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The Unapologetic Geek

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Top 5 Heroes & Idiots of 2015

Call me cynical, but usually, when I compile this list every year, the idiots are much easier to find than the heroes. The good news is, for 2015, I had so many heroes on my potentials list that I had to chop it down to size, while I had to think pretty hard to come up with five idiots. That said, spoiler alert, I do call about forty percent of the American public an idiot down below, so you can still safely call me a cynic.


Toya Graham
HERO
5. Toya Graham
HERO
5. Toya Graham
Toya Graham

During riots in Baltimore over police brutality (specifically the insanely suspicious death of Freddie Gray), one mother was filmed finding her son among a mob of protestors, slapping him around, unmasking him, and dragging his ass home. Toya Graham became famous almost immediately, praised as "mother of the year" in many circles, got to tour the talk show circuit and meet Oprah, etc. She was simply protecting her son from the violence--as she put it, she was making sure he didn't become the next Freddie Gray--though not necessarily chiding him for protesting in the first place. In a day and age when we've become way too critical of corporal punishment in parenting, it's refreshing to see one mom can still get praise for beating some sense into her kid. If we all had mothers with the parental instincts of Toya Graham, the world might be a better place.


IDIOT
5. The TSA
not stopping terrorism
IDIOT
5. The TSA
not stopping terrorism

Imagine, just for a moment, a private company is hired by airports to handle security. Now imagine that this private company, after being on the job for nearly fourteen years, is given a series of internal tests that determine it fails to find mock weapons and explosives a whopping 95% of the time. Do you suppose the airports would then fire that private company and find a different one? Here's the thing: the Transportation Security Administration (the TSA), in 2015, did just that--failed 95% of the time in a series of internal investigations--and you know what the airports can do about that? Jack squat, because the federal government has a monopoly on airport security for some stupid reason. I am skeptical of the very idea of airport security in the first place, but putting it in the hands of the government is a direct violation of civil liberties that few people seem all that bothered by. The main reason is fear--fear of another 9/11--but if you actually want security to work, the last people you want to hand it over to are bureaucrats. The TSA is theater, and not even very good theater (it's a bit like a high school musical based on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), and arguing that we need it because of terrorism is just illogical, given the crystal clear evidence that it sucks at providing security. In a rational world, 2015 would be the last year of the TSA's existence, but knowing how our government works, I'm guessing it'll get more funding and better tools for ineffective and illegal searches in the near future.


Peter Gibson
HERO
4. Peter Gibson
HERO
4. Peter Gibson
Peter Gibson

In 2011, Peter Gibson, along with other scientists, published the results of a small experiment that demonstrated that it was possible for people to have gluten sensitivity despite not having celiac disease. This paper jump-started a tiny but already growing trend in the health food community to go "gluten free," a trend that has exploded in popularity since, leading to an estimated eighteen percent of American adults buying gluten-free foods even though less than one percent have celiac disease. The gluten-free industry is now big business with an embarassment of riches, with sales now topping $15 billion a year, and it shows no signs of stopping. In 2015, Peter Gibson released another, bigger, and more rigorous study that refuted his earlier claims and demonstrates that people who think they have non-celiac gluten sensitivity are probably suffering from nothing more than a placebo effect. This is how science works, and if only the public had the same patience and willingness to challenge their own conclusions as Peter Gibson, our society might not be so messed up and gullible. It's a shame that the gluten-free craze will no doubt continue for a few more years, and I happen to know that it pisses off people out there who really do have celiac disease.


IDIOT
4. Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton
IDIOT
4. Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton has the honor of being the first major presidential candidate to be running while under federal investigation for mishandling national security secrets. Though true believers on the left are tired of hearing about "those damn emails," they can't change the fact that, while Secretary of State, Clinton set up her own private e-mail server, conducted her business using the same account she used for personal e-mails, sent classified information through unsecured channels, refused to turn over her e-mails after she was caught doing this, lied through her teeth about it, and has yet to offer up anything but the lamest excuses as to why she deemed it necessary. She has tried laughing it off with awkward jokes, dismissing it as partisan politics, and simply ignoring it, but even with the help of her primary competition, Bernie Sanders, she can't make the story go away as easily as she has shrugged off so many other (arguably even more serious) scandals like selling uranium to Russia and covering up the truth about Benghazi. Now she runs for president without a record of any serious accomplishments from her tenure in the Obama administration, essentially making the case that she deserves to be president because Republicans are awful and because she has ovaries. The saddest bit about all this madness is that she might actually win.


Caitlyn Jenner
HERO
3. Caitlyn Jenner
HERO
3. Caitlyn Jenner
Caitlyn Jenner

In 2015, former Olympic star Bruce Jenner publically announced his decision to identify as female, essentially "coming out" as transgender, and changing her name to Caitlyn. Anyone who has studied psychology knows that this is a real thing affecting millions of Americans, and a tolerant society shouldn't judge people for trying to find acceptance depite gender confusion. I call Caitlyn Jenner a hero, not because psychology embues her with heroics, but because it takes a lot of guts to be open about it, to be a role model for others who are suffering in silence, and for taking the brunt of all the social criticism, homophobia, and bigotry out there. We have certainly come a long way towards accepting people regardless of their beliefs and sexuality--heck, the U.S. Supreme Court essentially legalized same-sex marriage in 2015 (technically, they argued that laws banning it are unconstitutional violations of the 14th Amendment)--but we still need people like Caitlyn Jenner to help pave the way to an even more peaceful, free, and open society. (Also, she's a constitutional conservative, so take that, liberals!)


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-e. magill 1/6/2016

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