Friday, November 18, 2011

The Fight for The Internet

 http://americancensorship.org/

Intellectual Properties

We've all heard of the ridiculous stunts that the entertainment industry has tried to take to protect intellectual properties. I'm sure many of us that used to find new music through fan-made videos on YouTube or clips from the latest episode of a popular show we had to miss remember the mass purging of infringing material when Viacom began making copyright claims en masse there. That got way out of hand when one of Valve Software's own creations, "Meet The Scout," a video promoting Team Fortress 2, was taken down due to a copyright claim. At this time, if a person flagged a video as infringement but didn't bother to verify that they were the rightful owner, YouTube still took it down and defaulted to saying the claim was made by Viacom. the RIAA completely wiped out peer to peer programs due to the exchange of music through them. There was definitely a legitimate claim and reasons for those copyright crusades in the beginning stages of them, but they all get out of hand. I remember reading a news article stating that the RIAA was planning to push making the playing of your radio or CD player in front of other people illegal because it was essentially handing out free music in their opinion.


Free Advertising

They don't see that a lot of what I just stated acted as free advertising. For instance, I would have never bought any music for my iPod if it were not for Pandora Radio, which used to be commercial free radio that handed you the ability to freely listen to an artist or band you liked or wanted to get into while sprinkling in related artists. Jonathan Coulton has a section of his website asking "Already Stole It?" which says that if you've pirated his music, hand out copies to your friends so that maybe they'll buy something. And you know what? He sells out shows and makes a lot more money now than he ever did as a software engineer. If you don't get your music out there, how are you supposed to stand out?

All we would get is exactly what happened when YouTube introduced the Partners Program. It worked to actively bury videos not officially supported by YouTube through this program and of course promote partners' videos whenever possible, because they have ads and make everybody money. YouTube used to be about cool stuff that people posted that rose in popularity only through other people. Now it seems you need a successful webshow in order to make it to the top, because YouTube wants you there.

Protect IP is a different monster.


This would cause the mass censoring of tons of sites if it were abused, which it very easily can be, and knowing the entertainment industry, definitely will be. It is a sad day when singing your interpretation of your favorite song on YouTube will land you potentially in jail for 5 years (since it's now a felony) after paying a fine and getting all of YouTube shut down. The big hitters in entertainment like Viacom would have a serious grip on the industry, since it can silence and destroy anything that dares oppose its decision of what should be popular, since the apparently vague language of the bill could allow them to stretch it to find some way to shut you down and take what money you did make from your site.

Remember how we all used to make fun of the censorship China has for its nation's internet? That would be us, but with a lot more lawsuits against children and people who are being held liable for something one of their potentially millions of members has done.

This won't stop pirates either. This is exactly like EA's SecuROM DRM disaster in that it will accomplish absolutely nothing except for anger, discomfort, and inconvenience for all of the people who do follow the rules. Censor torrents or file sharing sites from pirates? They'll just punch in the IP into the address bar (which only makes it more annoying for everyone) or go down under the surface and into the Deep Web. That is a place that young users should be wary of, because it could lead to an encounter with the Dark Web, which is not at all where you want your children to end up after looking for a song.



The Internet is actually a gigantic contributor to the United States' economy and the global economy, and some of our leaders think it would be a good idea to cause a blackout across the whole of the net for stupid little reasons? It would bankrupt companies, cost thousands their jobs (people make their livings from running websites,) gain loss of respect for America for losing its biggest vehicle of free expression, and cause a huge amount of unrest among its peoples. You thought the Occupy Movement is a mess? Those were just some of the people that wanted to change the way corporations influence politics in whichever way. This affects them and everyone else. There are so many books and poems and songs and short stories written about what would happen if we lost our free expression in the form of a blanket banning on books or music, but imagine if we lost the internet, possibly the most important tool in shaping our generation.

This is the time that we leave our mark on the world, deciding whether or not the internet should be for the growth of humanity through sharing and the free exchange of opinions and information or a vehicle for being fed only what the current big names in the industry want you to be watching or listening to.

Imagine a Facebook where videos or even posting lyrics in a status were banned because they could potentially infringe on a copyright.

In the past few days, according to AmericanCensorship.org, the bill was fought off for the second time, but it is coming back and will need to be fought once again.

Anonymous



A lot of people may be asking "Where is Anonymous in all this?" Truth is, they've been going against Protect IP since its inception, and to be honest, the public outcry over this proposed bill is proof enough that this time we don't need Anonymous. No one needs to don their masks today, because they're probably emailing the local Congressman. Sure, there are plenty of videos on YouTube titled "Message from Anonymous" or something, but there has been no giant fist of mystery and wrath, no unified war cries standing tall above and making headlines like they were during the Scientology protests a few years ago, the destruction of cat torturer Kenny Glenn or the splinter groups that are taking part in the Occupy movement.

That is because this time they are with everybody else. They are not here to make a bold challenge and raise an army out of sparked political unrest. This time the army's already here. It includes Google, Facebook, 4Chan, Mozilla, and Reddit, for examples. The whole of the internet stands united against this threat to itself, and so we absolutely need to contact our local politicians.

Quick, entertaining video on Anonymous for those who still think it's primarily a small evil "hacktivist" group:

 http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/anonymous

The moster has been fought back, but we need to keep up our efforts every time it comes back.

Thank you.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Partners in Science

Version Oicani Gonzales from Facepunch made in Illustrator.

I came home late tonight to find a message from a friend of mine saying that my math poster made the front page of imgur.com, and my first reaction was a dumbfounded "Really?" It took me 5 seconds to find it, listed as one of the "Best Pictures on the Internet" according to the image hosting site. I'm astounded to find that it has 190,000 views. This is insane. Basically, I was assigned to "make a poster about math and unicorns" in my senior year precalc class, and this was the result. I posted a picture of my poster to Facepunch in the LMAO pics thread asking if I should sell copies. Oicani Gonzales, a Facepunch member, got bored one day and posted the version you see above. Wow. Now it's exploded overnight in popularity.

Link:
http://imgur.com/gallery/ZiM39

Original Poster

http://www.facepunch.com/threads/1125443?p=32960067&viewfull=1#post32960067

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Let's Play: Bastion

I found out recently how easy it is to make a Let's Play video. I'd been trying for the past few years using programs like WeGame with no success. (I had a sound card issue with WeGame, for instance.) Today, Bastion was on sale at a very cheap price during Steam's usual Midweek Madness Sale.



Click the video to watch it on YouTube in full screen and high quality!

