Obama Marijuana

Dagny Taggart – Legalization of Marijuana

It’s been over two years since marijuana was legalized for recreational use in the states of Washington and Colorado, and the world still hasn’t burned down. Adults over the age of 21 have been free to possess and use up to one ounce of the drug since December 2012, and the states have yet to degenerate into smoker lounges and rehab clinics. Just last week, marijuana regulation in Colorado was decreased as licensed stores are now allowed to openly buy and sell marijuana to all who can present a valid government ID. Uruguay followed suit, with the president signing into law a bill which allowed Uruguay to become the first country to completely legalize the drug for recreational use. With all of these recent developments, I thought it would be helpful for us to revisit some of the best arguments for marijuana legalization.

One of the best arguments towards the legalization of marijuana is that the government should have no say in what an individual does to his or her own body, so long as it does not harm anyone else. This logic is the reason why cigarettes are legal, so long as the individual smokes in an area that will not force harmful smoke upon others. It is the reason why we allow alcohol, so long as individuals do not drive drunk. Why then would we draw the line at marijuana? If we are to illegalize marijuana simply because ‘it’s not good for you’ or because ‘people shouldn’t be doing it’ then we should also illegalize fast food and carbonated beverages. Arguing for marijuana illegalization on the grounds of health effects is simply an illegitimate argument.

But not only is the argument illegitimate- it doesn’t even make sense. Marijuana is not as harmful as other substances which are currently legal in all fifty states. Marijuana has been proven to be only psychologically addicting, making its addictive powers less severe than that of alcohol. The negative effects of smoking the drug are less than that of smoking tobacco products, and the connection between marijuana and brain damage has yet to be proven as conclusively as the connection between marijuana and alcohol.

Others try to argue that legalizing marijuana would create more smokers. Essentially, some don’t like to have to deal with those who have been smoking so it should not be used. I will again refer to alcohol and point out that angry drunks can be far more annoying than any peaceful ‘stoner’. Another interesting fact is that the legalization of marijuana actually decreases both the desirability and the potency of marijuana. When parts of Portugal legalized use of marijuana, the demand for marijuana actually decreased. Sociologists deemed this the “forbidden fruit effect” arguing that the illegal status of marijuana made it desirable or ‘cool’. The ‘bad boy’ feeling was completely crushed once you could purchase the drug and a bottle of pepto bismal in the same stop, figuratively speaking.

Furthermore, when marijuana is legalized the drug’s potency tends to decrease. When one is attempting to sell an illegal drug, logic dictates that it is best to have only small amounts of the drug on your person. It’s easier to be seen dealing drugs if you’re carrying around a gallon bag than if you’re carrying a small tin. Drug cartels have thus started increasing the potency of marijuana, so that dealers can carry less and sell what they carry for more. Sometimes, this can even involve lacing the marijuana with more dangerous and unsafe drugs, so that the purchaser really feels they get a ‘kick’ out of the drug. Legalizing marijuana allows the drug to be sold in lower potencies in a professional atmosphere, without as many hidden side effects.

Another argument that has gained much popularity in conservative circles is the idea that marijuana is a gateway drug. If an individual purchases marijuana, they are more likely to go on to try harder drugs. However, a recent study by the United States Federal Government showed that 75% of regular marijuana users never go on to try anything harder. Of the 25% that do go on to try another drug, there is a portion that will only try one drug and will never become addicted to this other drug. So the idea of marijuana as a gateway drug is disproven.

Some individuals make a fair point that children may gain access to marijuana once it is legalized. Even though laws restrict distribution based on age, children would have increased access to drugs. These children would become dependent upon the drug before their brains were fully developed, and would not be able to function normally in society afterwards. In the state of Colorado, we already have medical marijuana growing farms. These farms have the legal authority to grow marijuana for medical purposes. These farms can’t be busted for the possession of marijuana, just for illegal distribution. Although we have seen some cases where criminals have stolen from marijuana farms, we have yet to see a state-wide black market outbreak of illegal marijuana supplied by these farms. Additionally, the same is seen with alcohol. Adults can’t be prosecuted for possessing alcohol. However, they can be prosecuted for giving alcohol to minors. The same is said for cigarettes, adult-content magazines and videos, and many other things. It’s not new for the government to allow certain age groups to possess certain things.

What about the argument that is United States specific, that states should not legalize marijuana out of respect for the states that have not yet legalized it? States like Colorado could become smuggling grounds where marijuana is purchased and then sold illegally in other states. I strongly dislike this argument. The state of Colorado isn’t responsible for upholding the law in other states. If states can’t uphold their own laws, they are responsible for figuring out how to fix that problem. I also see this as a faulty point. It’s essentially saying, “We should uphold this bad law, so that the same bad law can be better upheld in other states.” Imagine if the same logic had been used during the civil war? Should the Northern states have upheld slavery in order to keep former slaves from being ‘smuggled in illegally’ and harming the laws of these other states? In addition, states which currently do not allow possession of marijuana would be able to arrest an individual for mere possession of the drug. Thus, it really doesn’t make a difference whether your possession of the drug involves it being grown in your basement or hidden in your car. (Actually, from a legal standpoint, it’s easier to arrest someone for smuggling since some search warrants required to search a basement do not apply to a vehicle, and police are more likely to see marijuana in a vehicle than in a house since a vehicle can be lightly searched after a traffic violation. So legally speaking, individuals who attempt to smuggle marijuana from other states are more likely to be caught and arrested… which means that these states’ legalization of marijuana is helping other state’s police forces catch criminals. You’re welcome.)

