Social censorship and repression

The introduction of Michel Foucault’s book The History of Sexuality suggests there may be a connection between legislative repression of sexual behavior and increased criminal behavior. Foucault, who’s writing in the 1980s, is reflecting on the repression of sexual expression that was normalized before the movement for sexual liberation in the 1960s. He argues that there was a time when people were unapologetically open in their discussions about sex, so open that it was normal for children to be present during these conversations (Foucault, 4). Once social liberty was suppressed, and discussions about sex became taboo, people needed a place to go to full express themselves. This was when brothels and prostitution became cultural staples. Foucault says this is because repressing sex is like repressing a language (6). When a person is told that the way they express themselves is against the law, it’s not surprising that those people will seek illegal avenues for expression.

It is easy to see how this argument could be applied to current discussion on censorship and social issues. In depth surveillance of personal information and legislation restricting people of certain sexual orientations are two contemporary issues that come to mind. The difference here is that most people marginalized in these cases aren’t seeking illegal avenues comparable to the use of brothels or participation in prostitution. However, people are still going to live their lives and express themselves the way they wish regardless of the illegality of their actions.

Foucault brings up the issue that, in both the 16th century and the present, the practices of repression are so ingrained into our society that they become hard to undo. This is the issue we face now. Old arguments that weren’t justified to begin with have been repeated for so many years that they start to make sense (or at least cause doubt) for a demographic that didn’t previously agree. Hope is not lost, however, because just as some people reverted to old, misguided ways of thinking, others have broadened their world view and accepted new ways of thinking – something I’m not sure Foucault truly believed would be a reality.

The “original position” may be the best way to think about contemporary politics

Rawls’ concept of “original position” requires people to shed all their biases in order to have a completely clear view of an issue. He calls this clear view a persons “veil of ignorance.”
In reality, human beings can’t take an original position on anything because each of us has a set of biases, whether we’re aware of them or not. The concept is interesting because it poses a challenge that, for people who are actively involved in politics, could be enlightening.

Technology allows us to tailor each and every digital experience to align with the way we think. We get suggestions for videos that we’ll like, we see ads for products we’ve already considered buying, and we are pushed news articles we already agree with. The ladder is the scariest and most dangerous example. If you ever take an Intro to Political Science course or even a high school American government class, the first thing they should teach you is to diversify your news intake. That was a lot easier in the days when newspapers were the most popular source for news and before the age of the 24-hour news cycle, but it can still be done. The worst thing we can do is allow our predispositions, especially on issues we know very little about, to be catered to.

Rawls presents an interesting way to, partly, combat this problem. Challenge yourself to form an unbiased position on an issue you find important. A topic of debate that I think would particularly benefit from those who are passionate about it participating in the Rawls exercise is the conversation about racism and free speech. Rawls would suggest that in order to think from the original position you must forget your own race, economic standing, gender, political affiliation, everything. You have to pretend like you don’t know any of that information about yourself. Once you’re in that mindset, then you decide what your position is. Rawls’ argument is that nobody would ever agree that Group A is allowed to harass and direct hate speech at Group B if they don’t know what group they belong to.

It may seem like a tedious exercise, and in some ways it is, but really it’s an exercise in empathy and perspective.

Getting Rid of Blackheads

For years, I’ve struggled with blackheads on my nose. I never really took care of it either because I wasn’t a very so they just kept getting worse at the years by. Eventually, I decided that enough was enough and I finally made the choice to do something about it.

The first (and only) thing that I use were nose strips. I used the one from Bioré and they worked pretty well the first few times I used it. Eventually, after a while they weren’t as effective anymore because they mainly focus on the most visible blackheads on your nose, not the ones that are still deep under the skin. However, they are fairly easy to use and I still use it from to time to time, just not by itself. There are directions written on the box but basically, all you have to do is put the nose strip on your nose or the area with blackheads and leave it on for about 15 minutes.

