Friday, December 30, 2011

She's such a slut (by anon)

A man sees a man and woman walking intimately down the street. He says with a disgusted look, "That's the third guy I've seen that girl with in the past month. What a sleaze." Ironically, the same man who speaks these words of contempt for the multi-partnered woman, has had at least 3 different partners in the past few weeks himself, yet he thinks nothing of it.

Let's get one thing straight - this has sexual inequality written all over it. The man who has multiple sexual partners in a short amount of time is significantly more moral, praise worthy, and just than a woman who is believed to do the same. The irony HERE is that (based on what I’ve heard), in many cases, the woman has emotional interest, while the man does not (i.e., she wants a relationship, he wants sex). The ironic part - emotional interest is a cause more worthy of the act of sex (IMHO), and thus, it is counter-intuitive that the man is practically congratulated while the woman is condemned, even though she has not acted purely out of the desire for physical pleasure, but rather out of some kind of loving feeling as well.

Now I know this kind of thing might not profusely occur between men and women, but it does happen. And for any woman, one man is enough to harm her psychologically this way, and there’s always men who will collectively high five the guy who scores the most and outcast the woman who "scores" just as much. The truth is, men “get some”, while women lose some. Sexual privilege only goes one way, and it's no wonder there are inequalities between men and women. We see the effects of this problem in the media (commercials, magazine ads, etc.), as women are told that they must be sexually attractive, and are only valuable in so far as they are considered sexual objects. It's because we have this messed up way of viewing sex – that men get it, and women provide it. This is why, for example, we don’t see men portrayed sexually as much in ads – sex was never meant to be “for” women, thus showing men as sexual objects for women, is rather unthinkable in a male dominated society (luckily, we seemed to have progressed a little in this aspect).

So although a woman is a free and single individual who chooses to behave similarly to a man, she is more likely to become the outcast and a devalued person, and she’s more likely to acquire a bad reputation, or be considered immoral and un-datable. Furthermore, she may find it difficult to have meaningful relationships, retain confidence, and be comfortable with who she is. So while she loses respect, gets thought of as a "slut" or whatever, and is mocked and jeered at by her fellow peers, a man who interacts with his counterpart in a similar fashion as she, gets away unscathed (and is even praised) for what he does.

Of course, I'm generalizing here, and I know there are situations in which people are open, accepting, and non-judgmental, and I know there are situations in which people condemn men just as much as women for "promiscuity" or whatever, but the fact still stands – men and women, in general, experience different social consequences for the same behavior, and the reason is sexual inequality. It’s about time we get rid these social consequences for everyone, or at least impose them on everyone, whichever one we can work out the easiest (I’d assume the former - OR, I suppose we could all just choose to ignore society and the psychological harm it inflicts on people. Yeah that might work better.).

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Profs, do you actually think about how you grade? (by MaryBelle)

Professors do not seem to fully understand what grades “are” or why grading criteria are important to thoughtfully develop.  Since there are some faculty members who read this blog, I thought I would outline some specific issues. 

Also, this makes me really mad or something.  Grr.

So what “are” grades?  Grades are essentially a currency that every professor gets to personally design (within certain limits that I’m not entirely aware of).  They are an obvious motivational tool, but they’re also the most clear-cut and objective signal a student can receive regarding their performance in a particular class. 

What do these “signals” accomplish?   Like all communication, they impact behavior–in this case, we’re mostly referring to the amount of time spent preparing for a course, studying methods chosen, and so on.  

This behavior is important–or we assume it to be.  I mean, if you’re not a professor who believes that the way your students interact with you and their coursework is important, I suppose you should just stop reading.

Finally, I wonder if anyone would dispute that the best behavior educators can possibly encourage is the learning of course-relevant skills and information that will ideally have an ultimately positive effect on students’ lives for the foreseeable future.

So we have these four bolded ideas that I feel are rather inoffensive and that almost everyone can agree to.  Restated:

1)     Grades are an effective method of communicating performance in class
2)     Communication impacts behavior
3)     Behavior is important, and influencing it is of considerable relevance to the idea of education
4)     The behavior educators should most encourage is the learning of important, course-relevant information

“Therefore,” professors should take their grading systems seriously as tools that directly shape learning.  And some of them probably do! 

I just think they kind of suck at it.

I’ve been talking somewhat abstractly for a while, so enough of that—here are some concrete mistakes I’ve seen made, repeatedly, over my years of schooling.   These aren’t… really huge deals or anything, and they might even be considered “best practice” for all I know.  But if you’re going to take grading systems seriously as useful communication and reward tools that make meaningful differences in our lives, maybe you should be thinking about them anyway:

Unforgiving scales.  “Unforgiving” in the sense that past failures are, in virtually all courses, treated with equal weight to present successes.  This is off-putting for a number of reasons, the most important being that improvement is really super cool and is nothing if not evidence of that “learning” thing we were talking about before.  I had a statistics professor who shifted people’s grades up at his discretion based on improvement trends.  Seemed to work fine!

“Secret” grades.  This mostly manifests itself in the form of participation scores, which are “hidden” until the end of the semester (at which point it’s obviously far too late to do anything about them).  This can reach an extreme in certain courses that actually provide no objective feedback, ever.  Neither of these is a totally invalid way of teaching, but they’re both fundamentally unsettling in a way that demands a greater level of trust between professor and student than normal.  If you don’t have that, or if you’re just not willing to put in the time, then please just show me my grades so I know where I stand whenever possible. 

