The World Weighs on my Shoulders, but What Am I to Do?

September 30th, 2015. 16:23

Over the weeks I’ve been at school, I’ve come across an interesting phenomenon. I haven’t made any friends.

Well, that’s not really that interesting, nor is it 100% true. There are a few people I’ve been able to talk to in some of my classes and in my dorm building, but by and large many of the people here seem to be people who wouldn’t be interested in being friends with me, and vice versa.

Last week’s story comes to mind as part of the reason why, and a few other anecdotes come to mind, as well. For instance, yesterday I happened to sit at the same table at lunch (it was particularly crowded, otherwise I’d have eaten alone as per usual) with a girl whom I’ve spoken with a few times who lives on my floor. Pleasant enough. She explained that she was on her way to a club meeting. I, being the charismatic young gentleman I am, ventured to ask what club that was.

“Spectrum,” she replied.

“I have no idea what that is,” I said, having no idea what that was.

“It’s the club for raising LGBT awareness on campus! It’s really cool, you should come!” she responded.

“Ah, maybe another time. I have plans tonight,” I said, planning on retiring to my dorm and playing Metal Gear for the foreseeable rest of the evening.

I elected to change the topic of conversation at that point in time.

The common thread between this exchange, last week’s, and indeed many I’ve had since coming here, is that I seem to be completely unable of actually discussing anything of any import to me with anyone here without alienating myself or seeming weird. My interests are fairly specific, and admittedly a little niche, but I’ve never had a real problem finding common ground before.

Apparently, no one at UNLV

A) Has any interest in video games of any kind,

B) Has ever read anything by Douglas Adams,

C) Has ever seen Arrested Development or any comparable sitcom of above-average quality,

D) Has ever listened to anything by Rush, Mark Knopfler, Chicago, or any other musician of above-average quality,

or E) Is even remotely conservative.

That last one’s a bit of a doozy. I spoke with my uncle a bit this weekend (happy birthday, by the way!) and he remarked on something that I think is particularly true, especially in my particular situation. While those on the left will loudly and often espouse how “courageous” people like Bruce Jenner or Lena Dunham are for having the gall to be liberal, we live in a world where being liberal is the safe option. It’s easier to have a show with a prominent gay or trans (?) character and get applauded for it than face constant criticism and be accused of bigotry for not doing that. It’s easier to post pro-Bernie or pro-abortion statuses on Facebook, and anyone who questions you on it is widely regarded as a piece of crap. Anyone who dares to post things of the opposite nature on their internet accounts face constant scrutiny and criticism for doing basically the exact same thing: saying what they think. [Note: more often than not, those who post conservative things on the internet are more likely to actually believe what they’re saying, (un)interestingly enough.]

The upshot of this is that I don’t have enough bravery (or perhaps more accurately, stupidity) to say what’s actually on my mind, because I’m predominantly surrounded by people who will lynch me for my ideas while simultaneously complaining that they’ll be lynched by those damn republicans for having the utter gall to want to kill infants but not, you know, terrorists. That said, while in my particular situation it would not benefit me to say what’s on my mind, I laud those who do. I try to let them know (as quietly as possible) that I support what they’re doing, even though I don’t think it’s such a great idea. If everyone was like me, the republicans would never win anything.

Do we ever win anything?

I live in a world where if I logically counter a nonsensical idea with perfectly respectful criticism, I’m a “cyberbully”, but if I stand up about my beliefs the exact same way the left does, I actually will suffer for my actions. As such, it’s in my best interest to remain silent about just about everything important to me, and that kind of sucks. I assume I needn’t point out the similarities between UNLV and Ray Bradbury’s world depicted in Fahrenheit 451. For the next 3 and a half years, I’m going to need to keep my head down and follow the Newspeak, double-plus-good mantras by day, and come home and angrily blog about it by night. Such is the life of the college conservative.

 

war is peace

freedom is slavery

ignorance is strength

What You Say About Society

September 21st, 2015. 20:08

Last week I met a girl in my computer science class who also shares some HON courses with me. We met up again this morning with a few other people as we made our way from the CS class to the CBC, where pretty much everyone had a class at 11:30.

