Disingenuous Critical Thinking

Let me start by saying I fully support liberal arts education, and I think discussion of other cultures in a university setting is important. Furthermore, I think our university educational system would be remiss if it did not make students critically consider problems in the world, not just our own country.

These things said, today I found myself in a classroom full of students discussing sex trafficking as it relates to cartels in Mexico. The class consists of privileged (mostly) white young students, myself included. Despite best intentions and usually productive conversation, somehow today we began equating the situation of drug lords and girls kidnapped by the cartels. Suddenly, I was snapped back to the reality that most of these people have no idea what they are talking about and simply want to say something so they get their participation points.

Don’t get me wrong, some comments were genuine–though I consider them misguided nonetheless. The situation of a kidnapped woman forced into sex work and a life she never wanted is not the same as a sicario who decided to join the system instead of fight it. But I digress, my focus in this editorial is misguided critical thinking within college classrooms. We often consider things we have no context for, after all most of us come from white middle-class Midwestern families, so that’s not the problem.

No, the problem is that often we don’t recognize our privilege and lack of knowledge. Then we consider heavy topics and pretend that we are the authorities on the ideas. We ask questions we don’t really care about the answers for. We give answers that are politically correct, and answers that we think others will agree with. No one wants to be wrong. In a different setting, one of the most useful pieces of advice I’ve ever been given is, “Fail is not a bad word. Fail just means you try again.” This is what should be applied to academia, not the mentality that it currently abides.

Isle of Skye

It’s been a few days, sorry! We’ve been busy hiking, exploring and playing on the Isle of Skye. Once again, photos do more justice than my words ever could. I’ll try to caption each picture so you know where we’ve been!


The harbor next to our hostel in Portree
A part of the Cullin Mountains that run through Skye
Exploring the town
On the edge of the overlook
A natural frame


Posing for a photo on the edge


The edge (in Portree)
Portree from the Overlook
Tyler (Portree)
Mary Jane (Portree)


…it me (Portree)
Sage and her tree (Portree)


I like trees okay? (Portree)
I like walls too. (Portree)
Golden hour in Portree


The overview of the Cullins from Portree

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75 Hours

Today, a photographic representation of the adventures from the past 24 hours. I don’t know how better to describe Loch Ness, hiking through wildlife preserves, and hearing about the rich history of the Highlands than through images.

View from the Inverness Youth Hostel
Headed to the city


Art from streets


Scratched out is “Representing”


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The bell tower at the middle of the city


Scared? You wish.


Inverness castle


A pub with fabulous music
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The gravestone of Duncan (from MacBeth) behind a convenience store
Pronounced “Cull-lod-den”


About the wall


A glamour shot on Loch Ness
The mists of Loch Ness


Red Deer (shot from a moving vehicle)
A wall representing the deaths at the Battle of Culloden

Tomorrow, on to Portree on the Isle of Skye! Do you believe in fairies?



50 Hours

First things first. I didn’t post yesterday due to extreme motion sickness. Planes and buses are not my friends, particularly for close to 12 hours as a time. So I apologize for not posting an update on my first day in Scotland, but just know I spent the day mostly sleeping or throwing up. Good times.

Today, on the other hand, was excellent. We wandered about Inverness exploring shops and historical cultural spots. Notable on the list were the Inverness Castle, which sits on hill overlooking the city and now doubles as the courthouse, Leakey’s Bookshop, the largest secondhand bookshop in Scotland, the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery and exploration of the walk around the River Ness.

We started with breakfast at the hostel, then dispersed throughout the city to explore. The walk along the River Ness led us past churches, through florally effervescent streets, and along the road to a few kilt shops/visitor center. The river had some great views of the city, and the aesthetic of the bridges and streets are what can only be described as European.

Inverness Castle, while closed to the public, provided a citywide overlook and some great architectural shots. Shout-out to Tyler for testing his parkour skills, and to the seagull who is completely un-bothered by human interaction.

Leakey’s book store is set up in an old Gaelic church on Church Street in Downtown Inverness. From the old wood burning fireplace to the metal spiral staircase, its a hard-to-beat aesthetic for cozy secondhand book shopping.

Photos will be added later!


On International Adventures

Starting Thursday, two days from now, this blog will serve as a journal for my time in Scotland.

Yes, that’s right, I’m going to Scotland! I will be there with one of my best friends, Sage, in a group from Augustana University. We will be exploring the literary tradition and culture of one of the nations that has shaped history on many fronts.

On the long plane ride over, we will be reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Crofter and the Laird. While there we will be doing other reading along with exploring various cities. I of course will have my camera and have not yet decided whether to do a visual or literary blog, but only time will tell. Look forward to extremely excited editorials about the landscape and contrasting culture of the UK.

Finally, let me say: