.

Last month I became filled with bile and vitriol after the terrorist attacks in Paris, and I wrote a post that came off, even as I read it, as far, far too much. I did the same a few months back upon recalling my time in the toilet of the internet, Tumblr.com. Self-control is still very much a thing I work on daily, and I’m very glad that the link to this blog is still only shared with those closest to me. I’d like to to remain that way, because, simply put, I’m angry.

I’m angry at a president who is openly antisemitic and anti-America. I’m angry at the professors who give me extra points when I insult the Republican party in an assignment, solely because I know that they will. I’m angry at the students who protest against “hate speech” and “triggering words” while simultaneously berating and belittling those who dare to believe in God. I’m angry at the terrorists who senselessly slaughter hundreds of innocent people in the name of a violent faith, and I’m angry at myself for finding Donald Trump less and less crazy every day because he of all people is the only one who seems to care about the innocent dead.

Most of all, I’m angry at the media and cultural and environment that gives others every assistance to have their voices heard, while I have to remain silent and angrily write this blog at midnight for a handful of people to read.

That anger is on me to deal with, but it still seems unfair. Over the course of my first semester at college I’ve realized that the only healthy way to deal with anger is to ignore it. I can’t vent it anywhere, because it’ll be seen and I’ll suffer the consequences, so I have to pretend it’s not there.

Which, unsurprisingly, is really hard.

Hopefully, that’s something I’ll learn to deal with in my next seven semesters.

 

[Note: I’ve just read the liner notes for Rush’s album Presto, the second track of which (Chain Lightning) is the source for the title of this post. Evidently the actual lyric goes “Ignorance breeds imitation”, but I like my version better, so I’m keeping it this way.]

Beating Down the Multitude and Scoffing at the Wise

November 8th, 2015. 8:08

I had originally planned to write a review of the most recent debate on CNBC, but I haven’t been able to really pull two thoughts together very well for the past few weeks due to my brain being addled by various cold remedies, and seeing as the next debate is only two days away, I’ll just leave it with this: Cruz and Rubio won by a landslide, and Bush and Kasich signed their own death warrants.

At any rate, I just wanted to hit on a few thoughts I’ve had over the past couple of days. If anyone’s been paying attention the last couple of weeks have seriously changed the political landscape, and the race has really been overturned by a few key players, some of whom did themselves a great favor, and some of whom did quite the opposite.

I’m going to start with the guy who’s been my favorite candidate in the race consistently since the outset, a certain Dr. Ben Carson.

If you’ve been reading any of the most recent headlines or going on Twitter in any capacity this week, you’d most likely think that the Doc is some kind of lying moron whose own campaign staff is willing to say as much. He doesn’t know anything about what pyramids are, he likes to stab people, he has made some outrageous claims about applying to West Point when he absolutely no-way didn’t do that, he hates Jews and Muslims, and he’s in general just a massive idiot. Now, of course, none of these things are true. The pyramid thing was just a personal belief (one shared with many great historians and archaeologists of the past) about a possible secondary use for the massive, ancient tombs. The stabbing story is something he actually came out with solely because he didn’t want the press to find out about it and use it against him, which, incidentally is exactly what they’re trying to do to him anyway. The whole thing would go away if he would disclose the identity of the other person involved, but they asked not to be named. So, like a decent guy, he’s letting the press attack him for it instead. I’ve beaten the West Point thing to death on Twitter, but suffice to say that what Dr. Carson’s been saying all along is the truth, and his campaign never admitted to fabricating a story. The only ones fabricating a story were the liberal media, which can easily be seen by the numerous articles (Politico’s being the most notable) that were edited periodically throughout the day to add a little more truth. The comment about the Jews possibly being able to defend themselves if Hitler hadn’t taken away their guns basically boils down to him saying that Hitler was an evil son of a bitch, which kind of makes me curious to people taking exception to that comment. But what does this all mean for him?

Actually, it’s all good. Throughout all this ridicule and stupidity, Dr. Carson has held his composure while still proving he can dish it out as much as he can take it. He blatantly called the press out on lying and treating him unfairly compared to their research (or lack thereof) on Obama while he was being elected, and has really done a great job of sticking to his guns and keeping his head firmly above water. This is the Ben Carson that people like me have been waiting to see. I think the events of this past week have put Dr. Carson firmly in the minds of the American right as a serious possibility for nomination. Which coincides very well with Trump beginning to lose steam.

As we all know, Dr. Carson is now beating Donald Trump in most major polls (yay!). Of course, if you were to hear it from Trump or one of his supporters, those polls are stupid and inaccurate. Though, they weren’t when they reported that Trump was winning. Last night, Mr. Trump appeared on SNL for what can only be described as a … well, a boring show, to be frank. I would’ve thought that Trump would use this time to lend a little humility and willingness to make fun of himself to his perceived stuck-up and holier-than-thou persona, but I’m beginning to realize that it’s not just an act– Donald Trump really thinks he’s better than everyone else. Trump can be a funny guy, but the writing was just terrible. And that whole deal about the group paying someone $5000 for someone to yell out “Trump’s a racist!” in the audience (and Larry David taking them up on it) was just stupid nonsense.

