The Louis situation

Apr 19, 2018

The three western modes of persuasion are as follows: ethos, pathos and logos. When even these ceased to effectively communicate an issue, I turned to a rock. David himself beat Goliath from the simple slinging of one to the temple. I’m not one to resort to such violence, but solve my problems other ways. So please, listen to my tale involving a pet of the week section and a rock named Louis.

I imagine a little context might be helpful. The Missourian, more often than not, publishes a “Pet of the Week” in its weekly diversion section. While this seems harmless enough, I fostered a pit of disdain for it. Not for your pet “Sparkles,” but for what “Sparkles” represents.

Not only were the facts about the animal superfluous beyond reason, they were taking up the space for what could have been left to promote one of Maryville’s sheltered or roaming animals. If you live in Maryville, you are aware of our vast array of roaming animals, cats in particular, if you live on campus. “Sparkles” represented the most heinous act that the diversions section has committed itself toward todate: willful ignorance of the truth.

So getting back to the story, I offered up my opinion to the newsroom in one of our weekly critiques. This fell onto deaf ears, and after much agitation of pets flooding our weekly newspaper, I had had enough. It was time to plan. It was time for a liberal dose of sarcasm and mockery. It was time to find a rock. It was time for Louis.

It took weeks to locate the rock, I spent much of my free time wandering local trails to find the right one. The googly eyes came faster, for Walmart had supplied them. The rock I chose was one that was sitting on top of a log. The question I kept asking myself was how it managed to get on top? Sentience was the only explanation. Thus, Louis, my beloved rock, was born.

I took it home, washed it off and moved along with my plan. In maintaining honesty, I kept my rock in my pocket for the remainder of two weeks. The pact between me and it grew over time. It became a real genuine friend of mine. I needed time to sit on my nest egg.

When the time came, Louis and I took our shot. With an email sent, and a smile across both of our faces, our plan was in motion. The individual responsible for the section replied willinging to our email, and accepted Louis as the pet of the week.

With all the cards laid out on the table, it was my turn to write the final piece of the puzzle. The long wait is over and I can officially say what I’ve wanted to say all semester. The effort sent forth putting a picture of a rock with googly eyes into the newspaper has been greater than that of promoting a weekly shelter animal.

Published April 19, 2018 @TheMissourian

Protest for tomorrow, today

Mar 29, 2018

Change is deeply unsettling, no matter how you look at it. We all go through it at some time or another. Regardless of who you are, it is hard to accept. I am here to tell you that each of us is capable of momentous achievement by being even the simplest proponent of change. Protest is an ultimately effective form of this, shown time and time again.

Every era of humanity brings with it great times of turmoil and political unrest. Opposing sides clash, untimely feuds ensue, feeling are hurt, lives are lost but, most importantly, we progress from where we were last. When human lives band together to change something they feel needs adjusting, it is hard not to consider their cause. As of recent, this is happening again, just as it always has and will continue to do so.

Lives are meeting unfortunate ends at the hands of those holding the trigger, leading to smoking barrels and unloaded ammunition. While the culprits of these atrocities are known to the public, citizens of America cannot come to a consensus to what specifically is to blame.

Protests such as the nationwide walkout, March 14, and the more recent March For Our Lives, March 24, gave groups with an opinion a voice. Luckily, these were carried through with a sense of poise and were, for the most part, peacefully executed. The sad truth is not every movement for change transpires with as much grace as we might hope them to.

There are multiple sides to every issue, but sadly most Americans believe there only to be two. This creates greater tension on both sides to be right, as there is rarely middle ground. For example, the liberal left wants to constrict gun ownership to a certain degree while the conservative right wishes their gun rights to stay to the same- open. To be honest, I couldn’t care less about which side you are on because the majority of shared opinion is congruent with only two opinions, the rest is usually not heard. This is not to say that it can’t, but it is wise to understand what we have to work with.

I have always thought that it is better to try, and then fail, than to never have tried at all. This is an abstract that we can assuredly apply to protesting. When you have an opinion about an obvious, or not so obvious, wrong you see in society you should make that grievance heard. We need to reevaluate how we are communicating with each other. If you do not speak up, who on this earth will, if not yourself? I am sure you have heard this more than enough times, but there is a reason behind that too.

I wish I could sit here and tell you that everything can be solved by protesting, but I would be lying to you. It won’t fix everything, but it’s definitely a start. You are the change, not the protesting. No matter which side you align with, fight for what you believe in. If you disagree with the other side, make your voice heard. Living inside of an echo chamber is hell.