By some wicked twist of fate or another, the GOP debate somehow got brought up in this group of four. I attempted to find the most meaningless thing to say, not eager to ruin a few potential friendships by way of being conservative (the gall!). Naturally, the choice was clear: making fun of Donald Trump, which anyone can get behind. I chose one of my favorite moments to bring up– the awkward high five attempt between Ben Carson and Donald Trump. Evidently, that was a bad name to bring up. And no, it’s not the one you’re expecting. The conversation went like this:

She: “Ugh, did you hear about the thing Ben Carson said? That’s such bullshit, saying no Muslim should ever be president.”

I: “Well, that’s not exactly what he said. He just said that he, personally, doesn’t think that the core values of Islam line up with the values in the Constitution. And, frankly, I don’t think he made anybody change his mind about voting for him.”

She: “It’s stupid, and he’s full of shit.”

I: “Well, have you read the Quran? There is some pretty scary stuff in there, which might be why he doesn’t support it.”

She: “I’m Muslim.” [I was not expecting this, mostly because of the fact that she didn’t have a sheet on her head.]

I: “Ah. Well, to each his own, I suppose.”

She: “It’s retarded. I would be a way better president than him, and I’m only 18.”

At this point I deftly changed the topic and elected not to ask her how she would solve the debt crisis or what her ideas were on how best to deal with ISIS.

It seems Ben Carson has finally found a way to make some waves with the populace, and it was by having the gall to express his opinion as a private citizen on what being a good president entails. As for myself, I’m still going to vote for him. I don’t consider myself well-versed in the intricacies of Islam, but I do know that no Mormons have recently flown a plane into a building, and no Catholics seem to be decapitating people. Do with that information what you will.

It seems Dr. Carson may have lost the Muslim vote. All three of the Muslims that were going to vote for him.

I’m beginning to fear I won’t find any conservative brothers in arms here.

Tough Times Demand Tough Talk

September 20th, 2015. 17:27

On Thursday, I did something I’m fairly certain no other 18-year-old did on that day: I set aside three hours of my time and watched, from start to finish, the second GOP debate of the 2016 election season. This makes me probably one of the only people my age in the entire world to have watched both of them, including the preliminary round of the first debate, as well.

This time I elected (NPI) not to watch the first round, considering the number had fallen down to only to four candidates, none of whom I was particularly interested in seeing speak. That said, I think Bobby Jindal has some good things to say, Lindsey Graham has some good points about the military, and I genuinely like Rick Santorum. Poor old Jim Gilmore didn’t even make it into this one, and Rick Perry is the first casualty of the seventeen candidates. Of course, most importantly, Carly Fiorina has bumped up into the major leagues, and she really gave the other ten folks a run for their money. I was really excited at her addition to the group, not only because she tends to have great points, but because it meant that the stage would be symmetric.

I’ll go into a few overall thoughts about the flow of the debate and then go individually candidate-by-candidate, ending with my overall ranking of all 11.

There were a few surprises here for me. First and foremost, the general atmosphere seemed to me to be a lot better this time than the first time. At the first debate you could sense a lot of tension. There was a lot of imbalance in the questioning, thanks in no small part to Megyn Kelly attempting to be the 11th debater (Fiorina she is not), and you could practically taste how uncomfortable everyone was with Trump’s presence on the stage. That was the first time any of them had really had to be in the same room with him, and you could tell they were all trying to test the waters and see how far they could push him before he pushed back. Of course, Trump pushed back before half of them even pushed the first time.

This time, however, everyone seemed a bit more comfortable. Apart from some tension between the outermost two guys and Trump in the middle, they all seemed to get along better. They took their shots with more calculation, and who could forget the amazingly awkward high fiving that went on between Trump and the two guys immediately adjacent him?


That isn’t to say that they didn’t argue with each other, because they did. But, barring a few occasions, they seemed more like they were trying to reach a common understanding than yell over each other, and that’s a step in the right direction. Now, a few comments on each debater. For convenience’s sake, I’ll just go left to right.