Nitpickiness (for lack of a better term!!).  It totally makes sense to point out errors in a student’s work—even tiny ones or ones based on ambiguous guidelines (which is a topic for another day).  That doesn’t mean you have to dock points for every little Excel formatting error, though.  Some students—good ones!—will see those lost points, conclude that you care too much about maybe-slightly-impertinent things, and proceed to grind the next assignment beneath their heel in an hours-long perfectionist studybinge.  You’ll love the final result, but it isn’t really useful for fulfilling (4).  If anything, intrinsically motivated students may become deflated or bored by this sort of unnecessary enforcement of minor details (hi!). 

This is all just scratching the surface, of course—I could go on about the numerous design issues plaguing the classes I’ve attended (even the good ones!) for hours and hours, and even the items listed above are simplified to the extent that I’m fairly dissatisfied with them.  But the ultimate idea here is that “designing grades thoughtfully is important.”  Hopefully I’ve demonstrated that.  Grrr.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thinking the Unthinkable (by anon)

“We think we can think of anything.”  That’s not true.

While sitting around in pj’s on Christmas, sometimes conversations turn to pyramids, crop circles, virtual simulations, and aliens.  Ok, not everywhere and not often, but in my house, it’s not improbable.  A bunch of us pondered different arguments and explanations for seemingly unexplained phenomena, and then a person uttered this sentence, “It’s possible that there is something out there that is incomprehensible.”  Being the person that I am, I responded, “You mean, not fundamentally incomprehensible such that it is literally the ‘unthinkable,’ right?”  The reply from the other person was, “Yes, that is exactly what I mean.”  And the person was ardent that that was what he meant.

But, no, that is not what he could have meant.  From my thinking (as well as should be from everyone’s thinking), no one can meaningfully say, “It’s possible that there is something out there [in the universe] that is fundamentally unthinkable.”  It is literally nonsense.  Of course someone can actually utter the sentence.  I just did.  But it is another matter whether the sentence is meaningful or not.  Not everything we utter has to be meaningful, contrary to popular opinion.  I say this purely on the grounds of the limits of language.  I don’t care at all about what is actually in existence or not.  This is a matter of linguistics.

Here is my argument.  We can only meaningfully talk about that which we can possibly think.  The limits of what we can say (meaningfully) are the limits of our thought.  Thus, if there is something we cannot possibly think about, then we cannot talk about it.  To say that there is something fundamentally unthinkable means that it is not possible that we can ever meaningfully talk about it.  In fact, the previous sentence I just wrote would be rendered nonsensical since I’m trying to talk about “something” that I cannot possibly talk about since I cannot talk about it.  We, as humans, are always already mired within the confines of our languages, concepts, categories, and rationalities.  That which we can think must be a function of our rationality.  Thus, EVERYTHING we can possibly think of MUST be clothed with our concepts.  Therefore, to postulate that there could be something fundamentally outside our rationality such that we would never be able to understand it, comprehend it, imagine it, attach any concept to it, differentiate it from anything else, or even call it an “it” (since that entails the concept of differentiation) is a direct contradiction.  It would be saying, “I can think about something unthinkable.”  But if something is fundamentally unthinkable, then one cannot think of it. Period.  We cannot overcome the bubble of our human rationality.  To think so would be like thinking that once can think of a square circle coherently – but no matter how hard one tries, it is always a contradiction.

Do I think there are things in the universe that are fairly incomprehensible?  Sure.  But if those things can be identified as “things” in some sense, then they are at least minimally comprehensible (as things).  Are there things beyond my own awareness?  Yes, but such a question misses my point (even though it was the question that kept being asked of me).  My point is that there are limits to what we can say meaningfully.  Just as the existential question, “Why is there something rather than nothing at all?” is literally meaningless as stated because we can never comprehend absolute nothingness, so too can we not think that which is postulated to be absolutely unthinkable.

There are certainly many things in the universe we do not understand, and the seeming intent of the initial statement was to relate that.  But when pushed for preciseness, please refrain from saying something nonsensical.  After all, we want to remain intelligent creatures :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Profs who drove me crazy! (by anon)

Seeing as we had a blog about our favorite students of the semester let's follow up with one for the professors!  Here it goes...

This is to the prof(s) who...
1. kept the classroom below 70 so at times it was too cold to focus
2. interrupted class numerous times to reprimand the student(s) who were on Facebook, phones, etc. because they were a "distraction" to the rest of the class, even though I'm pretty sure the prof was just pissed, because the only real distraction was the prof taking time to even acknowledge these students (students who, i might add, wouldn't even have been in class in the first place had it not been for the overly strict attendance policy)
3 told the class of seven on the day before thanksgiving that we would all get extra credit for showing up - in  "heart" (so not for real) - and then reluctantly let us go fifteen minutes early when we ran out of things to do since the entire class was a planned "workshop" and not a real lecture even.
4. gave the evil eye to students who got up and left in the middle of class
5. let the class discussion get out of hand
6. let the class discussion get nowhere
7. scolded the class for not responding to questions that everyone obviously knew the answer to, didn't even understand, or didn't know the answer to because no one actually read (or remembered what was in) the forty pages assigned for that day
8. took forever to return graded work, never posted grades to D2L, and took at least 24 hours to respond to emails
9. showed up late more often than the students did
10. always hinted that we were not as smart Madison students

The point: take a hint, professors, if you find that you have done any of the above, and try to make class more enjoyable for next semester, if possible, because these things contribute daily to the overall attitude, mindset, and feelings in general toward not only you the professors, but also everything else about your class.

