Anderson Issues

Commentary on the Zeitgeist

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How to Use a Paper Towel

Posted by amherst94 on May 15, 2012

When in doubt, go to TED. That’s my motto. Granted, with the discovery of Pinterest, TED and I had a rough patch, but I think we’ve gotten through it. I love TED conferences because of how incredibly simple they can be. For example, in this talk, Joe Smith shows us all how to use a paper towel. I know that it’s hard to believe that it’s even possible for their to be a right way to use a paper towel. Maybe it’s better to say that there is an efficient way to use a paper towel. There’s also a better way to tie your shoes. Every time I see a talk like these, it makes me think. What else do we do every day that we could be doing better? It’s something to consider as we continue to move forward as a society, isn’t it? Innovation doesn’t just have to be inventing new, but can also be going back to something that we’ve always had, and making it better. In fact, I think it is even more amazing to see things like these, because it takes a greater imagination to reinvent something that already works. I applaud these guys, because they aren’t ones to stick to the status quo, and I think we could all learn from that.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Day of Silence

Posted by amherst94 on March 26, 2012

So I suppose I’ve been waiting a bit to do a post about this… But with Day of Silence right around the corner, I feel like now is as good a time as any to do it. Let’s dive right in:

On the 20th of April 2012, I will be completely silent from the time I leave my home until 4:15, when the last bell rings. To be honest, it isn’t something that I find that hard, but to others it’s a challenge. I know of a few others who will be joining me, and I assume that there are many others on our campus as well. To me, the Day of Silence is one of the most important school events that we have. In concept, it is similar (though much less dramatic) to the Shattered Dreams program. Students go through out the school day “in silence” as a way of bringing attention to the anti-LGBT bullying that occurs in schools.

The point is that a study has found that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students report having experienced harassment at school, but an overwhelming majority of these kids do not report it. The Day of Silence is meant to expose this silence to the rest of the student body. For more information about the Day of Silence itself, and it’s history, I highly suggest visiting the GLSEN website. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | 30 Comments »

Backpacking Europe

Posted by amherst94 on January 23, 2012

This week, while in a flight of fancy, I decided to take an hour to do some research, and actually plan out one of my many dreams: backpacking across Europe. The result of the planning was somewhat depressing as I realized just how much it would cost, as well as how much time the entire trip would take. So, for lack of the means to take this trip, I decided to outline it here and see what people think. While I realize that this isn’t necessarily a contemporary “issue”, I do believe that trips like these have become unpopular, and I think that we have lost something because of it. Just from sitting in my classes, I have come to realize that there are just so many people who really have very little idea what other cultures are out there. I strongly believe that the basis of diplomacy is mutual understanding, and what better way to understand a culture than living a few days like them? Secondly, I feel that there are an incredible amount of practical life lessons that can be learned by taking a trip like this. Now, there are some places that I undeniably want to visit, but other than those few, I really want the chance to just live a few days like a native person. Visit street vendors and family restaurants. See what they do for fun. Go to a football game, etc., etc. And so now that I’m done justifying this post’s place on the website, here is the trip that I have planned out:

Pre-trip:

Important to plan things out before you find yourself in Europe. First thing that you will definitely need is a passport ($110). Second, there are lots of train passes that you can buy for the Eurail, the best deal I saw was about $540. Depending on what you already have, the rest of the supplies you need for travelling will vary. Since I personally haven’t done much travelling, I anticipate clothes, supplies, shoes and backpack to cost around another $400. Finally, you have the airline ticket to actually get you to and from Europe (~$500 each way).

Pre-trip total:$2,050 Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

Writer’s Block, Anyone?

Posted by amherst94 on November 8, 2011

Well fear no more! You see, Elizabeth Gilbert has answered the age old problem for all creative types:

(Quick side note: TED.com is an awesome site, with amazing speakers with a variety of interesting topics. I urge you all to check it out, find a few talks that you find interesting.)

http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html

Okay, I’ll admit that when I first heard this talk, I thought she was a bit of a nut. I mean, she pretty much admits that she believes that artists of all sorts have a little faerie that follows them around everywhere, giving them little hints every now and then, which is the deciding factor of that artist’s success. And let’s face it, there’s no real way to make that sound credible. But let’s take a step back, and not fuss about the details of her speech, because there are some very good points that she brings up. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Art, Music | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

78702

Posted by amherst94 on October 1, 2011

Austin. It’s our city, and I love it to death with all its little quirks. But Austin has undoubtedly been seeing some changes lately, and I think the perfect example of this is East Austin. My grandparents have a house on a corner lot of East 1st Street (otherwise known as Cesar Chavez), and because of that I’ve gotten to see first hand some of the things that are going on.

Within the past year alone, there have been dozens of new shops to open up in the neighborhood. Beyond that, over the past several years, the neighborhood has been changing with the remodeling of many of the houses and public buildings. An interest has been sparked in this area of Austin, and it has led to some rather amazing transformations.

Unfortunately, with those transformations comes a rather sticky subject: gentrification.

First, I’d like to define it, so that we’re all on the same page by what I mean when I say gentrification. According to the Oxford English Dictionary:

“To renovate and improve (especially a house or district) so that it conforms to middle-class taste.”
And that definition is pretty basic, but for the purposes of this post I think it will work well, so let’s dive right into the issue. Gentrification occurs in lower-class neighborhoods, and results in the rise of the property taxes for the area. Usually, the people living in these areas are unable to afford the increase to their house payments, and are forced to move from the neighborhood, or continue to live there under a greater financial strain. In addition to the tensions created by the differences in economic standing, there is (at least in regards to Austin) a difference of race that is difficult to ignore. In East Austin, where I see this occurring, the original community is largely Hispanic, while the people moving into the neighborhood are predominantly white.
 
Looking at how this area of Austin is changing, I can start to understand the resentment towards those moving into the neighborhood. After a few minutes on Trulia, I was able to find a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house for about $250,000 in the middle East Austin. Another house in Northwest Austin, 3 bedroom, 2 bath, same square-footage, for about the same price. For a community where it was possible for a man to pay off any debt on his house with a working-class salary, the sudden jump in prices comes as a bit of a shock. While I walked through an open house down the street from my grandparent’s house, the realtor justified the price to my mom with the fact that “it’s only minutes from downtown!”
 
I’ll admit, my mom and I had a pretty good laugh over that one. Of course it’s only minutes from downtown. It has always been minutes from downtown. I can see I-35 (as well as many of the city’s skyscrapers) from the front porch of my grandparent’s. It’s not like East Austin has been moved closer to the city in the past few years. And so for someone who grew up here, a justification that seems more accurate would be “we realized last year that it’s only minutes from downtown!” And for someone who grew up here, and had dreams of raising their own family here, suddenly being unable to afford a house because the rest of the world finally became aware of the perks of the area? Yeah, I can see how that could get to some people.
 
That being said, the benefits of gentrification are undeniable. For those of us able to stay here, there has been an undeniable improvement to schools, amazing remodels to old homes, and an exponential growth in business. The neighborhood is, in fact, probably in the best shape that it ever has. And so, I think the question becomes, is gentrification, with all its drawbacks, really that bad of a thing? Shouldn’t we, as people living nearly 50 years since the civil rights movements, be able to live with people who aren’t from the same ethnic origin without there being a clash? To be honest, I don’t really know. But I am optimistic, and I know that in the coming years that we will see how this dilemma plays out.

Posted in Society, Uncategorized | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

 
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