Apply to be a part of the 2013-2014 editorial staff! Visit mercercluster.com/apply to apply for an editor position.
Applications are due Friday, May 3 by 10 p.m.
Send all opinions to email@example.com. Submissions should be around 500 words, but exceptions can be made for longer pieces. Opinions reflect the views of individual authors only, not The Cluster or Mercer University. The Cluster reserves the right to edit opinion pieces for length.
Apply to be a part of the 2013-2014 editorial staff! Visit mercercluster.com/apply to apply for an editor position.
Applications are due Friday, May 3 by 10 p.m.
Now that my ears aren’t ringing and my bones aren’t vibrating, I’d like to write about Bearstock.
I enjoyed the event overall: musical festivals are fun! I also love getting to hang out in the best of Macon’s weather with friends.
However, I have some issues with one of the bands present: Travis Porter.
If you search for Travis Porter’s lyrics and look at some top songs, I hope you can see why I’m writing.
Let’s take “Ayy Ladies” for example: “Know the pussy stay wet, I need all dat / Tattoos on the back, I see all dat / You already got a man, I ain’t tryna be all dat.” So she’s got a man, but the writer wants to hook up with her anyway. I see.
Here’s another bit from the same song: “When I hit it from the back, don’t fuss, don’t fight / When I put it in ya mouth, don’t scratch, don’t bite.” That’s not okay. In fact, it sounds like rape.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to fully realize just what these songs are saying.
If it helps make it more real to you, try addressing these lines to someone you know. (I wouldn’t do it out loud—they might hit you.)
Here’s a few lines from “Bring It Back”: “Got a police bitch on a short leash / Got good mouth like she got no teeth / She a slut, she a dog, she a bitch with it / Man you see the way she work she super thick with it.”
Here’s a question: Is this music respectful to women? Is it portraying women as complex human beings, or simply collections of body parts? If the lyrics are disrespectful, is this a message what we want blaring at Bearstock? It’s worth mentioning that I saw a girl younger than ten years old dancing to some of these songs, and I don’t think she was the only kid there. Were these lyrics good for her to hear?
If the lyrics are extremely negative, then who should take responsibility for people hearing the music?
As college students, we can choose to attend a concert or not. If we choose to listen to a song or band, and it turns out to be a bad decision, we can’t blame someone else for making it available.
However, when children go to a concert, it’s the parents’ responsibility to check out the bands and make sure that they are appropriate.
Regardless, organizers for events like Bearstock know that families will come even if the lyrics are explicit. I think it is Quadworks’ responsibility to take a few minutes for each band and read some of the song lyrics. Partially for families’ sakes, but also to carefully choose the message Mercer sends through its events.
Not only did Mercer invite Travis Porter to Bearstock, allowing them to play for a large crowd, but Mercer probably shelled out a lot of money to get them here. Here’s my point: Mercer supported Travis Porter.
If I may mention one part of the stage performance which I found offensive apart from the genre, Travis Porter would play gunshots at the end of songs and between songs. As one of my friends mentioned: this is inappropriate in Macon. There were probably people at the concert who had been hurt by gun crime in some form. Bringing that issue up over and over again at a public event is really insensitive.
In the midst of the explosive tragedies that have shook our nation, across the pond slightly ‘less’ tragic events have taken place.
I think this is one of those cases where shock and triviality go hand in hand. Seriously. Four rhino heads were stolen from a museum in Dublin, Ireland. Rhino heads. Who steals rhino heads? Those suckers are heavy, aren’t they?
According to ABC News, “Four rhinoceros heads worth more than $630,000 have been stolen from the National Museum of Ireland by a gang who overpowered a security guard.” I, admittedly, scoffed at this headline. A single security guard was overtaken by a gang. I was definitely expecting more than one.
I’m not very familiar with this particular museum, but it sounds like the movie Night at the Museum, where the museum only employs one night guard. I very much doubt the animals and other things on display came to life, but you know what I mean. One security guard? I would hope that our own national museum in Washington D.C. has more than one guard to protect the nation’s treasures.
