Obama Is Wrong About Keystone XL

On Friday morning, President Obama rejected TransCanada’s bid to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline across the United States, a major victory for the environmental cause. But in his remarks on the subject, the president made a dangerously misleading claim about the pipeline’s potential impact on climate change.

President Obama, in noting that Keystone XL has become something of a political circus, stated that “this pipeline would neither be a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.”

In making this remark, President Obama appears to have been answering his own question of two years earlier: will the pipeline “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution?” In the end, his answer was “no,” and that is absolutely wrong.

The correct answer to this question is that it undeniably would increase greenhouse gas emissions. The production of the pipe would have led to the purchase and consumption of a great deal more oil than is currently being consumed (and importantly, that oil would have been tar sands oil, which is notoriously dirty to produce). We know this intuitively because TransCanada went to all this trouble – why would they pursue a project that wouldn’t get more of their product out into the world? Less abstractly, we know it because the EPA said so: in a letter to the State Department earlier early this year, the EPA concluded that Keystone XL could increase carbon emissions by 27 million tons per year. What’s more, none of this takes into account the fairly unquantifiable risk of a disastrous oil spill in the American Midwest. All of this is to say that yes, in fact, Keystone XL would have been a certain disaster for the climate and the environment.

 (Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

That said, there’s a bigger, simpler reason that President Obama was wrong in saying that Keystone XL would not have been a climate catastrophe, and that is that he was asking (and answering) the wrong question to begin with. The question he needed to consider, and the question that must be posed to each and every new energy project in America, is “will this project dramatically decrease greenhouse gas emissions?”

What many people (hopefully not including the president) seem not to realize is that climate change isn’t a big deal because we risk crossing some major emissions threshold in the future, it’s a big deal because we are already way way over that threshold. For instance, many scientists have long considered 350 parts per million to be the maximum safe level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – in May 2013, we hit 400 and never looked back. Regardless of how you measure it, we are already living far beyond our means with regard to the climate. In short, “climate disaster” is the status quo, and any energy project that does not seriously combat that status quo is, on those grounds, disastrous.

Contrary to President Obama’s statements, Keystone XL would have been a disaster. It would have “significantly exacerbated the problem of carbon pollution,” and accordingly it would absolutely not have dramatically decreased greenhouse gas emissions. It would have been a massive victory for the status quo, and that means a massive blow to the environment.

He and his administration did the right thing on Friday, but his language leaves me concerned that he still isn’t totally bought-in on climate change. It seems possible that he doesn’t fully understand the issue, and is just going through the motions to lock down some international credibility ahead of the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. Or maybe he’s just being politically strategic by critiquing both sides of the “debate” and thereby appearing above the partisan fray. But either way, if he truly intends to leave a legacy of climate action, he’ll need to firm up his rhetoric and reshape his thinking on what really constitutes a climate disaster.

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Until Next Time, Grantland

I remember waking up earlier this year on the morning of May 8th and immediately checking my twitter (yeah, us Millennials do that a lot). I saw that Bill Simmons was trending and I already figured out what had happened: ESPN and Bill Simmons had finally parted ways. Given the tumultuousness of Bill’s tenure during the last couple of years with the company (including notable feuds with First Take and Roger Goodell), I knew that their split was both imminent and inevitable.

I also knew then that once ESPN cut Simmons, it would only be a matter of time before long-form sports and pop culture blog Grantland, a site he created in 2011, would meet a similar fate. Despite ESPN President John Skipper’s assurance that the company would remain “fully committed to Grantland” post-Simmons, reports of the site’s low web traffic, writers leaving for other publications, and the companywide cost cutting meant that their death was on the horizon.

Sports media, like most corporations, is all about making absurd profits. It’s the reason why ESPN, FOX, TNT, CBS and NBC pay billions of dollars to the NFL, MLB, and NBA to broadcast their games. An apt comparison can be made to cinema. A movie can be critically lauded and granted various awards, but if it isn’t a blockbuster or making any real profit, the studios will consider that film a failure. As James Andrew Miller wrote, Grantland was not making enough money (only generating $6 million a year), thus setting the clock to its inevitable demise.

