I often find myself making up reasons why anything exists. It is the most enjoyable pastime that requires nothing of me and helps me understand the master parade. Words and phrases, what they mean, and what they symbolize belong in a mall, at the kiosks – to pluck – or in an arcade – to game. People used to flock to malls. They’d stay all day, and they were supposed to be fun. And life is fun because it’s always a mystery and mazes are orders of secrecy. Why does sound exist? The feeling it makes in its utterance is a comfort. If I said it or said by someone else I think about this. The different ways to accomplish the same goal can make sense sometimes.

Words mean different things to different people. The term moonshot, for example, is a reference to the luck it took to make it to the moon on time, or is it when a woman either misses or gets her period, narrowly escaping a life with a different outcome? Things are happenstance or fate and maybe it just feels that way. It’s anyone’s choice or it’s an urban dictionary. I have a dream or a theory that there is a balloon tied to my hand. A nurse asks to take my temperature or a Covid test, and it tethers me to the demise of my own imaginary brush with death. I feel it empty my bladder, empty my thoughts until I suck in water like all i do is suck in water then quit because all life is emptying some vessel. Then I suck in air and that is all I suck in until the replacement is complete. Then I donate my organs to someone in need. That is a lead balloon.

Thoughts are an audience and meaning owes them nothing. People can walk out anytime, or switch the parable so that its pull isn’t as strong. There is high neuroplasticity to meaning, bending almost like water as it pours into different glasses. It has the fluidity of young brains. When I reached my forties, I figured there are finite ways to drive to work, and then, aren’t there different ways to react to sound or communicate what I would like to eat for dinner? When I write with my opposite hand, the process is the same, and modified. Dropping a smartphone is that way. The sensation of the back of my arm sliding a surface beyond the far side of my wrist makes the same noise if it happens in the right hand or the left. I anticipate a falling object and then something comes to stop it from reaching the ground.



I have recently learned about thought distortions as part of a paid subscription to Noom, a weight loss program that uses daily lessons and a support group. When I was participating, it was very easy to use the ideas as it was fresh in my mind and I found myself able to regularly reinforce best practices by sharing experiences with other people in the group. What I found so helpful was the learning and social structure that this program provides, and it has been my experience that under these circumstances, it is easy to lose weight, under those highly structured learning environments.

Keeping these habits longterm by myself without Noom’s structure is difficult, but I choose to see self-improvement as lifelong and I am worth it to invest in that difficult work to achieve. These are good reminders for me, as I struggle with thought distortions, and I believe everyone does to some extent. I may have forgotten some of these principles since having cancelled my membership a few months back, so I write this down now so that I do not forget them again.

Thought distortions are logical fallacies as a result of flawed thinking which may act as barriers throughout our lives in many different spaces. Sizing up thought distortions has been helpful for me in areas other than weight loss, but also in long-term goal setting. It helps to size up and identify those thought distortions instead of believing them.

Fortune telling is predicting the future. You cannot predict the future! Example: I will never get this right. I knew this would happen.

Overgeneralization is failure/success at accomplishing one task will predict an endless pattern of defeat/success in all tasks. Example: I didn’t know the answer to one question at trivia, so I am generally bad at trivia. I aced my first test. The rest of this year’s test will be a breeze because I’m so good at taking tests.

All or nothing thinking: if I eat this slice of cake, it will all go wrong. If I fail this test, my life is ruined. Alternately, I was able to eat salads all weekend, so I will always be able to eat salads for every meal.

What helps me is to be a blank slate, to not attach meaning to behavior. In the process this builds frustration tolerance.

Frustration tolerance is the work I do to be OK with frustration. So the more comfortable I am with frustration, the easier it is to stay on track. Planning how I respond to frustration and becoming used to frustration or setbacks can prevent sabotage or the feelings of guilt and shame that can lead to overeating or giving up on achieving goals.

What helps me is the oh well statement. This is a statement that I create to build tolerance to frustration. Oh well, the meal I just ate will not undo the months I have spent losing weight. Another oh well statement I like is: I can control only so much and thankfully never everything.

Reframing: after challenging a thought distortion, I can decide to redo my way of thinking by reframing. Reframing helps me to think positively in a way that helps me feel empowered and good about myself and makes it easier to achieve goals.

Reframe using the oh well statement: if I eat this slice of cake, it will not ruin the months I have spent and all the work I do each day to make good decisions. If I fail this test, it will not be the end of the world. I still have another opportunity to make it up, and I normally do very well when I study for tests.

Removing labels helps me. Especially with food, instead of saying oh, that’s so fattening, or that’s really healthy for you, I’ll say, this salad has low caloric density. This bag of chips has high caloric density.

