Tag Archives: Concepts

Time Machines Exist, and They are Outlawed by Mankind

There is a way to travel back in time already, I figured it out in deep thought yesterday. (It’s been outlawed by mankind though.) A person would simply need two massive space drones, some poles, and a camera. Basically, just attach the drones to the axis of the earth, halt it from spinning, then set to work spinning it backwards. Simple, easy. I think we already all know this.

The problem with this idea is that time is relative. It’s not that it doesn’t work–that we couldn’t go back in time, but it would be nearly impossible to set it straight to a direct time. Imagine setting an analog watch, no watch is exactly on time. Greenwich isn’t ever on time. Time is relative. SO how fast or slow we spin and where we end up is a gamble.

This time machine idea would impact the entire world, as it would alter the entire world. No one is ready for that change. We can’t even agree on politics. Stopping the world for someone in the prime of their life to go back to your prime would ultimately not be a good deal for the former. There is too much riding on it. End of discussion. Call it insane, impossible.

It’s already been done though, we have gone back in time. We have interpreted and created our dead ones again: look at museums. We are there. The technology is there. Two drones, some poles and a camera. Stop the world and spin it backwards. That is how we create what a time machine would create. How we change time. The camera is how we know what the past looks like. Don’t agree? Prove me wrong.

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Think and Save; How to Never Buy Textbooks Again.

Obviously this getting textbooks at the library thing isn’t some sort of secret raved-about genius way to save money on required course texts, but in some ways it is.

Let me express my sheer love for getting textbooks and other resources, digital and print, through the library systems briefly, so you can think about how you might do the same—and save money, save time, and save face.

When I started out as a CLA transfer student at the University of Minnesota, I had no idea how the library worked. I didn’t understand the importance of this resource—I had an idea, but it was vague, and that’s an understatement.

After being a student lead worker at St. Paul campus university libraries for 2 years, I have come to realize and utilize the advantages of the libraries (their branches), and the incentives that their lending service affords.

Perhaps you think: I can’t find a title, I won’t be able to get the required course materials, or I searched and that edition or exact title is not available.

Sure, you did one really impressive search (by your standards)… Well, try again. Remember: If you think you can, I know you will.

Maybe the library search engine you were perusing didn’t have it on the first try, or the first page; however, other catalogs may possess what you wish to attain.

Have your first try here: www.lib.umn.edu

A first try is good if you like not getting useful results, though a first try is a good start to something great…

So, try again.

Are you going to give up after one try and spend your hard-borrowed student loan money on things you don’t really care about/need, or are you going to search for 5 more minutes and find what you want for free?

It’s really all about your level of persistence, your level of creativity, and what you will do to attain what you desire: how bad do you want to be frugal and save? Use that thing inside your head, be like a thoughtful individual.

This year my level of wanting to save and be thrifty was high, so I found all of my books through inter-library loans, or other services provided by the library, and it took less than 10 minutes. This process took less time than it takes to send an email, or scroll through Instagram.

Last year my level was not so high. Last year I spent all sorts of what would have been beer or fun money on overpriced books which I did not read, and then at the end of the semester I sold them back at less than half price. I was lazy anyway. But, what a fucking racket. To my utter disdain I regret the decision to buy at the campus bookstore.

Mid-semester I did a quick search and found most of my textbooks here:
http://uborrow.relaisd2d.com/login.html

U Borrow is my favorite resource for any book, always. You can get new books, old books, rare books, from some great universities throughout the United States. The best part is they get delivered to whichever library you choose to pick them up at.

Everyone talks about half.com, or amazon.com, or other places where a student can buy books online and “save”. Sure… How about “save” by not purchasing top-dollar subpar products from places that drastically mark-up their selling price?

In most cases, a specific new edition book is no better than the old edition that you can obtain at a local used bookstore… Same author, same words, different year of printing and edited by different people, wow.

The new edition just has the backing of new people getting paid for rights—each year for a few extra words, for their titles and their names to adorn these improved editions. And this costs you more money, but you want to pay for it, right??? No.

Likewise, these publications and institutions are paying bucks for agency, authority, and placement, big names at pinnacle levels have their materials located in expensive bookstores.

