“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” According to Winston Churchill, anyways. I would have to agree with him, especially today where a single Tweet can be seen by thousands of people within seconds. Pop cultural phenomena are much the same. Sometimes they come and go before you know what is happening. A prime example is the mobile game “Flappy Bird”. GIF courtesy of The Daily Edge This app, as most of us know, did not even make it a whole year. Of course, this is not because of loss in popularity, but because the developer, Dong Nguyen, took it down even though he was reportedly making $50,000 a day from the advertisements attached to the free game. I myself only heard about the immensely popular game a mere week before it was removed from the various app stores. However, the thing that really gets me about this game’s popularity was that fact that so many devices that had the game still on them were placed on eBay and started selling for pretty high prices. Supposedly, the price of one device went for over $80,000. This is absolutely ridiculous. Have we really become so addicted to our mobile devices and their respective games that we will do anything to play them? It is only a matter of time before we all start walking around, glued to some game on our phones, bumping around our lives (and into each other), only looking up to realize that we have wandered to some unknown place that we cannot escape from. Or we will just spill more stuff on ourselves and others. Luckily, pop culture has many facets and my personal favorite is the internet meme. A new meme has recently gone viral and it has become my favorite meme, even surpassing “Grumpy Cat”. What is this new meme? “Business Baby”: This new meme has all of the makings of something that will probably be around for quite some time, even if that only means it will pop up just every now and again after the newness of it wears off. It has everything the internet loves: it is adorable (just look at it!) and it is super easy to add smart aleck captions. It is the same logic that made the eTrade babies popular. We love to see babies act like adults. Of course, “Business Baby” is a good lesson in being careful about what you put on the internet. The picture was originally on the Facebook page of one of the child’s parents. The picture was then taken from the profile by a friend and made into a meme that quickly gained popularity. None of that ended in any sort of law suit or anything and now “Business Baby” belongs to the internet. So what exactly have we learned? For starters, we now know how to make some money and to never put pictures of our children (or even loved ones) on Facebook. Right? No, that is not it. What we have learned we really already knew: the world of pop culture is fast moving and nothing is constant. This is good because then we could never make statements like “Remember how cool the Facebook look back video was?” Oh wait. No one is saying that. I guess I am behind the curve. Excuse me while I go put my pants on.
March 6, 2014Jad·ed /ˈjādid/ Adjective 1.tired, bored, or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something. I am in a love-hate relationship with routine. At the beginning of the semester, I received my class schedule, infatuated with opportunity and dreams of all the possibilities. Now in the middle of the semester, routine and I are both a little burnt out. There are positive and negative aspects to our commitment. There is safety in belonging to a routine, but danger of landing in a rut. There is comfort in having an established role—it does not take much effort to belong. The downside of my commitment to routine is that I can get stuck. The days can start to look painfully the same, like those in “Groundhog Day.” Just with any relationship, we need a certain amount of space. There should be a good balance of routine and spontaneity. Spontaneity may look different for all of us. Last year around this time, I was so fed up with my routine that I put rain boots on just so I could walk through the muddy grass of the Quad instead of taking my usual route. Maybe spontaneity for you is taking a trip to the coast in the middle of the week. The truth is, we have so much power over our choices in life. Entertain the notion that we truly decide how our day goes. The choice is ours. As students, we’re choosing to invest our time in education, but we could be anywhere. We are allowed to diverge to the path less traveled for a break. There is so much life going on around us outside the confines of our walls. What if we entered someone else’s story for a few minutes? What if we focused on blessing random people that we meet? Tell the employee at the grocery store they have a great smile! Ask that barista if there’s anything they want prayer for. If you’re short on money and want some change to your routine, try giving love. Throughout the things we choose to yield to, such as class schedules and homework, we can still live out our time with richness and meaning. Maybe I won’t feel so jaded as I walk the same path I do every day to classes if I focus on the love I’ve been given and the love I have the power to give. May love be our constant routine.
