All posts by stohlerdrew

About stohlerdrew

Bachelor's Degree in Technical Communication and Professional Writing from Metropolitan State, St. Paul Minnesota. Aspiring science fiction/fantasy writer.

Pressfield’s War of Art

In the book The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Steven Pressfield points out the biggest problem in the artist or creative person’s life is resistance to create. He explains that many people have an inner artist and the muse that helps them with their work even if they are not painters, writers or musicians- art can take many forms.

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I will shortly summarize his list:

 

Pursuit in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any other creative art such as crafting and stitching, anything athletic or good for the body, any program for spiritual attainment, any therapy to get over an addiction, or negative behavior and education of any kind. Political, moral or ethical courage to change unhealthy patterns of thought or discourse in action or conduct in ourselves.

Resistance in a Nutshell

Resistance is anything that gets in the way of the artist’s drive to create. It could be partying, playing video games, anything addicting that takes the artist away from their work, but it can even be codependent in the form of a relationship or group of friends. There are many levels of resistance that keep the artists from their muse, especially in the age of consumerism. With the Internet and social media on our phones, it is so easy to get distracted when advertisers are always trying to get your attention, from mindless television to cellphone games that can be roadblocks to productivity if abused.

 

             My Struggle with Resistance

The reason I picked up Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art was because I heard about him from Joe Rogan’s podcasts. Rogan is a stand-up comedian and when his fellow comedians come on the show and talk about having trouble finding time to write new material he plugs the book.  As an aspiring author and a college student, resistance is my worst enemy in achieving my creative and intellectual goals. It seems like a battle I am constantly having with myself.

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Resistance is anything that keeps you away from the muse—creative energy—I try to stay away from the television, because a good show or video game can suck me in while giving me a crappie feeling—resistance—in my stomach that is telling me I should be doing something more productive with my time. Being days away from the end of the semester I have had to deal with resistance to my homework, and I can relate to this subject more than ever. The book has helped me get through the busy last few weeks of the semester with a level head. Anxiousness, stress, depression and anxiety are all emotional effects of resistance.

Pressfield says the muse is always there for the artist to access you just have to sit down and get to work. He has a bunch of short chapters explaining the symptoms of resistance, and in the second part, he has ways to combat it. In the third part, we get an existential lesson into the heart of the successful artists and how to cultivate the muse to build a healthy successful relationship with your specific art form and your personal life.

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Opioid Epidemic

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Opioid abuse is an epidemic that causes many deaths a year. I propose that all opioids become illegal and cannabis and other natural plants are used medically to relieve pain. Legalizing marijuana and criminalizing unhealthy pharmaceutical drugs is the first step to improving America’s health system. It is sad that people that go to the doctor to take care of their pain and they end up addicted to hardcore pharmaceutical drugs.

                        Why are Opioids Still Legal?

28,000 people died from opioid overdose in 2014 according to a blog on the leafly website entitled, Is Cannabis Better for Chronic Pain Than Opioids? It is shocking the epidemic prescription pain pills have become. The article goes on to say, “Prescriptions have increased 400% percent since 1999, and with this trend, a shocking increase in fatal overdoses has followed. Every day, 40 people now die from prescription narcotic overdoses. Many also move on to heroin because it is cheaper, easier to find, and more potent.”

You know there is something wrong with the health system when the pain meds doctors prescribe is a gateway drug to heroine. These seem like problems you would have with an illegal drug, but synthetic opioids are offered to everyone with an injury. The pharmaceutical companies are making a lot of money since the drugs are so cheap to make. Natural plants cost more to harvest, but they are safer and less addictive.

                                         Legalizing the Safe Pain Reliever

If medical marijuana were legal on the federal level, it would cut down on the opioid epidemic that takes to many lives a year. Why should you have to worry about becoming reliant to a highly addictive drug before we go into surgery? When there are natural herbs that can give the person going through pain a safer healthier option. It is absurd to be pushing highly addictive opioids for pain. For years the war on drugs focused on non-harmful cannabis. It is time we wake up and demand a reevaluation of the war on drugs. Legal Opioids are helping to create addicts and kill the people who use them.

Aug_31_medical_Marijuana_shutterstock_746151852061697924Newsweek printed the statistic from an Article in the American Medical Journal that 1,800 fewer prescriptions filled for pain pills in states that marijuana is legal. This shows that people will use cannabis for pain if they have the choice. It is more important than ever to legalize marijuana because it will save so many lives from the throws of opioid addiction.

                                   Let’s Make the Logical Decision

It is time stop letting pharmaceutical companies sell addictive drugs while a plant that comes from the ground is illegal. The recent CBS, article Death’s from Opioid Epidemic may be Underestimated, finds that many people who died of infectious diseases had high toxicity levels of opioids in their system. Doctors are failing to acknowledge opioids in deaths since opioid-related deaths only get flagged in overdoses, not sickness from withdrawal like pneumonia which is a huge killer.

My only answer to the opioid epidemic is to make all opioid drugs illegal on the same level as heroin while legalizing Marijuana on the federal level.

Come join the fight against deadly pain pills that should not be on the market. The benefits from cannabis are too great to ignore anymore.