Well I'm sure other students had many more experiences with professors this semester that are worth griping about (and worth disclosing to the professors out there)...and we know those student evals don't always allow for such comments so.... Let's hear it now!

Friday, December 23, 2011

I'll take seconds please! (by anon)

I have a sincere issue with a problem that has been recently brought to light and dubbed “Double Dipping.” “Double Dipping” refers to government retirees that receive a pension, yet soon after pocketing some money, decide to go back to work and receive the same pay as they did prior to their retirement, in addition to continuing to receive their pension payments. Even worse, there have been at least 30 cases of government workers not only returning to work after they began to receive their pension, but went back to the same pay AND are building credit for a SECOND pension. Thankfully, an ordinance was passed today that restricts future occurrences of devious thieves taking advantage of what so many others aren’t even fortunate enough to get – a pension, not to mention TWO! The ordinance states that a retiree receiving a pension is allowed to return to work under the condition that the total of their new salary and pension is equal to, or less than, the salary they had when retiring.

As I mentioned above, it is great that there is now a method of preventing this from happening in the future, but what about those who are still receiving these benefits? Sure, I commend them for working and earning a pension, but allowing them to continue this absurdity is appalling and needs to be stopped.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The students who drove me crazy (by anon)

I’m graduating in may and I’ve had many classes with many students.  I’m bio.  In bio we get a lot of different students and I suspect most majors do.  A lot of the students were good students.  Meaning that they tried to do well and respect other students and the teacher.  But there’s a lot of students who drove me crazy.  Here’s my list.  Feel free to add.

1.     The snorer in gened 390.
2.     The fucked up hair guy who thought he was god’s gift by being condescending to everyone else
3.     The person who said whatever he thought in class regardless if it was on topic
4.     They girl who kept getting upset under her breath when she lost at Angry Birds. wtf
5.     Or the guy who played some risk game the whole time on his laptop
6.     The student who seemed to refuse to take a shower.  It didn’t matter how far I sat away from him.  He stank.
7.     The older guy who couldn’t think to save his life.  I don’t understand how some people think.  He should never open his mouth.  Ever.
8.     The brown noser who always went to the teacher after class to compliment something about the class.
9.     The guy who was always trying to impress this girl by being incredibly dorky all the time.  Don’t you get it.  She didn’t want you to sit next to her.
10.  The dumbass student who always had to answer every damn fucking question first.  That arm shot up like her hand was on fire.
11.   The student who always asked for the teacher to slow down on the ppt so that she could finish taking notes.  Write faster.
12.  Students who clearly have fake accents.  You know who you are.
13.  Jocks who act like they grace us with their presence.  Then sleep the whole class.
14.  The guy who walked into class 30 minutes late almost every day.  Nice.
15.  The girl who wore too much perfume.  The shit’s strong.  Use water to wash yourself, not the perfume.
16.  Too cool to take my shades off inside guy.
17.  Too cool to take my ear buds off guy and girl and other girl and other guy.

There’s more I’m sure but I can’t remember right now.  My point.  My point is that for those of us here to learn.  I mean really learn.  Some students need to get their act together because you drove me crazy.  I wish it was just me and the teacher, but I guess that would be weird.  I know that I could have ignored a lot of those students, but be real.  They bugged you too.  Some bad apples can spoil a class.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Violence, violence, everywhere (by Satyagraha)

Hello everyone. Violence is everywhere in today's society.  But what is violence produced by?  Sometimes it is lack of land. At other times it may be religious dispute, or even retaliation.  Conflicts being waged are big and small whether they take place in our own homes, or on a war front between the world.  Actions of violence only do one thing no matter why and how they are committed; spawn more violence.  Violence only perpetuates a vicious cycle of anger and resentment.  The cyclical nature of violence is very blatant.  It is not very hard to understand that people that are being acted towards in a violent manner will not like it.  Why fight wars? Why start fights or seek to continue one? Nothing happens in the end.  Whatever act of violence that occurred  still happened and can't be changed.  It is not the abolishment of repercussion that i seek but it does not make sense to assist in the perpetuation of violence.  In the end what i want to say is. Peace!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mother Teresa, may she rot in Hell (by anon)

You should know that Mother Teresa was a shithead of the worst kind.  I’d understand if you don’t want to read any further based on where this is going, but my guess is that you know very little about this woman.  My guess is that you are one of the millions of people who have been shamelessly duped into believing that this woman is a saint and a paradigm of godliness.  She is far from it.  Keep reading.

Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India.  There she took care of the suffering, sick, poor, and dying.  She won international acclaim and awards for her work as well as received millions of dollars in donations to continue her work with the poor.  With that money, Mother Teresa opened up Missionaries of Charities operations all over the world in 133 countries.

This all sounds wonderfully holy so far.  She vowed poverty for herself, she cared for the poor and suffering, and she used the donated money to help more of the poor and suffering.  If there were such a thing as altruism, this would do it.  Alas, it is time for the shackles to fall off one’s eyes.

