This Lance Armstrong business is irking me.

I’m actually very indifferent about doping in sports. The reality of the situation is that no matter how many sophisticated methods of testing athletes they come up with, athletes and those “responsible” for them are always going to find a way around it. There will always be athletes that do not play by the rules. We’ve seen it time and time again in all levels of all sports. Steroids in baseball. Weights in bobsledding. Underage athletes in gymnastics. I don’t care how extensive and thorough the testing is, there is always a loophole and the athletes that can find such loopholes will take advantage of them in order to win. So, while I wouldn’t say I approve of using artificial means to enhance performance, I would say that it’s basically a non-issue because there is no such thing as a level playing field these days.

My real issue with the Lance Armstrong fiasco is more an issue with professional sports in general. The organization that accused and ultimately found out Armstrong, the USADA, is apparently a private organization that receives our tax dollars. They performed a probing and probably quite expensive investigation, interrogating Armstrong’s teammates and opponents and pulling medical histories. So essentially me and every other hard working American funded this absolutely useless, ex post facto inquiry all for the purpose of proving that Armstrong did not actually deserve the accolades that he has received.

To me, this is just unacceptable. All they’ve done is forced an accomplished albeit dishonest man to renounce his awards in a profession that has NO EFFECT on the vast majority of the American population. So why is everyone okay with paying for this?

It’s a prime example of how over-valued professional sports are in our culture. That a government-funded agency was given essentially free reign to invest intense effort into implicating a fucking RETIRED cyclist (who, by the way, has been arguably the most influential public figure in American cancer research) for something that he already did just blows me away. If we were talking about murder or something that actually mattered that would be one thing. But we’re talking about a bike race. And guess what? Half the guys that crossed the line behind Armstrong were probably doped up too.

I already think it’s ridiculous that professional athletes, coaches, managers, etc. make millions of dollars a year while teachers make only a fraction of that. I could go on forever about that one because I honestly see that as one of the largest travesties that exists today. But what’s even more ridiculous is that I am forced to pay for, in any capacity, the implication of one of these athletes for something that has no present effect. Why should sports take so much stock? When you take a step back and examine the real stranglehold sports have on our country it’s just astounding what we let them get away with. I haven’t even begun to get into my feelings about this issue, but for now I think I’ve at least somewhat made a point about this so I’ll leave it for another time. I just wish our government would take my money for things that matter.

So I go to school with this boy, another computer science major, who works at our school’s student tech support/IT center. He already has a habit of trying to make everyone around him feel inferior in any way possible, and I can usually deal with this because I know I’m just as intelligent and capable as he is, and I’m secure enough not to rub this in everyone’s face all the time.

The one thing that I really can’t stand that he does though is look down on me for having a job in the Writing Center. He just said to me that his job is skilled, that he does a lot of work, and that he doesn’t get paid enough for it. My job, he said, is unskilled, and that all we do is sit around and make fun of the people that come in.

I’m sorry, but I have not once seen a person at the RSA (his job) do anything except change the paper in the printer. I know that they do some technical stuff, but obviously since the college has a whole host of real IT people that don’t have to split their time between work and class, it’s not that vital that they have student workers. It’s a benefit for the students more than anything, and it allows the people dealing with important things like server maintenance to avoid menial tasks like fixing the copiers and resetting passwords.

Writing tutors, on the other hand, are not replaceable by any upper-level staff. The benefits of peer tutoring as opposed to faculty-student tutoring are well researched and documented. We go through a semester-long training class where we learn about theory and practice, do a research paper, and spend hours shadowing in the Writing Center to prepare for our actual work there.

I’m not saying my job is superior to his. It’s true that we spend a good amount of our working hours there sitting around and talking about pointless crap. It all comes back to people in technical fields looking down on liberal arts fields, taking things like writing and art for granted. Perhaps the liberal arts are more accessible and require less specialization, but they are still important and challenging in their own respect. I am a multi-disciplinary person. To be frank, spending all of my time writing code or fiddling with equations bores me. I need to spread myself across the disciplines and take advantage of all of my skill sets.

I don’t have much more to say about this. I just see the struggle between humanities/social sciences/hard sciences as pointless and ultimately detrimental to intellectual progress. And people in technical fields are generally huge douches, so there’s that.

It makes me mad when someone asks a person a question about their sexuality or gender or sex and the person responds “Why does everyone care?/Why do people always ask me that?/It doesn’t even matter.”

Now, if you aren’t comfortable talking about it, that’s one thing. And I think most people will be considerate and back off you in that case. I know there are a lot of different opinions about what kinds of questions are appropriate to ask a person, and I am not at all condoning somebody directly asking a person, a complete stranger no less, probing questions about their personal life. But if you post things on tumblr about your sexuality or your gender on a regular basis, you’re kind of setting yourself up to be asked about such topics.

And, obviously since people continually ask about it, it does matter to them. Everyone is curious about sexuality and gender. Especially in a time where young people have grown infinitely more accepting of non-traditional lifestyles, it seems to me that questions about personal preferences are inevitable. It just makes me cringe a little bit to see some of the fielders of these questions being so non-receptive to such inquiries, shutting the asker down completely. Your sexuality/sex/gender doesn’t “matter” in terms of you being a valuable human being with other defining interests and talents, but it does matter in terms of broadening the general populace’s understanding about gender expression, etc. I am not saying anyone has a responsibility to do any of this. I am all for someone saying “I don’t really like talking about it/I’m not comfortable sharing this information with people I’m not close to/etc.”, but then you can’t really get mad when people misunderstand or are uneducated about some aspect of gender/sexuality.

I’m just ranting, I don’t get why people can’t be open (on all sides) and receptive to questions, opinions, whatever. I love when people ask me questions about my sexuality/gender, it makes me feel like I am contributing to general understanding, even in a small way. 

Shopping with mother today.

My mood throughout the trip oscillated between general exhaustion and extreme loathing, but I got a few nice things so I can’t say it was a total bust. Although, I was pretty much forbidden from going to England for study abroad. In her words, because everyone gets to go to Europe eventually and I will definitely have the opportunity to take an extended trip there after I’m finished undergrad (translated as: “I’ve already been to Europe but I’ve never been to Australia, so you have to go there so I can visit.”). I found this reaction utterly unsurprising, but I wish she had just said I can make the choice for myself.

Otherwise, pretty unremarkable day. I can’t eat anymore unless I’m high, so there’s that. Went out for Indian food with my brother, aunt, and great aunt and I ate like two bites before I felt full. I hadn’t eaten for about eight hours, so I should have been hungry. Yet, I was repulsed. I’ll probably eat it later tonight in my bed while watching The Office.

I guess I’m done my rant now, I’m just in a chit chatty mood, I guess. Peace.

Anyone who knocks Parking Wars is just wrong.

It’s just a perfect sample of a particular group of people and their everyday life. It’s one of the most real reality shows I’ve ever watched. I’m sure they “stage” some of the situations in the sense that they probably ask the PPA workers to play up some of the drama a little more than they normally do, or they purposefully set up situations so that they will be more exciting. But, overall, it’s just a truly entertaining line of work. I know from personal experience, as probably most people do, that getting a ticket or having your car towed is an extremely frustrating, emotion-driven experience, especially if you’re in a tight spot financially. The show just captures all of the emotion. I get angry when I’m watching it, sometimes at the idiotic people and sometimes at the PPA workers. Real life man.

I am going to hate Professor Wells forever for making me hate computer science.

I seriously have negative passion for my major right now and it’s really frustrating me. I have this lab due tomorrow that I literally haven’t started. I have no idea how to approach it and I’m tired of staring at it. If anything, I’ve gotten worse at CS this semester. I certainly don’t enjoy it anymore. I used to enjoy it. A lot. I used to spend hours perfecting my labs. Now I put them off until the last minute, literally dreading the time I have to dedicate to my code to even get it mildly working. I hate Dickinson for not investing in my education, and I hate that everyone who told me they didn’t think I was really passionate about computer science and that I probably shouldn’t have gone into it might have been right.

In other news, if anyone wants to give me some guidance about implementing a MultiMap from scratch, without using any pre-existing Java classes, I would be grateful.

My entire life, people have always given me shit and/or made fun of me (both in friendly and non-friendly ways) about how I dress. My mom used to dress me in cute little Gymboree clothes and, occasionally, dresses. But as soon as I was aware enough to realize what I was wearing, I protested. Not so much the Gymboree, but certainly the dresses. Even on my best, sweetest, most well-behaved day, it basically took a full army of people to force me into a pair of tights. There was no getting me into anything frilly or dressy without a huge fight and a river of tears.

That’s pretty much been my life since then. I’ve never been super interested in looking “nice” over feeling comfortable. On first meeting me, it’s not uncommon for people to think I’m a lesbian because I choose to wear lacrosse shorts and a t-shirt almost 24/7. I understand that there are times where a little more formal dress is appropriate, and I rise to such occasions. But I just don’t see the point in making an effort when I’m just going to class, or to the store, or to complete any number of daily tasks.

Lately, my mom has really been getting on me about my appearance. My guess is, in light of my recent break up, she is starting to fear that nobody will ever want me if i continue to dress like such a “frump.” So today we went shopping and I was really earnestly trying to pick out some things that were nicer and that I liked and could see myself wearing on a regular basis. She would have none of it. I don’t think I’ve ever faced so much rejection before in my life. It was pretty magnificent motivation for me to attempt to dress nicely (sarcasm).

I just wish everyone would leave me alone about how I dress. I dress the way that makes sense to me. Which is obviously not good enough anymore.

CNN: Why Warren Buffett is wrong

I was just reading this article and it got my blood boiling, as CNN opinion articles tend to do. It’s basically a response to some comments Warren Buffett made about increasing capital taxes for the super-rich. Jeffery Miron, the author of the article, argues that this is not the way to go, and he gets into a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that I really don’t agree with about why this method of boosting the economy won’t work. But I won’t go in to that.

What I will go in to is this:

Focusing on the super-rich also fosters a counterproductive attitude toward material success. The way to promote a hard-working, entrepreneurial and innovative society is to celebrate great wealth so long as it has been earned by legitimate means. When this is not the case, policy should target the wrongdoing directly, not demonize everyone who hits it big.

Am I the only person who sees the atrocity of this mindset?

First of all, I really don’t think anyone should be concerned about people forming a negative attitude towards success because of a little tax hike. People aspire to financial success, and they always will.

But the second, and really the more pressing issue I have with this is just the complete selfishness of what he’s saying. Essentially, he’s saying that people who already make a lot of money should be further rewarded for their “hard work” and achievement. WHAT THE FUCK??!?!?!?! Do not even try to tell me that a single mother who works two or three jobs does not work as hard as a CEO. Did she choose her station in life? My guess is no. She probably didn’t have a privileged childhood, and she probably didn’t have an opportunity for education, and she probably is a perfectly nice and respectable person. But, according to this guy, she deserves no reward. She doesn’t have the means to get health care? Sucks. No food? Sucks. You don’t make as much money as the corrupt, scheming, slimy CEO, and here in America, the only thing that we should care about is money, so you can go on living your shitty life while us rich people just mill about like nothing is wrong.

And then he goes on to say that hiking the taxes for the super-rich would be “demonizing” them. Could that be a more selfish viewpoint? This country is obviously in desperate need of money. Every single government program at the state and federal level is JUST getting by, if that. I understand rich people don’t use public transit or welfare or public education, but they sure as hell drive on the roads, have a police force and penitentiary system to protect them, and consume FDA/USDA approved products. Where does it make more sense to get the funds for such programs? From the single mom who barely gets to sleep at night or the CEO who’s vacationing in Barbados?

My ultimate point is that the individuals who make up this country are too self-absorbed. There is far too much focus on personal means and not enough focus on the welfare of the country as a whole. Rich and poor depend on each other for a living, and every single person in this country depends on the government for all different aspects of day to day life. Poor people can’t give much… they’re poor. But the super-rich can, and in doing so will improve the quality of life and the economic stability of the US. Money isn’t everything, and people don’t realize that the belief that it is will be our ultimate downfall as a nation.

I spent the morning reading a bunch of old conversations with various people. And now I am filled with this deep distrust of everything. People throw around words like “forever” and “i promise” so thoughtlessly. Perhaps I do too. These are very heavy things to say. In the moment, it is easy to forget that things change, that promises are broken. And I want to be able to do something about it, but I didn’t make or break any such promises. So now, reading these messages from my friends, and being who I am now, how am I to continue to trust? When someone says “I’ll always be there for you,” what motivation do I have to believe them? It takes a single moment for such things to come crumbling to the ground around you, leaving you with nothing but your own promises and a loss of people to give them to.

Just doing some thinking out loud.

A few days ago, I posted this article from about whether whites are facing racial oppression. The group of whites specifically discussed was poor whites. A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook where it received a significant amount of scorn for its content. While there is a lot of bull in this article coming from Glenn Beck and the like about white Republicans being an oppressed minority, there are also some points which I do not think should be so easily dismissed.

Poor whites, for example, are not benefited by any of the numerous minority scholarships that are available to nonwhite people. So, if a poor white wants to go to college but cannot afford it, their only hope lies in either getting a grant, a merit scholarship or going to a cheaper community college with less resources and fewer opportunities. This places them at a clear socioeconomic disadvantage as a result of their race than their rich and poor minority peers, one which is only magnified by the institution of affirmative action. Is this not somewhat unjust?

I am not suggesting by any means that poor whites have endured the same social, political, or cultural oppression that other racial minority groups have. I am saying that it is entirely possible that the situation is headed in that direction.

Following years of reinforcement, whites in America have come to see themselves as the norm rather than just another, slightly larger racial entity. Thus, this concept of white privilege has developed. The idea that, since white is considered by whites to be the norm, whites have constructed society in a way that they are the privileged ones. But now there is a growing demographic of whites who live at or below the poverty line. And where are they to turn? Who will be their advocate?

The way I see it, they have no advocate. Among whites, some have the desire to help, but not the means or the power. Those who have the means and the power often fall into the category of those individuals or groups who hold prejudices against the disadvantaged. Or, they fall into such categories as colleges who are so focused on creating racial and ethnic diversity that they let socioeconomic diversity fall by the wayside. Rare is it that a person possesses the desire, means, and power to make significant changes in the social landscape. There is a large reliance on individuals for this. Of course, there also exists a looming caution among whites when it comes to advocating for their own race (when race is the issue) that any self-proclaimed support of the white race is equivalent to white supremacy or the like. And few racial minority groups are likely to advocate for poor whites by sheer fact that they are white, part of the privileged majority.

Here we see a group that is both powerless and friendless, a group that is at a clear disadvantage in society. For poor whites, there is a strong likelihood that they will become severely oppressed as a semi-direct result of their race. I am not proposing that we should expend large amounts of resources in order to remedy this situation, as I am aware that there are much more pressing issues at hand and many other oppressed groups to be addressed. I am only saying that racially oppressed whites DO exist and it is not something to be ignored, just as no other form of oppression should be ignored. Race is, after all, merely a social construct, and those persecuted on such a basis deserve attention and assistance.

NOTE: I refer to whites as “them” throughout this post, while in reality I am white as well. The words were just coming from an academic/conceptual place in my brain so I didn’t feel like saying “we” was quite right. But I am aware that I am included in the white race.