How Trump Uses Social Media as a Means of Directness

Whether or not you think Donald Trump is a good or bad president, it cannot be denied that he has pulled out victories out of what seemed like unattainable depths: the New York Times famously reported that Trump only had a 15% chance of winning the 2016 Presidential Election. However, thanks in part to multiple social media movements and campaigns,  Mr. Trump was able to snag the victory from the favorite yet somewhat electronically silent Hillary Clinton. That’s not saying that Hillary Clinton wasn’t at all active on Twitter; in fact, she averaged twice as many daily tweets as Trump, releasing a whopping 27 tweets per day. Relatively, Trump’s 11 daily tweets seem quite puny. However, it is the infectiously mean and somewhat entertaining quotes that Trump produced that seemed to gain far more traction with Twitter users than anything Hillary tweeted. Though Hillary has the more popular tweet of the two, simply asking The Donald to “delete [his] account” with over 700 thousand likes, Trump immediately pushed back, asking Hillary how many working hours her massive social media force put in to create the tweet, also his most popular tweet of the year with 277 thousand likes. These tweets are so overwhelmingly popular for a reason: they are breaking down formalities in politics. Through twitter, Donald Trump has spearheaded the movement for politics brewing down to a simple shouting match between candidates, a perfect combination of entertainment and brutal discreditation of opponents. Though it is certainly not nice of Trump, and may merit the uproar that his enemies have brought up against Trump’s twitter rampages, it has certainly worked in his favor.

“And What’s the Deal With Airplane Food?”

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Gorgeous “Pasta” Option Courtesy Du United Airlines

 

There is nothing like sitting down in a cramped seat between two people who have no intention of talking to each other for eleven hours. A lot of people say, “Life isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey.” If vacations are like that, perhaps it would be a better idea for me to stay home. 

But a winning bliss of the international airline experience is the food. This food is terrible by almost every means. It is disgusting and processed, drenched with oil, making it greasy in all the wrong places and dry in all the places where even grease would be appreciated. 

Still, there is something mystical about the food, because for me, it cements the idea of being a voyager. Simply sitting for eleven hours may not be the most heroic of actions, but eating hot food that was prepared and wrapped in plastic days in advance for travelers is an experience unique to flying, one that makes me feel like an astronaut. 

In the modern American world, it is rare and uncommon for people to physically struggle (especially in the food sector). Perhaps it is the airplane food that cements (to me at least) that the airplane experience is truly on a different frontier.  And it makes me feel grateful for the food we do have back on the ground. 

 

McDonald’s is Criminally Underrated

McDonald’s is not a restuarant frequently named as a favorite for cultured eaters. 

Perhaps that is why I get exasperated looks or sarcastic remarks whenever I say that McDonald’s is my favorite restaurant. But to me, there is a certain flavor of Americanism and value in each fry, one that is certainly seen in many fast food chains, but one that cannot be topped at McDonald’s. 

The restaurant was founded by Richard and Maurice McDonald in 1933 with the goal of making quality American meals available in seconds, making it one of the first “fast food” restaurants in America. Though it’s San Bernardino location was possible, it was not until Ray Kroc joined McDonald’s in the 50’s that McDonald’s began to grow into the global franchising corporation we know it to be today. 

Today, McDonald’s continues to represent America to the fullest extent. It is the classic American “first job” for bored teenagers and immigrants alike. Each McDonald’s has a special place in each American community because it provides such comfortable and agreeable “first jobs” in a country where such jobs are rapidly becoming less and less available. 

It goes without saying that the food at McDonald’s is not healthy. It never made the claim of being healthy (though recently it has been attempting to rebrand). Morgan Spurlock’s stinkpiece documentary “Supersize Me” has Spurlock’s, a clean vegan, eat only McDonald’s for 90 days, only taking the “Supersize” option when he is asked to by attendants. Needless to say, he vomits, gains weight, and cries. I watched the documentary at age 10, and immediately swore off McDonald’s for years. It was only until recently that I realized how fickle and superfluous Spurlock’s documentary was. 

Of course Mcdonald’s is unhealthy. Of course a clean vegan’s stomach will not appreciate nothing but McDonald’s for ninety days. If anything, Spurlock’s documentary is an advisory tale to eat McDonald’s in moderation – but I think that most people know that already. 