The best, and easiest, marketing they do is by putting their product on your required texts next to your class schedule on the university website, the campus bookstore wouldn’t stock them otherwise—wouldn’t pull an immense profit off of their student body.

Each name of the editor, or publisher, or corporation (and their ideology, and what they sanction) within that book, you pay for. Your teacher, the bookstore, and the school, perhaps makes a commission on these required texts.

Think about it: Do they want you to get the newest edition of Shakespeare because it is of far superior quality, or because certain entities belong to an institution which pays for a mention, for cheap product at increased prices?

Obviate this silly scheme by getting all, or a majority of your materials through the library system. You already pay for it in student fees, and you may have the access you need at your fingertips.

When you buy from the bookstore you are paying for that bookstore’s existence: utilities, workers, facilities; moreover you pay for the interest of your professor and the university, in what they make from these institutions and agencies, from their publications, for their specific interests: profit.

Okay, breathe…

Now say you want to actually own the book, great. Great, you are an outlier on the verge of pariah! So what?

Get it at the library first—give it a try, and if you really enjoy what you’ve read—or you need it for personal use, then buy it.

I personally wouldn’t buy a car without test driving the vehicle first (or having someone else I trust test try it for me). So, why would you buy a textbook without assessing the quality first?

College is no longer affordable, any scholar with an inkling of responsibility will do anything to save money. One of those anythings is avoid the bookstore and utilize a service which is offered with no additional cost. Do it! Save yourself time and money in lines and in overpriced materials.

I’ll be honest, I’m partial to this concept because I work at a library. I love it. I am also partial because I enjoy saving money when necessary/possible. I’m smart.

I knew I needed a change when I bought the latest addition of Moby-Dick (Norton Edition, No. 9) at an incredible price ($23.00 +-), because the teacher expressed how we all needed it.

I thought on that for a moment: how much could they possibly alter or make critical improvements on this American classic? WTF?! Melville was rolling in his grave. I was completely baffled… Just think about that. I paid, and truly I paid.

I will leave you with this, the next time you think you need to get a book at the bookstore, count it out. Scratch that idea… Give it up and try something different, try a new search, give it one more minute on the browser—you can do anything. I believe in you.

Truly, get your books through a public or university library system, they are priceless and don’t carry a heavy price.

Crime Alerts at the University of Minnesota: Enabling Crime?

At times I wonder why the University of Minnesota even tells us anything at all about crimes. Is it a scare-tactic to be vague with details, not giving crucial information to the general public/student body, while allowing those to speculate, while criminals run at large? Is it to show they (campus police and administration) are on it… they have an idea of what is going on—control, perhaps? How useful are these “crime alert” emails? What purpose do they serve?

Recently, because of issues with defining distinct aspects of an individual’s appearance, make-up, within crime reports: assumed generalizations, problematic language, suggested stereotypes, and the political correctness of the University etc., the student body no longer has access to pertinent and informative accounts/descriptions of suspects who commit crimes on victims at gunpoint, near or around campus.

Not only is the act of ambiguity within these emails confusing, it, perhaps, enables more crime. Perchance, if a criminal were under the impression that said criminal’s description were forbidden from being released to the general public/student body, then why would that criminal be apprehensive about committing the same crime again? It appears to me that if there are no repercussions to committing a crime, why would a criminal not do it again? Sharing the identity, description, appearance of a suspect is imperative to creating a safe community, and particularly a safe and informed campus.

To be straightforward, if a person commits a crime, the gender, sex, attire, and physical appearance witnessed, of that person, comes into play as that person’s identity. That unique identity, make-up, appearance, description, and those characteristics of a person, do not have the right to be protected or withheld from the general public by the administration, specifically for the safety of the law abiding citizen. If I walk outside, my identity is visible—I am visibly unique as an individual, as most. A victim should have the right to be able to use and share that information to help identify a suspect, while informing others of this information.

These aimless emails, “crime alerts”, do nothing to create community awareness, they only act as vague warnings to those who venture out into society, while shielding actual criminals. Perhaps “crime alerts” should say: be afraid, stay inside, and fear the unknown. Have people not seen No Country for Old Men? In the film protagonists are searching for a suspect, an amateur sheriff suggest they radio a description of the suspect, the wise sheriff counters by suggesting, “Well, what are we searching at… looking for a man who has recently drunk milk?” The wise sheriff does this as he takes a sip from a glass of milk. At least give some form of description, or these emails serve no purpose whatsoever.

One thing I have learned at the University of Minnesota is that if you want to write something, anything, have a purpose for writing, declare an idea/concept, and make an attempt to prove that idea/concept. My idea/concept is that these alerts/reports are essentially useless, unless they give detailed descriptions of the perpetrator.

Moreover, the student body receives emails of this type evermore frequently (especially in the warm months), with little to no detail of the culprit. I say, let someone else write these emails, someone with more imagination, if you want to keep them vague. Perhaps have a sketch artist come in, draw a cartoon, I don’t know. I say, give me the opportunity to write the email. Every email would be the same, non-descriptive and useless, and go something like this: A human being robbed another human being. I thought you should know. Try to be safe out there.

Here is an example, unedited, of the emails the University of Minnesota student body receives when a crime occurs:

Crime Alert: Twin Cities Campus
“On Wednesday, April 15 at approximately 12:25 a.m., a robbery occurred off campus near the intersection of 27th Avenue SE and Talmage Avenue SE. The incident occurred in close proximity to the Como Student Community Cooperative. One of the two victims is a University of Minnesota student. The second victim is not affiliated with the University.

The victims were talking outside one of their vehicles when two suspects approached, threatened them with a gun, and demanded their valuables. The suspects took the victims’ wallet, cell phone and purse. The cell phone was later recovered after the suspects threw it into a nearby yard. Neither victim was injured.

The suspects fled to a car waiting on Talmage Avenue with a third suspect in the driver’s seat and the vehicle drove away westbound on Como Avenue. Detailed suspect descriptions are not available at this time.

Minneapolis Police are investigating this off-campus crime. Anyone with information is asked to call the Minneapolis Police Tip Line at 612-692-8477 and reference case number MP-15-132388.”

Facebook to Charge Money for Photo Removal

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A friend of mine told me of his issues with removing photos from Facebook. Apparently there is a pilot program/agency being implemented to the social media site. The program/agency consists of an entity charging money to remove your unwanted photos from Facebook. Perhaps I am introducing The Facebook Photo Removal Services. Here is his story.

Events:

I didn’t like the pictures I found on Facebook. It was sort of embarrassing, and it could affect me and the position I hold at work. I needed to take them down. I am a dishwasher at a restaurant in an old area of town, I usually get no respect. My manager tells me I don’t know how to use proper English, and that I am not allowed to speak Spanish in the kitchen. Most of my coworkers are foreign. This is a tragedy because most of those in the kitchen are unlicensed employees. I think of these images of me online, people click them, like them, comment on them, share them, and I am judged. I am not fluent in Spanish. So we say nothing.

The other day while scrolling, I found a picture of me holding some knives on Facebook. I was in a kitchen, I was red-eyed drunk, and I was looking rude. I tried to take them down, a new notice came up. I was unfamiliar with this notice. It said Facebook owns the rights to all of my pictures, -all content rather, from whenever I started my life on Facebook, and the only way to get my photos back, or down, or offline, would be to buy them from Facebook the corporation directly. This is true. I guess Facebook had changed since I first created my account.

You see, if I had more money (a better job), I could afford to buy these pictures, my pictures. I could save my life. I could get a better job. I would have a brighter future. These photos are ruining me. I had no control over what the photos looked like and how they portrayed me. I mean, my selfies, they were art. They really showed the who I was, and am. This tragedy is catching up to me. My Facebook friends have become my adversaries. These photos are powerful. I find it hard to handle because I could not present myself how I wanted other people to see me. In real life (IRL), I may be complex and flawed, but here was my chance to be simple and easy, desired. I am a drunk. I am a loser. I am single. And above all I am unsuccessful. I don’t want those photos out there, online, for millions to peruse. They may see the real me.

I think about this now. The price tag on these pictures, which I voluntarily post on social media are going to cost me more than two paychecks. I don’t have enough money to take them down. I wish I had thought about what I was posting on Facebook. I really do. Now the debt collectors call, now my manager questions. The waitress brings my credit cards back with a look fake empathy: it was declined she says… I fake astonishment: Really?! I cannot take these photos down, photos of me failing, stuck in my head. I wish I had not done this… No one thinks, I don’t think. Why?!