Low caloric density foods tend to have more water and fewer calories and include:

spinach, lettuce, cauliflower, apples, most fruits and vegetables

High caloric density foods tend to have more calories per serving and include:

highly processed and fried foods, chips, cheeseburgers, fast food

Reframe: Instead of saying, this food is so bad for me, I will say, this bag of Cool Ranch Doritos is a true treat, or this ice cream is an indulgence

Why it matters: being able to feel and identify feelings fully and head on helps me feel more in control. It can also be a way to be mindful of how I feel so that I can take a step back and run through different strategies and approaches to help me become more successful and competent in navigating my decisions. I enjoy the following quote:

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

This quote helps me to not take life so seriously, but rather encourages me to a very casual and enjoyable approach to living through life as a series of iterations or trial runs that a person may fail or succeed at, but the important takeaway from these tests are the data it renders, similar to how a scientist runs through trial testing, without even formulating a hypothesis on how it may end up, but rather moving through life nearly unattached to expectation of success or failure. This makes living more improvised and exciting, and I feel so thankful for this. The idea that we have free will makes me happy, that I am not bound by what other people expect me to do. I have the choice to make a choice, reflect on that decision, and do something different after that process of reflection renders new data that inspires a new way to operate. That capacity for transformation is real. If there is ever a time when someone is feeling sad, unsuccessful, or believing that they are not doing well in life, there is the opportunity to make a different choice, a new choice at any time.

This idea brings about the fixed vs. growth mindset. The fixed mindset says that people do not grow and change throughout their lives. The growth mindset is the idea that people grow and change many times throughout their lives and have the capacity for learning new skills and new habits by way of their own reflection and thought process. I believe strongly that people are able to grow and change and have many different careers or make a divergent set of decisions in their lives. This is something that gives me hope about the future and I believe in the ability for people to improve at any time in their lives.


This morning, I tried plant based bacon. It is called Smart Bacon, 40 calories a slice. It cooks like delicate bologna and gets super crispy, which is a fun texture and goes well with scrambled eggs. Not a lot of flavor, so do not expect that any semblance of actual bacon. It’s smart bacon, like a smart phone, which does certain things for you, but does not make you smart. Rather it is a simulation of what you would like it to be.

Getting through the winter is often difficult, and this year is no exception. New England weather, just when I thought I had gotten it down, I realize in these winter months that I am always beginning, always realizing something new, or something that is there and in my over-confidence I forget to treat winter like it is my friend. It had been so very bitterly cold over the past month that I barely moved from my couch. As a result, I was not exercising, which is how I mitigate the winter blues/SAD, seasonal affective disorder. It feels like getting hit by a rock. I had been running outside before the snow came.

I had been gaining weight and not eating right and not running, and the result is this brick wall of the blues that makes me feel so defeated, like I am always repeating myself or somehow I inevitably dwindle down to a kind of sadness. This is something that is a fallacy, that certain patterns are inevitable or inescapable. There must be a solution, as nothing is permanent. I so often forget this idea, as the seasons change, but nothing is permanent and it’s never just one thing forever.

I can challenge the fallacy or untruth by working through in my mind by asking myself: how have I achieved goals in the past? How have I prevented the winter blues/depression before? I answer it: I have found that exercising/running/walking every day makes me feel so good. If it’s raining, I jump on my trampoline, and something so wonderful happens. I feel invincible after a work out, like nothing can get me down. I feel tough, like that horizon is an infinite sight line into the sun that helps me feel happy inside. When I feel sad, I feel as though success is not attainable. When I do not challenge these thought distortions, the sad feelings creep in. I ask myself to pull up historical evidence of success in my life and hold them up in my mind as the most visually compelling inspiration that I can focus on.

I can give myself a future gift to make my life easier. It sometimes takes a long time for me to achieve a goal. I am willing to put in the difficult work it takes to achieve long-term goals of living better, which takes lifelong maintenance. I so often forget this idea. I feel hopeful in remembering my capacity of giving future gifts to mitigate risk, make myself happy, and live younger.

6 19 2021

There are a lot of things with life, so many feelings and reflections that I try and remind myself of. When I think of something that I’m processing, it’s never just one thing. It is so many of them, or at least the most that I can articulate and capture in my mind. There is more than just one thing. I have a very distinct memory of my father telling me this once when I was younger in the context of assigning one reason to something and how it is childish to do so. I often forget this one thing and then I have to remind myself of it. This past week my tooth broke, my uncle died, and if these two things were the only two things I landed on then the whammy would have gotten me. I struggle with family loss and how to best communicate sorrow and comfort. It’s something I have learned to improve by talking directly to the person affected about the loss. I admit it is aspirational, as processing can be difficult. It’s something I never do perfectly, but it is something I am working on. I think improvement in general is something I admire in people, like how when I see someone running, I say out loud or maybe to myself, keep going, girl!

