The Enigma of Megyn Kelly

fox-news-debate-janaury-2016

In light of the most recent Republican debate, which without Trump turned out to be the most productive and substantial of all, I read an article about Megyn Kelly. I never watch the debates, even the Democratic ones, for the reason that I refuse to participate in the blatant media circus. Especially when it concerns Donald Trump. I don’t need to write about him, right? Good. I’m not going to.

Megyn Kelly is an interesting figure to me. Even as a Fox News host, she maintains a level of integrity which is just unprecedented in that world (she stills has her moments though, like the whole “black santa” debacle). But quite frankly, I think the world would be better with a few more people like her around.

She’s composed. Everyone’s seen the clips of Bill O’Reilly screaming at the guests on his show. This was especially apparent at the debate last night, where Kelly looked sharp and had sharp question. Also she looked, well, like a boss. She challenged the candidates and stayed calm in the face of Ted Cruz’s pretty amazing debate skills (he may not be likable, but that man can sure debate his ass off). Megyn Kelly kicked ass and I was happy to see her do it. Which is crazy! She’s a tool of the propaganda machine Fox News!

Youtube commenters were not. Doing research for this post I watched clips of the debate, particularly the parts where she demolished Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio on their immigration policies (which, as Salon says, mirrored Daily Show tactics). Pretty much all the comments were trumpeting Trump or calling Kelly a bitch. What is it like, you ask, to have to read through this drivel? Like pulling teeth, I would say.

But Megyn Kelly is not “very biased” as Trump says. She’s the best Fox News has. Well, journalistically speaking.

Advertisements

Speak When Not Spoken To

The Importance of Participation
(And as much as I hate to admit it, group projects)

In a job environment, if you don’t speak up about your ideas, you don’t have them. In (most) job environments, every project is a group project. “Real life” is inherently participatory. It would be the utmost shame of the education system to not prepare students for this inevitaHermioneHandUpbility.

I think about this because I saw a post on Tumblr (insert sigh) about how teachers/professors should not grade participation. About how this user was so frustrated that their grade was dropped because they did not speak in class even though they did good work. About how educators should always facilitate persons with anxiety.

I am sympathetic with this cause– I had/have anxiety myself and used to dread public speaking. And of course, neurodivergents should be facilitated… to a point. What do I mean by that? Well, at least at the institution I attend, there is a disability policy, the kind of thing every professor has to put on their syllabus. There is a disability office and students can go there and have them contact professors on behalf of them and their needs (what qualifies for this is unclear– I think it’s intentionally left vague). Ok, that makes sense.

But a blanket statement like “you should not grade participation ever” is absurd. The world simply does not work that way. There should be room for all sorts of needs in the classroom, but quite simply certain needs cannot be met for someone who keeps them close to their chest. Maybe I will catch some flack for this, but if a person’s anxiety is not severe enough for professionals to say adjustments must be made, then they deserve the poor participation grade. Unless their is a serious disorder involved, and I hesitate to use this phrase but it is the only fitting one, suck it up like the rest of them. Or else the kids who just want to sail through a class period, be a waste of a seat, will be able to succeed alongside the people who work hard.  

Now, group projects. I hate them. Everyone hates them. And it hurts me to say that they are importance. Especially in a world where the farthest reaches are connected by the internet, everything is collaborative. Even crowdfunding can be considered a type of “group project.” Yes, it is always painful for your grade to be defined by the moron sitting next to you in an introductory class. But again, this is needed practice for adulthood.

The alternative is to hide away from everything, but what is the point of that?

The Martian // Review

The Martian by Andy Weir. Published 2014 by Crown. 369 pages.

Someone described this novel as “man survives alone on Mars on sarcasm” which I believe to be an incredibly accurate description. Weir is not the greatest writer on Earth (or Mars, well, maybe Mars). There are no eloquent soliloquies about the loneliness of space, or whatever. But it’s funny. Like, really funny. And also, very, very real. Surprising, but even amazing scientists and astronauts are people.

It’s more than likely you’ve heard of this novel. This is a review for the people on the edge of should I/shouldn’t I.

