27 January 2011

On Office Supplies, Not Procrastinating, and Stupid Computers

Firstly, this post was originally entitled On Office Supplied and Not Procrastinating. Then my computer crashed. -_- Thankfully I didn't loose anything... except the almost 500 word draft of this post that I had typed. As a result of this, and the fact that I don't feel like retyping everything that I just spent the last thirty minutes working on, this post will be much shorter than 500 words.

Secondly, I know I said in my last post that I was sorry that I hadn't posted anything in while and that I probably wouldn't be able to for a while do to my bad habit of procrastinating on homework and other school projects. However, there are rare instances where I somehow manage to get all or most of my homework done and still have a few moments to spare in my day to do something somewhat interesting. Today is one of those days, and this is my somewhat interesting thing.

Thirdly, I have an unnatural love of office supplies. It's really bad. I have several--five--pencil holders filled with pencils, markers, sharpies, highlighters, and other things of that sort, two notebooks, three journals, and an obnoxiously extensive collection of post-its.

It would not surprise me at all that if I had saved all of the money that I spend on office supplies, I wouldn't have to ask my grandma for gas money.

Fourthly, here is a video song by Lauren O'Connell and Ryan Lerman until my next post!

26 January 2011

On Procrastination

I am incredibly sorry to all five of my readers for not posting anything in almost a week, but with the accumulation of several school projects,--on all of which I have procrastinated,--I have not had much free time. This will probably change by February 11th when I get my life back.

In the mean time, here is a made-of-awesome video from one of my favorite channels on YouTube, Microrator.
Eet - Regina Spektor (cover by Microrator)

22 January 2011

On Censorship

Censorship is one of the few topics that really fires me up. The idea that someone thinks they have the right to tell someone they can't think something and express it because of some irrational system of societal rules is as irrational as the people who allow it to go on. The parents who don't allow their children to watch a television show or read a book because it might have questionable material or a few words here and there that they don't like have a clear misconception of what goes on in public schools. As much as the administrations of the public school system would deny it and try to suppress it, there are things that go on in schools that are far more shrewd than anything in these books.

Two great examples of how people try their hardest to create some sort of over-protective dome of what they deem as 'appropriate' can be found here and here. The First of these links is a video from John Green whose book Looking for Alaska was being taught in a school where parents wanted it to be taken out of the curriculum. The Second is from a video blogger and author, Jackson Pearce, about the censoring of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

But, this blog is not about you or your parents or any one else who would want to censor it. It is about me and my thoughts. So to practice my powers of free speech, I chose the worst possible word in the English language; fuck--which for some reason is worse than other words that are deemed inappropriate. Below is a paragraph that I found here about the origins of the word fuck.

The obscenity fuck is a very old word and has been considered shocking from the first, though it is seen in print much more often now than in the past. Its first known occurrence, in code because of its unacceptability, is in a poem composed in a mixture of Latin and English sometime before 1500. The poem, which satirizes the Carmelite friars of Cambridge, England, takes its title, "Flen flyys," from the first words of its opening line, "Flen, flyys, and freris," that is, "fleas, flies, and friars." The line that contains fuck reads "Non sunt in coeli, quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk." The Latin words "Non sunt in coeli, quia," means "they [the friars] are not in heaven, since." The code "gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk" is easily broken by simply substituting the preceding letter in the alphabet, keeping in mind differences in the alphabet and in spelling between then and now: i was then used for both i and j; v was used for both u and v; and vv was used for w. This yields "fvccant [a fake Latin form] vvivys of heli." The whole thus reads in translation: "They are not in heaven because they fuck wives of Ely" [a town near Cambridge].

19 January 2011

On the Transcontinental Railroad

Picture it; it's a cold, snow January morning in the God-forsaken state of Indiana and an extremely bored Algebra II student rolls his eyes as the slacker seated behind him interrupts the day's lesson once more to say "why do we even need to know this?" Then he sits there as the teacher tries to come up with an impromptu answer. No matter what your teacher tells you, the answer will most likely be that you will never need to know anything that you learn in math after about the fifth grade.

I am not by any means saying that the time that you spend in your math or science or history or English classes is time that is not well spent, although it may seem like it in the moment. What I am saying is that, although you may  not ever find a use for the endless amounts of useless knowledge that you gain in these classes, some things that you learn in school you will carry with you for the rest of your life.

This evening I was writing a paper analyzing the social and economic effects of the completion of the transcontinental railroad in the west (which, might I add, are nearly endless.) Fun, right? In the event that you don't know what the transcontinental railroad is I have included a little map to the right >

Anyway, as I was writing my essay on a topic that I have absolutely no interest in, it occurred to me that I still might actually learn something useful from this class after all. Surely if the class is required--or at least recommended--there is probably a reason for it. And even if, at the end of the class, I don't get anything substantial out if it involving the content of the class, simply to learn under a teacher--some of the most dedicated and wise people that I have met--is enough to never regret any class that I have taken.

18 January 2011

On the Sword and the Pen: Part II

As a follow up to my first post, I wanted to further elaborate on the reasons I chose the name The Sword and the Pen for this project. The answer comes in two parts.
^ Cardinal Richelieu ^

Part 1: The first reason that I chose this for the title comes from the famous line from act II of a play by Edward Bulwer-Lytton called Richelieu. Essentially, the main character, Cardinal Richelieu, who is a priest, discovers that his friend Joseph the monk is planning some plot against him. Being a priest, he is prevented from engaging in a physical fight. At this point he utters the famous line,

Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword.

Although Edward Bulwer-Lytton is often given all of the fame for having thought up this brilliant line, he is hardly the first one to have the thought. Awesome people like Shakespeare, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Robert Burton all had similar thoughts. Although the prize goes to a Greek poet named Euripides whose dying words were
The tongue is mightier than the blade.

Part 2: The second reason comes from the brilliant singer/song writer Regina Spektor's song "Sword and Pen" from her album, Far. This song, like most of hers, can have a million different meanings. For me it signifies the importance of thinking critically about how our world functions. What if we got it wrong? What if the sword kills the pen?

If you don't know who these two people are, you should definitely google them--or bing them, if you roll that way--and learn everything you can about them. Edward Bulwer-Lytton was an amazing writer whose words are still used in conversations today, and Regina Spektor is a brilliant song writer whose lyrics are beautiful and meaningful and will be remembered (at least by me) for long after she stops writing.

17 January 2011

On the Indianapolis Museum of Art and Georgia O'Keefe's Obsession With Vaginae

Recently I went to the Indianapolis Museum of Art with one of my friends. I went because of a project that I am currently doing in school about the state of art and elective classes in education, which, in the United States, is slowly dwindling away, that involves a site visit to a place that has something to do with your topic.

Art has always perplexed me. I can grasp the meanings behind entire novels and decipher the complex metaphors in literature with ease. Yet when I am given a Georgia O'Keefe painting of a flower--which probably sums up 90% of her paintings--and I am expected to make the assumption that it represents a vagina, I am lost.

The point of this post is not to highlight Georgia O'Keefe's obsession with female reproductive organs. Rather it's about how different people communicate differently. Some people communicate through music, some through teaching, and some through painting pictures of flowers that have some deep message about female sexuality. I communicate through writing.

On the Sword and the Pen

Essentially the entire reason for this blog is that, in following other people's blogs, I think I have enough thoughts of my own that I would like to share with the world. I love writing and communicating with anyone who will listen to me, and I thought a blog would be the best way to do it!

This blog is about me. It is about life. It is about what makes life unique. It is about what makes individuals individual. I will blog about everything and everyone I see, hear, and experience, because these things are what make life--my life, anyway--awesome.