Story has always been one of the most important things to me in the games I play, so I'm very excited to be playing Bastion, a game said to redefine storytelling in video games due to its narrator.

After playing only a short while so far, I can already tell that this is going to be a good ride. Sure, I control where the character goes and what he does, and sure I choose which path to travel first or second sometimes, but I can tell already after playing through the first three stages or so that there is a forgone conclusion of some sort, and so I really am playing through a story. There's so much built into this mysterious world, too. So come find out more about it with me!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wallace Wells: Old Man Archetype


The following is the very rough first draft of a research essay I am writing on Wallace Wells. There are several problems with it, as it is very rough and mostly unedited. Problems include: Missing transitions, not enough outside sources, and having possibly too much summary without enough analysis to balance it. This paper was written to prove that Wallace Wells is a perfect example of the literary Wise Old Man archetype and as a personal exercise in arguing from the text of a work. The fact that I've attempted to write two sort of scholarly papers on Scott Pilgrim also I hope elevates it to a little larger level of importance and relevance in the study of contemporary literature.

   
Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Wallace Wells: Spiritual Guide (First DRAFT)

Carl Jung was a psychologist who studied personality and the importance of symbols to human beings. In his studies, he identified archetypes, ideas and images that he thought to be a part of the collective unconscious, meaning they were present in the minds of every individual human being (“archetype def. 6). One of the most notable archetypes in literature is that of the Wise Old Man. The Wise Old Man usually appears as an older, respectable person such as a grandfather, doctor, king, or teacher. The Wise Old Man offers spiritual wisdom and guidance to the hero’s journey. Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series follows the title character’s path to and adulthood. Wallace Wells is not only Scott Pilgrim’s “cool gay roommate,” but also his guide in his path to maturity, falling perfectly into Jung’s Wise Old Man archetype.

Wallace Wells is introduced in the short and humorous second scene of Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life in which he teases Scott about his new girlfriend with clever one liners such as “Is he cute?” and “Does this mean we have to stop sleeping together?” (12-13). This establishes him as a likable supporting character in the narrative. Only a few pages later, Wallace warns the 23 year old Scott about dating a 17 year old girl, Knives Chau. He then tells Knives that she is “too good for him,” indicating that he knows Scott well enough to know that due to his level of maturity and desire for an easy relationship, he will not take the relationship seriously (27-29). These two scenes capture the essence of Wallace: He is clever, insightful, wise, and Scott’s moral guide. According to the list of archetypal characters on the Attleboro Public Schools’ website, these are the exact qualities of the Wise Old Man (6). Wallace is usually absent living his own life for most of the action in the series, appearing when Scott needs guidance. This is also true of other examples of the Wise Old Man archetype in literature and film, such as Star Wars’ Yoda or The Hobbit’s Gandalf.

Wallace appears again later in the first novel to guide Scott after Scott has his first date with Ramona Flowers, the girl of his dreams that he has recently met. He has, however, neglected to break up with Knives. Wallace knows that this is a very serious problem, and encourages Scott multiple times to do it. Scott knows that Wallace is right to tell him so. This is shown to be true when Wallace says “You should break up with your fake high school girlfriend, Scott,” because when Scott tries to argue against him, Wallace simply repeats exactly his previous statement once and Scott replies with “Yeah... I know” (Precious Little Life 107). Scott continues to date both Knives and Ramona into the second book, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Wallace appears once again in a scene on a bus with Scott. Wallace decides to give Scott an ultimatum in this scene: If Scott does not break up with Knives that night, Wallace will tell her about Ramona. After giving Scott this ultimatum, Wallace kicks him out, saying that he is “having a friend over tonight” and telling Scott to go home (40-41). This is another moment in which Wallace is guiding Scott. He knows that Scott must break up with Knives in order to move further in his journey to adulthood, and so he continues to push Scott to do what he needs to do. Wallace then steps off the bus and disappears again. Only six pages after Wallace departs, Scott takes his advice.

Scott must defeat Ramona’s seven evil ex-boyfriends on his path to maturity and true love. Wallace is present at the first three fights and has been Scott’s roommate the entire time, always there to give him support and guidance and information when his band plays or when he gets into a fight, and always there to guide him when he’s timid about doing what he must. One of the things that Scott must do eventually is tell Ramona that he loves her, and Wallace is of course the one to suggest that he does (Gets It Together 20). This is a shift in the narrative and a turning point for Scott, with Wallace as a driving force behind this change. Wallace begins to push Scott away from his dependence on him and further along in his developing relationship with Ramona. About halfway through Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, Wallace suggests that Scott consider his “options” concerning his living arrangements. The lease on their apartment is about to run out, and Wallace wants Scott to consider moving in with Ramona, since he cannot yet support himself completely on his own (101). The next fight is with Roxie Richter, the fourth opponent Scott must face, and he faces her with the help of Ramona. This is the halfway point for the amount of fights Scott must win and roughly the halfway point of the series. This is significant because this is when the shift is happening. Wallace is guiding Scott into the second half of his journey, which requires him to begin to support himself and begin to be a responsible and supportive boyfriend. Wallace vanishes for the most part after the fight with Roxie Richter. Ramona takes his place as Scott’s loving friend and partner. Wallace only appears in the fifth book, Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe, when Scott is unable to stay at Ramona’s apartment. This happens once in the beginning of the novel when Ramona decides she needs space (60), and when he is locked out after Ramona evanesces (146). 

Scott has already hit rock bottom in the opening scene of the final book, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, and Wallace visits him one final time to offer guidance. Scott is living on a friend’s couch, playing video games all day. Wallace knows that in order to move on, Scott must pick himself up and realize that he must fight Gideon eventually. Even though Ramona has left Scott, Wallace knows that he needs to finish his fight. Wallace tells Scott to go out and have fun and forget about Ramona for the moment, because it is what he needs to get his spirits up and move into the final stage of his journey (9-13). When Scott has finally proven himself able to go outside and talk about his problems, Wallace literally pushes him onto a bus that will take him to what Wallace calls a “wilderness sabatical” with Kim Pine, Scott’s caring friend and ex-girlfriend. This is very significant to Scott’s journey, because this is Wallace guiding Scott to the most important part of his journey and proving that Wallace is truly the source of wisdom and guidance that allows Scott to succeed. The wilderness is where Scott resolves tension between himself and Kim and most importantly fights the Negascott, a physical manifestation of his own inner demons. Scott comes out of this fight as a responsible adult, ready to defeat his final opponent.