Let me get back to the four rhinoceros heads. The news report stated that the heads were probably taken to supply an illegal trade of powdered horn that is used in traditional medicines. Seems legitimate, right? Sure, let’s go with that. The article does address another similar crime that took place in France. However, the theft involved was apprehended during the theft.
Apparently, late last month in France, a man broke into the Natural History Museum in Paris. He went into the gallery of comparative anatomy and used a chainsaw to remove one of the tusks from an elephant skeleton. I guess in the long run, stealing tusks from Museum is a lot easier than poaching from the wild. But still, that’s a terrible crime to commit. Animals with tusks, dead or alive, should be left alone.
What still gets me, though, when I read this article is that I don’t understand how the gang was able to get the rhino heads off the wall, carry them through the museum and into whatever getaway vehicle they planted the heads into.
Unfortunately the article doesn’t go into how the crime was committed, just that it took place. It was interesting news, nonetheless. Despite the shocking triviality of the article content, it’s still nice to know that the entire world isn’t falling apart at the seams.
Also, for those concerned individuals, there were no guards injured during the committing of the crime(s). The guard in Dublin was simply tied up, and was able to free himself to raise the alarm that there were perpetrators on the premises. Unfortunately, the thieves have not yet been apprehended.
I believe that to choose life is a sacred decision, imparting moral, normative force on the entirety of one’s interactions with the world. I believe that once such a choice is made through voluntary or instinctual means, every rational being has absolute and inalienable ownership over their body. I believe that such ownership of one’s body and control of one’s life imparts ownership to that being of the fruits of their labor to the same degree as the ownership of the self. The fruits of that labor are, however, alienable and rational beings may increase the value of their possessions through exchange and gift. As such, every rational being has the right to defend their person and property from invasion by every other being that would aggress against their ownership as expressed by control over such person or property.
This universal ethic applies to all rational beings, even those who would claim a supposed right to govern by divine power, social necessity, or fallacious social contracts. No rational being may steal, murder, injure, defraud, or otherwise misappropriate the property of another according to any design other than that of the owner himself. The only just use of force is in proportional response to force.
As such, no one may use force to “make others moral” or to affect economic interactions except in so far as one is protecting the property rights upon which such a system is based.
These are neither consequentialist premises nor conclusions. They are moral conclusions based on the moral worth inherent in life and the decision to pursue it when combined with objective properties of nature – to borrow a memorable phrase, the furniture of the world.
These are the contours of justice, within which, the best practices for life may be crowd sourced, and experimented, and stumbled upon. These are the metaphorical walls within which peace may be achieved.
This moral prescription may not be consequentialist, but the descriptive observations of value-free Austrian Economics support the prosperous consequences achieved when it is the system to which one adheres in the political realm as well as the business and personal realm.
Because this is what I am convinced of, I am a voluntarist. An anarchist. A sovereign individual.
That does not, however, mean that I can survive on my own, and I have chosen life. Life is better when shared, and we can produce more when working together as a melodic symphony of moving parts.
And so I can say, I am a voluntarist and I’d like to know how you’d like to know what we can do to benefit one another.
Because this life that you continue to choose does not have to be a zero sum game.
With this being my last issue as both an editor and a senior undergraduate, I have decided to present to you what I like to call the pizza box conundrum.
About a month ago I was soliciting the people around me for possible topics for opinions pieces. If you saw the last issue, you might have noticed that I wrote EVERY piece for the opinions section.
I wouldn’t say anyone is at fault, but I do find it a little absurd that my name appears so much in the paper. However, I digress. During my solicitation, I was presented with the Pizza box conundrum. I was at a loss. However, after careful deliberation as to how to approach it, here we go.
So have you ever taken a look around and noticed that the entire world can be broken down into basic geometric shapes? It’s true. That’s why little kids are able to draw pretty much any recognizable object like trees, houses, people, once they master the basic shapes. Some shapes seem to go together more cohesively while others are just…well, they present a conundrum of sorts.
