Dearth

“Fight fire with fire.”

Despite everything that is going on in the US lately, I highly doubt this phrase was ever supposed to refer to gunfire.

There have been over 30 mass shootings in the US since the beginning of 2018. There have been at least 12 school shootings within the past two months. That means, on average, about 1.5 times a week this year children had to literally fear for their life, run, hide, and not make one noise because that could mean their death. Over 20 people have died from school shootings. More than 60 people overall were killed from mass shootings this year. More than 60 souls.

And you still want to convince me that we need guns to protect ourselves? I understand that the second amendment allows Americans to bear arms, and it is in your patriotic pride to protect that right. But until 1865, slavery wasn’t against the law either, and we managed to change that, too. Times change, bad things happen, that’s how we’re supposed to learn.

In 1999 the Columbine shooting happened. We still talk about it, we study it in school, we still send our prayers and wishes to the victims’ families and friends, but god forbid we actually do anything about it, god forbid we learn from our mistakes.

Nineteen years later, no rules have changed, the same tragedy keeps happening, over and over again. February 14th, Valentines day, Florida. 17 people were killed. Prayers were sent. Nothing happened.

Photo Credit: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Now, a “brilliant” idea to arm the teachers has come about. Because that makes more sense than not making guns accessible to literally anyone and everyone? “If you want to give a gun to your son or daughter or you want to sell it to your neighbors and friends, there is no background check required,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., during the Senate floor debate. Anyone, really anyone, can easily access a deadly weapons these days, and  still, many don’t see the flaws in gun laws.

It would be unreasonable to forbid gun ownership entirely, that’s not my point. But I don’t understand why there are barely any qualifications for purchasing an object that is literally designed to kill. I don’t understand why we have to watch shooting after shooting, watch children fear for their lives when going to school, watch families mourn after their dead brothers and sisters, and still decide to keep everything the way it is, just because that is how it’s always been.

There are many things in this world that I don’t quite understand. But this. I don’t understand a bit of it.

My first Thanksgiving

What is Thanksgiving? You’ll probably answer with: “It’s an American holiday and as the name suggests, it’s an occasion for people to be thankful for all the blessings in their lives.” But what’s the origin of Thanksgiving? When the Pilgrims arrived in America, they had trouble growing crops and in 1620 that lead to a famine that killed half of the Pilgrims. Fortunately for them, the Wampanoag tribe taught them how to farm on their soil and later in 1621 the Pilgrims had their first successful harvest. The Wampanoag tribe was then invited to a feast known as the “First Thanksgiving.”

As a non-US citizen, I was very curious to see how people celebrate Thanksgiving because it’s taken very seriously. Growing up, I used to love Thanksgiving specials on shows like “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Simpsons.” I knew the basics of Thanksgiving, but have never experienced it.

The food is fantastic, I never knew that turkey and cranberry sauce can go together so well. What I really appreciate about this holiday is the opportunity to reflect on your life and realize how many things we should be grateful for. I was lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving with my family and it was very sweet to have the whole day to keep saying how much we mean to each other. I’d say this experience has brought us closer in a way.

This was a very successful first Thanksgiving. Here’s to many more!

History of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving at White House

 

Photo Credit: Rose Rundown

 

Trump’s First 100 Days

During the election, one of President Trump’s big promises to his voters was his “100 Day Plan”. He vowed to do quite a few significant things during his first 100 days, and even released an outline of what those things would be. This Saturday, the 29th, will mark the end of Trump’s first 100 days, and though he stated that his presidency has accomplished more in the first few months of office than any other, that’s probably (definitely) not the case.

These are a few actions Trump promised he would accomplish by Saturday:

  1. Propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress
  2. Instate a 5-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service
  3. Cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure
  4. Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.

Now, did he fulfill these promises? Promises 1 & 2 go hand-in-hand with his “draining the swamp” initiative. However, his cabinet is full of billionaires and business moguls that have no experience in terms of politics, and are at risk of making political decisions based on how they’ll affect their businesses. That seems pretty “swampy” to me.