Mother Teresa’s goal was to generate as much suffering as possible both intentionally and unintentionally.  First, the intentional part.  If you found yourself in her mission, you would find the living conditions horrible.  You would be given scant shavings of food, cold baths, inadequate medical care (reused needles and a lack of good medical diagnoses), and you couldn’t even leave your bed.  The living conditions there were poorer than the poverty stricken regions in Calcutta.  This was intentional.  Why intentional?  Mother Teresa was the firmest believer in suffering, for it is through suffering that one gets closer to God and it is in suffering that one does the work of God.  She says, “Without suffering, our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the Redemption.”  Reread that quote if you don’t get the full impact of what she said.  It means that if she actually helped the poor and suffering find peace and become healed, it would mean that her work is not God’s work.  She kept the suffering suffering so that God’s work would remain.  Countless people died at her mission, as well at the other missions she founded, because she valued suffering as divine.  She could have used some of the millions of dollars in donations to improve the poor living conditions at her missions and update their medical practices, but that was not a priority to her.  You will see, shortly, what her priority was.

Second, her unintentional commitment to generate undue suffering comes with her ardent assertions against any means of birth control.  She found birth control an abomination to God and a slippery slope to murder of all kinds.  This is a common Catholic teaching, but this was a persistent, vocal platform of hers, especially regarding the use of birth control with the poor.  Unfortunately, if one wanted to help end poverty in many third-world regions, the main avenue is to implement birth control.  The overwhelming consensus of sociologists and economists agree that overpopulation is the leading cause of poverty.  Overpopulation + few resources = disaster.  Thus, if women were given the means for birth control, and the population growth in poverty-stricken areas began to decrease, poverty would decrease.  Mother Teresa unintentionally fought stridently against such a solution (though I’m not sold that it was really unintentional, but we’ll call it that for now).  She helped keep the poor poor.

What did happen to the millions of dollars in donations if they didn’t go to actually helping the poor and suffering gain a better quality of life?  They went to opening up hundreds of Missionaries of Charity that function more as convents to proselytize rather than as organizations dedicated to helping the poor.  The money given by people in hopes of helping those in need was redirected into evangelical efforts.  Mother Teresa gave false promises in order to promote her fundamentalism.  She promoted her fundamentalism to the neglect of those suffering under her own care.

There is more, but this is a good taste.  Most of what I have given here are the facts.  You cannot argue with the facts.  What you can argue with is my judgment, that Mother Teresa was a shithead for her treatment of the suffering and her dishonest advancement of her own faith.  But I hardly find how anyone in good conscience could disagree with my assessment.

written in honor of the late Christopher Hitchens

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Finals.......stress..........AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH (by a stressed anon)

As we all know it is now finals week and everyone is becoming brain dead from studying hours on end each day.  Each semester when it gets close to finals people freak out about finals and get really stressed out.  Every semester I get stressed about every final exam I have to take and with the stress comes sickness and the inability to get much needed sleep, thus resulting in a poor performance on the exam. This stress, and all the negative affects that come with it, is mostly caused by the final exams being accumulative. Other students and I are already stressed enough as it is from our classes and regular exams needed to be studied for to get a good grade. I do not know the exact statistics, but if i had to guess I would say not many students remember most of the material from previous exams in their classes. I know it is difficult for me to remember. Since I don't remember very well i have to study a lot for final exams and I get very stressed and i don't get much sleep.  In the end i feel i don't do as well on the exams as i could have with better sleep and less stress. What I am trying to say here is that final exams shouldn't be accumulative.  It is too much material to grasp and understand in such a short time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I am worried about my grade (by anon)

Please post this since it is so appropriate right now.

CP Comment:  LMAO!  I have never had a student be this "out of touch," shall we say.  But I have heard stories...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Would you push the button? (by Sunny)

This is a short assignment I give my Intro to Philosophy students. 


Imagine you KNOW that you and the entirety of this world are in a virtual reality right now, a fully simulated reality where you have no “real” body elsewhere floating in a vat of nutrients.  You are wholly virtual.  As we all know, this world is full of violence, hate, and more than enough suffering of every stripe and variety to go around ten times over.  This is the way of our world since before recorded history.

Now, imagine that one day while walking to class, you notice a small blue box.  You pick up the box, open it, and find a button and a pamphlet.  The button is labeled “OFF.”  After reading the pamphlet, you realize that this button is the OFF button for the entire simulation.  With one push, you and EVERYTHING ELSE would vanish without a trace, without pain.  It would be like turning off a video game.  There wouldn’t be a violent ending, just an ending.  No one would even know.  You are now faced with a decision…will you push the button?


For the sake of argument, I’ll take the less popular stance.  Considering that we are nothing but simulations and pushing the button would not result in ANY violence, it would be immoral NOT to push the button.  You can talk about self-survival, wanting to experience the joys of life, not wanting to make such a big decision for others, and the prospects of a brighter future.  But none of that will trump the fact that millions of people are suffering horribly right now.   War, famine, oppression, slavery, forced prostitution, extreme poverty, deadly illnesses, and natural disasters line every corner and crevice of our world.  It would be the moral decision to push the button and end all of this suffering.  If you decide not to the push the button, then you have given your assent to every suffering that happens henceforth.  Every genocide that happens thereafter will have happened because you allowed it to happen.  The impending torture, rape, and killing of every child, will have happened because you failed to put an end to such atrocities.  These sufferings would be on your shoulders.

