Making America Great… ‘Again’?: Historical Hypocrisy & Modern Change

President Donald Trump claims to want to make America great…again. The word ‘again’ is a stretch, because depending on who you ask and their personal experiences throughout the history of the country…America was never great. Nevertheless, for those of us who still have faith that America can someday be great & actually reflect what it has promised/envisioned, it is obvious that hypocrisy and systematic discrimination thrives in the land of the free. The poem by Emma Lazarus on The Statue of Liberty in New York, ”the New Colossus” is suppose to stand for immigrants and refugees coming to a welcoming and compassionate/empathetic safe haven , a home for those who desire to leave or force to flee their homelands. Of course, Trump is not the first who discriminated against certain groups of people because for as long as the poem was first engraved on Lady Liberty in 1903, the poem’s message has always had it’s ‘terms & conditions’ depending on what ethnic or religious group people belong to. There is a clear long history of America showing more acceptance to certain groups of immigrants & refugees in comparison to others. Still, there are many immigrants, refugees, and forced migrants who have continued to have faith in America and want to come through the ”golden door” despite hostility/prejudice towards them . I encourage all to not be discouraged or faithless, but to continue to make our own positive marks in the world…let’s not wait on political leaders to make America (or anywhere) great. President Trump’s executive order and extreme vetting policies for Muslim-majority countries is just one of many hypocritical happenings that should not be accepted or validated if we want to make America great for everyone…not just selective groups. Over a century ago, The New Colossus was as new and promising as the Liberty Statue it was engraved on. Now, in modern times and after hypocrisy has continued to be prevalent in the U.S, it seems as if it’s the ”Old Irrelevant Colossus” because often times throughout the years…Lady Liberty is not a truthful representation/image of the actual freedom, justice, and liberty that is denied to many. However, instead of just complaining about the cons of America and hypocrisy in the nation, we should also encourage and implement positive change/actions. No matter who is in office, what awful/evil doings we witness personally or see constantly on our news’ channels…stay faithful and remember we are all equally important in creating positive change with our actions and mentalities, triumphing over negativity in the world.

 

The New Colossus Poem by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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The Decision to Remain a Virgin: Others Who Are Abstinent After Teen Years

Of course, it is normal and common for people to have already engaged in sexual activity before they are well into their twenties. However, deciding to be abstinent and remain a virgin after adolescent/teen years is a choice that can often have an awkward phase/stage at certain points & times in life. Personally speaking, although I still do not regret my decision to not engage in sexual activity now, there was a time when I did feel awkward & from the ”outside looking in” in relation to some of my peers’ experiences. Now, in the present I am comfortable and at peace with my decision and here are a few encouraging words for people who are abstinent/waiting for whatever reason & who may feel awkward, uncomfortable, or aberrant. Not an overcritical perspective, just positivity, encouraging confidence, and inner peace from a personal point of view.

  • Deciding to remain a virgin should not feel like a burden. Just like the decision to have sex, it should be an embraced choice that feels like the best option for oneself. Letting people who are not you validate your choice/reasoning will only cause internal conflict and over thinking because everyone will have their own opinion/beliefs in relation to your decision. So many voices belonging to others in one head is not healthy and can delete our own unique voice/intuition. At the end of the day and reflecting, we are the ones who have to be comfortable and think , ”yeah, it is/was worth it.”
  • There is this false rationale accepted by some that implies a person needs to be with someone intimately/romantically  to feel & be whole and truly happy. Many people often correlate being single for a very long period of time with something negative or as if the person has a flaw that keeps them ”alone”. I know sex is probably amazing and positive romantic love is beautiful, but focusing on what we’re passionate about and what makes us happy can help immensely while being abstinent. There are a variety of experiences and memories, beautiful ones, that you can create and partake in while being abstinent, which will contribute to inner happiness.
  • Not everyone is abstinent for religious reasons, but spirituality certainly helps in the process of waiting for whatever reasons. If someone truly feels in their spirit that what they are doing is the best choice for them, then it will create peace and assurance which grows. When I decided that I wanted to wait and remain a virgin when I graduated high school, I asked God to help me with my choice because this was a decision that I really wanted for myself. I am only in my early 20’s, but I am no longer in the ”awkward phase” where I felt weird for refraining from sex and often contemplated how realistic it was. I hope who ever is still a virgin long after teen years, or even those who may be celibate, to keep your faith in why you’ve made your choice, create peace within yourself with your decision, and don’t let those who are on the outside looking in dictate or influence the choice YOU have to live with.

 

Elon Musk’s Space X Project: Interplanetary Spaceflight & Exoplanet Exploration Possibilities  

Perhaps, in less than ten years, people will get a chance to live on planet Mars and eventually create a sustainable civilization there. Elon Musk, president of Tesla Motors, has been interested in colonizing Mars for awhile. Space Exploration Technologies Corporation was founded by Musk in 2002 and 14 years later, he announced at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico his plan to send humans to colonize Mars with his future Interplanetary Transport System spaceship-rocket. Residing/moving to other planets is a science fiction dream that is possible, especially with our constant advancing aerospace technology. Of course, this fascinating news has its pros and cons. Musk also explained that the very first colonists (he does not recommend children of course) who are brave enough to try & reside on Mars should understand it will be a dangerous first journey and be prepared to die…if it comes to that. This possibility may terrify many people, but there are some who are willing to be a part of the “trial and error” phase of a new settlement/colony in a foreign world, while most would prefer to go after everything has been figured out and deemed ‘safe”. The Universe, as expansive as it is with all of the galaxies out there, humanity should be curious to know where else could life forms and sustainable living exist. One of the interesting things to ponder is that out of all the countless planets in our Universe, there are probably other forms of life that look alot like us and/or beings that differ quite alot in physical appearance and biology depending on the planet. Worlds with features/climates that are probably breathtaking and amazing. Colonizing Mars would be the beginning of a future that brings a new age to our civilization and space travel. Of course, let’s just make sure we do not get to travel to new worlds, planets located in different galaxies and do a “Avatar” like mission, which has been done before throughout history within our own world. Nevertheless, I have faith in humanity responsibly visiting and inhabiting livable planets in our galaxy and beyond. The process will be controversial, trying, costly, and with error…but may be a astronomical phenomenon that is both exciting & will change the course of science and humanity, perhaps sooner than later.

Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince Treatise : A Philosophy That Is Still Relevant Today

Machiavellianism, introduced in the Niccolo Machiavelli book The Prince, is a term that does not just apply to the Dark Triad subject in applied psychology. Machiavelli’s philosophies in The Prince included the belief that it is okay to use immoral/foul means such as manipulation & showing a disregard for morality in relation to personal gain and self interest. Some people argue that Machiavelli’s acceptance of immoral actions was due to the fact that he lived during a time in Rome when political conflicts and success through criminal actions were common among it’s leaders. However, this time period is not the only era where immoral actions have been common in society. As long as societies have existed, baleful actions have been used throughout history for different reasons…not just among princes vying for power. Unfortunately, it is accepted and a normal/common practice for societies to manipulate and commit evil doings toward others for their own personal gain/self interest in our world. Many people have developed a “that’s just the way it is” perspective on this detrimental behavior because it has been universally prevalent throughout our timeline so far. Therefore, Machiavelli’s philosophies are not just historic political science lessons that reflect the world he knew…but it also can be used to compare what is now, the present. It has gotten to the point where we question & categorize just what is immoral and moral depending on a society/culture’s accepted practices. I may be speaking from a bias point of view because I believe in not perfection, but at least trying our best to be morally upright and emphasizing virtue & genuine goodness. However, no matter what different ethical/moral philosophies exist, Machiavelli’s The Prince should have been a reference for what to avoid, but it now seems as if it is a repeated pattern that does not just apply to old Rome’s royal hierarchies or a personality test. Nevertheless, since the future is not yet written and the present is still unfolding, there is no universal rule that implies history has to keep repeating itself. Yet, even though we are one humanity, we are also individuals who do not share the same mentalities and belief system when it comes to virtue and morality. ..perhaps that is why treatises like The Prince and Machiavellianism seems to have been a relevant philosophy for a very long time.