For promise #3, THE ENVIRONMENT IS IMPORTANT. CLIMATE CHANGE IS A REAL THING, DONALD. Though Trump believes climate change is a falsehood made up by the Chinese, it is actually a reality, and a dangerous one. Also, he said he was going to fix America’s water infrastructure but I’m pretty sure the people of Flint, Michigan are still drinking contaminated water, soooo.

And for the 4th promise, yes, Trump did ban many people from certain primarily Muslim countries from entering the U.S., for, about, a day. Then, everyone realized it is was incredibly stupid and awful and goes against literally everything America is supposed to stand for, and blocked the ban.

So, no, Donald, you really didn’t accomplish very much.

Photo Credit: The Washington Post

So, good job, Trump! Though I hope they won’t be, your second hundred days will probably be as shi**y and backwards as your first!

Drug Me America

Have a headache? Here’s your daily dose of Motrin. Bad anxiety? Here’s some Xanax. Depression? Sinequan. Chronic pain? Oxycodone. Name a problem, and there’s a chemical cocktail waiting for you on some shelf somewhere.

This isn’t about disregarding the benefit that pharmaceuticals have had on people of all ages and backgrounds. Rather, it’s about shedding light on the evils of prescription drugs, and how we need to face this arising problem.

Nevertheless, pharmaceuticals have given the dying a fighting chance, helping many to overcome problems with anxiety, depression, or chronic pain, and even allowing the elderly to live a comfortable life.

Still, despite all this good, there is a downside. That downside is blatant fraud, loopholes, and a competitive market that, in many instances, has been hijacked. That combined with the fact there’s an epidemic of over-prescribed prescriptions running awry in the United States leaves a bad taste in the country.

To give perspective to how large the pharmaceutical market is, the average American spends $1,000 per year on pharmaceuticals, and seven out of 10 Americans are on at least one prescription. That is 70% of 325 million people, which, multiplied by 1,000 equals 227.5 billion dollars in annual revenue by Big Pharma JUST in the U.S.

This enormous market thrives on the United States’ shortage of price regulations and the unhealthy American lifestyle, which includes overeating, little exercise, and hours of anxiety-provoking work – for which pills then have to be the replacement.

Antibiotics make up 17% of all prescriptions, followed by anti-depressants (13%) and then highly addictive opioids (13%).

Once again, it is important to emphasize the importance of pharmaceuticals. Usually, common chronic issues like obesity would heavily affect the average life expectancy. However, the U.S. ranks 26 in life expectancy at an average of 80.1 years, possibly thanks to high rates of diagnoses.

With good new including the increasing life expectancy, there must also be bad news. As Americans’ use of pharmaceutical drugs has increased, so has drug abuse.

Prescriptions are being given out constantly –  67.2% of office physicians give out prescriptions, amassing to 2.3 billion drugs being provided/ordered. These tend to be the heavier, more dangerous drugs (like opioids) that doctors must order directly.

Photo Credit: http://www.livescience.com

Over-prescribing has become somewhat common, even when doctors use their best judgement. Doctors have little time to spend with patients, and many patients have been exposed to ads influencing them to request prescriptions from their doctors.

The abuse of prescriptions drugs isn’t a new phenomenon. However, the extent to which prescription drugs are being used is now becoming wider known. Also, the amount that is actually being reported might just be the tip of the iceberg.

For example, more people die from overdosing on prescription drugs than overdosing on all other illicit drugs combined.

That is absolutely insane, considering the war on drugs. Yes, the war on drugs is an attempt to curve the rise of crime rates that come hand-in-hand with illicit drugs, but it is also an attempt to stop the death of addicts. It’s as if the U.S. government sees the problem of legal drug abuse as perfectly fine to ignore as long as they get to heavily tax the billion-dollar market.

