Last Man Standing

Willie Nelson’s new album, set to be released April 27, marks Willie’s 85th birthday. The title track, which has already been released, has some extremely meaningful lyrics that summarize his life beautifully. “Go on in front if you’re in such a hurry like heaven ain’t waitin’ for you, I don’t wanna be the last man standin’ on second thought maybe I do.” Willie’s way of living throughout his whole life has been somewhat contradictory. He has always been extremely relaxed and mellow, perfectly fine to coast through life. On the other hand, he has never stayed in one place for very long, always searching for a new challenge. By the time he was 30 he had moved from Abott to Fort Worth to Houston to Dallas to Oregon to Austin to Los Angeles and to San Antonio. He has always been extremely laid back, but also restless in his life.

Willie’s upbringing also had a huge influence on his music. He was raised by his grandparents after both of his parents left, and his parents were extremely conservative methodists, so he and his sister both got their musical start in the methodist church. His grandpa died when he was 10, but not before buying him a guitar a few months before. Once his grandpa died, Willie, his sister, and his grandma had to barely scrape by picking cotton and doing whatever odd jobs they could do. When Willie was 13, he got a job in a band playing in bars, and initially when his grandma found out where he was playing, she disapproved, but after he gave her his first night’s pay, she let him keep playing. His pay was only $10 a night, but that was as much as the three of them were making per month. Willie’s christian upbringing never left him though, and influenced some of his most famous songs during his illustrious singing and songwriting career.

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Willie Nelson #1: Why

I’ve been an avid country music fan for my whole life. The relatable lyrics and bouncing, flowing melodies have drawn me to singers like Willie Nelson, George Strait and Hank Williams. I enjoy how personable their songs are, how each song sounds like they could be sitting across a campfire from you. Many country singers would have been good subjects for biographies, but I was drawn to Willie Nelson’s because he has had such a long life, and I have always been drawn to his songwriting style, and I was hoping that he would have the same flowing, lyrical writing in his autobiography. Thus far, I have not been disappointed. Willie’s personable songwriting style and lyrical sentences make reading his life story just like listening to his music. I knew Willie was born in a tiny town in Texas in the middle of one of the worst economic periods in history, the Great Depression, and walked a long road to becoming one of the most influential artists of all time, writing and playing music the whole way through.

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Hamlet: Acting Crazy or Actually Crazy?

When Hamlet is confronted by his father’s ghost, claiming he was murdered by his uncle, Hamlet decides “to put an antic disposition on- (1.5.172)” or as we would say, act crazy, to find out more about the circumstances of his father’s death. Hamlet’s new personality is noticeable by Ophelia when she says “Lord Hamlet with his doublet all unbraced, no hat upon his head, his stockings fouled, ungartered, and down-gyvèd to his ankle, pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other, as if he had been loosèd out of hell. (2.1.76-81)” Is Hamlet really acting crazy because of some ulterior motive, or has his fathers death pushed him to insanity while he tells himself he is still in control? In a study found that there is a connection between mental instability and madness. Not that one causes the other, but that when one is overly smart, he is more likely to suffer from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Hamlet could be trying to infiltrate his brother’s government and bring him down, or he could be suffering and trying to cope by telling himself he has control.

America’s Trust Problem

Americans’ trust in government is at an all time low. In 2016, a poll showed that just 9% of Americans had confidence in Congress. In government, trust has been falling for decades. Other than just after 9/11, the last time over 50% of Americans trusted the government to do what’s right was 1972. This is obviously a huge problem, but it is not just an American problem. For example, in Spain, 43% of people had confidence in government in 2000, but as of 2016 only 20% express the same confidence. This worldwide decline in confidence and trust has been attributed to globalization and technology. The biggest decline in trust happened from 1964 to 1980, when Americans who trusted the government fell from 77% to 27%. The biggest decline most likely happened during these years in part because of Nixon’s presidential scandal, but also because tv news became more widespread and accessible. With the way today’s technology works, news is so accessible the instant a story breaks, through Facebook or other news sites. Also, because news is so biased today, websites and news shows are making their viewers think that the other half of the politicians are out to get you. This obviously creates a huge mistrust in government.

Frankenstein and Today’s Monsters

People today are imbued with technology. There is more access to information and other people now than at any point in history, by far. Computer technology has been advancing exponentially since they were invented, with even some of today’s refrigerators having the computing power of the Apollo 11 mission that put the first man on the moon in 1965. This is because of the famous Moore’s Law, that states that the number of transistors, or the tiny components that perform basic tasks, doubles every year. This exponential growth comes with consequences, however. People can hide behind their computer screens and avatars, and gain access to information stored on the internet through hacking from anywhere in the world. There have been countless cases of online extortion, where hackers get into the private information of businesses or people and hold it for ransom. For example, in England, these cases have risen from less than 1000 cases in 2004 to almost 7500 cases in 2016. People have created a technology that can be used for countless good, but comes with many nefarious uses. Frankenstein encountered a similar problem. He created a technology and a monster that he thought would be beneficial to him, but he failed to recognize the pitfalls that came with his technology. This is the problem that humans need to recognize with computers. People need to realize that with all the good that computers bring to the world, the also bring harm to many people. This is especially important as humans venture into creating AI and robots. This draws even more of a parallel between it and Frankenstein, because we are trying to create a sort of  “life”, but could robots want to do to us what Frankenstein’s monster wanted to do to his creator?