Rand Paul: Paul’s always been hit-or-miss for me (I think it’s the hair), but I liked more of what he had to say this time than the last. Trump opened the debate with a cheap shot in Paul’s direction, and he handled it more gracefully than I would’ve. He didn’t really add much to his platform, but he did a good job of trying to get the debate back on track on several occasions, and I can thank him for that. I wasn’t too sure I liked his takes on how we should deal with foreign policy in regards to ISIS, but I could appreciate his attempts at saying something of interest, I suppose.

Mike Huckabee: While I loved his closing remarks at the last debate, he didn’t really do much to garner attention this time around. He mostly just came on camera to look really sweaty and nervous, but behind that he was saying some good things. But man, the sweat.

Marco Rubio: Hot damn, Rubio shone this time. From his opening water bottle gag (which I was waiting so long for!) to his closing statements, he was on the ball the entire time. He spoke well, and was one of the few people whom the moderators didn’t have to keep saying “thank you. THANK YOU.” to. He also was the only one on stage who took Trump’s criticisms in stride, acknowledging his own failures with grace. I wouldn’t be surprised if he moved up in the rankings after this.

Ted Cruz: Well, he certainly knew how to look the camera straight in the face every time he spoke. Did you know his dad came from Cuba? Yeah, you did. Everybody does. Doesn’t mean he’ll stop talking about it, though. That said, he did a good job defending his opinion about the Iran deal. Cuba.

Ben Carson: I’m biased here, because Ben Carson is by far and away my favorite candidate in this election. As such, it’s no surprise that I think he did a great job on Wednesday. He was on the ball about tax reforms, foreign policy, and was probably the only person whom Trump couldn’t take any shots at, because he regarded him with courtesy and humor at all times (“You’re an okay doctor.”) If Carson can tame a beast like Trump, he can do anything. That said, he could have used his newfound popularity to land some good zingers, but I kind of feel like he’s better served not to. He’s a man of principle, and that shone through.

Donald Trump: Oh, boy. Let me preface this by saying that I in no way think this is a man who can lead our country. Having gotten that out of the way, I actually didn’t mind Trump too much at this debate. He made himself a little bit clearer on some of the more inflammatory statements he made, attempted to mend some bridges he’d burned (albeit while simultaneously burning new ones), and came off slightly less smug this time around. You can still tell he thinks he’s the cat’s pajamas, but he was a little bit more self aware this time around (how about that “humble” joke?) Overall, I actually was entertained by him more than horrified this time around. It’s about 60/40.

Jeb Bush: I was pleasantly surprised by Jeb(!) this time around. He handled most of his questions like a pro, and didn’t back down to Trump when he was getting bullied. I was also really impressed by his defense of his brother. I also really liked his response to the “What’s your Secret Service code name” question. (Mine’s By-Tor, if anyone cared.) That said, he still supports Common Core, which is kind of a dealbreaker for me.

Scott Walker: Walker, again, failed to really stand out this time around. He held his own against attacks by Trump, and he, like Paul, got the debate back on track several times, which I appreciate. He just didn’t really say much of interest, again. He’s going to need to start doing so if he wants to get his footing back in the polls. Otherwise, he’s going to start losing to folks like …

Carly Fiorina: These guys didn’t know what they were in for. Fiorina just nailed it. She nailed everything. She shrugged off attacks, she brought attention to the important issues and why our attempts at solving them have failed in recent years, she delivered some excellent zings that got well-earned applause from the audience; in essence, she brought the thunder to this debate, and spared no one. On another note, I also really appreciated her response to the “what woman should go on the ten dollar bill” question. If we have to have a woman on our money, I think we needn’t look any further than Carly Fiorina.

John Kasich: Like last time, he didn’t do much other than subtly praise himself. I thought he did a marginally better job of it this time, though.

Chris Christie: I can’t help not liking this guy, and I’m not really sure why, but I have to admit he did a good job this time around. He made the good point of showing how much he’s done in the liberal state of New Jersey, and actually started making some progress on showing why we should bother to elect him, bringing the attention around to the American people and how they’d be affected by the issues being talked about.