March 4, 2014George Fox students are weird. There are still people unaware about the fact that there is a student-run newspaper and a student-run radio. Many of them could find out that elections for Associated Student Community (ASC) Central Committee are just around the corner and they will just shrug their shoulders and mumble something non-committal. But if you let a clock in a public place not function or play too many hymns out of a clock tower, then people are willing to rise up in arms. For about a week, the main clock in the Bon was stuck at 6:36. Day after day new comments were posted to the comment board about the clock not being fixed, as if the staff of Bon Appétit, a catering company, is responsible for making the clocks work on campus. These comments were not always nice, either; many of them were not even complete sentences. Some of them looked as if The Hulk had written them! “CLOCK BROKEN!” some of the comments read. I imagine this is what it felt like getting new comments about the clock everyday. (Courtesy of vh1.com). My initial reaction to the broken clock was confusion. Then I looked at my wrist and saw the real time and went on with my life. I thought it was the mature thing do. Of course, some may counter with the fact that they do not own a watch. Everyone really should own a watch. Part of being an adult (which we are well on our way to being) is being responsible, and that means being able to keep track of the time. The no watch argument falls through even more when people cite the fact that they have a cellphone to tell them what time it is. If this is true, why are you complaining about some analog wall clock? It is petty. And that is stating it nicely. Simultaneously, people cannot get over the fact that the clock tower plays hymnals every fifteen minutes. I recognize the clichéd nature of the hymns at the Christian college, but it is not like anyone is being murdered (as much as my music major friends claim it is doing to their ears). While I enjoy the alliteration of musical murder and I do see where my more musically inclined friends are coming from (some of the notes are not quite right), it is a rather silly complaint. You would think in a culture where we can easily ignore the people around us (all of whom are important) with something as small a cell phone, we could ignore as small an issue as a discordant clock tower with great ease. It is interesting to see what sets people off. If we were this loud and obnoxious about other issues, important issues, real, healthy changes could happen. Maybe that energy should be focused at things like catching Kony or working on racial reconciliation within our own nation (or even school). At least voice your concerns kindly and to someone who can do something about the various clocks and then something may progress. Just angry complaining will not change a thing.
February 25, 2014Last week I wrote a column about NFL prospect Michael Sam, who recently announced he was gay during an ESPN interview. Some analysts believe his news could damage his chances of getting picked in the NFL draft, but before that momentous event, NBA center James Collins was the first professional athlete in a major American team sport to come out about his sexual orientation. Collins was a free agent during that time, but on Sunday he made history yet again. The Brooklyn Nets offered Collins a 10-day contract and tweeted out a picture of him signing on. Not only did he sign that same day, but he also checked in during the second quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Lakers. A round of applause was heard as he walked on the court of the Staple Center. Many supported him over Twitter, and Michael Sam directly Tweeted him, “Congratulations to my friend @jasoncollins34 – excited to see you do work out there #courage #groundbreaking” Collins hasn’t played professionally since April of last year with the Washington Wizards because he didn’t receive an invitation to training camp from any NBA teams. This didn’t discourage him from pursuing his passion. Collin continued to work out and is now is the first gay athlete to play the sport, and the world of sports continued on. He played a total of 11 minutes and had two rebounds. During the time of his contract the Nets will play a total of five games. The nets have been thinking about signing Collins for about a week since they were in need of a big body against the Lakers. According to an ESPN article, “The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision,” said Nets general manager Billing King in a statement. “We needed to increase our depth inside, and with his experience and size, we felt he was the right choice for a 10-day contract.” I commend the Nets for looking beyond Collins’s sexual orientation, even if it’s just a 10-day contract. It’s an initial step for equal opportunity for future gay athletes. This decision brings hope that Michael may be chosen to play for an NFL team.
February 23, 2014“Man, look at how beautiful campus is with that amazing clock tower in the center!” I used to love it. It used to be my friend. The beautiful singing, the hymns, the chiming at every :15, :30, :45, and hour. I loved it. The clock tower helped me remember what time it was, when I had classes, and when the Bon opened (though the Bon was never my friend). I’m not sure what changed. Maybe it’s the incessant playing, the constant chiming, the undeniable rage that brews inside me each time the clock hits 11 o’clock. DING. DING. DING. DING. DING. DING. DING. DING. DING. DING. DING. Perhaps the rage is due to the fact that Christmas music played well past Christmas. Perhaps it’s because the clock chimes at each hour, waits four minutes, plays music for another six or so, waits five minutes, and then chimes again. The clock tower could almost be compared to a sad, hungry puppy. Feed me! DING. Love me! DING. Look at this cool toy I found in the yard! DING DING DING DING DING. If it rang significantly less, I know I would still love it. I still enjoy when it dings on the hour, and at fifteen-minute intervals. I can handle that. But “Amazing Grace” is only so beautiful on the clock tower so many times. Angry letters have been written in my head so many times. I ponder, though, to whom do I send these angry letters? Who is in control of the clock tower? At first I thought about sending them to security services, but my lack of awareness on who actually has power stopped me from doing so. I wish I still loved the clock tower. It is so beautiful and elegant and it really is a pretty feature on our campus. When it snowed, it looked even better. At night, I almost think of the clock tower as a comfort. Since it’s so tall it is almost like another security guard. There is something relieving about being next to it at night, though I know it will actually do nothing to protect me, ever. If the music was not played quite as frequently, it would not be quite so much like an annoying little sibling. I imagine this is how new parents feel when their children wake up at all hours of the night. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. It’s especially torturous when I’m sitting in Minthorn for a writing class and the clock strikes 11. All of the dings. All of them. During this class we always happen to be completely silent when it goes off too, because we are in the midst of writing. If there is one thing I hope to gain from voicing my opinion about the clock tower, it is peace. I hope that I am not the only who feels this way, and that we can start a revolution. A revolution that will lessen the amount of times the clock tower sings per day. Until then, be safe out there, and try not to get so mad that you punch a desk. It hurts.
February 18, 2014National Football League prospect Michael Sam recently came out publicly that he’s gay during an interview with ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.” The All-American defensive end and SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year is predicted to be picked in the third or fourth round of the NFL draft. Now, there are many question about whether this will affect his chances of entering the NFL. There is no doubt there will be obstacles upon his professional career, but his skills will quiet those who disagree with his life choice. “I’m not naïve,” said Sam in an interview with the New York Times. “I know this is a huge deal and I know how important this is. But my role as of right now is to train for the combine and play in the NFL.” Sam’s courageous decision to speak out will break barriers to the “manly man game.” Even if his news doesn’t change the outcome in his selection, his experience as a professional athlete will change the world of male dominated sports. According to Sports Illustrated, eight NFL coaches and executives who were interviewed anonymously gave their opinion on homosexuality. One personal assistant stated, “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. It’d chemically imbalance the NFL locker room and meeting room.” The idea that a gay man would “chemically imbalance” the team room is a harsh and ignorant statement, especially after the NFL took mild measurements for bullying in a locker room from one teammate to another. If I were an NFL coach, Sam’s talents and skills would be more significant than anything my team would “lose” because of his sexual orientation. The NFL has become a symbol and definition of “real men” in America, yet because of Sam’s life choice he is no longer a man, but an outsider. He has received immense support from teammates and fans. Even First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted her support along with her husband President Obama. One response that caught my attention was by a Texas sports anchor Dale Hansen. Dale spoke about Sam’s announcement, and emphasized the fact that the NFL celebrates the performance of those that do more harm than good, for example players who are arrested for a DUI or caught in the act of using illegal substances. Regardless of his sexual orientations, Sam’s ability to perform at the combine and individual team workouts should be viewed equally compared to other players.
February 17, 2014Growing up in the non-denominational Christian church, I was exposed to people of extreme conservatism, and then some with a more liberal standpoint. Being between many people of many different views, I was pretty free to choose my own view based on those with whom I agreed. On mission trips and at camps, our dress code was sort of strict, but certainly follow-able. The one thing I could never accept, though, was that leggings don’t count as pants. Pants are probably one of the worst things in my life. I can handle tests, I can handle messy rooms and too many dishes in the sink. But wearing pants is almost never enjoyable. So if I get the opportunity to wear leggings instead of real-people-scratchy-uncomfortable pants, I’m going to take it. Who invented jeans for casual wear anyway? They are limiting and for some reason they just don’t stay up, even with a belt. Leggings aren’t like that. Leggings understand. They are stretchy, they move with you, and they have infinite uses: sleeping companion, lazy day wear, and you can even dress them up with a nice shirt and a cardigan. I do understand that they are skin-tight and can make boys lust or whatever silly reasons I hear to not wear leggings, but I feel there will never be a good enough reason to not wear them. And plus, if they aren’t pants, then what are they? They get sold in the pants section, they feel roughly the same as normal pants, and they go on your legs. I just don’t understand how they aren’t truly pants. If girls are going around wearing see-through leggings and skimpy tank tops, then I could see that as an issue. More of an issue than if wearing it with, say, a giant sweatshirt that covers your butt and doesn’t make you look attractive anyway. In any case, I think we all just need to take a moment and think about how leggings feel; being told that they don’t count as pants means that their sole purpose for being made is a lie.
