What I learned in college

As you know by now, the University of Maryland is a business. Their business is selling degrees. (Which, on its own right, is a type of currency in the “real world” for “real world” jobs. But you knew that.) You pay for your degree with an interesting payment plan. The payment plan is a combination of two currencies. One is internal while the other is external. The internal currency is your lost hours of sleep and grades. The other is in the form of cold, hard cash. So other than a degree, what did you actually learn? Think broadly.

I believe that, apart from the accoutrements a university experience affords, the best thing that a university offers is the ability to become more articulate. Now hold up. I’m not talking simply from the humanities standpoint. Metaphorically, let me stretch the idea of this articulation to the sciences. Is it not the nature of chemistry, to reduce matter to the chemical interactions that give it its form, function, etc.? What happens with this education is that it makes clear the things unseeable from first glance (and deeper). By using the toolset our respective majors teach us, we become adept at articulating the problems that motivate such study, and thus be able to find ways to solve them. (In a sense, all education aims to be reductive to solve problems even though some problems are, by their nature, unsolvable. But that is for another blog post entirely.)

Remove yourself from the one-track attitude your majors have instilled in you. As you attend your classes, keep in mind this idea of furthering your ability to articulate yourself. As you learn business models or of South African apartheid, reduce them into their essences. I find it helps to deal with the malaise and depression that comes from learning business models or of South African apartheid.

So. What did YOU learn?

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WE ARE ALL CHARLIE BROWN

What do we know?

via 3eanuts.tumblr.com

TL;WR (Too Long; Won’t Read): Existentialism brings you down. Love brings you up. Stay up.

What you are looking at is a post from 3eanuts, a blog that removes the final frame from Charles M. Schulz’s famous comic strip series Peanuts. The blog’s author posits: Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comics often conceal the existential despair of their world with a closing joke at the characters’ expense. With the last panel omitted, despair pervades all. This is rightly so as Schulz’s comics do suggest deeply felt existential crises within his comics’ frames (for a clean, tight definition of this philosophy, read the third paragraph on Stanford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Existentialism). (Note: Look, I’m hooking you up with amazing academic resources. I educate and entertain.)

I chose this particular strip because I feel that Lucy’s monologue reveals the current issue that propels us to question our existence. The issue is this: We know too much, and we don’t know what to do with this knowledge. We also no longer know who to trust, from the politicians to the video editor, bringing you to the forefront of Libya’s revolution, to even ourselves. We are living in stimulating times. Knowledge of philosophy, religion, science and politics comes to us hard and fast via the images we are lambasted with from the media. And we can’t get away from it.

I’m talking about the general malaise (a general uneasiness) you wake up with, wrestle with or push back into the depths of your head via Facebook, drinking or by actively doing anything. It’s that voice in your head that pops up every so often and asks, “Just what are you doing with yourself?”, “How do you fit in?” or even worse, “Who are you?” And it’s these questions that are becoming harder to forget as we find ourselves as burgeoning adults, hesitantly (if you agree with me) about to enter what they call the “real world”.

Sometimes I like to dream about a time before print, before the radio and, most importantly, the internet. I acquiesce to the generally held idea that a smaller world meant a simpler life. Maybe you can still live on these terms, and not get muddled with everything else that subverts our attention, our identities and, consequently, our existence. If you can, then I earnestly wish you luck and good health, but for the rest of us, well, we’ll see. The question then becomes: So what do we do about all of this? How do we live on in a world that demands more from us than we know what to do with?

Well, the only thing I got to say is to love. Love people, love whatever you do and try your damned hardest not to get held down. And I’m not going to say that’s simple. I will say this, however. Haters gonna hate. And if haters gonna hate, then you know what that means right? Players still gonna have to play. Here’s the deal.

There is a fellow student in this class that is getting married soon, who, in discussion, revealed that she is marrying her high school sweetheart. However, as we were reading the Julie and Julia Project, we guffawed at the notion that high school sweetheart marriages eventually fall through. She made this post here, detailing the experience and her take on the issue. She writes:

Marriage has little to nothing to do with when you met the person you’re marrying. It has everything to do with a decision to commit to a person for the rest of your life. Agreeing to get married is agreeing to deal with each others bullshit, wash each others laundry, sit in the same room together when you have gas, deal with the dreaded in-law’s, laugh together, possibly make children together, and so much more. How that decision is affected by meeting each other in high school is truly beyond me.

