Category Archives: Education

Derek Berry Discusses Process and Inspiration on “Echo Cast”

Take some time to check out this online radio interview with Chris Pendergrast on his show “Echo Cast.” I talked with him for approximately 10 minutes about my inspiration for poetry, the process of writing poems, and the particulars of the poem “Fork,” which came from a story concerning my speech impediment.

I also discuss the “Fun Home” controversy, Roberto Jones’ haven for artists, the meaning of truth in poems, and upcoming projects.

Other artists are also featured, and you should listen to their music and interviews as well. To hear me, go to minute 40 and take a listen. I am very excited to have made connections on Soundcloud and have begun to find a wider audience for my spoken word poems. Enjoy and make sure to comment.

You can find the interview here:

https://soundcloud.com/chris-pendergraft/echocast-show-3

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Also, make sure to check out Chris’s music here: https://soundcloud.com/chris-pendergraft

And his art here: http://chrispendergraft.deviantart.com/

 

Fighting Back: LGBT Rallies and Academic Freedom

1-fun-home-alison-bechdel-coverIn late February, South Carolina Representative Garry Smith punished the College of Charleston for its choice of College Reads! book, which was Alison Bechdel’s tragi-comic Fun Home. Although the state’s funds did not actually fund the College Reads! Program, the state legislature chose to cut $52,000 in funding to the College. This caused quite the kerfluffle among CofC students, including myself, who began a series of protests against the legislature’s decisions. This coincided also with the appointment of Glenn McConnell as College president after a politically dubious search process. On Monday, we held another protest, as Fun Home the Musical came to Charleston. Having watched the show myself, I hope it great success and also hope that the play helps spread the message of how homophobia can destroy people’s lives.

 

 

 

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I read the following poems at last Friday’s protests:

Several writers across the country have also spoken up about academic freedom, information for which you can find here: https://www.facebook.com/outloudsc

Find media on the protests and controversy here:

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/college-of-charleston-stages-fun-home-gay-themed-play-protest

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/23/us/for-genteel-college-of-charleston-an-unaccustomed-turmoil.html?_r=0

http://www.postandcourier.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Site=CP&Date=20140421&Category=PC16&ArtNo=421009997&Ref=PH&Profile=1005&SectionCat=c-of-c-drama-continues-crowds-pack-memminger-for-controversial-fun-home

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/20/south-carolina-colleges-lgbt-books_n_4825489.html

http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/HaireoftheDog/archives/2014/04/19/the-last-gasp-of-the-lost-cause-and-the-mcconnell-cofc-controversy

http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/were-having-to-fight-our-asses-off-to-protect-academic-freedom/Content?oid=4905809

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/20/fun-home-college-of-charleston-_n_5181530.html

Hotel Diaries: Friday Afternoon

On Fridays, the small British hotel managerimages (32)

rides the elevator constantly holding a coffee

with creamer and two sugars,

and she says, “You know what tonight is?”

 

The afternoon maid shrugs,

equally aware that Friday has arrived,

but might be less excited because she

must work on Saturday.

 

“It’s date night,” said the British manager,

biting her lip and raising her eyebrow to

infer something almost certainly sexual.

“I’m going to get it on.”

This latest statement confirmed

she did indeed, mean to suggest sex.

 

The afternoon maid shrugs,

and we all enter the elevator together,

and ride in silence down to the lobby.

A Conversation in the Cougar Mall: A Vignette

[Based on true events that happened today. A conversation.]

                He nodded at me. “Sure, used to be a cop. Dad was a cop. All my friends were too.” His legs were skinny, the muscles shrunk from disuse. He wore a beard hastily shaved, and I couldn’t guess his age, though he was older than most professors. For the past hour, we had been talking about his involvement in the War on Drugs as a police officer.

                “What was that like? I mean, what did you feel about what you did?”

interstate_95_map

                “It was great, don’t get me wrong. Worked Interstate 95 right out of Camden, Georgia. What you have to understand is, the drug trade runs through there. My daddy—he was a sheriff. One time he stopped a car and got three million dollars for the department.”

