Jun 23, 2016

Told You

From the New York Times:
On Tuesday, observers were reminded that Mr. Zuckerberg, 32, is not just a normal guy who enjoys running and quiet dinners with friends. In a photo posted to his Facebook account, he celebrated the growing user base of Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. An eagle-eyed Twitter user named Chris Olson noticed that in the image’s background, his laptop camera and microphone jack appeared to be covered with tape.
The article is titled "Mark Zuckerberg Covers His Laptop Camera. You Should Consider It, Too." This made me incredibly happy, as I have been advocating for this for years now.

I told you guys I wasn't crazy!!!

Jun 22, 2016

Thoughts on Libertarians and Sit-ins

I don't know if many people know this but I was a libertarian for a while, probably for about a year or so on my dramatic shift across the political spectrum from the right to the left. For me, part of being a libertarian meant following some libertarian accounts on Instagram. Don't get me wrong, I really respect libertarian philosophy (I still admire what Ron Paul did for the American political landscape, I'll probably make a post about that one day.) (also I'm a liberal so of course I respect libertarian foreign/social policy). But I do have to say, there are some crazy people on Instagram that identify as libertarian. It's true that there are going to be crazy people in every party, but the whole thing with libertarians being a third party kind of amplifies the degree to which these people say crazy things. Like, they're really into conspiracy theories. The people behind these accounts were anti-vaxxers, hated GMOs with all of their hearts, and loved throwing out evidence about chemtrails and FEMA camps. And of course there was that stuff about government officials are actually reptiles, or whatever.

One thing that these people were really adamant about was their belief that big news stories were usually manufactured by the government so that the masses don't notice something sneaky going on. Let me make up an example: say there's a hurricane coming. Some of these libertarian accounts will say that the news is covering this extensively only because the government is trying to pass something into law that they don't want anyone to know about, for fear of mass opposition. So if the news is covering something extensively, watch out, it's because the government is doing something it doesn't want you to know about.

I'm recollecting these awful memories of sophomore year tonight because, in case you haven't heard by now, Democratic congressmen and women are staging a sit-in on the House floor, trying to get a vote on a gun control bill (watch live here).  Also happening tonight is a Libertarian town hall on CNN. It's awesome that CNN is giving coverage to a third party, I'm all for that, but the sit-in is getting much more attention (as it should, in my opinion).

And tonight all I can think about is how red with fury the faces of the people behind those libertarian Instagram accounts are right now.

Jun 20, 2016

The Trump Campaign is Wild

Today I read a profile of Hope Hicks, Donald Trump's press secretary, by Olivia Nuzzi. One quote in the piece says that Donald Trump is the "most fascist candidate in recent American history," and Hicks seems to have been swept into her position as if by accident.

This piece is really great and I highly recommend you read the whole thing (read it here), but some of the details about Trump's staff shocked me. There was a lot I had to read twice, thanks to disbelief. This campaign is literally wild.

Apparently Hicks and (as of today, former) campaign manager Corey Lewandowski asked Trump to fire a political adviser, Sam Nunberg. And now we have this, and all I can say is goodness gracious:
Nunberg still seemed wounded eight months later, when we met. “Of course she ratfucked me, which makes me proud,” he told me. Nunberg maintains no feelings of warmth for Lewandowski. “I literally will suck the fucking blood out of his skull by the time I'm done with him,” he said like a screwball gangster.
Though she worked with Lewandowski to get Nunberg out, her relationship with the campaign manager didn't seem so awesome:
[Hicks] landed in the New York Post after she was spotted on East 61st Street, screaming at Lewandowski. The spectacle was dismissed as an interoffice dispute. Though if that's to be believed, the emotional scene, as described to me by people who saw it—Hicks's fists balled, her face streaked with tears—makes you wonder what the hell goes on in the Trump War Room.
And as if we needed any further proof that Lewandowski is a terrible, horrible human being, here is his reaction to Hicks' initial decision to not serve as press secretary for the Trump campaign:
[Hicks] told Lewandowski he'd have to find a new press secretary, which apparently set him off. “He made her cry a bunch of times,” Nunberg said. In Nunberg's telling, Lewandowski said to Hicks, “You made a big fucking mistake; you're fucking dead to me.”
Everything about this implies that the entire Trump campaign is utterly wild. It seems less like a political campaign and more like a group of scary, alpha-men types competing for power.

Jun 17, 2016

Can I be Condescending?

Sarah Cooper wrote a nice piece on Medium this week, acknowledging that many liberals like herself are considered to be "condescending" and "smug." Cooper admits that liberals do, in fact, fall into those stereotypes at times. Sometimes we on the left regard those on the right as less intelligent than ourselves. She is correct in saying that we need to stop doing this if we wish to cease stooping to the conservative's level.

I completely agree. We charge conservatives as intolerant, but there are times where we refuse to listen to the other side. This should change. We should look to the other side with an open mind.

But then came Donald Trump......

Where do we draw the line between what is worth listening to, and what is just complete garbage? And should we sift through that "garbage" to try and find understanding? Cooper sums things up excellently:
...I don’t want to be a judgmental, condescending, smug liberal who won’t try to understand the other side and see their perspective.
But at the same time, they are supporting this man who is breeding hate and fear and racism and xenophobia and misogyny and I just. don’t. understand it.
 When is it okay to just stop and say: this guy is crazy? It's true, I don't want to be a stereotypical teen liberal that shouts out vague mantras about how a politician I don't like is a scary, racist, hateful idiot, but Donald Trump is kind of fitting the profile.

I mean, in the Thursday Morning Briefing last Thursday, this was a real life New York Times quote:
His candidacy has drawn warnings from both the left and the right about the potential rise of fascism in the U.S.

So all I am asking today, very nicely asking, is if I can be a stereotypical teen liberal for a little bit. Can I be just a tiny bit condescending until November? Please? This is just too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Jun 4, 2016

Summer Reading

Summer vacation has started, and that means that there is no more required reading for school! No required reading means that I get to start reading whatever I want, as much as I want. I've spent the last few months incredibly excited about this time, as well as thinking about what to read (obviously).

Here is my planned reading list for the summer:
  • The Beautiful and Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Despair, Vladimir Nabokov
  • Existentialism is a Humanism, Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (hahaha we will see about this one)
  • The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe
  • Women, Culture, & Politics, Angela Y. Davis
  • Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche
  • The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
  • Violence, Slavoj Zizek
  • The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
And of course, I will attempt to finish my long term reading project over the summer, Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (I'm about halfway through and this book is so, so good).

This list is maybe a little too long to finish over the summer, but lately I've been in the good habit of reading frequently, and I have been reading several books at once. Maybe there's a chance that I will make a decent dent in this list.

Any recommendations?