First, I wish her (you) an amazing wedding and life! After reading this post, I found myself feeling a hope and motivation that comes around rarely, the kind that reveals itself with a few beers, good friends and a night of no bullshit conversation. So what if she decided to forgo the glamorized 20’s single life (I mean, doesn’t Sex and the City kind of suck anyway? Seriously. Sarah Jessica Parker’s acting career is based on this lifestyle. If that isn’t sad in itself, then what isn’t?)? If this is the right decision for her, then damn, so be it, and go on with your life.

However, marriage might not be the answer to you, reader. You may find this kind of raison d’être in other things. The point is, is that while we have to wade through all this baggage, you must create your meaning. And it’s hard.

So, as I close with an answer as ambiguous as the world we live in, we remember Charlie Brown. If anything, he is a mirror, an example of a place where we all find ourselves in at points in our lives. As my boy Nathan Radke says in his existential reading of Schulz’s beloved Peanuts:

But Peanuts also demonstrates the optimism of the philosophy. Why does Charlie Brown continue to go out to the pitcher’s mound, despite his 50 year losing streak? Why try to kick the football, when Lucy has always pulled it away at the last second? Because there is an infinite gap between the past and the present. Regardless of what has come before, there is always the possibility of change. Monstrous freedom is a double edged sword. We exist, and are responsible. This is both liberating and terrifying.

So do like Charlie Brown. Keep kicking that football.

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On swearing

Warning: Language.
I was told once that swearing is a combination of laziness and ignorance – that idiots use it because they’re not educated enough to articulate themselves otherwise. 

Well I got two things to say to that:
We’re all lazy and ignorant.

A “shit” after spilling your coffee is catharsis in a four-letter shotgun shell. And “forget” you if you’ve not had a verbal reaction to that. You’ve got to at least say something. I’ve yet to spill anything without a verbal reaction, though I could do with a physical reaction like cleaning it up immediately instead of swearing. It’d definitely be productive, that’s for sure. But damn it, I just spilt coffee all over myself.

But you know what? I actually kind of agree it’s lazy and ignorant. It’s lazy and ignorant if you go ahead and spew these special words everywhere you go.

Do you actually listen to the bro who’s swearing all the damn time? The guy who curses so much that George Carlin’s doing a couple figure 8’s in his grave? No, you don’t. You’ll think the guy’s funny for a while. Maybe you’ll invite him out for drinks with your buddies just so you can ask the guy: “So how do you feel about [insert current state of politics/the world]?” He’ll won’t hesitate to say what’s on his mind. Because, after all, people that embrace swearing love the government because it gives them the license to say whatever they want and as vulgar as they want. Sure, you’ll have someone in your arsenal who wouldn’t hesitate to say, “This corndog tastes like a monkey’s refried dookie”, or, “Man, that Hosni Mubarak’s got a pyramid up his dictatorishly tight asshole!” But take notice that both of these statements are in some degree of complaint. That’s the deal with frequent flyer swearers. Their modus operandi is, “Life is shit, so I’m going to complain”. And no one likes a complainer.

You see where I’m getting at? His unapologetic energy is charming at first, but at the end this bro’s a drag. And yes, swearing is something to be respected. Save it for when it’s appropriate, when your swearing toolset is matured and complaints relevant. Be the person who works quietly and efficiently, but when the boss slips up, you’re the first to speak up. And when you release your finely tuned string of swears, you’ll be rewarded with the love of your coworkers and respect from your superiors, wondering if they should call Human Resources or Payroll to see if they can afford you a raise.
So let’s bring it back. Let’s bring it back to the first time you heard your dad call the guy who cut in front of him, “a motherless ‘forget’hole”. We’ve already lost the word “love”. Don’t do the same with the next best word we’ve got.