In the end, we have to consider what the legalization of marijuana is costing the United States. Each year, 800,000 new people are arrested for drug use and it is estimated that approximately 50% of our prison population is comprised of individuals arrested for drug offenses. The problem of prison overcrowding has become severe as we run out of room for new prisoners. While some of these prisoners are arrested for harder, more dangerous drugs, there is a significant portion that never tried anything more harmful than marijuana. Ironically, we cannot even stop illegal drugs from being spread into prison, so the majority of individuals who are sent to prison for marijuana possession leave prison addicted to much more deadly and potent drugs. To summarize:  1) we’re not actually solving the problem or drug use since prisoners have access to illegalized drugs 2) People who enter prison for drug offenses become addicted to high-potency drugs while in prison, effectively making the problem worse and 3) it’s overcrowding prisons with harmless people, and adding an unnecessary burden to taxpayers. Not to mention the court fees and legal fees which surround the process of sending an individual to prison.

As you look at the costs and benefits of the war on drugs as it pertains to marijuana use, you will begin to see more costs and less benefits. The minor message we are trying to send that ‘drugs are bad’ is not worth the threat posed to the effectiveness of our laws, legitimacy of government, efficiency of our court system or fairness of our taxation system.

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Carrie Sheahan – What’s to Come

“Why do you want to be feminist?”

It’s a question I’ve been posed time and again since I first began identifying as a feminist back in late 2012. Often times, people add follow ups of, “Don’t you, as a Christian, dislike so many of the things that radical feminism celebrates?” Or, “Why don’t you just want equality?” I used to answer with some sort of rabid, passionate yet ineloquent babble, emotionally certain of why I needed to be a feminist, but incapable of expressing logically and academically

It’s been a few years now, and I have had time to mature and learn to think things through concisely. Part of the reason why I felt it would be good for me to join marblesforajar would be so I could explain — to myself and to those that have questioned my stance on this issue — exactly why it is so important that I loudly proclaim my feminism, both for my own needs and those of others.

Over the next few weeks, I will be publishing a three part series in which I explain why I, and the rest of the world, should embrace feminism, and try to answer the multitudes of questions that have been posed to me about the subject. I will address the three different forms of sexism; internalized, institutionalized, and intrapersonal, and give a brief overview of how these affect all genders. My hope is to educate any readers and help translate my past inane babblings. If you have ever wondered something about feminism or have questions regarding the beliefs, post a comment below! I’ll be happy to answer anything.

I am looking forward to this series, and hopefully correcting any inaccuracies you may have heard. Have a good day, and I’ll see you soon!

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Wandering Falcon – Hands

Autumn falls and winter glistens,

Spring, it calls and summer listens.

Here about we live in wanting,

Scream and shout for gold in fonting.

 

In lands afar there is rain or not,

A door, a bar, a chain forgot.

 

To be without, is yet to lose,

The dream about, we set our views.

 

We would take, yet even more,

For loves sake, that minds abhor.

 

Leave your pity, curb your shame,

Life is gritty, in pride and name.

 

We are one, of dust and blood,

Under sun and over mud.

 

Aid ain’t given, but cut and shared,

By those few driven and those who’ve dared.

 

See we are all people, one word for one measure,

Our world is our steeple and to help is our pleasure.

 I have just spent two weeks in northern Thailand, I suppose that is half a boast as much as it is fact. It wasn’t wholly a holiday either, though I can’t say the motivation of exploring a new land and culture in temperatures far exceeding the freezing murk of England wasn’t central to the experience. I, along with a haphazard group of younger old friends and older new friends, were provided this opportunity by the charity Hands, for whom I wrote the above poem.

I don’t want to bog this piece down to much with a verbal inversion of the ‘what I did on my holidays’ slideshow. Northern Thailand is a truly magnificent place in terms of natural beauty, cultural diversity and general peaceful, welcoming atmosphere. Whatever the political and economic situation of the nation, the warmth and allure of the landscape and people seems deeply ingrained and unswerving. In our short time there we experienced a lifetimes worth of adventure far from our muggy english sensibilities. What I really want to talk about is Hands, the incredible people that form its ranks and some light shaving of the endlessly ambitious and life-changing efforts they achieve.