Take pizza. Everyone loves pizza, or did during at least some point in their life. But you’re familiar with the concept, correct? It usually comes in a square box. Unless you order a specialty pizza, the pizza is normally round, and is then cut into triangle ‘pie’ slices.
Of course, I’m referring to delivery pizza. This could apply to Digiorno, but we all know that’s not delivery.
I’ll set the stage. You hear the doorbell. Your stomach responds first, “answer the door,” it grumbles. You pay the nice delivery person and transform into a trapeze artist as you make your way from the door to the kitchen table, balancing a stack of unbalanced, shifting warm boxes.You set the boxes down on the counter. You, hardly containing your excitement, carefully open the box where your pizza lies in waiting.The feeling of shock and awe at the beauty of the pizza overwhelms you. It’s kind of like Christmas.
Once the fog accumulating on your metaphorical glasses dissipates, so does your shock and awe moment. You stare at the pizza in disbelief. “This is not what I ordered! There must be a simpler way, a way that makes more sense!” you exclaim, your hands thrown into the air. Everyone around you is giving you funny looks. You don’t care, this conundrum is more important than their unappreciative and misunderstanding glares.
Who puts a circular object in a square container? Didn’t they learn as a toddler that the circle block goes in the circle hole and the square block goes in the square hole. Sure the circle block may fit inside the square hole, but that doesn’t mean it belongs there. It’s just not natural!
I realize that I’m being completely overdramatic, but if I won’t, who will? These are the kinds of questions that we should be concerned with.
During my four years here at Mercer, I’ve learned a lot of things, but I feel entirely unprepared to adequately deal with the pizza box conundrum.
Logically, I understand the circle cut into triangles. That part of pizza makes sense. Everyone gets an equal slice of pizza and everyone is happy. Right? But, that still leaves the square box.
We aren’t being very environmentally friendly if we use the square box. You might have noticed how much wasted space is in that box, space that could have been left on the tree. Have you ever thought of that Corporate America?
Sure Papa John’s has learned to utilize this space, but that’s an isolated case. Plus, they could easily just stack their garlic sauce and pepper on top of the box to become part of the circus act that is bringing the food to the kitchen.
As a lactose intolerant patron of society, I’m going to do my part and continue not eating pizza. For those of you who will continue to eat and enjoy pizza, please recycle the box. It’s the least you can do.
Over the course of this school year, I have had to frequently write opinions articles to fill my section. This hasn’t been a secret for those of you who have read my section regularly.
In fact, among the Cluster staff members, the Opinions section has often been referred to as ‘Cecilia’s Opinions.” I shrug at the reference and keep on writing. I have to.
Coming up with opinions pieces has never been easy for me. I’m not a particularly opinionated person. I usually absorb both sides of an issue and become ambivalent. I’ve always been that way.
It’s not so much that I don’t care, it’s that I prefer to just stay out of it, whatever ‘it’ may be. I think it has something to do with having a very opinionated father and it made him more mad for me to not have an opinion rather than argue against him. Whether that’s a cop-out, I’ll allow you to be the judge.
As far as writing opinions pieces goes, since I’ve had to fill my section in some way or another, I’ve developed sort of a technique. I usually avoid the really controversial topics like politics, but I will venture into the realm of discussions about homosexuality and I’ve considered talking about abortion (not sure if I ever did).
I’m not going to say that the articles I write are good. I rarely think they are. There have been a select few I’ve been proud of, but I can count those on one hand which doesn’t say much.
So in response to some criticism I have received throughout the year from previous editors of this section/the Cluster, patrons of Mercer, and local businesses; yes, my pieces are often fluff pieces.
If I had more submissions, I wouldn’t have that problem. Unfortunately, Mercer’s student body isn’t nearly as opinionated as I would have hoped leaving me to fill the void.
I have no problem with that, but quality had to take the back seat in most cases, i.e. the Starbucks vs. Jittery Joes article. Of course, if you have a conversation with me, I’m going to tell you that I prefer Starbucks, but that’s my personal opinion. It happens. It’s actually, the only thing I am truly opinionated about. That, and maybe the type of orange juice I drink.
I have a bad habit of digressing. What I intended to do with this article was to explain my article writing process. I’ve gotten quite good at it; like I said, I developed a technique.
Usually, by the Saturday morning before layout I can generally come up with a number of how many articles I’m going to need to write. I need roughly seven for my section.
If I get no submissions, I write seven articles, and so on. I usually hit up Google News for topics. Recently, Reddit has entered the picture, but I usually just stick to Google.
As I mentioned before, I usually stay away from politics, so if I see Obama’s face, I usually keep scrolling. I usually pick a few articles on a specific current event that many would be familiar with.
However, my absolute favorite articles are the ones with really random and rather silly headlines. Take this one for example: New App Helps Icelanders Avoid Accidental Incest. Those are the best.
I usually pick about ten different news headlines and narrow them down to the seven or so stories that get printed in the paper. I can generate 5-7 stories in a few hours depending on how snarky I feel. So, as my final printed words to Mercer: It’s been fun!
Oh, and just to quickly address the incest prevention app, in Iceland pretty much everyone is distantly related so relatives don’t end up ‘getting together’ if you know what I mean….
The app lets users “bump” phones and gives off an alarm if they are related. Their slogan, you may ask? “Bump the app before you bump in bed.” Perfection!
I about died laughing the first time I read the article that appeared in ABC News. The original use for the app was supposed to be a genealogy of sorts.
However, over time, the app morphed into the anti-incest tool. Some citizens were saying that it may be funny but that it is a necessary app to have.
If my country was only about 320,000 people strong, I’d be a bit concerned about dating my cousin, too. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about stuff like that. And hopefully with this app, neither will Icelanders.
I created the title in hopes that I would be purposely vague with what Mercer changed. For one, looking around the landscape of campus these past few days, Mercer has definitely changed.
Porter Patch is now a pile of red clay and rubble. Crush and go gravel covers the pathways that were part of my daily morning running routine. The football field takes the place of a muddy drainage pit that I got stuck in my freshman year while trying to carry a snare drum and my clarinet over to the homecoming bonfire.
There is no more intramural softball field where I clotheslined a rather annoying guy at second base and got away with it. The bookstore has moved, the climbing tower has been erected, the ropes course where the new practice soccer fields are is gone.
The lofts replaced parking lots and older houses. A lot has changed over the course of my four years. I can only wonder how much of Mercer has been changed by us, and how much of us Mercer has changed.
I know that I am a completely different person than when I first walked on campus. I was a rather timid freshman, hiding behind the fact that I was living with one of my best friends of seven years. I wanted to get out there, but I wanted to relish in the comfort of the familiar.
I eventually found my own and now rarely, if ever, talk to that friend I lived with for both freshman and sophomore year.
I’ve gone through a lot of friendships since freshman year and even though there has been heartbreak, every single person I’ve come into contact with here at Mercer and each of the friendships I have formed shaped who I am today.
Mercer’s canvas and their slogan: Be the Bear, has always offered a space for me to find my own, and I could not be any more grateful than I am now.
I may be frustrated with the construction, my grades may have fallen due to a severe case of senioritis, but in the grand scheme of things Mercer is more than just a campus undergoing renovation. It’s more than a place where we receive grades and a VERY expensive piece of paper to hang up on our walls.
I don’t know if I’m speaking for others when I say that Mercer is a pseudo-home. I’ve grown up here.
I went from that timid freshman to someone who is writing these thoughts of mine in a newspaper. I’m not sure if these thoughts are very coherent, but they exist.
We each came to Mercer because of one reason or another, and for whatever that reason I want to thank you in the cheesiest way possible. The faculty and staff, the professors, the students, and the organizations I have interacted with over the last four years have made some sort of impact that has been felt.
In some ways, Mercer’s renovation can be a visual representation of the renovation going through each and every one of us.
Some days we find our self at stand stills due to climates of various natures, but eventually we get going. One day we will be that finished product. We may not know it at the time, but others will see it and bear witness.