Society is to blame for mass shootings, gun problems

It has come into immediate attention, as things usually do when a hot-button issue resurfaces and people suddenly realize its importance, that Americans everywhere are in disagreement about practically everything.

The trend as of late is gun control, and man-oh-man is it reigniting the passions of the every-so-often opinionated individual. Other popular issues of this nature include places where people can live, who gets the biggest cut of U.S. currency and which sedatives we’re allowed to put in our bodies to forget about the former issues.

A new bill is running through the Missouri legislature now that would allow school districts to designate faculty to carry concealed weapons with them, in that they would have a concealed carry permit and train with the Department of Public Safety.

To put it plainly, we live in an overly-excited, overstimulated and overtly-expecting society. A fine example of this would be getting worked up about a subpar performance of the national anthem, while watching it on a flat-screen TV, knocking back another cold Mountain Dew. At the very least, it is important to be aware of yourself before tackling any big issues about society.

How can we hope to pursue serious issues involving the rights of issues to protect each other if we cannot protect ourselves from the folly of exacerbated feelings towards celebrities?

We could spew the obvious diatribe, “Don’t fight fire with fire,” and even the self-righteous anthem of gun-toters everywhere, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” but we’d be missing the main point. We’d be serving abstract concepts in a literal world. We would not be doing the issue the justice it deserves.

The fact of the matter is school shootings are becoming ever-so-increasingly present, and more importantly, innocents are being killed. This is an issue. This is a cause for concern. This needs to be addressed with a certain clarity of mind.

Let us imagine for a brief second a world in which teachers have the capacity to carry concealed weapons, for the due purpose of protecting their students. Let’s imagine a school shooter decides they want to arm themselves to the gills with weapons and explosives to injure the lives of those they attend school with.

Now pause, imagine this same world again. Imagine its news populated with hate, suffering, and catastrophe. Imagine the inhabitants of this world upset and disdainful for how things are. Finally, now, imagine an individual terribly sick of the world around him with a thought that he had nothing to lose.

Problems society faces don’t magically spring out of nowhere, they happen for a reason and most times in ways that have been unknowingly piling up. The problem here isn’t guns or mental health. It is the society that has forgotten to check up on itself. School shootings aren’t the problem; they are but a symptom.

The problem here is our current society.

College students need to paws on owning pets

University is a beautiful place for personal fulfillment and growth. This, however, comes at the price of busy weeks and often hectic weekends. That being said, University is not the place to take care of other living creatures, other than perhaps that friend who drinks a little too much.

Okay, sure, ‘Sparkles’ is probably the cutest cat on the block, but factoring in physics lab, U.S. history reading and the English essay you’ve been meaning to write, Sparkles is most likely thoroughly depressed from a lack of attention. There is no way a college student can balance work, school, friendships and Sparkles’ well-being.

You might be thinking to yourself, ‘Well, of course I can,’ with an upset scowl on your face resembling that of Sparkles when she doesn’t get to play with her favorite toy. Let me be the first to tell you, I know my opinion is unpopular with the rise of emotional support animals. I understand their importance to some people, but I fail to realize how adding another component of stress in your life will make it any easier.

As students, we don’t have the time to tell Sparkles not to piss on the curtains. More than this, we don’t have the money to get them replaced either. Tight budgets might mean you can’t quite get the medical care for your pet when they need it, or worse yet, can’t do laundry that week because your paycheck came in late.

It still unsettles me that people are fine with leaving their pet, more likely than not, in a small apartment all day long while they go to classes, chat with friends and socialize. Imagine what your precious Sparkles gets to do. Have you ever been to prison? It’s kind of like that, but with more pillows to rip open.

Taking in a pet is a long-term commitment that I simply don’t believe most college students are ready to undertake. If you can barely plan for what’s ahead of you in the scope of what’s for dinner on Saturday night, how can you plan for when your pet decides to rip your roommate’s geology notes apart. My point is that you wouldn’t be able to, and that’s a problem.

Yes, pets can be a great asset to your life. Yes, pets can provide love and companionship. Yes, pets are sometimes preferred over human interaction. But, in this stage of our lives, can we really say they are allowing us to truly succeed? Furthermore, are we giving them the best care we could possibly give?

