Education and Knowledge

IS FAKE NEWS REALLY A NEW PHENOMENON?

When I was a teenager in the 1980s everyone knew someone who had a friend of a friend who had flushed an alligator down the toilet that had grown into a sewer monster or knew the lurid story about some rock star or movie star who got a hamster stuck in their derriere and had to go to the ER because a friend of their friend’s mother was a nurse at that hospital. We spent hours pontificating about these “true” stories, which in reality turned out to be urban legends.   Although the phrase has changed, the principle has remained much the same. Today instead of huddling around a half-eaten pizza, sharing tantalizing stories at a slumber party, people are huddled around their smart phones and computers consuming these types of “stories” or as they have been coined, fake news. And the effects ha...

WHEN YOU BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AMAZING THINGS CAN HAPPEN

“The Power of Thought” is the title of one of my presentations. It’s amazing how this four word sentence means a great deal; I learned this lesson early in life.  When I was a young child I developed vitiligo, which is a condition that causes depigmentation of parts of the skin. In the sixth grade, I was bullied every day because my skin looked so different; bullies would call me “cow” because of the visible spots on my body. It was an experience I will never forget, and I knew deep down that the way bullies made me feel wasn’t how I really felt inside. Even though my skin was different, I still felt confident. One night, after a very bad day at school, I decided that I was the only one who could put a stop to the bullying. So, I mustered up the courage to stand up to one of the bullies an...

ALGORITHMS OF INTOLERANCE

Despite having an insurmountable volume of information at our fingertips, how is it that our capacity to tolerate opposing views seems to be diminishing? We live in divisive times, there’s no doubt about that. On one hand, we are living in the most progressive time in human history; our societies are multicultural, in many countries same sex couples can legally wed and women in most cultures have the same legal rights as men. But in opposition to the very idea of liberalism, we’re seeing a resurgence of opinions and behaviors that show how many in our world are still vehemently opposed to the progressive direction of travel. I’m not shy about expressing my views and I make no secret of the fact that being called a ‘bleeding heart liberal’ does not offend me – in fact, I have genuine concer...

BINGEABLE TRUE CRIME PODCASTS

This month’s “bingeable” list will feature different True Crime podcasts. The True Crime podcast genre has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years, due to the popularity of Netflix’s Making a Murderer, HBO’s The Jinx and of course, Serial. There are many different formats of True Crime podcasts – serialized, where one story is told week after week, or non-serialized, in which a new story (or even multiple stories) are told each episode. The style of the podcasts can also vary – some are more casual, where the host(s) will joke and chit-chat with each other, while other podcasts take a more serious tone, and leave the comedy out of the story-telling. It all depends on your personal preferences, and one format isn’t necessarily better tha...

THE THIRTY-SOMETHING STUDENT

Starting university as a fresh faced 18-year-old set free from the town of Mum and Dad was some of the best years of my life. Making lifelong friends, partying way too hard and using my student loan to pay for Topshop clothes and tickets to gigs for bands I hadn’t heard of. That was just one experience of university life, however within the dominant cohort of 18 and 19 year olds, there were some wiser souls, the ones who were navigating the trials of university later in life. I graduated 10 years ago with a degree I have relied heavily upon to keep myself employed to continue buying festival tickets (not so much the Topshop stuff; 30-something me just cannot pull them off). Working in social services is something I continue to be passionate about, but I had another goal in mind: to study l...

PROJECT 4293

We’ve all suffered through high school classes and groaned, “I will never, ever need to know any of this!” Possibly, we won’t. Fractions rarely come up in casual conversation. What we do talk about, though, is how to become whole from the fragments of ourselves. How to find answers, and hopefully teach others. Project 4293, Inc., the largest student-run organization in the country, is a nonprofit dedicated to teaching the most important lesson: tolerance. Project 4293 strives to help those whose lives have been shattered by intolerance by finding the answers that can help the victims feel whole. Through education, protection and advocacy, says co-President Alex Cywes, Project 4293 attacks bigotry and injustice. It sponsors and helps to pay for the fees of sexual assault victims and victims...

