This is more a personal entry than a political one, but the concept of death has suddenly bothered me without reason. Logically, I understand that death is a part of life, and yet I cannot seem to become comfortable with it. As someone who does not believe in a heaven or life after death, I became bothered by my own logic.
I never believed in fate or destiny; nor have I ever believed that there is some master plan that the cosmic universe has for us. I believe in coincidences, chances and taking action. Do I believed that staying behind now in my 5th year of college was the universe’s way of introducing me to my boyfriend who is the first person I ever fell in love with? No, it was just coincidence that we ended up in the same college my 5th year of school.
He and I were talking about this idea of “fate.” He asked me if I believed in fate or the idea of soulmates. I told him that I did not. He looked at me and agreed; he was pleased to know that we shared the same logical idea that we met by chance. This situation reminds me of a song called “Science & Faith” by the Script. The song is about two lovers; one, who is the rationalist, believes that love is nothing more than the chance of meeting and a chemical reaction in the brain. The other, however, is the spiritualist who believed that the two were destined to be together. In the song, the spiritualist tries to explain to the rationalist that you can try to “break everything down to chemicals, but you cannot explain a love like ours.” To the spiritualist, love is something more than some chemical reaction in the brain, it has a deeper meaning.
Humans in general try to develop deeper and spiritual meaning to things in hope to value them. But does rationalizing love make it any less meaningful? I don’t think so. I love my boyfriend, and I know he loves me whether or not we believe that we were soulmates meant to find each other.
For the longest time, I felt the same way about life. People asked me how I could live without believing that there is a god or heaven. I responded with the same exact answer as I do with love. Does rationalizing death make life any less meaningful? I don’t think so.
I think in general, trying to understand how the universe works logically is an amazing experience and gives it more meaning rather than less. Learning how the universe works was the reason why I chose to study physics and math in college; I wanted to know the answer to why and how things worked. Yet, there is another side to studying science; you have to be willing to accept that there are questions that we have yet to answer or some that we may never answer. For many people, not knowing bothers them and they fill that void with religion or some other form of spirituality, but in science, we are excited to explore these questions in hopes to find an answer.
I brought up of my sudden discomfort with the concept of death with my boyfriend the other night while we were eating dinner. I told him that it bothers me that I am not going to be here one day.
He went on to explain to me that the only people who are going to be affected when I die are the ones who are living because they are the only ones to know.
“Yeah, it’s just hard to accept the fact that one day I’m here and then one day I’m suddenly not.” I responded.
“Why? It’s not like you’re going to know when you die.” He responded.
“And you find comfort in that?” I asked.
“Of course. It’s like before you were born, you had no idea that you weren’t alive, and you don’t miss it. It’s the same when you die. You don’t miss it because you don’t know.” He answered.
“I guess you’re right. I mean, there is going to be a night where I’m going to go to sleep and not wake up.” I responded.
“Exactly, the last thing you’ll remember is a dream.” He reassured me.
I laughed and said “Actually, I won’t recall a dream because there will be no brain activity nor would I recall anything.”
“Exactly, you won’t even recall that you were alive, so you have nothing to worry about.” He reassured me.
I tried to relate it to passing out. I once passed out when I donated blood. Even though, I have donated blood plenty of times before, this time, the sudden change in blood pressure caused me to passed out. The only reason why I knew I passed out was because I woke up; if I never woke up, I would have never known I was ever alive. As I was passed out, I didn’t know I was passed out, I didn’t know that I even existed, and the only ones who knew were the ones that were conscious.
We discussed a little more and came to the same conclusion that just because we rationalize life and accept the fact that death is the end all and be all, it does not make life any less meaningful; if anything, it adds value to life knowing that we only have a limited time to do what we want to do before we die.
Do I accept this rationalization? Absolutely. Am I 100% comfortable with it? Not quite. But you don’t have to be comfortable with something you accept as true. In life, there is always going to be lingering questions and enduring doubts. Uncertainty is a part of life. I try to rationalize this by relating this to quantum mechanics. Schrodinger’s equation allows us to predict the probability of an electron being at a certain position, but will never guarantee that it will be there.