Speaking of that same group, they recently came out with this (NSFW) commercial:

Putting aside the fact that that kid Ricardo is a terrible line reader (a future thespian he is not), I’m fairly certain this ad borders on child abuse. These parents should be ashamed of themselves, and all this is doing is serving to give Trump supporters even more reason to love him. Which they don’t need. The thing I’ve noticed over the past few weeks is that Trump support from moderate Republicans is dwindling, as they go to better candidates like Cruz, Rubio, or Carson, and the people who love Trump just love him more and more. He’s having a polarizing effect on the race, but as his numbers fall, I predict that his ego will inflate to the point of instability, and the first time he’s not in the middle podium at a debate will be the last debate he attends. Good news for America.

Speaking of ego, if you ever decide you hate yourself enough to put on an episode of The View, you’ll see it in spades. Last week, one of the lovely (read: repulsive) ladies on The View called Carly Fiorina “demented” for having the gall to flash her pearly whites for a few seconds at the last GOP debate, which was not only rude and uncalled for, it also gave the impression that at least one of those people had actually watched the debate. Whoopi Goldberg (best known for her role as Guinan on Star Trek: The Next Generation, alongside Jonathan Frakes, a much more attractive woman) added to this by saying that by having Carly on The View a few months prior, they had effectively boosted her popularity, as though anyone who watches The View can be trusted to operate a vehicle safely, let alone drive on down to their local poll to vote in the Republican primary. Well, Carly wasn’t having any of this, and she made another appearance on The View this Friday to take the fight to them. And boy, did she.

Despite Joy (read: Sadness) Behar’s insistence that she’s a comedian and has license to make those remarks, even if she were (which she isn’t), Carly noted that she wished they would actually try to talk to her about important issues rather than doing the liberal thing and attacking her appearance, which is something they constantly accuse the right of doing. When I heard that she was going to appear, at first I didn’t think it was a particularly great idea for Ms. Fiorina. But then I realized something– Carly Fiorina is by far and away the most articulate candidate in the race, beating close-runner Marco Rubio out. Every single word that comes out of Carly’s mouth is perfectly chosen, and the exact word she meant to say. She’s quick, she’s tough, and she’s very smart, none of which can be said about Raven Symone or any of the other cretins on that sad excuse for The Five. She ended up coming out stronger than she went in, and while I’m sure the numbers will show that, I’m also sure that our favorite Ten Forward denizen will once again take credit for it.

On the topic of that debate, I don’t think I’d be saying anything new if I said that Cruz and Rubio came out of it on top. Cruz really got the ball rolling and absolutely annihilated those terrible moderators, and later on Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, and even Ben Carson got in on it, and the whole group came together under the banner of calling out the crazy yelling man at the end of the moderator’s table for being, well, kind of scary.

But Marco Rubio ultimately won for me because of how gracefully he handled Jeb Bush’s baffling attack strategy. Coincidentally, I would have to say that Jeb Bush pretty much scratched his own name off the ballot with that one. He was always struggling to get past the effect that his last name has on the average American voter, and going after Rubio on something that he didn’t really know anything about pretty much killed his campaign. No, Jeb. You can’t fix it.

The least impressive people at that debate, apart from old Jeb, were John Kasich, or as I like to call him, Screamyface McOhiopants, and Rand Paul, who I kind of forgot was there. Admittedly, Rand has never gotten much time to talk at these debates, but whenever he does get a chance, he shouldn’t use that time to try to appeal to the left, and should instead use the few facets of his political beliefs that the right may align with. If he did, he might not find himself consistently at the end of the stage.

Despite those two being on the end and generally underperforming, somehow Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee will be the ones getting knocked down to the lower level at the next debate. What? Regardless of how stupid that is, they both handled it incredibly well. Christie has been going up in my books, and unlike Huckabee, he actually has a shot at getting elected. They both took it in stride, and it may actually be a benefit for Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal, who’ve been floundering since they entered the race, since I think people might actually watch the first debate now.

That said, poor Lindsey Graham and George Pataki, huh? Now they’re down there with Jim Gilmore and they don’t even get to be in the loser debate. That’s probably okay, since I don’t think anyone knows who they are. George Pataki’s the tall one. Lindsey Graham’s the one who wants to solve the Planned Parenthood problem by killing Iran. Jim Gilmore … uh … hell, I don’t even remember who he is anymore.

At the end of the day, a few good guys now have a better shot at getting the nomination, and with the next debate being moderated by some actual winners (Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo, to be specific), I’m actually pretty excited to see how the next few months play out. But that could just be because I have a higher IQ than the average college student — I did get offered a full scholarship from West Point, after all.