THANK YOU, JERRY

Steve and Gerry announce they are getting divorced in June 2004.  Gerry tells her children she’s gay towards the end of November 2004.  Gerry tells her children that she is transgender at the beginning of June 2012.  Gerry became Jerry.  I’m one of Jerry’s children.  Despite what some conservatives, some researchers and even some children of LGBTQ parents will say.  I am okay.     My Story  I remember the first time I heard about someone having a transgender parent.   I was watching the E! reality show, Dr. 90210, which told the stories of different plastic surgery patients in the Los Angeles area. One particular episode that aired in 2008 would end up serving as a major foreshadowing moment in my life.  I know you’re probably thinking, how in the world did a reality show foreshadow my act...

THE GIRL WHO IS FIGHTING BACK AGAINST THE ADDICTION OF SELF INJURY

  Self-harm is a very taboo subject. I’m sure if you have ever come across someone who has self-harmed in the past or continues to, the first question that enters your mind is ‘why’. The answer to this question is coming from someone who used to use self-harming methods as a way of coping & dealing with my emotional pain. It seems so strange almost to so many people, why would you want to inflict deliberate pain on yourself? It’s all about the mind and the endorphins that the body produces when it gets an injury of some kind. When I was growing up, I did mild self-harm, when I was anxious or upset I’d deliberately cause carpet burns on parts of my body (face, arms, knuckles). I would also deliberately claw my cheeks with my fingernails in anger and upset. Since I’ve become an adul...

NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS

I have always been someone who has planned ridiculously far ahead. And despite my ludicrous planning tendencies, my future never really seems to go the way I plan for it to go.   Sophomore year of high school I was already researching universities I thought I would want to go to. All of them were in Minnesota or New York and I was convinced I knew where I was going to end up.   The summer before my junior year of high school, I was convinced I would play volleyball through my high school career and maybe even continue through college.   Junior year of high school, I knew I wanted to study abroad at some point during my college career. Not only did I know I wanted to study abroad—I also knew I wanted to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain.  During the summer before my senior year of high schoo...

TO WHAT DO YOU OWE YOUR HIGHEST VALUE?

It’s a bizarre things these days to spend hours in the kitchen or stay at home and be a homemaker, just the other day I was casually on the phone to my Grandma and we had a long conversation about recipes, talking about everyday foods we had growing up yet today they are all seen as superfoods. There was always something sprouted, pickled, fresh (herbs/tart cherries) fermented and cultured on the table which were always full of life. I grew up eating lots of fruits and veggies and still do, this was somewhat different to some of my friends and their diets they would snack on junk food instead of celery sticks, even during birthday parties! (Something we all laugh about now). I thought to myself whilst trying to wean out any extra secret information on the telephone, about how much people a...

JUICY CAMPUS QUEEN

Freshman year of college, I was the subject of a contentious feminist debate on my college campus. Remember the website Juicy Campus? (I know…this is going somewhere though) “Who is the biggest ball-busting feminist on campus?” Only one answer, “Meryl Duff,” sat in the replies. Yes, I was browsing Juicy Campus, and yes I found my name in the anonymous reply. My first thought was “Oh my God, people here know me?” and my second thought was “…as a ball-busting feminist?!” Now, after some intense self-reflection as to why I was even looking at the Juicy Campus website, I moved on to how people knew me as a “ball-busting feminist.” Was it “Penis Registration Day” or was it my argument of sexist language in my First Year Seminar? I guess I’ll never know, but I was both proud and slightly incredu...

WHAT IS TEFLON

I’m returning to school at the age of 56, the same year my father retired and moved to a golfing community. You would think that all of the little insecurities that troubled you and held you back in your twenties would be gone. I’m here to tell you, not so much. There are always new and improved anxieties to keep you occupied. When I was trying to pay for my first class of Graduate school this summer my account was put on hold until I had proof of immunizations. Specifically measles, mumps and rubella. I called the on campus health clinic in a panic. “I don’t have any proof,” I explained. “I’m old. My last vaccine was at the age of ten!” This did not deter the maniacally fastidious academic bureaucrat. I could go to a lab for $300.00, she informed me, and have blood drawn to test for titer...

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