Our fine campus is blessed with roaming cats that can be seen doing all sorts of cat-related activities. My recommendation: take solace in these furry friends, and be mindful of the effects negligent animal care can have on your favorite pet.

Starbucks: now selling narcissism

I find myself many mornings at the mercy of a line leading to my favorite caffeinated drink. The horrors I have witnessed within that line have made me rethink my entire Starbucks experience.

Between the technological phone glare reflecting off every bored expression present and the sickly smell of morning breath in the air, I find myself at a loss as to why I am even present. Then I remember why I came, and I look down at my phone hoping that liking another cat video will make my morning more bearable.

I see Becky talking to Brittany about why Brian never picks up his phone to hear about Becky’s friend’s baby shower while their barista types in a BOGO deal to sedate their moral anguish with coffee beans. This all seems too absurd to be anything close to real. I convince myself that the coffee will fix my annoyed state of mind.

The person behind me sneezes and I brace for what I’m sure to be the plague. Immediately, the whole crowd, in a drone-like fashion, turns to look at the infected and all shift a little away. This is the most life I’ve seen in anyone all morning.

I’m closer now and I hear someone complaining about how their caramel macchiato didn’t taste right before another barista patiently explains to her that she’d asked for a double pump of espresso, too. The espresso wasn’t helping anyone in the situation, especially not me. The vain nature of the Starbucks line rattled my decaf brain to beyond boiling.

The person in front of me fumbled through their pockets looking for loose change, I hated them in this moment because this would be me seconds later. Through this hatred I came to a realization, Starbucks was quite literally pulling me apart. I had been made to loathe people in common, everyday situations, yet still participating in them as they did.

It was my turn now. I paid for my drink and sat down. Now waiting, I realized what addiction and overstimulation could do to people, myself included. The red screen that had only moments before represented my view of the world subsided. My cup came into focus as my name was called and all felt right again.

Legal drugs can have huge effects on people that don’t understand their consequences. Businesses like Starbucks profit off of this ignorance and sell it in a heat-sealing cup. While we all have vices, I feel caffeine tends to be a common go-to for college students.

I left, gripping my cup, knowing still that I’d be going back tomorrow. I fear that even through knowing that fact, Starbucks has us in a position to where we couldn’t care less. They’re playing the biggest game of cat-and-mouse with our brains. I’ll let you guess who the cat is.

People need to look up to the stars

Humankind’s journey through existence is one fraught with so many obstacles that seem only to pile up, almost ceaselessly, until there seems nowhere really left to turn. However, one frontier, as fantastic and unfathomable as it may be, waits -for us- to be discovered.

On July 20, 1969, almost 7 years after humanity  made it to space, Neil Armstrong stomped the first footprints to have ever grace the moon. Maybe his footsteps were not as expansive as the 2,500 km long crater found on the far side of the moon, but they acted as a symbol for the capacity of human achievement.

Humans, and the pre-human equivalents, have inhabited the earth for as long as any of us can remember and we have learned to adapt and grow with our surroundings. With our ingenuity and ever-growing minds, we have achieved crafting mountains out of molehills. There is no doubt in my mind that we have conquered this earth, reigning in at the very top as the dominant species, but at what cost, and to what ends? What can we do next, if the next obstacle is too high to hurdle?

Can we pull any wisdom out of the phrase, “Do not bite the hand that feeds you,” as we continue to bore holes into the earth to extract materials that won’t be available again for millions of years? This isn’t to say that our society could do without, but it is healthy to recognize our faults as a growing species, literally.

NASA’s budget for 2018 fiscal year comes in at $19.1 billion, and in an outline describing how Congress wants that money spent, “Increased cooperation with industry through the use of public-private partnerships, focuses on the nation’s efforts on deep space exploration rather than Earth-centric research.”

The corporate figurehead, Elon Musk, the genius behind Tesla and Spacex, is hard at work at not just slowing down the rate at which we spend valuable earth resources, but is furthering humanity’s capacity to physically explore the universe beyond our moon. He’s playing the long-term game, leaving a legacy for himself and hopefully a chance for humanity to survive what’s headed for us next. We need to recognize the importance in what he’s doing and start thinking ahead.

Perhaps destruction isn’t just around the corner, but time, in terms of a human life, is less than a blink of the eye to the universe. Doing what we can now, with what we have, while we have it, is absolutely imperative and is what we should be doing anyways.

In the words of Carl Sagan, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

Published February 8, 2018 @TheMissourian