Underground to Pop Music: The Art of the Evolution of Music

Manipulating the sound of a record while someone spoke on a microphone was not widely accepted less than 40 years ago. Before the musical art form we call Hip Hop and the method we know as rapping was an internationally recognized fixture in popular music culture, it was a underground innovative movement. It is always exciting and refreshing when a new form of musical style (which eventually is often considered a subgenre) has been introduced & created. Whether it was the origins of punk music with bands like The Kinks and The Ramones  or the “college rock radio” era of alternative music with musicians such as R.E.M & The Smiths, they all have one thing in common. Rebellion. They all rebelled against what was popular and mainstream. Yet, often times in history an underground musical art form became a part of the mainstream popular music culture if it was accepted on a massive level. Case in point: Kurt Cobain was not comfortable with Nirvana’s music being a part of pop music culture (In Bloom song speaks about this). However, that is what “Grunge” music became…chart topping hits that was played continuously on heavily viewed channels such as MTV. Nevertheless, it was their decision to  sign with a major record label, and “bandwagoners” naturally came with this. In fact, there is often a repeated pattern in music with this, which will probably always be. There are many factors such as generation, society/cultural events, technology, and demographics that correlate with an underground “alternative” sound being popularized. The problem is when a new musical style/sound starts off as fresh and different… then is transformed into something that has lost its “edge” and individuality due to exploitation in the music industry. The art of “underground”music becoming popular mainstream music has its pros and cons, all how we perceive it. Either way, music has & always will be an ever progressing art with many different colors. Hundreds of years from now what we listen to today, what we call “rebellious”, “alternative” or “innovative” in comparision to a “pop music” sound will be so interesting to compare with what sounds/styles may be introduced in the future. The evolution of all music is inevitable. 

More Than Protesting: Strategic Action, Effective Change

Protests are not always effective when it comes to progression/change. So, what is? To help gradually decrease police brutality, there needs to be reconstruction , change & progress  on the federal, state, and local levels of government. The reason why unfit and bad cops keep getting away with these crimes is because they are protected by policies that are flawed. We cannot keep simply protesting, being out raged on social media, and accepting that this is just how it is. Effective change means not just discussion and protest signs, but it also means strategically planning & taking action. So, let’s contemplate a few effective actions we can do that will help implement change.

1. Educating ourselves on the policies/laws already enacted and policy solutions that needs to be enforced, then demanding action from policy officials at all levels of government. Don’t complain, but then refuse to actually be a part of change. Don’t shoot down my suggestions, then refuse to try or give better solutions.

2. It’s okay to be angry, but create positive change from that anger. Saying “fuck the police” and then ranting on social media is not going to solve anything.

3. I encourage all to learn more at joincampaignzero.org, which goes into detail more specifically on the  problems, solutions, and actions we can take to implement effective change.

All in all, if we live in a place where issues like police brutality and basic human rights violations plague the land, then we all should help implement change and discuss/take actions concerning effective solutions…. Especially for those of us who complain and are angry.

Boogie Down Bronx:Classic Photography

1520 Sedgwick Avenue and D.J Kool Herc are names forever synonymous with a part of the origins of rap music. In 1973 on August 11th, Kool Herc hosted a back to school party for his sister at the recreation room of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue apartment building. At the community house party, he introduced a technique that involved two turntables, a mixer, two copies of the same record, and playing another song at the beginning or middle of the record while focusing on ”the break” in each one. With D.J Kool Herc presenting his technique, his friend Coke La Rock began to rap and many legendary rappers like Afrika Bambaataa and Grand Master Flash all claimed to have witnessed this historic significant event in music history. In honor of The Boogie Down Bronx, here are some truly amazing and influential photos that shows why  The Boogie Down Bronx will always be considered a birthplace of the rhythmic poetic art we call Hip Hop.