So, nose strips are great investments but not enough by itself – especially if you’ve had blackheads for years. In order to completely get rid of all of your blackheads, here are a few more things that you can add on to your skincare routine:

  1. Understanding Blackheads: Have you ever heard of the saying “understand the problem before finding the answer”? That is crucial. Blackheads are small dark and black bumps that appear on your skin due to your hair follicles being clogged by dead skin cells and oils. They start out as white when the bump is still closed and turns black when exposed to air. So now that you understand what blackheads are, let’s get down to business.
  2. Salicylic Acid Gel: Salicylic acid is an oil soluble meaning, it can penetrate into the pores of your skin and that is exactly what you need. Your blackheads are basically just acnes and salicylic acid helps fight pimples and its family. It can be found in over-the-counter acne treatment products like: Clinique, Proactive, Philosophy, Neutrogena, and Paula’s Choice. Salicylic acid can also be used for acne treatment, dandruff, and to remove corns, calluses, and warts.
    1. **Tip: use a leave-on product rather than a cleanser or soap. Keeping the product longer on your skin will allow the ingredient to fully activate.
    2. **Tip: might not be the best product if you have dry skin.
  3. Enzymatic Exfoliator: Enzyme exfoliation is a type of chemical exfoliation that breaks down the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together. This can also be found in a few over-the counter products such as: Dermalogica, Mario Badescu, and Raya. Look of other masks that contain papaya, pineapple extract, charcoal or clay – those will help wash away the surface skin cells. Enzymatic exfoliation can also be used for breakouts, clogged pores, dull skin, and hyperpigmentation. Use this at least twice a week.
  4. Retinol Cream: Retinoid is also a great treatment for blackheads. In addition, they are often used for wrinkles, aging, and acnes. If you have moderate to severe acnes that usually doesn’t get better with treatment, this might be great two in one cream for you.
  5. Moisturize: The most important thing is to keep your face moisturized and hydrated. Whatever method you are using to get rid of blackheads, it will strip away oils from the skin which causes skin dryness. Find the right balance of hydration for your skin. Salicylic acid causes your skin to dry up really fast so keep that in mind. Don’t forget to wash your face in the morning and at night and use a non-comedogenic moisturizer – products that are oil-free and lightweight. Aveeno, CeraVe, and Philosophy all have noncomedogenic moisturizers. They are usually written on the label so keep an eye out for that.
    1. **Tip: Some comedogenic ingredients to look out for: cocoa butter, pigments & dyes (red in particular), coal tar, and isopropyl myristate.

That Island Ting: Madagascar

Akory ê!

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now but there were some… technical complications when it came to my website. Long story short, I accidentally deleted my databases and it led to the destruction of my website. Literally. But, somehow ya girl managed to bring it back from the dead and recreated everything – except the contents. I’m still working on that. So far, it’s looking pretty great.

I got back from my trip to Madagascar in early January and can I just say, I had the best time of my life. So many memories were made and I feel a much deeper connection to my little island than ever before. While the main reason we went back home was to show my bother in law what Madagascar look like, we were also all given the chance to discover a place we’ve never been to – aka the north. I guess you could say that it was a new experience for all of us. The trip started at the capital, Antananarivo – that’s where I grew up. We stayed there for a few days, went to visit the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga (probably was the fourth time for me, but it never ceases to amaze me each time) – and of course, the jet lag hit me harder than a truck. The first three days consisted of visiting family members, buying food that we’ve all been missing, trying to fight the jet lag, and visiting all the hot spots of Antananarivo. Once it was the first Sunday, we hoped on a “taxi brousse” and left for the north, making Ankarana our first (one night) stop.

Ankarana was beautiful. It’s a very small village located in the north west of Madagascar. With the help of our agency, we were able to find a nice place to live in and completely immerse in our environment throughout the whole trip. We spent the next morning hiking at the National Park, went inside a bat cave and looked at the different tsingy of Madagascar. Unlike most National Parks in the US where we would usually walk on grass or mud, Ankarana has a very unique landscape. “In places where the calcific upper layers have been completely eroded, the harder base rock has been etched into channels and ridges known as tsingy.” The first few hours, we were walking in a forest then our path gradually changed rocks. Pictures are worth a thousand words so below are some pictures of how the view and ground looked like. The hike itself took the whole morning to complete, we walked for 13 kilometer (8 miles) and let me just say, the cold shower after that hike was heavenly.

But our main destination was in Nosy Be, which was also my favorite part of the trip – mainly because I’ve seen many pictures of the island but never in real life. When it finally, happened we could believe it. After leaving Ankarana, we arrived in Diego and from there, we went to the port that took us to Nosy be, one of the most touristic place in Madagascar. It’s a little island up north that is surrounded by other smaller islands. Nosy Be is a magical place to be. Words can’t explain everything .