Today I took out a Payday loan to afford this Facebook service. You know, the convenient and fair lenders who reside in the non-sketchy part of town? -Something like that. These are nice when you have no money and need to remove certain pictures from your Facebook page. I really wish I had thought about what I was posting on Facebook. I wish they would have told me that there would be a price to pay for these images one day. I now, not including my students loans ($80,000.00 +), am about $5,000.00 + in side-debt. Side-debt is debt you accrue through regular everyday activity, it was necessary. Stuff like antidepressants, beer, whisky, Facebook Photo Removal Services, and condoms. I needed this money, absolutely. I also needed these photos removed, it was a drunken night like last week.

I think of money as the most important thing to me, aside from my image. I hurt my hands washing dishes; they are cut and bleed and blister and turn red. My image is in jeopardy. People will see these photos and they will think things of me. The other day my manager called, she is a pink heavyset drunk with greasy hair, always tied back taut, she yells a lot. Once she saw me naked. I think she yells a lot because she gets yelled at a lot, and told she is nothing. She does nothing about this. I think she is in a violent relationship, they both smile a lot. Next time I work I am to come directly to her office to discuss some “new discoveries” that my boss had found recently. I was not expecting the call. It was rather late at night. I go in tomorrow morning around 10:00am.

The friendly and helpful people at Facebook Photo Removal Services took my money and now I wait. Of course I have to wait. These things take time. There is a process to Facebook photo removal, naturally. My check has to clear, they have to take money from my bank account, and then some of their staff will select the picture and remove it. They work one at a time. It is a process thing. I understand. Though, I can upload a whole photo album to Facebook in less than three minutes, this removal process has taken three weeks. The results were average.

Payday Loans have been calling more too. I am the not good kind of popular. I have deferred on my student loan payments, once again, and still the photos are not removed. Also, since this time more people have posted questionable photos of me online, on Facebook and other social media. I receive emails telling me of these updates. The money, the clicks, the notifications, and the conversation with my boss, they are all real things. I walked into her office and she told me my check would be a week later than expected, maybe, and that I did not get the promotion I had asked for, though I will have the opportunity to train someone new for the job I so wanted. I am given this opportunity. Thanks… If only this conversation was about the photos.

After the photo scare, the discussion with my manager, and thinking it over in her office, I had to ask her something. I asked her for a raise. She looked at me confused. She could lose it at any moment, I mean this quiet rage. She kept her cool and said my name. She told me it is not feasible. She also told me I knew where the door was. I walked out of her office. I said it was silly under my breath, she said what?! I walked out and put my sweat-stained uniform on; what was white had turned yellow. We only got one shirt.

What I would say to someone posting online is: this is your life. Everything you post is part of you, forever. It is your virtual footprint. You will pay for it as any action. I have applied for numerous jobs, they see my photos, new photos of the same event, and I am told this each time: Thank you for applying to this position. We have decided to go a different route. Please try again in the future. Best wishes. If only I could contact Google and get them to block-out my name. No images would show up. I have setup a plan with Facebook Photo Removal Services now, I pay monthly, where they take photos down (for a price), to protect my person. My future is at stake here. The importance of this entity is beyond quantifying.

I realize now that I am plugged in. I love my job. I am concerned about photos, people taking pictures, and uploading them. The reason is is because of the cost. The monthly payments surpass my student loan payments, which I don’t make anymore. –Hey! Uncle Sam is trillions of dollars in debt, what’s my debt compared to that. Whole countries function in debt, though they don’t work shit jobs, wasting their time, killing their bodies, while paying corporations to not do things to them, perhaps. I think I should collect taxes too. This extortion is reality though. And what I realized while secretly speaking to my co-worker in broken Spanish the other day, while eating some prime rib ends, was that I shouldn’t complain. We all steal things. Facebook steals reality, and charges you to take it down. I steal meat and words with my peers. Emilio said he crossed the border to come here to work this job to pay for his family in Mexico. He loved it. I agreed. So, I picked up a new phrase, picture that, I couldn’t complain. I smiled as sweet fat sluiced down my face. This kitchen was warm. I told him: I think we can be Facebook friends now.

