Developing Technology: Good or Bad?

T-E-C-H-N-O-L-O-G-Y. What is it? It’s a simple ten-letter word with so much depth and meaning, especially in the twenty-first century. This specific word gained so much more significance in the past few decades, as its use by people exponentially escalated. Till a specific point, it is beneficial, however in a similar fashion like a variety of most possessions, after a certain point, instead of serving as a beneficial tool, it rather places your precious and valuable life in jeopardy (after excess use). To begin with an obvious point, technology abruptly evolved in the late 1980s through the 2000s. Its establishment not only heavily affected humans, in general, but also severely influenced other organisms that are essential to our precious planet. For instance, power plants that are planted at a consistent distance throughout our nation disrupt habitats- and why do they disrupt numerous acres of preserved land for the wildlife? All because of humans. In other words, we are abolishing our own resourceful land. We are obliterating the organisms’ natural homes. We are annihilating a piece of our own planet, all because of technology. There are undoubtedly several hidden dangers of cell phones.

Moreover, it is even hurting humans through an indirect impact as well as through a direct impact. For instance, scientific discoveries have proven that cell phones are, in general, detrimental to users. The majority of cell phones have undoubtedly small screens, resulting in humans to squint their eyes, causing strain and stress in the humans’ eyes. Furthermore, cell phones give off radiation, which can be extremely detrimental for humans. These radiations reach your ear even when you casually talk on the phone. Consequently, it is suggested that one uses headphones when listening to music or even when one just casually chatters with someone on the phone to avoid any harmful rays reaching your ears. In addition, the most severe consequence of cell phones, that people consider to be the most obvious, is that cell phones result in a destitute of humans’ social skills. With the communication between two, ordinary people being through texting or other types of social media, young kids are losing their basic skills, such as eye contact and public speaking.

Evidently, cell phones, although quite beneficial and helpful, impose manifold and detrimental health issues to all its users. Fortunately, though, there are simple steps to preclude any harmful side effects, and the most basic one is to minimize the time you use your cell phone or not even have a cell phone at all!

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The Importance of Water for Athletes

Athletes always need to perform at their best level.

With the stakes high, the competition tough, the obstacles unrelenting, an athlete must do all he or she can to keep healthy and strong. In order to be able to win the gold, every aspect must be taken into account: stamina, agility, strength, reflex, technique, emotion, stress, endurance, and tactic just to name a few. These areas are influenced easily by external factors, most prominent being nutrition. The dietary component impacts all the categories mentioned.

In terms of diet and nutrition, it is imperative that proper portions of vitamins and minerals are consumed. It is absolutely indispensable that water intake is adequate. Water, a crucial element of every day becomes even more vital to athletes.

Unfortunately, dehydration is not an uncommon case for many athletes. Dehydration occurs when water intake is not sufficient enough to replace water loss. Whether one is playing professionally or simply recreationally, the importance of water is often understated. Up to sixty percent of an adult human body is composed of water. Water regulates body temperature and lubricates joints. It transports nutrients for energy and all in all keeps one healthy. If hydration levels drop, your body will not be able to perform at its highest level. Instead, you will give way to fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, and several more fatal symptoms.

For physical activity, one should typically:

– Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water approximately two to three hours before exercise

– Drink 8 ounces of water every half hour during warm-up

– Drink 7-10 ounces of water every ten to twenty minutes during exercise

– Drink 8 ounces of water no more than thirty minutes after you exercise

Since these are general guidelines, one should drink according to personal needs. There are no exact measurements, water intake should be according to length of exercise, humidity, environment conditions, and ones own hydration level.

If your body does not have enough water to go by, not only is one not at their best game, they can give way to heat illness. Heat illness can occur when your body cannot cool itself effectively, resulting in heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. In such ways, it does not matter if you are an athlete or not, anyone involved in a physical sport can suffer from dehydration and subsequent heat-related problems.

Next time you are out playing for your school, competing with your friends, exercising in hot weather-don’t forget to DRINK WATER!

“Athletes: The Importance of Good Hydration.” Athletes: The      Importance of Good Hydration. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.

“Dehydration.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.