In 2008, 20% of Americans abused prescription drugs. Because this was a report from over seven years ago, it is likely that those statistics have gone up significantly, and have possibly even doubled.

Attempts by the U.S. federal government to curve this epidemic have been laughable. Only 1/10 citizens who are abusing prescriptions have being treated across the country.

Yes, there has been an increase of funding for prescription drugs in an attempt to fight the epidemic, but the effort was small and useless compared to the problem itself.

What statistics would persuade the U.S. to largely fund treatment for prescription abusers and safety belts to prevent so many deaths.

For instance, drug overdoses outnumber car accidents in 29 states. The U.S. made the law requiring a seatbelt illegal for people’s benefit. Yet today we still see a fairly weak safety belt around prescriptions, even though the deaths tied to them are only increasing. That doesn’t really make sense.

And still nothing has changed.

Where am I from? Where do I belong?

I am an international student who has learned the ways of three different cultures. The country where I born doesn’t match my passport. My ancestors came from China, but World War II tore them away from their homeland and brought them to the island of Taiwan. The culture there changed as time went on, and Chinese and Taiwanese people have grown more and more different. Some may say that the Taiwanese and Chinese cultures have no difference, but that isn’t true to me.

When I was little I was taught two languages and was told that I was Taiwanese, and then in school I spoke English. And everyone in my family holds a Canadian passport.

People often ask me if I know where I am from, and I normally tell them that I am Taiwanese but hold a Canadian passport. The truth is that I have no idea where I am from or where I belong, or which country I should love and call home.

Photo Credit: http://www.i2.cdn.turner.com

An Open Thank You to the President

Thank you for the past eight years.

Although I’ve only seen two presidents in my life, thank you for all that you’ve done.

Thank you for allowing people to criticize you before and after winning the election.

Thank you for being a benevolent spokesperson of the United States, and for meeting other leaders with dignity and class.

Thank you for letting me decide what I can do with my body. Thank you for opening some up to the idea that women deserve free rein of their bodies just as much as men do.

Thank you for creating an affordable healthcare option, so that we can have a healthier country. Thank you for disregarding the talk about money and future, and for providing safety for those who didn’t think they’d have it.

Thank you for your comedy, from talk shows to the White House Correspondents’ Dinners.

Thank you for your light-heartedness around children. It’s not every day that the president opens the White House for a Halloween party.

pete souza white house obama favorites (9)
Photo Credit: twistedsifter.com

Thank you for talking about tough issues with an open outlook. Thank you for disregarding taboo and speaking about what truly needs to be heard.

Thank you for sharing the love story between you and your wife for all the world to see. Thank you for sharing your elegant family with the public.

Thank you for being historical and inspiring people of color to pursue their dreams.

Thank you for showing me the good in the United States, and for accepting the bad.

Thank you for running down the halls of the White House with your dog, Bo.

Thank you for appreciating and lifting the spirits of people of color, LGBTQIA people, disabled people, and every other kind of person.

Thank you, Barack Obama, for being this country’s humble, kind, and amazing 43rd president.

An Intramural Scrimmage?

After voting for the first time in my life, I was shocked by the result of the election. When I woke up after the results came out, I felt like I woke up to another world. To me, the outcome was not predicted and was surreal. I know friends who cried, not because they were happy but because they were scared. I read online that 8 transgender teens committed suicide on that day. It is very sad to see so many people depressed and heartbroken, and even taking their own lives because of this election.

It’s been almost a week now since the election, and my thoughts have changed – I am more motivated and positive about the future. As Katy Perry tweeted, “Do not sit still. Do not weep. MOVE. We are not a nation that will let HATE lead us.”

President Barack Obama told the nation that it is time to come together. “The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy.  And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world. Everybody is sad when their side loses their election. But the day after, we have to remember we’re actually all on the same team. This is an intramural scrimmage.”

I am going to hope for the best, and I want to play a part in bringing people together.