Non-voter Misrepresentation

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According to the Guardian, 45% of people did not vote in the 2017 Election. I think social media helped polarize the issues for the mainstream media big time this year, making people feel they had to choose a side more than ever to fit in with political ideologies that have nothing to do with the world’s real problems. Nonvoters are frustrated with the two-party system. They look at things with a cautious form of logic and do not buy into conformist views that the—propaganda—mainstream media force feeds to the masses.

Many non-voters like myself want tangible change. I want to hear how we are going to end war, disarm nukes, create peace treaties, decrease the prison population, and stop poverty to name a few, but those humanitarian goals often fall short. Instead of growing out of the past we are perpetuating the worst parts of this nation’s history into our present—the here and now—creating an endless cycle that won’t stop until we face the past, taking accountability for all the things that need fixing.

Misunderstood by the Mainstream Media
The New York Times article, What Separates Voters and Non-voters claim the lack of education is one of the biggest reasons why people don’t vote. I feel that if you have educated yourself without political bias and peer pressure and chose not to vote for two elitist candidates in a system that doesn’t seem to work for anyone other than the ones at the top you are doing the smart thing. The facts about non-voters always seem very skewed by the mainstream media. Most of the reasons they come up with are negative and based more on assumptions and manipulated data than much of anything else I can see. I do agree with the article when they say college students are likely to vote more. That is because college campuses seem to push a very progressive agenda, and much of the young college voters seem a bit indoctrinated into that ideological school of thought often carrying it with them the rest of their lives.

Speaking Out is Better Than Doing Nothing
I think that the non-voters in this age of mass communication have more of a chance than ever to speak out against their misrepresentation by the mainstream media. If non-voters do not tell the world why they didn’t vote, the mainstream media will continue to paint an inaccurate picture of their reasoning. I believe many non-voters would vote if they thought it made a difference. If the 45% of people that didn’t vote want change they must organize with online and offline groups.

For that, to work, they must put their voices out through blogs and social media. I believe that the non-voter movement could lead to peace and negotiations for a more beneficial political system for all. With all the advances in Science and Technology every year you would think we would have advanced in politics by ending poverty, war, and tyranny of all kinds, but we are still crawling out of the dark ages in that respect.

The importance of making a difference lies on the shoulders of the nonconformists and innovative thinkers to see through transparency and advocate a new system of governance. Once non-voters start a friendly debate, I am sure are better join in, and that is when revolution turns to evolution

 

The Connection Depression and Loneliness Have To Netflix Marathons  

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Some call this age of streaming television on sites like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon the golden age of television, where one can have access to entire seasons without having to plan their next four months around the air date. Now there is no waiting involved. You can watch a whole season in a day if that is your thing. I sure have lost time on binging shows. Being in college during this golden age, I have learned that sometimes binging can be the worst thing when trying to stay focused. The next button automatically switches over if I don’t stop it. When it is a good show that can be a very hard thing to do. In Jessica Firger’s article by Depression, and loneliness linked to binge-watching TV. In a study that looked into 316 young people’s viewing habits, she explains why binge watching can lead to depression and loneliness. “The study also found problems with self-control were associated with excessive television,” explains Firger.

         Blame Netflix

Netflix seems to be the innovator and the benefactor of this unhealthy form of television watching. Not only being detrimental to one’s mental health, binging can be associated with long periods of inactivity that can lead to health problems. Now in 2017, the binge watcher is the quintessential couch potato. The addictive quality of binge viewing seems to have the same outcomes as many other addictions do, and like many other addictions, it can fill in a void, or just consume the user before they even realize they have lost months or sometimes even years to their addiction. Here are some signs that you are addicted to Netflix and need to pick up a book or go walk the dog:

  • If you say one more episode, but never stop watching.
  • If the dreaded “Are you still watching?” message pops up.
  • If you are stressed over all the other things you have to get done, but can’t stop watching Netflix.
  • You feel like you are close friends with the characters from your favorite shows.
  • You become depressed when the season is over like you just went through a loss.
  • Your back starts hurting from sitting for so long.
  • You can’t stop thinking about Netflix even when the TV is off and you are away from the remote.

       Here’s how you  break the habit

As long time periods in the house watching TV can be negative on mental and physical health; time spent outside can have a positive effect on mood and health. In my opinion sunshine and exercise can be the best way to fight loneliness and depression no matter how it manifested in the first place.

I am not saying people shouldn’t watch TV but treat it with self-control like you would with anything else. The withdrawal from John Snow or Jessica Jones can be hard to kick the first couple days, but don’t worry they will be back…Until they get canceled anyway. The most important thing to do is give yourself breaks, schedule your day, figure out what shows you want and come up with a watching schedule.

      Rehab and Chill

In an article on mic.com, Brent McCluskey explains Netflix addiction and the treatment centers and self-help groups that offer recovery and aftercare. McCluskey interviewed Hillarie Cash, a licensed mental health counselor specializing in internet and screen addiction. She said the best way to do it by yourself is going cold turkey.  For people who are looking for a more affordable way to kick the habit, but struggle going cold turkey she gave this advice:

If you’re not willing to do a cold turkey approach, then it’s called a hard reduction-approach, where you gradually wean yourself away. … Set goals and install technology that will help you limit your screen time and reduce it until you are only watching as much as you have decided to watch.