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dj kool herc.jpg

mixtapes

coldcrush

gman 2

 

boogiedown1

party1

red alert

zulu1

John Coltrane’s Blue Train: A Classic Revisited

john_coltrane-blue_train.png

John Coltrane’s 1958 released album Blue Train is one of his gems that is both timeless and significant in any era. Not only was the label Blue Note Records a legendary & important part of music history, but it is Coltrane’s brilliance playing the tenor saxophone, Lee Morgan on the trumpet, Curtis Fuller’s trombone skills, Kenny Drew playing the piano, Paul Chambers on base, and Philly Joe Jones as the drummer that completes this album in such a compelling manner . The album was produced by Blue Notes Records co-founder Alfred Lion and Coltrane wrote nearly all of the music, with Johnny Mercer and Jerome Kern writing the song ”I’m Old Fashioned.” The album has two sides, which includes ”Moments Notice” and my personal favorite ”Blue Train” on side one. Side two includes ”Locomotion”, ”I’m Old Fashioned”, and ”Lazy Bird”.  In 1997, alternate take bonus tracks were released of ”Lazy Bird” and ”Blue Train”. This was only Coltrane’s second solo album & although it is considered ”Hard Bop”, I think all of his music is beyond just one specific genre. Of course, not long after releasing Blue Train, Coltrane would go on to create an album that was chosen as one of the 50 recordings picked by The Library of Congress & added to the National Recording Registry…the groundbreaking & innovative classic Giant Steps.

 

 

Nanotechnology: The Pros & Cons

Nanotechnology involves the study of extremely small things, which are conducted at the nano-scale ( 1-100 nanometers). This form of science can be used in other fields such as chemistry, biology, physics, and engineering. With the use of nanotechnology, atoms and molecules can be controlled and manipulated. Of course, although everything on Earth is made up of atoms, they cannot be seen with the naked eye. However, with the ability to see atoms /molecules on the  nano-scale, scientists are finding ways to manipulate tiny particles and create new inventions that seems like stuff of science fiction. Nanotechnology could be used in wound dressings to rapidly stop bleeding in trauma patients, to clean up industrial solvents contaminating water, eliminate excess trash, stop diseases internally, and allow us to create anything lighter, cheaper, stronger, and better. All of this and much more are the benefits of nanotechnology that could be an amazing asset to our future on this planet.

However, just like other forms of advanced technology and powerful inventions that mankind has created, there are also cons that many people should ponder on. For one, nanotechnology in the wrong hands could be detrimental to us because it can be used for mass destruction as well. For one, in the wrong hands nanotechnology could be a weapon to destroy the human body. Nanoparticles would be challenging to locate, and with this form of artificial intelligence means it could be a game changer when it comes to warfare & attacks on the general public. Not to mention, there could be unintended health consequences. For an example, our white blood cells could look at nanotechnology “nanorobots” as ”invaders”, and/or our natural immune systems could be suppressed. There’s also the threat of humans relying and becoming entirely dependent on nanotechnology to survive, which could actually be a very unfortunate outcome for us.

All in all, a lot of the expectations that people have for nanotechnology are just concepts and not our actual reality right now. Yet, in the future it is not hard to imagine the heavy usage of nanotechnology. There should be strict ethical standards and codes to follow internationally for this advanced technology to be governed correctly. The thing is, nanotechnology can be used in many ways to help improve our lives and be an incredible breakthrough in health related issues. Yet, this technology can also be used to cause evil and destruction to the world on new levels and rapid speeds than we’ve ever known before. The choice is ours.

Pesticides Killing Bees: Why All Mankind Should Care

Albert Einstein once said, “If the Bee disappears from the surface of the Earth, man would have no more than four years to live.” If we take a look at all of the uses we rely on bee colonies for, then this statement could be true. Monsanto is a pesticide that is killing off bees, and these little insects are responsible for so much more than some people care to ponder on. For one, bees are responsible for pollinating 70 of the top 100 crop species, and these foods feed 90 percent of mankind. Without bees, most of the foods we eat would eventually disappear. Humans cannot replace or make up for the work that bees do, which also keeps other lifestock alive as well. If bees continue to be killed off by deadly pesticides, then so will most of the fruit, veggies, grains, and other nutrition we need to live. We tend to take Bees for granted, not realizing that these little tireless workers are blessings that are vital to our lives. The solution is actually simple: ban all deadly pesticides. If pesticides like Monsanto does this to bees, just imagine what they are doing to us. Some may even argue that all pesticides should be banned from our plants, including the so called “harmless” ones. All in all, hopefully it doesn’t take Bees to go extinct for people to finally understand just how valuable they are to mankind.