                “Wait, why?”

                “Because it was drug money. Bought cars, uniforms, everything. For Camden officers, the War on Drugs is the best thing that ever happened. It gave us purpose, not to mention funding we’d never had before. Don’t look at me this way. It’s cocaine—we dealt mostly with cocaine.”

                I never caught his name, but we had been speaking for an hour about his life; he sat in a motorized wheelchair eating just the chicken from a Chick-fil-a sandwich. “Cocaine?” I asked, shifting my books from my lap. “I didn’t realize rural Georgia had a coke problem.”

                “Sure, they don’t. The local cops—they just bust people for marijuana, but me—cocaine.” I wanted to ask him if he had been injured in the line of duty, but that would be rude. “See, you understand, cocaine comes out of Miami. You can get Coke there with 90% purity, maybe a kilo for $25,000. So you drive up through Georgia on the way to New York, where coke is maybe 30% pure. So you cut that coke into three piles, mix it with meth, Adderall, sugar, what have you—you can imagine these drug runners made a shit ton of money.”

                “Sure, sure. And you think that’s okay? I mean, I don’t condone anyone taking cocaine, but what about the War on Drugs. Don’t you think the money is misspent?”

                “Federally? Sure. But in my department, it was the one thing still funding us. Pull over three cars a year—they may have a couple million each in them. Used to work with my father, and with one bust, he could afford patrol cars for the entire force. I’d say it’s worth it. I mean, I agree with you about marijauna. That should be legal, even though I’d never try it.”

                “Even in your condition.”

                “Well, you could get addicted.”

                “Addicted to marijuana?”

                “Sure. You see, now that’s it’s legal in some states, the THC levels are higher. So kids start smoking sooner, they develop physical addictions. You’ve heard about this?”

                “Yeah, actually. They keep making more and more potent weed, until it has become dangerous.” I nodded, then looked at his legs. “So, what happened?” I gestured broadly at the chair.

                He shrugged. “Car accident. Gotta tell you, only about three weeks after the accident, the seat belt was recalled. What do you expect? Korean company.”

                “Uh-huh. Well, that’s shitty. I’m sorry.”

                “Well, we went to court, reached a settlement. They gave me millions of dollars but—I mean, what the hell is that? Just throw money at me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not paralyzed from the waist down. Doesn’t change the fact I’m in a chair. Mind getting my smokes?”

                Rifling through the bag on the side, I found a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. I handed him the cigarettes and helped him light it, then sat back down. “That’s rough. Corporations—well, you know.”

                “I mean, the same thing is with marijuana. Even when I was a cop, I didn’t think having it illegal was wrong, but hell—now? Now that it’s becoming legal, it’s becoming dangerous. Not that I care that people smoke it—long as they don’t drive.”

                “Of course. Just like drinking.”

                He nodded, and before rolling away to class, he added, “You want to get them going south.”

                “The cocaine dealers?”

                “Sure. You get ‘em going south, you get millions of dollars, but going north, who cares? You bust them and all you can confiscate is piles of cocaine. What’s the use in that?”

“Sunburn Blues”

Reality and gravity have lately

been doing a terrible job of keeping me down.

I’ve found my mind works smoother

when it’s in the clouds, when it’s floating free,

when it doesn’t know where it is

though it’s got no place to be.

 

Don’t call it summertime sadness:

it’s just the sunburn blues.

I’ve been feeling lately there are too many me’s

and not enough of you’s.

 

And my friends, they walk trails

that are taking them to the moon,

around the world,

or into oblivion.

I spend my days in books,

swimming, and writing poetry

 

I’ve been learning about self-preservation.

I’ve been learning that life cannot always be

an out-of-body experience.

I’ve been learning to be comfortable

in my own body.

I’ve been learning how to cook

mostly things with instructions

printed on the back of the box.

I’ve been learning about Japan in the 1980’s.

I’ve been learning about Immanuel Kant.