When it comes down to it the best way to fight binging on anything is self-control and being aware that it is a problem. People may not even be aware of the connection between binging on Netflix and negative effects like depression and loneliness. Never the less when they become aware of it, they can take the steps to gain control and balance over their lives.

Encrypting Privacy

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             You have a right to your own privacy

If you are reading my blog I can guarantee, you are an internet user, unless someone gave you a print copy, because you truly refuse to join the 21st century. For the rest of you, users of the Internet, the topic of Internet security already affects you on many levels. For a long time, people in the U.S. believed the CIA and NSA when they told them they weren’t spying on them. People who said they probably were, instantly were called conspiracy theorist or anarchists, anything hanging out on the fringe of society. When in reality they had the rights to be suspicious.

After Edward Snowden leaked classified information from the NSA it became common knowledge that indeed the U.S. government spied on people and their not alone. Many government agencies around the world do this, it is common practice, and other organizations, corporation’s and hackers of all hats can simply get in the Internet’s back doors, launching cyber-attacks to monitor and gain control over unwitting individuals technological devices. There are things to guard yourself though. Many people –even politicians and movie stars—use flimsy passwords that are so easy to crack a bored teenager in any suburban hamlet around the world could figure out.

                                          Get Encrypted!

Don’t worry there are things you can do to keep your privacy, other than using a password that isn’t your birthday, and that is encrypting your computer and educating yourself on computer technology, you will have to learn a little bit to encrypt your device. In the end, the only person you can trust is yourself to stay safe on the web.

Recently the European Union discussed putting a backdoor on certain web chat apps, giving the government a back door to catch terrorists and criminals. This is a simple way for the EU to open up the floodgates to personal and national security issues, explains Karlin Lillington in an article written for the Irish Times.

“Backdoors are a secret method of bypassing the normal authentication needed to access the contents of an encrypted file or message. They are built into the application so that every instance of the application ends up with this secret tunnel. In short, backdoors are deliberate security flaws to cripple a security product.”

Once you are encrypted join the fight for privacy! As of now, it is legal in America to use encryption software, but lawmakers are trying to make it illegal, so join the fight for your freedom from unwarranted monitoring, because it is important. You don’t want strangers peeking in your windows and bugging your house. Why should you let anyone be able to violate your privacy online?

The King of Social Media

celeb-past-lookalikes-8My first stint in college was way back in 2005. My biggest regret after flunking out, packing up the belongings of my dorm room into my red ford escort station wagon, and heading back to my parent’s house was not signing up for a Facebook account while I was up there. I think my priorities were a bit off back in those days, but for a short period, I not only had failed in college, I had failed in joining Zuckerberg’s future.

I didn’t have to wait back on MySpace for too long before the world was on Facebook, and I didn’t have to be an enrolled student at a state university anymore to make an account.

If anyone has reaped the total multibillion-dollar potential of a free social media network it would be the 32-year-old founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg.Below Quincy Larson, CEO of freecodecamp draws a stark contrast of the power a President with a term limit has, compared to the power a CEO of the biggest social media company on the Internet holds.

“Mark Zuckerberg has none of these limitations. His power flows from Facebook, the seventh largest corporation on the planet by market capitalization, of which he owns 18% of the stock and controls 60% of the voting rights.”

When I was lamenting about dropping out of my freshmen year of college and missing out on the beginning of the Facebook craze, Mark Zuckerberg (who is only two years older than me) was in silicon valley, churning out Facebook with a house full of coders. And all his hard work certainly paid off. His net worth in 2017 is less than four billion measly dollars shy of 50 billion, and he’s just getting started.

That is a lot of money for a company that gives their service away for free, and a lot of responsibility for a young CEO. The U.S. President has eight years to make a societal impact. Mark Zuckerberg has the rest of his life to help bring about social change, and with 60% control of voting rights for the social media company, he is the proverbial, Captain Kirk of the Facebook Enterprise.

With the rise of virtual reality tech, Facebook is standing in the forefront of the new technology, boldly going where no social media company has gone before. It will be up to business leaders like Zuckerberg to innovate and develop technology with the public in mind because, in a time of billion-dollar stockholders, the CEO’s are the ones who decide who eats and who starves.

For real change, we must look to the leaders of business to take a conscious effort towards fixing the mess the rise of the billionaires has created. Facebook has the capability to bring change more than any other entity foreign or domestic because Facebook has the power of the people more than ever; with the power to turn on and off anyone’s live video stream, and control what users see on their news feeds for their personal phycological research or political gain.

My hopes are that Zuckerberg uses the powers of Facebook for good social change, opposed to evil geopolitical fascism, but only time will tell how he plays his cards and who he’s playing them for.

If I would have known how popular Facebook would become and what an impact it would make on the Internet back in early 2006, I think my 19-year-old self could have felt more comfortable with the short wait for a social media network that more than likely will be around for the rest of my life.