The last time I talked to my uncle, he was in the hospital and I explained to him that I was having a difficult time talking before I started sobbing. The last thing he texted me was to keep my head up, and that it was going to be OK. Imagine someone dying saying that to a physically healthy person!

Last summer I was able to visit with him and we would text each other when it was too dangerous for him to visit during the pandemic. I told him we’d have future cheeseburgers to look forward to. We had shared a joke the last time we visited in person about how I wasn’t excited to see him just for food based reasons. Lots of family get togethers are surrounded by food. To future cheeseburgers, I have since cheered in BBQ get togethers with others, where I hold a burger next to theirs and cheers to future burgers. I’m thinking about the idea of toasting to this cheeseburger next time, as next time may not come, and “to this cheeseburger!” sounds more appropriately celebratory for the job this burger is doing for me at the time.

Dreams help prepare me for the worst situations sometimes. The amount of teeth I have lost in dreams pales in comparison to how many I have the ability to lose. So that when I bit into a new piece of gum, thinking I had bit into a rock, and then realized it was pieces of my tooth, it was actually a relief. It was not horrifying at all, and completely painless. Sometimes the fear of a thing is worse than something actually happening. This idea applies to losing a tooth.

Several weeks prior to my uncle’s death, I had a dream about my Mema. She passed away six years ago, and in the dream she still had her wits about her. She was shopping in a mall with my sister and mother, and as I saw Mema walking to the ladies’ room, she fell on the ground and started asking for my mom. I yelled for my sister and mom and we surrounded Mema. In my dream she was still able to talk and remember things, and in my dream it was like I was in her mind, and she kept saying over and over again, I can do this! I can do this! I wonder if she were talking to herself about transitioning to the other side, coaching herself through it, or if she were actually telling herself that she could get through to me in my dream. The meaning I assign to my dreams is something that sometimes helps with comforting myself, as I feel family lives in your heart, even though they are no longer on this earth.

I have been over and over in my mind the past months, the past years, when I was younger, how my dad would tell me the most horrifying feeling he had when he was young was realizing his own mortality. Someday, it’s going to be me. Sometimes it’s not just that one thing, it’s never just one thing, I must remind myself. Since his passing I sometimes have seen my uncle in other people, a lumbering, good-natured aging hippie Santa Claus with shoulder length white hair and a beard to match. Good-natured because he was and is still in my mind. As a personal reminder he’s got doppelgängers everywhere.

It’s funny the ways that music talks to people. A ton of my music has meaning embedded in it and sometimes the music on the radio or in my mind or in an ear worm acts as a sort of divining rod to the people whom I believe are thinking of me or maybe I’m thinking of. I think about the songs that exist for certain reasons, and I know that your feelings and emotions are held in your endocrine system for a lifetime. This is why I recall certain moments in my life when I listen to Pablo Honey by Radiohead or Pink Floyd’s The Wall and still feel very attached in the moment that was that time, even though I have lost touch with those people or have fallen from their contact completely. It’s often the many formative years I hold in my mind that those memories seem so strong, about the same time when my hormones are raging and likely imprinting the hand deeply in the wall with chemicals that remind me of other people I have known.

And people can think about something in such a way that it almost seems magic, but where does a thought come from? It is never just one thing as this mystery passes through me, and how over a lifetime a person processes events differently at certain times, processes grief in different ways, and I could not walk you through those stages and processes, I just simply know that processing grief and our connections to those around us is lifelong, its knowing nothing to me until after I have felt it, in a fleeting certainty that I register as my body would register a thought and have another thought about that first idea. So like the surface tension of water a person is constantly growing from its first reconciliation, negotiated through the sums, entirety, or improvisation of that thing that I could not press my thumb into and name, but rather illuminate on a wall that sticks your shadow on for a moment before you move away from its light.

10 24 2021

Last night was the first time I went to a show at Jimmy’s in Portsmouth, NH. Mavis Staples was great, it was the second time I have seen her perform, and the singing uplifted me and helped me feel so thankful for getting to see live music again. The most moving version of The Band’s “The Weight” felt wonderful. If I was smiling and shedding a tear through the biggest smile to the end of the song, it may have been in my observation of a number of things: the bold folks dancing and getting up to dance or sway with the music, people’s faces meeting mine. The gratitude with which I felt being in the presence of those I loved that night is still something that brings a smile and a tear, so many in fact that I’m sure I am so truly blessed to be alive.

In my ability to enjoy some of the activities that had been up until recently forbidden to experience, I count myself lucky to have come through it healthy, with most of my family intact. My philosophy has changed somewhat since before the pandemic. I did not come to this way of thinking overnight, and it was not just one thing or even the past year or so that brought me to this idea. I believe that being with others includes everyone. The purpose of life is to experience enjoyment, inclusion, and to be uplifted, benefitted, and blessed by others. Mavis said, “I want you all to feel better when you leave here tonight than when you first arrived.” Today I believe she was right.