Yes, by pushing the button, you also put an end to all the joys that would have happened had you not pushed the button.  But that price pales in comparison to the benefit – the benefit of ending all the pointless suffering in the world.  Since we are nothing but simulations and pushing the button would not result in ANY violence, the moral thing to do is push the button.

Think about it this way.  You might think that it’s a no-brainer decision to say, “no way!” as you comfortably live in relative luxury.  But what might the person who is just about to starve to death decide who has already lost his whole family to famine?


Like I said, I’m proposing this view for the sake of argument.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Problem of Trust (by anon)

Diversity issues on the Whitewater campus can be considered a problem that have much to do with the culturally different backgrounds that many students have with other students.  Whitewater provides a great opportunity for all students to succeed and has a great curriculum; however, it is clear that at times Whitewater has had instances in which students have a hard time accepting different cultural values and actions.  Cultural values and ultimately etiquette are very important or culturally embedded values that if threatened can arise a sense of tense and threatening provocations.  Because of the nature of these threats cultural values can crash and cause instances that arise diversity acceptance issues.

I believe that if there was one thing that would help the trust of students toward one another is campus security.  It would be very reassuring to all students if there were outpost that could phone police and maybe security cameras so that students wouldn’t have to be concerned about cultural discrimination.  Individuals would commit objectifying crimes if they knew that their responsibility and involvement would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  If justice is truly done then students will truly learn to have respect for each other.  In my opinion, if Whitewater is ever to become a more prestigious school the students, no matter what class or background, need to be able to truly trust each other and hold a high level of respect for one another.  Any time a vandalism or robbery or any similar offense occurs, the actions remark scares to the whole university and not just the person victimized.  These instances are serious matters of insecurity.  I believe if Whitewater can make it a habit to communicate the seriousness of these acts to their fellow classmates people will automatically begin to value and cherish each other’s security and respect as well as feel more proud of the valor of their university and the caliber of its students.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

UWW should become a TWO-YEAR school! (by anon)

The list of classes that the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater makes students take in order to graduate is much to lengthy and a lot of the classes are pretty pointless.  For a student such as myself with a major in biology there is no way that I should have to take classes like World of the Arts or Individual and Society.  Classes such as these are a waste of my time and there is no point in trying to make students worldlier if they don't necessarily want to be in the first place.  When in my career will I be asked what type of psychological therapy is used to treat post traumatic stress? I won't be. Trivial subjects such as these are worthless for most of the students at Whitewater and that is why classes should be limited to the field of knowledge that you will have to call upon once you graduate.  I believe that the university makes all of us take these classes to keep us here longer instead of taking just the classes essential to our studies.  If we were allowed to take just the classes needed we would be here for half the time and the university would make only half the money they do now.  So my proposal is that the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater becomes the first university to rid themselves of these unimportant classes and give the students their bachelor degrees in 2 years instead of 4 or more.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Video gamers do not ruin our society! (by anon)

At this point I am frustrated to hell with people trying to tell me that video games are the reason for violence.  I am also sick to death of people looking down on me simply because I prefer to play games rather than watch football or partake of some other past time.  There are millions of people who play video games and we do so simply as a form of enjoyment.  Believing these people are lesser simply because of their hobby is a very irrational way of thinking.

Take the violence aspect.  Violence existed long before video games and in greater quantities.  The ancient Roman gladiator games were insanely violent and yet this was condoned by society at this time.  Violence eventually became less acceptable and the games began their slow death.  Or did they?  This vulgar past time became one of the heavy contributors to what we now know as sports.  Football and hockey are pretty violent sports yet it was far less common to hear that they were sources of violence.  This is true even before video games came about.  I want to note that I AM NOT attacking sports.  I am actually trying to say that if you condemn video games then it is only rational that one must consider all other sources that use violence.  Truthfully, it is irrational to believe either of these is the sole contributor that makes our children violent.  The blame also lies more with the parents than most will admit.  Yes, I said it.  Video games, sports, or even television are often used merely as scapegoats for parents who cannot live up to their own short-comings.  Everybody is different and, as a result, it is important for a parent to learn what is mature enough to partake in.  Trying to lump these individuals into categories (in this case age) is the best media companies can do, but it is not logically sound to assume that these categories are all it takes.  The parents need to know each individual child and understand what they can or cannot handle.

I do not considered myself to be less of a person because I play video games.  This is what I do and it is not dumb.  It is no different from going shopping or playing sports.  Some of you might be thinking that my particular past time contributes nothing to society.  This is an incorrect assumption as they are now using a game called "Minecraft" to help teach younger kids in schools.  They are also using games such as "Dance Dance Revolution" in gym classes to provide people with exercise.  Not only that, but games help us to become analytical thinkers, inspire creativity, allow for stress relief (which one could argue actually helps to reduce violence).

Another common misconception is that people think that video games make children 'socially awkward.'  This, again, is not the case.  First off, I will define 'socially awkward' as social behavior that is deemed unacceptable by our government and/or society.  I know plenty of people who play video games that are very 'socially grounded.'  We still make friends and can blend very well into social situations if we are allowed to.  Therein lies the issue.  We need to be 'allowed' to and not turned away or looked down upon.

