Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Should you live on or off campus?

It took only a couple weeks of living in freshman housing before I started thinking and talking about living off campus next year. The freshman dorms seemed so overly controlling at first that I was looking foreword to getting away from all the rules. Since the first few weeks, my attitude has changed about moving off campus for a number of reasons. There are definitely advantages to living off campus mainly freedom, but there are also a number of reasons to stay on. The CollegeBoard provides a pro/con list of moving off campus.
- It can be cheaper than University housing
- Greater independence, privacy, freedom, and often space
- Usually quieter and fewer distractions, better for studying
- A good way to build a rental history making it easier to obtain housing following graduation.
- You can make your own meals
- No more community bathrooms
- Hidden costs such as security deposits, first and last months rent, utilites, furnature, appliances, and other miscellaneous items needed for living can actually make living off campus more expensive than living on campus.
- You have to pay for your own internet and cable
- Chores
- You have to spend time commuting.
- More responsibilities and liabilities.
- You may need to find a sub leaser in the summer
- You have to find a place
- Financial Aid may not cover the move off campus.
- May feel isolated from campus
Living off campus as opposed to staying on campus depends largely on personal preference and current financial status, there really is no right or wrong answer here.


Energy is a term often used but rarely defined. It appears to have many definitions because it is used in such a broad variety of contexts. The word energy comes from the greek word energos that means "active, working". Lets take a minute to address the different situations where we here the term energy used:
1. In science class: When the word energy is used in science class, we may be talking about kinetic, gravitational, electrical, magnetic, mechanical, heat, nuclear, light, or chemical energy. In addition to these types there is also potential energy, which is the untapped energy that could "potentially" do work. Energy in a scientific concept is defined as "the capacity or power to do work, such as the capacity to move an object (of a given mass) by the application of force. Energy can exist in a variety of forms, such as electrical, mechanical, chemical, thermal, or nuclear, and can be transformed from one form to another."
2. At the doctors office: When the word energy is used at the doctors office ("how has your energy level been as of late?) the energy being discussed is the "capacity for vigorous activity, available power". The energy for human beings to perform is largely determined by diet, exercise, and amount of sleep. Energy in this context also means the capacity to do work
3.In athletics: Sportscasters with often say things like "you can feel the energy in air" or "look at the energy of the defense." Energy used in this context is defining "the exertion of power".
4. In politics: The phrase "energy policy" comes to mind. Energy policy is a set of rules and regulations used to govern our sources of power. Once again here, energy can be defined as the capacity to do work.
5. In the New age movement: The new age movement is notorious for its overuse of the word energy. The entire movement seems to be based around the idea that there unseen sources of energy all around us. In the new age movement, they of discuss psychic energy, which may or may not exist, this form of energy has been though to be what consciousness is fueled by. Their is always the discussion of bad energy versus good energy in the new age movement as well. Bad energy fuels negative thoughts and emotions, good energy fuels positive thoughts and emotions.

Energy is used in hundreds of other contexts. It seems that the general definition of energy is the force that allows for work to be done. E= MC2 defines energy as mass times the speed of light squared. In the end, it is difficult to really define what exactly energy is.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Family is a western term used to describe a domesticated group of people linked together by descent. Todays American family is much more egalitarian than families structures of the passed. Women enjoy a position of respect higher than ever before. Families today are typically started as a result of two people meeting informally and then eventually going through the courtship process and getting married. This was not the case in ancient Rome. Rome was an extremly Patriarchal society, males had all the power. In Rome, families were second to a persons role as a tax payer and citizen willing to die for the empire. The purpose of the Roman family was to carry on the family line so the spirits of the dead could be honored. To strengthen and form political alliances, Roman men with fertile wives would often divorce their wives and pass them on to an ally to be remarried to father his children. Slaves were also part of the family household. The oldest male member of the Roman family was called the pater familias and the younger male members of the family had to do business with his name unless they were emancipated.
In China, the family was seen as a core aspect of the culture. To this day, the Chinese exchange family name ahead of first name when introducing themselves. Chinese families are also Patriarchal, however when the oldest female member is widowed, she enjoyed a position of power. Daughters were often sold into slavery in poorer Chinese families.
In Japan, Family was thought of existing unceasingly, regardless of birth and death. The family existed in the past and it will continue to exist in the future. Members of the family think of each other as sharing a bond, not in blood, but as partners in a shared responsibility of maintaining the family as an institution.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Oral Roberts