I spent most of my days on the beach, relaxing. At times when I found myself not doing much, I read. For Christmas, My sister, Mani, got me Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Mastery of Love (along with a Le Petit Marseillais Body Wash and Clay Face Mask – you know, the essentials.) I’ve been meaning to get my hands on one of his books for the longest time and I can honestly say that it was worth the wait. Before I left for Madagascar, I wasn’t in the best state emotionally. As I was pretty open about it, I also struggle a lot letting go of certain things and seeing my worth. My primary mistake was depending my happiness of someone else and holding them responsible for it. It easily led me believe I wasn’t going to be able to live without them so I couldn’t let it go. From that point on, I was questioning a lot things about this person, where we stood and if I wanted to keep coni I never realized how lost I had been feelings until I started believing I wouldn’t be able to live without them beside me. Essentially, reading The Mastery of Love helped me get through that faster than I had anticipated. There were times when things weren’t going so well and I craved that sense of comfort he would always give me with his presence or times when I would think about all the good times we spent together and wishing things weren’t the way they were. The best part of it all was me always finding God in everything that I did. Believing that, through the darkness you will always light, just like with God, you will always come out alive.   Going home was just what I needed to clear my head and remind myself of who I am. I never realized how lost I had been feeling until I started believing that I couldn’t live without a particular person’s presence. Before I knew it, I invest more time trying to keep them around rather than putting myself first. While I felt Through all of this, I made a promise to myself that I would never allow myself to let someone become a priority before myself


Timeline of My Final Project

When coming up with an idea for my final project, it actually took me awhile to come up with something that I truly wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do something along the lines of animation because I really enjoyed it the first time we did it, but coming up with a storyline for my video was what I was having a hard time with. My friend ended up giving me the idea to do a little superhero scene with a “bad guy” and the “hero.” So, the day before I started actually working on the project, the idea was given to me.

This time around, I decided I’d use flash cards rather than post-it notes. For our previous animation project, I just felt like the post-its didn’t give me much room for an actual scene, which is why my first animation project is relatively simple (until I remember it took me about 7 hours to create a 4 second video).

Here’s a timeline of the steps I took throughout the process of completing my final project. I was pretty good about splitting the work up so that I wouldn’t be doing too much drawing in one day, but when it came down to scanning my drawings into the computer, I kept putting it off, because I knew how tedious and annoying it was the first time around.

Day 1: Planning
I honestly do think I took me about 2 hours of planning when I was trying to come up with this project. I ended up making some very rough sketches in a notebook to kind of get a better idea of where I was going with this. Unfortunately, I was originally way too ambitious with the drawing of the “bad guy” in my story. In the final version, he’s not as detailed and cool looking.

Days 2-5: Drawing
For days 2-5, I spent about an hour drawing roughly 14 flash cards a day. It doesn’t seem like drawing 14 a day would take an hour, but I had the bright idea to trace over the pencil in sharpie so that the lines were more defined and showed up better when scanning them into the computer. I mainly did this because flash cards are thicker than post-it notes, so if the lines were darker, tracing each card using a light board was a little easier. Here’s a picture of me being a little less than halfway done:

Day 6: Scanning
When scanning each individual card into the computer, it took me about 2 hours. Since I was originally going to have about 80 cards, representing 80 different scenes, I anticipated it taking a lot longer to scan than it actually did. About halfway through the project (and after drawing out and tracing over about 30 cards), I realized I was being way too ambitious. Once I realized 80 was probably an over kill, I just decided to double the amount of cards from the previous animation project I did. That means I scanned roughly 60 cards into the computer between about 9:15pm and 11:15pm on December 11th.

Day 7: Editing the Video & Uploading It
When I finally made it to the editing process, I was stoked because this is my favorite part of animation projects, and it’s specifically why I chose this to do as my final. This took up about 2 hours of my time because I’m really picky when it comes to the sound and titles and all that. Since I’ve been so busy with other finals, I ended up having to wake up at 5:30 the day of my final presentation and complete the video, along with this blog post. Luckily, I was able to complete it with plenty of time to spare!

Now that it’s all said and done, I really enjoyed creating this project. It’s so crazy that about 15 hours of work goes into making a short, 10-second video, but I think it was worth it because I like how mine turned out. If I could go back and change a few things, I would probably be a little less ambitious right off the bat. I think that was huge downfall because I had such high hopes for this project, but with time and all my other finals I had to study for and work on, I just didn’t have the time. I think I would have also managed my time better so that I didn’t have to cram the final blog post and editing into the morning of, but like I said, I’m pretty happy with how my project turned out.