As the months passed, Grantland continued to operate under interim editor-in-chief Chris Connelly as it churned out content. This was until a few weeks ago when the Grantland YouTube channel took down most of its videos and the once fluid well of columns and podcasts dried up faster than the State of California. Jalen and Jacoby’s popular “Pop the Trunk” podcast was moved away from the Grantland banner and towards ESPN radio.

Finally, on October 30th, ESPN indefinitely suspended the site’s publication, drilling the final nail in the coffin of a brief, but rich, 4-year lifespan. As Richard Deitsch wrote for Sports Illustrated, it was a sad day for all sports fans.

Like many others, readers and writers alike, I too was saddened to see ESPN kill Grantland. The site’s amalgamation of sports and pop culture in the style of longform writing was Bill Simmons’ vision. Love him or hate him, Bill Simmons, formerly the blogger known as the Boston Sports Guy and creator of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, found a niche that worked: pop culture and sports can easily be worked together; compared through parallels that made context and magnitude translatable. One could write about the NBA playoffs one column and then talk about Game of Thrones in the other. One could even make reference to Game of Thrones in an NBA playoff game. Under Simmons, the skies were the limit on what writers could talk about and how they talked about it.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 14: ESPN TV Personality Bill Simmons Coach of the West Team reacts to a play during the Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at Sprint Arena during the 2014 NBA All-Star Jam Session at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on February 14, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Grantland was unique and highly influential to my own style of blog and column writing. Reading articles from esteemed writers such as Wesley Morris, Andy Greenwald, and Rembert Browne taught me that longform (pieces over 1000 words) could be just as engaging as standard articles fewer than 800 words in length. Zach Lowe could explain the game of basketball almost better than any other writer aside from a coach or a player. I still take pleasure in reading “Oral History: Malice at the Palace,” a longform account written brilliantly by Jonathan Abrams that details the infamous Pacers-Pistons brawl in 2004.

Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose always had excellent chemistry on the BS Report podcast (which was never the case among the rotating cast of NBA Countdown). Grantland could provide its audience with witty humorous columns, articles concerning serious subject matter, and movie and TV reviews all under the managerial genius of Bill Simmons.

This is not to say that Bill’s passion project was perfect, they could not generate enough web traffic to justify its operating costs, they aired their podcasts and television shows (ex., Grantland Basketball Hour) on inconsistent times, and it had its fair share of controversy. In addition, I always felt as if some Grantland writers would focus too much on reacting to other pundits as opposed to just writing their own work and letting the research speak for itself. Nevertheless, Grantland was easily my favorite aspect about ESPN aside from watching the actual games. I can’t imagine an intellectual sports-fan who preferred regular ESPN to Grantland. Teading/listening to certain personalities who bloviate about tired talking points and propagate opinions discredited by research gets old when its airing on repeat, even if you change the anchor reciting the talking points.

Simply put, constantly hearing about Tim Tebow got really f****** annoying. But instead of solely bemoaning all that I loathed about ESPN (and trust me, there’s plenty), I consistently supported and praised both writers and pundits who did excellent reporting and commentary. I supported Grantland immensely.


Overtime, ESPN has created personality-brand projects similar to Grantland such as Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight and (formerly) Jason Whitlock’s The Undefeated (known informally as “Black Grantland”). Unfortunately, FiveThirtyEight, which examines sports, economics, and politics through statistical analysis, might be next to be cut from ESPN given its low web traffic. In addition, The Undefeated, which is supposed to examine sports as it intersects with African-American culture and race, has yet to be launched after 18 months of incompetent leadership from its former former Editor-in-Chief. Yet, President Skipper still insists that ESPN is fully committed to these projects.

When have we heard that one before?

I remember when my editor Jake Kahane approached me to write for The Daily Twenties just as the site was getting ready to launch. During our conversation, we both discussed our mutual fondness of Grantland and lamented that Bill left. Yet, I also told him about how Grantland inspired me to write about multiple subject matters that many people consider unrelated. In my case, I was (and still am) inspired to write about the intersections between politics, sports, and/or pop culture. I can say that my very first article on Roman Reigns and race was in part inspired by some of the content I read at Grantland.

Thankfully, ESPN has archived the many wonderful works the site has produced during its tenure. I would encourage everyone to look back at the archives and read some of the most brilliant sports and culture writing from the last five years. If there’s some form of everlasting life for the site, it’s in the crypts of ESPN.com, the type of storytelling embodied by ESPN’s 30-for-30 franchise, and in the minds of those who read it and were better, more interesting people for it.

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Culture Collection | NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts are Everything

NPR does a lot of things really well. Producing quality content across the board is one of them. From Planet Money, and This American Life to Tiny Desk Concerts, they really give the people what they want.

NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts is a weekly video release of incredible artists giving (tiny) intimate concerts of their latest/popular songs. They feature big artists, small artists, rappers, folk singers, 2 person bands, huge orchestras, they run the gambit of musical talent.

I’d recommend subscribing to their YouTube channel and get the videos sent to your inbox when they’re released. It’s great for finding new and upcoming artists. Plus, throw this up on your friends wall and everybody will think you’re cultured as shit!
love animated GIF

Here’s a few of our favorite videos

They are amazing. They feed the soul. We hope you enjoy!

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Culture Collection | Hype Machine is the Spot for the Best New Music

Sometimes your music gets a little old right? How long are you going to listen to that remix of Adele’s new song before you start to hate it? It’s time to diversify your music stream a bit. The Daily Twenties has got your culture covered.

Hype Machine has been my #1 blog to get new music for like 6 years (that’s a long time in Internet years, yo). What’s cool about Hype Machine is that it’s a blog for music blogs. So it aggregates popular music found on other music blogs. They don’t actually post or write about any of the music themselves, genius!

Their about me section reads:

We’ve carefully handpicked a set of 793 music blogs and then present what they discuss for easy analysis, consumption and discovery. This way, your odds of stumbling into awesome music or awesome blogs are high.

Holy shit if everything could be that easy…oh wait, thank you Internet, it is.

How to use it

Once you get to the site it might look a little hectic but they make it really easy to navigate. It’s all based on preference. There’s a number of tabs at the top that filter the music selection: by Latest Music, Popular Music, or a Genre preference. And then you can select categories within those. hypem

I’m not going to hold your hand and walk you through how to use because you should just go and click around a bit.

How to listen

They’ve been in the streaming business for a long time, knowing how important it is to get you music ASAP. Click around and find the dashboard you want, then click the Play button and you can start listening to the stream. You’re going to want to get an account so when you really like a song, you can click the Heart and save it to your favorites for later listening.

I like to hit the Popular –> Now –> Play and listen all day.

HypeM on the go

I’ve used a lot of different applications to listen to music: Pandora, Songza, iTunes, Soundcloud, Spotify. A lot of which are really great for different things. But I like to listen to underground music you won’t find on Spotify of iTunes. The Hype Machine App that was released a couple years ago has been my go-to on-the-go music app since. When the Uber driver hands me the Aux cord, I pull up Hype Machine and fire is coming through the speakers.

Here’s my stream: http://hypem.com/jakekahane

Happy listening!

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How to Get your Medical Marijuana Card in California, Hint: It’s Really Easy

Unless you live under a very large rock, you’ve likely caught whiff of California’s lax rules surrounding medical marijuana. You might have heard your dealer rambling about his plan to move to “the promise land,” or maybe you’ve seen a green cross sticker on your California cousin’s laptop. Either way, we know you’ve heard the rumors. We’re simply here to outline the rules and tell you how you, yes you, can smoke totally legally!

What do the rules say?