I was waiting for my boyfriend to get ready for our walk the other day, and as I was channel surfing through the TV stations I changed it to a movie I’d seen running before but didn’t think twice about actually watching. It’s a movie with an actress that I’m not a huge fan of, but it had a rating of 84% approval, and, more importantly, there were only 15 minutes left until the end, so I figured, why not kill some time?

The footage was grainy, slightly overexposed in certain scenes, and awful. A family was driving in a car with a woman complaining about how there were no good memories, except for when her daughter was three and was looking outside through the window of a house they used to live in, and said, “Mother, don’t you just love every day?” And then a girl piped up from the back seat and said, “that was me!” This mother seemed like a sick woman. Wearing a wig and flabbergasted that there were no good memories, worried that she could not make any new good ones.

No spoilers, but this movie had me bawling my eyes out by the end of the film, and one of those cries where you’re not able to quite catch your breath because all your lung capacity is a process of pushing out the pent up emotion that has become tightness, a sort of constriction pulled over your sternum holding in things you thought you’d be better off trying to conceal or minimize by showing no reaction to. Sometimes things blow over and other times they allow you to release.

The term “zero-day” refers to a newly discovered software vulnerability. Because the developer has just learned of the flaw, it also means an official patch or update to fix the issue hasn’t been released.


After I wrote this entry, I was looking for the finished title. I usually fly a working title first, one that is a sort of throw away first draft that I can improve on once the words have settled. I first had the day of, which is because today is voting day and there are things that I have already revealed too much in it, so then I started to think about zero day, and how I have felt for so long that holding things in is a way to conserve a part of myself, or to hide in order to save myself from exposure.

The longer I live the more I learn that exposing those things – your feelings and true self – is one of the most difficult things to do. I think about how this is the last year of my 30’s and how long life has been for me being middle aged. I like to think about transformation and how starting a new habit or living differently would be radical, or at least more compelling than what has become comfortable and made me soft. William Faulkner wrote, “It’s always the idle habits you acquire which you will regret.” The longer I live the more I think how picking away little by little on those automatic behaviors is the only thing I can change.

Today is voting day. In less than an hour, I’ll wake up for the day and appear at my voting place. I’ll wait in line wearing my mask and then the deed will be done, and I can go about my day knowing I did what I could to impose change the only way I can, by showing up and representing myself.

lifting shop

When I was in middle school I got good grades. My lowest grade was a B+ in 8th grade algebra, an advanced course for kids who would go on to study geometry as freshmen in high school. I know I struggled to understand the ideas in that class. The concepts were foreign to me: using variables to get answers made no sense. Factoring was impossible, and my brain did not catch on until I was older how to compute polynomial equations. I still do not know how to solve them. I have weaknesses, out of my own cognitive limitations or due to the fact that I never took the time to learn the lessons. But one thing I do know that I had learned at that young age what cheating was.

In 8th grade life science class, I sat next to a kid who was a trouble maker. The teacher had thrown his desk across the room one day after he recited one too many Jerky Boy quotes as clever retorts to questions like: what are the seven classifications of living things? I never blamed the kid. He was cool. He had to own that. Taking his position on what he must have seen himself as did not make him immune to the rules, but simply an afterthought. His young memoir might have read: The Indirect Consequence of Bart Simpson Economics and the High Cost of Trying to be Him. This might be a quarterly review of bad kid behavior that would be published as a sort of poster child magazine for what not to do, or for what to do when you want to get into trouble. In magazine form it might have amassed an enormous following in the 1990’s. Today it would be a highly acclaimed blog written by the newest generation of pranksters.

While taking a test sitting next to this kid I got the sense that he was looking over at my paper. Glancing out of the corner of my eye through my hair I felt like he was planting his eyes where they did not belong. The hair on my neck felt weird. I froze. In an automatic response, I covered my paper. I curled my arm around my test, cradling it in a way saying, “Don’t worry, baby. I won’t let anything happen to you.” I’m not sure if I went into protection mode because he was actually looking over at my paper, or not. Maybe what I thought about him and what he must have felt about himself prompted me to take proactive action, but that’s not the point. I didn’t have to be taught how to prevent cheating or what cheating was back then.

This covering of the test was a sort of universal sign that had been instilled at a very early age. Thanks to teacher instruction, I knew at the age of 13 that cheating was wrong and to prevent it at all costs. Teachers often pace up and down the length of student rows during tests to discourage looking up. Mr. Lynch was my sixth grade English teacher. Before the vocabulary tests, he would say, “Keep your eyes on your fries or it will spell your demise.” Thanks to the culture of academic learning, most classroom management styles include placing student desks far enough away from each other so as to prevent cheating. A teacher must be present in the classroom while students take the test. These are not simply tenants to live by, but rather the environment in which students learn acceptable norms of study and instruction.