No land is devoid of troubles, though some would makes the plight of others seem petty beyond measure. Thailand is a rapidly growing economy, but one that is very divided and rife with the well known struggles of such transitions. Corruption and hierarchical division are rife, as is unsavoury exploitation by richer international communities. It is not empty slander that lies behind the proverbial rumours of ‘Thai Brides’ and ‘Happy endings’ to massage parlours. Such things are joked about in the western world, perhaps seen as the pathetic refuges of lonely and desperate men. Forced to travel to the far ends of the earth where the gap in wealth allows them to make up for their incapability to form attraction by other means. Lonely and tragic souls undoubtedly, but when you acknowledge that such people are satiating their own failings at the expense of those less fortunate, the situation can be seen as nothing else but predatory.

‘Human Trafficking’ as the modern terminology seems to be for what once would have just been known as slavery, is a very real and widespread problem throughout the developing world. Wherever there are families whose means fall short of their numbers, or divisions where one group of people are treated as somehow below others exploitation can quickly seep in. In Thailand these injustices fall heavily upon those born of the Northern hill tribes: the Akha, the Lahu and the Shan, those simply born to the losing side of a long history. Or on those who have escaped worse fates in nearby Burma, risking life and limb to leave a country threatening their very existance, only to find themselves without rights or basic respect upon the other side.

These people are not lesser beings, they are not stupid or lazy or any other ignorant depiction humanity uses the world over to support the belittling and division of our own kind. But when you grow up within a society that intrinsically treats you as such. Are taught in schools that do not use your language and have no time or interest in aiding you to catch up. When your family are so poor that even education becomes a luxury the cannot afford to grant you. Then a cycle begins, wherein unbalanced circumstances lead to self-doubt and restrained potentials. Where the poor beget the poor, with no chance to be anything more. It is no wonder that strangers with more means than you could imagine seem like an easy escape, if they are even so graceful as to allow you a choice.

Hands as a charity, and an ethos, is dedicated to aiding these people who doubt even their own worth. Centred around the family Summers, some of the most unassumingly dedicated and disarmingly altruistic human beings I have had the pleasure to meet. Originally taking an active role in rescuing girls from the very hands of those who would enslave them, they now build upon the who-knows-how-many lives they have saved by preventing others from ever having to face such. Their work is in theory very simple and in practice nigh impossible. They meet and greet and talk and entertain the communties of Northern Thailand, building bonds and friendships and balances of trust. Thus when a family’s fortunes fall: by fire, flood or famine; when an old lady is too weak and being look after by a lone grandchild; when a lone boy makes it across the border in dire need to medical treatment and legal papers; Hands is there. Running only on what funds they can drum up out of the western world and its wealth gap. They build houses, form hostels, run school buses, teach english, provide work and bring presents. All with the simple aim of balancing the start children in these areas receive. Giving them as equal a chance of success in this world as those born without such struggles already hanging over their heads. It’s not a thankless task, but an endless and unsupported one and one that results in a huge effect on so many lives due only to the efforts of very few.

I do not want to preach to much. Despite all their grace and thanks, the little work me and my friends managed to provide was but a drop in the pond there. Don’t think I associate myself as some sort of martyr to their cause for my two week holiday. I went halfway across the world because I am lucky enough to have been born with the means too. I have not volunteered to live my life in a culture completely alien, working for no salary and facing trials unfathomable, because I don’t have the fortitude to. But Dave, Carol, Mark, Alexa, Rebecca, Siew, Sui, Nom, Mai, Jun, Morchu, Tip, Nong A, Chamnam and all the other incredible members of Hands have done, and continue to do, just that. My only wish is in this small way to bring a little bit more attention to those feats if I can.

To learn more about the work of Hands, and possibly donate, please visit: http://www.handsworld.com/

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Justis Gyori – Music to be Heard: Collection 3

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” – Billy Joel

 Kings of Leon – Beautiful War

Genre: American Rock

Coldplay – Talk

Genre: British Rock

Noah and the Whale – Five Years Time

Genre: English Indie Folk

Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows

Genre: American Rock

Chvrches – The Mother We Share

Genre: American Rock


(image credit here)

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Justis Gyori – Music to be Heard: Collection 2

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” -Plato

Sergei Rachmaninov – Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27 III. Adagio

Genre: Classical 

Without a doubt, Sergei Rachmaninov is one of the greatest composers I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. His piece ‘Adagio’  stands as a hallmark for his work, possessing a certain beauty and elegance that go far beyond my own high expectations. Even now as I attempt to describe the piece, I find myself unable to do so with fear of degrading it. As Victor Hugo had said, “Music express that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” 

 

The Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done

Genre: American Rock

The Killers have produced a great number of successful tracks, but ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ has to be one of the most memorable. Brandon Flowers is, as usual, most excellent in both performance and writing. With a nostalgia inducing lyrical track, consistent transformative melody, and a fun style within the video that balances out the darker themes the song represents.

 

Florence and the Machine – No Light, No Light 

Genre: English Indie Rock

Between both song writing and vocal power, Florence Welch has to be one of the greatest emerging artists. ‘No Light, No Light’ serves as a more than proper representation of her vocal abilities as she sings with a fervent passion to lyrics that demonstrate a situation of true grandiose proportions. In combination the track features prominent, song defining drums and a background choir that blends divinely well with her own lovely voice.

