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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Pizza

because pizza is happiness, obviously

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College

What I Learned from my Political Science Degree

Hey folks! It’s been a while (about two months – I know you’ve been watching the weeks pass by wondering when you would hear from me again). It’s been a crazy couple of months! Andrew and I went to Orlando and New York City, found an apartment to move to in Salt Lake City, started the tedious moving process, and I graduated from Utah State University!

As my undergraduate degree neared its end, I began to have a bit of an existential crisis. I’ve been a student for 16 years and I think I’m pretty good at it. Anyways, I started reflecting on my time as a Political Science student and the most important things I learned. I think a lot of this is really applicable to the current political climate, which is why I’m sharing this in a public forum.

  1. Arguing on a moral basis will never, ever, ever, ever, ever get you anywhere. Morality is kind of a tricky thing because everyone’s moral compass has a slightly different ‘North.’ There are different priorities for everyone. Merriam-Webster defines morality as “beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior.” When something is a belief it is not as black and white as you would think. The person you’re arguing with may have the complete opposite belief as you and they’re not wrong because it’s a belief. It’s not a fact. It’s not even an opinion. It’s a belief.
  2. The best way to analyze policies is based on justice. This lesson took a long time for me to learn. It essentially took me dissecting a hefty load of Supreme Court cases for me to realize that what I think is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ doesn’t matter at all, and that’s actually a really, really good thing. What matters is whether every individual is treated justly in the eyes of the law.
  3. The “big” social issues that the American public is concerned about are basically non-issues for the vast majority of us political science scholars. I’m talking about abortion and gay marriage here specifically. It would officially take a constitutional amendment (which is a notoriously difficult task to undertake) to override these decisions. They’re as permanent as something can be in our government. Politicians only talk about these issues because they know the public is still up-in-arms about all of it. They know the truth, too – it’s all a done deal.
  4. The Constitution is not a divine document. This isn’t to say it wasn’t divinely inspired – it very well could have been. What I’m trying to say here is that the Constitution doesn’t cover everything and that it’s okay to change it. Obviously it wasn’t perfect – we’ve changed it 27 times. Yet people treat it like it’s the tablets handed to Moses on Mount Sinai themselves. As such, it’s incredibly difficult to getting an amendment through. If you take out the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments) that were added on as a compromise, then there’s been one amendment every 13.5 years on average. It’s so difficult, that women still haven’t been constitutionally declared equal. It’s done through a backdoor clause of the 14th amendment.
  5. The American public is change-averse. And it kind of makes things really crappy for everyone. Americans hate admitting that there’s a problem (see point number 4), and it takes decades of mistreatment and discontent before they decide to do something about it. I have seen chart after chart and more graphs than I care to share about how America is falling behind other first world countries in areas like public education, higher education, infrastructure, social mobility, and healthcare. But instead of admitting that things may need to be fixed, taxes may need to be raised, and programs may need to be cut, everyone acts like it’s still the 1980’s here and ignoring the reality that 2016 is not quite as kind to America.
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Finals Week Survival Guide

Finals week is quickly approaching and the panic of unpreparedness is setting in. I thought I’d share my insights into how to survive finals week, because as seen from the picture above (circa finals week Fall 2014), I’m a seasoned professional. I’ll refer back to this picture for specific tips and tricks on surviving the most stressful weeks of the semester.

You’ll notice on my nightstand two items of importance. First, the box of tissues. Carry tissues with you at all times, every where. This is important for two reasons. One, with all the stress and lack of sleep, you’re far more likely to catch a cold and you don’t want to be the annoying kid during a test that can’t stop sniffing and is unprepared for such a tragedy. Two, if you’re not the chronic-sniffer, there’s going to be at least one in your class during the test. Chances are, they’re going to choose to sit right behind you and then sniff loudly every three seconds and you won’t be able to FREAKING CONCENTRATE ON THE TEST THAT IS 50% OF YOUR GRADE. Politely pull out your tissues (because you’re always prepared) and offer one to them kindly. If they refuse, insist. A lot. Repeatedly. Because you deserve to be able to focus on your test.

Second, there’s the bottle NyQuil. NyQuil can be your best friend. It will help you when that inevitable stress cold sets in. It will also help you be able to fall asleep easier without having waking nightmares about getting the time of one of your finals wrong, or forgetting about a paper, or if the professor includes that thing that you didn’t think was important enough to study.

Beside my bed is a garbage can, making it possible to never leave my bed. There is also a can of cashews on top of my bed. You can eat, study, and sleep without even having to get out of bed, if you play your cards right. This maximizes potential study time by ensuring you don’t have to waste time and energy on silly things like nutrition and exercise.

You may notice my frumpy, frizzy ponytail. This is status quo. Don’t even try to do your hair. It’s not worth it. You’ll already have a lack of sleep from cramming late at night, or pulling an all-nighter to finish that 10 page research paper, so why would you punish yourself by getting up 30 minutes early to perfect your hair? Give into the laziness and get that extra sleep. You’ll thank yourself later (unless your boyfriend takes a picture or you walk by a mirror).

You may also notice that I’m wearing a too-small Disney sweater from high school. I typically don’t do laundry in the final weeks of the semester. I have enough on my plate, why should hygiene and fashion be first and foremost? Plus, laundry is time-consuming, especially if you don’t have the machines in your apartment. So, I opt for old sweaters.

My sweats are also from high school (the years 2012-2013 are actually clearly written out beside ‘Xela,’ by my sweats are askew, so you can’t see that). Wear sweats all day, everyday. Pajamas are permissible, too. Again, why bother with fashion when you’ve got study groups going into the late night? Let your clothes speak for you so you don’t even have to open your mouth to say, ‘I’ve given up.’

Those are my expert (and kind of sort of but maybe not entirely sarcastic) tips.

May the odds be ever in your favor this finals week, fellow students!

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