I do not feel ashamed that I covered my paper, although that kid accused me of “thinking that he was cheating off me.” I was supposed to feel embarrassed, paranoid, weird, for my reaction, but I never did and I guess I probably never will. The one thing that I realize now is that there are ways of instilling ideas that will stick with you your whole life. As one grows older, the ways in which one can cheat change from test taking to more intricate forms of plagiarism. The preventative measures morph from covering the test paper to legal protection, trademark, and patent law.

Intellectual property includes inventions: literary and artistic works; symbols, names, and images used in commerce (WIPO). There are two categories of intellectual property: industrial property, which includes patents for inventions, trademarks, industrial designs, and geographical indications, and copyright, which covers literary works, films, music, artistic works, and architectural design (WIPO).

Intellectual property rights allow the creator of intellectual property to make profit without harm from those who would steal their property. The protections of intellectual property sustain things like the film industry, clothing lines, and technological gadgets such as the iPhone.

The idea of industry protection reminds me of the story of a lawsuit that was filed in federal court over the movie Out of the Furnace.

Seven of the 17 plaintiffs – all members of the Ramapough Lunaape Nation — use Degroat as their surname or middle name. In the movie, [Woody] Harrelson portrays Harlan Degroat, the leader of a violent criminal gang who lives in the mountains of New Jersey.

The film follows the film’s star, Christian Bale, as he tries to keep a younger brother played by Casey Affleck from the clutches of Degroat’s criminal gang.

“The community is depicted as lawless, drug addicted, impoverished and violent,” lawyers for the Ramapoughs wrote. (Zambito)

Lawyers for the film’s producers, Relativity Media and Appian Way, headed by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, warned that if the lawsuit went forward it would expose the film industry to legal challenges from those who disagreed with a movie’s content.

“Plaintiff’s lawsuit, if permitted to proceed beyond the pleading state, will chill free speech by subjecting creators and distributors of movies and other works of fiction to liability whenever some members of a distinct ethnic, cultural social or other definable group dislike how their group is presented,” attorney Mark Marino wrote in April (Zambito).

The real danger over these lawsuits is without intellectual property rights, the film industry would be vulnerable to attacks like these, resulting in a proliferation of its profits to those who were not creators, but rather, fraudulent profiteers of intellectual property.

In a similar case of patent law, money changes hands, this time due to patent violation. This case takes the instance of using someone else’s patented technology as a violation of patent law. The patent holder of 504 sued Mark Maron, comedian and host of WTF podcast (Chace). “Others who have been sued include Jesse Thorne, host of public radio show, Bullseye, ABC, CBS, and Adam Corolla” (Chace).

Jim Logan, a New Hampshire man, applied for his patent in 1996 (Chace). His idea was audio could be downloaded from the internet and listened to by consumers (Chace). Specifically the 504 patent “covers important technology related to automatically identifying and retrieving media files representing episodes and a series of those episodes becoming available. These patented techniques are commonly used in podcasting” (Chace).

In the 90’s Jim Logan started a company, Personal Audio, which tried to build podcasting technology. This technology ended up in the form of science magazines recorded onto cassette tape (Chace). Although the tapes didn’t last, his patent came in handy. In 2007, Logan sued Apple and won 8.5 million dollars for stealing his podcast patent (Chace). The suit was appealed and Apple settled for an undisclosed amount (Chace). The judge found that the iTunes application was an infringement of patent 504. Before the technology was available, iTunes violated the idea of a podcast, where a menu or array of episodes of audio are available to a consumer (Chace). Although the technology was not available at the time it was created in 1996, the patent was violated (Chace).

Jim Logan’s company didn’t create iTunes, and his patents would not have told you how to build them: where to put the processor, which lines of code to include in the program, but once the engineers at Apple figured it out, and Jim Logan came out of hiding and sued them (Chace). The thin film that wraps itself around patent law is a thinly veiled premise that an idea can then be wrapped around any technology that accomplishes the goal of the patent, years, even decades after the patent was created. This brings about conflict. When the every man, just doing his thing, can be prosecuted, extorted out of his own livelihood, there is a problem (Chace). President Obama even spoke out against this (Chace). The problem of patent law is an ongoing one, and it remains to be seen how it will be resolved, with regulation, more laws, or even more patents as band aids for the failed patent regulation of recent years. From cases of patent violation to plagiarism, the issue can be similar, but the outcomes are quite different.

Journalistic plagiarism is a representation of someone else’s ideas or direct quotes without proper attribution. Without having quotation marks around a passage or refraining from crediting the source, an author is committing plagiarism. The problem with plagiarism is that it happens everywhere, with author’s lesser known or those highly lauded in the international community.

Kendra Marr resigned from Politico on October 13, 2011, due to her inclusion of passages from other writers without proper attribution or quotation (Sporer). “[T]he articles drew from a range of sources without proper attribution, including reporting from the Washington, D.C.-based newspaper The Hill, the Associated Press (AP), and the Scripps-Howard News Service, the note said (Sporer).” On Nov. 10, 2011, Jim Romenesko resigned from The Poynter Institute following accusations of improper quote attribution, bringing an abrupt end to his 12-year tenure running the think tank’s media aggregation blog (Sporer).

In March of 2011 (Pexton) Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Sari Horwitz copied segments of stories from The Arizona Republic “in whole or in part” without attribution (Sporer). The Washington Post suspended Sari Horwitz for three months for copying substantial portions of stories from The Arizona Republic “in whole or in part” without attribution (Sporer). Horwitz copied and pasted material from the Republic directly without attribution on two separate occasions in March during her coverage of the investigation of accused Arizona gunman Jared Lee Loughner (Sporer). George Orwell Prize-winning journalist Johann Hari directly copied and pasted a quote from a book in London’s The Independent (Sporer). “Hari took a four month unpaid leave” (Sporer).

The solution to plagiarism is simple. Writing for Chicago Magazine’s staff blog The 312, Whet Moser wrote in an October 14 post that referring to the original article with full attribution and advancing its reporting with original research was a writing format that presents “a simple, ethical solution” (Sporer). “Steve Myers of the journalism think tank The Poynter Institute said, ‘Just because someone doesn’t aim to malign doesn’t make his actions benign.’ [H]e proposed attribution as a solution to some types of plagiarism” (Sporer).

In a recent article in Plagiarism Today, Jonathan Bailey outlines the pressures of journalism in today’s high paced world. As a solution, Jonathan Bailey writes, “At some point, the only way to keep up with the demands of the job is take shortcuts. Plagiarism, fabrication and recycling are ethically dubious but effective ways to share minutes or hours off of production time” (Bailey). That plagiarism affords one an eloquent justification for prolonged employment seems ridiculous. The solution to plagiarism is to cite appropriately and credit the author. It doesn’t take that much time to insert quotation marks and parenthetical citation. The justification for plagiarism is seemingly endless.

Bailey goes on to compare the pace of the journalism profession to the pace of actual plagiarists. “At some point it is almost physically impossible for anyone to meet the writing demands without taking shortcuts. This is why essay mills, which have to turn around complex and lengthy research papers in as little as a day, have high rates of plagiarism themselves. When journalists have to churn out specialized text at the same rate as essay mill authors, ethics and training may not be enough to save them.” (Bailey)

Bailey says that the pace of the internet has made the expectations of online publishers too high to achieve without plagiarism. “Ever since the Internet became central to the way people consume content, there’s been a push by editors and publishers to create more and more content, to beat competitors by being the first online, having the most stories and iterating quickly” (Bailey). The ultimate fate of this ugly practice, however, is easy to poke holes in. “Unfortunately, due to how easy it is to detect plagiarism, it will likely be plagiarism that will serve as the early warning” (Bailey). Initially, I’m not sure if Bailey himself is in the right profession. If he cannot keep up with the high pace of writing, he should leave the writing profession to those who can. I reflect on what has failed Bailey, and understand how his story represents an even greater population of Baileys, those who plagiarize. Of this group, some plagiarize with this level of consciousness, and yet others often plagiarize out of ignorance. Taking a long-term view, the kids who sat next to Bailey in the classroom, were they Baileys, too? Aren’t we all just little Baileys, waiting to hatch? It’s like a virus in waiting, lying dormant for years, or something inherent in us all that inevitably clicks on. There is a way to cut down on plagiarism, and it starts in the classroom.

According to the American Psychology Association website, there are four strategies that prevent plagiarism in an academic setting. The first strategy is to create assignments that require more than summarization, but rather ask for specific questions that expect the student to read and understand the source material so that he can integrate it into the assignment (Prohaska). The second rule is for the teacher to explain the expectations and define plagiarism, including debriefing on the ease of plagiarism detection technology (Prohaska). The third guideline is to show students how to avoid plagiarism and to ask for students’ definition of plagiarism (Prohaska). This allows the teacher to monitor students’ opinions and helps clear up any ambiguous meanings, and promotes autonomous decision making for the student throughout the writing process (Prohaska). The fourth suggestion is to show students how to properly paraphrase quotes (Prohaska). “Students may assume that the likelihood of successfully plagiarizing is low when an instructor has devoted time and effort to teaching about it” (Prohaska). The efforts in academia set the foundation for ethical behavior in life, not only for the future writers and journalists but for everyone else who does something else with their careers.

