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What's it Worth to Go Faster?

Did you know that there are more than 20,000 oil spills reported to the U.S. government every year? Yeah, that’s a lot. I fail to underst...

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Have You Ever Heard of These Guys?

I've got a couple of questions for you.: Do you listen to The Social Experiment? Probably not. If you do, kudos. If you don't, I don't blame you. I blame the corporate music industry. The Social Experiment is an independent music group, something that is hard to come by these days. They have chosen to not conform to the evil music labels and sign to a death sentence that a label deal is. This leads to them preaching what they want, and that means some meaningful music (also hard to come by these days).

In our modern society where people are connected closer than ever with social media, it is easy to be discouraged because of who you are and who you aren't. People choose to show a certain aspect of their lives on social media that rarely portray their actual life. Social media influences people's perceptions of what is "cool" or not. If a person chooses to follow that social standard, then he/she is conforming to the pressure of changing their identity just to fit in. A song that explains this very well while inspiring their fans to love them selves is "Wanna Be Cool" by Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment: "I don't wanna be you, I just wanna be me / I don't wanna be cool ... If you don't get re-tweets, it don't mean you say less ... I don't care if anybody likes it or likes me it's cool." This song is meant to show the fans that being cool is just being who they are, not changing their identity to be what they're told is cool. The artists in this song are very unorthodox in their music career and personalities. They all have their own unique personas that are influenced by no one. Chance the Rapper, a fully independent rapper, says he doesn't want to be anyone else in order to be cool. Fun Fact: Chance the Rapper is the first independent artist to perform on Saturday Night Live.
Kyle, another independent artist in this song, says that if no one likes who he is, he doesn't care and thinks that fact is cool. By not caring about what other people think about him, Kyle is setting an example for self-conscious people to, in order to be happiest, let go of their inhibitions and do what makes them feel happy. The song addresses the problem with social media and lack of confidence, saying that if you don't get "retweeted" or "liked" on Twitter, it doesn't mean your thoughts are worthless. 

An important fact to note is that The Social Experiment, Chance the Rapper, or Kyle are artists that are not signed to any labels. This means that they do all of their promoting, recording, distributing, and performing without any corporate affiliation. This is almost unheard of in the music industry, given how popular they have become. There is a reason it is called the music industry. Because they don't have a label or corporation breathing over their down their necks, they can do anything they want as artists. Artists that are signed will often be forced to do what is popular in music: simple, catchy songs that boast opulence and beauty. The Social Experiment and artists alike are choosing not to conform to popular demand and creating their own type of popular music. Artists like these are offered extremely tempting deals from corporations for deals or sponsorships. These offers can be upwards of $50 million. It takes a lot of courage and pride to decline these offers to do what you love and to not stray from your morals. 

This song is important to me because it preaches a different message than modern music listeners have ever heard. It is more sentimental coming from independent music artists that have made their own success. As a listener, you know that this song was not made by a corporation just to seem sincere; this song and these artists are sincere in their message and want to make different music that what is being fed to people. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

What's it Worth to Go Faster?

Did you know that there are more than 20,000 oil spills reported to the U.S. government every year? Yeah, that’s a lot.

I fail to understand—if we know the risks, the damages to environment, and effect on communities around drill sites—why we still drill offshore for oil and frack for natural gas.

If you think about it, it’s an ugly practice. Corporations (that’s the key word here) drill through the seabed, disrupting wildlife and habitats, to make money. It’s just baffling to me that people allow this, despite knowing the harm. It seems money is more important than morality. Harming the earth with machines to extract oil doesn’t sound right. Companies, like Exxon, advertise their business and clean energy when in reality it isn’t. They stress the “natural” in natural gas to make it sound normal, leading the consumer to think, “Hm, if it’s natural, then it’s there for us to use safely, right?” Wrong. Natural gas is extracted by fracking: drilling through the earth and sucking out gases in shale rock. There is nothing natural about this process. “Natural” means part of nature. Sure, we take things like wood, plants, and other animals that are part of nature, but we are innately able to do that, without the need of machines. Drilling poisons communities’ water supplies and air. There is nothing natural about breaking the earth to get money. Come to think of it, why do we have money? Louis C.K. explores this...


It looks fake, doesn't it?
Louis C.K., a famous stand up comedian shares his hilarious take on the drilling situation. Please take two minutes to watch this video (WARNING: explicit language, NSFW). Comedic purpose and swear words aside, Louis C.K. has some valid points that are very hard to disagree with. He understands the outrageousness of drilling for oil and trying to improve the earth when, in reality, the earth is being destroyed. We are not looking after the place we live and future generations will have to pay for the greed of corporations because people right now “wanna go faster.” 

So, Christmas Music is Starting

Is it just me, or is Christmas music playing in November not a big deal. Everyone always says, "Ugh. If I hear another Christmas song I'm gonna die. It's the FIRST WEEK OF NOVEMBER!" To that, I say calm down.

