All posts by cu8110pi

Cancel culture is ruining people’s lives

Before going into all the things that are wrong with cancel culture it’s important that we recognize just how much influence our peers have over us. Despite our better judgment it’s easy to fall into the trappings of hysteria. When we find ourselves beholden to a fabrication it quickly becomes indiscernible from the truth in our hearts and minds. Feelings can make an otherwise rational person do something irrational because it appeals to a higher calling within ourselves. As humans we have a primal need to belong, to be part of something bigger than ourselves and we reach a point where justification is just another speed bump on our way to conformity. 

To get to the crux of the matter cancel culture is a bullying movement and an assuming one at that. They prey on the alleged abuser as if they’ve already been condemned vilifying them with a type of contemptuous self-righteous fury that would make the Spanish inquisition blush. Simultaneously, the accuser is esteemed and praised for their boldness in defiance of the acrimony brought down on them by their irredeemable perpetrator. The problem I have with this factitious behavior is that the aforementioned persecution can and has happened before there is even a shred of evidence.  

It is both true and deeply unfortunate that those with status and power have taken it upon themselves to abuse their position in order to do some sincerely horrific things. However, on our journey to right the wrongs, it’s essential that we don’t overreact to the issue to the point that we lose ourselves in indignation and retribution. As difficult as it may be we need to have enough empathy for the alleged assailant to withhold our proclivities until there’s proof. That being said, it’s also entirely reasonable to support the victim without elevating them until the outcome is contextualized.

Gamer brain

It sounds like an activity-related injury akin to tennis elbow or skier’s thumb. However, gamer brain is actually associated with higher cognitive function. The effects of video games on cognitive processes have been documented and studied by neuroscientists. In the study of video games on the brain they’ve discovered that people who game 5-15 hours per week actually have better vision than non-gamers. Furthermore, scientists have also been able to dispel the myth that video games are linked to behavior problems like ADHD and cause issues with distractibility. By testing a gamer’s ability to resolve conflict in an activity they are able to determine how long they can focus on a singular task, and it comes as no surprise that people who were adept at gaming had an easier time with this task. 

The average age of a gamer is 33 years old, and if that trend continues as anticipated we can expect a new demographic of geriatric keyboard warriors. Unsurprisingly video games are everywhere in our society and they continue to cater to an ever-expanding audience. The pervasiveness of this hobby has influenced global markets and continues to evolve as an entertainment media that spans generations. 

This blog wouldn’t be a fair comparison if I didn’t talk about the downsides of video games too. Like anything that’s good for you they should be enjoyed in moderation, playing too much or for too long certainly comes with health risks. There have been reported cases of people developing blood clots and dying while gaming and having bouts of depression because they become too attached to an online world. The best analogy I could find for gaming is to consider it’s effect on our brains like we would the effect of red wine on our health. As long as we consume reasonable amounts and make certain that the age matches the activity we can expect to enjoy the health benefits of both.

It’s time for an extra cup

I have no doubt many of the bloggers here are like myself and can’t seem to get enough java during the workweek. Over the years we’ve all heard the warnings and hazards of having too much. While some concern is warranted regarding caffeine addiction and the ramifications of such should not be taken lightly. Coffee can actually provide a lot of positive effects for the body if consumed in normal quantities.

There have been a lot of studies conducted on the effects of coffee that prove, time and time again, that the benefits really do outweigh the risks. For example, a decade-long study that was concluded in 2018 found that 500,000 coffee drinking adults were 10%-15% less likely to die than non-coffee drinkers. If that isn’t enough reason to have another cup it’s worth mentioning that coffee is also a natural antioxidant and reduces inflammation. 

While the perks of coffee sound great, the catch is that the people receiving these benefits are drinking multiple cups a day. To maintain a healthy range the experts recommend that we drink three cups a day and no more than five since the positive effects diminish after that point. As I reviewed these studies I want to point out that there wasn’t a consensus on whether the coffee had to be caffeinated or not. However, logic would dictate that if caffeine intake is a concern it’s probably best to stay safe and drink decaf.