In conclusion, video gamers should not be regarded as more or less of a threat to our society than any other past time.  I respect everyone who is fair, reasonable, and a positive influence on our society, and I expect the same in return.  There is nothing more irrational than trying to put most of the blame on any one contributor to issues in our society.  We are no more slackers or violent people than people with different hobbies.  Thanks and have a nice day.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Critically Pissed!

One year ago today, this blog was born.  Since then we have had 194 posts, over 22,000 page views, and 86 countries visiting the blog.

We have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly here on the blog.  Thank you to all the students and faculty who have contributed and commented.

I still believe that the blog’s pluses outweigh the minuses.  Shall we give it a go for another year?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A shady, sinful scam? Or mild-mannered marketing? (by anon)

I just want to make the administration and student body aware that the company they contracted to employee students in the UC (goes by the name of Vector corporation) is a complete and total scam. They hide behind names such as, make false and over-inflated promises (like making 20$ per appointment), and are simply not a reputable company. It is disquieting to know that the University endorses such a trashy company. The university has to think of the ramifications of contracting/allowing/endorsing vector, and permit them to set up shop in the UC to seduce gullible college students. Here are some interesting things I have found on the matter:

-First, just Google the name vector marketing and all kinds of problems arise. They have had several class action lawsuits, have gone under public scrutiny by the attorney general in many states, and thus, are not a reputable employer.

-They are hiding behind deceitful domain names that suggest the university is in cahoots and has partnered up with Vector marketing. Just take a look in many classes where is saved on each blackboard (such as the one in Heide hall). This is something that IS ABSOLUTELY In no way shape or form, affiliated with the university and should be addressed. It is an advertisement for vector marketing. How did they acquire such a domain name that resembles something like hawk jobs? They did this on purpose? They are hoping that students think that the University is backed by Vector, thus be more inclined to sign up.

-I have noticed an abundance of fliers particularly in MCcutchan (especially on the diversity floor which I have took the liberty to take these ads down). IT makes you wonder why they're targeting not only college students, but also it seems like they're also targeting especially minority students. Hmmmm, I wonder why this is? This suggests that this company views minority students as more naive than the rest. Why is it that there are very few fliers in the business school? I'm just making an observation.

-What type of employer makes you buy the product before employing the person? On top of this, apparently, they make you attend mandatory unpaid seminars and weekly meetings. That is against the law! Every minute you work, by law, you are entitled to some compensation. Not only this, but the company does not reimburse the employer for traveling expenditures which are accrued. This is unethical considering they have you set up appointments with clients out of town.

-Also, technically vector marketing is not a job per se. They are exploiting employment laws, and the people who “work” for vector marketing are technically “independent contractors.” This is not stressed enough on the advertisements. They almost state that the opportunity is of gainful employment. This is hardly the case. Many of times Vector Marketing would pop up like a zit for winter break and summer, scam students and leave for the next town afterwards. Most of the times you will be unable to track their locations since they move all too frequently. In many instances, they vacate properties that are in transition, renting it for a brief time and disappear shortly thereafter only to return during the next break like a serial killer that’s on his “cooling off “ period after he claimed his latest victim. My friend received only about 100$ dollars during the whole time of winter break. He never was paid for the full amount he was owed. When returning to confront the manager, they have already left the building they nested at.

All in all, I encourage and implore students to do research on the companies they reach for. Vector promises a whole lot, but the truth is, the 20$ base appointments are nothing when you factor out all the unpaid seminars, meetings you must attend. Plus, why would students and the university want to give this company a platform to corrupt and exploit students with vicious, deceitful gorilla recruitment tactics?  The University should be ashamed of letting these clowns come in and convince students that this is something that is worthwhile over their break. Why do you think they come to college campuses in the first place? It is hard to get a job for college students since it requires many of times, a good amount of flexibility. Vector exploits this particular demographic for good reason. College students have very little option, and are always looking to make money since they will be foregoing earnings for the four-year opportunity period we call higher education. The University should help students find respectful employers. In fact, Wal-Mart seems pretty good compared to these despicable, infectious leeches that mislead and rip off college students.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Narrator: "I don't know, I wouldn't feel anything good about my life, is that what you want to hear me say?" (by anon)

"Life sucks and then you die". I've heard and seen this before and I always thought it to be nothing but a stupid phrase conceived by immature, emotionally unstable, pessimistic, "emo", wanna-be rebellious, arbitrarily nihilistic whiners who really had no clue what terrific things life had to offer and how much those things could override the inevitable tragedies and sufferings of life.

I was wrong. Life's nothing but one big tragedy, that happens over and over and over again, for all of eternity. I'm not talking about individuals’ lives, I'm talking about all of life in general. It's one big pointless fuck up of the universe, and the only rational thing we could possibly do to save us from the misery that we're forced to face through experiences of death, illness, pain, rejection, heart break, and incessant longing for a God, meaningful existence, love, and harmony, is to kill ourselves.

Don't worry - no one's pulling the trigger here. However, there are times when we have to realize that life all over is fucked up, microscopically and macroscopically. In so many ways, we have nothing to look forward to. Nothing to hope for. The only shred of hope we have in our minds comes from fantasy fairy tales read in books and seen on screens. Our imaginations successfully ease our pain as we drift asleep at night, and we pray and believe in all the nice things from the movies and stories we experienced when we were young, and still experience now, all about nature, beauty, love, enchantment, mystery, creation, happiness, and all of life's intangible treasures and glorious adventures.