 

Milky Chance – Stolen Dancing

Genre: German Pop/Folk/Rock

It is a rare incident when a ‘popular’ song can pack such a rhythmic and lyrical punch. Yet, that is just what Milky Chance seems to have done with their track ‘Stolen Dance’ . The most impactful attribute of this track comes with the acceptance you can have for the emotional turmoil the couple is going through and the wish to follow along with the lyrics’ instructions. Even so, one can admire the blend of genres and combination of reggae and electronic influences. “Dancing on, do the boogie all night long/Stoned in paradise/Shouldn’t talk about it.”

 

Cage the Elephant – Take It or Leave It 

Genre: American Rock

I must admit to you my dear reader, there was a time where I hated Cage the Elephant. Then at some moment of fortunate coincidence I stumbled upon their video for the track ‘Take It or Leave It’. At that moment… I fell in love (at least with that one song). The experience offered is truly unique, set within a 1970’s roller rink, a fun beat, solid lyrics, and emotionally charged delivery that has me singing with them each and every time.

 

As always my dear reader, it has been a pleasure. Until next time!

spirited away.

Wandering Falcon – To be Spirited Away…

 

If I’m now going to regularly embroider the internet with my pretentious opinions and miss-matched factoids in and around Japanese animation and culture I feel I should probably start where such things pierced my own dank little horizons. Luckily even in the murky depths of my memory there is one clear-cut moment from which I ceased to be an unknowing shade and began my journey of magnanimous love for all things anime.

The spark that begat this great passion of mine came when I was 14, on the precarious cusp of early teenage-hood and living in small town English suburbia with my mother and younger brother. This being the days of dial-up internet and 5 channel television we would once a week give up on all pretences of culture and home-cooked nourishment and crawl into town  in search of already cooked food and rentable entertainment. On one grey autumn day… or maybe grey spring day… this is the trouble with foggy memory in a mostly muggy climate… our vaguely democratic model of choice swung my way towards a funny little DVD with all manner of strange creatures adorning its front. This innocuous little children’s fantasy turned out to be Spirited Away, then the latest masterpiece to come from the legendary Studio Ghibli and the man who is understated by the comparison: The Walt Disney of Japan, Hayao Miyazaki.

With this and some hideously greasy Chinese takeout in tow we scuttled home to plop the thing into our still miraculously hi-tech Argos DVD player and try to sink far enough into the sofa as to not be able to hear the rain any more. Only today this was not necessary, for here was a movie whose title did not simply describe what was to happen to its protagonist, but also what it does to its audience. Even I, with all the narrow pride I hold in my descriptive vocabulary, cannot truly put into words what I felt when I was first engulfed in that fantasy world so very far from my own cultural background. I wasn’t raised to waste food and I LOVE Chinese takeout… but my noodles went cold. I’m not exactly emotionally exempt, but it certainly takes a lot to make me cry… I felt tears on my cheeks. Not from melancholy or character shared peril or even from happiness, I’m pretty sure my eyes were simply watering due to the level of pure, unadulterated beauty they were absorbing. I was very rarely a particularly truant school-boy, generally my mind wasn’t in the same place as my body anyway so it simply caused less bother to be where people expected me. I took the next day off school though, I just to watch that film again. Before it evaporated back to the realm from whence it came. Before it turned out never to have existed at all beyond a waking dream. Before Blockbuster started throwing late fees around.

Spirited Away is a tale of growing up, of having your small childish world with all its comforting little certainties shatter, only to find that there’s a whole lot more beyond. This is presumably a universal concept, I would even go so far so say that if it’s not, it should be, as such defining hurdles of change are required for a person to reinvent and adapt themselves as they progress through life. This theme introduced within the film as we meet the main character, Chihiro, childishly railing against her parents for moving house, away from everything and everyone she knows. It is from this instantly connectable and ‘real’ situation of the helplessness and fear of youth that the movie expands into its fantasy version of the same. This is where Mr Miyazaki’s true genius as a writer of fantasy lies: the true strength of fiction is not where it divides from reality but where it reflects such. As I will surely repeat in talking of his other works, the divide between the bizarreness or cultural distance of his worlds and our, or my, western viewpoint is swept away by the incredible base humanity he draws from his characters. Every character met within this tale feels alive and inspired by their own mysterious but tangible reasons and motives. This only further imbeds our shared perspective of Chihiro, our lost little girl, by reinstating what it truly is to be a child, to be within a world but not a direct part of it. The people and background of her situation may have changed but initially Chihiro’s position within it remains the same as any child of her age among strangers, she does as she’s told by those who are older and tries to avoid notice or confrontation. However as the reality of what she is now expected of, and the responsibility that is laid before her in relation to her parents settles in, she truly comes to light as a progressing character, clambering up to stand on her own two feet. By the end of the tale our leading lady is hardly recognisable in spirit. But this change is not sudden and unexplained, we have been with her every step of the way and the feeling of growth and achievement almost seeps through the screen. In watching Chihiro grow, you feel almost to have matured yourself.