And I think we have to live our lives with the acceptance of uncertainty. We should rationalize what we can, but we have to realize that probability is a part of life. Just like how the probability function of an electron being in space adds up to be 1 meaning that the electron is guaranteed to be somewhere in space, we have to accept that death is also guaranteed.
The uncertainty is not knowing when one is going to die. But, I come to realize that if I live my life worrying about death, I’ll never truly enjoy life. So, to my discomfort, I am going to rationalize that death is inevitable and one day I will not exist. But, as my boyfriend said, why should I worry about death when I know that I won’t know that I’m dead?
During the 2016 Democratic Primaries, a grassroots group called College Students for Bernie was founded by various college students at many different universities across the country in April of 2015 when Sanders made his announcement to run for president.
The group grew faster than anyone could have expected; in the less than a year, the group managed to grow to over 260 established chapters and has been featured in various high-ranking news sites such as The Huffington Post, New York Times, and Cosmopolitan.
After the 2016 election, the founders of the group and College Students for Bernie Organizers decided to remain active by encouraging their chapters to switch to a Young Democratic Socialists chapter or a chapter of Young Progressives Demanding Action, a subgroup of the Progressive Democrats of America. YPDA was established by former College Student for Bernie founders and activists.
For more information about starting a chapter, visit the YPDA Website.
If you’re in college like me, you find that the costs of textbooks at your college bookstore is higher than what anyone who is in college could possibly afford. Colleges and textbook publishers jack-up the costs of textbooks as an extra way to make a profit for the university. Here are some ways you can avoid it.
Consider Renting Your Textbook
Renting your textbook through sites like Chegg can save you a ton of money especially if you don’t plan on reading the book after the class is over.
Buy it used on Amazon
This is the method that I used more often than not. Amazon is a great place to buy used books. For example, for my electronics class, the bookstore wanted $100.000 for a used copy of the book, while I got it on amazon in great condition for less than $5. The only difference? The one on amazon was softcover compared to the bookstore’s hardcover version. If you wish to spend less, see if you can find a softcover version of the textbook. Even then, Amazon used books for hardcovers is still cheaper than the bookstore. I ordered my Biophysics book that the bookstore wanted $120.00 for off amazon in better used condition for $35.
See if you need the book first
On the first day of class, ask your professor if the book is required; your professor will be honest with you. If you don’t need it, then don’t buy it. The best way to save money on textbooks is not to buy it at all if you don’t need it. I have had plenty of gen-ed and 400-level math classes that didn’t require the “recommended textbook.”
Buy from Other Students
Many universities have student-run Facebook groups for buying and selling books. Student will often offer you a great discount, they rather sell the book that was never opened by them to you at like $20 instead of selling it back to the bookstore that only offered them $4. Some students will also accept a trade.
Yesterday, I wrote an article explaining why Hillary Clinton struggled to gain the support of millennials; and as expected, I received a couple hundred comments telling me that I was wrong. I decided to write this article as a response to those comments as I feel that there is a misunderstanding in addition to the ignoring a much larger problem in the Democratic party.
The wording “problem in the Democratic party” may trigger an angry response from those reading this, but before you jump into criticize me, I implore you to hear me out and continue reading this piece. As I mentioned in my last article, I truly believe that Hillary won and should have been our next president, and before I move further into expressing my viewpoint, I would like to reiterate that I voted for Clinton in the general election.
In my last article, I expressed concern about the Democratic party’s attitude towards millennials as “entitled kids who want free college.” I argued that millennials flocked to the Sanders’ campaign as a result of his ability to listen to them; Clinton and the DNC could not grasp this idea. Once I shared this opinion, readers, many of whom were Clinton supporters, began to attack me and millennials as “entitled”, “stupid”, and “selfish.” This is the exact behavior that I was expressing was the issue with the Democrats’ outreach to young voters. I conveyed that millennials felt like their voices were going unheard in the party and that Democratic leaders and candidates such as Clinton patronized millennials by telling millennials that they didn’t understand the issues that they were facing. For example, there were numerous accounts where Clinton told black youth in the Black Lives Matter movement to listen to her trying to demonstrate that she knew the issues better than the people experiencing them.