February 16, 2014According to a study conducted by Slate Magazine in December 2013, over 12,000 people in the United States have been shot to death since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. Of course, 60% of these were suicides, but that is still about 12,000 more people than I would like to have been shot. For those of you who like to do math, that still leaves around 4,800 homicides caused by gun violence. Every time there is a shooting, the issue of gun control comes up. One side wants more control on guns (banning or otherwise) to keep guns out of the hands of would-be shooters and the other side wants to keep guns to shoot would-be shooters. What occurs from this is a bunch of people screaming at each other where nothing really gets done and everyone walks away angry. Just about anyone can find some form of media talking about the issue of gun control. It is on every front page and in every news report when a shooting happens. However, it would seem that discussions about mental illness falls by the wayside. The issue of mental illness is not completely ignored when mass shootings occur and it is not a catch all cause for gun violence in America. It does not seem to spark the same kind of talks that gun control does. I do not particularly wish for people to spend as much time arguing about mental illness, but they really should be talking about it more. This really highlights a bigger issue that occurs in the U.S.: figuring out how to help those with mental illnesses. The challenge of dealing with mental illness has been around for centuries. There was a time when people were locked away in asylums, but these were rarely part of any treatment plan. More often than not, these institutions did little more than keep those with mental illnesses away from other people, often hurting them. The play “Mrs. Packard” and the novel and later adaptations of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” come to mind. Courtesy of mccarter.org Many of these places were shut down in the 1960s, in part due to the actions of President Kennedy. However, many of the patients went from the institutions to the streets. To this day, approximately 26% of all homeless people in the U.S. live with mental illness. So what am I getting at? We need to get more people talking about mental illness. Obviously, many people have, mostly experts. Now, we need everyone else to treat this issue like it truly should be. If more people discuss it, then it becomes more of a priority, and then better solutions are more likely to present themselves. As the issue gains speed, more people can and will be helped and our country will be a better place for everyone.
February 9, 2014As a general rule, I try to resist promoting companies and businesses in general when I write. I do not always do so well with that rule (and when I say rule I mean more or less guidelines). However, some companies deserve recognition. It is common knowledge that my favorite soda is Dr. Pepper. At this point, I am willing to change my loyalties to Coca-Cola. Why? Because I have never seen a commercial that has made me more proud to be American. I am, of course, referring to the commercial that aired during the Super Bowl this year and will be airing during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics (for which I am extremely excited). Here it is in case you missed it Besides the fact that there was some beautiful footage and a lovely song, it fills me with such joy that the U.S. is being recognized as a country full of diversity. Coca-Cola has done many commercials in the past where different people come together over an old fashioned bottle of Coke. These are great; one of my favorites, to this day, is the 2008 Super Bowl commercial where two opposing politicians come together over some Cokes and explore Washington D. C. together. If only this really happened. This commercial has a similar theme: people, no matter what language, ethnicity, age, etc., are brought together over a good soda and good times. It is a great theme that Coca-Cola has been running with for years and it never seems to get old. My patriotism was soon squashed when I saw some of the terrible things people were saying in response to this commercial. One Twitter user tweeted, “Hey @Coca Cola This is America. English please.” Others took to Facebook with comments like “Speak English or go home,” and “Screwed up a beautiful song. No Coke for my family.” Frankly, I am disgusted. I have never been so ashamed of my country. That is saying something because the U.S. is a pretty messed up place these days. Engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty are these words: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” How can people say such insensitive things like “Speak English or go home,” when we are essentially advertising to people that America is a great place to come and live and that we will take them as they are with one of the most iconic American symbols? Photo courtesy of ellisisland.org These words are even more hurtful to those who have only known the U.S. as their home. We have become a country of people who attack our fellow citizens for their own individualities and then we turn around and say that America is a place where everyone can be what they want to be. If Abraham Lincoln was right when he said “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” then it is amazing that America is still around. We cannot be a unified country, a United States of America, if we cannot simply get along with each other. There are some who may read this and say that I am anti-America. That is simply not true. In the words of Mark Twain, “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” Since our government is a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” (again, thank you Abraham Lincoln) and since it was formed by the people (as stated in the beginning lines of the Constitution), then patriotism would be supporting my fellow Americans when they deserve it, at least going by Mark Twain. I am thankful to have grown up in America; it has afforded me great opportunities and privileges, such as free speech. So, I cannot stand by and allow hurtful ignorance to continue without at least saying something about it. Until we can see each other has equal countrymen and women, as human beings, we cannot give up on fighting ignorance and hatred. If, and only if, we can accomplish this will we ever truly be America the Beautiful.
