Sunday morning I found myself in a coffee shop on North Cayuga street. My notes for an art history exam laid on the table. My iPhone 6s was charging and I checked it periodically to scroll through Instagram or check my email. I sat with my earphones in and some soft tunes playing. The contrast of this outside representation of being calm, cool and collected made me want to laugh, for my mind was raging.
For the past eight years, the single greatest unifying force in the Republican Party has been hatred of President Barack Obama. Translated into policy, that force manifested into universal opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Now, the Republican Party finds itself with control of the White House and both houses of Congress. With this perfect opportunity, they’ve finally presented their alternative “repeal and replace” health care plan. Spoiler alert: it’s a complete disaster.
The Trump Administration has bungled almost every major administrative task and duty since Inauguration Day. From Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts,” to Sean Spicer’s 1984-esque news conferences, to Michael Flynn’s resignation, to Jeff Sessions’ Russia connection, to the president’s many deranged and lunatic comments (see Obama wiretapping and fraudulent voter claims), the last two months seem to be straight out of an episode of “Looney Tunes.” As a Republican, I am ashamed that my party willing stands behind a man who so vehemently opposes fundamental American values such as freedom of the press, transparency and freedom of thought. As an American, I am embarrassed that Trump’s lunacy dominates the headlines of foreign newspapers and endangers the global perception of our nation. Yet despite the endless stream of scandals and dysfunction, the president has made one very good call during his brief time in the White House: nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. First, and foremost, Judge Gorsuch is, without question, extremely qualified to serve on the Court.
Over winter break, I went out with a few friends and took a train home alone through downtown Dallas. It was the late afternoon — too early for the post-bar bunch and too late for the usual work crowd. Soon after I chose my seat, a slender Casanova wannabe with a can of cheap beer and a green pullover jacket hobbled into the seat behind me. When a young woman entered our section a few stops later, the man took it upon himself to personally give her a warm welcome: “You married?” “Yes,” she said.
The pressing topic of cybersecurity has resurfaced in the public conscious following the news of Russian hackers leaking thousands of emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee. Software might be developed for one clear-cut purpose, but more often than not, the technology’s ethical ramifications are disregarded by engineers. In the case of the Russian hacking, the individuals that perpetrated the cyberattack broke a moral code by intentionally hacking to commit an illegal act. For software engineers, their innovative skills come with a great deal of responsibility. Although an engineer’s top priority is efficiency, they must not overlook ethics.
I have hit the point in the semester where I could not bring myself to care less about things even if I tried. I thought I hit that point two weeks ago; unfortunately, I was wrong, and here I am, eating ice cream out of a tub in the middle of Klarman Atrium. I can feel even the statues frowning at my life decisions. Two weeks ago, I wrote a horrific column on something related to technology and how people make it out to be worse than it is and why that was a narrow way to look at a complex topic, especially one that is not going anywhere just by having us wish it away. Quite frankly, I hated it, and I would like to apologize to anyone who’s eyes might have perused those particular set of words.
Doom was a dominant theme in Myron Taylor Hall this past Friday. This was unsurprising, considering the subject of the event there — “Turkey: A State of Emergency.” The speaker panel, hosted jointly by the Clarke Initiative for Law and Development in the Middle East and North Africa and the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Initiative, aired out some of Turkey’s dirtiest political laundry. Each of the panelists zeroed in on one particular undemocratic facet of the Middle Eastern nation’s recent political tumult, from extrajudicial detainments to growing anti-intelligentsia sentiment to the increasingly precarious livelihoods of the four million Syrian refugees there living. Most generally, the talk was geared toward unpacking the political machinations of President Reccip Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of this summer’s failed coup attempt. The statistics are jarring.
In The People v. O.J. Simpson, Johnnie Cochran, a member of O.J. Simpson’s dream team legal squad, tells his colleagues, “Evidence doesn’t win the day. Jurors go with the narrative that makes sense.” The show presents DNA analysis as being so new that most jurors could make neither head nor tail of solid evidence presented that tied Simpson directly to the scene of two murders. Simpson’s defence relied on muddying the waters with accusations of systemic racism in the Los Angeles Police Department in order to prevent any conclusions being made beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury was enthralled by show tricks and rhetoric, smoke and mirrors around the fire of what actually happened on the night of the murders for which Simpson stood trial. Such seems to be the state of much political discourse.
A few weeks ago, I gave a speech at the State Theatre in downtown Ithaca as part of Martin Luther King’s Commemoration. Afterwards, I received a standing ovation from the crowd, which I found to be decidedly insufferable. I suspect that my aversion to the applause was in part because I am not nearly as humble as advertised, so I feel uncomfortable with any adulation from the outside world — my ego is large enough already. More importantly, though, experience has taught me to regard hollow gestures like the clapping of hands with a well-warranted cynicism. After all, no one in that room should have been able to listen to what I had to say that evening, go home and still sleep well.
The lights are stripped back from the curtain, so the canvas is blank now — an empty, billowing mass of cloth that hangs behind the model runway. And then the music erupts: a shattering explosion of hyper percussion, thunder and a melody that seems to have been thrusted from the bubbling influence of Asian woodwinds. The pure fury of the drums sets the stage for the designer set. It’s loud, yet concise, pounding, yet razor sharp. I like it.