Monday, August 28, 2017

Punch a Nazi in the face






Two weeks ago, I saw a woman get mowed down by a white supremacist. Her body was all over the news, bruised and mashed from being battered by the tires. Her arms and face mangled and her mother weeping over her daughter, all on national television. Two weeks, ago I saw a Nazi wave a tiki torch in the face of a black boy and tell him he was worthless. Two weeks ago, I saw our president excuse the people who did these atrocities and put the blame on the victims for being attacked. America has a problem that should not go untreated. I have the belief that punching the Nazi's in the face will catalyze change a lot faster than writing a blog.

When a portion of a society with negative intentions comes to power, it is the roll of the minority to rise above. It is out job to stand up against unfair systems, if we don't then we should be held accountable for the injustices that follow. Never in history has a centrist ever fixed a major issue. The Civil Rights movement would not have been successful had it not been for the Black Panther Party. The common brain-dead neoliberal will say that violence in response to violence never works, but it seems to me that writing blogs about issues does even less. This blog will not have the same effect as me going out into the street and punching a Nazi in the face.

The time is now to be able to stand up against prejudice. Stand up the way a Nazi would, except instead of holding up a Nazi salute, curl your fists into their faces. Show them the face of the resistance.


We must take action now, before it is too late.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The IB learner profile and the life of Austin Johnson



The International Baccalaureate program is a holistic program. It plays to both your weaknesses and your strengths to create a better learner. The central element of the IB Diploma Program is the Learner Profile; a profile type analysis of the kind of person you are, both to yourself and your interactions with others. IB Learners are supposed to strive to be inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, and reflective. Those 10 objectives create the IB Learner Profile. It is our goal, as students, to become as well-rounded as possible. Our first assignment in TOK (Theory of Knowledge) was to create our own learner profile by ranking our strengths and weaknesses. My ranking is as followed: Inquirer, Communicator, Risk-Taker, Thinker, Knowledgeable, Open-Minded, Reflective, Balanced, Caring, and finally Principled. The next assignment was to reflect on how our rankings are a reflection on our lives. My goal is to properly examine how being more inquiring than principled, is a reflection of how I live my life.


Inquirer:
When I was about 9 I made the (arguably) poor choice to ask my grandfather what Communism is. I didn't know much about basic economics or sociology so I was genuinely curious. He went on explaining what it was, and why it was the worst thing to ever come about. Seeing his obvious hatred, I took everything he said with grain of salt. While the topic was cooking in my brain, I decided to look for answers in an unbiased manner, I could read a book written by a Communist. Even though I hardly understood the gravity of the philosophy, I was intrigued on how biased my original information was. It was then that I decided to not trust people with information they are subject to alter. I began privately researching a range of topics out of pure curiosity, not all were Communist. Even today I like to do private research before I take someone's opinion on a text. And though I tend to distrust opinions, I will always leave room for thought and I will always engage with conversation to spread the knowledge of a subject. Because, at its core, knowledge is best spread through conversation.


Communicator:

Though I do not have a PG story (that I can tell) about being a communicator, I can always give my two cents. Western thought derives from Plato and Socrates (to an extent, they weren't the only big philosophers however they are the only ones I can spell), who both believed heavily in using dialogue as a way of knowing. Debating on an issue is the easiest way to prove your knowledge on the subject. That's why I made the choice to join Speech and Debate, to prove that I'm smarter than other people. To be able to participate in a high intensity debate is, by far, the best way to solidify your general understanding about a topic.


Another reason that I like to communicate is it gives people a 'portal' into me. All of these are ways I communicate with people; the kind of diction that I use, the way I dress, how I approach people of other genders, races, sexual orientation, and political opinions, and even how loudly I speak to an older person. Even though I try to be open minded to other people (I'm not the best at it), I will always think differently than someone different from me. A society buries itself into the subconscious and recognizing that is the first step of recovery.