What I learned in College (Fall Semester 2014)

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Day One of Winter Break, I look back and think on this past semester. Fall 2014 was nothing short of interesting, trying, and above all, eye opening/mind expanding (whatever cliché). There was copious reading and unfollowed syllabi. One comes into contact with fliers on the walls of buildings; peers, scholars, and professors. A person can see groups talking in the mall in the sun one moment, and then weeks later, few huddled bipedals running bundled for warmth on sidewalks, and into halls. Minneapolis is as diverse in weather as it is in people.

The classes were four in number, and somewhat different; each offering a unique perspective on relevant, and mostly interesting topics- though Hamlet is still ubiquitous and rampant at the U of M campus (I am not sure if this is good or bad). I took part in a Science Fiction course which focused on social critique, a Film course which focused on gender, a non-linear Deutsch course which focused on focusing on the syllabus, tentatively, and acting, and talking, and projects which come with that, and of course tangents. I found solace in reading, in its entirety, Moby-Dick. This American Literature 1 course was enduring, yet all the same rewarding. And again, this entire experience did not come without the most important part, the people one connects with.

University is great for connecting with people. I came into contact with real-life actors, monomaniacal professors obsessed with Melville, and their TAs who wear low-cut shirts and gave smiles over discussions of hangovers. I met a professor named Craig who was the most loving, and caring woman; more open and honest than the average person outside of their homes. Moreover, I had a professor who gave me 65 percent on a paper, a fucking D, the first since high school, and it was deservedly. Examples of people I connected with, there were a million: AV a boy who carried his works in a backgammon case, Theresa who was a non-traditional student and would tell you that fact numerous times, but was as youthful as anyone my age, K, B, and D and everyone in German (H,H,…) anyone I forgot; all of these people were special and amazing and scholars in their own right. We took something from one another; student from teacher, teacher from student; student from student, etc.

These people appreciated like wine; ever getting better, and more seasoned. I can see vividly the situation where a human being is that, a human being. At 8 am in the morning we are all the same; we crawl from the warm womb of our beds to look into the mirror and judge ourselves, as we hope others won’t. We all have to get outside today, things to do. Whenever a project, assignment, quiz, or test came up, as a thorough student, I realized that the person on the other end was actually a person indeed. Writing in small letters would make it more difficult to grade, same as showing late would fuck up the flow of the lecture. I learned that that person had shit days, and had good days too. I was shown that no one is perfect, or always on time, or always smiling every second of the day. College enlightens humanity by showing examples of humanity. My experience was more personal than a letter grade.

What college has done for me so far is opened my eyes to new and unknown concepts. Even if I am reading and writing on subjects which have been read and written on a millions times over, I am doing something unknown and new. No moment is exactly the same as the moment before, even with all of the same parts involved. These parts are the people. I met people of interest, people from different and varying backgrounds; those people who took the challenge of academia as I did. We became parts of this semester, of this time, of this progressive movement called education, this system of grades and titles, and hellos and handshakes.

I think back to sitting in Walter Library every Monday at around noon talking to a friend. I would eat Cheerios out of a repurposed Talenti jar. We would discuss language, relationships, and the week ahead. We met once a week, it almost reminded me of seeing a therapist, this real-life person, with real-life opinions, sharing an honest and open real-life discussion over the things, any, which came to mind. There was no agenda, there never has been. That’s life. We walk guided by invisible strings. I sat and munched Cheerios and smiled and tried to focus on the person directly in front of me. Even the ceiling and walls offered a story. I would say, see you next week, and without text, without call, without social media, no convolution, it was so, like clockwork.

Now, looking back, I see a tinge more clearly of everyday life. The mind is a camera which captures and records. After each semester at the University I take something away, and I have left a bit heavy-hearted, and less and more of myself. I wonder: would I see these people again? Would I ever sit in the same spot with the same group with the same ideas with the same professor, words, ideology, and mindset? No. I do not think so. But now I can look back and take with me what I’ve gained. What I have gained is experienced learned. What I have learned is that we must all learn from those around us, and teach others as if they are learning too.

John Lennon interviewed by a Boy

Kurt Vonnegut; a Lesson in Stories