A common and repetitive response to my article was that the Democratic party would listen to young voters if young voters were inspired enough to vote. Yet, how do you expect to motivate young people to vote for a party that fails to acknowledge their experiences as valid?
Millennials have a bigger goal in mind which is to change the two-party system recognizing that both parties have politicians that are bought and paid for by Wall-street interests. Many of the comments suggested that young people get involved in the party and change the party within; but yet, when young people show up and offer alternative solutions, and are responded to with comments like “you’re too idealistic”, or “you are too stupid”, there isn’t much room for them to get involved. Another common response that I get is that young people should run for office as a way to get involved and change things; the funny thing about the people who make that comment is that they are the same people who tell young people who run for office that they don’t have enough life experience to hold public office. When the response to potential voters who want to be heard is “get in line with what I have to say or get out”, their response is going to be to get out.
Millennials have a different approach to transforming a political system that they disagree with; for millennials, the only way to change the system is to change it from the outside because neither party wants to even consider what young voters have to say, and have provided no space for young people to share their ideas.
As a result, millennials are not as interested in drawing party lines as they are into social justice. During the forefront of the 2016 presidential election, it was millennials who were organizing protests and getting arrested at Trump rallies. In fact, I was at the UIC Trump Rally in Chicago. It was young people who organized over 260 College Students for Bernie chapters across the United States. To say that millennials don’t matter because millennials don’t care enough to vote is exactly the reason why millennials are not inspired enough to vote for a candidate simply based on party affiliation. It was not that millennials were disengaged in politics, it was that millennials were disengaged in a two-party system that didn’t have room or worked for them.
If the Democratic party truly wants to motivate young people to vote for them, then the DNC has to make room for young leaders to take active roles in the party. If you do not let people contribute and feel like they have a voice in the organization, they are going to leave and find an outlet that does.
This post is not to bring down the Democratic party, but rather to provide insight to how we can better recruit members. Constructive criticism should be welcomed. I hope that so many of the party leaders see this rather now than later.
Before I begin this article, this is not to blame Hillary Clinton for the next 4 years of a Trump presidency; because she did not necessarily lose the election for the Democrats; after all she won the popular vote by the biggest margin in history.
This article is however directed towards the securing the future of the Democratic party by transforming millennials into life-long voters for the Democrats.
Democratic candidates have always been popular among the youth especially in the 2008 election with President Obama; but Clinton seemed to struggle with convincing young people to vote for her. Many on Clinton’s campaign tried to tackle her unpopularity with the youth, but were still stumped why so many young people, especially college students, were so unwilling to rally behind her despite Clinton’s move to adapt some of Bernie Sanders’ policies in her own platform. I hope that this article can shine some light and provide some answers to why millennials, even young women, were so contested to campaign for Clinton.
I, like most millennials, voted for Sanders in the primaries; hell, I did more than vote, I helped co-found a national organization in support of Bernie Sanders. College Students for Bernie had over 260 chapters at its peak during the 2016 Democratic Primaries. But, what was it that made Sanders so much more popular among millennials than Clinton?
Political strategists in the media and in the Clinton campaign brushed the large-scale support of Sanders among college students as “entitled kids who wanted free education.” This painting of such a broad brush was the first mistake of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Convention (DNC). In the eyes of millennials, two-party politics was seen as a failed system; and that the blind commitment to one party simply because one saw the other party as worse was an outlandish practice. The DNC expected millennials to adapt their worldview to the platform of the party; while at the same time, millennials expected the DNC to adapt to theirs. The failure of the DNC to open up their platform to the voices of young voters is part of a larger problem within the Democratic party which is known as ‘elite liberalism.’ Instead of listening to the concerns and the problems of young people, Clinton and the DNC tried to tell young people what they thought were the adversities facing millennials. For Clinton, it was easier to scold young voters as “too idealistic and entitled” rather than to consider reshaping her platform.
Listening to college students is what Sanders did best; he didn’t tell young people that they were “too idealistic” because they believed that education was a right and not a commodity, or that healthcare should be guaranteed to all people; he not only truly believed what he was saying, but he was also willing to listen to people; as oppose to lecturing them on what they need.