Who cares if Christmas music is on the radio? The point of Christmas music is to get you in the spirit of the holidays. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, there's always been something special about  the uplifting tone of bells, warm voices, and exciting Spanish singing (FelĂ­z Navidad). As a young kid, it was so exciting to ride around the neighborhood with Christmas music blaring while gazing at the awesome lights on houses. The music is all about nostalgia and nostalgia makes you happy. Also, November is the month of... nothing. I mean, there's Thanksgiving, but people overeat everyday. It's a holiday to tie people over from the lapse between Halloween and Christmas (I'm not including Hanukkah because, really, it's not an important holiday and not even mentioned in the Torah). People opposed to Christmas music don't realize the music's purpose. 

On the other hand, I understand that people get annoyed because of the constant replaying of the music. It is November 8, and holiday music has been playing for a couple weeks already. Honestly, I get annoyed with Christmas music, and already am right now. There are a select few of recognizable Christmas songs so they have to be played over and over. There are also multiple versions of each song, and most are bad compared to the originals. Hearing these songs too many songs actually make me lose my “holiday cheer”. I’ve never been a fan of the radio because it is a cycle of popular songs that you hear a countless number of times until it is difficult to even listen to through the first minute. Christmas songs follow the same pattern, but it happens the next year, and the next year and the next. There are a handful of people that are all for Christmas music in October and November and I don’t understand that. It is simply too early. 


Though I think Christmas-themes music has no place in October and throughout November, it doesn’t affect me at all. I just choose to not listen to the radio, and other people like me should, too. I think people whining about Christmas music in the late fall is more annoying than the constant of music itself. Do you like Christmas in November? Do you complain about it?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

From 5-Hour Energy to Sustainable Energy

Do you drink 5-Hour Energy? Well, you might after you learn about the founder. Manoj Bhargava, the founder of 5-Hour Energy, is one of these very wealthy people. With a net worth of $1.5 billion, Manoj started making more money than he knew what to do with: "If you have wealth, it’s a duty to help those who don’t." Manoj is the very definition of a philanthropist. As part of his 5-Hour Energy company complex, Bhargava has implemented his "Billions in Change" campaign. This campaign's initiative is to solve the three biggest things all people in the world (primarily poor people) don't have adequate access to: energy, water, and health care. Bharagava has put together a team of top-notch engineers to solve these problems.
For the first problem, Bhargava tasked the engineers to come up with a way for people below the poverty line to have a steady source of energy. With many ideas, long hours, and prototypes, the team came up with a bicycle which powers a generator, called Free Energy. One hour of pedaling equates to twenty four hours of energy. Bhargva thinks this is their coolest invention because it is so useful but so simple. When brought an idea, Manoj is only concerned with the idea's usefulness; if it isn't useful, it better "damn entertaining." Another idea that came about was to extract graphene, a substance in the mantle of the earth that is 100x more conductive than copper. This would be used to eliminate fossil fuels. To solve the water problem, the engineers did not disappoint. The product they came up with was a relatively small machine that took sea water and, through several levels of distilling, purifies it. A barge carrying hundreds of these machines would be put a couple hundred miles off coast and would pipe the water to land. This could also help with areas plagued with drought, like California. The solution for health is really amazing. It is called Project Renew, and it would help everyday people with their health. The way it works is the machine has multiple compression straps, like a sphygmomanometer. The straps are wrapped around each limb and your torso, then they squeeze and release, and continue to do so for some time. This accelerates blood flow and rids of any toxins stuck in the body.
Manoj Bhargava's willingness to share his wealth could improve the earth's environment as well as human environment. Other wealthy figures in the world could follow in his footsteps once they see the good Manoj brings. There is no downside to Manoj's initiative as it has potential to change so many lives.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

It Ain't Over 'Till It's Over, and Now It's Over


If you like baseball, you should learn about Yogi Berra, one of the best catchers in baseball history. The news of his death on Tuesday took the baseball world and rest of the world by storm. Though not extremely surprising, the loss of him was eery. It was hard to imagine that a man with such charisma and excitement, most evident in his celebration after Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, could be beaten. It is an odd thing to see Yogi Berra, a stranger to losing, lose his life. Hall of Famer Yogi Berra was a 13-time World Series champion and 18-time All-Star. Not only was he an enthusiastic guy and amazing ballplayer, but the man served in World War II as a gunner’s mate on D-Day; this was before he was even in the big leagues. Following his playing days,
Yogi Berra became manager of the New York Mets, the New York Yankees, then the Houston Astros before finally retiring in 1989. 
Yogi wasn’t known solely for what he did on the baseball diamond, but what he said off of it. There is a multitude of quotes Yogi has said that are baffling, to say the least. If you had heard his ‘Yogi-isms’ without knowing who he was, you would have thought English was his second language. Here are a few samples to lighten your day:
You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six.”
“Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.”
It's like deja-vu, all over again.”
“When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it.”
“You should always go to other people's funerals; otherwise, they won't come to yours.”
Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.”
“I never said most of the things I said.”
“It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.”


If you think about these quotes, they start to make sense, but in a way you wouldn’t think. Yogi was a different thinker and his distinct perspective made Yogi Berra, Yogi (Bear). Yogi Bear was a cartoon based on Berra’s personality and odd quotes. Children already loved Berra and Yogi Bear became a hit. With Yogi Berra’s death comes nostalgia to those who followed him and sparks the memories that the pastime of baseball brings. For the younger generations, like mine, Yogi is a man who could never be truly appreciated but he will definitely be a great person to learn about. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What Trump Didn't Say

Have you been hearing a lot about Donald Trump? The reason for that is he is all over the news for the things he has been saying while running for president. Recently, though, his publicity has been for what he decided not to say. While at a rally Q&A session, a supporter asked what could be done about a problem: "It's called Muslims. You know our current president is one... we have training camps growing where they want to kill us... When can we get rid of them?" Trump laughed and said the question was necessary. While Trump was a strong supporter of the movement that proposed Obama was not American and a Muslim, it has been proven that Obama is American and a Christian. Regardless of this fact, Trump decided to not correct the supporter on these extremely disrespectful and anti-semitic comments. Trump would rather keep that supporter and the like-minded people than do what is right and call the supporter out on the false comments. By not intervening nor disproving the supporter, Trump agrees with the man. This is generalizing that all Muslims are problems and this could not be further from the truth. As a presidential candidate, the objective is to appeal to as many voters as possible. Deciding not to speak out against the man leaves Muslim voters and outraged and opposed to Trump. A president shouldn't be stereotypical nor hold any accusations that will affect their relationships with other countries. The reason Trump is under fire is because what he didn't do. Choosing to not correct the supporter makes people believe that he believes what the supporter said is true. The comments the man made leave Trump supporters looking like they are all anti-semitics, which all of them deny. No one wants to be labled as anti-semitic, and this shows in Trump's recent poll numbers. He is on the decline as the gap closes between him and other candidates. The people have spoken that they will not stand for this semitism.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Injustice of Killing Linden Lark

In the novel The Round House by Louise Erdrich, Joe's actions are not justified because Cappy is killed after participating in the killing of Linden Lark.  A little while after the death of Linden Lark, Joe, Cappy, Zack, and Angus are driving to Montana when they get in a fatal car accident: "I feared that Cappy had been flung in... The wind came up and blew my friends' cries away from me. The sounds I made, too, when I found Cappy, were taken into the boom of air" (Erdrich 316). Joe, who didn't actually kill Linden, survives the crash while the person who committed the actual murder, Cappy, dies. Joe fears for Cappy's life because it was not Cappy's problem to deal with. The sounds Joe makes when he finds his friend's body are a result of his guilt. If Joe had killed Lark instead of just injuring him, Joe would be dead because of the consequential theme of the book. There is a sense of karma that happens to the killer. Joe knows that since he had the intention of killing Lark, he was the one in the wrong. Cappy's immoral actions are due to his loyalty to his friend. Joe is not saddened solely because of the death of his friend, but also because Joe realizes his intention of murder are wrong and he feels guilty that Cappy carried out that intention.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Joe Happy-don

Have you heard about the best manager in baseball? He manages the electrifying Chicago Cubs with a nonchalant attitude. His name is Joe Maddon, and the irony in that name is amazing. Maddon has the best attitude and relationship with his players than any other in the league. His players admire him because of his respect for the players. Maddon never allows them to take too many hacks in batting practice with the theory that, "There's certain things we do in this game that I think are overrated and I think batting practice is one of them. If they need to get loose, they can go get loose in the cage a little bit. They don't need to swing on the field." Maddon compares MLB to little league, saying you didn't need to do this when you were a kid; you showed up and played and had fun. I like that he recognizes the simplicity in the game that little leaguers have. As a kid, you show up and play ball, not do all the pregame warm-up exercises that the league is so caught up in. Maddon wants to have fun and not make an amazing game a business. He understands that the players get weary of playing six game per week and need to blow off steam. That is why he invited a magician to the clubhouse one day. That's right, a magician. 

The players loved it, and went on to win that day. Recently, ESPN asked 117 MLB players what manager they would rather play for. Joe Maddon came in first place with 35% of the votes with Bruce Bochy in second place with 18%. Joe's most recent accomplishment is shaping pitcher Jake Arrieta into a Cy Young Award candidate with a no-hitter. Coming close twice in 2014, Jake Arrieta had right leader a week ago to make sure his dream came true. Maddon loves to shuffle around the lineup, giving everyone a chance to do their part in a potentially historic season. Maddon plays for October. Being a veteran and having reached to postseason four times, he seems to know what it takes to bring a struggling team's dream to fruition. I think Joe’s simple yet thoughtful approach to the game is a good one, and one that will help the Cubs win.