Politics over People’s opinions…Gov. Christie vetoes pig bill

Governor Christie (R-NJ) has just vetoed a controversial pig bill.

Governor Christie of New Jersey is back on the news! And this time it’s with pigs and and their possible freedom from confinement in gestation crates. So apparently he did was not involved in with the George Washington Bridge, “Bridgegate”, scandal? Probably because many think that the reason Gov. Christie vetoed the controversial pig bill that would have prohibited confinement of pigs in small “gestation crate” cages that humane societies have protested it as evidence of “factory farming” is that there’s about 20 million pigs in Iowa, the first presidential caucus state. So in this case, had Governor Christie signed the bill, he would probably be antagonizing with the more ideological, conservative-wing of the Republican party. But by vetoing the bill, he is alienating the Democrats and majority of New Jerseyans. So here is the question. Which is more important: politics or state representation?

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Saying ‘Sayonara’ to November

Hello everybody! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family! Just as October is associated with Halloween and December with any of the various winter holidays, November has become synonymous with Thanksgiving and rightfully so. The holiday we all know and love would become an official holiday in 1941. It’s a time to take a break from all of the havoc in our lives and focus on what we have  and are grateful for. Accordingly, here are some fun Thanksgiving facts to end the month of November!

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  • Minnesota is the top turkey-producing state in America, producing 46.5 million turkeys in 2011. Other turkey-producing states include: North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, and Indiana.
  • The largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 2,020 pounds and measured over 12 feet long.
  • Do you watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on T.V.? One recurring balloon from the parade is Snoopy, who has appeared in the parade more times than any other character.
  • Fan of pumpkins? You should know that Illinois, California, Pennsylvania and New York are the major pumpkin growing states, producing 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins in 2010.
  • Nearly 88% of Americans said they eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Assuming the average weight of the turkey is 15 pounds, that means nearly 690 million pounds of turkey was consumed during the Thanksgiving of 2007!

After you’ve eaten your gigantic meal, there’s always the day that proceeds this time of gratitude: Black Friday. Most of you already know what Black Friday is: a time where consumerism is kicked up a notch and popular goods such as video games and televisions temporarily decrease in price. It’s a common notion that large retail stores such as Best Buy and Target are extremely crowded during this day, but do you know the specifics of Black Friday? Find out by reading the following facts!

Black-Friday-Crowd

  • About 135 million people go out and shop on Black Friday each year. That’s almost the entire population of Russia!
  • The average amount of money spent by consumers during Thanksgiving weekend in 2013 was $407.
  • 12% of Black Friday shoppers admitted to being under the influence of alcohol in a survey conducted by RetailMeNot.
  • The following percentages indicate which categories shoppers were most interested in:
    • Electronic Devices– 59% of people
    • DVD & Blu-Ray– 49% of people
    • Clothing– 48% of people
    • Video Games– 45% of people
    • Computers– 44% of people
  • Prior to 2001, Black Friday wasn’t the biggest shopping day of the year. This title was previously held to the day before Christmas.

Hopefully you’ve learned a little more about Thanksgiving and its counterpart Black Friday by reading this article. Speaking of which, how did your Thanksgiving/Black Friday go? Feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below!

Sources:

http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/thanksgiving-facts

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2011/11/black-friday-history-myths-and-facts/

http://time.com/money/3605642/thanksgiving-black-friday-sales-facts/

http://www.latintimes.com/black-friday-facts-2014-6-surprising-details-about-annual-day-sales-275018

Rotten to the Core

Every school year is marked by three very significant factors: early waking, grades, and standardized testing. The last of the three has continually proven to be the worst, haunting students from kindergarten all the way to high school during their second semester. The satisfaction of finishing a standardized exam, of finally putting down the pencil and stretching back in the seat you’ve been sitting in for four hours straight, is satisfaction of an unimaginable kind.

Yet, the implementation of the PARCC in the 2014-2015 year will surely make it harder for students to reach the post-testing bliss. Introduced by Common Core standards, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, aka the PARCC, is the new substitute for standardized testing in 46 states and counting. There go the HSPA and NJASK out the window – the PARCC is here to become the new nightmare of kids and teenagers across the country.

To begin with, the PARCC has not been tested beforehand. How are we supposed to trust that an unproven test will be the right way to determine whether a student should pass or not? Not only that, but passing standards for the PARCC won’t be set until after students have taken it. Just goes to show how little research was put into making the test.

stressed girl

Moreover, the PARCC has to be taken online. Now, children who are just learning to use electronics must write short answers and solve math problems all on the computer. How can a seven year old suddenly be expected to type paragraphs when he/she doesn’t even know where the “a” on the keyboard is? Even for high school students who are accustomed to typing essays, being in front of a screen for multiple hours will lead to excessive eye strain – which will then lead to headaches or fatigue or both. That sounds like the perfect recipe for a disastrous performance.

Of course, students who fail can submit their SAT/ACT scores as a replacement. But, the SAT costs $52.50 and the ACT costs $54.50, prices that not everybody can afford. If the backup for the PARCC is a fee-based test, then the system screams inequality.

NO-to-Common-Core-Featured

In the end, the PARCC is just another example of how unjust Common Core is. It sets standards based on practically nothing and puts every student at an unfair advantage. If we take serious action against the horror that is Common Core, we could help eliminate a lot of unfairness.

#Shirtstorm

No, I don’t oppose the fact that Matt Taylor, an incredibly accomplished scientist, wore a controversial shirt on Wednesday, November 13, during the live stream showing Philae landing on a comet.

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In case you haven’t heard,  Matt Taylor was a leading scientist in the Rosetta Mission, which managed to send back the first ever image from a comet. This feat is a huge step in the scientific world, as comets can contain information from different worlds and times. Humanity is once again at the cusp of unlocking the secrets to the universe and its past because of Matt and his team, but a certain group of people chose to notice something else about him. Feminazis, as they’re appropriately named, launched a massive attack against Matt’s shirt ,which was made by his female friend, a tattoo artist, and featured pictures of scantily-clad women. The group intimidated and bullied Matt all over social media to the point where he apologized in tears on a subsequent interview.

Matt Taylor

It’s clear to see that this attack was far out of line. Considering Matt’s sincere apology, he obviously didn’t wear that shirt in order to objectify women or prevent them from pursuing a career in science.  Moreover, seeing as his friend created the shirt for him, it had sentimental value, much like a grandmother’s sweater. Women unequivocally overreacted and amplified an honest mistake out of proportion.

In a perfectly fair world, the criticism would have had some reason behind it. However, Matt Taylor’s shirt is quite conservative in comparison to other objectifications of women. Take Robin Thicke’s music video for “Blurred Lines,” in which he appears to be harassing almost nude women. Take Nicki Minaj’s music video for “Anaconda,”  which inflates men’s expectations for women and their bodies. Last but definitely not least, take Kim Kardashian’s picture featuring a photoshopped version of her gluttius maximus titled “Break the Internet.” None of these blatant onslaughts on people’s image of women attracted significant retaliation from feminists, nor did they lead to an apology from the oppressors. Yet, for some sickening reason, it seems that someone who has completed his enterprise after years of sedulous work deserves to be chastised more than those creating ephemeral forms of entertainment.

Black Thursday?

Once Halloween is over, people start planning their Thanksgivings and Christmases. And as Thanksgiving approaches, so does the favorite “holiday” of shopaholics: Black Friday. Stores reap amazing profits — “in the black” — because of avid shoppers. To make substantial profits however, stores must compete for the maximum number of customers. One of the most popular ways of attracting shoppers is by opening early. But how early is too early?

It seems that each year, big stores open earlier and earlier for Black Friday. It started out as 6 am on Friday, cut back to 12 am, then 8 pm of Thursday, and now malls open at 6 pm on Thanksgiving Day. Employees in stores are unable to have a proper Thanksgiving meal because of business competition. These workers deserve a day off on a national holiday and should not be required to work when they could be spending time with their families. Of course, some of these employees probably need any extra pay they can get, but are those few extra dollars really worth the sacrifice of family time?

The whole concept of a family dinner is starting to fade away as shopping takes over. Too many Americans have started to value discounted prices more than the tradition of a Thanksgiving dinner. Opening stores at 6 pm causes shopping fanatics to start camping outside malls even earlier than usual. Who needs a large meal when there are ridiculous sales going on? As society becomes increasingly materialistic, the American tradition starts to slip away. Business competition is necessary for an economically successful country, but opening stores for Black Friday when it isn’t even Friday is absurd.

Clearly, there are significant downsides to having early opening times for Black Friday deals. However, not everyone is opposed to the increased shopping time. There are quite a few families who have a simple meal and don’t do much to celebrate Thanksgiving — just by choice. The opportunity to shop and have fun is irresistible when there is nothing else to do (except maybe sleep). For these people, the earlier openings are even better because they don’t have to sacrifice sleep to shop to their heart’s content.

Black Friday has been around for over 50 years and will definitely continue to increase in popularity in the future, but opposition may also increase. Asking employees to work unreasonable hours during such a holiday can likely cause dissent. Maybe we should just leave Black Friday on a Friday; what’s the need for a Black Thursday?

Ferguson : A Rekindled Fire

Over the past couple of months, the shooting of Michael Brown has sparked a lot of controversy. As a recap, Michael Brown was shot by a police officer after he robbed a convenience store in Ferguson, Missouri. The reason behind the controversy is the ambiguity around what actually occurred that day. Did the police officer shoot and kill Michael Brown out of self defense as he says? Or did the police use excessive and lethal force for no good reason. Regardless, the police officer, Darren Wilson, went on trial for this possible crime. Riots broke out, shops were broken into, and violence was also present. Tensions escalated so quickly that police officers started rolling into the streets with military grade weaponry and vehicles. For days this chaos was present, and took time to disappear.

Now that same chaos has reappeared in a more destructive form. Darren Wilson was not indited for this crime, and protests have broken out in all parts of the countries. The city of Ferguson was practically on fire. Citizens are outraged how this officer could get away with this crime, despite the lack of substantial evidence supporting his claim. The man who had his store robbed by Michael Brown was brutally beaten up, and his store was destroyed and robbed. Furthermore, there was a protest in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. The governor of Missouri asked for more armed officers in the Ferguson area in fear of mass disruption outside of the area.

At first, it was just the citizens of Ferguson outraged at the police force and government with the country closely watching. Now, the country is involved as the issue of police brutality is omnipresent. More and more cases of police brutality are having light shed on due to social media sites, allowing more people to view and form opinions on the subject.

Ferguson simply showcased the extent of the abuse of power that the police makes. All it takes is one event to cause a major conflict. Tensions between police forces and the public have been rising for years, and we have finally seen them cause that very conflict. This issue needs to be tackled immediately as police forces are increasingly gaining access to military equipment.

Messi’s Unstoppable Run

In Saturday’s league match against Sevilla, Lionel Messi scored 3 goals to become the league’s top scorer of all time with a total of 253 goals. At the age of 27, this is one of the most remarkable feats achieved by any individual. After the match, there was a huge honor bestowed upon Messi as the entire crowd and his teammates congratulated him for his astounding achievements. He was thrown up into the air several times by the team.

Messi’s illustrious career is marked by several records that have been broken but none can match this one. The Argentine thanked all his supporters on Facebook and also posted a video of his first goal in the league back in 2005. He went on to say that he never believed that he would be able to any records, let alone this one.

Barcelona’s coach, Luis Enrique went onto say that Messi was “beyond comparison, one of a kind, never to be seen again.” The goal that allowed Messi to tie the record at 251 goals came with a spectacular free kick beating the goalkeeper with relative ease. His next two goals came from a closer range later on in the game but nonetheless, Messi was an irresistible form for the entire match.

At this rate, it almost seems like there are no records left for Messi to break anymore. However, he claims that he still wants to get his hands on the World Cup trophy in four years time. Argentina had come close to doing so this past summer but a second place finish was not enough to please Messi. It will be interesting to see what Messi manages to accomplish in the future as well.

The Normal Barbie

When Mattel, Inc. first launched the Barbie doll in 1959, neither the company nor the rest of the world could have foreseen the massive impact of the product. A mere doll became an important symbol of popular culture, an item anybody could recognize within seconds. Yet, Barbie’s immense popularity was not the only thing that people didn’t see coming – there was also the underlying meaning behind the doll’s appearance. The young girls who grow up playing with their Barbie collections receive an indirect message: in order to be pretty like their doll, they have to be skinny and tall. Essentially, Barbie promotes the idea that beauty has harsh qualifications. Thin legs, an impressive height, a flat stomach, a small nose, and tiny feet became the obsessions of many girls and the expectations of society.

However, it has also been established that these expectations are impossible to reach. Barbie’s proportions are so miniscule that if she was human-size, she would have to walk on all fours. She would be incapable of lifting her head, and her waist would only leave room for half her liver. Overall, the doll’s human-equivalent body parts would be twice as small as those of the average American woman.

So, why is the Barbie so highly endorsed? Why promote a product that displays an appearance that is impractical to achieve? Why adhere to our preconceived ideas of perfection when the beauty that surrounds us is calling for our attention?

lammily

A 26-year-old graphic artist and researcher, Nickolay Lamm, asked the same questions. He proceeded to do research on the average body types of 19 year old girls and constructed a doll based on the proportions he obtained. He named the doll Lammily. Straying far from the image of a Barbie, Lammily portrays a normal girl who has regular-sized legs and wears casual clothing. The doll also comes with cellulite stickers of acne and stretch marks that can be stuck on her body. Lammily is not just a portrayal of the realistic, but a celebration of the natural beauty that every girl possesses.

Lammily hits the market this year on Black Friday. Now, instead of buying boxes of Barbies, we should invest our money in a doll that is truly representative of real life. If we spark the popularity of Lammily, the next generations will grow up with the sense that a person doesn’t have to be flawless to be both beautiful and commendable.

President Obama’s Plan for Immigration

A warm message from the President of the United States tonight to the American people–a reaffirmation of the roots with what the United States had been borne and sprouted from. President Obama said that “America is a nation of immigrants.” Indeed, much of American history consisted of immigrants from around the world seeking a better place to live, a place where they have the freedom to worship, freedom to express their feelings, and freedom to pursue their dreams. That is the American Dream. Along with the rising minority-immigrant population, America and its people must learn to accept diversity of culture. Americans must learn to reap the benefits of the endurance and persistence of immigrants.

President Obama addresses that he wants to pursue a bipartisan effort to create a more permanent solution for immigration. However, due to the tenacity of many House of Representatives congressmen, he cannot pursue such approach. Yet he must do something to protect those immigrant families from becoming divided just because one of the parents do not have proper identification or the necessary papers. One has heard too much stories about children like us who have to lose their parents due to their parents’ undocumented status. They are children too. Children who want to learn. Children who work in school. Children who may even be our friends or our neighbors. One has seen the blood-and-sweat that the parents put in everyday, working multiple low-paying jobs, who “don’t even pay a dime to the government,” just to provide their families with a better life.

Those who criticize President Obama’s executive action plan do not realize his point. He is not offering amnesty. Nowhere does his plan delineate “amnesty” or “permanent legalization.” Amnesty is something of Congress’ authority, which he addresses as well. Therefore, detractors, stop claiming this plan as “amnesty.”

Despite those parents who work hard for their families, they still broke America’s immigration laws. As a result, they are not granted immediate protection. President Obama is simply granting them more security of status in the nation so they can continue to provide for their families while feeling more patriotism and confidence in America, possibly start giving back to America. Once they move on the path of legalization, they will eventually be able to pay taxes and perform other necessary American duties. With the 11 million undocumented immigrants eventually paying taxes, America will have 11 million more people to help stave off our astounding deficit.

In the end, President Obama emphasizes:

“America is a nation of immigrants. We were once strangers too.”

Shed Some Truth

I’ve been a fan of the NBA for three years now, and I’ve always considered Kobe Bryant among the elite greats, like: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Tim Duncan, etc. Don’t mind me, I’m definitely not the only one who thought this way too!

However, there is much that is overlooked, and I’ve finally come to realize this. Just for the record, I’m trying to downplay Kobe at all! He is a very deserving player and is an obvious member of the top 25, if not top 20 players of all time. But get this. Kobe Bryant is probably the most overrated player of all time! There, I said it! Now let the hate wash over me like the champagne that covered Kobe’s face five times in his career! (He wishes for one more…) Just to be sure, I did not come to this conclusion by myself, there are many sources, like: http://thesportingtruth.com/?p=2035  or http://bleacherreport.com/articles/656060-not-like-mike-kobe-bryant-is-the-most-overrated-player-in-nba-history or even http://giancarlolorenzo.hubpages.com/hub/Why-Kobe-Bryant-is-overrated

Let’s settle this once and for all. The word ‘overrated’ is not by any means an insult or a term meant to deride someone. The exact definition in Merriam Webster for ‘overrate’ is: “to rate, value, or praise (someone or something) too highly”.  That’s exactly what Kobe is, praised a bit too much than he deserves! Here’s a series of points that will help you better understand. (Please don’t hate me, Kobe/Laker fans)

1) This season, Kobe’s usage rate is nearly equal to his field goal percentage! 38.6% to 38.9%! That’s a lot of chucking and bricking right there!

2) According to polls, 79% of general managers vote Kobe Bryant as the player they would want with the ball in his hands in crunch time. Of course, Kobe has clearly shown that he is a formidable foe in the closing seconds/minutes.

Here’s the kicker, though. Kobe only made 31.3% of his shots in the final 24 seconds of any game (regular/playoff), more accurately, he only made 36 out of 115 shots. Therefore, he misses more than twice the amount of shots he makes!

3) In the finals, Kobe has been rather underwhelming. He has shot 40.5% or under in four out of six Finals appearances. That’s much lower than the likes of: Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwyane Wade, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and even Lebron James!

This is my point. For all you Kobe fans out there who will stop at nothing to prove that their superstar is the best, just think about it! I’m not in anyway trying to put him down! This is my final statement: Kobe Bryant is absolutely an amazing player, probably top-20 of all-time. There is nothing shameful in being up there! Nothing! But the truth is that Kobe is not nearly as great as some people may claim!

I rest my case.