Repetitive Print in Modern Culture

Recently I was watching the iconic movie: The Shining. And while, I will not specifically talk about the plot or its meaning, I’d like to observe one specific scene. It is where the wife is taking a closer look at Jack’s book, and notices something scary. The line “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” is repeated for what seems like hundreds of pages of text. This scene is probably one out of a handful of scenes that sticks like something unpleasant. Stanley Kubrick was notorious for making sure scenes were perfect, even if it took a hundred or more takes. I think that in a sense Kubrick is channeling his obsessiveness through Jack and onto the physical paper. And in the movie we see Jack devolve into a compulsive murderer with needs to silence his son and wife. The use of repetitive text put this transition into a physical format even Kubrick’s audience could understand. The audience is left to wonder in disbelief what kind of person repeatedly types something over and over again. The scene has such an astounding effect that I was left in the same mental state the wife was in when discovering the papers. But I think that this repetitive use of words isn’t just a trick that Kubrick has utilized, but it has been used quite effectively throughout pop culture.

While Kubrick allows the repetitiveness to emphasize the extent of his character’s crazed mental state, we find that other forms of film have taken an opposite approach. In the Simpsons, the use of this repetitive text is used for a comical effect. Bart writing on the chalkboard has been a staple to the franchise and is used in every episode in the intro. But everyone knows this, and what is important is how crucial the board is to Bart’s character. From the beginning the audience understands that Bart is writing repeated sentences because he’s being punished by presumably his teacher. And in what seems like a 2-3 second instance, the audience already knows Bart. They already see how defiant he is, and it hints as to his actions later on in the episode. We tend to find what he writes to be comical because the actions he is being punished for seem so odd and out there. What I mean is that we are taken aback and surprised that this character we’ve met for 2 seconds has committed such bad things. I think we find the incongruity with childhood innocence and Bart’s knowledge of the adult world almost funny, partially because every adult has gone through the same process. Maybe not every adult has gone through the same drastic transition that Bart is in the middle of, but we have all at one point shed out innocence to accept the reality of the world. It is possible that as an audience we find the actions as funny, and that’s simply it. Or we are able to create a full narrative out of the simple sentences that Bart writes, somewhat similar to the famous story written by Hemingway, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” I think that our imaginations run wild when given only a minute amount of input, and so we must fill in what happened.

Another example that utilizes this repetitive phrasing, but in another aspect is Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo” album cover. I will mention before getting into the meat of this example that Drake also uses this approach in his artwork for “Hotline Bling” but I think that their goals are similar enough to be able to look at only Kanye’s artwork. In his most recent album, Kanye West takes a phrase “The Life of Pablo” and allows it to populate the cover. In Kanye’s instance, I think he is trying to achieve an almost subliminal message. Kanye West has been known to compare himself to Pablo Picasso, which seems to be the inspiration of the artwork, but I think it has to do with something else. The life of Pablo is a way for Kanye to say that as Picasso, this is his life, and his lifes work. But I would like to present the idea that Kanye put the repetitive phrase on his album, not for his audience, but for himself. I think that as large as his ego is, he must be insecure about himself about something. And the cover is Kanye confirming to himself that “Yes, I am as great as Picasso”, but he has to remind himself of this. It’s as if he requires Picasso to tell him that his work is great. And yet, I also find another motive for creating such an album cover. I think that aestetically, humans like patterns, we like things that are predictable. The repeated phrases take advantage of this fact and gives the audience a feeling of familiarity.

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I think that the repetitive use of text isn’t fully utilized in our current culture, and graphic designers haven’t fully realized its uses. It can contain messages far greater than other techniques can achieve, and it has found itself to be in the center of pop culture wherever it pops up.

 

 

My Thoughts on the Dakota Access Pipeline

I am an environmentalist. I believe that as long as we are present on this earth, we should treat it with respect and take care of it with our greatest ability. These ideals may be a product of my upbringing in a town where you are able to see the effects of climate change. The glaciers in Juneau, Alaska are rapidly receding, and so I find it crucial that we both recognize and take action to stop such things from happening. And I will say that, regardless of what other people say, I know for a fact that Climate Change is real, and that we have been a part in causing such problems.

I find it a shame though, that I have to state solid facts, because for whatever reason, our current president disregards such fundamental things. If he were born in my place, or if he didn’t have money ties to oil companies, it is possibility that his position would be different. And yet, today we are in situation, where the environment and Native American voices are not taken into account. The fact that the president has advanced the Dakota Access Pipeline, shows how long these next four years will be.

My only hope is for us to leave our country in better a shape than we found it. That we clean-up our messes, and the messes of past generations, but this event has shown that we can disregard everything about the environment and the safety of American citizens. Personally, this has caused an astounding turmoil within me, as I feel that I cannot do much to prevent detrimental actions to the environment. Today, rings reminiscent of all the times the United States has forced its Native American population into a horrible position, where the potential for disasters are so massive that an estimated 17 million people could be at risk of harm (CNN).

And when the oil companies, or the president reassure us that “The pipeline won’t cause harm, or affect the environment” we must remind them of very recent oil disasters. We must point to Exxon Valdez, or the BP Oil Spill to denounce how safe oil procedures are. This is a massive step back for the environment of the United States. It not only will mess up the land surrounding it, but also signal to other oil companies that it is okay to do as they will.

We cannot let our land be bastardized by companies only looking to turn a profit. We cannot let them take advantage of a land that cannot defend itself. We have to be the ones that force these actions to stop, because their concerns are not our concerns.

I am sad that the corruption has wiggled itself into the Oval Office. I am sad that with all the actions taken to prevent the pipeline they can be overturned by a simple signature. And most of all, I am sad that we weren’t strong enough to prevent a man so vile in his actions to be allowed in the White House.

Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/24/politics/trump-keystone-xl-dakota-access-pipelines-executive-actions/

What’s the Best Suited Job for You?

In my Philosophy class today, we discussed something that I had been mulling around in my mind for quite a while. We talked about how a person who doesn’t want to do a certain job/task should be the exact person to do the said job/task. The reason being that the person who wants to do such a job/task will not have the proper skills. It had come from an excerpt of The Republic by Plato, but I also remember reading something to that effect from East of Eden. In East of Eden, the son who wanted to fight wars, was not allowed to, while the father made the son who didn’t want to fight, go into the military. As far as I can remember, the son who went into the military managed to do a good job.

And so, this has got me thinking about other aspects of our lives that this applies to. As a society, we tend to tell teenagers ready to enter adulthood, to “Do what you’re passionate about!” or “Follow your dreams!” and while these are important to tell the younger generation, it presupposes some aspects of that person. We like to think that a person likes to do something that they are good at, which if the expressions above are taken to the heart, there is nothing wrong with such a reality. However, being good at something doesn’t mean that you like that thing, and the opposite is true, where someone who wants to do something, it doesn’t mean that they’ll be good at it.

And so, this brings up the question then, why do we tell the younger generation to follow such actions? And I believe in a utilitarian society, assigned jobs to cater the best skills of that person would be the best action. But, we are not in a utilitarian society, and big problems can quickly be seen with this system. It is simply the fact that happiness would not be achieved. And so, maybe the goal of the above phrases are not to benefit the greater society, but to nurture the self-interested aspect of ourselves.

I feel that the best suited jobs for people are not what they desire, but what is their nurtured skills. However, when these two facts line up, it is possible to have your dream job and are fantastic at it. We discussed in my class how, this is so applicable to leaders, how the ones who do not want to lead, will be the best ones. Especially in our current political climate, we do  see candidates wanting to lead out of their own self-interest, such as business ventures, or fame, or more air-time. These are the types of people we want to avoid, because they don’t take the job seriously, they don’t fully contemplate the effects their actions can have. They are in it for themselves, and that’s how I see our current president. A man not fit for the job, because he wants to have the job. But in a society so driven on the “The American Dream” we sometimes have to sacrifice our passions for others, because it’s selfish to not do so.

My alteration on the above phrases, would be to the effect of “Follow your dreams, if they align with what you’re good at.” But this sounds hard-pressed and demoralizing, and so my only thought is that we may want to rethink how we approach this subject.