Ranking, from worst to best:

11. Mike Huckabee

10. John Kasich

9. Donald Trump

8. Ted Cruz

7. Rand Paul

6. Scott Walker

5. Chris Christie

4. Jeb Bush

3. Marco Rubio

2. Ben Carson

1. Carly Fiorina

 

Best Dressed

1. Ben Carson

 

Best Hairpiece

1. Donald Trump

 

Best “My dad is from Cuba” Guy

1. Ted Cruz

A Timeless Wavelength

September 17th, 2015. 20:54

Be warned, this isn’t my usual fare. What it is is a review of a fantastic concert I had the pleasure of attending last night.

This marks (NPI) the second time this year where I was fairly certain I was the youngest person in the crowd at a concert. The first was back in July at the Rush show.

Mark Knopfler is a little bit different than pretty much everybody making music right now. He’s a little bit of rock, a little bit of country, a little bit of bluegrass, and a little bit of jazz, with about 50 other genres thrown in there for good measure. Whenever I mention him or his music outside of family circles, very few people know who he is or anything he’s done, but you wouldn’t know it by the nearly packed house last night at The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace. And I’m sure everyone left satisfied.

While the concert advertised itself as the Tracker Tour, being tied to his latest album release, it rang more of “best of”, or (say it isn’t so) “farewell tour”. This was the first time I’ve seen him in concert, and I hope it isn’t the last, because he puts on a hell of a show.

He opened with a tune from Tracker, Broken Bones, an uptempo tune about a boxer, and quickly segued into one of my favorites from Privateering, Corned Beef City. The guitar really stood out on this one, a little reminiscent of Money for Nothing.

He took some time here to address the audience and introduce the band, switching to the acoustic guitar to give an excellent performance of Privateering. You could practically taste the swashbuckling. After that, he took a bit of a step back to allow the flute and the electric bagpipe (!) a chance to shine for The Long Road, one of many of his popular movie scores, this one from Cal.

He stayed on the acoustic for Hill Farmer’s Blues off of Ragpicker’s Dream, and went seamlessly into an equally jivin’ performance of Skydiver from his most recent effort. He showcased his impressive vocal abilities here, and it was one of the best performances of the show, but the song does suffer from the noticeable absence of Ruth Moody’s backing vocals.

After that, the excellent flautists got a chance to show off again in Laughs and Jokes and Drinks and Smokes, the opening track from Tracker and my personal favorite off that album. He stayed with the melancholy theme and after a great piano solo from Jim Cox, transitioned seamlessly into a beautiful performance of one of my favorite Dire Straits songs, Romeo and Juliet, off of Making Movies.

Sultans of Swing came next, arguably the most popular Dire Straits hit, and Knopfler showed he still has his guitar-playing chops and played some seriously impressive solos, adding some new flair to a 35+ year old song. Then, he went into the fairly guitar-light Mighty Man, a soulful tale about a gravedigger from his latest release.

After that came a lengthy introduction of each member of his band in which Knopfler made some great remarks about the caliber of his band mates, giving each of them a few moments in the spotlight before they all came together for a rollicking rendition of Postcards from Paraguay from Shangri-La. After that, he switched back to the acoustic for Marbletown, another one from Ragpicker’s Dream.

Immediately thereafter came Speedway at Nazareth from the criminally under-represented Sailing to Philadelphia, and then into an emotional and epic run of Telegraph Road, featuring an incredibly lengthy instrumental section that gave me goosebumps.

He faked us out after that, but quickly came back to give us one last Dire Straits hit with So Far Away, ending on a spectacular note with a heart-rending performance of Get Lucky’s Piper to the End, the only appearance by that album in the show.

Notable absences: Money for Nothing, What It Is, Beryl, Border Reiver, Cannibals (or anything else off of Golden Heart, for that matter), Heart Full of Holes (my personal favorite Knopfler tune, from Kill to Get Crimson, another album that made no appearance), Why Aye Man, Cleaning My Gun.

While it’s true I would’ve loved to hear more from him, and most of my favorites were absent, it was still an excellent show that showcased how varied and spectacular Knopfler’s repertoire is. He remains one of the most skilled player and songwriters in the business, and I truly hope this tour isn’t the last we see of him. He played for about two hours, all told, but I would’ve gladly sat through five. A fantastic show, and a fantastic showman.