Why do we fall for this shit? We race up to the top, and we see the glimmer of light for only a moment, and feel the warmth of something True that is above and beyond our earthly existence, and every time we think we've gotten where we're supposed to be spiritually, the clouds gather and we fall, tragically, inevitably, passively, as no great hero, with no great accomplishment, no success, and that sliver of light we imagined is forever nothing but an illusion. We're destined to fail. We've always been destined to fail and lose everything in life, even life itself. Everything ends and cycles recur, people and things are created and destroyed, we're stuck in this torturous and unbearable cage of not only inescapable fear of death, pain, our government, punishment, disease, and heart break, but also of fruitless labor, undying yearning, constant dissatisfaction, and tremendous disappointment.

What do we do with life like this? What are we supposed to make out of it? How can we even go on every day, doing our work, writing our school papers, taking our tests, building and demolishing relationships, achieving mild success paired with outstanding failure, watching fellow beings of this earth hurt and killed, knowing nothing of what existence is really for and about? How are we to truly free ourselves from this despair, this clawing anxiety, this heavy anchor in our chests that keeps us held to the world of futile hope and desperate attempts at happiness? The truth we all must face is that the only happiness that will ever exist is that which arrives upon death. The true closing of our spirit, the turning off of our brains, our feelings, our consciousness. When we end, the world ends, and when the world ends, suffering ends. Death is the ultimate transcendence. Who cares what sappy hopefuls tell stories about and inspire us with? They're wrong. They're only there to try to pull us out of suffering, by giving us art, music, theater, poetry, dance, and everything else created in order to release minute fractions of the immense pain that consumes us. All of life is nothing but constant striving to escape suffering through endless cycles of creation and destruction. And it's all meaningless. We're nothing in time, nothing in space, nothing in reality. Why don’t we just give this shit up already?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wake up and get your head out of your ass! (by anon)

I am a very politically involved person.  I believe politics can and will affect the lives of each and every student in this state, country, and even the world.  There is not a single part of our life that has not been somehow affected by politics, yet when you talk to a majority of students, they say they just don’t care, it doesn’t affect them and they just want to focus on their life.  Get your head out of your ass!  Wake up and realize that politics determines your future!  Laws that are taking affect right now will determine rather or not you will be able to get a job when you graduate, something that seems less and less likely as the time passes.  Students don’t realize student debt is a bigger crisis right now than it has ever been.  If you go to graduate school and use financial aid to pay for it you could be repaying that debt for 30 to 40 years!  How are you going to do that when you can’t even get a job, even with a college degree?  What do you mean this doesn’t affect you or this doesn’t matter to you?

Wake up and get your head out of your ass!  This affects you more than any other thing in your life.  Start doing something about it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Abandoned on the Street by Those who should give a Shit (by anon)

Why do we care so much about what our parents think?? Our society holds the expectation that a child is to respect their parents only because we've put them up on some pedestal after 9 months of gestation in our mom's uterus; however, respect is something that is earned... it's not a right of passage because your parents committed an act of commonality and made a baby.

Parents are no more special than the friends we've made throughout the years, friends we had to trust and in turn gain their trust.  There are exceptions, some parents are their child's best friends, but remember, it took years of trust and honesty to achieve such a relationship.

Then, there is the other bitter reality... the reality of a child who only can thank her parents for the late night romp that brought her here... and all the variations in between (the judgemental parents, the negligent parents, the constantly-in-bad-relationships that are bad for parents and child alike parents, etc).

I don't mean to diss parents out there... cuz there are some great ones, and this is not a matter of "my mom said I can't go out tonight." I'm in college lol; I can do whatever... I'm just saying it really grinds my gears that people should feel to pressured to impress their parents (sometimes creating a fear of their disapproval).  Why the fuck should I care what they think when they scoffed at me when I came out to them or when they told me I was gonna "burn in hell" when I denounced religion and God??  I thought the love a parent had for a child was unconditional!

The opinions of a kid's parents have profound impact on her future.  Imagine a girl severely lacking self-esteem and unable to accept a compliment due to her father's harsh, critical, and insensitive opinion over the years and her mother's lack of acceptance to her need to express herself and her sexuality/personal beliefs... through her clothes, music, and art.

Or the girl who can't make the right relationship choices to save her life... after years of exposure to her mom's abusive relationships and her dad's multiple divorces... or the girl who can't find it in her heart to trust anybody because she believes it all to be lies and pain... some parents are merely teaching their children exactly what NOT to do in a relationship.

And lastly the negligent parents... obviously, their moral responsibility, upon their child's birth is to care and provide for the child... however, we know, a lot of parents fail.  So if I have negligent parents, why should I give a shit about your well-being?? "No I most certainly will not give you any more money!" Please stop mooching off those who care about you!