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OVERT BAHRAIN/LIBYA METAPHOR

In all seriousness, however, much respect and condolences to those who have lost their lives in the recent days. What we’re witnessing now in these countries is so radical, that I do not think we (my generation) acknowledge the gravity of the situation. We’re living in some interesting times, for sure.

(But really though, that’s basically what’s going on in the Middle East/Mediterranean. Thing is, people aren’t walking away.)

 

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From – “I Have a Philosophical Secret!”: The Lowest-Rated Jerry Springer Show Ever

Audience member: Okay, this is for Tina. Tina, I just wanna know how you can call yourself an existentialist, and still agree with Nietzsche’s doctrine of the Ubermensch. Doesn’t that imply a belief in intrinsic essences that is in direct contradiction with the fundamental principles of existentialism?

Tina: No! No! It doesn’t. We can be equal in potential, without being equal in eventual personal quality. It’s a question of Becoming, not Being.

Audience member: That’s just disguised essentialism!  You’re no existentialist!

Tina: I am so!

Audience member: You’re no existentialist!

Tina: I am so an existentialist, bitch!

Ursula stands and interjects.

Ursula: What does it [bleep] matter? Existentialism is just a cover for late capitalist anti-feminism! Look at how Sartre treated Simone de Beauvoir!

Women in the crowd cheer and stomp.

Tina: [Bleep] you! Fat-ass Foucaultian ho!

Ursula: You only wish you were smart enough to understand Foucault, bitch!

———

Read the whole thing here:

http://www.csun.edu/~dgw61315/springer.html

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Artificial Intelligence Is the Next Killer (App)

think about it: computers would make the best egalitarian slavemasters

screencapture from watson's jeopardy stint - ken jennings is on point

I’m kind of glad my grandmother has passed on. She didn’t have to deal with Watson sullying her favorite TV program, and I didn’t have to deal with demystifying our “new computer overlords” (i.e.: “No, this monstrosity has nothing to do with your social services. No, I don’t think it can make you a sandwich. And, yes, it might one day kill us all.”). Watching Watson’s performance on Jeopardy left me with an odd feeling. As if Kubrick got it right, I felt I was staring at a HAL 9000 – not at its “batshit-bent-on-killing-these-dumb-humans” tip, but its original “Daisy Bell” stage. We were captivated and entertained by the Watson system. This milestone in artificial intelligence, well, straight up dookies all over our (at least mine) expectations of what these heartless beasts can do.

Listen. I’m not really a techno-pessimist. This fascinates me to no end.

We got a machine that toasts sliced bread, and it even tells you when it’s finished! Do you realize how baller that is? Not only that, but we poo in porcelain bowls. PORCELAIN BOWLS. How godly have we become? Years ago we’d just settle by a nice tree or riverside and just drop those deuces with no thought. And don’t even trip, because at one point toilet paper didn’t even exist. Someone got sick of their swamp butt and probably picked up a leaf and started wiping (how do you think we really found out about poison ivy?). And finally we sit at the zenith of our creation, we have knowledge at our fingertips – and it’s called the Internet. Now we got Watson who can access all of this information quicker and concisely (by the way, it was disconnected from the Internet during the show – but it did have Wikipedia saved up in itself).

Because you shouldn’t trust what I’m saying, check out this blurb from The Atlantic:

AI capability may start out by being built into the productivity applications used by workers, but over time, it will evolve to the point that these applications can perform much of the work autonomously: AI will become a tool for managers rather than workers. The result is likely to be substantial job losses for knowledge workers and a flattening of organizational charts that will eliminate large numbers of middle managers. (The impact of automation will, of course, be in addition to that of offshoring.) Many of these people will be highly educated professionals who had previously assumed that they were, because of their skills and advanced educations, beneficiaries of the trend toward an increasingly technological and globalized world.

– Martin Ford: Artificial Intelligence Is the Next Killer App

So now what? I’m down for a computer to aid in the butt-wiping process. But lord, do I fear the day when our robot masters will be the ones wiping us. (You like that joke? Yeah, I know you did. Holler.)

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the lost generation gets an apartment

is this my future?

via viruscomix.com - the lost generation gets an apartment

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