I’ve been learning about marksmanship

with bullets that do not kill.

I’ve been learning.

 

Let’s answer every news confidential we read

so that no one will end up lonely

or puppy unwanted

or lawnmower unfixed.

 

There is not a lot of forward motion.

I’m governed by a static presence,

a cycle of the same of the same of the same of the same

and maybe that’s just introspective B-S

or maybe the sunburn blues.

Poem: “Revolutionary”

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[A poem about a specific event in Cuba, though severely exaggerated. It had an interesting impact and summed up much of what I learned while I was in the country. I'll post a live reading of it when I debut it at an open mic, which should be some time next week.]

On my final night in Cuba, while strolling home

from the Malecon, drunker than Hemingway

and more nostalgic than Buzz Aldrin during a full moon,

a boy spat on my shoes and screamed,

“Screw you, dirty American. You ruin everything!”

That is the edited version of his comment,

bleary-eyed and angry as he was.

My entire life I had grown up being called names:

Spazz, geek, twitch, space cadet, nerd, stupid face,

weirdo, pothead, loser, Southern boy, and usless.

But nothing hurt my pride more than

being called, a “dirty American.”

Which in Latin America is a strange insult:

they too are America, not just the United States,

which the US citizens tend to forget.

Without breaking a sweat, I turned about face

and stood in the place before him and said,

“Look, don’t you realize—don’t you see?

I love you!”

We stared each of us for a moment, tense,

and I said, “Look, man, we’ve got a war going on,

and we’re losing. Love is losing.

We’re being drowned in a sea of apathy

while our violence is anything but holy.

But we need to return to the sacred, to the human,

to the soul and to our passions.

We’re facing giants of oppression

and if we don’t learn our lesson, we’ll be done for.

So you and me, we gotta stick together.

We have to rally on the side same,

and what’s the point of shouting at each other on the street

when you’re little brother doesn’t have anything to eat?

Why would you want to fight like this

when you don’t own a toilet where you can take a piss?

So, I’m here for you, and I’ll always be here for you,

so don’t you dare talk to me that way.

I know, I know, you can only get drunk and forget your life

only because today was a good day.

But what about tomorrow?

When will we fight for tomorrow?

When will we wield our imaginations like swords?

I’ll charge into the battlefield mounted on a unicorn

There’s no time to squabble and there’s no time to mourn.

Because it’s bigger than us.”

I realized as he nodded his head

He didn’t understand a damned word I said

But he understood my voice and with what passion I spoke

and I guess he figured I was an alright bloke

He shook my hand and I went on my way

and we got drunker, because today had been a good day.

Sometimes, words won’t do, and sometimes

we fail ourselves—that’s evolutionary

But if we live and we love,

that act is revolutionary.

Why “I Love It (I Don’t Care)” May Have Redeeming Cultural Value

Like English teachers who labor to drain the meaning out of every sentence in a novel, I want to try to deconstruct and explicate the simple, catchy pop tune “I Love It (I Don’t Care)” by Icona Pop. The song has been playing over and over on the radio, and often I must suffer through it because I don’t own an IPod and often forget to bring CD’s. But the tune itself is not exactly without merit—it provokes an interesting commentary on our generation. Do we really “not care?”

First off, if you haven’t heard the song, which is doubtful, or would like a reminder of its glitzy glamorizing of apathy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxxajLWwzqY

icona-pop-iconic-EP-400x400            After listening to song too many times while driving down the road, I glean two possibilities about the tune’s overall plot. Most likely she’s describing a failed relationship with an older, more serious lover; the other possibility is that she’s actually describing her relationship with her parents. Because of the emphasis on party lifestyle and young hedonism in the music video, I am going to go with the second option.

The main refrain of course is “I don’t care,” which clearly manifests the feelings of youth today, the generation of Icona Pop and me (clearly 90’s children). My generation lacks anything to care about beyond their own petty lives, not because worthy things do not exist, but rather because we do not focus on those things (i.e. war, global climate change, human trafficking, etc.) We don’t care about anything but our own lives, and even those to us seem ethereal, inconsequential. We’re trapped in a system that marginalizes the efforts and desires of the youth, and so we figure, why bother?

