Week 2

This is the end of the second week of the fourth semester. The assignments this time around are a little bigger, a little juicier. The faculty has, as promised, made the hoop smaller and then set it on fire.

I’m going to take a look at several topics of interest. First, complex PTSD, which doesn’t appear in the DSM 5, and its relationship to prescription anxiety medications. Second, the role of agriculture subsidies in the development of “lifestyle” diseases like Type II diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Third the relationship between health insurance and health care. These are all complicated issues and they deserve thoughtful attention. My little research papers won’t scratch the surface, which brings me to the cheap cynicism all over the internet.

My Facebook feed, news aggregators, and Twitter feed are full of reactionary cynicism. Shallow analysis would be an improvement. Right now my youngest teenager does a better job deconstructing character motivation in Voltron than some of my friends do examining their favorite hot-button issues. A sanctuary program for people who fled El Salvador, initially created because of a natural disaster nearly two decades ago, was thoughtlessly renewed year after year and people who might have returned home now call this place home. What is the right thing to do? Oxford decides to allow mathematicians an extra fifteen minutes on an exit exam because the increased time and unchanged difficulty allow more women to earn firsts. Does the extra time cheapen the accomplishment?

It depends. I’d like to talk about what these things mean, but it seems impossible. We’ve drawn up sides and no one has any facts or analysis. I can’t work with name-calling or Facebook memes anymore. All I want in my feed is cat videos and Newfie puppies.

In the meantime, there’s homework to do. My preconceived notions are about to be challenged and that’s okay.

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