While the federal government still recognizes marijuana as a schedule 1 prohibited substance (grouped in the same category as cocaine and heroin), the feds have much bigger fish to fry and let states enforce their own rules on medical marijuana. In California, medical marijuana has been legal under Prop 215 and Senate Bill 420 since 1996. As a medical patient, you can buy weed in any California dispensary, carry up to 8 ounces on your person, and smoke legally on private property. Yes you heard it; you can smoke legally if you have your medical card.

Who can get a medical card?

While medical marijuana has shown to help treat patients with serious physical illness such as cancer and glaucoma, California also recognizes marijuana’s medicinal benefits on a list of “illnesses” that almost every living person “has.” Let me just say that if you have any amount of anxiety, physical pain, trouble sleeping, high stress levels, or literally any persistent medical symptom that limits your ability to conduct major life activities (such as eating, sleeping, walking, etc.), you are eligible to smoke legally. If you can think of even one way that marijuana “helps” you live a better life, you are eligible. And no need to be picky, because California marijuana doctors certainly aren’t.tumblr_n6ceyuiMN81s15nabo1_500

How to get your card

Now for what you’ve been waiting for, how to actually get your card. Here’s what you need:

  • California State ID or Driver’s license
  • A brief excuse for why marijuana helps you
  • About $60 cash

First, let’s start with how to get the CA state ID or driver’s license. If you already have a CA state ID or drivers’ license, you can skip this step. This is the hardest part by far. You have two options here. If you choose to get a California driver’s license, you have to take the written driving test at a California DMV, prove residency, show a government issued ID (passport always works) and wait about 2 weeks for a driver’s license to show up at your door. I suggest however, that you go the easy route and apply for a CA state ID. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Visit a DMV office (make an appointment for faster service)
  • Complete application form DL 44 (An original DL 44 form must be submitted. Copies will not be accepted.)
  • Give a thumb print
  • Have your picture taken
  • Provide your SSN. It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
  • Verify your birth date and legal presence (you may use your California driver license)
  • Pay the $21 application fee. There is no fee for a senior citizen ID card.

Once you’ve visited the DMV and have gotten either a California ID or drivers’ license, you are ready to visit a weed doctor! (Sometimes the DMV can take up to 3 weeks to mail your new ID, be patient!) There are hundreds of doctors in California that are licensed to recommend people for medical marijuana use, and if you are in any major California city, you’ll find it almost impossible to miss the big, green, “420 Doctor Recommendations Here!” signs sprinkled literally everywhere. Or you can always look up marijuana doctors on your favorite search engine and you will be sure to find a doctor within a short drive.

As soon as you settle on a doctor to visit, bring your California ID and a little cash with you and you are almost guaranteed to walk out of the doctor’s office with a laminated medical marijuana prescription recommendation. Just make sure to be honest about how marijuana has the ability to improve your life functions and almost no California medical doctor will deny you. Once you’ve gotten your ID, recommendation, and a little spending money, you are ready for the fun part… visiting your first marijuana dispensary! Stay tuned to The Daily Twenties to learn more about what the inside of a pot-shop actually looks like!

james franco animated GIF

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How Your Yelp Reviews Get You Free Stuff: Inside Yelp Elite

It’s safe to assume that a good majority of us really only use Yelp to check out reviews and ratings of potential places to grub. But did you know that you can also join their Elite team and go to free events aka get free food?

The Perks

  • You can attend awesome free parties! Some events cater a full dinner (and on several occasions an open bar) or have dessert tastings and send you off with swag bags. What’s great is that the Elite events aren’t only limited to food-focused functions but in the past have also included complimentary tickets to artistic shows around your local area.
  • Living in LA can be a challenge to meet people but this is a great way to network with other Yelp Elite members while bonding over food you wish you could make. And, hey, you never know who you might meet – a future employer, potential partner or what have you but at least there’s a common denominator.

food animated GIF

So now that I have your attention, here’s the sitch: unfortunately, you can’t just simply click a button to join.  You can nominate yourself, someone else can nominate you or the Elite council can choose you. That being said here’s what you should do to increase your chances of joining the exclusivity:

How it happens

  • Write, write, write! Don’t just be a Yelp user who doesn’t leave rating and reviews to businesses.  Not only is writing great for you mentally, but it’s also a good way to give feedback and exposure to local businesses who might need it. Once I wrote a slightly negative review on a restaurant and the owner responded back thanking me for the critique as it helps them improve their business and offered a free entree on the house – a win-win!
  • Quality, not Quantity (sort of).  The Elite squad is looking for active Yelp users but when writing reviews, you should really take the time to give constructive detailed feedback.  Frequency is also a quality they take into consideration so throw it into your daily social media routine.