Anyone in this country knows about cheating, that it does happen, and it probably happened that you’ve witnessed it or been a part of it in some way. This is a systemic problem in that any measure of success requires that you do well to avoid it. There are measurements for success and guidelines to adhere to, and that you’ve followed the rules implies that you will probably succeed at following the rules, but doesn’t that just mean that you have successfully avoided breaking the rules? Although there are rules, following them does not make you an automatic success. Students will perform in any number of ways. There are still students that are coming up in the system who have yet to be marked as plagiarists.

Although there are deterrents, there will always be behaviors that lie outside the acceptable norms of good behavior. It’s just our way. Failure happens. Smoking still looks cool. People still fail to wash their hands as often as they should. Even nurses don’t wash after touching germs. How everything is relative, there must always be a range of characters that comprise the human population. There are better and worse grades on a scale of A through F. There are good and bad apples. And the way through this world is not to ignore the problem children, but to teach them as well as they can be taught, reaching through the rungs as best as you can to get to them so that you can make an impact. This is true the same way that someone picks up an apple and says to it, “I can trust you as far as I can throw you.” This is also a way of measuring someone, how well they can score on a test, or how well they behaved in grade school, before the numbers really amounted to anything major. The importance here is that it’s still anyone’s game. Anyone can try to succeed and play by the rules, but it’s still cool to be like Bart Simpson.


Bailey, Jonathan. “The Looming Plagiarism Crisis.” Plagiarism Today. Plagiarism Today, 29 Jul.

  1. Web. 24 Feb. 2015. https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2014/07/29/looming-plagiarism-crisis/.

Chace, Zoe. “How One Patent Could Take Down One Comedian.” npr.org. NPR, 5 June 2013.

Web. 1 March 2015. http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=188719954&m=188841801.

Council of Writing Program Administrators, National Council of Teachers of English, and

National Writing Project. Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing. CWPA, NCTE, and NWP, 2011. PDF file.

Paxton, Patrick B. “The damage done by Post reporter Sari Horwitz’s plagiarism.” The

Washington Post. The Washington Post, 18 March 2011. Web. 1 March 2015. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-damage-done-by-post-reporter-sari-horwitzs-plagiarism/2011/03/18/ABgtIIs_story.html.

Prohaska, PhD, Vincent. “Encouraging students’ ethical behavior.” American Psychology

Association. APA, May 2013. Web. March 8 2015. http://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/ptn/2013/05/ethical-behavior.aspx.

Sporer, Mikel J. “Attribution Controversies Prompt Reexamination of What Constitutes

Journalistic Plagiarism.” UNM. UNM Bulletin 17.1 (2011): n. pag. Web. 1 March 2015. http://silha.umn.edu/news/Fall2011/attributionplagiarism.html.

World Intellectual Property Organization. What is Intellectual Property? WIPO, n.d. PDF file.


Zambito, Thomas. “Judge tosses out Ramapough Mountain Indians lawsuit over “Out of the

Furnace”.” nj.com nj.com, 15 May, 2014. Web. 1 March, 2015. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2014/05/judge_tosses_out_ramapough_mountain_indians_lawsuit_over_out_of_the_furnace.html.

Let’s go downtown and talk to the modern kids

I feel music and our own focus, extant to interest in the sound of songs, is akin to how when we dream we tell other people about them. People have fallen asleep to the droning on of how I was turning into an aphid, simultaneously developing Alzheimer’s disease, forgetting that I was ever actually human. And that museum I walked into turned into a mausoleum where I was doomed to inhabit for eternity.

Hell is other people, says Jean Paul Sartre. Maybe this is how we can advertise how good something is and yet have it fall on deaf ears. I think about how nicely existentialism aligns the constellation-al shape of this idea. Pull a stencil over the night sky and as you peer through the lace the light of a hundred years ago blinks back.

Sometimes I think about the mud and who has walked here before. The footprint of our ancestors trekked over these tracks a million billion times, and then maybe I think we know what is around us because we are afforded the animation of our own bodies. But maybe we are all dinosaurs and we have no idea we are extinct yet. Our little T-rex arms extending to reach out. Our minds, thoughts, habits, these outgrowths are extensions of the infinite permutations of evolutionary experience that may or may not serve us, but have not yet fallen away. We are still reaching out.

Half-time Report

If I had an egg timer for every thoughtful thing I ever had to say about someone I hip checked during a soccer game, it might lose count, not because counting minutes is obsolete, but rather because you never really stop feeling guilty for getting caught. Not because I cared so much for their well-being, but because in hind sight, I stopped games, I committed fouls, I was caught kicking the astro turf which was supposed to be green grass that ended up actually being the goalie’s big toe.

