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David Spencer Nelson

The Mixed Messages of Modernism: Let apathy ring?

There’s nothing quite like a professor’s opinion to end a debate. Replacing your own thoughts with the comfortable ability to endorse something that seems respectable, even if foreign, is easy and natural. So professors rarely make their opinions known in discussion, if only to prevent section from becoming lousy with students parroting them back until the debate devolves into unthinking stagnancy.

The Mixed Messages of Modernism: A musical double standard

A wide array of statements we term insensitive or coarse is thought to reflect so strongly on the character of their speakers that they are put beyond public redemption. But consider the music that will be ringing in bars and clubs across the country this Friday night. That we should delight in lyrics so blatantly wrongheaded when upholding a culture so sensitive it often oppresses controversial debate is so ridiculous it defies explanation.

The Mixed Messages of Modernism: Caused to act

Over the last two centuries, science has progressed to the point where, if something can’t be explained, we have faith that it is simply a matter of time until it is. Science has made us healthier and more secure. It has given us ground-shaking new media. We often forget that there was a time when the best possible means of understanding distant happenings was either an engraving or word of mouth. Now we can now transport actual sensory information across tremendous distances instantaneously. Science has made us, more than ever before, in control and in the know. It has been an empowering force; no longer do we need to cower in fear of inexplicable misfortunes.

The Mixed Messages of Modernism: Grand old problem in the GOP

It’s very difficult to imagine any of these people could be elected after the scrutiny of a national campaign, even if the opposition were much weaker than the dynamic Obama. It’s even harder to think about a realistic scenario where any of the three could pilot the United States through the economic and diplomatic complexities of the upcoming ‘10s with any more subtlety than a sledgehammer. Though that seems a widely known fact, they are still very popular. I cannot help but ask why.

The Mixed Messages of Modernism: Empty museums: an explanation

In the ‘60s, the question “what is art?” was answered by a chorus of “anything.” Since then, our culture has paid a high price. I gave up going to see anything made after 1917 when I saw a toilet bowl in the Whitney Museum. There was an American Standard toilet in one of America’s most renowned modern art museums. I was told it was a thought piece. Personally, I thought there was very little there. In September, I decided to go back. I saw vintage video games and machinery made to do odd things. I had an N64. I’ve already seen them in action.

The Mixed Messages of Modernism: Occupational hazards

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has built its ideology on a historical fallacy. If we believe its folksy altruism, that small businesses that limited their ambition to small markets and derided the desire to move forward gave America its wealth, we deceive ourselves. Occupy Wall Street has to come to terms with the fact that the utopia that they believe predated the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, and whose weakening required that act initially was not responsible for creating the middle class it so dearly wants. America, in large part, owes its success to its biggest businesses.

The Mixed Messages of Modernism: A problem in policy

In every case it seems unfair to hold the hosts of parties culpable for the mistakes of their guests when it comes to alcohol. It is after all, a drug that takes time to have an effect, affects people in different and non-obvious ways, and often is consumed in a setting that makes it difficult to keep track of any given person’s intake. It seems harsh indeed, in light of these realities, that fraternities are generally held responsible for people who act irresponsibly with alcohol.

The Mixed Messages of Modernism: Negotiating the bubble

It is not a bad thing that Stanford is a very liberal place. This is true of most colleges and often signals a healthy amount of empathy and involvement. Perhaps it could even be said that the left-leaning nature of our campus serves to show that we recognize the troubles many face outside of our lovely bubble. What’s bad, though, is letting the absence of another side let introspection, reflection and refinement of one’s own views fall by the wayside.
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