I could probably wax poetical on the growing theme within this animation for a great deal longer, but I feel enough has been said. Perhaps it is the linkage between said theme and where I was in life first watching it that ties it so close, but there are other thoughts I wish to express.

For a start looking at the tale within the realm of popular fantasy it is obviously not alone as a story of a young girl entering a mythical world, it would be insulting to you readers to need name the myriad of similar tales. However in recent years there seems to me to have been a shift within fantastical fiction in what is of course what lies at its very heart: Magic. With the rise in science, communication and shared knowledge there can be heard echoed calls that true mystery is leaving the world. That we now know so much that the joy of not knowing is being lost. While I disagree entirely with both the statement and ethos behind it, I must say I do see trends in modern fiction wherein too much focus is directed toward explanation of the mechanics of impossible things. Of course the difficulty with writing within universes where the constraints differ from our reality has always been where to stop. If anything is possible where lies the contention required for a plot? But I have never seen the solution as being to try and explain everything to the reader in infinitesimal detail. The very point of magic has always seemed to me to work beyond the constraints of the physical world, not simply move the bar. The magic within Spirited Away is that of the fairy tales of old, or at least those of old Japan. Characters wield powers beyond our knowledge on their own whim and with our focus upon a fundamentally mundane protagonist such things are simply accepted for what they are, mysterious and beyond our reach. As I said before this aids in permeating the feeling of being a child among giants, but it is not oppressive. The spirits within the story are simply other than human, they are of another world and that world operates in connection with but also independent of the human world. When Chihiro crosses the river she is simply off the map in terms of possibility, in the area quite definitely marked ‘here be dragons’.

Further to this refreshing disconnection from unnecessary explanation fictional tropes is the question of character morality within the film. There is no great struggle between monochromatic ideals of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ here. These are spirits doing what spirits do, our viewpoint and protagonist is not a chosen, destined hero, just a lost little girl. Sure the witch Yubaba acts in ways that are cruel and self-centred, but there is no impression that she is in some way inherently evil. She simply has her own agenda, to which Chihiro is an obstacle. At times you almost feel sympathetic towards her as her hair falls out of place in distress. In fact all the possible considerations for villain characters are not simply clear cut enemies, nor is simple conflict ever shown to solve a contention within the plot. I don’t want to enter into dangerous debating territory here but since the great religiously inspired fantasies of Tolkien and Lewis, and of course countless others before them. A black and white view of morality has been a staple part of a lot of western fiction. While Japanese culture has also absorbed some of this, films such as Spirited Away draw a lot more heavily from the traditional Shinto religious ideals of the country. The gods and spirits of Shinto beliefs are not considered so much good or evil in relation to humanity but simply embodiments of aspects of the natural world to be shown respect.

So there you have it, a rather unkempt splatter of my thoughts concerning Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away, my gateway taste into the world of anime. I really cannot engrave enough my belief that everyone should watch this marvellous piece of cinema. I feel since this has been my starting point it would be remiss of me to not make mention of some of the other magnificent works of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli so will perhaps work through a few more of them over the coming weeks perhaps in a less personally opining light.

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Hunter Nash – The Age of Entitlement (An Obituary)

 

The atrocities committed by USCSB shooter Eliot Rodger - atrocities which include numerous whiny video rants and a vomit inducing 137 page manifest0 -  brilliantly illuminate and may, hopefully, put an end to one of our culture’s most pernicious problems.  We live in an age of entitlement.

This statement should come as a surprise to no one.

All around us folks feel they are owed everything from birth control to a ‘living wage'; from ‘respect for my opinion’ to, as Rodger incessantly whined about in his rants, affection and ‘accolades’ (his word). Pervading these demands is the notion that merely because they live and breathe they’re exempt from earning what they wish for or need.

Perhaps, in the sheer vomit inducing audacity and clarity that are the Rodger tapes (and manifesto), folks will be better able to draw philosophical parallels on day to day life. Perhaps more will come to recognize entitlement based demands for what they are, whenever or wherever they hear them.

The notion that one ‘is owed’ for merely being alive is nothing but a demand for the unearned. The granting of such demands under force of law is nothing but theft, regardless of one’s intentions. As controversial philosopher Ayn Rand noted:  “Do not ever say that the desire to ‘do good’ by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives.”

Please don’t remind that demanding government largesse differs from demanding affection – or that those who support entitlements don’t usually go out and commit mass murder. The sense of entitlement is precisely the same, the difference in its effect is merely one of degree.

Is one’s life and effort less precious than that of the folks in Santa Barbra simply because it is taken one $15.00/month supply of birth control pills at a time?

Perhaps soon the entitlement age – this idea that one must be granted something for nothing – will soon meet its end. Perhaps with that end will come the end of the other side of that pernicious entitlement coin – the blame game.

Throughout his videos and manifesto Rodger explicitly blamed others – everyone he could think of – for his less than noteworthy social status. It was everyone’s fault but his that he’d no girlfriend. It was the fault of all these terrible ‘others’ that he’d garnered so little attention – that he’d none of the ‘accolades’ he just knew he was entitled to.

What Rodger and folks like him (absent, hopefully, the multiple killings) fail to understand is that most individuals earn their wealth, their socially attractive qualities, the respect of others, and all manner of values. They earn these through their decisions, their behavior, and through their character. They do not achieve value by nature of the mere fact of being alive. No one does.

A mass murderer and a doctor who cures cancer are not of equal value. God help us if we ever reach the day when they are seen as such.

One is owed friends or respect (let alone a living) if and only if one has done things to earn them.

Meanwhile, all this recent talk about ‘income inequality‘ (the current buzzwords for the entitlement crowd) has gotten me thinking. Everyone seems to wish to attack the 1% ers. Few seem to understand just how much actual power they themselves have. That power remains, even if we somehow lose our current system.

At the risk of being called a cultist, I’ll remind folks that despite complaints about the 1% status of many of Ayn Rand’s heroes, the main hero of Atlas Shrugged was a regular guy with no distinct lineage and with no actual wealth.

John Galt’s very presence and his stature in her novel should put to lie the notion that Rand was some ‘wealth worshiping’ neo conservative or crony capitalist. The existence of John Galt should put to lie the bullshit notion that Rand was all about ‘screw the little guy’.

John Galt was the little guy. Yet the myth persists.

In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand gave the guy who ‘stopped the motor of the world’ no wealthy parents and no ‘friends in high {read: political} places’.

In Galt, Rand made the point that in a free society (even one in collapse) origins had no bearing on one’s future. She wanted to make the point that ‘the little guy’ can and will do big things.

John Galt was an anonymous day laborer, for crying out loud.

What Galt had that few around him had (besides his intelligence and creative drive) was an ability to see beyond the curtain. Galt pierced the veil of the culture’s Big Lie.

Today, many, many folks recognize that the truth is not being told to them. They nonetheless continue to point fingers in all the wrong places.

“The rich’ did it”, ”’capitalism’ did it”, ‘”government’ did it”, ‘”white people’ did it” “‘my boss’ did it”, “‘the poor’ did it”, “‘my parents’ did it”, “‘society’ did it”. On and on the blame goes. What some folks don’t wish to recognize is that we as individuals gave up much of our power long ago when we decided that others know best.

Heroes such as Ayn Rand created, however, understood otherwise. They stood their ground – often alone – and won. Did society collapse? Absolutely.

Heroes like John Galt – day laborer, inventor, revolutionary – didn’t care. He welcomed the collapse he knew was imminent. Galt knew that when the Big Lie could no longer be defended – and when no one could be further harmed by it – he would live to see the light of a new day.

It’s a shame more folks do not have that same innate pride and sense of self-worth.  Instead we’ve a myriad of petty Eliot Roger wannabes. Some, like Roger, demand the unearned in spirit. They demand that their fact less ‘opinions’ be granted equal moral merit as the truth. Others seek to be seen as ‘worthy’ and ‘good’ for merely being alive. Still others, seek the unearned as well, in a far more pernicious material form. They insist that their wealthier neighbor (or their competitor) ‘stole’ what would, in a fair world, rightly be theirs.

All these folks differ from killer Eliot Roger only in that they allow the government and its acolytes to carry the guns for them.

The death of the Age of Entitlement, however, is coming. How the age will end is anyone’s guess. It may come in a full collapse, as in an Ayn Rand or George Orwell novel, or perhaps it will come in a new Renaissance.  Either way, the end of Entitlement is coming.

Eliot Roger is one of its last, whiny gasps for breath.  May the YouTube Channel of Eliot Roger be the Entitlement Age’s obituary.

 

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Justis Gyori – Music to be Heard: Collection 1

 

 It can be argued that new (great) music is far better than chocolate. Well, maybe not ‘far’ better, but it can most certainly get up there on the list. Either way, in light of this comparison I have compiled a list of 5 songs (with videos) for your own musical education and personal enjoyment.

 

Arctic Monkeys – Arabella

Genre: English Indie-Rock

‘Arabella’ is without a doubt the most stylish song on the Arctic Monkeys new album ‘AM’. The track showcases front man Alex Turner’s talent at not only sound but also lyrics, “A helter-skelter around her little finger and I ride it endlessly” being a proper demonstration of his brilliance at song writing. The video, directed by Jake Nava does surprisingly well at providing a classy but raunchy visual take on the song that is just as fun to watch as it is to listen to.

 

Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit – The Water

Genre: English Folk-Rock

Out of all the music selected for this post I had the most difficult time choosing from the many great songs sung by Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit. So hard in fact, I chose simply based on the fact that I was pouring water into my kettle for evening tea at the time of writing this article. ’The Water’ is simple, beautiful and strangely powerful packed with great vocals and gorgeous lyrics, “The water can’t drown me, I am done with my dying” being my most favorite line of all. In the video Johnny Flynn sings alongside Marcus Mumford and his sister Lillie Flynn, creating a performance that is nothing short of remarkable.