Why We Should be Cautiously Optimistic with All This Rain in California

As I write this, the city of Los Angeles is being dumped with what seems to be weather from Juneau, Alaska. What I mean is that, it’s raining, and it’s raining a lot. I am very familiar with rain, and so I am not as concerned or intrigued as other LA citizens are. But I’d like to take a moment today to look at the weather from my perspective, because I find it vital for us to know where California stands with its water. In the past five years, California has been hit with a drought that has ravaged and wreaked havoc on its agricultural economy. And this was the cause of multiple concerns about California’s ability to sustain its citizens.

But recently, California has seen rainstorms that have given life blood back into the state. At least, that’s what the average citizen believes to be true. As I watch my friends film the effects of the rain on their Snap Stories, or talk about it in passing, they remark that, “California is out of the drought!!” Not that they are wrong, but only parts of California are safe, while Southern California is far from that target. This misconception can have massive and detrimental effects on the Los Angeles community. If this thought is reciprocated throughout all of Southern California, we may be in more of a disaster than before the rainstorms. Now, I’m not saying the rain is bad, but I am saying that the people thinking that we’re out of the drought is bad. Let me explain.

When say, you are told that you have to conserve water, you don’t question it if you see the effects of the drought. You are more aware of the importance to try your best to prevent drought. You see dead or dying plants, and you don’t question why you should stop watering your plants. The average citizen will see the reasons why they should conserve water to the best of their ability. However, this whole rainstorm will throw things off. LA citizens, and possibly all of Southern California will watch the large amounts of water before them and assume that since it has rained, we have no worries.

This will allow Southern Californian’s to rationalize that they have no need to conserve water. But this conception is totally wrong, as Southern California is still in a heavy drought. Water use will then increase, and possibly spike as citizens are frivolous with their water consumption. The combination of an increased use of water, the continuation of the drought, and the misconception that Southern California is out of the drought can be a home run for water consumption collapsing into a disaster. And so, I advise everyone in Southern California to use water as thrifty as if we never had rainstorms. This will at least allow for Southern California to rebound quicker. And so California citizens, hold off on watering your plants, hold off on taking longer than necessary showers, and understand how crucial water is to the California economy, and ecosystem. (As a side note, I would like to observe that Los Angeles-at least nearby USC-is unable to handle torrential rainstorms as of recently, and so water, is not being collected efficiently as it should be, but it is improving.)

Sources:

http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA

https://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/december/nasa-analysis-11-trillion-gallons-to-replenish-california-drought-losses

https://www.wired.com/2017/01/wet-year-wont-beat-californias-never-ending-drought/

http://dailytrojan.com/2017/01/11/usc-village-installs-rainwater-containment-system/

Security is America’s Greatest Illusion

From airport security to metal detectors at football games, Americans have seen the increased use of security measures, supposedly creating a sense of safety. What Americans haven’t seen is the repercussions of some of these measures. There is an illusion of security that reassures the American citizens that they don’t have to worry about safety, but in reality it isn’t that simple. The solution that America has come up with is to place threats as far as possible away from public eye. Unfortunately, a solution that tries to hide the problem will inevitably create more troubles. Amidst terrorist attacks, the idea of strong offensive security has manifested itself into mass paranoia of the United States allowing for the creation of intense security measures, which has fed into the rejection of anyone foreign, and in effect created a more hostile country.

Since the United States is a nation of superiority, it finds itself being the target of terrorist attacks, attempting to cause damage. Having occurred over a decade and a half ago, the marks of September 11th 2001 still leave detrimental holes in the American population. Even mentioning the subject brings haunting images of death and destruction, thus having another terrorist attack at that magnitude would be devastating. In the eyes of the rest of the world, the United States is regarded as a strong, powerful, and intimidating nation. Not only has this idea cultivated in other countries, but it is also believed by the American people. It has been hammered into the minds of American citizens from as early as elementary school. Recited in schools all across the United States, the Pledge of Allegiance is filled with language that not only implies, but simply states America’s sense of security. It is recited, “…one nation under God, indivisible…” which can easily be understood that America is believed to be strong. Even the use of “one nation” implies unity, while “indivisible” is defined to mean that America can’t be divided. The Pledge of Allegiance has cultivated the notion that America is impenetrable, safe, and holds the aesthetics of security. Which is why America holds a strict border with Mexico with plans from certain political figures to build a wall. There is an idea that a wall, or a physical manifestation of security, will reassure the American people because it looks secure, but also because it is meant keep threats out of America. However, it has been repeated over and over again that America is only as secure as we believe it to be after the fallout of terrorist attacks.