What is beautiful about American capitalism is that after the outrage caused by “Supersize Me”, McDonald’s almost immediately abandoned it’s Supersize size, and moved to rebrand itself, selling salads and making it’s nutrition facts for foods widely available.

That is the amazing inherent Americanism around McDonald’s, it is a money making machine, but one that depends on the satisfaction of its consumers. If that isn’t americanism, I don’t know what it is.

 

Liberal Arts Colleges vs. Research Universities: A Brief Guide.

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Pomona College, a liberal arts college ranked ahead of Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, and the University of Chicago on the Forbes Top Colleges List

Towards the end of the Senior year of high school, it is traditional for seniors to give juniors advice on the incoming application season. Some of us recommend working on essays in the summer, some say that there’s always room for improvement for SATs and ACTs, and some say to just relax and know that everyone ends up happy wherever they go. 

My one recommendation strayed from the norm a little bit; I recommended to apply to more liberal arts colleges. A common misconception among high school students and parents is that a liberal arts college and a student with any interest in STEM do not match, that liberal arts colleges do not accommodate STEM majors and minors. However, this could not be less true. 

The difference between a liberal arts college and a research university is that a liberal arts college focuses on learning in an extremely intimate environment, and on solely a undergraduate level; a research university prioritizes research predominantly for masters and doctorate students, while still providing an undergraduate experience for students with opportunities to research on the graduate level. 

This isn’t a stink piece on research universities. Research universities are fantastic institutions– they serve as the premiere facilities for the advancement of knowledge on a global scale. They also are amazing in the vast opportunities that they provide students to be involved in such research activities. 

But is undergraduate education as carefully nurtured and cared for at research universities as it is at liberal arts colleges? Almost always, the answer is no. A common complaint at research universities is that professors are terrible teachers, that they have clearly only been hired for the purpose of leading research. At top liberal arts colleges, such complaints  are difficult to be found. 

As for the lack of STEM misconception, to some extent it is actually true. At liberal arts colleges, there will most likely be a lacking amount of research opportunities compared to research universities. But if research is not a primary aim of an undergraduate student, in terms of teaching, many liberal arts colleges excel in STEM majors over research universities. Schools like Reed College, Harvey Mudd College, and Carleton College are world-renowned for their mathematics and engineering undergraduate programs. 

 Liberal arts colleges are definitely not objectively better than research universities. However, as a student ponders of which schools to apply to this fall, I recommend to them all to at least not rule out liberal arts colleges.

 

Why The NFL’s “Anti-Kneeling Rule” Isn’t Right, But Is Legal

Recently, the NFL passed a rule that fines players if they choose to kneel during the national anthem. This came after the extremely politically charged action caused a severe drop in ratings of NFL games, and severe rebuke from the President of the United States, who recently disinvited the Super Bowl winning Philadelphia Eagles to meet at the White House due to some members of the team performing the gesture. 

While perhaps forcing players to comply and not raise concerns on the field is not fair to the players themselves, it is without doubt a fully legal motion for the NFL to take. The NFL is not a government-run organization (though its use of penalties and suspensions may make it seem as one), rather it simply serves as a private organization that conglomerates all players and teams. As such, while they do not have the right to enforce fines on players, they do have the right to make the choice of paying fines or being ejected from the league. While they may not have legal authority to force a fine out of a player, they certainly have the legal authority to eject a player from the league. They are further legally backed since each player signs a contract detailing infractions in the league and fines required as a result.  

Many in support of players kneeling during the anthem have argued that the ban on kneeling is flatly illegal, however this could not be further from the truth. Though whether or not is wrong for the NFL to ban kneeling, it is without question that it is legal.

Fun Fact: Money collected from fines is not utilized by the NFL itself. Rather, it goes to former player’s associations that treat retired NFL players who may have been damaged or hurt as a result of the sport. 

 

The Supreme Court’s Decision on the Colorado Cake Case and Why It Should Be Considered a Victory for Both Parties

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Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop

The Supreme Court has recently ruled on the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, 7-2 in favor of the Cakeshop. Though many have argued that this case serves to hurt and allow for further discrimination of LGBT individuals based off religion, the ruling is actually a restrengthening of the first amendment of freedom expression (or lack of expression thereof). 

For those not previously aware of the course, the suit arose after a gay couple referred the owner of a Cakery, Jack Phillips to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission after he refused to create a wedding cake for them. The Commission ruled in the couple’s favor, and Phillip proceeded to sue the commission on the grounds of disruption of his freedom of expression of religion. Phillips argued that the cakes he makes are forms of artistic expression, and as such, he should not be made legally obligated to express himself in a certain way if his religious beliefs make him unwilling to do so. 