I’m thankful for the time Mercer has given me to learn and grow. I’ve changed. Mercer’s changed, and will continue to change with each incoming class that makes an impact on our campus. That thought may be a little scary, but it’s definitely one that makes me excited about the future.
Pardon the terrible pun, but the events happening in Boston as well as the explosion in Waco, Texas really have me shaken up.
I’m not even trying to make light of the situation. This is seriously the first time I have really felt affected by a disaster like the Boston Marathon bombings.
I drive around town and I see the flags at half-staff in honor of those who lost their lives and the tragedy that struck this county.
Two misguided brothers decided to make an act of terror, for what? What were they trying to prove? What they did prove is that citizens of the United States know how to band together and take action when the situation calls for it.
I was looking for more information on the bombings and found a two news stories that I found incredibly touching.
The first is that five dogs who all worked at Newtown to comfort those who were suffering from the school shooting traveled to Boston to comfort all those who were affected by the blasts.
I have never really thought of dogs traveling to different cities to comfort those who are affected by tragedy. The fact that these dogs and their handlers were willing to travel to visit those who were affected really touched me.
I don’t really have anything more to say on the matter without sounding redundant so I will comment on the story that really got to me.
However, before I go into that particular story, I do want to comment on the politics surrounding this situation. I haven’t done enough research to be educated on the backgrounds of the two men who committed the crime, but I have seen pictures of them.
The one that the authorities were looking for during Boston’s lockdown looked like a little kid. He had a baby face, one that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to commit such a heinous crime.
I almost feel bad for him. He seems like the type to have followed what his older brother told him just because, without asking any questions.
I’m not saying that what he did is acceptable, nor is it forgivable, but I can only wonder what is or was running through his mind while the aftermath is taking place. His brother’s dead. If I were in his shoes, I would be terrified.
I’m deeply saddened by the events that took place and I’m mad that they happened. They shouldn’t have happened and the men responsible for the bombs going off should be apprehended.
When I came across the story of Jeff Bauman, I was kind of in awe.
Jeff Bauman suffered severe injuries to his legs that resulted in amputations below the knees. What gets me about his story is the man who jumped into action to save him. In iconic pictures from the blast, there is a man in a cowboy hat running alongside a woman pushing Bauman in a wheelchair.
The man in the cowboy hat, Carlos Arredondo, can be seen literally pinching Bauman’s femoral artery closed in an effort to staunch the bleeding.
I’m a little squeamish myself when it comes to those types of things, so I couldn’t imagine the type of character Arredondo has in order to jump over the barricades, run straight to the blast, create tourniquets for a man trying to stand but has lost his legs, and pinch his artery all through instinct. It’s just mind boggling to me.
Due to the actions of Arredondo, as well as those on standby to take care of the victims of the blast, Bauman was able to survive his horrendous experience. He may be a few inches shorter, but he still has his life.
It’s stories like Bauman’s that make me proud to be an American. Despite the blast that shook our nation in a way that felt similar to that of 9/11, we all have seemingly come back together to support and take care of one another. I could not ask for more.
Now that spring is kind of upon us, it’s about that time to get bikini-bod ready. Spring Break was the warm-up, but now that summer is almost here we are about to run a marathon! Beach, here we come!
First thing usually on everyone’s mind is the weight that you have put on from all those late nights studying or you can just fill in the blank about how you tend to gain weight.
The key to losing weight has always been accountability. I know I’m always healthiest whenever my friends encourage me to go running or out on walks with them. That’s why things like Weight Watchers have been proven to work because they are tracking pretty much your every move.
Well, guess what? There’s an app for that — not Weight Watchers necessarily, although I’m sure there is one out there. I’m talking about a few choices to keep you on track for your weight loss goal that can be found right in your pocket, or where ever you may keep your smartphone.
I’m taking this list of apps from a list compiled from Daily News. I haven’t tried all of these, but I have tried one or two of them and have had friends who have done the same. All of us seem to have at least one or two pounds we would like to drop. Or in the case of those lucky few, they want to put on a few pounds. These apps can probably help with that as well.
