Friday, October 24, 2014

Motorcycles and Stereotypes

   I just saw something on the interwebz of a guy who filmed himself and a group of fellow motorcycle riders doing stunts on the highway and then being chased by a cop. This officer was behind the group of riders when he saw them speeding and performing "stunts" on the open highway. In the end the officer was outnumbered and decided it was best for himself and for the general safety of the public to leave so as not to encourage them further. This video was uploaded anonymously and police are looking for the riders. I will put the video down below.

   I myself drive motorcycles and I enjoy doing so. It's great to be out on the open road with the wind rushing by and the road stretched out in front of you. When you drive a motorcycle your whole body is one with the machine leaning to turn, sensing vibrations, and listening to the engine's requests to shift. It is an experience matched by very few things.

   One thing that bothers me though is the stereotype "bikers" have. To some people the word "biker" has become synonymous with crime and recklessness. The only things people think about when they hear someone drives a bike is either biker gangs or reckless young riders who are all over the news because they drove their motorcycle straight into another car. I tell people I am a motorcycle driver and I almost feel the need to caveat that with, "but I am not like the guys you see swerving in and out of traffic at 100mph." It really shouldn't be like that, yet it is.

   Part of the reason it is like that is because of riders like in this video here. There is absolutely no reason to put yourself and any other driver at risk like this. If you feel the need to "stunt," I get that completely, but that kind of stuff should be done on a closed track. Instead you have videos like this one perpetuating the negative stereotype of young riders and people all over the internet cheering them on because the officer left. I am amazed at people's naivety.

   Look, driving a motorcycle can be a dangerous thing to do and we all accept that every time we sit in the saddle. To all my fellow riders, there is absolutely no need to make it any more so. Furthermore there is no reason to feel like you are above the law just because you are on a bike.

   The last thing I want to say is, if you are not a motorcycle rider, please do not allow people like this to shape your image of us. Most of us are not like this at all. Remember to look out for us while on the road and give us more space and attention than you would a car. Drive safe everyone.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Why Freedom of Speech is Bad

   I am a firm believer in freedom of speech and freedom of press. Both are so important for the general well being of our country and our own selves that I could write a book on the topic. If freedom of speech and press were not available to us you would not be reading this blog. Our life as we know it has been shaped by freedom of speech.

   In Hong Kong right now a movement is happening because of China wanting the ability to approve Hong Kong's candidates for their 2017 elections. Hong Kong was once sort of "borrowed" by Britain and returned as per agreement to China in 1997 with the promise that Hong Kong would be able to operate as they had been under British rule, but still be a part of China. This meant that they could have democratic elections and other freedoms that came with democracy. Now however China wants to "approve" who Hong Kong can "democratically" elect into office. Because of this a peaceful protest on a massive scale began and police handled it poorly. It's interesting that police reacted the way they did, throwing tear gas and pepper spraying protesters, because Hong Kong has peaceful protests quite often, it is nothing necessarily new for them.

   This is not something that is only happening in Hong Kong though. Here in the U.S. we face our own problems all the time with freedom of speech and other freedoms. Perhaps we aren't facing exactly the same issues Hong Kong is, but we face our own all the time. It's just a part of an imperfect race trying to perfectly govern an imperfect race.

   Now that brings me to why freedom of speech, and more importantly for this post, freedom of press is bad.

   Something has been really bugging me lately. As I browse the internet which I so often do, (I am a computer science major after all so that's my excuse for being on a computer way too much) I am bombarded with news articles about this or that. I love it, I don't watch television much so being able to get so much news at basically all times without having to watch TV or waiting for the next day's paper is a blessing. What I can't stand though is how much crap is also out there. More disgusting is how many people accept it without question.

   Everyday I see things linked to me through Facebook, e-mails, YouTube, etc. that is just complete fear mongering click bate.

Allow me to rant for a minute about some things I have observed.

  Many times the things linked to me, especially on Facebook, are articles that the person linking has not fully read through themselves. The person linking it will say something like, "What is our country coming to??" and the article will be about France or the lost city of Atlantis... (not 100% sure about Atlantis!) Most of the time I disregard these articles because I naturally have a distrust for any "no name" news sources that I stumble across via Facebook. However, every once in a while a title grabs my interest and I end up reading it with a high level of skepticism as any informed media consumer should treat all things read from any source. When I get through the page I am usually just mortified that any self respecting journalist could write such a horrific, fear mongering, biased, short sighted, unreliable, and borderline untruthful article on anything. Sometimes I feel like reading the tabloids would be a more credible source of information.

   What I am saying here is this; freedom of speech and media is ever so important. Without it we would not have a voice when we really needed it. However, it's becoming a little bit like the boy who cried wolf. Media above all else must be trusted to spread accurate and honest information. When we have to second guess the validity of anything said from any news source, media becomes toxic at best. When you begin to abuse media and freedom of speech for your own selfish gains, it's not really you who loses out. You are stealing something from a society and potentially the entire world.

   To those of you who believe everything you see on Facebook, please research more extensively before you draw a conclusion. Unfortunately we cannot take news coverage at face value. Some may argue, "Have we ever?" and to that I would answer, "No," but there has always been a moral responsibility for journalists to follow. More and more this is becoming swept under the rug for internet traffic and "Likes." Just be careful everyone, there is some bad stuff out there that some sources are trying very hard to make you aware of. But their voice is being squelched by the fear mongering sensational media screaming, "OBAMA DRINKS RADIOACTIVE SPORTS DRINKS EVERY NIGHT BEFORE BED!"

   Really guys, just read.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Personal Projects

   Hello everyone. This is blog post #50. In the grand scheme of things that's really a small amount. Some blogs have literally thousands of posts and thousands of readers. For me though, 50 posts is pretty exciting.

  I guess this will be more of a brainstorming post though. If you have any thoughts on any of this or suggestions please leave them in the comment section below.

   So here is where I am at with my thoughts. For one I don't really know what I want to do with this blog in the future. I have been thinking about a few things. I do want to get a website going for a photography portfolio. When I do that this blog will be moved to that site. This is something I have been chewing on for a while and I think I know what I am going to do. That being said, it won't be for a while still. When I finally do it though I will be sure to update everyone with the new blog url. 

   At the end of the day this blog is a personal project. I like having personal projects, stuff that keeps me working towards a goal. Personal projects keep my mind going and challenges me creatively or as a person in general. I think these projects are important for everyone even if they are not creative projects. They are things we do for ourselves, not to get paid or to do really anything with. Sometimes though, at least in the creative world, those personal projects can open up other doors you would have otherwise never seen before. But a personal project is just that, something personal and dear to yourself. 

   On the topic of personal projects, other than this blog I really haven't had one since my Japan trip. I really don't have the time for one. Personal projects take a lot of time and effort. You can end up spending a lifetime on a single personal project. That's just the nature of the beast. I don't like not having an ongoing personal project and so I have been milling around for things to do. 

   It's pretty embarrassing to admit that I don't have an actual portfolio to show for my work. My photos have been so far spread and differing because I like to try to be a well rounded photographer. True, my favorite type of photography is photo journalism and street photography, but I try to stray away from being stuck on any one type of photography. If you have ever read Miyamoto Musashi's "The Book of Five Rings" then you would understand why I feel that way. This is good except that I have no portfolio. So I think my next personal project will be something that fills up a portfolio and works towards my goal of moving this blog to it's own site.

   Anyways what I am trying to say here is, be looking for a new personal project from me soon. If you are into that sort of thing then check back here every once in a while. Aside from that, if you have any ideas or suggestions for the blog please let me know. I really would like to reach post 100 and beyond if I can. It's fun, you know?