A Queer Query

As a Women and Gender Studies minor, I have taken my fair share of around topics of inequality, privilege, discrimination, and intersectionality of race, class, gender, age, etc. The biggest problem that I have seen through my current class, Queer Studies, is the normative social structures we have institutionalized. A norm is “a principle of right action binding upon the members of a group and serving to guide, control, or regulate proper and acceptable behavior.” Many people are not even aware of these assumed norms; it takes a queer perspective, that is, taking a position that distances itself from the accepted norm, to realize the implications of this normative behavior. As we move towards a more progressive and accepting society, we need to educate our nation from a young age how to think about people and break down the existence of these norms:

1. Sex (male/female) should not be assumed by presentation of gender (feminine/masculine qualities).

2. Sex, gender, and sexuality are not binary categories, but each exist on a spectrum.

3. Heterosexuality should not be assumed until otherwise disclosed.

4. Discrimination based on sex, gender, or sexuality is ALWAYS wrong and should not be tolerated whatsoever in the workplace, schools, public use areas, or ANYWHERE.

5. Public bathrooms need to be private spaces that everyone and anyone should be comfortable using without conforming a binary category/label.

6. Displays of love, affection, and romantic interests do not fall within governmental or religious regulation. I call for a separation of state and church from love.


Let’s all just agree to get over ourselves, or “The World Doesn’t Care About You, and That’s a Good Thing”

I’m not accusing you of anything (or you, for that matter… yeah, I saw that look). I’m not even accusing you of not doing anything! So what am I actually saying? Well, in a moment I’m going to backpedal and explain that my title was meant really just to get you to read this (spoiler: it worked), and my 60 Second Idea was that we need to get more …around ourselves. But before I say that, I want to tell you about my personal philosophy.

See, at my core, I’m a firm subscriber to the concept of what I now know as subjectivism. The entirety of the world as I see it has been shaped by all of those things that make my life mine. I know a different world of people than you, with some overlap, we’ve had different experiences, and focus on different things. And that’s awesome. We each have our own “bubble” that is the entire world; people are fascinating because they experience the same things in totally different ways.

At this point, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been getting excited about philosophy and not talking about changing the world. Kudos! Now hold on to your existential hats because everything that I just talked about is actually the problem. See, it’s so incredibly easy to get caught up in our own World that we forget that other ones exist.

Unexpectedly relevant.

Think about it: when you’re walking around through a crowd, there are a lot of people that need to just get out of your way. You’ve got things to do, and even if they may be cool people, you just don’t really have time to care about everyone else. Except, to each and every one of those other people, you’re probably awesome, but you’re in the way. That’s right, what I’m saying is that the votes are in, and 7,000,000,000:1 says that you are part of everyone else. So the problem here is that we’re disregarding that fact because we’re inclined to believe that we’re special. I hate to be That Guy, but each and every one of you is a beautiful snowflake, and a multitude of snowflakes is really just a blizzard.

Why is that a good thing, like the title claimed? It gives us unparalleled opportunity to change The World an impossible number of times. See, we don’t really need to “get over ourselves,” just more… around ourselves (told you!). Here’s my challenge, especially in the 1.5-degrees of separation here at Bucknell: step outside of your bubble, and try and see things from someone else’s. That guy who bumped past you on the way to the LC? Sorry, he just (for all you know) had a killer exam and was stressed and couldn’t sleep last night. Etc.

When you change the way that you think about people, you inherently change the way you interact with them. It’s all just very humanizing. And here’s the kicker: you might just accidentally make a someone’s day, which just changed their world for the better.

It’s no Kiva, but it’s a start.

PS: This was longer than expected, but I could read it aloud in around 50-55 seconds.

Would you like to Supertax that?

I don’t know if you all were aware but apparently physical health is a problem in our country. Obesity is an issue. Heart attacks are an issue. Diabietes is an issue. Cancer is an issue. A percentage of these issues derive from the same source: fast food. It’s not a big secret that fast food is bad for you. Fast food has extraordinarily high calorie content, saturated fat content, and sodium content. Sure, a few more calories, a little bit of saturated fat and food heavy in sodium is ok once in a while but when different types of fried potatoes make up a large percentage of your daily diet you’re bound to run into some health issues.  A sad reality is that our poorest communities are subjected to these health issues because of how cheap a 20 piece of nuggets at McDonalds is ($4.99). Far too often is the most unhealthy food also the cheapest; Far too often our poorest citizens are also  the most obese. To effectively and efficiently become a healthier population, we need to disincentivize this unhealthy behavior. What if we placed a tax on fast food the same way we placed a tax on cigarettes? This could potentially counter the social cost that we incur as a result of an unhealthy poorer class. Benefits from this proposed tax include long term economic benefits incurred from healthier more productive workers, reduced counts of health issues such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and extra tax money for the government to use at their discretion.