The decision can be found here. I highly recommend reading it. In it, Kennedy writes the opinion of the court, insisting that making a cake is a form of expression, not a form of service. As such, Phillips should not be under any legal obligation to express himself in any way, especially if it is against his religion. 

I cannot personally agree with Phillips’ evident homophobia, nor do I personally believe his treatment of the gay couple was fair or logical. However, I believe that everything he did was completely legal. People should not be made to say or express themselves in any way, even if it is discriminatory to not do so. 

For this reason, this is a great reaffirmation of civil liberties guaranteed to American citizens by birth. If such liberties were withheld, America would be taken towards another step towards totalitarianism. 

How Idealism Will Be the Death of Us (And How It Already Has Been)

Google defines idealism as “the practice of forming or pursuing ideals, especially unrealistically.” Generally, in the English language, idealism is considered to be a somewhat optimistic world-view. Idealists are people who hope for the best case scenario – one of the synonyms Google gives for “idealist” is “wishful thinker”. 

So how does optimism and expecting the best cause billions of deaths over the course of humanity, destroy entire races, cities, and religions, and slow the spread of knowledge in the world? 

Simply put, it is because idealists and the practice of idealism do not consider ramifications to their actions. They are blinded by the Utopian best-case scenario to the point where they do not see the worst-case scenario. 

Some of the world’s greatest villains were idealists. Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin, Pope Urban II (the Pope who called for the Great Crusades to begin) are some that come to mind. These men were by no means unintelligent; Lenin and Hitler were both prolific writers and all men were dedicated readers. They all worked with other intelligent people to create theories for the success of the world, and all three dedicated themselves to their respective causes. However, the plans of all three completely backfired. Pope Urban II caused the greatest genocide up until then, and remained as the greatest genocide until Hitler caused a greater one. Lenin thrust his country into a totalitarian regime dominated by elites, the full opposite of what he envisioned.  

I would personally argue that these men were not as evil as their actions seem to speak. Rather, it was their inability to recognize the possible ramifications of their theories and plans that caused hundreds of millions of deaths. 

Successful companies and countries do not have people at the helm who are pure idealists like Urban, Hitler, or Lenin. Even Kim Jong-Un, regarded as the most idealistic and radical leader of any country in the world, displayed a sliver of pragmatism when he called for peace  a few months ago. Still, it cannot be denied that his country is failing and falling apart due to the communist idealism that dominates North Korea.

The future of the world depends on the suspension of idealism, but unfortunately the ideals of communism and extremist religion continue to threaten the well-being of the world. 

Fortnite and the Free-To-Play Model: Why It Works

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Fortnite is without doubt the most popular video game in the world right now- the game consistently attracts the most viewers on the video game streaming platform twitch.tv, and although the game is completely free to download on mobile, console, and PC platforms, according to Superdata.com, Fortnite generated the most digital revenue for any game in April 2018 on Console platforms, and generated the fifth most revenue on the PC platform. Throughout all platforms, Epic Games made $296 million in the one month. The question arises: how can a game that is completely free to play and fully relies on in-game purchases generate more revenue than a game like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) — a game that costs $15 to download, and has a flourishing in-game purchase system as well? (According to Superdata, Counter-Strike was 10th in revenue on the PC Platform.) 

The answer is simple- accessibility. Many people watch and enjoy pros playing Fortnite and CS:GO alike, yet most are more hesitant to play and try the game for themselves if the game requires financial commitment or not. For those interested in Fortnite, stepping into a lobby requires no more than a click of a button. If a user doesn’t enjoy Fortnite, they can quickly uninstall the game with nothing lost but time. 

 

As a result, Fortnite attracts far more players than CS:GO does. While CS:GO’s all-time peak for concurrent players online was 850,000 in March of 2016, Fortnite peaked at 3.4 million users in March 2018. Past then, Fortnite’s creative skins, emotes, pickaxes, gliders, and battle passes make in-game purchases compelling to users, for no other reason than to make their Fortnite avatar look fly

My Plan For Happiness, For the Present and the Future

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Photo from: MIT Sloan (http://mitsloan.mit.edu/newsroom/articles/probing-the-origins-of-happiness/)

A friend of mine recently asked what made me happy. Not the kind of happiness that is temporary and fleeting, but the kind of happiness that leaves a man with a satisfied feeling as he goes to bed. After much thought on the matter, I came to the realization that permanent happiness is not actually permanent; what I must do to continually be happy shifts over the course of my life. 