That I still recall those well wishes today says something that I cannot yet speak to, but I feel is a close metric to the ways in which children learn not through purely altruistic purposes, but rather through shame, hurt, and embarrassment that something they did was wrong. If some behavior is found to be unacceptable by peers and authority figures, the upper lip in disgust curls up. That creeping feeling of of being found out and shamed or humiliated by one’s own worst practices in the name of bad manners or unsportsmanlike conduct is something normal people grow out of or learn never to repeat by one-time open retribution, including but not limited to the cheer leaders throwing out a little pom-pom heavy haiku about you at half time in order to reform your better nature.

You are either with us or against us, that’s who, but what’s who? The royal who in this scenario is the thoughtful premise of the social contract that includes us in our own collectively agreed upon levels of acceptable progress, and throws us out on our own commonly held standards of bad acts. If one were to draw a line in the sand, no one would want to be voted off that island, the one with real people on it. No man is ever an island. I cannot imagine being in a place whereby some kind of lord of the flies directive turns us into targets of retribution for all our unsound achievements, but our collective contract on which the bargain of civilized behavior stands is buoyed offshore in that island’s shallow water. It is in these depths that we are all born out of. The low culture of our collective bad decisions piles up, in our mind’s collective bank accounts, accruing interest for some obscure rainy day fund in which it is entirely acceptable to reminisce about past mistakes.

Whether you are with one other person or in the company of thousands, there is a kind of catharsis to it, the admission of old bad deeds. There is a quality that exudes a connecting warmth that I might compare to the Catholic guilt at confession. What you can share you can shed, in the shame that took years off your life, or in the freedom that now permits you to speak freely about it. If we do not have opportunities to confess, the guilt binds us to guilt and shame and as it builds it may, as it might, manifest itself, through the years, in the form of a speeding ticket, a court summons for not paying said speeding ticket, and to subsequent time spent in jail for failing to appear in court. (As a side note, this is not an autobiographical admission of guilt, it is just a random sampling of one possible outcome from bad decisions.) What you did today you might not do tomorrow, but nobody who said that magically reversed the course of history.

That being said, all we can do is reflect on our bad decisions, learn from them, and make different choices. The story of shared guilt spills out over our own internal narratives to modern day NBA in one of my favorite teams, the Boston Celtics. During a 2015 season game between the Cavaliers and the Celtics, Kelly Olynyk accidentally popped out Kevin Love’s shoulder. In response, Kelly tried calling Kevin “multiple times”, reaching out to apologize time and again, but to no avail (Newport, 2015).

Kevin Love was interviewed as saying he did not return any of Kelly’s calls, saying, “Oh yeah. I’m over it. I’m just trying to get healthy” (Newport, 2015).

A bit of back story on Kelly Olynyk. He is known in the league as the Canadian mamba. The alias is rooted in the mash up of the meaning behind what a poisonous snake can do to a person and the lasting impression a Canadian can make. See also: Black Mamba in the Quentin Tarantino film, Kill Bill I and Kill Bill II. Played by Daryl Hannah, she is distinguished by the patch she wears over one eye socket. Uma Thurman’s character pulled out an eye with her bare fingers in the first Kill Bill.

Black Mamba is also annotated by the snakes she leaves in the homes of her victims, who lie in wait to poison and subsequently snuff them out. Although Kelly Olynyk is none of those things, neither possessing only one eye nor sicking snakes on his competition, he is from Canada, and he is distinguished not only by his potential, but also his noted passiveness when running to the hoop. In a 2014 Bleacher Report article, Michael Pina wrote about Kelly Olynyk in the following way: “But once his assertiveness catches up with his still-growing talent, Olynyk will be one of the most difficult matchups in the league” (Pina, 2014). For a young man in the NBA, one who is a bit shy on offense, can be also talented, in spite of himself.

Although there may be snakes lying at our feet in any doomsday scenario, there is always a risk of regressing back to the days when you thought the rapture might take you up, away from your worries, so you would not have to face a fate worse than losing a game, or potentially being so embarrassed you would kindly let the floor swallow you whole. These daily conundrums might become less and less depending on the day we are having, working through our anxieties, our doubts, our own sense of self-defeat. The rows of thoughts we line up like chairs in a stadium that are all there to look at you to see you be the best you can be. When we fail, we are bent so low, trying to find the words that are missing to account for what went wrong. It is in the redemption of shared forgiveness that one can forge ahead alongside other people’s rows of chairs, filled with people who came to watch you win.






Works Cited

Newport, Kyle. Cavaliers’ Kevin Love Won’t Accept Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk’s Apology

for Injury. Bleacher Report. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. 7 May, 2015. Web. 4 Mar. 2016. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2457245-cavaliers-kevin-love-wont-accept-celtics-kelly-olynyks-apologies-for-injury

Pina, Michael. How Kelly Olynyk Can Become the Star the Boston Celtics Believe He

Will Be. Bleacher Report. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. 28 Nov., 2014. Web. 13 Mar. 2016. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2281596-how-kelly-olynyk-can-become-the-star-the-boston-celtics-believe-he-will-be