Monday, June 1, 2015

The Anti-Hero in All of Us

Tony Soprano, Walter White, Jack Sparrow. These characters all have one thing in common, they are anti-heros. Some would say we have entered the "golden age of television", and many of the award winning shows we all love have the anti hero at the core. An anti-hero is defined as this, "a protagonist who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure, as nobility of mind and spirit, a life or attitude marked by action or purpose, and the like"( These charecters are flawed, and often lack a sense of morality and other admirable qualities. These characters are often plagued by flaws and demons that they constantly struggle with. In the hit tv show The Sopranos, we see this with the main character Tony, a man who while a violent and cruel gangster, is also deeply devoted to those he cares about and is battling with anxiety and mother issues. But why do we like these flawed, morally inept characters? Its because on some level, we identify with them. Sure, we have never been in the situation of the Walking Dead's Rick, where taking the life of another human being might be the difference in saving your own, but we can all identify with the struggle between making a choice where there doesn't seem to be a right answer. And while I can personally say that I never cooked meth like Walter White in Breaking Bad I can and do empathize with his initial reasoning, wanting to help his family. We root for these characters because we feel as viewers that if these people who are similar to us on some level can succeed, than we can too. They are way more relatable than characters like Captain America, who's morale compass in infallible and who is the epitome of what is "right". We can't live up to that standard, and we all ultimately have a little bit of anti-hero in us, because as humans, we aren't perfect.

Source Article

Saturday, May 16, 2015

High Profits in the Prohibition of the 2000's

In 2012, marijuana was officially legalized in the state of Colorado. This was done as a sort of "controlled experiment" to see the affects of legal pot in America. Thousands were ecstatic with the news, and thousands more were equally outraged. The question I asked myself is why it took so long. Pot is a psychoactive drug, meaning it reacts with certain receptors in the brain to cause the euphoria or high that users experience. The potential  immediate side effects while on THC include problems in complex thinking, memory, perception, and the potential loss of motor skills. This to me sounds not far off from the immediate side effects when on a different legalized drug, alcohol. And yet alcohol is legal. So if both of these drugs act and behave in a similar way then why is only one of them legal in all fifty states?  One of the main worries with the legalization of pot in Colorado was high driving, and while the nation's deaths caused by a driver on drugs in 2012 (not limited to pot but excluding alcohol) was about 4000 the amount of deaths caused by drunk driving was over 10,000! So why is the one that is "more dangerous" more regulated than the other? A huge concern with pot also happens to be that it is often cut, or mixed with other, more dangerous substances in order to "hook" its consumers. But if pot was legalized and regulated nationally by the FDA, they would be able to regulate in a way that made it safer and purely THC, without all the dangerous additives. Then there are the potential profits. The State of Washington alone estimates in five years it will make 1.9 billion dollars in profit from the legalization of marijuana. Multiply that by 49 and you get 93.1 billion dollars in five years due to nation wide legalization. We could reinvest these profits as a nation in things like subsidizing higher education or welfare programs. People have been smoking weed for hundreds of years illegally, and they aren't going to stop now, so why don't we as a nation profit from it as well?
Image result for weed

Saturday, March 28, 2015

This past week in my american studies class, we had a discussion that led to the topic of mental illness. We talked about how for years there was a stigma about mental illnes. Our harsh solutions to dealing with these kinds of people were to lock them up in institutions. It was even viewed as Negitive to be seeing a shrink! But we then discussed the fact that things are very improved now a days. At my school New Trier, we have an excellent staff and programs designed to help educate and nurture any students that might have special needs. But even with the progress we've made, we still have far to come. There was a recent release of police vest camera footage of a 911 call that ended tragically. The call was made by the mother of the vitctim, who called 911 and said that she was concerned about the saftey of her son, who wasn't under control, her son being bi-polar schiztafrenic. With that knowledge in mind two officers responded to the call and the footage details the rest. The man with the illness steps out holding a screw driver refuses to put it down. He then takes a step towards the policemen and they draw their guns, what happens next is fast, but it results in the man being shot to death by both the policemen. 
I would like to draw attention to several extreme issues I had with the video. One, the officers didn't even try to respond with non lethal options, which they HAD. Two, they shouted at the victim, which only escalated the situation. And three, while he didn't drop the screwdriver, the man only took a slight step toward the officers before he was shot five times.
 What I really want to focus on is what the news anchor said next. She then had the mental illnes leazan of the madison police department come on the news for a interview and she asked her what her opinion on the video and that situation was. The policewomans response was that the force has spefically trained some of its member in ways to deal with this sort of situation(calls involving the mentally ill). She says that in the Madison police dep. they have full time officers that specialize in dealing with the mentally ill, and that they try to take a proactive approach to these kind of situations. Hopefully this tragic incident can serve as a nreminder and a call to action to other departments in terms of their policies and responsis to crisises dealing with the mentally ill.

Sources and actual video

Thursday, January 15, 2015

3D Diets

Two and a half hours. Thats how long it takes to make a pizza from scratch using fresh and healthy ingrediants. Two and a half hours of constant attentive work in the kitchen, or you could just press a button. A company called Natural Machines has invented something that can do just that, a 3D printer that, using fresh ingredients, makes food. They call it the "foodini" and it's fairly revolutionary. With a push of a button you can effortlessly make dishes ranging from pizza to stuffed ravioli. The foodini works similarly to a regular 3D printer, but instead of loading in plastics that are then melted and reformed into whatever is being printed the foodini uses ingredients that are loaded into steel capsules to make whatever dish you choose. And you can choose, included with the foodini is a cloud storage base that has a huge variety of recipes to choose from. While they are only selling to professional kitchens right now, Natural Machines plans on releasing another model that is available to all for approximately 1000 dollars.
This technology could be a huge push in eating healthy. The foodini capsules require fresh ingredients, so they would only have a shelf life of about 3-5 days, ensuring that your meal is fresh and healthy. Not only that, but since it only requires a button push, it makes family meals and "home cooked meals" easier than ever, since all the prep work and time is taken out of it. This new tech can help push families to eat better and together, a true American value that is unfortunately on the decline. Natural Machines plans on manufacturing for the household version in early 2015, so be on the look out.

Does 3/5= 1/12

Febuary is known for many things. It's the shortest month of the year. It is also know for valentines day, at least by those who are constantly reminded by a significant other, or lack there of. It also happens to be known as Black History Month. Black history month is where we take one month out of the year to appreciate the importtant people and events that have occured in history by those of African descent. People like Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, and Frederick Douglas, to name a few. It first started in 1926, as black history week. It took place on the second week of febuary, because that week shares the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. It was then expanded into the full month as the idea gained popularity.
        Black History Month is where we take a month out of the year to apprecaite Black history, but is it really being appreciated? There are no official Black History Month (BHM) celebrations or traditions, unless you want to count a couple TV spots on the subject as well as maybe a slightly altered lesson plan in some schools. In addition it is only one month a year. This sends the wrong message. It's telling people that we can relegate black history to only one month, and not have to pay attention to it during the others. On an interview during sixty minutes, Morgan Freeman says it simply, "I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history."
        And he is right. Why should we separate the two like we are. With this one month that we try to show appreciation for African history in America we are essentially only making it seem less important. Why don't we have a "Native American" history month? If they are just another part of American history why aren't the African Americans. This constant labeling and distinguishing between African, white, Asian, etc, is what is causing racism and why it hasn't died out yet. Racism only exists if people believe in it, even if its whole concept of race inferiority is fundamentally flawed and has been disproven scientifically, as we learned in my American Studies class. As long as we keep referring to people as white or black instead of just people racism will always exist.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Acting Equally?

              The other day I saw the movie inherit vice during its' opening night. In its' opening weekend it earned roughly 3 million dollars. We had recerntly discussed equal representation in filmes, and it made me curios as to who the top paying actors are. Robert Downey Jr is the first, raking in a whoping 75 million. I then read on to find that of the top twenty most paid actors, ten were male and ten were female. Progrresive right? That its now an even ratio of men and women in the acting industry.Not quite, because there is only one women actress in the top ten highest paid actors, Sandra Bullock. After some further research, I found that of the top twenty box office hits for the past week, only two had a women as the lead role, with another having an ensemble cast. That means seventeen had a man as the lead, an even worse ratio. Not only that, but only 30% of 2013's top movies had women with speaking roles.
              But don't consumers dictate the product? So I guess that means that more men saw movies than women? Wrong, studies show that this past year 52% of theater audiences were women. Since the majority of movie audiences are women it also means they have the most influence among fans as they are the majority. Women and men who are unhappy with this decision should take some sort of action. Whether its boycotting certain movies, or writing letters to producers or directors to make them aware of your concern for the issue of non-equal representation.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

perfect personality scores

Gabby Rosa was a good student in school, but she couldn't take a standardized test to save her life. This unfortunately severely restricted her chances at getting into a good college, until she found out about Depaul's new policy letting her submit a series of short essays instead of test scores. The prompts were designed to produce responses that gauged personality traits such as perseverance, adaptability, and discipline. The premise of this new system is that certain personality types are more likely to succeed in college than others. Traits like ambition and work ethic are highly sought after, and are viewed very positively by admissions staff. "Of the approximate 3000 four year schools out there, more than 850 are test-optional, with more than 100 being top tier prestigious universities"(Douglas Belkin, Wall Street Journal). Some colleges are even going further and requiring an additional 100 yes or no question behavioral test, with results being compared to college juniors and seniors who have taken the same test and are successful in their academics. Am example question might include what a student would do if they came home and their roommate left their dorm a mess.
This new method of assessment opens doors that were previously left closed to some students, but as it's a relitively new program, there is little data to back it up as being  more or less successful than the current methods. This emerging program is good to see. It puts more emphasize on a student as a person, instead of as a series of nukbers and test scores.