Oral Roberts, a Christian televangelist and self proclaimed faith healer may be one of the most successful frauds ever. With a university to his name, Oral Roberts has been cited as a major leader of the Charismatic Movement. Ironically, Oral Roberts became a faith healer after dropping out of college. The Charismatic Movement is an evangelical movement that focuses on the gifts of the spirit: speaking in tongues, faith healing, and other abilities that are allegedly supernatural. Faith healing was popularized largely thanks to Oral Roberts 1950s televangilizing.
Roberts has told of and acted out several fraudulent "faith healings". In his biography, Roberts claims that he was healed of tuberculosis by a traveling preacher, and he even provides evidence by showing medical records of his healthy lungs, unfortunately he never showed any documented evidence that he had tuberculosis. In another instance a women appeared on Robert's show claiming to be miraculously healed of cancer, apparently she wasn't because she died less than 12 hours after the taping. They same thing happened again when a women with spinal cancer claimed Robert's had healed her on his show, only to die three days later of the disease.
Oral Roberts clearly is not a gifted faith healer. He has shown no actually ability to heal the sick, and he has been publicly exposed several times. The fact that this man has a University named after him displays that people will believe anyone if they want to, no matter how rediculess the character is. Unfortunately this is not always comical. In 1959, after hearing Roberts speak, diabetic Wanda Beach threw away her insulin. She was dead within hours. At another Roberts rally, three people reportedly died from similar circumstances.
The listed examples are deaths that are directly tied to Roberts preaching. The belief that prayer and meditation is a better cure for severe illnesses than western medicine is a dangerous one. Who knows how far Roberts has spread that belief, Roberts may actually be indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people. Now thats what I call preaching the word of Jesus.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The ACLU and Torture

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a coalition of lawyers that focuses on protecting the civil rights. The ACLU both acts as lobby group and as a non-profit litigation. The also ACLU focuses on represents groups of the population that are often denied their rights. The ACLU has taken several steps to raise awareness torture and also hold those accountable who are responsible for torture that violates the Geneva Conventions and the constitution. The ACLU recently released a book entitled Administration of Torture. The book details accounts of prisonor abuse at Abu Ghraib and Gauntanomo Bay. The purpose of the book is to expose elements of America's methods of combating terrorism that need to be further questioned on their ethical consequences, effectiveness, and the violation of human rights.
The ACLU has been aggressive in their assertion that U.S interrogation tatics violate the Geneva Convention. Here is what the ACLU says about torture:

Torture threatens our most treasured values and it is wrong:

    Torture is illegal, banned by both domestic and international law.
    Torture doesn't work. The information elicited is inaccurate; torture victims themselves tell us they have confessed to crimes they did not commit in order to end their suffering.
    Torture puts our troops at greater risk, increasing the chance that, should they fall into enemy hands, our servicemen and -women will be tortured in kind. Countries around the world have already begun citing the United States when justifying their use of cruel and unusual punishments - most recently the Junta in Myanmar.
    Torture tarnishes the image of the United States abroad. Torture degrades the rule of law and puts the core values of our democracy - the belief that all men are created equal and have the unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - at risk. It not only creates new enemies abroad, but is damaging our relationships with long-term allies.

Albert Porta and The End of the World

In 1919, Albert Porta, a well respected meteorologist concluded that the December 17th conjunction six planets would lead to the end of the world. Porta stated that the conjunction of the six planets would "cause a magnetic current that would pierce the sun, cause great explosions of flaming gas and eventually engulf the earth". Albert Porta's bold prediction cost him his reputation and his career. When the end of the world failed to arrive, Porta lost all his credibility in the field of meteorology. He spent the rest of his life working for a newspaper.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Edgar C. Whisenant and the 88 reasons the world didn't in 1988

