Categories
Opinions

The Political Right, Racism and “Knowledge-a-phobia”

It’s always frightening when the political right undertakes another tirade against education and scholarship. The most recent embargo of sanity seems to be Fox “news'” interview and coverage of Dr. Reza Aslan’s most recent monograph about the life of the historical Jesus of Nazareth.

In their interview, the Fox newscaster (whose name I neither remember, nor feel the need to dignify with remembering) begins her segment by immediately challenging Dr. Aslan’s very right to write a book about Jesus considering that he is a Muslim.

“Why would a Muslim be interested in Jesus?” she asks, to which he replies with “Because it’s my job as a scholar”.

From there, the interview descends into the realm of the comically cringeworthy and absurd as Dr. Aslan, with a look of being totally flabbergasted, has to not so much defend his position but to clarify it. What the “good” people at Fox news fail to understand is that a scholar is someone who studies a subject academically and the very nature of academics is to present a conclusion based off a set of data which supports their original hypothesis.

The Fox newscaster counters that there are a lot of Christian scholars who came to different conclusions that he did, which must somehow mean that he is misintepreting the data or giving shading his conclusions by some deep rooted hatred of Jesus (no thanks to his Muslim background). Dr. Aslan which he replies that he is well aware and rightly declares that this is simply part of the academic debate. There will always be scholars who agree with one conclusions and scholars who disagree. Academia, as he puts it, is an ongoing debate.

After realizing that Dr. Aslan isn’t interested in arguing or being combative, she decides to cut deepr and challenges his academic credentials, suggesting that a person cannot be both a Muslim and a scholar at the same time. The inherent racism in such a statement, suggesting that a person’s background can somehow void their ability to be objective or education, is practically palpable.

I feel that I should be surprised, shocked and even horrified that one of the largest “news” agencies in the United States be both blatantly racist and unprofessional and then go about its ways as if everything is business as usual. But for some reason, I’m not surprised, or shocked because part of me has become so used to both seeing and reading this kind of thing that it really is business as usual for the political right.

Racism, prejudice adn empassionately misinformed speeches are what they stand for. I’ve become no more surprised at the xenophobia or convservative politicos as I am to know that Neo-Nazis are horrible people; it comes with the territory. I suppose it would be fair to say that I am mildly horrified nonetheless to know that these people not only walk among us but in many parts of North America (the world even) they hold majority power over lawmaking, morality and public consent.

Even here in Canada, our Prime Minister and his cronies make regular passing jabs at “those university types” as if having a higher education is something to be ashamed of. They hate universities because universities are hot-beds of left-thinking.
But don’t forget, universities are also hot-beds of education.

 

Categories
Opinions

Learning to Think in University

Undergraduate degrees teach you how to learn, graduate degrees teach you how to think.

It occurred to me earlier this week while I was sitting out on my porch that virtually everything I learned during my undergraduate career was really just numbers and bullshit designed to fill my head, pass the time and convince me that I was part of some kind of higher-learning process.

Undergraduate degrees teach you everything you need to know about “knowing”. A lot of it is very useful, such as how to use a library, avoid plagiarism, find sources, compare data, write for 5 hours straight about something obscure and even the faintest glimmers of how to argue.

But none of it involves thinking, not really. It’s mostly just doing; going from one place to the next, reading one book then the other, writing one word then the next, following the pattern as it shapes itself around your studies.

The main problem with undergraduate degrees is that they are necessary. You can’t go on to bigger and better things or, hell, even discover how to think until you run through the mill. You have tons of data, tons of facts, not virtually no idea what you should do with all of it.

Thankfully, graduate studies shows you that there is something you can do with it.

Right off the bat, you are presented with a new way of approaching your studies. Passivity, the pride of the undergraduate, to just sit there and learn, take it all in, is now the enemy. Aggression, the active voice of criticism, you learn is the academic’s best friend. Without it, we’re nothing but a bunch of children lolly-gagging our way from one room to the next marveling at how brilliant we all must be since we go to university and know all kinds of stuff.

So, while undergraduate studies show you how to learn and acquire knowledge, graduate degrees teach you how to think and show you what you can do with all that random stuff floating around in your head. A master’s degree isn’t just about going further with any specific type of study, but going in a completely new direction with it. Now, it’s time to look at the data, analyze and criticize it. And then criticize it again.

It’s one of those obsessive disorders, where you find yourself asking ¬†yourself every day, every moment and every time you find your ass planted firmly in the couch and your eyes crawling the ceiling as you wrack your brain over and over wondering “what does it mean? What does it actually mean”…

I suppose “unknowing” would be an appropriate way of looking at what we get out of a master’s degree, as we spend a considerable amount of time going over everything we learned during our undergrad and thoroughly criticizing the hell out of it. It often turns out that most of what we think we knew happened to be bullshit all along, the veritable Wikipedia of knowledge, stuffed with half-truths, expectations and the bold-faced lies the victors have propagated about the losers throughout history.

Categories
Tabs

Guitar Tab – Electric President – Safe and Sound

This is an updated tab from the original one I submitted to ultimate-guitar a few months ago. Being as that site constantly voided any corrections I added to the tab, I figured it would be nice if people could find it one way or another.

As usual, WordPress likes to mess with formatting, so I uploaded a cleaner version of the tab in a text file.

The base key is A. Using this key, the chords are as follows:

E A D G B e
A x 0 2 2 2 0
E 0 2 2 1 0 0
D x x 0 2 3 2
F#m 2 4 4 2 2 2

Alternatively, you can play this with Capo 2 as such:

E A D G B e
G 3 2 0 0 3 3
D x x 0 2 3 2
C x 3 2 0 1 0
Em 0 2 2 0 0 0

Anyways, here’s how it looks without a capo. The chords change at the end of each line, but you can easily listen along to the song and figure it out since it follows the same pattern most of the time.

(Piano Chord Opening) A-A-A-A

A E
you took your hits, wear the bruises on the soles of your feet
D
well, whos to say if they’re deserved?
F#m
but you’re turning reckless now, I hear you saying through your teeth,
A
that you’ll take them down first
E
but I saw you flinch when the doctors got their claws in you
D
I saw your smile start to crack
F#m
it’s not so funny when you’re sunk and there ain’t nothing you can do
D
when your options are all dead ends
A
when there’s no way out
E D
I’ll let you build your home in me until the clocks run down
A
when your luck’s run out
E D
call me and I will come and fix you, get your feet on the ground
A
when there’s not way out
E A
call me and I will come and bury you, all safe and sound

A-A-A-A (power chords)

D A E
all this time, you’ve been drifting out with the tide, my friend
D A E
but you can have what’s mine, if it helps you stay afloat
D A E
if I close my eyes, it’s ’cause I can’t watch you drown anymore, my friend
D A E
but I’ll tell you lies if it helps you sleep at night
D A E
and the more we fight, the more we don’t get right, my friend
D A E
the more we fight, the more we don’t get right

A E D
I heard they broke you, that you gave in
F#M
that you dropped and the the fight had left you
A E D
but don’t you worry, it makes no difference
F#M
from the start your options were all dead ends
D A
when there’s no way out
E D
I’ll let you build your home in me until the clocks run down
A
when your luck’s run out
E D
call me and I will come and fix you, get your feet on the ground
A
when there’s no way out
E
call me and I will come and bury you, all safe and sound

The original submission can be found at http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/e/electric_president/safe_and_sound_crd.htm