Russia Threatens Denmark With Nuclear Missiles

The Russian ambassador to Denmark recently stated in an interview with the Jyllands-Posten newspaper that, “I do not think that the Danes fully understands the consequences if Denmark joins the US-led missile defense shield. If that happens, Danish warships become targets for Russian nuclear missiles.” These remarks have predictably been met with trepidation and anger by Danish officials. The mere mention of a nuclear attack would be enough to  cause panic in any country, so it comes as no surprise that Denmark would try pacifying Russia while simultaneously trying to reassure its NATO allies that it can still practice its commitments towards collective defense.

The roots of this conflict undoubtedly lie in the escalating Ukrainian Crisis. Both the West (America and the European Union) are backing the legitimate Ukrainian government while the East (Russia and its allies) are supporting the separatist regimes. In search of a temporary peace, the United States and the EU wished to curtail Russian involvement and lessen its military activity in Ukraine by imposing economic sanctions upon the country. However, the Russian president Vladimir Putin has used these sanctions to strengthen the Russian resolve by promising its people to restore the country to its days of glory. Putin has made it amply clear that he will not concede to the demands of the West and forge a lasting resolution until Russia has been given a fair say in the matter. In order to accomplish this mission, Putin has also readied Russia’s nuclear missiles, intending to scare countries into acceding to Putin’s demands by practicing brinkmanship, a policy not seen since the Cold War.

Now that Russia is flexing its military and strategic might over Denmark and possibly the whole of Europe, it stands to say that the main question is how the United States and NATO will react to this. And the most likely answer is by increasing missile defense capacities in Europe, by positioning troops near the borders of Eastern Europe, and by calling for a Security  Council session to ruminate on any possible courses of action. The United States would not dare to brazenly resist Russian movement for fear of triggering a nuclear armageddon. Therefore, it must attempt all diplomatic options while, at the same time, anticipate Russian military involvement and duly prepare for a fight. The recent comments towards Denmark present a tricky question that is tied to the fate of Ukraine and that of Europe, and it necessitates a stern, yet conciliatory response towards Russia.

In spite of the tensions surrounding Europe and the United States, there is still hope in solving the Ukrainian crisis and reintegrating Russia back into a respectable position in the international community. It is worth mentioning that an agreement was reached in Minsk, Belarus by the leaders of Russia, France, Germany, and Belarus over a Ukrainian ceasefire in February. There is a possibility that a similar arrangement could be arranged between the United States, Russia, and the European Union, averting a possible global conflict. Maybe two months from now, we’ll be laughing over how Russia “threatened” to fire nuclear weapons at Denmark, thankful that peace was agreed upon.

Unconventional Marketing

Buzzfeed, an American Internet news media company that has grown to become a global media and technology company, creates comical, yet highly relatable videos on a variety of topics, including politics, business, DIY, and lifestyle. Recently, this fervor has reached President Obama himself. On February 12th, a video entitled “Things Everybody Does But Doesn’t Talk About” was published, and featured President Obama. This unusual video appearance was, however, not solely for comedic purposes.

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In the video, the President is seen using a selfie stick, a hand held camera extender, to take multiple pictures of himself at different angles; he also makes a “thanks, Obama” joke when his cookie does not fit in a glass of milk. The scene is followed by the President flashing several facial expressions in front of a (rather dirty, if you ask me) mirror, trying on a pair of sunglasses, and making “you’re looking good” gestures. Lastly, he plays pretend basketball, practicing his three-pointers when a supposed employee enters the room, confused. To this, he replies with a resigned “Can I live?”. Sure, all these can be pretty humorous and funny, especially since it’s the President himself doing all this, however, the comedic element stops there. Arousing a large amount of controversy, President Obama is shown rehearsing his statement encouraging citizens to apply for Obamacare in front of the same mirror he was previously in front of. Calling for people to  enroll before the deadline, February 15, for less than $100 a month, the President has brought himself the question of “Why is he doing this?”

And that is a very good question, indeed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the President will be joining various Youtube comedians (although that would be a very interesting thought), rather, he is marketing for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare”. The video was posted three days before the deadline to enroll, February 15, and it has garnered almost 2.6 million views within the first two hours of the video being online. By appealing to the masses through relatable and comedic means, President Obama hopes to garner support for his health care.

This method of marketing has brought lots of controversies: opposers simply mark this as “goofing off”, charging that he is only phoning in his last year of office. On the other hand, supporters have been bringing up old photos of former President Reagan walking around Disneyland with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, claiming that the video is not as demeaning. But we can only leave it to the numbers to prove the true worthiness of the videos: as of March 2015, 16.4 million have enrolled, more than double the 8 million from 2014’s enrollment. Although unconventional and controversial, President Obama’s appearance in the Buzzfeed video has helped him garner even more support for Obamacare.

To see the video: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1631492713658271

What the Pinnacle of One Man’s Career Can Say About His Future

On the fateful day of January 29, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia the top two tennis players of the world clashed in what became known as the match that set the standards for all future ones.

The Australian Open 2012 final was a nail-biting, heart-wrenching 5 hour 53 minutes of one of the best matches in history. Both contestants, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, used all their energy to compete in the Rod Laver Arena for the championship title.

With the score of 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 this game was a test of endurance. In a close last few minutes, as both players further intensified the competition, Novak was able to come out to claim that title. His will to win and determination was what pulled him through against the odds: the crowd, nadal, and his own fatigue.  After winning the last point, the crowd around him erupted in cheers and he was hardly able to stand due to sheer exhaustion. “I think it was just the matter of maybe luck in some moments and matter of wanting this more than maybe other player in the certain point,” Djokovic said after the match, “It’s just incredible effort. You’re in pain, you’re suffer(ing). You’re trying to activate your legs. You’re going through so much suffering your toes are bleeding. Everything is just outrageous, but you’re still enjoying that pain.”

In the end,  it was well worth the effort as he got his hands on another championship, making it his third consecutive grand slam title- all of which included outlasting Nadal in the finals. This final was more than just a grand slam win, more than just a trophy, and more than history in the making-it showed Djokovic’s mental strength, physical finesse, and his optimism in even the most testing circumstances.

Since this match, Djokovic has continued to prove his resilience and unbreakable will, paving the way for an even more successful career as he currently holds 8 grand slams and numerous masters. Given the elite recognition as being in the “big 4”  Djokovic is a prominent figure in tennis worldwide and has potential to go even further.

Combating Air Pollution One Car at a Time

It’s no secret that humans are damaging the Earth. Whether our destructive actions are the result of monetary goals or personal benefit, the Earth has endured more harm than ever before.

One city in particular has taken the initiative to prevent air pollution from increasing any further. This city is none other than the “City of Love”- Paris.

In an effort to reduce air pollution, officials in Paris are issuing a temporary ban that prevents half of personal vehicles from driving on Monday. One in every 2 cars will be unable to drive on roads, says Mayor Anne Hidalgo. Cars with odd-numbered license plates and vehicles such as taxis and electric cars will be allowed to drive. The safety of Paris civilians will also not be jeopardized, as ambulances have the ability to drive as well.

AIR-POLLUTION

Why did Paris decide to reduce traffic by half? 

This drastic action was the result of dangerously high pollution levels in the city. Paris has always had a history of air pollution (as does any other major city), and this type of regulation was incorporated last year as well.

Air pollution in Paris : Eiffel tower through a haze of pollution in Paris

This begs the question- is air pollution a serious problem in today’s world?

Believe it or not, air pollution has caused more deaths per year than AIDS and Malaria combined. Here are some statistics that portray the destructive potential of air pollution and pollution in general:

  • “Almost 3.3 million people die from outdoor air pollution every year”
  • “People who live in places with high levels of air pollutants have a 20% higher risk of death from lung cancer than people who live in less-polluted areas”
  • “Americans make up an estimated 5% of the world’s population. However, the US produces an estimated 30% of the world’s waste and uses 25% of the world’s resources”
  • “Approximately 40% of the lakes in America are too polluted for fishing, aquatic life, or swimming”
  • “14 billion pounds of garbage are dumped into the ocean every year”

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Of course, the dilemma of air pollution is only exacerbated with the industrialization of countries. Fortunately, technology has improved throughout the years and advancements such as the electric car aim to reduce the severity of pollution.

Nevertheless, it’s imperative that countries begin implementing plans to combat, and hopefully one day, eradicate air pollution.

Information and Statistics Provided By:

Social Media: Is it Actually Social?

Lately, my parents have been reprimanding me on how my phone never leaves my hand. They never fail to remind me of how much I have changed, ever since I got that phone. They tell me how my phone has become more important to me than spending time with them. I always start to argue, but today I held my mouth. When I actually took into consideration what they said, it haunted me to pieces, just thinking about how true they are. When I’m bored, I look through and laugh about vines, both old and new. When I should be taking notes in school, I capture random pictures of friends to Snapchat. When I’m at a family party, it is almost a necessity for me to write a Facebook post about how boring the party is, even when it’s not. And I’m more than sure that there are many other people who can blindly relate to this.

Teenagers of this generation revolve their life around social media. They constantly search for the ‘perfect’ Snapchat story that would make their “friends” think they’re funny. That post you see on Instagram with a clever and witty caption? They probably scoured through every website they could to come up with a caption that is captivating and will get more likes. Too busy being worried over how to make others think they’re cool, teenagers tend to forget about the true meaning of friendship. In this era, it is more so the idea of sharing the “fun” time they had, rather than actually having fun.

“Hanging out” has evolved into taking an abnormal number of selfies and posting them on social networking sites. Criticizing and making fun of a new tweet on Twitter of a mutual enemy has become the top conversation among a group of friends, rather than discussing more time-worthy topics. An acquaintance of mine recently found out that his girlfriend only dated him to take cute couple pictures with and make the world think they’re “#relationshipgoals”. Social media was designed to better communication and make it easier to reach out to your friends, but why is it that it is only worsening and making relationships unhealthy?

Additionally, social media is what makes people feel insecure about themselves. They feel the need to look like the hot person that they stalked the night before. Teenagers think even worse of themselves when they compare their life to the perfectly filtered life other “popular” people post on social networking sites. Since the rise of social media’s impact on teenagers, self-harm rates among this youth has raised significantly. Teenagers are constantly reminded of how imperfect they are, through social media, when there is no such thing. In the wise words of a YouTube phenomenon, IISuperwomanII, “..comparing your life to people’s life on Instagram is like comparing people’s highlight reel to your bloopers, but that’s not actually what it is.” Social media was supposed to be a form of sharing noteworthy thoughts and opinions, but since when did it become a platform of society’s standards?

Social media has taken the world by storm, in more bad ways than good. It has become a huge influence to today’s youth, almost a way of life. To understand this impact social media has on you, a teenager, try to stay away from your phone, laptop, and any other technology where these sites could easily be accessed, for 5 days straight. It seems like an extremely short period of time, but the impossibility of this task will finally put it into perspective for you and make you realize that social media, is in fact, not social at all.

An Ongoing Battle for Gender Equality

Many people hear the word feminism and automatically assume that it is anti-male. The individuals who believe that feminism is about females being better than males are uneducated, because feminism is actually about fighting for the equality of the sexes. It is the 21st century, and we still live in a patriarchal society. Gender inequality is a global issue and needs to be taken more seriously.

Recently, a pair of laws was proposed in Iran that would restrict women’s reproductive choices and essentially reduce women to “baby-making machines”. Information on contraception would be withheld and abortions would be restricted. Passing these laws would mean restricting women’s basic human rights to control over their own bodies. Furthermore, legalizing these absurd proposals would result in an increase in crime rate due to the very likely possibility that women resort to illegal abortions and buying contraceptives on the black market. A second bill would promote early marriages and make it almost impossible for women to obtain a divorce. The government is claiming that this would emphasize the traditional family values, especially that a woman is first and foremost a caregiver. Thankfully, Amnesty International denounced these proposals for the obvious reasons that the Iranian government fails to realize: Women are human beings who deserve their fundamental rights and should not be treated as objects whose sole purpose is to reproduce.

The memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran is the story of a woman, Azar Nafisi, who held secret meetings for her female students to come and discuss works of literature together. Their environment would not allow them to conduct these kinds of meetings in public. The social and political situation in Iran dictated the actions and choices of clothing of women. For example, they were required to wear headscarves and be entirely covered when in the presence of others. These black headscarves gave the false illusion of a conformity in Iran. Just because all these women looked the same, the government could believe that they had no unique identity and were unimportant. However, every single one of these women was unique and had her own background story. But these individual personalities only came to life inside Nafisi’s house during the secret meetings when the girls would remove their scarves. These women were only being oppressed to the extent that they allowed themselves to be. These literary gatherings were the extent of the fight against oppression from the girls. At least they did make some effort.

These are only two small examples on a much larger scale of the fight for gender equality. Those fighting for feminism fight for equality of the sexes, which is why anyone can be a feminist. There are so many issues to be addressed: birth control rights, choice of clothing, equal pay, and job discrimination to name a few. To truly have a modern society, we need to move away from these outdated ideals of male superiority.

Startup Success

New ideas – are they really new? Are they really the ingenious products of a genius person’s mind or just simple ideas that were waiting quietly to be found? It’s hard to tell, but the newest and most successful companies of the year are turning out to be strong testimonies of the latter. Once mere start-ups, these full-fledged companies that are now bringing in millions of dollars in revenue have used the subtleties of the modern world in order to create a thriving venture.

Take, for example, Instacart. No, not Instagram, but Instacart, a San Francisco-based company that transformed grocery shopping from a mundane, time-consuming task to one that’s easy and quick. How? Well, in the same way you open the door to a Dominoes delivery guy on a lazy Saturday night, you can now call an Instacart shopper who will fetch everything on your long list of vegetables and milk and deliver the items to your house in a reasonable amount of time. It’s an idea brimming with a lot of potential, something that founder Apoorva Metha and Max Mullen were lucky to have caught on to. But, the idea is far from novel. Many established chains already offer grocery delivery services. So, what makes Instacart such a success?

Instacart

The answer is, like I mentioned before, a focus on the subtleties. The Instacart shoppers are paid well, an average of around $25 and maybe even more if the worker is faster at his/her job. This fair treatment of workers, and moreover, the decreased use of technology in order to aid those who need the financial help, is a significant tweak in the way that the company goes about handling its deliveries. Thus, with the added power of the workers who are willing to expend all their time and effort in order to support themselves, Instacart in turn is booming. So, although its appealing service lays a strong foundation, it is the company’s labor force that has brought Instacart a long way.

Suja Juice is another company that took a product as basic as juice and turned it into organic, cold-pressed, yet processed drinks that sell for prices as high as nine dollars. When the brand was first launched in 45 Southern California stores, it sold out almost immediately. As of now, Suja’s annual revenue is approximately 45 million and expected to double in 2015. It’s astounding growth, but the more shocking thing is: juice? Really? Once again, details come into play. With its emphasis on juice that is cold-pressed and therefore packed with fresh nutrients, Suja attracts a large crowd that’s getting tired of over processed drinks. Indeed, it’s a subtle change, but enough to push a company to great heights.

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Other companies like AdBoom Group, RocketDrop, and Carvana have also come out on top as the most promising of the year. Like Instacart and Suja, they are examples of other businesses that have taken raw ideas and turned them into keys to success by changing the means of how the ideas are brought to life. Carvana specializes in online car shopping, but in such a way that it provides on the spot financing and house delivery as well, taking online auto deals to another level. Clearly, the most successful companies of today began as start-ups that extracted the real potential from the most unembellished ideas. Evidently, the way to prosperity for start-ups around the world is to focus on their own creative edge in a vastly competitive world.

The Euro Tumbles as the Dollar Regains Power

Last Wednesday, the Euro dropped to a 12 year low of $1.05 and is expected to continue dropping. This means that the dollar is on the rise and is expected to surpass the Euro for the first time since the financial recession. A strong dollar is good for any tourists but at the same time this is bad news for the United States’ exporters. It also resulted in the decline of stocks because several multinational corporations rely on foreign investment to expand sales.

The reason the dollar is on the rise is that the economy is much stronger. The European markets have been gradually falling so this decline was imminent. Since the economy is doing well the banks will raise interest rates. Since the U.S. economy is doing well European investors will invest in U.S. Treasury bonds. On the other hand, the European central bank will lower interest rates to encourage investment in the economy to revive the failing standards.

A bond bought in the U.S. with the same maturity as a European bond will have a higher return in interest rates. Since the monetary policy of the U.S. and Europe is going in opposite directions the gaps in the value of both currencies will continue to widen indefinitely. By the end of 2017, it is expected that the Euro will fall to 85 cents.

This event has been termed as a kind of currency war. If the U.S. doesn’t act and lets the dollar go up too much in value it can be detrimental to domestic exporters. This situation is a perfect example of how a strong dollar can also be a weakness. In order to bring this into control the U.S. must continue to alter their interest rates and consider how European investment will impact the economy.