Being a dominant country has caused the United States to become a target for radical groups who felt that America had wronged them. One of these such groups is Al-Qaeda, which arose out of a conglomerate of factors. As described by Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou in Understanding Al Qaeda: Changing War and Global Politics, at the time, the United States had endorsed “…local regimes, denounced as authoritarian, corrupt, and repressive…”, which had caused an outrage from Al-Qaeda. Their ideology was that whoever supported the enemy, was the enemy. The United States had political intentions in the Middle East, most specifically: oil. Out of the need for oil, the United States had indirectly caused a destabilized Middle East, owing to the radicalist groups attempting to do harm. A way for Al-Qaeda to get back at the United States, was to hit is at its heart. The most ideal way for Al-Qaeda to do so, was inflict violence onto its target. As Simon Cottee and Keith Hayward explain in Terrorist (E)motives: The Existential Attractions of Terrorism, “To do violence is thus to experience a euphoric sense of transcendence, of being outside the self and thrust into the present in a way that is like a drug.” Terrorists not only want to convey a message through violence, but they are essentially entertained by inflicting such harm, thus revert to animalistic instincts. In this way, the acts of 9/11 cannot just be looked at as a purely human act, but also a beastly destruction of culture. An act so horrific, it has left the American population astounded at how simple it was to cause a great amount of damage. A harsh transition to a need for stricter security happened because it had been proven that the United States was vulnerable to harm. America couldn’t be identified as a fortified stronghold anymore, unless massive changes were to be implemented to the nation’s security.

In the wake of horrific terrorist events, Americans turn to strengthening their security to better defend against such attacks. September 11th broadcasted that the United States wasn’t prepared to handle threats as well as was previously perceived. Soon after these events, there was a desire to create legislation to manage similar events and threats. To protect the American people and tighten security in a rapid way, the Patriot Act was passed less than a month after September 11th. As Robert Rapley describes in Witch Hunts: From Salem to Guantanamo Bay, “In the eyes of the few active critics at the time, [the Patriot Act] did not contain checks, balances, and oversights to safeguard traditional liberties…”(208) Because America was afraid of more terrorist attacks, it implemented a bill that had overwhelming support, but had formed out of pure emotion rather than that of critical thinking. Rapley describes that with the introduction of the Patriot Act, a bill seen to increase protection and security, bypassed the accepted rights of citizens. It was all in the name of security, or at least the illusion of security. Since the American people were so desperate to repair the ripped fabric of security, they found that the Patriot Act would suffice, regardless of the costs. It was a patchwork so shoddy that instead of benefiting the United States, it caused unnecessary invasions of personal security. For proof, it was recently discovered by Maggie Ybarra from the Washington Times that, “…no major cases have been broken by use of the Patriot Act’s records-snooping provisions.” As a matter of fact, the Patriot Act allows unprecedented data collection of personal phones and items, out of pure suspicion of a person’s affiliation with terrorist activities. Out of all that data, there had been no huge terrorist plots halted, thus it has been proven to be ineffective. The initial intentions meant to create a terrorist free society, has only served to take away the security of the individual, for the security of a country. The normal American believes that they are protected by the security precautions of the United States. However, it is only the illusion of this security that has allowed for these actions to become law. Without a sense of security, the American population would find themselves fearful of their lives every waking moment, but because Americans believe that they are safe, the risks are even greater. A prevailing ignorance is more worrisome because not believing in the United States’ security at least gives rise to the recognition of a problem. The United States fosters the belief that safety is priority, but this reassurance can cause horrible consequences in the psyche of the American population.