Not only does the Elite badge stop here, but there’s also “Gold” (being a Yelp Elite for 5+ years) and “Black” (Yelp Elite for 10+ years).  Word has it both of these higher up badges offer even more exclusive and intimate parties.

eating animated GIF

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Young People Doing Stuff | “We Started a Feminist Podcast”

 This is the first installment in our new interview series, Young People Doing Stuff. We’re going to focus on young people making things happen for themselves, by themselves, with knowledge they worked to acquire. If you know of someone doing something that needs some recognition, email us.

Conversations around feminism and patriarchy are usually reserved for classroom talk at liberal arts colleges where professors of Gender and Women Studies are leading the conversation. And once the period ends, so does the discussion. The Left Ovaries, however, are looking to change that and keep the conversation going.

Who are The Left Ovaries? It’s the kick-ass, extremely clever, name for a feminist podcast made up of 6 twenty-something women tackling both personal and shared issues women face daily. With only a season of airtime, they’ve already explored topics regarding pornography (“Porn-O You Didn’t”), identity intersectionality (“Is Your Feminism Intersectional?”), and patriarchy (“Fu*k Patriarchy, Get Money) in addition to other topics about what it means to be a feminist in today’s culture.

The Daily Twenties had the opportunity to chat with Bianca Rosen, a 23 year old graduate student at USF, and a member of the The Left Ovaries to get the scoop on their mode of cultural engagement.

How did it all start?

We’re all actually friends from the 6th grade. It started with the three of us: Erin Breen, Shelby McNabb and myself. We also all have sisters that are close in age, so it’s the three of us plus Erin’s sister, Claire, Shelby’s sister, Mackenzie, and my sister Bella. And we’ve all been best friends growing up. 

We often found ourselves talking a lot about social issues we’re witnessing that are intertwined with gender and race and age and so many other factors. We thought, we should really start a podcast and really sit down and open these dialogues that are not solely coming from the male centered perspective that we see a lot of the time in mainstream media but really from women about women’s experiences.

On getting the ball rolling

In December 2015, I was telling a older colleague about my interests and my passion about battling gender inequality. She told me that what is most impressive to employers who are hiring is young people just going out there and starting something.

And I was thinking, I’m not going to just wait around for 20 years and hope to fall into my dream job. I want to be doing it right now. So that was the final push.

Plus my Dad is a record producer so we had the means of recording it. We figured, let’s get in the studio and do some recording and figure this out. That was January 2015 that we got the ball rolling on it and ever since it’s been going and going really well.

On how it has evolved

It definitely has evolved in that we are all struggling to find our voices as individuals. As a group we realized that when we’re talking naturally we’re always talking over each other and a lot of it is not suitable for the podcast or our audiences. So we’ve learned how to talk personally, because our podcast is rooted in personal experiences, but also professionally.

We had to learn how to be articulate but also at the same time not sound too jargon-y so people who aren’t necessarily Feminists Studies or Sociology majors can understand what we’re saying. And we really have to strike this hard balance but I really think we’ve found this voice that we’re all comfortable with and worth exploring.

How diverse is the conversation?

There’s a lot of agreement. We would probably like there to be more disagreement…I mean we don’t want to be fighting… but I think it would be interesting to see more points of view and that’s why we interview people.

And we are all white and cis-gendered people from the same demographic so we really try to acknowledge our privilege and have other people’s voices in the podcast, so we try to get different opinions that way, but in general we mostly have the same point of view. We clash maybe sometimes but rarely.