It’s been on the bestseller list probably since it’s been out. You can’t walk into a bookstore without seeing copy. Especially now, because it’s been turned into a popular movie with Matt Damon as the Martian, Mark Watney. I watched the movie before reading the book, which I never do and honestly am kind of ashamed of. If you haven’t seen the movie, or want to, or have seen it and are considering the book, I would first off say it’s a pretty faithful adaptation. Of course, there’s most shenanigans in the book (and swearing) but nothing major changes.

I didn’t even mean to buy this novel. I was in Barnes and Noble and saw this hardcover signed copy, probably the only hardcover in the whole store and suddenly decided I needed it. I told myself I couldn’t get it unless I could find it in hardcover and there it was. Destiny.

The novel is worth it. Especially if you’re into science shit. I don’t make a habit of reading science fiction, but this one is very accessible. Some people caution putting this into the science-fiction category but there’s just too much science not too. But there are no made up aliens, no made up physic rules or languages that cause people to shy away from the genre. It’s a book about the near future and a near planet. Things make sense. Well, for the most part they do. I’ll admit that some of the science did go over my head.

I wasn’t crazy about the structure. Journals just don’t do it for me and never have. My favorite parts were the ones that took place on Earth. And like I said before, Weir’s prose isn’t going to knock your socks off. You probably won’t have an existential crisis based off a passage (which has happened to me before). That means that the greatness of this novel is on plot alone, and let me tell you, it does not disappoint in that department. As could be expected, Mars tries extremely hard to kill Mark Watney.

The ultimate strength of this novel is that it’s believable. I believed in the mission to Mars, I believed in the character interactions. And even though I literally knew the ending, I was still tense as hell reading it. If you’re into a fast-paced adventure-survival story with enough sass to kill someone? Get to it.

3 People

I lump people into three different categories: the people who’s lives I genuinely care about (even the silly, menial details); the people who I feel I must be cordial to in order to make my life easier (coworkers, neighbors, your librarian); and finally, the people who just aren’t worth giving a damn about. I don’t care how they feel, I just don’t care! They can hate me all they want and it won’t impact my life in an significant way. I don’t have to waste my time doing random things to make them happy for my own sake.

These people– they’re the ones in life you just have to let go. Maybe there is someone in your life who is in the second category who really belongs in the third. I’m here to tell you that this person is only weighing you down, stealing valuable patience and emotional sanity. There’s a balance to be struck, of course. For personal reputation, maybe, or any other reason you find justifiable.

There are people you have to be nice to who you hate but could make your life hell, or are your family members who you constantly have to see and put up with. Listen, maybe Aunt Carol is a terrible racist, but you have to see her every other week and besides, nothing you say is going to change the way she feels about Muslim Americans, so is that really a problem you can handle dealing with? One screaming match a year over the dining room table is enough for anyone.

A more personal example: my older sister has no chill. She doesn’t get the whole “being nice to your family because you have various social obligations towards them” thing. Every year during the holiday season I have to sit around and zone out while she goes on about this or that, things that really aren’t very appropriate or things she know will inflame a topic. Could you imagine a family being too liberal? I can.

The truth is, a lot of stuff in life doesn’t really matter. A lot. Does Jennifer Lawrence berating/making a poor joke/accidentally verbally assaulting a man who’s first language is not English matter to me? No, not at all (next week we will be talking about how the world is complex and outrageous, and how every story has two sides. I imagine having to put up with reporters and exhaustive press junkets is pretty awful). But anyways, I don’t care. That’s OK. No one can care about everything. You’ll just– POP.

Capitalism: A Ghost Story // Review

Capitalism: A Ghost Story by Arundhati Roy. Published 2014 by Haymarket. 128 pages.

My sister gave me this book for Christmas, mostly, I think, as a joke (our dream is to write a satirical movie called a Very Liberal Education, which is about going to college and becoming a socialist). I had literally no idea what it was going in, and sometimes that’s a good thing but here I believed it hurt my greater understanding. The book is essentially a series of short essays, all written by Roy, about India. The first essay, bearing the same title as the book itself6d63b-capitalism-a2bghost2bstory2bby2barundhati2broy, focuses heavily on capitalism, but the rest are more focused on the geopolitical situation.

There are things this book does well, and things it does not. It does a very good job of revealing the “dark side,” perhaps, of economic and domestic policy in India as well as the ongoing effects of both Imperialism and Westernization. The influence of the United States in particular. It brings much needed attention to the human rights violations being performed by the government in regions such as Kashmir. However, this book would be better served as a longer, proper nonfiction book, as many people will find the geography and background of India confusing. I know next to nothing about the country and often found myself lost. It may be out of frustration, and the fact that it’s more of a compilation of essays than a cohesive narrative, but Roy doesn’t spend nearly any time on opposing arguments. Or solutions, even.

Though I must commend Arundhati Roy. She’s a very brave woman for doing the work she does and publishing this. You might also know her as the author of the God of Small Things.

I cannot decide if I truly want to recommend this book or not. Certainly if you are a person who knows a great deal about American foreign policy and relations, or history, you might find it very interesting. Or if you are a socialist– there are more and more of Americans leaning that way these days. There are only 90 pages of content– notes and index take up more than half the size– and if anything, it will make you think a little more critically about the world and the status quo. I really don’t think anything bad can come out of that.

Independent Assignment // MLK Day

Oh, MLK day. One of the stranger “holidays” in my opinion. A day where many college students will be returning to school, a day off that has students celebrating. A day where many people pretend to remember and honor a truly great man; a day where others honestly remember him and have deep thoughts about the values he set forth. Then there are the people who I think really do this day justice and spend their time doing service work in their communities.

Today will not be a normal blog post. Instead, it’s an independent assignment. Please take some time out of your day to listen to Martin Luther King Jr.’s  iconic speech, and to read a separate piece of literature, the Letter from Birmingham Jail. Today I encourage you to think critically about your world and your life, and the events that are happening in your country.

 

The letter is available here as a PDF

Music to My Ears // What I’ve Been Listening to

I used to be addicted to podcasts. In high school I would set up my playlist and listen for hours while I did my homework, washed the dishes, knit, made dinner. Anything. As a chronic multitasker, I would’ve listened to Podcasts and watched TV at the same time if it were possible.

In my heyday, I was listening to TedTalks, the Moth (picked up from an English teacher), both Scriptnotes and Nerdest Writers Panel (writing shows), and the occasional This American Life. But by far, my favorite was Books on the Nightstand (they have a website)! If you’re into books, give it a listen. It’s also very short for a podcast, around thirty minutes or so, therefore making it a perfect time slot.

But since, I’ve fallen off the wagon. I’m down to two– the handy BOTNS and the legendary Serial. I can’t believe there are still people on this earth who haven’t listened to it, but basically Serial is the podcast that got Making a Murderer on Netflix starter (which, by the way, you can download and listen to as a podcast). It’s an extremely compelling, week by week story of a crime. Each season is completely dedicated to one story. I downloaded the first three episodes to listen on the plane and was hooked, finishing the next nine in the ensuing four days. I listened in my dorm, on the way to class, even at the gym.

That’s just what I’m listening to– I’m sure everyone has different taste. Besides that, however, I think that listening to podcasts just generally makes people smarter. The NPR effect, I guess.

Teeth (Little Flaws)

I go to the dentist and am told I have great teeth. Very clearly I do not have great teeth– no smoking, no regular consumption of coffee, sure, but there is a little snaggle tooth, one canine that is obstinately out of place on the left side. Years of hard well water have stained my teeth an odd yellowish, and remnants of concrete from braces only made the tint worse. Never had a cavity before and for the most part, things look pretty straight. There was the little matter of four wisdom teeth that grew strange and had to come out, but there were no complications with that besides my own intolerance for heavy pain killers.

Anything strong, like Percocet or Vicodin, makes me vomit. I drank nothing but Naked’s Green Machine smoothie for three days. After which, I flew to Philadelphia to attend my college orientation and had to switch to gentle solid food.

We are all just a collection of our tiny flaws. Scratches, bumps and lumps that collect together to make us human. Individuals. We cannot reject these things, because it is to reject a fundamental part of us.

Here’s another example: growing up one of my friends had this terrible dog. Nervous and constantly misbehaving, my friend was the only person who liked him. On some normal day after school or perhaps a weekend afternoon this dog bit me. His teeth landed on my forehead and scraped two different places and millimeters from my right eye. A trip to the emergency room then to a plastic surgeon’s, with whom the doctor on call called in a favor, to have the stitches done.