Edgar C. Whisenant was a bible student who was relativily unknown until he decided to predict the rapture. Whisenant studied the bible and concluded that the world would end somewhere between September 11th and 13th of 1988. Whisenant went so far as to publish and distribute 2 books entitled 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be In 1988 and On Borrowed Time. Whisenant best his reasoning on calculations gathered from a collection of dates and history in the bible. Whisenant was so convinced that he would even bet he stated he would bet his life on his claim. "[I]f there were a king in this country and I could gamble with my life, I would stake my life on Rosh Hashana 88." Many leaders discounted Whisenants prophecy but the Trinity Broadcast Network did not. Between the dates of the 11th and 13th, the network ran tapes instructing non-Christians on what to do in case their Christian friends and relatives disapeared leaving them in a world thrust into tribulation. When the world did not end, Whisenant warned that the rapture was coming on the September 15th, and then October 3rd, and then he realized he had made and error citing a fluke in the gregorian calender stating that the rapture was actually coming in 1989. Whisenant continued his warnings publishing The Final Shout--Rapture Report 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, etc. Whisenant finally gave up after the continued to disappointment. The absence of the rapture has landed Whisenant in good company among the thousands of other failed prophets, though Whisenant did sell 4 million copies of his book.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Minnesota Iceman

The Minnesota Iceman was a mysterious harry man-like creature buried in a block of ice that was put on display at carnivals by exhibitor Frank Hansen in Rolling Stone, Minnesota and Milwaukee during 1968. The Iceman was male, covered with brown hair, and was around six feet tall. One of its arms was broken and its left eye was falling out of its socket, allegedly from when the killing bullet struck it in the back of its head. It is unconfirmed to this day whether the Iceman was a hoax or genuine. Two scientists examined the Iceman and confirmed it as a living being citing that they could smell the purification of flesh in a spot where the ice had melted. The scientist even followed up with an article that caught the attention of the Smithsonian. The FBI almost began a murder investigation but J. Edgar Hoover showed no intrest stating that if it wasn't human, it wasn't there place to investigate. There were several speculations to the creatures origin ranging from Bemidji, Minnesota to Vietnam. Soon Hansen stopped any further investigation on the creature stating that the owner, a mysterious millionaire, did not want it investigated anymore. The Iceman quickly disapeared and in a 1995 interview, Hansen stated that he didn't know where the Iceman ever went.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Psychic Source

Psychic Source is a Psychic reading service that provides "authentic, amazing, affordable" and "easy" psychic readings. The website posts telephone numbers and extensions for psychic readers within their network. The site offers several psychics to choose from to meet the unique needs of each individual and the site also stresses that each psychic has been tested to insure that they are an expert in their field. The service has been around since 1989 and boasts itself as "The most respected psychic service", though it doesn't say by who. What Psychic Source claims makes them better than other psychic services is that they offer access to a proven community of readers, they screen prospective readers with their "proven" readers, and they have "discovered that the real deal can always recognize the real deal". The variety of psychics that Psychic Source offers allows customers to pick and choose their favorite one, the website gleefully states, "it’s like sampling good desserts! Sometimes it takes a few tries until you find your favorite." The readers on the site range from naturals to people who have studied tarot and astrology. There is a steep cost, $10 for ten minutes of psychic reading.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bonsai Kittens

In 2000, a group of MIT undergrads perpetuated a hoax that caused animal rights groups to throw up there arms in protest. The students set up a website that was a tutorial on the creation of Bonsai Kittens. Bonsai is the Japanese art of pruning trees in a way that they remain small and visually pleasing. The website created by the students sought to apply the ancient Japanese are to kittens. Bonsai Kittens are grown in a sealed glass container, given food and water through a tube, and eventually the kittens bone structure would conform to the glass container and the kitten is removed from its glass sanctuary. The result is a house pet in the shape of your choice. "The kitten essentially grows into the shape of the vessel! Once the cat is fully developed, it is removed (or the vessel broken to remove it!), producing the lovable, furry pet you've always wanted, but it remains in the shape you've always dreamed of! There is virtually no limit to the eventual shape of your pet", the sight declares.
This site created an uproar amongst animal rights activists who lobbied to have the sight shut down. MIT shut down the site as soon as the school discovered the site was hosted by its server. The site simply began relocating to other servers until it found its home at rotten.com. The animal rights activists simple grew angrier to the point that the sites creators came forward under the name Dr. Michael Wong Chang, stating that the site was created to satirize "the human belief of nature as a commodity". This didn't calm the activists and soon the FBI got involved and subpoenaed the site. No evidence was ever found of animal abuse or the sale of bonsai kitten yet to this day chain letters calling for action against bonsai kittens still exist and continue to circulate. As recently as last year, I overheard people discussing this animal rights violation.


Monday, October 8, 2007

The Monkey-Man of New Delhi

The CNN Report
In 2001, a mass hysteria swept New Delhi, India. The nations capital was plagued with reports of a mysterious night stalker. The "Monkey-Man" of New Delhi attacked people who were sleeping on the roof tops too escape the heat of their homes. Over a 100 people were allegedly attacked or bitten. The descriptions of the monkey man ranged from that of a bigfoot like wild beast to a cyborg. One women claimed her husband lost 2 teeth when the monkey man smacked him with his "metallic hand". This nocturnal ape-like creature caused hysteria so intense that two people died while attempting to flee to escape when warned of his presence, a pregnant women fell down the stairs and a an industrial worker jumped from a building. A crowd of people beat a 4 foot tall wandering Hindu mystic who matched the description of the monkey-man before turning him into police. A month later it was determined that the monkey man was the product of the collective imagination of New Delhi.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Gemstone File


In 1975, a 23 page summary of thousands of pages of letters written by the mysterious Bruce Roberts was crafted by a freelance journalist named Stephanie Carauna entitled The Skeleton Key to the Gemstone File. The theory claims that Aristotle Onasis, the shipping tycoon that later married Jackie Kennedy after she was widowed was a major player in an elaborate conspiracy. Aristotle Onassis, claims the Gemstone File, was the head of the American Mafia; the Mafia and Government were tightly interconnected.
The Gemstone File starts in 1932, Onassis then just a humble "Greek drug pusher" makes a deal with Joseph Kennedy (JFK's father) and his bootlegging cronies. The Kennedy's would remain in debt to him for the following years. In 1957, Onassis orders billionare Howard Hughes kidnapped and drugged; Hughes and his subordinates are now pawns of Onassis and Hughe's fortune lies at the finger tips of Onassis.
In 1963, John F. Kennedy makes the mistake of backing off on the Bay of Pigs operation, which was in fact a Mafia operation to gain control of the "Cuban cash cow". Kennedy, already indebt to Onassis due to his father's deal 30 years earlier, is killed by a Mafia style hit. Onassis takes Kennedy's gun (The pentagon) and his girl (Jackie). Onassis preceded to coerce Lyndon Johnson to accept the truth: "There was no conspiracy. Oswald was the lone nut assassin. Get it Lyndon? Otherwise Air Force One might have an unfortunate accident on its way back to Washington."
The site goes on to explain that Onassis was also running the Nixon White House. Onassis was connected to the leak and the 18 minutes of missing tape. The story ends in the Gerald Ford era when both Onassis and the author of the Gemstone file, Bruce Roberts, die.
The underlying assumptions that need to be true in order for this conspiracy to stay afloat are:
1. Onassis has a desire to be in control of the government and he is extremely power hungry.
2. There was a conspiracy behind the Kennedy assassination and Howard Hughes behavior.
3. The Kennedy's and Onassis were connected prior to Onassis' marriage to Jackie Kennedy.
4. Onassis had connections to powerful people and people respected him as more than just a wealthy individual.
5. Bruce Roberts is a real person with real connections to people in power and he was mentally stable at the time he wrote the Gemstone File.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Herbal Cancer Treatment

http://www.cancersalves.com/ is an online herbal remedy store. As you enter the site, you are greeted with this disingeniune manufactured remark:
"Knowing your time and your life are valuable to you and those you love, we have done everything possible to make your visit to this site worthwhile. We know how critical your issues are, and we know that truth and honesty are crucial to good decisions and happy outcomes."
The site describes itself as an information goldmine for herbal remedies for cancer and other diseases. It even goes so far to say "
there is no sales pitch, merely intelligent explanations of the herbal remedies as they have been used by skilled practitioners historically and in the present." even though a sales pitch for a $27 Herbal Remedy book lies right next to this hypocritical message. The site attempts to persuade the customer that they are indifferent to whether or not their products are purchased, they just want to spread the information.
The site at least admits:

Where products are concerned, the Sanctuary makes no claim as to the superiority or effectiveness of what it provides. The herbs and/or herbal formulae are merely offered in the hopes of and with prayers for healing. The formulas are produced in accordance with historic and traditional precepts, not modern science. As such, using the methods of science, they are not 'proven.'

The site conveniently dodges being disproven by actually testing the products on animals on the basis that: "it does not condone experiments in which tumors are transplanted into animals or in which laboratory animals are deliberately exposed to carcinogens." Therefore, no concrete proof will really ever be offered for these herbal treatments.

Shortened Version of Last Weeks Paper

People’s thoughts and opinions are influenced by a number of environmental factors. It took me nearly eight years to develop my opinion on the use of capital punishment in the justice system. I was exposed to many influences during that time, each shaping the course of my thought in a different way. My current position can trace its roots to a combination of my upbringing, my education process, and the influence of my peer group. These components have mixed to make my anti-death penalty stance seem rational to me.
My upbringing had a significant effect on my anti-death penalty stance because it allowed for the development of my curiosity of social structures. When I was growing up, I would listen to books on tape with my family. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor exposed me to racism for the first time. I was baffled by the existence of racism and I could not understand why it was still present. I became aware of corruption I became aware that decisions were left to people who already had prejudices and they were capable of making horrible unjust decisions based solely on skin color. This changed the path of my developing opinions about the world around me. I began to become curious about why people acted the way they did and I would often spend hours a day dreaming the matter. I had many conversations with my parents about racism and their willingness to listen to my questions fueled my curiosity. If my parents had not exposed me to controversial topics like racism, it would have taken me much longer to consider why people think the way they do. This questioning attitude developing inside of me along with my knowledge of corruption changed the way I thought about the world and therefore eventually influenced my opinion on the death penalty. I came to realize that many decisions were made not in fact but largely in opinion. My upbringing clearly had a significant effect on the development of my opinion on the death penalty.
My education process also played a significant roll in the development of my opinions. With my developing awareness of the world, I entered fifth grade. My teacher asked me to consider that if I had hypothetically grown up in New Mexico as opposed to Minnesota how I would differ as a person. It was at that point that I realized how much the area I was living in had influenced me. I realized that our social environment plays a large role in our developing opinions and altitudes. This seed had been planted in my brain 7 years before I was sure that the death penalty was an unacceptable punishment. I was beginning to understand that the decisions people made on their way to becoming criminals had been a result of their upbringing. I began reading books that built on this idea. Works by S.E Hinton and Walter Dean Myers widened my lens and allowed me to consider that criminals do not start out as bad people; they are usually not given the guidance to prevent criminal action. The realization that the environment largely determines who succeeds and fails, occupied my mind during the years that followed. I began to understand how criminals developed and I continued to read more books on the subject. My schooling also taught me social justice teachings. These teachings taught me how to articulate the idea of the dignity of all human beings. All of these influences that I was exposed to through my education process dramatically shaped my decision.
My peer group had significant effect on the development of my opinion. As I moved into high school I began to listen to more and more debates between very conservative people and more moderate people. One debate that really significantly altered my opinion on the death penalty occurred in the stands of an away high school football game my sophomore year of high school. In the blustering October cold, I listened to debates over the war in Iraq, welfare, and then the prison system. I’ll never forget hearing, “I think we should execute all the people who are serving life terms in prison because those murderers, rapists, and thieves are a disgrace to America.” This statement was so extreme that it really made me think about where I stood on the issue. While I knew I did not agree, I had no facts to back my position The morning after I researched the issue. I read several web pages on execution styles, statistics, and people who were wrongfully executed. Then I looked into the cost, I read that it was sending someone to death row after appeals and court processes was three times more expensive than a forty-year prison sentence. It was at that point that I decided which side I was leaning towards but I still did not feel complete confidence in my position. My peers caused me to further consider other points of view. I came to the conclusion that execution is not a rational punishment for murder because a peer sparked the internal debate. My peer group clearly had a strong influence on the development of my opinion about the death penalty.
The course of one’s thoughts and opinions is usually altered by factors outside of oneself. As I matured my upbringing, my education process, and my peers influenced my opinion.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Holocaust Hoax Propaganda

Christianity has its roots in Judiasm but that didn't seem to stop these loving Christians from creating their own holocaust denial webpage, http://biblebelievers.org.au/holohoax.htm.
The "bible believers" claim that the gas chambers used at aushwitz were never actually used and were to faulty to be used. The authors support for his claim comes from "America's leading specialist on the design and fabrication of execution equipment" Fred Leuchter who allegedly took samples from the walls of the Aushwitz gas chambers and tested for traces of cyanide, finding none. The author then goes on to explain that not one autopsied body of Jew was found to have died of gas poisoning. The author makes no mention of crematoriums. The author states that most of the holocaust victims died of typhus and that the holocaust was an elaborate Zionist hoax. The author claims that even if the evidence againest gas chambers was eliminated, it would take "68 YEARS" to execute 6 million victims by gas chambers, he sights no source and seems to have pulled the number out of the air by his own figuring. The author continues to make many more bigoted anti-semitic claims in the name of Christianity, though the claims continue to seriously lack a reliable support.

Monday, September 10, 2007

UFO News Blog

In my search for a UFO blog on google I came upon this: http://www.cosmicparadigm.com/ufonews/

This UFO news blog entilted Cosmic Paradigm keeps UFO enthusiasts up to date with the latest reports of UFO sightings and other news involving extraterrestrials. The author strangely does not identify him or herself which I find somewhat strange, but there is contact information just in case a UFO is sighted.

The sight holds the title Cosmic Paradigm for a reason. The blog makes the claim that their are two main world view paradigms, the "Existing Paradigm" and "The Larger (Cosmic) Reality". The blog states that "Many people in the United States cling to the existing paradigm" but a number of people are begining to embrace the idea of "The Larger (Cosmic) Reality". The "Existing Paradigm" consists of the beliefs: 1. Aliens are here to harm us. 2. being un-open to a larger reality. 3. Its likely that there is intelligent life out there but it unlikely we will ever encounter it. 4. People are poor because they want to be 5. Global Warming isn't real. This is just a short list of the characterization of someone holding the "Existing Paradigm".

People who follow the "Larger (Cosmic) Reality" paradigm believe that "Earth-humans are not the only conscious life forms on this planet, let alone nearby worlds." Another belief held is that aliens have contacted humans to awaken them and help them transition this planet. Believers following this paradigm also believe that feelings of fear and paranoa will attract aliens who bring more fear and paranoa. Other beliefs of the "Larger (Cosmic) Reality Paradigm include: 1. " There is no word "accident" in the vocabulary of the universe. Each experience is created as an education for the soul." 2. The world we are living in right now is mostly an illusion and it was made to make us compliant.

In the frequently asked questions section several more claims are stated. Among these are: people have been abducted and subjected to experiments, Keeping alien secrets keeps the ruling elite in power, and (my favorite) there are hybrid humans and non humans on our planet.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Sometimes I Just Don't Understand

I often find it difficult to understand how someone could genuinely enjoy the majority of the popular music we are exposed to today. For a more specific example, I was hanging out with a friend of mine and I asked her what kind of music she listened to. She first said she liked everything; which I usually interpet as meaning she doesn't have an eclectic taste in music at all. I asked her to be more specific she said, "Well I like just about everything but rock." Wow, that eliminates about 50 percent of recorded music. So I was I inquired further and She responded by saying what ever is on KDWB or B96. KDWB and B96 are the two media giant owned top 40 stations of the Twin Cities area. Both of these stations have a play list of what seems like less than 120 songs. Every time I flip by one of these stations, they are playing an annoying pop or hip hop song that I have already accidentally heard a million times. I just don't understand how someone can exclusively listen to radio stations that constantly loop music that is basically manufactured by one of the four major record labels. I just don't understand how someone can make that decision consciously.


This is my first blog entry on my newly created blog. Many will follow.