Caring:

Most people are raised to be very kind to one another; treat others the way you want to be treated. I am no exception. Being taught something from a very young age ingrains itself inside of you to an extent that is nearly impossible to bring out. If I am taught that the Sun revolves around the Earth until I get to a basic science class, then I will lose my mind trying to deny what goes against my beliefs. So, the natural assumption is that if you teach kids to be caring, then they'll treat everyone how they want to be treated. It just isn't that simple. Nobody is cruel without reason; there is always a driving force behind evil, nobody treats someone with pure cruelty 'just because'. My driving force to have almost no sympathy for some people was an excessive amount of complications in my life. I felt like I had been cheated out of having a 'normal' life and was dealt the worst cards possible. I find it harder and harder each day to be a caring person, no matter how hard I want to be good. But I hope this changes. I trust that persistence is the key to my redemption; my own intuition.


Balanced:

I could quite be the most one sided person anyone could meet at Carrollton High School. If I don't think something is worth my time, no matter it's importance, I will most likely never approach it. I may love to read, but if I'm assigned a book for summer reading, chances are I will barely pick it up. It's my second greatest flaw and I am not proud of it. I've striven to be more balanced before, but it just didn't feel compatible with how I go about living my life.


My greatest flaw, by a long shot, is my honesty. If you have had a conversation with me, I have lied about something, big or small. Being honest always made me feel very vulnerable, like I was too easy of a target. So I hid behind a shadow of lies to comfort myself. Recently, though, I have found it easier to speak my mind about things I feel very strongly about. Though my first thought when starting a conversation is, "How can I deceive them to believing I'm better than I actually am?" I tend to shy away from situations when who I really am is obvious. I don't like to be read. But I want to get better.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

What the he-double-hockey-sticks is a SUSTO? A review.


So there's this band I found about a month ago, they're called SUSTO. I'm still confused on WHY it's in all caps, maybe it's an acronym? The only thing I can find is a cultural disease among Latin American cultures so IDK.

Anyways, they released an album called & I'm Fine Today AND IT'S REALLY FRICKIN GOOD. It's country styled alternative and very laid back. It's my study music because of the cool calm acoustic guitar and easy vocals.

Since my TBWDW review was WAY too long I'm not gonna talk about every song. However, every song is wonderful so no doubt listen to each one.

The albums starts out with Far Out Feeling, on Apple Music there's a star next to the name indicating it's one of the more popular songs from the album. Now there aren't many lyrics but the ones they have are pretty nice.  The chorus goes:

"Thinking I can't wait for this to end,
gonna lay my head down soft in the grass.
I'll make my way to that far off, far out feeling."

I love this because he's probably talking about drugs. That's probably bad to say but SUSTO is no innocent band. Throughout the album they talk about drugs, like a lot. That soft grass is probably marijuana and that far off far out feeling is the high. Anyways.

This next one is my favorite from the album by a long shot. It was the first one I ever heard by SUSTO and it will always be my favorite. The lyrics are pretty confusing so don't analyze them but the actual sound of the song is wonderful. Anyways here's an excerpt:

"I had a dream that we were doing hard drugs in a street alley,
You were lying dead next to me.
You said you had a vision of Vietnam
You saw me jump on a grenade and watched my limbs fall off,
But I was in heaven then."

See what I mean? Makes no sense but hell it sounds nice. Sometimes you ain't gotta analyze everything, just let it soothe your soul.

So now onto another one of my favorite songs, Gay in the South. I can't personally relate to this song however I do have friends who struggle with the same feelings as the speaker. It's obviously not easy being gay in the south and this song acknowledges it well. It also gives a perspective into those affected by heavy set Christians in the south. Here's where it shows:

"They promised us you were going straight to hell when you died,
I don't even think it's a real place.
In future time, there'll be nothing different between you and I
And I can't wait for that time to come."

 This is a cool new age liberal gayness. Sure you may think that because I'm gay that I'll go to hell, however when we're both dead we'll both be equal to the void. Well that made me sad let's move on.

Now good ole Mystery Man. This has the most catchy chorus so I don't think I ought to post it however there are some real nice lyrics in this song as well. It's an abrupt love song and I LOVE IT. It's cute, calm, and so lovey dovey I wanna cry. Try not to fall in love with these lyrics:

"I want to climb a hundred floors of your Empire State,
get a better view of the world.
I want to hear about everyone who broke your heart
Tell me about how you write all your songs
Tears of joy are falling down
I'm so happy you're alive
I want to go to a far off town with you."

AUGH it's so cute. Great mellow love song with a happy ending.