Too Many Hands on my Time, Too Many Feelings

September 11th, 2015. 8:59

Yesterday evening all of the freshmen in the honors college had to attend a presentation by the HC dean. Needless to say, I wasn’t particularly thrilled, as it was supposed to be an hour and a half long, and I had a massive rant I needed to finish and post here. Unfortunately, it was a requirement for my HON 105 class, the “seize the day” class, and I had to attend and do a write-up about it even if the actual teacher of my section wasn’t going to be there. Awesome.

The presentation started off with the dean being introduced as a master in her field, having won several awards in her psychological field of study: human sexuality. Uh oh. She was also a guest on Oprah. Both of these were red flags to me.

She opened up her presentation with a demonstration of five factors of being successful and happy in college: accurate appraisal of yourself and others, responsibility, emotional calibration, open-mindedness, and kindness. Seemed logical enough, and I didn’t really take issue with any of them.

The first one was all about not judging yourself or others too harshly or not harshly enough. In the second category she gave some anecdotes about how you’re responsible for the way you feel. I was impressed by her aside that people often say “That’s just how I feel,” but never “That’s just how I think,” even though the two mean the same thing. She ended that segment with, “just because you feel it, that doesn’t mean it’s true.” I liked where this was going. The third one was about taking charge of your own life and having an “internal locus of control”, i.e. not resigning yourself to the idea that the world is conspiring against you and taking matters into your own hands.

In the fourth section, the one on open-mindedness, she began by bringing up this excellent article by The Atlantic about trigger warnings and why they’re ineffective and do more harm than good. At this point I was worried she would be refuting this argument and pointing out that people need to be more open-minded about other people’s sensitivities. I was pleasantly surprised to find the opposite was true.

She fully agreed with the article, and even brought up the recent Oberlin College fiasco with the great Christina Hoff Sommers — the only feminist I like — making especially sure to point out that Oberlin is a liberally-leaning school. Her point was that you can’t just expect people to never say anything that won’t bother you, and that the point of going to school is to learn new points of view. To retreat into a “safe space” and watch videos of puppies is the exact opposite of the principle behind higher education. She ended the presentation by saying that, as someone with a psychology PhD, she knows that the only way to stop something from making you anxious or offended is to do it over and over until it doesn’t.

So, they’re not all bad.

Criticize Me, Civilize Me

September 6th, 2015. 14:33

This post has a couple of inspirations. The first is from the required reading for my Honors Orientation Seminar class, the most useless class I’ve ever taken. The book’s called What the Best College Students Do, and you can already tell it’s complete bogus because not once does it mention starting a conservative blog. Besides that, while I’ve only read the first chunk of it, I’m not too impressed with the stance the author seems to be taking on education. I say “seems to be” because thus far the book is 90% made of anecdotes about somebody named Paul Baker who apparently taught some creative theater class. I dunno.

What did all those letters and symbols tell you? Quite often, not much. … It’s pretty difficult to get inside someone’s head and discover what they understand, let alone anticipate what they will be able to do with that understanding. As a result, grades have often been lousy predictors of future success or failure. Martin Luther King, Jr., for example, received a C in public speaking.

The second inspiration for this post comes to us from that cesspit of the internet, that sewer of the teenage mind, that (to borrow the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi) wretched hive of scum and villainy. I speak of course, of Tumblr, which I’ll have to get to in a later post. Or, more accurately, series of posts, since it’ll take a lot to sum it up. At any rate, here’s what the post said, verbatim:

ALL TEACHERS NEED TO KNOW THIS

DO NOT FORCE SHY KIDS TO TALK.

DO NOT TELL SHY KIDS THEY NEED TO PARTICIPATE MORE.

DO NOT MAKE PARTICIPATION A GRADE.

DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW HARD IT IS FOR SOME STUDENTS TO JUST RAISE THEIR HANDS?

FORCING THEM INTO GROUP PROJECTS AND MAKING THEM TALK DOES NOT “TEACH THEM TO BE SOCIAL AND DEVELOP INTO WELL-ROUNDED INDIVIDUALS”

IT SCARES THE SHIT OUT OF THEM.

AND MAKES THEM HATE SCHOOL.

SERIOUSLY.