February 4, 2014The Portland Trail Blazers have surpassed their previous 2012-13 record of 33-49, as they advance to 34-14 with a playoff run in sight. The Blazers came into this season with a new roster built around all-star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge elevates his teammates by making those around him play better. Both Aldridge and sophomore point guard Damian Lillard were selected for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game as reserves. Portland fans were disappointed since they believed Aldridge deserved a starting position. He didn’t receive enough fan votes, but the NBA coaches believed he deserved a spot. Though his teammates, specifically small forward Nicholas Batum, were upset, Aldridge maintained poise. In an interview with Blazeredge, Aldridge said, “I’ve kind of gotten used to those things happening. “Everybody around me was more upset than me,” he continued. “I came in tonight and [Nicolas Batum] was pretty fired up about it. My mom was pretty heated about it. Me, I was like, ‘OK, this is happening again.’ Aldridge is averaging 24.4 points per game and 11.6 rebound. ESPN Tom Pen ranked Aldridge as the No. 1 power forward in the NBA. He’s in the race for MVP at No. 3 behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Though the month of November and December was a striking surprise for most Portlanders and the NBA, the team hit a slump in January. The Blazers are known for depending too much on the three-point, and being absent on defense. In the first months of the season the Blazers shot a combined 40 percent from the three-point line. In January they combined 35 percent. The Blazers need to improve their defense and points in the paint if they want to be taken seriously as a playoff prospective. Portland went 8-6 in January and scored a season low of 81 points against the Memphis Grizzlies on Jan. 26, and lost 98-81. Before the month ended, the Blazers pushed for a much-needed win against the Toronto Raptors, 106-103. The win prevented the team’s first three-game losing streak of the season. The Blazers are third in the Western Conference trailing behind the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma Thunder. Up next, the Blazers have a four game road trip which ends this week against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Then the Blazers will meet at home against the Thunder on Feb. 11. The Seattle Seahawks and Trail Blazer owner Paul Allen just won his first world championship as an owner on Sunday as the Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl XLVIII. I wonder if his luck will roll over for the Blazers and bring an NBA world championship to Portland. One can only dream.
February 3, 2014We have all heard about Justin Bieber’s run-ins with the law. I, like many, heard about it, laughed for a bit, and then went on with my life. For others it was a much bigger deal, bigger than it needed to be. I am sure many of you have seen the video of the MSNBC newscaster interrupting a congresswoman, talking about the ongoing National Security Agency debacle, to report that Justin Bieber had been arrested for drunk driving. Here is the video (I apologize for the quality). Is this really what we have come to? How is it that we can live in a world where the ridiculous and stupid actions of celebrities take precedence over how our country is run? The fault lies in the public. The media does what the public dictates and at this point the public is obsessed with celebrities. The best way for a media network to stay afloat is to garner good ratings and that only happens if the viewers get what they want. This is especially true for American television where we are constantly given what we think we want instead of left wanting more. How did we become so obsessed with celebrities? Reality TV shows like “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” Shows like that opened a gateway of people wanting to know more and more about their idols so that they can create even bigger idols out of them. And now we are at a point where our celebrity obsessions are more important than the running of our country. So what are we to do? Simply stated, it is time for some of us to get a life. If we could somehow channel our interests into more useful sectors of society we could have a better world much more quickly. On a more individual level, the best thing to do may be to not post so much about our favorite celebrities on social media. It may be difficult to do (even I am guilty of “fan-girling” at times), but it is a good start because anymore, there is no such thing as bad publicity for these people. Hordes of blind sheep will follow them to the slaughter no matter what. Even going so far as to not purchase magazines like People and Us, even to make fun of them. Buying these magazines merely perpetuates the cycle. Besides, they are mostly advertisements anyways. If we can find a way to at least control our sensationalism, we can really start to understand what matters. Plus, it might lead to more polite newscasters who do not interrupt the people they are interviewing. One thing at a time, though.