For this reason, I have decided to make a list of goals, not just for the present me, but for the person I will be in 10 years, in 20 years, and in 50 years. Because to me (and many surely agree), true and permanent happiness is perhaps the most important achievement a person can accomplish in life. Without further ado, here is the list I have concocted. 

For now: 

  • Develop a work ethic. The main way I thought to do this is with a blog, by establishing myself as a daily writer under no necessity. But I don’t want just to be able to blog daily. I want to study daily at college, not just in terms of time, but in terms of efficiency and dedication. 
  • I want to be recognized by others(positively). I am in a group of friends that are extraordinarily talented, dedicated and hard-working people. They are all attending top-tier universities (one form of recognition) and most have literally been recognized for their outstanding contributions to the community in the form of scholarships, awards, and honors. I have not been recognized in almost any of these ways, and it’s because I did not deserve recognition. I would like to earn such recognition and feel like I deserved it as well. 
  • Become fit. I still go to the gym semi-frequently, but I have essentially stopped running all together. This summer, I’d like to start running heavily, perhaps with the goal of running on my college’s cross-country team next fall. 
  • Find more friends. I’m excited for a new chance to socialize with new people as I transition to college and I want to make the absolute most of it. 
  • Become passionate. Find something I am truly passionate about and dedicate myself to it. 

In 10 years: 

  • Find a significant other. I’d like to have a partner in life by then. I have no idea who, what, or how it would be but I believe that would be something I would like. 
  • Work for myself. Create something, head something, rise to the top of something. Whatever I do in the future, I would hate to have to suck up to someone because I’m really bad at doing it. 
  • Be creative. I’d like to maybe keep blogging, or make videos or music. Whatever it will be, I think it would be important to have a creative outlet. 

In 20 years: 

  • Have children and raise them. By far my number one goal in life is this. I believe that nothing will bring me more joy than introducing and educating people of my own blood about the world. 
  • Continue to exercise. 
  • Be widely respected in whatever field I choose to be in. I dream of coming to high school reunions and being regarded as the one alumnus who truly “hit it off”. 

In 50 years: 

  • Stay connected to my children. I would like to treat them well so they come back and treat me well as I begin to die. 
  • Stay especially close with my parents, live near them. I would not like to be separated from them at this time.
  • Continue to have friends. 
  • Meditate and/or other spiritual activity. Though perhaps now it is OK for me to not be in touch with my spiritual identity, I want to definitely revel in it and become familiar with it before my life ends. 

That’s it. If you have thoughts, comments, questions, or anything at all to say, feel free to comment! I will definitely respond to you. 

The Controversy of the “N-word” in Rap Culture

Since the hip-hop/rap genre burst into the mainstream in the 1980’s, general discussion of the “N-word”– its meaning and who can and cannot say the word– has surrounded many music listeners, regardless of race.

Recently, the word and its usage at concerts has been especially a topic of controversy. The question being asked is: if a rapper writes and performs using the “n-word” as part of lyrics to songs, are people justified in simply singing lyrics to a song even if the word is considered to be a slur against black people if used by people are not black. Popular rappers have begun to come out in support of the word being as a part of lyric recitation, but the majority of black rappers who have spoken on the issue declared their opposition to the word being used by anyone except black people. 

Schoolboy Q has often come out in support of people singing any and all of his lyrics at his concerts, here he explains why:

Kendrick Lamar, who is signed to the same label as Schoolboy Q – Top Dawg Entertainment, feels quite differently on the issue: in this now infamous video he stops a white fan from singing because of her use of the “N-word”. 

Kendrick Lamar is perhaps one of my favorite artists of all time. He is truly a master of his craft. But even as a fan of his, I hesitate to support his reaction to the girls use of the “N-word”. It is unreasonable to me to say the least to expect someone to censor themselves when singing the lyrics to the song, especially in the literal and metaphorical heat of the moment. Whether or not the N-word should be used by non-black people is for another discussion, but to me it seems clear that the actions of this girl and anyone singing the lyrics to a song should be considered reasonable and at the very least, excusable.

 

Comments? Questions? Concerns? Suggestions? Literally anything? Write in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you.