Every single scene in which Wallace takes a significant speaking role portrays him as a wise, clever, and humorous guide. He gives Scott information about his opponents and trains him to fight them (vs. The World 76), gives him instructions regarding what he needs to do next, and provides the right environment Scott needs at the exact times he needs them. When Wallace has set the stage for the hero’s success, he steps back and allows him to grow, appearing again when more guidance is required to grow further. Wallace completely embodies Jung’s Wise Old Man archetype. He may not have grey hair, but Wallace Wells is two years older than Scott (Precious Little Life 12), and he undoubtedly fits the archetype. He is a perfect example of why graphic literature and more specifically Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series is worth studying and analyzing.

Works Cited

“archetype.” Dictionary.com. The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy.
Third Edition, 2005. Web. 27 October 2011.

“Archetypes.” attleboroschools.com. Attleboro Public Schools, n.d. Web. 27 October 2011.
 
O’Malley, Bryan Lee. Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life. Portland, OR: Oni Press, 2004. Print.
    Vol. 1 of Scott Pilgrim.

O’Malley, Bryan Lee. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Portland, OR: Oni Press, 2005. Print.
    Vol. 2 of Scott Pilgrim.

O’Malley, Bryan Lee. Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness. Portland, OR: Oni Press, 2006. Print.
    Vol. 3 of Scott Pilgrim.

O’Malley, Bryan Lee. Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together. Portland, OR: Oni Press, 2007. Print.
    Vol. 4 of Scott Pilgrim.

O’Malley, Bryan Lee. Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe. Portland, OR: Oni Press, 2009. Print.
    Vol. 5 of Scott Pilgrim.

O’Malley, Bryan Lee. Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour. Portland, OR: Oni Press, 2010. Print.
    Vol. 6 of Scott Pilgrim.

The World Literature class that spawned this blog also inspired this paper, along with a Creative and Critical Writing class I took at the same time. Last year I wrote my research papers on comic books as literature and video games as storytellers. I feel it is important to view everything, including television, comics, and video games critically, as it adds depth to the works and gives them a sense of immediate relevance and importance to our growth as human beings.

Monday, October 17, 2011

"It's Never Too Late To Be What You May Have Become."

Mary Anne Evans (from Wikipedia)
This is something George N. Parks taught me. It comes from the quote "It is never too late to be who you might have been," which is a George Eliot quote. It was also my quote in the senior yearbook. "George Eliot" is the pseudonym (pen name) of novelist Mary Anne Evans. Fun fact for you all.

This quote and the man I first heard it from are some of the most important inspirations I have ever had in my life. ("In My Life" being one of my favorite things about UD Marching Band. Another fun fact.) Attending the Drum Major Academy under the leadership of George N. Parks made me into who I am, who I begun to forget I am. The drum major who once showed up an hour earlier than the rest of the band now struggles to make it to rehearsal on time, often forgetting things. The drum major who received comments such as "great intensity," "marching technique was awesome," "does not project" and "listening skills are awesome" is now the newly-not-rookie freshman bando struggling to be on the level of the vets.


I'm done with it.

I found my folder tonight. My green marbled folder from the first half of my senior year of high school. I opened it to find "If Ye Love Me" staring me in the face, along with a cluster of notes all in different handwriting, music scores, drill charts, and long lists with "DRUM MAJOR ACADEMY" printed at the top. Reading the notes, my evaluations from drum majors leading different squads at the academy (which I quoted above,) reminded me that I need to get out of the mindset that I am so inferior to everyone, that myself is not good enough. I am good at marching. Last night I attended a St. Mark's football game and was invited to co-conduct with the drum majors for a song. Will Broelmann, another past drum major, was also invited to conduct. He pointed out that it wouldn't be appropriate. That he wrote their drill. And I agreed. I handed the glove back to Megan Feick, one of drum major Kim Anguish and my successors. I gave them tips on conducting. I conveyed messages to the band. I reminded them to pay attention to the drum majors.

So there I was, falling naturally into the position of teacher.
It is all I could be to them now as a band.

St. Mark's Drum Majors, Eyes With Pride. (Kim Anguish, John Young, Will Broelmann, Carissa Carlson.)




I love band. It's all about fun, music, having pride.
DMA, UDMB, and all the people who have helped and inspired me, especially the Alto Staff members this year, have made me a better person and a better band member. I'm better than I was before. And it makes me feel so happy to realize that. I want to improve. I need to get on the Alto vets' level. Not for me, but for the band, and for my band. I need to be an example, a cog in the machine, a piece of the perfect puzzle, and a self-confident team player like I was only a few months ago.

It's one of my biggest dreams to instruct for a marching band. I'm little more than average with playing music in my own opinion, but I can definitely help others achieve their musical and marching potential, and that makes me very happy. I want so badly to assist a high school band director one day during the marching season. In order to do that, I need to be a lot better than I have been. It's never too late to be.

I can only dream of becoming a teacher like George N. Parks, Heidi I. Sarver, Arthur Bookout, Mrs. Healey, Mrs. Reilly, or any of the other truly inspiring teachers I've had. Far too many to count. That's not true, though... I can't only dream of it. I can be it. I didn't march at all my freshman year of high school. I had nothing to do with band. Sophomore year I joined as a band manager, the guy who pushed things around for the pit and sets things up for the dance team with Patrick Kilgore, one of my best friends. I only marched tenor sax for one year, and figured I wasn't good enough to dare lead anyone. But I did it anyway. It was truly an honor to serve as a drum major, and it was an honor to work with Kim Anguish, literally one of the most applauded drum majors at the academy. It wasn't too late to go for it. And I'm not beyond being able to carry my own weight now.

It's flat out impossible for me to list and write about each person who has inspired me. Sometimes I just want to geek out to the current UD drum majors asking about how excited they must be to get to do what they do. I wish I could write an entire post on Bookout or Sarv or even the current two drum majors at SMH, Megan Feick and Kara Barbes. Those two especially have a lot of energy and from what I hear, really stuck their neck out during band camp to put some energy into the band. I could write a book on these people.

Kara and Megan, from Facebook.

Keeping in mind the last post I made, I know this is a lot about me. But I needed to write this. I've been very hard on myself this year when it comes to my self esteem, and uncharacteristically lazy when it comes to everything else in band, but it's time I told myself to stop projecting, to remember that I am a certified drum major who is one of the very last to have learned from the very best. It's awesome and very preferable to be humble and not let your ego swell, but allowing your ego to disappear is something a drum major can't do.