It goes on in that vain for quite some more, but that’s the general gist of it. There may have been more to that post, but I saw only a snippet of it that was posted on Twitter, since I stopped using Tumblr years ago because it’s literally the worst.

I guess I just wanted to talk a little bit about grades and why I think they’re important. Or, at least, do my best to talk through it.

In reference to the first source, I think it’s by and large a load of baloney. I’ve yet to meet or hear about one person whose grades aren’t an accurate representation of how effective they are as students. I’ve met incredibly clever, intelligent, and hard-working students, and their grades reflect that. I’ve met lazy, underachieving, unintelligent students who don’t bother with school, and their grades reflect that. I’ve met unintelligent people who still work really hard, perhaps harder than any of their classmates, and, so long as their teacher’s not a total idiot, their grades reflect that, too. I believe my grades in high school were a perfectly accurate representation of the various categories in which I was being evaluated, and I’d say the same for everyone I graduated with, and anyone else I know.

This being said, I graduated high school with pretty good grades. They weren’t perfect, but that was because I was a little too lazy in the first couple years. And my grades reflected that. Oddly enough, you never hear people who get good grades complaining about their grades, or saying that grades aren’t an accurate metric of a person’s achievement or willingness to learn. That’s because, outliers excepted, those who get good grades get them because they earned them. Those who expect good grades without doing the necessary work and complain when they don’t get them are probably used to being handed things. And it’s this sort of entitlement that forms this idea that grades are an inaccurate way to tell if someone’s a good student. Because, to them, a world in which their own opinion of themselves isn’t reflected by the evaluations handed down by their superiors isn’t the right kind of world to live in.

Whenever I received poor grades in school, I knew it was my own fault, and that the grade I had been given was an accurate representation of the work I had done. I didn’t take that to mean that the system should be changed, I took it to mean I needed to get myself together and do what was required of me. The book cites that Martin Luther King, Jr. got a C in his public speaking class. I mean no disrespect to Dr. King, but have you heard that speech? Or read the original manuscript? I have. The first half is really not that great. He remains monotonous, relies heavily on metaphor, and isn’t holding the audience’s attention too well. It’s a popular story, and one I’m inclined to believe, that Mahalia Jackson, who was onstage with King, urged him to improvise and “start preaching”, as he was losing the audience. It was then that he started to gain some traction and deliver the lines that the speech is best known for, falling on his experience as a preacher and completely going away from the material he’d written. I’m not trying to disparage the man, or the speech, I’m just saying that, in general, it seems like the kind of work a C-student would do.

Of course, this can change depending on the strictness of teachers or the nature of the class, but as a general rule I tend to think grades are a pretty accurate summation of all the parts that make a good student. My high school was strange. They graded you on things such as “depth of inquiry” or “sense of wonder”. I had no clue what those meant, but I damn well felt like I was inquiring and wonderful. My grades reflected that. One of the most important things my teachers graded was participation.

I’m really just in awe of the stupidity of the above Tumblr post. The point of school is, at its core, to prepare people for the real world. Whatever that means to you, be it attending college, getting a job, starting a family, traveling, etc. The central concept of the schooling systems all around the world is the same: preparation for what lies ahead. And, as a general rule, shyness isn’t something that fits in a world in which people have to actually do things with other, real people. Sure, not everybody has to be extroverted and outgoing, but being too afraid to even raise your hand in a setting where it literally makes no difference to the rest of your life? That’s not a healthy way to live, and there’s no way teachers should be promoting or aiding that kind of lifestyle. There’s a reason teachers call on the shy kids. It’s the same reason they make the more talkative ones shut up occasionally. You need to learn how to talk to other people, regardless of what you want to do with yourself.

Do you think you’re going to be able to make it through a job interview if you can’t even be bothered to answer a question in math class? Are you ever going to meet a potential partner to spend your life with if you never speak to another human being? Being shy to the point of paralysis every time a person asks you what two plus five is isn’t going to get you where you want to be, unless that place is sitting in a dark room arguing on Tumblr about whether or not there’s some unresolved homosexual tension between Dean and Cas on Supernatural (there’s not).