Last year, I wrote an article criticizing Black Lives Matter activists for interrupting one of Sanders’ rally; and I will be the first to say that I was wrong in my criticism. After talking with Black Lives Matter activists, I truly understood why what they did was important. The most-valuable thing you can do when trying to be an ally to a marginalized community is to listen; and it was after listening that my whole opinion on the situation changed. When interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters, Sanders stepped aside and let them have the microphone because he knew that he as a white man could not articulate the struggles of black youth. Clinton did not seem to grasp this idea; numerous times when she was confronted by BLM activists, she talked-over them acting as if she knew the issue better than the people experiencing it themselves; this is a form of ‘liberal elitism.’
The question still remains to why there wasn’t as momentum from millennials to back Clinton after Sanders dropped on and Clinton adapted his free education plan. The answer is tied into my first point; while Clinton strategists viewed millennials as entitled kids who wanted free college, they were unable to see the bigger picture. For millennials, it was not only important on what you support, but why you support a certain political position. Millennials are more driven by social-justice rather than what is seen as best for the capitalist economy. Clinton argued that tuition-free education would provide students a more sound financial situation and as a result they would be able to invest more into the economy; this may be true, but isn’t the reasoning that millennials were seeking out. Free education was an important issue to young voters because millennials viewed education as a human right rather than a commodity. Millennials could not advocate for adjusting our morals to fit our economic system; instead, it was more important that the economy adjust to our morals.
So my advice to the DNC is this; if you wish to convince young voters to stick with the party, you have to give them a voice in the party and be willing to adapt your platform to your voters rather than expecting your voters to adapt to your platform.
Last night (March 11th, 2016), I had the pleasure of attending the Trump 2016 rally, and taking part in a historic moment in the 2016 presidential election.
I arrived at the rally to see 1000s of people have already shown up to protest. I found my friend who I planned on meeting up with. He and I went around the block to get passed the barricades of police officers, some of whom who were mounted on horses, so we could sneak in line to get into the rally.
While we were in line, there were two young college students behind us. I turned to them and had a feeling that they weren’t trump supporters, I still decided to gauge their interests by asking them why they supported Trump. One of the girls hesitated and then said “umm… because.. He’s going to make America great again.” I then smiled at her and said “You guys aren’t Trump supporters, don’t worry neither are we.”
We entered the building and were stopped for security checks that involved metal detectors and getting patted down. They were search bags and for signs. I had a sign that I hid in my wallet, but as I saw that they started the checking the wallet of the guy in front of me. I quickly grabbed my sign and hid in my pants, knowing that they would not pat me down in that area. *insert winky-face emoji*.
Once all 5 of us were inside, we found seats behind these two trump supporters who were in their mid 40s-50s. They looked at us, and were suspicious. Meanwhile, an announcement came on the loud speaker which said “Attention, if there are protesters here, do not engage the protesters, notify the nearest security guards, and Chicago police will escort the protesters out.” I was talking to my friends, to find out that one of them in front of us has left his seat. I quickly grabbed my friends, and said we need to change seats. So, we did. It was obvious that the guy left to grab security.
Throughout the waiting period for the rally to start, there were Black Lives Matter protesters who were escorted out by police while the crowd started chanting “All lives matter!”
About 45 minutes later, a Trump spokesperson came onto the stage and announced that the rally was postponed. Immediately, half of the people teared up the “Trump 2016 signs” and began cheering. Bernie signs started appearing, and the crowd chanting “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!”.
Trump Supporters and protesters began to rush to the floor that was originally guarded by security. Fights began to break out as Trump supporters who were extremely pissed off started to attack protesters.
The Trump supporters around me began to yell out racist slurs to the black people and mexican people; they were fuming with anger.
As I was being pushed off the floor by police, this one Trump supporter, began to attack protesters and tear up people’s Bernie Sanders signs, he assaulted a young college student, he began to try to take her American flag. As I and others rushed in to get him off of her, about 6 Chicago police officers began to grab people and push them back. They let the Trump supporter keep the girl’s flag, and begin to push protesters out of the building. I approached one of the officers and began asking why he didn’t arrest the Trump supporter. The police officer just told me to keep moving. I refused, and told him that I was not leaving until he either arrest the Trump supporter for assaulting a young women or give me an explanation why. After a few back and forths with this officer, backup of about 4 other officers surrounded me, and they began to push me and continued to push me until I was out of the building.
Once outside, the 1000s of people who were outside has received the news, and were chanting “We stopped Trump!”
Trump supporters still began to attack protesters while the rest of them began to walk back to their car. The surrounding blocks were covered with police and fire trucks, The streets were lit with red and blue flashing lights.
We began to chant as Trump supporters left the rally from the parking garage. “No Trump, No KKK, no racists in the USA!”
Here’s a picture of me right after I was back outside, and I joined other protesters.
The crowd then began to chant “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!”
It was mesmerizing to see thousands of young people to come out and stand up against bigotry in Chicago.
Many people argue that what we did last night was censorship, but in my opinion, it was the definition of democracy. Trump does have a right to speak, but we also have the right to protest his speech, and in the end Trump made the decision not to speak, and not us. Many claimed that we censored him, but it was Trump who censored himself. Censorship would have been denying him the ability to speak in general.
I wanted to recap my own personal story from the rally so those who were not there could see what really happened. It was not us that was violent, it was started by the Trump supporters who were angry that the rally was cancelled.
Originally Published on The Daily Kos on June 25th, 2016
David Ortiz, and Peter LaBarbera released an article and a video of the two of them discussing the threat of homosexuality to masculinity.
LaBarbera founded Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) in 1996, and reestablished it in 2006. LaBarbera and his organization defines themselves as “a non-partisan, non-profit group dedicated to exposing the homosexual-bisexual-transgender activist agendas”
Now, LaBarbera and his group have attacked homosexuality on many fronts, and has compared homosexuals to pedophiles and believed that no one is born gay; however, LaBarbera and his group never uses any scientific information, but only subjective religious beliefs to justify their attacks on homosexuality and gay rights.
LaBarbera and Ortiz has stated that men cannot be masculine or “real men” if they have sex with other men. LaBarbera has stated that “homosexuality is a masculinity crisis.” and that we are “seeing the death of the American male.”
LaBarbera has an odd interests in homosexuality especially in males which can be even called an obsession.
Labarbera, like many right-wing conservatives, often speak of “traditional family values” as their defense of their hatred against the LGBTQ community. To “traditional” conservatives like LaBarbera and Ortiz, masculinity tied in with traditional family values means patriarchy in which men are dominate to women. It is not a coincidence that groups like LaBarbera also call themselves “pro-life” as they strongly have a religious belief that women are inferior to men.
Masculinity is not the only one under attack from homosexual men according to LaBarbera, but femininity is as well. He, once again, is using the stereotype that queer men are feminine, and that queer women are masculine. To LaBarbera, femininity is a submissive relinquish of power, and that any men that portrays any femininity is weak.
This is why the feminist and the gay rights movement often work together, because homophobia is an attack on women as much as it is an attack on gays and lesbians. Because to homophobes, femininity and feminism is what they are really threatened by; this is the exact reason why many of these right-wing groups with use words like “tradition” and “family” to set up a stage where they can reference a time where men were in charge of the households, and where women were left out of positions of power.
LaBarbera and Ortiz go on to suggest that “America can not be a masculine country if we support homosexuality” which only shows that their mission is to not only limit the rights of queers, but women as well.
The only threat to masculinity advocates like Ortiz and LaBarbera is the end of patriarchy that still exists in our society. Even today, women are paid 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes, women are the ones who have to worry about being raped, women are the ones that have a harder time moving up in to higher positions in the workplace, and women are the ones who are pressured to look their best to be attractive to men.
LaBarbera and Ortiz later in the interview go on to talk about the “gay agenda” push for “sexual freedoms.” Like always, conservatives often exaggerate their claims and insist that the gay rights movement and the feminist movement want it so pedophiles can be free to do what they want, and that people are free to have sex in public.
The real “sexual freedoms” that the two movements push for is the right for women to make their own health decisions, the right to marry, the right to have the resources to practice safe-sex.
Masculinity and femininity are not under attack, they are simply becoming less important values in our society which has allowed people to express their true selves more, and not feel like they have to fit in with the traditional gender roles that people like LaBarbera and Ortiz advocate for. With the decline of gender roles and limitations has come opportunities for our society to advance elsewhere by opening career doors for women and safer schools, hospitals, and communities for those who identify has queer or transgender.
So I say to you Peter Labarbera, realize that you’re need to defend masculinity is the real harm to our society.
You can read LaBarbera’s article here.
Originally Published on the Dailykos on May 14th, 2013
During the presidential election, many candidates in the Republican Party promised to enact a fair and such a simple tax system that it would fit on the back of a post card. Republicans, like many Libertarians, like to propose a flat-rate tax where everyone pays the same percentage of their income and that would be considered the “fairest way of taxation.”
The ideology of a flat-rate tax may seem perfect on the surface to many people, but when you look at it a little deeper and examine some statistics, you will find that a flat-rate tax is another scam that benefits the rich who will pay less taxes and will only hurts working-class people.
If you haven’t noticed already, America has the highest, and I mean highest, wealth inequality in the world. In 2007, the richest 1% of Americans owned about 35% of the nation wealth, and I can guarantee that in 2013, it is much higher. If you were to add the next richest 4% of Americans and take the wealth of the richest 5% of Americans, the amount of the nation’s wealth that they own climbs to about 62%.
From an ethical viewpoint, one must ask themselves, do the top 5% of Americans work so hard that they deserve 62% of the nation’s wealth? If all of the workers that they hired who created that wealth suddenly left, would those 5% of Americans be just as rich? The reason why I explain this is that a flat-rate tax would work well if everyone made the same-amount or at least close to the same amount of income. However, since America has the highest wealth inequality in the world, our tax structure should reflect that.
We all hear about the deficit and ask what went wrong. What went wrong was this: We put in policies that allowed the wealthy to exploit the working-class and force so many into poverty. We cut taxes on the wealthy and as the working-class got poorer, we saw less taxable income from them as well.
The reason why a progressive tax structure works best is that it bases off someone’s ability to pay. For somebody that makes $25,000 dollars a year compared to someone that makes a million dollars, a tax rate at 10% is more damaging to their ability to survive off their income than someone who makes a million dollars. For example, after taxes (with a 10% tax rate), it is hard to survive on $22,500 compared to $900,000. (I created an example below)
An effective way would to tax those who make over 60% of the nation’s wealth pay based of those statistics, shouldn’t the people that own 60% of the wealth, pay 60% of the taxes? Even with a progressive tax structure, the wealthy can still survive and have money left over to invest. In the image above, I gave the example of tax-rate of 0% on the working-class person that makes $25,000 dollars a year and a 50% tax rate on someone who makes $1,000,000 dollars a year. The person who makes $25,000 year may be able to survive and the person who makes $1,000,000 dollars, and pays 50% in taxes is still able to survive off of $500,000 comfortably.
Middle-class and working-class people are what stimulate economy because many are forced to spend the majority of their income on needs such as food and housing. Allowing them to keep more of their income, allows them to spend more which will increase the economy and the nation’s GDP.
Realizing the wealth inequality and the fact that middle-class and working-class people are what stimulate the economy, it should be at no shock that as wealth-inequality increases, the strength of the economy weakens.
Until Corporations and their CEOs pay their workers a living wage, and give up part of their income, they should be responsible for making up the taxes that many people are no longer able to pay. Because many companies like Walmart, pay such a low-wage that the taxpayers are forced to subsidize Walmart’s greed through welfare, and then those big-shot CEOs go on TV and complain that they have to pay taxes and criticize those who rely on social services like welfare to survive. The average Walmart cost taxpayers $400,000 per store.
When it comes to the idea of a flat-rate tax structure, you must ask yourself. Is it fair for someone who makes less than 1% of the nation’s wealth to pay the same amount in taxes than someone who makes 40% of the nation’s wealth? My answer is simply no.