Starred Thoughts,
straight from the notes I took at DMA, from the mouth of the man I don't want to let down:

From crshores.wordpress.com
* Make moms happy.
* Inspire musicians to do well.
* Expand your circle
* Make a good first impression
* When teaching, you must do the right things and the things right.
*You must have a plan with a schedule for a successful rehearsal.
* Positive thinking is everything
* You are not judged on your attitude...
* ...You are judged on what they think your attitude is.
* Develop your personality.
* Avoid confrontation on the field.
* Do not take yourself too seriously.
* Never let your ego destroy you.
* When things get tough, don't give up.
* Judge people for who they are, not who you want them to be.
* You have no control of anyone.
* Be a great teacher. Have skill.
**** Get a RESPONSE to know if they're paying attention. ****
* Be a teacher who cares.

I will make band special.

Friday, September 30, 2011

This Razor's Edge

 

(video contains language)

"Art is Dead" is my favorite Bo Burnham song by far, and it always has been since the first time I heard it. It's a song that Bo refers to as being both "a confession and an apology," which is "honest, not sarcastic" (from the description on YouTube.) It's definitely a humbling slap in the face for anyone who considers himself or herself an "artist." It forces us to look deep down and question our motives for being an artist. Are we trying to send a message? Are we just trying to make people laugh and cry and whatever else to make their day better, more interesting, or more meaningful? Or is it as simple as just saying "I want attention" and trying to make ourselves look more important or deep? Most artists want success. Comics, actors, visual artists, graphic artists, special effects artists... But with success comes art for the sake of a check or for the sake of attention and not for the sake of art itself or a message. Is it right? Is it a legitimate way to make a living? Are we just over-inflating ourselves and our ego? When we reach success, it's important to remember why we love what we do, to remember that we are completely undeserving of what we get in return for our talents in the face of the fact that there are so many people out there suffering or not using their talents.

One example could be this blog.

It started out as a project my senior year of high school for a World Literature class. We were to use our blogs as a way to discover how to present yourself on the internet and how to find your voice as a writer. Those of us who really had something to say or who were able to dive in and find a way to market it to others excelled in the project and outside of it. Lindsey Washall's blog Deliciously Awkward managed to get into a textbook for crying out loud. My blog started getting views from most of my friends and a lot of people from around my school. People of all grades. Whether or not you'd consider blogging to be an "art," the point is that I created something that is fueled by my own creativity so that I can write more and entertain others and send a message. The message varies with each post, but there's always something there. Some posts have been fueled only by the message ("Brainwashing," "Don't Forget to Be Awesome," "Angry Blog," for example,) and the only reason I care about their views is because I wanted people to learn something or get something out of them. They're important. When I wrote the blog about the Fact Sphere, I was just trying to create a resource for myself and other people out there who enjoyed the quotes and wanted them written down.



That's when things exploded. I rake in well over a thousand views a month now, and my blog is connected to so many other sites out there on the internet. Now when I write a blog, I find myself wishing all my more important posts could be as successful, and sometimes it's tempting to leech off the big news like Portal 2 or general Nerdfighting or Team Fortress 2 being free to play. It's hard not to write for views once you realize people are here now. I want more views. Everyone does, and it's hard to fight. I like the attention. It's a deep and dirty truth. It's just a trait that the vast majority of us artists have. Our thoughts and daydreams are often about ourselves. Or at least mine are. I have my friends or family in my thoughts and my daydreams, but they are always either about really interesting or odd things suddenly happening in my normal life or about all the "bigger questions" people talk about so much.  It's hard to admit, but I have trouble taking a backseat (or rather being less than equal) to other people in my own mind. I have no problem with it in real life, but inside I don't like to be just ignored. Sure I may want attention to spread a message or contribute to something or to do other good with it, but it's still wanting attention.

It feels childish to be like this sometimes. It makes me feel like I need to be dependent on other people to survive. Luckily, I have very loving family, girlfriend, and friends. If I really need something, someone will always be there for me. But sometimes I feel like I can't mature because of who I am. It's kind of a stupid irrational thought sometimes, but it's an important question to ask. And hopefully asking that question is what keeps me maturing. Maybe everyone else sees it and sometimes I can't.



Einstein apparently once said that the work of artists is more important than his own. We're taught that Greek drama was incredibly important to their culture. People have always looked to artists to tell them stories, to entertain them, and to make them feel something. It can't be denied that artists are important to society as a whole. It doesn't feel like we should be allowed to be, though. Especially if the ultimate goal for us isn't to make something beautiful, but to get hits on a website or make money. Most people outside of art regard it as being important, but often artists who have asked themselves the questions Bo has conclude that they are undeserving or unimportant. Andy Warhol apparently said "An artist is somebody who produces things that people don't need to have." It's a big question to ask, and it's dizzying.

For once, an insightful YouTube comment.


If we sell out, we lose the art, but if we accept success knowing we don't deserve it and keep producing for a reason, we are honest artists. That is what I think Bo means, and that's what helps me to sleep at night, too. I say with all the sincerity I have that I thank you for reading or continuing to read, and thanks for bearing with me through this unorganized stream of consciousness. I hope you got something out of it.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

JoCo's Artificial Heart Beats Strong



Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite songwriter is the talented geek rocker Jonathan Coulton. Famous for both his contributions to the Portal franchise with "Still Alive" and "Want You Gone," PopSci and his Thing A Week project in which he wrote, recorded, and released a song every single week for 52 weeks, he earned himself a quick cult following. I saw Jonathan Coulton for the first and only time in December of 2009 with a group of friends at World Cafe Live in Philly. Since then there have been prior commitments and conflicts, and I can't wait to get another group together the next time he comes around to our area.

Jonathan Coulton's new album, Artificial Heart, was produced by John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants, and it shows. From the very first track, you can taste the influence. He's been pushed out of what he's used to and he's testing new instruments and generally new territory. Coulton releases his work through the Creative Commons License, so no worries about the songs being posted here. He makes a lot more now with this business strategy than he ever did as a software engineer. It's the first album he's released since 2006's Thing A Week, and it's definitely a departure from what we're used to hearing at first. It was off-putting the first time I listened to it, but after paying attention, it's one of my favorite albums by far. It's still classic JoCo, don't worry. Just a little bit different and more relevant to real life than the robots and monkeys we're used to.

So far a few my favorite songs are "Down Today," a song about new love and hot air balloon rides, "Now I Am an Arsonist," a mystifying song more open to interpretation than most JoCo songs, featuring Suzanne Vega, and the albums title song "Artificial Heart," which seems to be about the way we destroy ourselves when we kill or bury our own emotions. There's some really thought-provoking stuff in this.

Now that all the generic stuff is out of the way, on to more of my personal opinion. Jonathan Coulton has always been in my eyes an artist of many talents. This album is definitely proof of that. Thing A Week had all the geeky rocking songs about cyborgs and mountain-dwelling supervillains than I could ever ask for! I'm looking forward to any more quirky or just really geeky songs in the future, it would be wrong to feel like that needs to be every single album. This one keeps the themes of space and astronauts and robotic augmentations and news anchors going crazy, but with more songs sprinkled in that are a little more serious and as well composed, even if done so a little differently. This is really polished and I love it. Every time I listen to these songs, the more I like them. The entire list here is just awesome. All the reviews are positive, so what are you waiting for?


Jonathan Coulton with his usual awesome opening band, Paul and Storm. (World Cafe Live concert.)

Listen to Artificial Heart FREE via YouTube!

Spring for an extra $5 like I did, and you'll get a signed copy in the mail! I can't wait for mine! 
Spring for more, and you will get so much more than that. I really wish I could have gone for the biggest package.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Now On Tumblr

Young Melon World is now on tumblr! I never really saw much point in it before, but now I see it as a good source of inspiration for things to write about, pictures or GIFs for blogs, and as a good place to promote the blog. I've had a complaint or two about how long my blog posts have been, and while I kind of agree, I feel like the length keeps a certain quality to it. I'll try to shorten up the posts a bit in the future, but for really short posts, you can now go to youngmelonworld.tumblr.com!

It'll also carry some content or maybe drawings that I've done that I'd like to post but don't really fit with any of my blog posts. Or maybe there's some content that didn't make it into a post, like my drawing of the 10th Doctor, which I did the day after my most recent post. So go check it out if you'd like!

Remember, knowing that people are viewing keeps me motivated. So if you care to, please follow me on one or both of the sites and spread it around a little. Thank you! Much appreciated.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Desktop Doodle Doctor

This is the first of probably a couple of blogs about Doctor Who as I begin my journey as a new fan.

Kelsea's been getting me into Doctor Who recently, watching the episodes with the 11th Doctor in order. I've been as far as finishing "The Big Bang." I've also been keeping up with BBCA's schedule so I can catch repeats from the 10th Doctor. It's funny, clever, interesting, not too serious, and I'm loving it so far. I'm liking it for all the same reasons I like Stargate SG-1! I like shows that are based in our reality to some extent that throw in a Sci-Fi element (The Doctor, a Stargate, the abilities in Heroes,) and then take the viewer on self-contained little adventures, usually with an overarching plot or threat. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and I really like the whole concept.

One still shot from my new desktop theme


Today, a few days after having seen the 10th Doctor episode "Blink," also thanks to Kelsea and the magic of Netflix, I had the idea to find the complete clip of the "easter egg" from the DVDs in the episode and make a Window's 7 Theme out of them. I took 5 screenshots from the video and strung them all together into a desktop slideshow, shuffling through every 10 seconds. When I was done, I took the idea to its logical end: a Weeping Angel prank.



1. Take 5 screenshots from this video
2. Save them to your friend's computer
3. Go to your Windows 7 Start Menu, then Control Panel
4. Change Desktop Background
5. Select the screens, set to "Change every 1 day"
6. Wait for your friend to either freak out over time or get a kick out of it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Prologue

Yeeaahh, I'm gonna need to to...
Well, my summer is nearly over. What I got out of it was a good paycheck and not much time with my friends. Luckily I was able to spend two weeks at the beach with my girlfriend and our families, which was a ton of fun and just what I needed in this last stretch. I'm going to start by saying this: I have never had a job before. I was looking for three years before finally catching a lucky break. Finally I felt like I was doing something productive, something that made me seem like I wasn't just some kid still screwing around all the time, and my parents could stop asking me to get one. Finally I could pay for things myself. Finally, I had the job I needed so desperately.

And so I became desperately submissive.

I still have the same problem I had when I wrote "Balance." I want so badly to just make everybody happy. Work wants me to stay an extra half-hour? Sure, overtime, why not? They won't consider keeping me on payroll for the summer unless I'm working all the worst shifts? Of course, what does it matter? Working nights five days a week including every day of the weekend and then suddenly turning my entire sleep schedule on its head on Wednesday morning at 5 AM so that I could lift 400+ heavy boxes off a truck for two hours and then spend another six putting the stuff in them on the shelves? Absolutely. I mean, I do need this job and all. But what did it cost?

I don't draw anymore. I don't read anymore. I don't even think anymore aside from how stressful preparing for school is with all its deadlines, how friends keep making their problems my problems, and the shining lights that are my girlfriend and my family who care so much for me. I've touched a saxophone exactly twice this summer. This is because I wake up, eat, go to work right after, and then I come home so that I can sleep, wake up, eat, and go to work right after. I have to make my own free time. Everyone else spends their nights relaxing or hanging out with friends? I get home at 11 P.M. so that I can do the only thing I can, which is play video games and maybe Skype with some friends. Texting Kelsea though has given me a good outlet for interesting conversation and a break from my routine. I'm clutching on to the remnants of who I am, waiting to get back up when it's all over.

The only comic I drew this summer. The art style itself is almost a comment about being a retail employee.

I've missed everything. Birthday parties, I think maybe actually every single one of my friends' grad parties, at least four beach trips with friends (so every single beach trip with my friends,) the family canoe trip that I look forward to every single year, and even a celebration of my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. Sometimes it's at least comforting to think that my grandfather would be proud of how hard I'm working, though I'm too privileged to deserve much praise for finally working for a change. I've sacrificed everything that was important to me for a paycheck.

But work is work, and I do enjoy helping people there, and I do enjoy developing photos, but still. It feels like the amount of suck in a job like this is very unnecessary. I won't get into all the strife between the employees themselves or the corporate stuff.

So many people have told me "Well, that's working!" or "Hey, retail's hard," and yes, I get that. I understand, but honestly, you just may be able to say I've been a good and active friend to around four people this summer. I used to have probably twenty times more friends than that. I wanted to join the Wilmington Drama League this summer, but instead the only acting I do is putting on a smile when a customer gives me abuse for something the person working the previous shift left me to deal with. The only singing I do is in the seven minutes it takes me to drive to work. I don't play music anymore. I don't draw anymore. I don't have time to talk to my friends anymore. I don't have time to listen and help my friends who need me.