Cars to the left, trucks to the right

You know what one of my biggest pet peeves is, when semi-trucks block up the left lane and make it impossible to pass. Nothing irritates me more because they are either going under or exactly the speed limit and sometimes I like to drive a little bit faster when I’m on a highway. The worst is when you are on a highway like Rt. 80, where there are only two lanes, and there are two massive trucks going the same speed right next to each other. They make it impossible to pass, causing massive amount of cars to follow closely behind, just waiting for some huge accident to happen.  It once took me 2 hours to complete the final hour of a trip all because I couldn’t get pass these stupid ass trucks. I understand that these people drive all night and cross country, carrying lots of expensive company material that they are responsible for, but hey, that’s the job that you signed up for. But seriously, get the hell out of our way.


What I envision, is a universal law across the entire country, one that forces trucks to stay in the right lanes at all times. Let the cars be free to pass on the left and stick to your side of the road. Now, this may sound like segregation, but it’s what we need. Statistics show that highways that travel at lower speeds and have massive amount of trucking activity have more accidents. Simply put, we don’t want to drive slower, we just want to get away from these damn trucks. We don’t want to be driving behind or next to these long, less controllable, and over 10,000 lbs vehicles, we won’t to get as far away from them as possible. The sight of them usually makes people uncomfortable on the road, at least it does for me, and I’d like to consider myself a better driver than most. And when people are uncomfortable on the road, the more likely an accident will happen. So, unless the government starts building new highways specifically for trucks, I feel this law needs to be universally accepted across all states.


This needs to be on every highway in America

One Day Flyer’s Ed. Pass = Fly!

I love flying.  I get nervous sometimes when there’s bad turbulence or a shaky landing, but overall I enjoy the experience of getting to the airport, eating at a restaurant or buying a magazine, and cramming into a seat that doesn’t fit me because all the exit row seats are taken by people shorter than 6’0″.  What I DON’T enjoy, however, is the safety speech/demonstration that occurs every time I fly.  


First of all, no one pays attention to what the flight attendant is saying.  I’ve told myself in the past that I would read through the pamphlet in the exit row to actually understand what to do in case of an emergency, but it’s hard to do.  Let’s be honest…do any of us really know the protocol?  For all I know, all of you do, and I’m making a fool of myself.  But I have a hunch that not many of us do.

So why don’t we know this protocol?  Simple: there are no consequences.  You can still fly if you don’t know how to fly.  This is unlike driving, where you need to take an educational class and have time behind the wheel before you can hit the road.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  “Mike, you don’t actually FLY the plane…so why do you need to take Flyer’s Ed?  You don’t need to take Driver’s Ed when you’re just sitting in a seat as a passenger, either.”  Well, I agree.  Whole-heartedly.  You don’t really need a class on how to be a passenger on an airplane.  But if we DID have one, we could get rid of the flight attendant having to demonstrate it every single time we fly.  That would save him/her time & our sanity.

Finally, having this class would actually make people know what to do in case of an emergency.  If they took a simple day-long course and had to pass an exam later that day or the next morning in order to fly, I’m willing to bet they would pay attention!

I’m sure there would be a huge public outcry saying that this is unnecessary.  But just envision this.  You have a 6am flight back to Harrisburg, heading back to Bucknell after Spring Break.  You’re tired from the sun, you’re hungover, and you don’t even want to think about school.  Wouldn’t it be nice to hop on that plane, and have them just turn the lights off right away, without a peep from a flight attendant, so you could sleep and get the flight over with?  I’d sure like that.  🙂


Building Character…With the Help of the Red, White, and Blue

If you go and talk to most Americans over the age of 65 and ask what is one flaw they see in the current generations, quite a few will the note the decay of the character and moral fiber of Americans. They will note the loss of self-pride and patriotism. A common problem people today lament about is the state of the economy. There is a division as to how to fix this economy. Democrats and most liberals believe in pumping the economy full of money as a jump-start while Republicans and conservatives believe in reducing the cost to the rich and cause  a trickle down of wealth. I will not say if either is right but a common solution is one which most people would argue with. That solution in my mind, which also can solve the problem of loss of American character, is mandatory military service. I would suggest a short period of mandatory military service for every American between the age of 18 and 30 for a period of roughly 12-18 months. Basic training and service only would suffice. This solution would pump money back into the economy through the salary paying of Americans, as well as increase military awareness and American patriotism. Every American would learn discipline few have the opportunity for and the military would also be able to teach every American at least one trade which they can use throughout their life. It would create a healthier, more aware generation. Perhaps the issue of gun control might even become moot due to every American being aware of the safety and upkeep of firearms and the consequences of owning such firearms. And when the nation comes under attack, we have an entire nation of semi-trained soldiers standing by. Think of the implications of having a nation with nearly 100 million persons receiving some type of military training. It would create a valid argument against attacking what is already considered the greatest army on Earth.  With the new-found discipline and patriotism, Americans would thrive in the global markets. So lets start the training.