However, this increase of security has morphed into a bitter paranoia held in the minds of American citizens. Now, participating in any public activity requires massive security measures. If a person wants to board a plane, they must allow all of their possessions and body to be scanned. Any individual would understand that they must be willing to be scanned to make sure safety is priority. Well, the security at airports is an illusion itself as described by ABC News that, “An internal investigation of the Transportation Security Administration [TSA] revealed security failures…where undercover investigators were able to smuggle mock explosives or banned weapons through checkpoints in 95 percent of trials…” Not only have these security measures created an inconvenience for American citizens, but it turns out it’s essentially worthless. It can be observed in other instances such as border patrol, or gun violence, that security measures are ineffective. Regardless of how fruitless these measures have become, they are still implemented. Airplane passengers still have to take off their shoes at TSA, crossing borders take large inspections of vehicles, and there are multiple restrictions on gun possession. And even after so much precaution, terrorist events still happen, cutting deeper into the American pride of security. Out of all the inconvenience and ineffectiveness, the American people bottle up their anger, until there is only one way to let it out. The anger directs the American people to turn to the aggressors of the actions, the reason security measures are so tight and the terrorists themselves. When American citizens get angry, mob mentality sets in, and anyone who looks like a terrorist, is a terrorist. The United States had to find a way to capture and bring justice to the terrorists that wronged American society and who had damaged the fabric of security.

From the crazed anger manifested within the American population came the formation of actions against terrorist attacks. One of the ways angry Americans wanted to deal with terrorists, or anyone associated with terrorists, was to put them as far away from the American people as possible. One of these places is called Guantanamo Bay, a military prison located in Cuba. Anyone suspected of being a terrorist, through the use of the Patriot Act, was sent unquestionably to Guantanamo Bay. Like the Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay was initially created out of an impassioned American population in need of action, rather than a wholesome analysis of the situation. At the time of its creation, there was little thought of unintended consequences. The thought was that they would make sure terrorists aren’t in the United States where they would do the most harm. What the American population didn’t know was that Guantanamo Bay was a petri dish for racial profiling. The American population found an increasing similarity between the perception that all the terrorists attacking the United States were all Muslim. While this fact is an absolute false idea of terrorist as described by The Huffington Post in the article Muslims Are Not Terrorists: A Factual Look at Terrorism and Islam, “According to the FBI, 94% of terrorist attacks carried out in the United States from 1980 to 2005 have been by non-Muslims.” The question then arises that if only 6% of terrorist attacks had been done by Muslims, then why is the perception that all terrorists are Muslim? The answer is that Americans are more racially biased than one might think. Since the American people made the incorrect observation that all terrorists are Muslim, they made the wrong assumption that all Muslim people must be terrorists. This is the largest flaw that the American population has made, since the majority of all Muslims have absolutely no affiliation with terrorist groups. Yet, almost all prisoners of Guantanamo Bay are Muslim as seen through the numbers of the Center for Constitutional Rights, “780 men and boys, all of them Muslim, have been imprisoned…” Unfortunately, these numbers are not surprising due to the media and internal prejudice against a group of people. What is even more disheartening, is that not only are men imprisoned, but boys are too. The United States is thought to be a land of justice, but imprisoning children does not sound just at all. It sounds inhumane and quite sickening after knowing what is done in the confines of the prison. However, it is known that after any terrorist attack, any Muslim is seen as a threat. The United States has reverted to rejecting anyone that ‘looks’ like a terrorist regardless of who they are. This has forced an internal skepticism of anyone foreign after any terrorist attack.

Since foreign people are often questioned due to terrorist attacks, the United States has become a country prone to hostility. The acceptance of any foreigner is met with resistance not because they are actually any threat, but because they meet the standard that all the other threats met. There’s an internal checklist that skeptical Americans go over through their mind, which include questions about ethnicity, religion, country of origin, and language. The irony of rejecting anyone who is a foreigner is lost to the average white American when just a few centuries ago, foreigners had traveled to America from Europe. Regardless of this irony, tighter borders, restrictions, and regulations have been implemented to try to combat foreign influence on United States’ soil. As observed from an outside country, The United States has become a country that wants little to do with foreign countries, and is quick to anger. A view of the United States of outside countries, is that of unfriendliness due to the treatment of foreigners and the implemented restrictions. However, Americans still hold the strong idea that these security measures have prevented countless terrorist attacks.