Our modern culture puts way to much emphasis on the family unit; they don't truly take the time to consider the relationships in the family circle... they assume that because this man is this girl's father then he has some special "rights" to her.  This bitter reality is particularly prevalent in developing countries.  If a woman is beat and battered, even though she may be granted a court hearing, the judge will most likely attempt to preserve the "sacred family structure" and keep her in that toxic environment.  Society's become better over the years, but people are still unwilling to fuck with "family" even though the tumultuous environment may be beating down the innocent children trapped inside.  Your family is a group of people that should be your greatest support, but all too often we find the family circle is the greatest source/cause of emotional stress, sadness, anger and self-doubt in an individual.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Censor this! (by Xavier)

With our recent debates about what is and what is not appropriate to censor on this blog, I figure it’s about time for a post on the issue.

“To censor” is a verb connoting the act of excluding or banning some verbal, written, or behavioral act from a certain forum, usually on moral grounds.  The question for us is what level of censorship is appropriate on this blog, if any.  To answer this, we need to have a firm grasp on what this blog is about, or at least how I conceive it.

In the very first post of this blog, on Dec. 8th 2010, I wrote this:

As we witness acts of hate violence on our own campuses bred from ingrained stupidity,
as we watch politicians and pundits spew bullshit and lies,
as we incredulously stare at the selfish, greedy ways of our politicians, bankers, and CEOs,
as we consume media that gives crazy impressions about body image and gender-appropriate behavior,
as we live in a country where you already have strikes against you if you are LGBTQ, black, hispanic, muslim, woman, disabled, old, poor, and/or atheist,
and as many of our fellow Americans question the worth of rationality and a good education...


We can no longer sit idly by as many of today's loud voices are not the right voices.  They are not the voices of reason.

In the ongoing war by many well-reasoned people against the irrational, I hereby announce another front, The Critically Pissed.  The hope is that many of the students and faculty at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater will rise up to make our mark against the rising irrationality of our country.

We are going to think critically, write critically, and be pissed critically on those issues that matter to us (and should matter to you).

I ardently maintain that this remains the guiding principle behind our blog.  In short, the principle is: for the promotion of critical thinking to make our world a better place.  Lofty?  Yes.  Idealistic?  You betcha.  Worthy goal?  Yep.  Will we be effective?  I don’t know – that will depend on your scope, whether that be individuals or communities.  What does “better place” mean?  It could mean a whole host of things, but I assert that the better we develop our critical thinking powers, the better we will be.

Now, let’s speak about reality.  Since this blog is open to any UWW student or faculty member to give reasoned rants about those things they find important, there is going to be a host of different perspectives, written well and poorly, from different qualities of argumentation.  That means that we will get some posts with shitty logic.  Oh well.  At least those students are attempting to come up with an argument at all in their articulation of a position.  Even if a post is poorly argued, that student was hopefully trying to think critically about the issue, and that is a good in itself.  Nonetheless, as has been evident, commenters are quick to point out logical errors, gaps in reasoning, and poor moral values.  That is what is called critical dialogue, and it is tremendously important as it feeds into the goal of the blog.  Don’t get me wrong; I want the quality of all our posts to be high.  But the point of the blog is NOT to censor out poorly argued posts – even those posts can be instrumental in sparking critical thought, whether that be to blog readers and commenters or only to the original poster. 

So as long as a post contains an adequate amount of argumentation, it will probably get posted [I will get to the “probably” in a minute].

But what about posts that contain elements of racism or sexism or elitism or [fill in your own ism]??  Ok, what about them?  Should I censor them because they are morally questionable?  NO.  Let me be clear, I DO NOT condone the morality of such posts if I post them; my posting of them does not mean that I agree with them.  But posting those posts certainly does contribute to the main point of the blog!  They open up a space for critical dialogue as we have been doing in the comment section.  The original poster and many commenters go back and forth arguing their points, sometimes softening their positions, and sometimes outright changing their positions.  There is tremendous critical value in that!  That is what we are about, is it not?

If I were to censor all those posts that I deem morally questionable, I would be failing to enact the frequently cited dictum on this blog “Let a thousand flowers blossom.”  A noteworthy point is that that dictum originated in 1957 when the Communist Chinese government invited the Chinese intelligentsia to criticize the communist political system.  The Chinese government was trying to promote progress by letting all ideas have a fair hearing.  This sounds a lot like John Stuart Mill’s philosophy.  I too follow Mill in that we should let the many voices speak, and with ample critical discussion and debate, the better views will hopefully emerge over the poorer ones.  Thus, I see no moral grounds for heavy-handed censorship.  If the overall voice of the blog started to advocate racism or sexism, then something would have to be done (and it would be a huge indictment of Whitewater members).  But this has been far from the case if you have been reading.

Thus, in general, all posts will have a fair hearing here at The Critically Pissed so long as they are argued for and not simply stated as fact.

What will I censor?  I censor (1) posts that have no argumentation, (2) posts that are inappropriately bombastic or use derogatory terms toward groups of people, (3) posts that disparage particular UWW people by name, (4) posts that are personal attacks even if under the veil of anonymity, and (5) threats.  For “comments,” I disregard (1), and uphold (2)-(5). 

Thus, merely submitting a post that has adequate argumentation is not a ticket for publication.  If you commit any one of (2)-(5), your post will not be published.  Fortunately, this has rarely happened, and only a handful of comments have not been published.

If you find this wrong, please comment.  This is my view, and it is the approach that has been operative since the beginning of the blog.  I am open to changing my mind if your argument is convincing, but I have not found a convincing contrary argument yet.