All for money. And I'm even having trouble getting that lately. 32.5 hour weeks and my most recent paycheck, given to me yesterday, was dated 7/8. So where's this week's check? They really forgot to pay me for those two weeks? That had like $49 holiday pay in it! What if I needed that money?

And here I am at the end of my summer and still trying to make them happy. I'm starting to man up for the first time all summer now, so that I can stop this from getting worse. There are four days a week I'll be able to work during the school year, but no way am I working full time as both a student and a stock boy. But if I make that my official availability, they will most definitely schedule me for every single one of those days. No. I cut it in half, so I'll hopefully be working one Sunday and one Thursday a week now. But even that seems like it's too much. I don't know what to do. I don't want to quit either. It took me three years to find it. Maybe I could take everyone's advice and be a lifeguard at a club like I've wanted to be for a while.

Maybe I could be a geek who is also a lifeguard.



Now comes the light.

School is beginning. That means a night most weeks that I'll be playing music. That means four or five nights a week of studying or hanging out or nights with friends. I'm commuting, and so I'm planning to have a full duffel bag of stuff for overnight stays with friends. I can talk to people again. In a matter of days, I'll have a laptop so that I can visit friends for LANs and for hanging out or talking on the go. I'll still have some money to spend. I have a newly redone basement which is more or less an apartment, like a dorm room I get to myself that also has a living room twice that size attached to it. I have a car. I've told my manager that I am only available one day per weekend because band and time with my girlfriend are now a much higher priority than work. (She completely understood.) So this summer was merely the dark prologue of my new story. The book of high school has ended. I've gone from rags to riches, from the quiet annoying freshman with one true blue close friend to the senior drum major who knew everyone. And now it's time to begin again as the lowly freshman who made it big in high school, ready to outdo himself after a summer of routine and retail.

So this, like every story if you let it run long enough, ends happily.

Plus, hey, I got a blog post out of it! My lack of creativity has kept this whole site in a dry spell, unfortunately. But luckily, I think new posts should be as frequent or more frequent as they used to be. They'll be more colorful with pretty pictures and less venting, too!

Aaaaaaaand, time! I couldn't sleep tonight, so I started this blog at 2:49 A.M.
And now it's 4:17. Let's try this again! Goodnight.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Brainwashing

The following is an account given by a young gay teenaged girl about her experiences in Cross Creek. It's a repost of something I found on the web, which was also a repost from this Reddit article. I won't even bother trying to find a picture to go with this article to lighten it up. It is disturbing to read and I couldn't believe places like this could exist all over America. The least I can do is help spread awareness. This link is a list of deaths that have occurred in these places.
What's possibly worse is that a lot of these facilities do all of this in the name of God, which is tragic and sick and wrong. This isn't something God would want. This is just evil.

"The Utah company "Teen Escort Services" is regularly contracted to forcibly kidnap LGBT teens in the middle of the night and bring them to a detention facility for re-education. Those facilities are said to be "boot camps", places where "trouble-causing" children can be re-educated, but seriously, when you hear the testimonies of the people who get in...

This is one of the rare times something I read on the Internet left me literally speechless. I don't even consider the U.S. to be a modern, first-world nation because of this."

On May 10th of 2007 at around 2:30 in the morning two strangers barged into my bedroom. I started screaming and crying, as in my mind I was sure that these two strangers had broken into my house and were going to abduct me, rape me, kill me, or in some way harm me. They immediately told me that if I did not shut up that they would handcuff me. I was not being in any way violent or threatening. I was reacting in fear for my life by being vocal and hoping that someone would come to help. I had no idea what was going on. I stopped screaming, still in fear for my life. They started going through my closet digging out clothes as I was only in a night gown. They still had not explained what was going on. I asked, frightened, what the wanted from me, trying to see if I could in some way appease them and get them to leave. They then explained that they were going to take me to a school. It took me a second to understand what they meant by this, as this was an extremely bizarre way to introduce a child to a new school. It then occurred to me that this was what my mother had arranged for my brother several years ago when she had him shipped away to Cross Creek. The two strangers were from Teen Escort Service, a for-profit company that transports teenagers, usually by force, to WWASP (World Wide Association of Specialty Programs) facilities.

I was extremely upset and cried the entire trip, but I obeyed all of their orders. Even though I was being cooperative they said it was their policy to put a belt around the bust of the child and hold the belt so that there would be no chance of attempting to run. It was so humiliating to be led around like a fucking dog around the airport. It was also extremely uncomfortable to have this strange older male putting his hand so close to my breast. I never understood how any of this was legal but definitely knew that none of it was ethical. To this day I feel extremely angered, disturbed, and violated by this entire experience. In addition to this they “forgot” all of the psychiatric medication I had been on at my house. It’s not that I am for psychiatric meds, but it certainly did not feel healthy or normal to go from taking this medication regularly, to just not having it and stopping with out tapering off of it.

From the moment I arrived at Cross Creek, I was treated as though I was broken, dirty, and inhuman. During my stay I saw many others treated this way. I had never spoken to R., the program director, before and my first experience with him was horrible. He asked me why I was there, and I told him all of the things I’d done that I could think of that could possibly be perceived as “bad”. He yelled at me, saying that I was lying and that I didn’t love or care about my parents. I was shocked and confused, unsure of what I had done to deserve this treatment from someone I had just met. To this day, the only thing I can think of that I possibly could have left out was my attraction to other females. In one of the Parent-Child seminars we were made to attend, my mother shared with me that this was one of the biggest “issues” that caused her to send me to Cross Creek. Not the drugs, not the sex (she told me she had no knowledge of me being sexually active prior to being forced to disclose it to her), not the issues with school, but just the fact that there was a possibility that one day I might fall in love with a female. Sorry for not realizing what a horrible, broken child this made me, R.

Shortly after I arrived, my “HOPE buddy” (the student they assign to “mentor” you and teach you the rules in your first few weeks) started asking me about my past, why I was there, and what issues I needed to work on. I talked briefly about my experimentation with soft drugs, my issues with depression (something I’m pretty sure most teenagers experience), and the abusive relationship I had been in with my first girlfriend. As soon as I said the words “girl” and “relationship” in the same sentence she said “STOP! STOP! We can’t talk about that.” I was filled with shame regarding my sexuality simply from the fact that I was not even allowed to talk about homosexuality in any way shape or form. Shortly after this incident I started talking to the therapist they assigned me to there about this abusive relationship I had experienced, and how it bothered me that I was not allowed to talk about a part of me that I have no control over. His response was that I DID have a choice over whether or not I was attracted to females and that I should just deal with these thoughts of same sex attraction. His opinion was that this was probably a result of some anger I had toward men, particularly my dad and that I probably just wanted to be with females because they were “safer” (even though I had been with an abusive female before!!!) He also said that ultimately this was probably just a phase and a result of my crazy teenage hormones. He believed that if I tried hard enough and ignored these thoughts and feelings one day I might marry a nice boy.