What about having a male perspective?

After our first episode a male friend approached us and asked if he could be interviewed for the show. And we found that kind of problematic. When you’re listening to a podcast with all men or you’re listening to a talkshow with all men, listeners are not like “where are the women? Where is the woman to make this a balanced conversation?”

So we haven’t had any male interviewees yet because right now we’re really focusing on people’s experiences who are left out of the dominant narrative that we see.

But we can definitely see that changing as our story evolves. For example, right now we’re working on a dating episode and we’re hoping to have someone who has experienced same-sex dating. So we’re going to have some of our male friends who date men share their experiences.

On their audience

Our audience is mostly the feminist community so we’ve gotten mostly warm reception but a lot of the time we get called out on our privilege and we always try to acknowledge and address it in our conversations but mostly we’ve had a lot of positive responses.

Our most successful social media platform is Twitter. A lot of us are constantly tapping into our networks since there’s 6 of us and we all go to different universities and programs.

We’re on iTunes and we have about 300-500 downloads per episode and we currently have 7 episodes. And our goal is to get bigger and bigger.

Where did this genius pun come from?

We thought of it when we were freshmen in high school. We made a punk band called The Left Ovaries and last year when we were thinking about a name, some brought it up and we decided that that name was gold, and we need to keep it around. So it stuck.

So what’s the future for the Left Ovaries?

We’re all passionate about the podcast and what we’re doing about battling gender inequality and just inequality in general so our hope would be to make this a career at some point. Or at least part of our careers because we all have our passions.

I’m particularly passionate about the anti-rape movement, Shelby is passionate about mobilizing women in leadership roles, so I think a lot of us want to be doing this for a while. We’re obviously doing other things at the moment, but we definitely want to see this grow to shift how people view and think about women’s experiences and influence how they’re talking about them in general.*


You can listen toThe Left Ovaries on iTunes by following this link: http://apple.co/1RaNeI6

And you can follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheLeftOvaries

And Ig: @theleftovaries

*Transcript edited for length and clarity

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Unvaccinated Child Dies from Polio, Mom: “At Least He Wasn’t Autistic”

Santa Cruz, California: A local 9 year old boy who passed away from polio will be missed, says mother Anita Busey. “We are all devastated by his death, but are comforted in the knowledge that his social skills were pretty good for his age.” As the number of parents who are choosing not to vaccinate their children rises (the rate of parents in California forgoing vaccination has doubled in the last seven year) outbreaks of preventable diseases including measles, whooping cough, and mumps have skyrocketed. Despite the overwhelming evidence and unanimous agreement among the scientific community that vaccines do not cause autism, some influential celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy have been incredibly vocal about the supposed link.

jenny-mccarthyPictured: Not a Scientist

To mothers like Anita Busey, the opinions of McCarthy are all they need to know. “I mean, who are you going to listen to? Thousands of doctors and scientists who have spent their lives studying diseases, or a Razzie Award winner of ‘Worst Actress’ and panelist on The View,” she remarked as her son’s casket was lowered into the ground.

Other parents helped to shed insight on why some wealthy Los Angeles communities have lower vaccination rates than many third world countries such as Liberia. “My daughter’s body is a temple, and I’m not going to let some know-it-all doctor put his science needle in her arm and misalign her chakras,” said Venice Beach local Melody Fairchild. She ended the interview to buy acid from a bystander and climbed into her Prius before we were able to get her closing statement.

tumblr_loycklz6x81qgn65ao1_500Ms. Fairchild’s business associate

But what if people like Anita Busey and Melody Fairchild were right? What if the medical community was wrong, and there was a small chance that vaccinating children could result in autism? We asked Desmond Jeffries of Brooklyn, NY.

“Yes, some people say that 25% of measles victims require hospitalization, and that mumps can be fatal or whatever. But autistic kids have trouble making eye contact, and I’ll be damned if I let that bullshit into my house.”