Finally, we reach an end to our SUSTO journey, erm at least & I'm Fine Today, with Jah Werx. Less lyrics more cussing but either way I still love it. The song is mellow and passionate. It's hard to understand the lyrics in a serious manner but they still give clout to the mellow spiritual tone adopted by SUSTO. Here are a few lines:

"Lifetimes in a carbon place
it's the breath in my lungs
and the taste on my tongue I feel
Always put back in the ground
because it's going away, yeah
going away I see."

The song leaves great closure for a great album. It finalizes our mood of not melancholy but uplifting mellow feelings. Calm and peaceful we lay our heads down on the soft grass, waiting for that far off feeling. Well that feeling is Jah Werx. The part I won't be quoting because of the cussing (thanks Brewer) explains our title. & I'm Fine Today.

So yeah, great album with great songs that I couldn't include because of word count. Give it a listen when you're having a calm Sunday morning and you're in need of some music, that's what I'll be doing.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Let's talk about 'Flowers for Algernon'



So when my sister, Victoria, first told me about 'Flowers for Algernon' she told me it was about artificial intelligence. My first impression was, "Wow, robots, space battles, yay!" Well I was entirely wrong. No robots or space battles. Just an idiot with an aptitude to learn, a human.

From the first page you can tell the speaker has some sort of issue. He misspels comun werds and doesnt use (proper, punctuation. ever!" The first impression is, 'Wow how the hell did this book get published?' All of the misspellings add to the effect in measuring intelligence, and measuring yourself as a decent human being.

The coolest part about the book, to me, would be the fact that it's written as a journal, erm progris riports. He keeps a journal in which he writes in most days, though he sometimes skips days at a time. He keeps these progris riports so that the doctors who work at Beekman University can keep track of how he thinks and how his riting progresis. He's being tested to watch his intellectual growth as they use him as a test subject. They take animals, he's the first human, and they perform tests on them and rate their growth of intelligence. The most successful lab rat was a wite mouse named Algernon, Charlie's (the idiot) intellectual rival. Algernon does mazes constantly, even to get food. Every day they test his growth and see how well he can solve constantly changing puzzles, they even get him to race against Charlie. Of course he beats him seeing as Charlie has an IQ of 68 and Algernon has been gifted artificial intelligence.

Charlie has a great frustration with being 'retarded' and does all he can to be as smart as the college students that he sees walk around the campus. He goes to classes for retarded adults in order to learn to read and write. However he can never get the grip of it. However, guess what. The scientists have proposed to try the same test they performed on Algernon, on Charlie. He agrees because he wants to be smart so damn dang bad (sorry Brewer).

Flowers for Algernon is a multiplex story of love, loss, and most importantly, abuse. The interpersonal connection between Alice and Charlie, as he grows smart, is simple yet complex. They both love each other and attempt to make love multiple times however each time the old Charlie is watching them, first at a concert then in his own home.

Sad as it may be Charlie was abused really bad by both his mother and his peers. Constant beatings from his mother to "make him normal" made him hate everything to its deep core, including himself.

Sad alert: This topic is what made me take a break from reading the novel because of its intensity and realism.


Growing up Charlie was laughed at, he would act crazy and all of the kids from his neighborhood would gather around to point and laff. He didn't understand they were laffing at him and not what he was doing, so he'd laff as well, merely encouraging the abuse. Eventually he decided to send a Valentimes present to a girl, so he had a "friend" write up a love note. Well it wasn't a love note and he was beaten senseless by the girls older brothers when they found out. Again, he considered her a friend. He 'licked the foot that kicked him', he didn't know any better.

At the core, FFA is about humans and our reaction to intelligence, or lack thereof. We treat the disabled as useless, less than human, retards. We see scientists and college professors as the runners of the world, the humans, the geniuses. We didn't care for that mouse Algernon until he became a genius, same way for Charlie. But once they're smart, we adore them, we aspire to be them.

Suggested by the novel being smart isn't everything, in fact would be the end to human interaction. When Charlie is smart, he doesn't care about anyone except himself. When he's dumb, he's too oblivious to understand nobody likes him, but he likes them.

In short FFA is a great novel worthy of everyone's time. I procrastinated and read the book in 2 days because I'm a horrible student. However you should take the time to really read it. I loved the read and would no doubt re-read it.


P.S. please if you get the chanse put some flowrs on Algernons grave in the bak yard.