I should clarify that when I say we, I mean our generation as a whole, and I am not writing this to defend the perversion of apathy, but rather critique it. In fact, I somehow wonder whether this song does exactly that—while glorifying “not caring,” is it also pointing out the lack of involvement youth have in politics, culture, and their own futures?

After each “I don’t care,” comes “I love it,” which is a disturbing idea. Not only do we not care that we are spiting our parents, but rather we enjoy it. We are proud of our own nihilism.

We reject the wisdom of other generations, instead relying on our innate instincts to carry us through life. See lines: “You’re so damn hard to please, we gotta kill this switch
You’re from the 70’s, but I’m a 90’s bitch.” This line convinces me that the song is talking about more than a failed relationship, but rather a series of failed relationship, the failure for one generation to transfer knowledge to the next; we constantly ignore the advice of the experienced.

Furthermore, we seek an illusion of perpetual twenty-something ecstasy, retaining the notion our lives can be a images (14)nonstop, adrenaline-fueled party, relying on drugs and dancing to keep us in the “Milky Way.” This part of the song reflects our desire to reject earthly principles such as class, money, and politics, embracing a more humanitarian philosophy “up in space.” Of course, the fact that “I don’t care” undermines the means to ever affect such a philosophy for this generation.

We are disappointed with our life has turned out and want something better than what our elders built, but rather than attempt something better, we caustically accept our lot. We do nothing to actually change our situation, simply referring to fact that we don’t even care.

Crashing the car and letting it burn serves as a symbolic act of revenge and rebellion for the singer, but she may fail to see the futility in the act. While angry, she may feel satisfied with her action, but the action is merely symbolic. Her frustration with the person she’s addressing may never be resolved, because she like most of my generation only symbolically rebel from our parents (or rather, from old traditions and old ways of thinking). This is not progress.

images (15)            Progress is changing the way we act and think, not just symbolically crashing cars or getting tattoos or doing drugs or dying our hair or having sex with strangers. Teenagers have been systematically programmed to react in ways that only harm themselves, not the system which has wronged them. Therefore, they become cynical much too young, usually resigned to a world system because “that’s the way it is.”

But I refuse to believe that all of us truly “don’t care,” or even that we “love it.” Maybe I am reading into the song too deeply, but each time I listen to the synth-heavy pop ballad, I think of the responsibility each of us holds for the future and the fact there is no room for apathy.

“A Savage Yawp” at Easy Bay Meeting House

“A Savage Yawp” happens to be the first poem I ever published (in the 2011 Poetry Matters anthology). After looking through old poems, I decided to rewrite it in my modern style, a more spoken-word-laden piece concerning the public education system and the notion that tests can determine futures. Listen to both versions and give your thoughts below.

I hope this offers some insight into particularly the philosophy of education expounded by South Carolina public schools.

The Case for “Drug Safety Education” Reform in Public Schools

{The statements expressed in this essay are the sole opinion of the author, Derek Berry, and do not necessarily reflect the philosophies of all of the harm reduction groups discussed}

In fifth grade, I won an essay contest for D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), a program devoted to keeping kids from abusing drugs and alcohol. The essay, I read in front of my entire fifth grade class and their parents, probably making them deeply uncomfortable with righteous statements of abstaining from smoking cigarettes, forgoing the consumption of alcohol.

I do not believe I even mention “drugs” in the essay because the thought of abstaining from them never occurred to me: only homeless parasitic liberals used drugs, and I lived in South Carolina where I rarely encountered this breed. (To be fair, DARE has addressed my most serious concern of prescription drug use that I address below, and I have nothing against D.A.R.E., only wish to criticize its approach).