Photo Credit: abcnews.com

I Spy the United States

hjk

The NSA scandal and the shadow it has created is something the Obama Administration cannot escape. In the past days newly leaked Edward Snowden documents have shown the true extent of NSA spying.

It is now known that the NSA has actively been spying on the United Nations. President Obama even had memos directing the NSA to tone down spying on the UN. The NSA has even narrowed down their spying to specific European leaders such as Angela Merkel. According to German media it is believed the NSA has spied on Merkel since 2010.All these clams the United States denies.
njh

If enemies do not fear you, and allies do not trust you, how do you keep your hold over the world?

Half Mast

It wasn’t always been this way, or at least so I hear.

It has become semi-normal to see the red, white, and blue flag the represents freedom to be halfway down the pole.

September seems like there has been an unusual amount of days to have the flag be lowered.

We started the month of with 9/11.

That was the only day that made sense for the flag to be at half-mast. Not to say that 9/11 should have happened, but it’s been 12 years, the wounds have healed, but to see it down two other days this month, that was unexpected.

First we start off with the Navy shooting.

I don’t even really know what happened, but that’s the issue.

I don’t read into these things, it’s just like oh, there’s another shooting, and I move on.

I see 12 people dead and while yes I get sad, at the same time we have been trained to go, “oh 12.  That’s a lot less than that other one.”

Excuse me, but for the children, teens, and even adults to just expect that is really f****d up.

It is common talk to just be like, “hey, did you hear about that shooting?…Oh yeah some guy went crazy and just shot some people.”

Usually the response to that would be tears and cries and millions of questions why.

I literally had that exact conversation on the way to football practice the other day. I talked about 12 people dying for no reason, and then just strapped on my helmet and went on with my day.

And then again a few days later I look up, and there the flag is, just hanging halfway down the pole. I was like somebody must’ve gotten lazy and forgotten to put it up, but nope, another shooting.

I just saw that on the TV the other day and I was like you’ve got to be kidding me, another one. 

IT IS JUST SO NORMAL!!!! Why is it normal for 3 year olds to be shot in a park having a good time? IT’S NOT!!

A 3-year-old was shot in the head while having a fun day in the park, and the world just moves on. #wtf

I was sitting at breakfast with my grandparents and I brought up the latest shooting.  This time it wasn’t in the U.S., but still, any shooting is crazy.

My grandma said, “I feel so bad that you guys have to grow up in this time, it wasn’t like this when I was young.”

That got me thinking. Is it just going to keep getting worse? By the time I have kids I’m going to have to put them in bullet proof vests to walk out of the house.

Now, this isn’t a lobby for gun control. This is a lobby for the crazy people in this country.

If you are crazy and reading this…. please don’t shoot people.

For everyone else. I don’t care if you have a gun. Shoot targets, go hunting, but not for people.

But, do you really need an AR-15 hanging around your house. Are you really gonna go shoot a dove with a gun used to kill enemy forces overseas. If so, more power to you, but I think there are some more sensible gun options for you.

There’s not really much that I can do to control the crazy effed up people in this world, but I’m just a little sick of that flag not flying at the top is all I’m saying. I want to see good ol’ red, white, and blue, flying at the top of the pole, majestically flapping in the wind.

Violence

So, as I’m writing this, I’m finishing watching the excruciatingly long “Django Unchained“. Before this movie, I’ve been somewhat okay with Quentin Tarantino’s overly violent films, but this one is just absolutely ridiculous. However, the reason I didn’t like it wasn’t because the script was written by a five year old or because the acting was probably the worst I have ever seen, it was because of the unfathomably ultra-violent content.

Just watch this scene from Django Unchained and tell me if it doesn’t make you a little uneasy.

Viewers Discretion is Advised

I can’t begin to imagine why anyone would be into movies like Django, Saw or any of the other modern movies that rely on violence to draw a crowd. Movies like Django are only memorable because you see gunfights where the blood rains down in the scene and makes it impossible to see what’s happening, or scenes where naked hillbillies get their junk blown off.

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