Also, the point of school isn’t to constantly be unafraid and love the fact that you’re there. Hate to break it to you, emo kid, but hardly any teenager loves school until they try to see reasons why they should. I started to, as we all eventually did, but those of you who have your minds set on being perpetually silent, unwilling to be a member of the class, are doomed to hate it and pretty much everything else you’re going to do for the rest of your life. The post goes on to say that it applies to colleges as well, and that a student dong their work well should be able to get an A regardless of if they participate. And I disagree.

For one thing, if colleges promote this kind of behavior (and I guarantee you they’re going to start), students could potentially never learn how to have a real live conversation with an actual human being. And the ability to share opposing ideas and converse about them in an understandable language is one of the things that sets us apart from our animal counterparts. That and our lack of an effective way to fling our own feces. And no, you shouldn’t be able to get an A without ever talking in class, at least in general. I understand that opportunities to participate don’t always manifest themselves, especially in large-form college lecture courses. But in high school, all bets are off. You don’t have to talk all the time, but if your teacher asks you a question, you damn well better have something to say.

That’s the thing about most teachers. They’re there to help you. They’re not asking you questions to trigger you and make you retreat inside yourself to your safespace until you can go home and rant about it to your 25 Tumblr followers. They’re doing precisely the opposite. They notice your refusal to participate in group settings and unwillingness to converse with your peers, and they’re throwing you a lifeline. They’re basically giving you an artificial opportunity to boost that participation grade since you won’t do it yourself. And you better believe that there’s going to come a time when they decide you’re a lost cause.

Which, let’s face it, if you have a Tumblr account where you rant about things like this, you probably are.

Detached and Subdivided

September 3rd, 2015. 10:06

I just wanted to recount an amusing anecdote of something that happened to me yesterday.

Yesterday in and around the Student Union the school put on an event called the “Involvement Fair”, which is basically an opportunity for the clubs around campus to set up tables and inform new students about their organizations. At my mother’s insistence, I attended.

About half of the tables were indoors, and the other half were outside in the sweltering sun. In addition to that, about half the clubs seemed relatively decent, and the other half did not. For every Veterans Association, Pre-Med Student group, and Criminal Justice Club, there was also a Center for Social Justice, LGBTQ club, or this other thing that I can’t remember the name of, but which seemed to be centered around making sure every single thing that men do was considered rape.

I went into this event with interest in three clubs: the UNLV eSports league, the UNLV Game Club, and the Young Americans For Liberty group.

I was interested in the first, as it seemed to be a college-based professional gaming chapter, and their description said they often held Team Fortress 2 tournaments, and that’s a game I’m quite good at. Alas, I couldn’t find their table, which was probably for the best.

I spent a little bit of time at the UNLV Game Club table, but then I noticed the sign stating how proud they were to announce that they had elected their first “agender” president. For some reason I didn’t feel too much like joining that club.

I then got distracted by a big sign that said “RUSH” on it. Naturally, I was quite excited. Then I realized that it was in reference to a sorority, and I became very disappointed with myself.

At last, I located the table for the Young Americans for Liberty club. I approached the gentleman manning the table and asked him what it was all about, and he explained it was a group of people from all political spectra coming together to fight for personal freedoms. Essentially that really means just one side of the political spectrum, but I understood his meaning. He directed me toward a large chart they had set up and were encouraging passersby to place themselves on. It was diamond shaped, and it had five sections. The left was the ‘liberal’ side, the right the ‘conservative’ side, the top the ‘libertarian side, and the middle was the ‘centralist’ side. I don’t remember what the bottom said. It also had various faces of politicians and where they stood. Squarely between the Libertarian and Conservative sections sat Ronald Reagan. I told the guy that I was pretty sure I’d be around there. He urged me to take the little quiz just so I could be sure.

While I did so, he talked to another passerby and said that he was interested in starting a “Students for Rand” group on campus, so I was pretty sure he was all right. That said, I made sure to note to him that I was a big Ben Carson fan, and he nodded with approval. After I finished the quiz, he tallied up my marks and put me on the chart — exactly where I thought I would be. “Wow,” he said, “you were right on the money. That’s around where I am, too.”

I responded, “where do I sign up?”