 

M83 – Wait

Genre: French Electronic

‘Wait’ by M83 is a brilliant demonstration, nay, a pinnacle for what music should be. Original, vibrant, and entirely atmospheric… ‘Wait’ remains on the top of my list of great music. The aesthetic is characterized with minimal lyrics and a ‘spacey’ instrumental sound which compliments the groups chosen name (M83 in reference to the galaxy). The official video is a surreal adventure of sorts following a few different children in either a distant future or alternate reality.

 

The National – Runaway

Genre: American Indie-Rock

I’ll go braving everything/With you swallowing the shine of the sun/I’ll go braving everything/Through the shine of the sun/But I won’t be no runaway/‘Cause I won’t run…” If you want melancholy sounds mixed with beautiful and meaningful lyrics… The National is a great place to start. The track ‘Runaway’ on the album ‘High Violet’ is simply enchanting, infused with the confidence from Matt Beringer’s baritone voice and the apparent difficulty that bleeds from the lyrics. I chose the video to demonstrate just how naturally talented this group is, even during a live performance.

 

Arcade Fire – Sprawl II

Genre: Canadian Indie-Rock

The ‘Sprawl II’  is possibly one of the greatest songs that I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. It is fun, nostalgic, and important. Plus, just to note (in case it has not been noted before) Régine Chassagne is the coolest. I am honestly without words on what else to say other than that you need to hit play, turn up the speakers, and start dancing in a really *really* weird way.

 

And so ends the first collection, I hope you have enjoyed my personal selection. Please feel free to share with me any of your favorites down in the comment section below.

Until the next time we meet my dear reader, I bid you farewell.

(Photo credit here)

TODAYTheFamine

Titan – 10 Albums to Get You Into Extreme Metal

Hello friends! I am here writing today to talk about my second of many passions – Heavy Metal. You see, I listen to Extreme Metal. For those who don’t know what “Extreme Metal” is, look to the way it is defined over at Wikipedia. “Extreme metal is a loosely defined umbrella term for a number of related heavy metal music subgenres that have developed since the early 1980s. The term usually refers to a more abrasive, harsher, underground, non-commercialized style or sound nearly always associated with genres like thrash metalblack metaldeath metal, and doom metal.” After its golden age around the mid 80’s, heavy metal went farther into obscurity in more than just the limelight. Genre’s like Black Metal and Death Metal became big elements in the underground scene. Since then, a loyal and massive fan-base has arisen, of which I am one. Now, many of my peers would wish that I not write this. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the company of other metalheads, but sometimes the elitism can get quite annoying. Needless to say, indoctrinating the masses is not exactly something my contemporaries would approve of. It’s silly, I know. But when the majority of people deride and mock you for your music tastes, it is slightly more understandable. You see, Extreme Metal (for the most part), often grabs the loners and the outsiders. People, like me, listen to progressively heavier music until they reach some form of Extreme Metal. My own journey included artists from Eminem to the Beatles. For those of you reading this who listen to Extreme Metal, I can almost guarantee that you can look back (as I can) and see the natural progression that led you to this music. But I can also say with equal certainty that you will agree that this music is absolutely not for everyone. So why then am I writing this? Well, firstly because The Professor asked me to, and who can deny her wishes? She is Empress of the Universe. But secondly, I write this in the off chance that someone will take it seriously enough to give the music a chance, and maybe (just maybe) actually enjoy it. It’s a rather slim chance. But I like taking chances. So here are 10 albums to get you into Extreme Metal.

TODAYnightfall1. Nightfall by Candlemass (Doom Metal, Released 1987)
I am starting with this album for several reasons. The first being that it is one of the most lauded albums to come from the Doom Metal scene, but also because Doom Metal is not nearly as harsh as some other forms of Extreme Metal. Most people will agree that Black Sabbath introduced the world to the genre we now call Doom Metal, but it was Candlemass that refined the flavor, and really brought it to its full fruition. They created grand orchestral landscapes that echo through the listeners ears. Messiah Marcolin’s vocals are haunting, yet beautiful. All around, this album is a ten out of ten in my book.
If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • Mourning Beloveth
  • Electric Wizard
  • Dark Castle

 

  1. TODAYherewaitsthydoom2. Here Waits Thy Doom by 3 Inches of Blood (Thrash Metal, Released 2009)

Now, a lot of early thrash metal was not considered Extreme Metal. It was only until bands like Slayer became popular that a more aggressive form of Thrash Metal came about. This album in particular is a good example of that form of Thrash. 3 Inches of Blood have many albums, but I picked this one because it is the most commercial. They employ high-pitched falsetto vocals as well as false chord screams. The song “Battles and Brotherhood” is my go to “get pumped” song. No, it really is. I’m singing it under my breath right now.

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • Havok
  • Warbringer
  • Kreator
  • Municipal Waste

TODAYtwilightofthethundergod3. Twilight of the Thunder God by Amon Amarth (Melodic Death Metal, Released 2008).

Oddly enough, the title track on this album was what got me into Extreme Metal. One of my friends was on Skype with me and told me to listen to this song because it would “make me what to pillage some villages.” Well, it did. But don’t worry! There aren’t any villages where I live…anymore.
Seriously though, check out this album. This band is easily one of the most popular Extreme Metal band, and for good reason!!

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • Insomnium
  • Be’lakor
  • Children of Bodom
  • In Mourning

 

TODAYKoloss by Meshuggah4. Koloss by Meshuggah (Progressive/Experimental Metal, Released 2012)

Meshuggah is easily one of the most respected, and most influential, bands in the Extreme Metal scene. They are known for their creative songwriting capabilities, as well as technical expertise (often utilizing polyrhythmic song structures), and are often named as the originators of the “Djent Metal” movement. I personally own this album as well as the album entitled “ObZen.” I listen to both on a regular basis and only stop from the headache brought upon by the raw brutality. \m/

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • Periphery
  • TesseracT
  • Returning We Hear The Larks

 

TODAYAbigailWilliams5. In The Shadow Of A Thousand Sons by Abigail Williams (Symphonic Black Metal, Released 2008)

Because of Heavy Metals inclination towards technicality, it is no surprise that the niche genre of “Symphonic Black Metal” has actually become a popular iteration of the original frosty sounds that came from Norway. This album is this bands sophomore album, and is the last in this Black Metal style. The only problem I have with this album (that was thankfully rectified in the bands next release) is that it does nothing to advance the genre. It is easily the most stagnant of the genre, but it serves its purpose well here.

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • Carach Angren (My all time favorite band)
  • Dimmu Borgir
  • Anorexia Nervosa

 

TODAYWolvesintheThroneRoom6. Diadem of 12 Stars by Wolves in the Throne Room (“Atmospheric” Black Metal, Released 2006)

This is another band that is incredibly influential. They are, among other bands, responsible for a new wave of “Cascadian Black Metal” arising from the Cascadian bioregion. It is a step away from the angry frost sounds of Norwegian Black Metal and instead approaches the genre with an emotion akin to reverence. When I first heard this band I was literally floored. Black Metal has ever been a genre that takes inspiration from nature, but this band takes it to an entirely new level. TEN OUT OF TEN!

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • Abigail Williams (“Becoming” is the album that follows the “atmospheric” vein.)
  • Amiensus
  • Alda

 

TODAYStench7. Stench by Nekrogoblikon (“Goblin” Metal, Released 2011)

This band mixes the perfect amount of songwriting prowess, technicality, and humor to create a completely unique heavy metal genre. Their lyrical content resides entirely within goblin fantasy, and their shows include their very own goblin mascot. More importantly, however, this band came very close to commercial success with their incredibly hilarious music video for “No One Survives.”

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • A Band of Orcs
  • Fintroll

 

 

TODAYWintersun8. Time I by Wintersun (Folk Metal, Released 2012)

I have always been a fan of Wintersun, but this album is the magnum opus. Everything about this album is everything that is right with folk metal. There are many things that a wide range of tastes can enjoy. From the frosty guitar licks of Black Metal, to Death Metal chugging, and even some Japanese inspired elements. I highly advise that you listen to this album.

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • Ensiferum
  • Eluveitie
  • Equilibrium

 

TODAYTheFamine9. Architects of Guilt by The Famine (Death Metal, Released 2011)

I was introduced to this band by one of my closest friends. It is straight up, in your face, Death Metal. But the thing that marks this band out from the Death Metal scene is the fact that the bassist is CLEARLY a Grindcore bassist. He is not playing Death Metal bass. He is playing Grindcore bass. This fact alone is what marks this album as a fantastic one as opposed to a mediocre one. I personally own this album, and listen to it whenever I can.

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • The Black Dahlia Murder

 

 

TODAYImmolation10. Majesty and Decay by Immolation (Death Metal, Released 2010)

Don’t get me wrong, I love this album. But it is weird. Most Death Metal bands have a fast chugging sound in the mix. Immolation, on the other hand, actually picks the chords note by note. They look at technicality the same way a Jazz guitarist does. They look for chords. They create ambience, and experience. They aren’t necessarily the best musicians, or the best lyricists, and their singer really is mediocre. But for some reason that have the ability to create these songs that are aggressive without playing nearly as aggressively as, say, Cannibal Corpse.

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • Blood Red Throne
  • Cryptopsy
  • Death

Well, that’s it folks. I hope that you look through the albums I have prepared for you. I really hope at least some of you enjoy this music, as it will mean I have converted a few more to the world of Heavy Metal. In closing, here is a quote from Sam Dunn (who created a masterpiece documentary on Heavy Metal entitled Metal: A Headbangers Journey):

Ever since I was 12 years old I had to defend my love for heavy metal against those who say it’s a less valid form of music. My answer now is that you either feel it or you don’t. If metal doesn’t give that overwhelming surge of power that makes the hair stand up at the back of your neck, you might never get it, and you know what? That’s okay, because judging by the 40,000 metalheads around me we’re doing just fine without you.”

 

Regards,

Titan

 

melville

Justis Gyori – Quote of the Week: Herman Melville

“Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries–stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.”