What strikes me about the program is how the officers and teachers attempting to divert us from a life of drug abuse: just say no. Nancy Reagan pioneered the “Just Say No” campaign in the 1980’s, becoming perhaps the most influential first ladies of her time. Not only is this approach slightly rude (Just Say NO THANK YOU), its notion that feeding horror stories to children about drug abuse will deter them from experimenting with drugs is deeply flawed. For more information on “Just Say No,” visit reaganfoundation.org.

Fact: Since 1990 a reported 20.5 million people have used marijuana in an average year.

(http://www.drugscience.org/Archive/bcr4/2Usage.html)

Statistic: 40% of Americans over the age of 12 have tried cannabis sativa (marijuana).

                (http://www.soberlifeinc.net/js/modalbox/content/g.htm)

Now, this statistic is mighty misleading because cannabis, of course, might be considered a milder drug than many people actually consume, but it gives a good idea to how effective the “Just Say No” philosophy is. If a majority of American school children went through this D.A.R.E. program and still experimented with one of the drugs that were advised against, what other drugs might they try? Despite cannabis being relatively harmless, its use often help guide users into use and abuse of harder, more dangerous drugs.

What I would like to propose is certainly not an obliteration of drug awareness education but rather a more realistic approach to educating our kids about drugs. In many middle schools, groaning school children sit through Sex Ed classes, where the philosophy has shifted from “Abstinence-Only” education to “Protection” education. Teachers and administrators realize the reality of teenage sexuality, that many teens will not abstain from sex and without the proper knowledge, could end up impregnating each other and transferring potentially life-threatening STD’s.

Naturally, I am aware that sexual education also is lax, that despite efforts information is not always transmitted in the most effective means. What proponents of sexual education have done right, however, is take into account that a portion (even if not a majority) of teenagers will experiment sexually with more than one partner and without the know-how to protect themselves, they could end up in serious trouble. We need to admit to ourselves that American youths do indeed indulge in drugs and if we want to save them, we have to be honest with them. We have to educate them.

(http://ssdp.org/resources/facts-and-statistics/)

This approach has worked more effectively with alcohol education. The College of Charleston where I attend requires each student to complete an Alcohol Edu course online before attending for the semester because they have grown aware that students break the law, that students will drink alcohol whether the law permits them to or not. Many students approach drugs with the same mindset, but during the Alcohol Education class, the only drug mentioned was marijuana and only briefly. (It made some comment about knowing what ingredients are in the brownies you eat on campus).

There grows a serious problem here, one that we prefer to ignore. The more we delude ourselves that kids will not experiment with dangerous drugs, the larger chance we take. We’re metaphorically throwing two hormonal teenagers together in a room without a condom and telling them to “not do anything bad.”

We must equip the next generation with the knowledge they need if they do experiment with drugs because to not do so is the marginalize a great portion of the younger society, to basically say that while we care about helping prevent alcohol poisoning, we have no intention of preventing drug overdose.

A brief anecdote if you will permit:

I attended a party one night and had left my bag in my friend’s bedroom. When I entered the bedroom to retrieve the bag, I found a girl laying on the bed transfixed on the television.

                “Are you okay?”

                She nodded very slowly, and I approached her, asking again, “Are you okay?”

                “Just a little high.”

                “On what?”

                She didn’t say anything, just shrugged, then pointed to her IPhone on which remained residue on a crushed-up white substance (it turned out to be molly, a drug growing in popularity among the alternative scene: pure MDMA, though it is often cut with things that are not MDMA including heroin, speed, or methamphetamine. To find out more about this drug, go here.) 

                “How much of that did you take?”

                Another shrug.

                “How much? Are you okay?” She certainly did not look alright and if then I had been informed as I am now I might have sought medical attention, but she exhibited no signs of overdose. Rather, someone had helped administer the drug, then left her alone while she experiencing a mood-altering drug for the first time.

                “It’s okay. The guy who sold it to me said it was basically harmless. I wouldn’t overdose.”

Fin.

Let’s talk about some of the immensely major problems we encounter in this story. A young girl trying a drug for the first time did not know what drug she had tried, had not inquired what the drug might have been cut with, and she was unsure how much of the “basically harmless” drug she had snorted.