I had no interest in having a relationship with anyone there, but when other girls formed relationships with each other, the repercussions were pretty extreme. I understood why it was not allowed, as relationships are generally distracting no matter the gender of either partner, but the way people were treated was pretty unnecessary in my opinion. It usually involved lots of yelling, ostracizing, and shaming. I remember one R. meeting where two girls were being confronted about this and R. was yelling about how stupid they were being and how no one would be able to trust them now. He went on to say that he had “nothing against homosexuality, but it was not the way God intended things.” and that the Bible definitely did not condone it. These “God” and bible references were used on a regular basis, along with religious videos, praying, etc. even though Cross Creek claimed that they were not in any way religious. The rule book and protocol also appeared to be directly based off of the Mormon religion (no caffeine etc.) The program reprimanded children for telling their parents about this religious influence and regularly tried to hide it from parents. I am in no way against people having their own beliefs and following what ever religion is right for them, however I think that it’s completely and totally immoral to lie to parents about what they are getting. More on this later.

The queer shaming was present in nearly every aspect of the program, including the language used. We were not allowed to use curse words such as “shit”, or “bitch”, but I never saw anyone reprimanded for saying “fag” or “faggot.” This fostered an environment in which teasing and bullying for all sorts of things were fully tolerated. I even remember a facilitator in a seminar trying to trigger a girl by calling her a “dyke.” And no, before you say something, I really don’t care about breaking confidentiality of seminars at this point because I am fed up. What these people said and did broke me down and created so much shame inside of me.

In addition to shaming people on basis of sexual orientation, they taught children that sex was evil and damaging outside of marriage, another blatantly religious notion. We were forced to regularly watch videos involving horror stories of abortions gone wrong, shown gruesome pictures of STDs that had been left unattended for long periods of time, and told that if we had sex before marriage we would likely die or get some horrible ailment. Rather than promoting safer sex methods, we were shown that abstinence was the only option that would not result in death or unwanted pregnancy.

Rigid gender roles were also a big part of the Cross Creek way of life. Many of the rules were extremely gender based. Boys were allowed to crack their backs and knuckles, though girls were not because it was “unladylike”. Boys got meal portions double the size of girls. Boys were allowed to use more curse words than girls were. The list goes on.

I remember when they moved the girls from Center 1 to Pro 1 (these are all names of the dorms we stayed in.) The boys had been living in Pro 1, and when they moved the girls in the dorms were extremely messy. Rather than having the boys come back and clean up this mess, they made the girls clean all day. This was completely, and totally humiliating. What a great way to build confidence and teach girls how to be independent and stand up for themselves.

Before I say this next part, I want to state that it is not my intention to bash all of the staff at Cross Creek. Some of the staff were very supportive (A.D., M.C., etc.) and this is not in any way meant to be directed at you, nor is it a blanket statement. There were staff however, that made me feel very unsafe and uncomfortable. Some of the staff, in my opinion, were downright cruel, hurtful and borderline (if not blatantly) abusive. I can’t tell you how many times I saw staff make comments about myself or others insinuating that we were bad children, unclean, impure, dirty, not innocent, untrustable, the list goes on. The grievance system that was in place was, in my opinion, ineffective on the whole. From being a part of the student government system for some time that handled grievances, I observed that grievance system, like everything else at Cross Creek, put the blame on the student and diverted responsibility away from the adult.

I’d also like to mention how many times I saw staff and administration, tackle and restrain children when it was completely unnecessary. So many times I saw kids simply refuse to go to gym class or get out of bed and as punishment they were violently tackled, restrained in a painful position, and taken to a small isolation room where they were usually watched by two or three staff members. This was also what they did when a child harmed themselves. This method is extremely violent, and I remember at least one incident that happened when I was there where they tackled a girl and restrained her face down against the ground and as a result she got rug burn on her face to the point that she was bleeding and had visible scabs on her face. Another time a girl shared that being tackled and restrained gave her flashbacks of a rape she’d experienced, to which the program director responded that he felt no remorse for it and that it was really her fault for doing what ever she’d done to be restrained. You could argue that this might be appropriate in cases where a kid is being violent towards others, but from what I saw, more often than not, this was absolutely not the case and the child being restrained was not being violent. In addition to tackling and restraint being (in my humble opinion) immoral, it is unsafe, and this has been proven. If you look on the website for the Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse, you can see a long list of deaths that have occurred in “behavioral modification” facilities not unlike Cross Creek as a result of tackling and restraint. http://www.caica.org/RESTRAINTS%20Death%20List.htm

Cross Creek’s methods of “therapy” and recovery were also extremely invasive, humiliating, and in my opinion did much more harm than good. As someone who does intern work at a local rape treatment center and talks with victims of assault on a regular basis, as well as being someone who has survived various forms of violence and abuse, I have seen how damaging it can be to force someone to share about such delicate issues before they are fully prepared and ready. I can not speak for every one, but for me, being forced to disclose information that was not ready to come out was extremely painful and humiliating. The seminars based your success on how “emotional” you were, meaning that if you did not share some horrible part of your life or simply did not have one, or if you were not crying and sniveling while you did it, you were booted out of the seminar and forced to stay in the program another two months. The obsession the program had with “accountability” also led to them blaming people who had experienced abuse for their abusive situations. I vividly remember a facilitator yelling at a girl while kicking her out of a seminar for not participating or being “real” enough. She told her in an extremely vivid and foul language (the f-bomb included) that if she continued the behavior that got her to the program she would be raped again. She had the student write an essay on this.

I will forever be haunted by the day that I was in group and the program director barged in and started saying that it’s as if I have “ABUSE ME” written on my forehead, insinuating that I was just asking to be abused in some way by the way that I carried and presented myself. I carry so much shame from this comment, and because of it constantly have to remind myself not to blame myself for the abuse I have experienced.

The way that Cross Creek taught me to interact with people was to analyze every facial expression, action, and word, and reflect this back to them in a cold, harsh, and usually demeaning way. I feel so much remorse for the way I treated people at Cross Creek, as well as the way I allowed people to treat me. It took me a while after I graduated to discover that this method did not work at all in the real world, and that if I was to have any friends, I would need to drop the robotic, unempathetic, and borderline malicious way of interacting with others that I had learned to use for two and a half years. I’d like to sincerely apologize to those of you who spent time with me at Cross Creek that I treated this way. I feel nothing but sadness when I realize how heartless and programmed I became.

What disturbs me more than anything is that I believed all of the things I was told. When people use the word “brainwashing” to describe what went on at Cross Creek and other WWASP programs, I don’t think it is in any way exaggerating or being over dramatic when you consider all of the media we were FORCED to watch, read, and listen to. The program director used to joke about and downplay the brainwashing claims by saying that some of our brains “could really use some washing.” The “educational/emotional growth” videos we had to watch twice a day, the “motivational” tapes three times a day, the “self-help” books we were forced to read, and more than anything the “motivational seminars” with facilitators up in your face yelling about all the things you did wrong to mess up your life and land yourself in a program all contributed to this. With all of this influence coming at me from every direction at every moment I believed that following the rules, “working my program”, going to the seminars, etc. was genuinely going to improve my self esteem, my relationship with my parents, and the overall outcome of my life. I tried hard to follow the endless list of rules, be “accountable”, and when I got “dirty in my program” (another good example of shaming lingo and language that means you broke rules without giving yourself demerits) I would confess and take the consequences what ever consequences were involved.

I by no means had a perfect program, but I gave it all of my honest effort and did what I could to be a good Cross Creek student. By putting faith in this system however, I also internalized all of the stigma, shame, and religious beliefs forced upon me. I believed that maybe if I just suppressed my sexuality , as well as ignored my obvious attraction to girls, that maybe all of this would go away. My body and subconscious reacted to this. Shortly after arriving at Cross Creek, I stopped getting my period for about 8 months. This was apparently a common thing that happened in the program when girls first arrived, as the body was reacting to some serious stress. I also started wetting the bed shortly after arriving at the program. This had not been an issue for me since the age of 3 or 4. This bed wetting issue continued until I left the program. After I graduated, it stopped completely.

The program director and other administration on several occasions acknowledged that Tranquility Bay, another WWASP program that has now much to my relief been shut down, did indeed have an infamous history of reported abuse. He used this to say that we were so very “fortunate” to be in Cross Creek and not at programs like that. Yet kids who were “acting out too much” at Cross Creek were sent to Tranquility Bay as punishment. Some have said that Tranquility Bay was merely a “last resort” or that the things that happened at TB were just a “part of Jamaican culture” but I would have to strongly disagree about both of those things. Since when is abuse ever an appropriate option? It isn’t. No matter what someone has done, it’s not okay. It is also extremely racist and ethnocentric to say that abuse is just a part of the culture of Jamaica, especially when you look at American society, which I could very well say the same thing about.

Shortly after I left the program I was raped. I shared what happened with my mother, who then told me, like Cross Creek did, that it was my fault, I asked for it, and that I should have known it would happen. She then proceeded to share her own twisted version of the story with my Cross Creek therapist, who shared it with my group. I was mortified and my self-esteem was completely destroyed by this utter lack of confidentiality and complete betrayal of trust.

It has taken me so much time to recover and de-program myself from all of the lies I was fed at Cross Creek. It took me a while to realize just how badly and inappropriately I and others had been treated at this facility. It’s not to say that there were not a few small kernels of wisdom that I can still use from the program, but they came at such a huge cost. My soul feels wounded from the things I saw and experienced at Cross Creek and healing will be a continual process.

If there was one thing that I gained from my experience at Cross Creek, it was realizing that no one regardless of their past or current actions deserves to be treated the way this program and other WWASP facilities treated me and so many other students. Abuse is abuse, no matter how you slice it. This realization along with other life experiences is partially responsible for my current carreer path regarding abuse prevention and recovery, as well as my involvement and activism in the human rights movement.

Even if you choose not to believe me or anything that I have written, there are piles of evidence to support the idea that there is mistreatment at Cross Creek and other WWASP affiliated facilities. A little bit of research will reveal that this lawsuit is not the first that WWASP or Cross Creek has faced. My therapist used to use a phrase when he suspected that kids were “dirty in their program.” He used to say “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire...” That is certainly the case with WWASP and Cross Creek. There is a reason that the Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse, Community Alliance for The Ethical Treatment of Youth, and many other organizations like them exist. There is a reason why seventeen WWASP affiliated schools have been shut down. There is a reason there have been so many lawsuits. Clearly if all of this has happened, I must not be completely insane.

The rebuttal against this argument has included that Cross Creek is no longer a part of WWASP. This argument is pretty much void seeing as they are still directly affiliated in that all of the WWASP affiliated programs still use the same seminars as each other, the same escort service, the same billing company, and are all still a part of Teen Help LLC, the marketing arm of WWASP and the entity that processes admissions paperwork. They also refer to each other and send children to other WWASP affiliated facilities when one facility can’t handle them. I don’t think it would be at all presumptuous to conclude that the people who ran WWASP are the same people who are still raking in all of the money with these programs.

WWASP officials claim that the organization itself is out of business, probably because of their infamous history of abuse, but clearly all of the WWASP programs are still affiliated and WWASP has not completely faded out. Many schools have changed their names multiple times, including Cross Creek (formerly Browning Academy) and it’s clear to me that there is a lot of shadiness and hiding goes on with in these programs. It seems as though WWASP and it’s affiliates are trying to sweep some things under the rug, and outright lie to parents, students, former students, and the general public.

Here’s a bit about the history of WWASP and Cross Creek. WWASP was founded by Robert Browning Lichfeild. He started Browning Academy, now Cross Creek, the first WWASP affiliated school in 1987, at a time when he had little money and was living in a small apartment with his wife and four children. His field of study was in business (he attained absolutely no credentials or education in psychology, therapy, or education) though he never graduated college and within several years he had become a very rich individual and had added many more schools to his chain of “behavior modification”/”tough love” schools. He was indeed mormon and has, in several interviews stated that God was his inspiration in starting these schools and one of his goals was to “get kids in touch with their higher source.” He is also a major contributor to the Republican party, donating thousands of dollars each year http://www.city-data.com/elec2/elec-LA-VERKIN-UT.html. From what I’ve read his massive sum of money and big political influence have gotten him and his colleagues out of the situations in which he and his criminal organization have been questioned. But please, do not take my word for it. Do your own research. This information is readily available to those who are willing to look.
Interesting excerpts from the Facebook group: