Why We Should Avoid Labels

There was a good while where I didn’t know whether the phrase “Don’t label me” was a joke or if it was a serious statement. That phrase would usually come up during situations where people say “Don’t be such an X” or “If you believe that, then you must be X”. For the most part people can say this phrase jokingly, but we can’t ignore the fact that a growing number of people try to avoid labels in some sense. Even if it’s just an attempt for that person to feel unique there must be some validity to this idea.

The main issue with labeling certain ideas is that there is no inherent meaning in the label itself. To illustrate this we can look at two of the most common labels used in politics, the split between liberal and conservative. When I speak of a person who is liberal, I myself have a very specific idea of what that word means. The problem is, the person I’m talking with may have a different conception of what liberal means. For instance, I may have in mind that I’m speaking of classical liberal political philosophy as a whole, while the person I’m talking to may think of being liberal on a specific issue. Even then, if we were to agree on a single definition there will still be confusion. Say that just for convenience we decide to use the Oxford Dictionary definition of liberal:

Favouring individual liberty, free trade, and moderate political and social reform.

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The Value of Comedy

Comedy is often in our lives for reasons we don’t stop to think about. There’s comedic movies, stand up comedians,  television shows, and then there’s just those funny people we like to be around. It feels good to laugh, that’s no secret. In fact there’s actually many health benefits to laughing, but comedy itself also signifies a deeper meaning to the viewer.

Much of the comedy we watch is absurd, wacky, unrealistic, and yet we still love it. Think of some of the popular comedies on T.V. like Family Guy, South Park, Archer, The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, ect. These are all cartoons, having little basis in reality. Other popular shows like The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, The Middle, Parks and Recreation, are sitcoms that have at least some basis in reality. This first group of shows, the cartoons, are in a sense meaningless. That being that they are sporadic, subject to change, don’t follow to concrete story line, and aren’t purposefully set up to teach a message. There are some exceptions to these, but in general these shows are there to make the viewer laugh and forget about reality. The second group of shows, the sitcoms, allows the viewer to enjoy the show as they make jokes about things that are meaningful to them. Things that have basis in reality like jobs, politics, relationships, ect. Read More »

In The Case of Optimism

It seems like the best way to tell if someone is an optimist, is to observe how much they value the idea of optimism. The phrase is popular “I’m not being a pessimist, I’m being a realist.” As if the two are closer together that optimism is. This could reflect the pessimistic attitudes of the culture, or it could just be a sign of one’s age.

Optimism is a curious thing. First of all I’d like to define optimism. It’s no doubt that it is more made up of a chemical makeup of the brain, but it’s also a state of one’s condition. We can accept it as “The feeling of good outcome, even despite evidence to the contrary.” Of course the word ‘good’ being dependent on the person. This definition leaves open to a few types of optimism.

The first type of optimism can be a limited case. This is typically when the individual reassures himself with phrases like “Maybe I will get that new job,” or “that cancer is benign,” or even “Yes, that girl does like me.” These cases or all instances of a specific outcome that brings some kind of good fortune to the person and has little effect other people in society.Read More »

Criticism of the Sanders Campaign

The 2nd Democratic debate last night revealed some interesting things about the Democratic Party. Each candidate had their own moment, for Sanders it was the quote “I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower“, and for O’Malley it was calling Trump an “Immigrant-Bashing carnival barker” and oddly enough for Clinton, it was using 9/11 to justify taking corporate donations. But it was about all that was expected.

Many of the  internet polls after the debate showed Sanders to have won the debate by at least 70%-90%, but many still proclaim for the average viewer that Clinton won the debate. This comes at an unfortunate time, the latest poll shows that in the early voting state of New Hampshire Clinton leads by 21 points, just last months Sanders was leading. The results are similar in Iowa, while Sanders and Clinton were tied at one point, Clinton now leads by over 18 points.Read More »

Aftermath of the Paris Attacks

After the night of fury and chaos in Paris, the world is still dazed. It’s being reported that 129 people were murdered, but with many more still injured and in critical condition. President Francois Hollande called the attacks an “Act of war“. And although the French government has only just begun to identify the attackers (You can read the passport nationalities further down in the Reuters article) ISIS has already claimed responsibility for the attack. It is too early yet to know anything for sure.

This attack comes just months after the ruthless slaughter of the Charlie Hebdo office in France. Using the recent past as a guide, it is possible to make assumptions on the aftermath of the attack.

What was unique about the Charlie Hebdo attack was that since it specifically targeted the magazine, the event sparked a wave of free speech sentiment. But what was typical about it was the jailing of 69 people that spoke differently by the French government, most notably the French comedian Dieudonne. This was mostly ignored. Alongside of this came the rise in right-wing fascist activity in Europe, calling for the removal of Muslim immigrants. Of course a surge of Nationalism took place in many other groups as well.Read More »

Analysis of Luck

The phrase “I’m feeling lucky” is a phrase that is not just misused, but also doesn’t really make sense. In gambling, people often rely on using their luck to guide them through a game, or even worse, to justify entering the game in the first place. People can claim to have either good luck or bad luck, but only when something good or bad happens to them. It takes an analysis of the term ‘luck’ to understand why.

When people do claim that they have good luck, often times it is a mystical claim. The phrase admits that their being is outside of their control, and the forces they claim to provide them with either good situations, or bad situations. If a person loses a hand in poker he may say “Oh I have bad luck,” instead of “Oh, I shouldn’t have played that hand,” the second phrase which assumes the blame to be on the person instead of the idea of luck. One reason people may claim to have bad luck is to shift the blame from themselves to the mystical force of luck.Read More »

Reflections on NaNoWriMo

Starting tomorrow, on November 1st, the National Novel Writing Month officially begins. The goal is for a concentrated month in which participants aim for at least 50,000 words written during that month (even though novels are generally 80,000 words). However, they do admit that the length they choose makes most novels turn out to be short novels or even novellas. Their reason being:

We don’t use the word “novella” because it doesn’t seem to impress people the way “novel” does.

Water for Elephants was written as a result of NaNoWriMo and later went on to become a major motion picture.
Water for Elephants was written as a result of NaNoWriMo and later went on to become a major motion picture.

NaNoWriMo is nonprofit organization and runs largely off donations and sponsors. Their main focus of prizes is simply that winners get the satisfaction of completing their novel, the winners being people who meet the writing goals. There is also a list of other prizes that winners get, such as 50% of the Scrivener writing software and other discounts to writing related perks. Also to boost their credibility they have sections dealing with media coverage of the event and a list of books published as a result of NaNoWriMo. One of the most famous novels published being Sara Gruen’s “Water for Elephants”.Read More »