sasqets bigfoot sasquatch native american

Time for a Grunge Roundup

Greetings, everybody! As longtime readers know, one of my regular assignments is writing for Grunge.com, where I explore topics from the sociological to the bizarre and otherworldly, depending on the day.  It’s been a while since I’ve linked you all to some of my more recent pieces, so here are a few favorites:

 

Messed up things about elementary school you only notice as an adult

messed up elementary school kid trauma problems

We all remember our elementary school days, but those memories aren’t always so happy. In this article, I examine some of the most inane and problematic policies guiding elementary schools in the United States, including the emphasis on competition (spoiler alert: competition actually inhibits learning), forcing kids to ask for a bathroom pass (who came up with that nonsense?) and why taking away recess actually makes unruly kids more unruly. Read on!

 

 

The bizarre true story of Bigfoot, America’s missing ape

sasqets bigfoot sasquatch native american

Is there really a hairy, humanoid creature wandering through the woodlands of the United States? Probably not, but you never know, and the world would be a lot more fun if there was. Regardless, the legend of sasquatch goes back surprisingly far: various versions of a bigfoot-like figure played key roles in the spiritual belief systems of multiple North American indigenous peoples. Here’s the story!

 

Secrets of living in Antarctica

antartica john kerry research south pole ice snow

Ever wondered who lives in Antartica, how long they stay there, or what they do? Ever wondered what kind of job applications those Antarctic stations might be taking? Wonder no more, because here are (some) answers. Learn the ropes, seek out the iciest continent, and who knows: maybe one day soon, you’ll join the ranks of the 300 Club, the esteemed group who do naked races from a 200 °F  sauna out into a -100 °F Antarctic night. Yes, really.

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The Concept of Privilege

The concept of privilege can be a challenging one to get across, but it’s one of the key factors that has shaped the inequalities, imbalances, and prejudices of society today.  In order to fix the problem, the first step is acknowledging it.

Too often, when a person is informed of their privilege, they are likely to respond “Hey, I worked hard for what I have.” However, what this person isn’t realizing is that acknowledging the fact that they are privileged doesn’t invalidate any hard work they might have put into their career, social life, and so on: it simply contextualizes it.  To be privileged doesn’t mean that a person had everything handed to them on a silver platter—though it can, if they did!—but rather, in many cases, privilege means that a person was born with the right set of circumstances that allowed them to achieve success through hard work. Not everyone is so lucky.

This really isn’t a complicated concept to understand: whereas a person born in a luckier set of circumstances (for example, a family that can afford to send them to a private school) can achieve success through hard work, another person born in more difficult circumstances could work just as hard, yet not achieve the same results, due to the unfairness of their birth conditions in relation to society. The widespread deception that “everyone starts on the same level playing field” is a dangerous falsehood that has festered in the American psyche for generations, and it accounts for a huge amount of the anger, racism, xenophobia, class warfare, and so on today.

Imagine an Olympic race where one person gets to begin running at the starting line, whereas another person—against their will—is forced to start ten feet back and wait twenty seconds, for no good reason. Sure, both runners might have given it their all. But one of those runners had a huge advantage at the starting point, and that’s fundamentally unjust.

Many factors play into privilege. Class is the most obvious one: it’s much harder for a person born in the working class to move upward than it is for someone born in the upper class. That’s pretty basic. However, race is arguably an even bigger factor: people with more melanin in their skin face irrational prejudices against them at every corner, combined with the horrors of systemic racism, and surveys have shown that far too many companies still are less likely to call back resumes with less-white sounding names. Sex is also an enormous factor, as women today still face the constant realities of sexual harassment in the workplace, and surveys show that, on average, women still earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns. Disability, neurodiversity, nationality, gender, religious background, and so on are also factors.

Privilege is the invisible benefit one receives when one doesn’t have to worry about their race, sex, class, religious background, or so on: privilege is when a person gets to go into a job interview, and to know that they’ll be seen for their decided traits/experience/individuality, rather than the labels that others have applied to them.

Again, the first step toward fixing the privilege problem is acknowledging that it exists, and spreading that awareness to others. One of the best explanations I’ve ever read of the subject was actually featured in a web comic titled On a Plate, by Toby Morris. Give it a read on this link to TheWireless.co.nz, and next time you’re looking to explain privilege to someone, consider sending it along to them.

Link: On a Plate

 

twins nicholas conley

Writing for Grunge.com

Good morning, everyone!

So, I’m happy to share that I’ve joined up with the writers of Grunge.com. For those who haven’t read Grunge before, it’s a quality site, dedicated to diving deep into pools of weird information, exploring unknown facts, and correcting common misconceptions. Since I’ve always had the sort of brain that’s hungry to explore any corner of knowledge I find myself in, I’m having a great time.

Here are a few of my pieces so far. Thanks for giving ’em a read!

Weird Things That Medical TV Shows Always Get Wrong

House MD nicholas conley

Strange Facts You Never Knew About Twins

twins nicholas conley

Clever Movies That Trick You With Double Plot Twists

arrival nicholas conley

Animals That Evolved to Defend Themselves Against Humans

animals evolved nicholas conley

Skydiving in Phoenix

You know what’s insane? Skydiving.

You know what’s more insane than that?

…well, not much. At least, I’ve never experienced anything that feels more insane while it’s happening. My mind never stops flashing back to that moment where the door flipped open, air rushed inside, and every instinct in my suddenly very-mortal body was screaming to me that this whole “Hey, I’m going to jump out of a plane!” idea was not conducive to survival. You’re going to die! People can’t fall this distance! Then, the surrealness of actually doing it. Putting my legs out of the plane.

It’s like crashing through the gates of reality. Doing what you think is impossible.

Somewhere around the point where my feet were over the edge, and the desert landscape was spread out below, all sense of reality that I’ve perceived up until that point in my life totally shattered. The next 40 seconds — less than a minute spent flying through the air like a superhero, with adrenaline pumping harder than it probably ever has before — felt like it lasted for months, or even a year, in all the right ways.

And it was absolutely amazing. For anyone who has this one on their to-do list, all I can say is: don’t miss out.

What about you guys?

Have you ever gone skydiving, or thought about doing it? Let’s hear it!