Although security measures have given the perception of eliminating terror threats, it has only created more terrorist threats through means of violence. Sadly, the worst of the United States has come out of anger against foreign people, regardless of affiliation with terrorist attacks. The usual perception of the United States through American people is that it’s a secure and stable country, one that looks after its citizens by eliminating threats. And this is generally true, that most citizens haven’t been in the middle of terrorist attacks. This has contributed to the perception that the United States is looking after its citizens. An average American citizen thinks that if they haven’t experienced a terrorist attack, and the United States is trying to prevent terrorist attacks, the United States must have prevented terrorist attacks. However, this correlation must not be interpreted as causation. It is rather a coincidence that most Americans haven’t experienced terrorist attacks. In fact it is important to consider that hundreds of millions of people reside in America. If everyone were to experience a terrorist attack, that would be out of any terrorist organization’s abilities. At its peak, Al Qaeda had, “…anywhere from 200 to 1,000 [members]…” as explained by the Wall Street Journal in Shadowy Figures: Al Qaeda’s Ranks Are Hard to Measure. This means that each member would have had to successfully attack hundreds of thousands of people to even affect part of the population of the United States. There is the perception that terrorist groups are prevalent and that there are millions of members where America had prevented all those terrorists, but in reality it was just a select few people who attempted to affect the United States. Unfortunately, what the United States had attempted to prevent, has only continued due to its own actions.

What would have been measures to combat terrorist threats, these security measures have only cultured an increase of radicalists attempting to attack the United States. The United States has created its undoing, due to places such as Guantanamo Bay. As written in Terrorist (E)motives: The Existential Attractions of Terrorism, “One of the most robust research findings in terrorism studies is that terrorists are psychologically normal.” Which seems like a radical and horribly wrong statement at first, but is an integral part of how the United States made its situation worse. Under the notion that terrorists are mentally normal, it isn’t much of an extension to say that the only barrier that stops a person from being a terrorist is a thin line. A thin line that could easily be broken by torture, and anger towards the aggressor. What has happened at Guantanamo Bay is that it has brought in sane people under the assumption that they were terrorists. They however, had no affiliation with terrorist actions. Unfortunately after increased torture, beatings, and mistreatment of innocent prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, that thin line was broken. Because anyone can be a terrorist, the violence that the inmates undergo pushes them to come to the conclusion that the United States is a monstrous country that needs to be taught a lesson. And when they are released, they commit terrorist attacks out of anger towards the United States. Guantanamo Bay is essentially a breeding ground for creating terrorists, which defeats the reason why it was created. These now radicalized people have the opportunity to do great harm to the American population. An effort to combat terrorism has created more terrorism. That’s absolutely the worst outcome anyone could have created, which means that the United States is just adding more to the problem. It is scary to think that these terrorists could harm anyone, at anytime, anywhere. Which is to say that the United States had profiled, angered, and unintentionally created harm out of fear of terrorist attacks.

Out of the rubble of terrorist attacks, the United States has looked to the aesthetics of security to create safety, but it has perpetuated a hatred for foreign people through violence and security measures. Too many unintended consequences were created out of the reaction to massive terrorist attacks. It is understandable that actions must be taken to combat terrorism, but the United States did it in the worst way possible. The United States effectively created more threats when attempting to stop those exact same threats. It must reevaluate its implementation of security measures even if more security must mean more protection. However, this aesthetic only holds water when approached from an illusioned perspective. For this reason, America must open its eyes to its actions and the same holds true for its citizens.

Sources:

Alnatour, Omar. “Muslims Are Not Terrorists: A Factual Look at Terrorism and Islam.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.

Bialik, Carl. “Shadowy Figures: Al Qaeda’s Ranks Are Hard to Measure.” WSJ. Wsj.com, 09 Sept. 2011. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.

Cottee, Simon, and Keith Hayward. “Terrorist (E)Motives: The Existential Attractions of Terrorism.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, vol. 34, no. 12, 2011., pp. 963-986doi:10.1080/1057610X.2011.621116.

Fishel, Justin, Pierre Thomas, Mike Levine, and Jack Date. “EXCLUSIVE: Undercover DHS Tests Find Security Failures at US Airports.” ABC News. ABC News Network. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.

“Guantánamo by the Numbers.”Center for Constitutional Rights. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.

Mohamedou, Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould. Understanding Al Qaeda : Changing War and Global Politics (2). London, GB: Pluto Press, 2011. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 17 October 2016.

Rapley, Robert. Witch Hunts : From Salem to Guantanamo Bay. Montreal, CA: MQUP, 2007. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 17 October 2016.

 Ybarra, Maggie. “FBI Admits No Major Cases Cracked with Patriot Act Snooping Powers.” Washington Times. The Washington Times, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.

A Reflection on President Obama

Eight years ago, I distinctly remember sitting on an uncomfortable plastic seat, planted in my Extended Learning math class during lunch, watching a man by the name of Barack Obama accept the role of President of the United States of America. I was captivated by the massive decision the American people made, and although I was only in fifth grade, I had an inclining that Barack Obama would a President that I would be proud of-and more importantly, a President this country would be proud of. And in that time, there has not been one instance where I thought any differently. For me, Obama has been my President for just under half my life and I cannot think of an America without him as my leader.

But seeing as today is his last full day in Office, I must accept that fact. Today is the last full day President Obama will be Leader of the Free World, the last full day he will be Commander-in-Chief, the last full day I will ever be able to call him President Obama without adding a Former before everything. He is a man who hasn’t let adversity stop him. He has saved countless lives, pushed for equality, and listened when America spoke. He has been accepting, passionate, and above all has loved every single American citizen.

And I find it necessary for me to reflect and contemplate what President Obama did for America. While it is possible for me to write about his policies and accomplishments, there are already articles that explain all of them in great detail. I will add a few of these articles below. But I find that I have to comment on his effect on me and my generation and what that meant rather than a simple list.

In addition to being a charismatic and loving individual, he has been a personable and approachable human being. While I have never seen him in person, I know of multiple people who have met him, and they speak highly to how compassionate and nice he is. We tend to think of leaders on another level as their followers, but President Obama regards everyone as his equal. And this allows for a conversation about critical issues to be brought up without fear of disapproval.

Even watching him on television or his social media correspondence reflect these qualities. He was President when the Internet found its way into almost every American home, and I think this an important and crucial fact for being one of the highest rated Presidents leaving Office. The Internet has allowed for actions only happening in Washington D.C. to be accessible to everyone. President Obama has his own Twitter account, his own Facebook, and countless cameos in videos, gifs, and Internet media. His personable qualities have allowed for Internet inside jokes and memes to flourish and in essence made him pleasing to the younger generations.

The American population generally views President Obama as cool, and I believe that’s what makes a President successful. That is why he has approval ratings floating around 60%, not only because he has made influential decisions, but because President Obama could be friends with anyone. And it seems like he is my friend, someone who I can trust. And this trust-this honesty he shows the American people that even a President has emotions. This distinctly reminds me of Sandy Hook, where as a nation, as a President, as a people, we mourned. We were exposed to a President that truly cared for his people. He would cry with us and take a moment of silence with us in the wake of devastating events. But as any friend would, he also laughed with us, conversed with us, fought for us, and compromised with us. And knowing there will be a transition of leadership soon has forced us to contemplate the stark reality of what is to come. It’s as if we are leaving our friend for the last time, as if we are coming to our last “Goodbye”. And in some way, I try to deny this fact. And yet, President Obama will still have made an effect on our lives even when he leaves Office. His passion for the people will not go away. I know for a fact, that even out of Office, he will fight for us as if he were our President.

I am still trying to process that this is the ending to an eight year era of progressive actions toward a more equal society. And if our mission is to give equal opportunity and to give everyone basic human rights, then we are about to lose the answer to our problem. And so, for me it’s an event so bittersweet that I am scared for the future. He moved a whole society, and something gives me the feeling that we may never have another President that great.

However, I do acknowledge that with any person comes flaws, and so I am not denying this fact. But I do know that his flaws have been overstated and shouldn’t be his defining factor.

Today, is an emotional day for the United States. But we shouldn’t be sad that President Obama is leaving, we should be thankful he was there to take Office in the first place. We found a man perfect for the job, and now it is time to move on. And if I were to ever meet him in person, I would thank him for being a great friend to the American population.

Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/18/politics/obama-approval-rating-cnn-orc-poll/

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obamas-top-10-accomplishments-according-to-obama/

10 Historians on What Will Be Said About President Obama’s Legacy

http://www.npr.org/2017/01/10/508606465/scorecard-for-a-departing-president-assessing-obamas-successes-and-shortcomings

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-record

 

 

 

The Efficiency of Filing into a Lecture Hall

I love doing short little thought experiments and trying to solve problems that seem not important, but are interesting nonetheless. This problem has arisen from sitting in many lecture halls at USC and noticing how labor intensive finding a seat is. Just imagine, you walk into the hall, where the back row of seats are aligned and you beginning walking forward. You find your friend in the middle of all the seats, maybe five rows from the front. They have already reserved a spot for you, and so you feel obligated to sit there, but between you and the seat are loads of people already seated. Your only option is to force everyone in that row to uncomfortably stand up so that you can wiggle yourself through to your friend.

While the system we have naturally gravitated towards leads itself to little brain power, I’ve gotten too fed up to see that it is inefficient. The conventional system is a time-consuming mess that favors entropy over organization. While the system that I will propose is nothing more than a simple gesture towards a more utilitarian society, I believe it would reduce the time required to fill a lecture hall. However, before I will delve into my solution, I would like to recognize the fact that efficiently filling a lecture hall has already been attempted. Usually, a single file line is formed and people fill up the row in the front, then when that row is completely filled, the second row funnels in, until the whole lecture hall is filled. Now, this “Single-Filing” system does seem to add organization and reduces time, but it is better by just a little.

Usually a lecture hall consists of one massive block of seats in the center, bordered by walkways and on its sides reside smaller flanks of seats. If it’s hard to picture a normal lecture hall, here is a diagram:lecture-hall-1

 

Now, the traditional way of filling up the lecture hall starts at the front and fills up until the back is full. The diagram below, illustrates this.lecture-hall-2

But my proposal, is that lecture halls be filled from the center outward, putting favorability in the first rows, until they fill up. It basically looks like a semi-circle with its center at in the middle of the first row. What is interesting about this set-up, is that there is more than one entry point to grab a seat. If this is hard to visualize, below is a diagram.lecture-hall-3

The colors represent what seats should be designated first priority to be filled, meaning that the redder a color is, the faster it should be taken. The flanks should be filled, but in accordance to a quarter of a circle, with its center at the corner seats. This design would be crucial in filling up a lecture hall efficiently because, as opposed to the “Single File” method, there ae multiple entry points. In the photo above, there are actually 16 entry points, whereas the other method has only 4. That’s at least four times more entry points, and that’s a big thing to note. I believe that the single file forces a slow drip of people sitting down one by one. That’s what takes time, but since this takes into account that at any one point 16 people are sitting down. This naturally forces the line to increase its speed.

What’s important to realize is how easy this method would be to implement. To organize, all you would have to place is the “Seed” student, the one in the center of the semi-circle. Then you would just tell your students to sit as close to that person as possible. Naturally, everyone would congregate in a semi-circle fashion, as every point on a circle is its closest point.

It would work very well if the only goal is to fill the hall as quickly as possible. However, this method doesn’t take into account friends sitting next to each other, nor does it account for the best possible seat for students’ view. If the hall were only partially filled, there would be seats open that are closer to the front of the hall, and thus unfortunate for the people placed on the outer radius of the semi-circle.

As opposed to the random scattering of seats being filled, this method would be far superior and take little effort to implement. While, I haven’t taken any measurements on exact numbers, I do believe it would fare well under practical testing.

Just something to think about.