Here’s a good rule to keep in mind: you can’t trust what a dealer says. Even if he’s your friend, your uncle, or your pediatrician (we’ll get to prescription drugs as well), you should educate yourself on the drugs you’re taking. You and you alone are responsible for using a drug sensibly, if you choose to use a drug. After all, if McDonald’s isn’t willing to tell you what’s in your chicken nuggets, what makes you certain that someone you don’t know that well will be honest about what your ecstasy is cut with?

Because of the lack of drug education, many people don’t know what a lot of drugs even look like. They do not know what various drugs might DO to

them when snorted, injected, smoked, parachuted, huffed, or eaten. My personal theory is that many people experiment with various drugs to “experience what they feel like,” but if people knew more clearly their full effects and also the dangers posed by various drugs, they could avoid seriously harming themselves through experimentation.

While there is no single great resource completely backed by scientific research yet, there are still resources to educate yourself about drugs. Even if you do not personally experiment with drugs, you should be aware of the effects of drugs and what to do in the case of an overdose. It is also important to know what different drugs might do when taken together (an especially lethal idea, mind you).

My most-trusted resource is erowid.org, a website devoted to proliferating this knowledge to the general public. For each drug that exists is a page listing statistics, researched effects, and chemical properties. Be able to identify whether your friend or acquaintance might be experiencing an overdose or even a “bad trip” from psychoactive drugs.

Just as important as it is to know how to prevent these events is the knowledge to deal with them if they happen. Remember that everyone has a different body weight and build, meaning that different amounts of a particular drug will affect individuals differently. If more credible sources existed as to how one should take drugs safely and what to look for, we could avoid much of the grief surrounding drug addiction and overdose.

Another good resource is dancesafe.org. Dance Safe is an organization devoted to helping people take safer drugs. On their website, you can buy drug-testing kits with which one can delineate the contents of the pills one might be taking. For more information about what drugs might be cut with and how, visit their website.

I learned about this organization and much of this information through a school group SSDP (Students for Sensible Drug Policy) which each week helps educate students about safe drug use, the war on drugs, and progressive legislation in drug policy. We do not condone or condemn drug use, only hope that through spreading knowledge about how to use drugs safely, we can decrease the rate of overdose among our generation and generations to come. Our organization is also committed to end the War on Drugs, a subject about which I will elaborate on in future posts.

Fact: More American are arrested for marijuana each year than for all violent crimes combined.

(Students for Sensible Drug Policy)

There’s one more important piece of the puzzle that must addressed: legal pharmaceuticals.

When we do teach youth about drugs, we focus on drinking underage and the abuse of illegal drugs. In fifth grade, I often rolled my eyes when officers told us of scare stories of people addicted to meth or heroin. Today, naturally, I believe meth and heroin addiction are very serious, but at least this is viewed as a problem by the American population. What often escapes our notice is the widespread addiction to narcotics.

Another Fact: The most commonly abused drug among high school seniors are prescription and over-the-counter drugs.     

                (http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/topics-in-brief/prescription-drug-abuse)

Narcotics, opiates, and amphetamines all share addictive qualities, but because we receive prescriptions for them from doctors, we assume they are inherently safer to take than drugs that are illegal. Several pain-killers (such as Oxycodone and hydrocodone) prove to be as addictive as morphine, and because these drugs are seen as “legitimate,” patients tend to abuse them.

What’s just one more pill, right? You’ve just undergone surgery, so you begin taking more and more pills, building up a resistance to their effects. You take more. You try to stop taking them, but you feel so terrible without them (this is you going through withdrawal), so you renew your prescriptions. Doctor says to take two a day, but only two pills never works, so you take three, four, five. Your new prescription runs out, and you can’t renew it, so you start buying painkillers from a fifteen-year-old down the street. You’re just dealing with pain, with stress, right? You’re not actually addicted.

This is why pharmaceuticals become so widely abused. Because of the intense stigma on illegal “uppers,” many students snort Adderal recreationally. They pop a Vivance before a night of essay-writing as “a study enhancement.” Just take one more for the final exam, and then you’ll never do them again. But addiction sneaks up on you like that, dropping the trapdoor from under your feet before you get the chance to realize you’re standing on top of it.

In our drug awareness classes, we should address these problems. We cannot tell them “Do not do drugs or you will die.” They might try marijuana, then wonder, “What else did they lie about? How safe are drugs?” We need to educate youth on specific drugs, how to use them sensibly, what their effects are, and what drugs are potentially lethal, even pharmaceuticals. Too often as well, we find a kid who might be “too jumpy,” and we begin feeding him pills he could potentially abuse or even sell to his friends for them to abuse. And that sort of madness, that zombie mentality of “saying no” to certain illegal drugs, “saying of course” to legal pharmaceuticals, and never seeking information about the drugs we’re consuming– that leads to the overwhelming rates of overdose we experience.

While D.A.R.E. has addressed this and does at least offer some counsel about drug abuse, these resources should be more widely available and apparent to both youth and their caregivers.

I will conclude with a plea: begin treating drug abuse with the same amount of realism we apply to alcoholism. It can happen; it can happen to you; your friends might be addicted; your grandma might be addicted. If you’re a student at the College of Charleston or any other university, I encourage you to take the first step to help reforming drug safety education by perhaps visiting your local chapter of SSDP.

At CofC, we are currently petitioning to change the Good Samaritan Policy to apply not just to victims experiencing alcohol poisoning but drug overdose as well. To differentiate over who is important to save and who is not is a cruel determination forced upon us by the stigmas surrounding drug use that do not apply as evenly to alcohol consumption. The Good Samaritan Policy allows students on campus to call Public Safety for help if a friend is experiencing alcohol-related sickness, and neither the victim or Samaritan will face criminal charges; a member of SSDP is pioneering the change to this policy to include overdose victims as well.

For more information concerning the Good Samaritan Policy, refer to {http://studentaffairs.cofc.edu/policies/amnesty-policy.php} or contact me to sign the petition. For information, find me via Facebook or on campus. The SSDP meets at 6:30 on Wednesday on the second floor of Stern.

For more information on drug use and experience, check out erowid.org.

For more information about preventing drug abuse in raves, visit dancesafe.org.

Please consider my points carefully as we move forward in a world where drug chemistry is ever-changing; what one drug might do or might be made of can change within a week. Delineations of drugs crop up often, and we must stay ever vigilant and knowledgeable of what is out there to avoid future generations from experiencing the same overdose rates as we have.

Other Sources:

http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/

http://ssdp.org/

A New Prime Is Found!

Last Wednesday, a new prime number was discovered, that prime number being 257,885,161 – 1. That is, TWO raised to the 57, 885, 161 power minus one which uses the Marsenne method of locating primes.

This prime is about 17 million digits long and the longest known, which is pretty awesome. Why do I care? Why does Derek Berry care? Because I’m currently taking a class on “Appreciation of Math” which perhaps it has no exams, helps me appreciate mathematics. In the first few classes, we learned about how prime numbers relate to number theory and the idea of the search for an infinite number of primes. The fact that the largest known prime was found right now while I am learning about them is pretty awesome.

Imagine prime numbers are like atoms, what makes up the larger parts of the universe. Meaning that every number is the product of unique primes. Whoa, I know right. That means that to understand primes will help us understand the origins of math. Why prime numbers exist and what they are will help us calculate is immeasurably important, though most mathematicians believe number theory works like art. Finding prime numbers is an art that takes a long time as well.

For reference, the last prime number was found in 2008, which means we went almost five years before another person (an amateur) found it.

Also, Marsenne primes are easier than others to find, as the last fifteen largest primes have been Marsenne primes. While there are an infinite number of primes (proven by Euclid, yo), there may or may not be an infinite number of Marsenne primes which means finding a prime will grow exponentially harder as time passes.

Just filling you in with your related math news. Keep it real.

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