Lose It!, available for free on both the Apple and Android market allows you track nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, and fat. There is also a recipe builder and a database of activities to track how many calories you have burned.
One of my favorite apps to use is the MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter and Fitness Tracker. This app comes with a barcode scanner that helps you scan and tally up the calories you eat every day. This particular app is free and is available for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Windows Phone.
iTrackBites is one that I have never used before, but is similar to Weight Watchers in that it has a point structure. Those using the app can keep a food diary and select foods with an assigned point value. This app is not free, but rather $1.99 for iPhone users, and $2.99 on the Android market.
There are plenty of others, such as Endomondo or Fitocracy. The key idea is to choose something that will work for your and for your lifestyle.
The MyFitnessPal, app seemed to work the best for me because it gave me instantaneous results. I stopped using it because certain aspects of the program made me mad. It started telling me that I wasn’t eating enough on the days that I managed to forget to eat because I was busy doing other things.
However, the interface was clean and easy to use. After a while though, the novelty wore off and I just stopped using the program all together.
I still have it on my phone, but my eating habits are so sporadic that it’s hard to tell. Maybe when I’m not a student, it will be easier to keep track of.
But if you are looking for an easy way of keeping track of what you’re eating and how active you are being, I would look into the different fitness apps that are available out there.
Another one of my favorites is the couch to 5K app that transformers novice runners into 5K running mode. It really works if you stick to the program, as is the case with just about anything.
As someone who only regularly started eating red meat when I got to college, I was brought up with the mantra that I shouldn’t eat red meat because it was going to give me high blood pressure. While this is true, I didn’t understand why. In fact, a lot of people didn’t understand why this was the case.
Turns out, there is a recently found chemical that exists in red meat that explains why eating so much is bad for the heart.
Carnitine, in red meat, was discovered during a study found in the journal of Natural Medicine. This chemical is broken down by naturally occurring bacteria in the gut which in turn causes a chain reaction that results in higher levels of cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease.
This one chemical causes all of the chaos. I find red meat delicious. Although I do know a lot of people who don’t eat it or their bodies can’t process it. Maybe it’s a good thing that they stay away from it. Personally, I come from a family with a history of heart problems so it would probably be in my best interest to stay away from red meat.
However, carnitine isn’t just found in red meat. There are people out there taking carnitine supplements. These people are just as much at risk for heart disease for those who ingest the chemical through more natural sources.
The UK government recommends eating no more than the red or processed meat equivalent of two slices of bacon a day. Maybe that’s why Europeans live so much longer than Americans. They also weigh a whole lot less than Americans, on average. We have things such as the baconator from Wendy’s that features at least six pieces of bacon, and two hamburger patties. While delicious, it’s practically a heart attack wrapped in a greasy piece of paper.
Previously, saturated fats were thought to contribute to heart problems. While that is partly true, it isn’t completely at fault. Lead researcher Dr. Stanley Hazen told the BBC, “The cholesterol and saturated fat content of lean red meat is not that high, there’s something else contributing to increases in cardiovascular risk.”
Dr. Hazen explained the process of carnitine being broken down into a gas, which is then converted by the liver into a chemical called TMAO. TMAO was strongly linked to the build-up of unwanted fatty deposits in blood vessels, which can ultimately lead to heart disease.
Previous studies have often avoided TMAO, which have led to the misconception of saturated fats being mostly at fault for heart disease from red meat.
The findings of Dr. Hazen’s study have supported the idea of “less red meat is better.”
A possible solution to the problem of carnitine being broken down that is in the process of being studied is the addition of probiotic yogurt to one’s diet in order to change the current balance of bacteria found in the gut. In theory, the smaller the number of bacteria that feed on carnitine, the lower the health risk from eating red meat.
Of course, these findings, won’t necessarily change what people recommend is healthy to eat. However, this study does serve as a good reminder for the fact that we should look towards alternative sources of protein for those of us who regularly eat a lot of red meat. All in all, we should only eat red meat in moderation.