As Anita Busey was leaving her son’s funeral, we asked what she hoped his legacy would be. “I just want people to remember him for his best qualities– like how he was able to focus well on his coloring books and that his vocabulary was adequate for his age group.”

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The Danger of “Safe Spaces”

“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

What do you do when someone disagrees with you? If you’re a functioning, adjusted adult you might counter with some reasons to support your position. Maybe you’ll ask to hear out their reasoning before arguing your point. But if you are like a growing number of college students and you encounter a professor or lecturer who says something you don’t like, you will retreat to a “safe space” with “cookies, coloring books, bubbles, and Play-Doh” where people are not allowed to disagree with you.

I wish I was making this up. The “safe space” containing the coloring books and children’s toys comes from Brown University, where many of America’s best and brightest graduating high school students go to learn, who recently hosted two feminist speakers to participate in a debate. One of the speakers, Wendy McElroy, believed that the term “rape culture” deserved criticism. In her writings, McElroy says of the term: “The idea that America is a rape culture is a particularly vicious lie, because it brands all men as rapists or rape facilitators. This lie has been successful despite reality. The actual rate of rape is declining. The crime is severely punished, and even an accusation can ruin lives; men who rape are reviled; the social messages on rape delivered regularly to young men are the opposite of encouragement.”

This message didn’t line up with the opinions of a number of Brown students, and there was enough outcry (before McElroy even arrived on campus) that students put together a safe space where students there like Emma Hall could retreat to when they “[felt] bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against [their] dearly and closely held beliefs.” Because as everyone knows, college is a place where different perspectives should be ignored to prevent you from reevaluating your stances or growing as an individual.

So what is the harm of these safe spaces? Why should we criticize a place that’s meant to comfort students? Why are you being such a dick, Brenden? I’m glad you asked. Ironically, in the long run these safe spaces hurt the very people they are meant to protect. Invariably, these graduating students will be entering a workplace with a boss and coworkers who don’t consider them flawless special snowflakes.


Try to contain your gasps…

At some point they will have to deal with someone who doesn’t share their views or a boss who criticizes their work. Fortunately, most people have learned by then how to cope with opposition and are fairly experienced in compromising or engaging with dissent through dialogue. These well-adjusted adults get to this point because personal growth and maturity can only take place when personal beliefs are challenged and differing opinions are considered.

The majority of twenty-somethings have some different values and opinions than they did when they were 13 or 14. As we grow up we encounter new ideas, gain more knowledge, and adjust our beliefs and moral compass. If you asked a 13 year old the best way to handle many of life’s problems, most of the answers would involve lasers and spin-kicks. As I’ve grown older (and admittedly less rad) I’ve changed my opinions on a number of topics because I didn’t shut down every time someone offered an alternate view on a topic, and I’d like to think I’m better for it.

Safe spaces, however, are the enemy of learning and discovery. They are an obstacle to growth and contradict the very purpose of the college experience. When we encourage people to run from opinions if they “go against dearly and closely held beliefs”, we foster the perpetuation of undeveloped and juvenile mindsets.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.” -Aristotle

Instead of facilitating a means to escape every time someone says “actually, we don’t live in a culture where rape is considered acceptable,” colleges should be encouraging students to engage in dialogue when they disagree. There are several productive outcomes that can result when an adult is willing to discuss rather than flee. Further conversation often leads to improved understanding, and even when that doesn’t work, the act of defending and verbalizing one’s position will lead to a deeper grasp of one’s own beliefs. As they say, the best way to learn is to teach.

For those of you finished with higher education, I’m sorry to say that you will most likely still be affected by the childish “safe space” mindset, especially as the safe space mentality becomes more prevalent. Perhaps you’ve already seen it. A recent college grad starts working at your job and next thing you know you’re talking to HR because they received a complaint that you didn’t use gender-neutral language when you said the word “waitress”, even though that’s literally what she goddamn called herself, Janet. And then you’re being lectured about how your language was hurtful by a bored HR rep just going through the motions so the company doesn’t get sued, when this time would have never been wasted if someone—let’s call her Janet—had just spoken to you directly. Fucking Janet.