Prison Gerrymandering, it’s worse than it sounds

Prison Gerrymandering is a big issue for almost every state in our country that runs and operates a large-scale prison. Our census policy is meant to count the residents in a district every ten years so we can allocate resources and funding to areas proportionate to their population. The problem with prison gerrymandering is that it distorts these figures by counting the inmates from the local prison. One might speculate as to why that is an issue since it’s true, that they are physically located in that space, and by definition, they do technically reside in the prison. However, prison is not where they actually live, prisoners do not vote, and they aren’t using the roads or any community resources since everything is provided for them within the prison. 

The way we count the prison census data as it is skews the figures in such a way that we are taking resources away from larger demographic areas that could benefit from the extra funding. Furthermore, there are concerns about the use of mass incarceration such as the fact that 38% of all prisoners are African American, whereas they are roughly only 12% of the overall population. Prison gerrymandering poses an even bigger issue once we consider the fact that these are resources being taken away from minorities that have already been disproportionately affected by predetermined social constructs and power structures. As stated on the website “prison gerrymandering may have arisen by accident, but the reluctance of state and federal governments to eliminate it is rooted in the systematic disenfranchisement of Black and Brown communities.” 

When considering the problem with prison gerrymandering it comes across to me as another issue that encapsulates our need for prison reform overall. As I mentioned previously the practice started out as an earnest mistake but received pushback when they realized this mistake had resources attached to it. Much like Ronald Reagan’s war on drugs, it seems to be a lot of politicians just want to take the easy way out. That being said, seeing traditionally red states like Montana join in the effort to end this practice gives me hope for the 2030 census.

Antimatter that you can eat!

Antimatter is the antithesis of actual matter, the things that makeup everything we see and feel around us. Antimatter lives in subatomic particles containing an opposite electric charge called a positron so naturally, when matter is exposed to antimatter the result is explosive, to say the least. This happens with bananas, albeit to a much lesser degree, and it occurs naturally with various trace elements within our planet. Radioactive decay is the process by which the elements break down and while doing so they emit a positron otherwise known as antimatter. As you might have guessed potassium is one such trace element that produces antimatter. There is enough potassium in one banana to give off 15 to 20 particles of antimatter per day. 

Weird right? What if I told you that it’s not just bananas but there are other foods that produce antimatter too. If you have ever eaten spinach, white beans, apricots, avocados, mushrooms, and many others. If food has trace elements and produces radioactive decay, there’s a good chance you’ve eaten antimatter at some point. Before I scare anyone into avoiding their favorite foods it’s important to note that this decaying process happens within our own bodies too. You would also have to consume over 200 bananas a day for years before dying of radiation poisoning. Every day we are exposed to background radiation from this same process happening in the Earth all around us. Who knows what we’ll find as we continue to explore the mysteries of science, I for one am looking forward to seeing if more discoveries are edible.

Sallie Mae lied to us

Thousands of student loan borrowers are about to see their debt forgiven. Navient is one of the largest servicers of student loans in the nation and has recently settled in court having to cancel 1.7 billion in debt forgiving roughly 66,000 borrowers nationwide. This is a huge settlement and much-needed relief for those affected by Navient’s predatory lending practices.  

Although Navient did not admit fault in the lawsuit stating that they did not act illegally.  They are choosing to resolve claims they felt were unfounded citing that those claims would incur additional expense, time, and distraction from the overall goals of the company. It’s worth noting that those who are being relieved of their debt don’t have to do anything and a notice will be sent to individuals that qualify.  

Despite Navient’s claims I have a suspicion that the leaders of this company saw what’s coming down the pipeline. They’ve chosen the wiser path of getting ahead of this issue and settling before further damage is done to their business or reputation. The rapacious lending practices are in full view when we consider that Navient was borrowing money at a rate of 16% when the average loan rate rarely goes above 6%.  

Furthermore, they leveraged their private loan relationships to get on preferred lender lists at universities and colleges. They did this with full knowledge that these loans would default due to rising costs. As a student myself I feel particularly appalled when I hear news like this since we likely know someone who’s been an unwitting victim of a lending scheme. It goes without saying that if we choose to borrow money, we should only take what we need. Considering how rare it is to see accountability like this we should also do a thorough look at the company servicing the loan.