At the emergency room I was extremely reluctant to give up the dog, because he belonged to my friend. For reasons that are neither here nor there, I regret that now.

The doctor in the emergency room recommended I go to the plastic surgeon because he would be experienced in fine stitches that wouldn’t scar badly. They didn’t, the scars that is. I wasn’t worried that they would or didn’t care. But during the recovery my mother kept asking if I wanted some cream or serum to reduce the scarring. I refused. I saw they as battle scars, and besides, you can only see them if you know where they are. I also got to wear a legitimate eyepatch to school for a week. It did look kind of gnarly before the stitches came out.

We are all survivors of a thousand little incidents. A thousand dings given to us by life. Our bodies and minds show it. What is there to do but embrace it?

What I Want Out of This Semester

My feelings regarding the spring semester are complicated, to say the least. I know now that I won’t be staying in Philadelphia past this year, something that had already affected my motivation. Especially in regards to coming back to Philadelphia at all. But what do I want from this semester, my final at this particular institution? Remember: goals not dreams.

Maintain my 4.0 GPA. It remains, as always, important to me to do well academically. It is also important for my transfer and financial aid prospects. Part of me also wants to prove to my sister that this success is something I can repeat. I worked intensely last semester to achieve this goal and goddammit, I did it! But does it mean anything if I can’t keep it going? Like a scientific experiment, do my results matter if I can’t repeat the steps and get the same result?

Take better care of myself. This is perhaps more of a New Year’s Resolution, but I don’t do those. I want to be a generally healthier person– and this does not just mean losing weight. Hell, I lost some weight purely on accident at the end of the semester, probably because I spent three weeks stressed out and rarely eating. It may sound strange, but I’m a little pissed because my favorite jeans don’t really fit anymore. Just when I was getting comfortable in this body, it went and changed. But being healthy is about not being exhausted going up the four flights to my room everyday. It’s about staying hydrated and giving myself a break. I also want to get back to doing yoga and, cautiously, going to the gym. Especially because I no longer have a roommate and don’t have to worry about anyone walking in on me. My class load is also less, so I know I have time.

Keep up the creative pursuits. This should be easy. I’m more motivated to write these days than ever before, and I’m in the process of writing some essays I think I’m going to be really proud of. They’re stewing around in my brain. I’m also taking a class on the creative suite which should help me get back into art, which I’ve sorely missed.

Bonus Things: Read and listen more (currently reading Capitalism: A Ghost Story and listening to Serial, the first season. Totally hooked). Be nicer to my skin. Floss.

A Lesson in Nostalgia

Or, How I Became Exactly the Person I Didn’t Want to Be

Yesterday I went back to the high school I graduated from, to visit teachers I was very fond of as an Adult. Last June, I swore I would never step in that building again; like a lot of people, I don’t exactly have fond memories of high school. Or do I? Time, even less than a year, does strange things to our memories. Some people can only remember bad things but I always remember the good.

A few days ago, I figured that going to say hi would be a fun experience. But the day of, I found myself incredibly reluctant. Why? Why didn’t I want to go back?

After I graduated, I said to myself, I will not be the person who can’t escape high school. It’s like being an adult still obsessed with their college days. I look at those kind of people with a sort of contempt. Like their live isn’t interesting enough now, so they have to go back to the days when they were happy. I’ve always felt, deep down, that sticking to college or high school means you’ve failed at having an interesting life.

And that’s kind of fucked up.

I don’t want to cling to the last straws of the Good Ole Days (even though they weren’t that good), but does going back to visit my high school mean I’m doing that? Why should anyone even care, why should I even care? Maybe it’s because I’m a different person than who I was in school. Maybe it’s because I desperately want to separate myself from that person. The fact is, high school was a major part of my life– four exploratory, formative years. It’s hard to just walk away from that and quite frankly, no one should feel the pressure to have to.

I told my theater director I’d do him a favor, which meant I had to go back to the school today. It felt like everyone was wondering why I wouldn’t just leave. But they probably weren’t. They probably didn’t even care.