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A Quick Recap of the Democratic Debate

As the final days of filing for the Presidential seat are coming to a close on November 6, five contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination took the stage in Las Vegas last night: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb.

The New York Times has predicted that unlike the divisive Republican debate, the Democrats will seek to differentiate themselves by degrees not direction, and the publication was right.

Let’s recap on how each of the Democratic candidates fared last night:

Hillary Clinton

Speaking the most onstage, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dominated the debate. Her performance will be remembered as the most powerful one due in part to the early questions played to her strengths.

Hillary even got Sanders to defend her on her e-mail scandal followed by a friendly handshake. “Let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right,” Sanders said. “And that is the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails. … Enough of the emails. Let’s talk about the real issues facing America.”

And then the Sanders campaign sent out a fundraising e-mail bragging about his defense of Hillary!

Still, overall, very few punches landed on Hillary, and she placed a couple of blows on Sanders before his e-mail defense. Overall, she had a good night, if not the best night.

Bernie Sanders

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders needed to look like he could win a general election. Because he has been self-described as a ‘socialist’, this outlook might not be a winning persona for Democratic voters and he needed to prove that he has what it takes to defeat a Republican.

Sanders may have won almost all the focus groups after the debate, but he got beaten up by both Hillary and O’Malley in the first part of the debate. His plea to work with the gun lobby for common-sense and consensus reforms fell on deaf ears on this stage, and Sanders ended up backpedaling from it in the end.

Martin O’Malley

During last night’s debate, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley had to show voters that he’s actually in the race. Before the date, O’Malley was polling at single digits and this was his time to steal the show. Well, did he?

O’Malley raised his stature in the race with this debate. He made the best emotional connection with the audience, and he presented himself as a consistent progressive with an accomplished record.

And after the debate, he was upbeat over laying out his record in front of a national audience.

“As I look at tonight, this was the opening kickoff. This was not the two-minute warning. … And for the first time tonight, people see they have a choice,” O’Malley said. “People see there are alternatives out there to the two frontrunners, and I believe this campaign is really just beginning in earnest.”

His performance may change his numbers in the polls, but not significantly enough against giants Hillary and Sanders. Maybe a VP slot is in the near future for O’Malley.

Lincoln Chafee

Former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee (wait, who?) has the same problem as O’Malley but to a greater extent. Chafee is polling around one percent and if he wants more he needs to really shine.

Chafee’s only defining moment during the debate was explaining that he shouldn’t be held accountable for a bank deregulation vote he made in Congress because it was one of the first he cast.

Jim Webb

Webb was a former Republican turned Democratic senator during the Bush years. According to ABC News, he’s more conservative than everyone else and last night was a test to see if that tactic would appeal to Democratic voters.

Giving the most quizzical answer during the debate, Webb responded to a question moderator Anderson Cooper asked about an enemy each candidate is most proud of making during their political career.

While the other candidates listed Iranians, the National Rifle Association and various industries and special interest groups as their enemies, Webb replied with this: “I would have to say the enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me, but he’s not around right now to talk to,” Webb said, smiling. Ok….

But he also spent his time expressing discontent about not getting enough air time — so much so that much of the air time he was given was spent talking about not getting air time.

Ultimately, Webb sounded completely out of touch with the philosophical temperament of the Democratic Party. Hope he has a Plan B!

As predicted, Tuesday’s Democratic debate was not a firework-filled forum like the GOP has maintained, which is heavily dominated by a bombastic businessman, an impulsive neurosurgeon and rush of conservative enthusiasm. The five candidates on Tuesday’s stage were all long-serving politicians.

In cases you’re wondering about the air time numbers (ahem, Jim Webb), the final tally of speaking time in the Democratic Debate was Clinton 30:25, Sanders 27:41, O’Malley 17:08, Webb 15:20, Chafee 9:05.

No surprises there.