It’s 2013: Why Do We Still Discriminate?

Source: personal.psu.edu

Source: personal.psu.edu

Source: gcmin.org

Source: gcmin.org

Whether we are white, black, Hispanic, male, female, gay, straight, German, Korean, atheist, or Catholic, we all know of one of the most powerful and influential speeches in history: Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. For me, this is important because there are endless forms of discrimination, and 50 years after this beautiful speech, all forms of discrimination still exist. We have progressed since 1963, but discrimination still exists in our world. It always will. But in America especially: Why the hate?

We can disciminate based on almost anything: race, culture, gender, sexuality, religion. We are taught (hopefully) that discrimination is wrong, yet we STILL do it. Adults do it, children as young as five do it. Why do we continue to pay attention to how we are different and think negatively about those differences? 

To me, King’s speech was hopeful that these types of discrimination and hatred would be long over. Yet on a daily basis, even in America, hate and violence still happen today. Even smaller, less noticeable examples of discrimination against someone deemed “different” happen on a daily basis.

Readers, what do you think? Do we discriminate because there is something in our natural human nature? Is it simply natural for us to see differences? Or is it our environment? Maybe people in some places discriminate less than others. Are we taught to discriminate, or is it a part of being human to do so?

1,000 Views Already? Oh My!

Source: welcometoandysland.wordpress.com

Source: welcometoandysland.wordpress.com

I just wanted to write and say that even though 1,000 views on a blog may not be a lot for some people, it is for me! Thanks to everyone who has checked out my blog, followed, and commented on my posts. You guys rock! It’s great motivation for me to keep blogging and sharing my thoughts with people. It’s also cool to see the various countries represented in my followers and viewers. I’m glad to have joined the blogging world, and thanks to all the cool bloggers out there. 🙂

Are You An Introvert or Extrovert?

Source: blog.k12.com

Source: blog.k12.com

The Huffington Post wrote an article entitled “23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert,” and even though I’d previously thought I knew the difference between an introvert (a shy person) versus an extrovert (an outgoing person), I realized that is not an accurate assumption.

The article explains that the easiest way to determine if you are an introvert or extrovert is to look at which social situations give you the most energy. For example, if you feel tired after a party with lots of people, this is a sign that you are an introvert, because extroverts feel energized when they interact with lots of people. Introverts aren’t necessarily shy all the time; introverts simply prefer smaller groups and engaging conversations.

Determining if you are an introvert or extrovert can help you better understand yourself, and this article could show you that maybe you have been wrong about which one you are. For myself, I used to think when I was younger that I was an introvert because I was shy, and that as I got older I became more extroverted. Now I realize that I have always been an introvert, because I still prefer smaller groups and need my alone time to recharge.

Read this article to find out if you’re secretly an introvert and comment with your thoughts.

My Favorite Place in the World (So Far)

Santorini architecture

Santorini architecture

I have not traveled nearly enough to decide indefinitely where my favorite place in the world is, but I am fortunate enough to have traveled somewhere foreign and discovered my favorite place for the time being…until I discover a new country. My favorite place in the world (so far) is Greece. It is a sunny, beautiful place with cities that are all so different from one another, the food is the best you may ever have, the people seem happy, and there are endless things to do and see. It has a culture rich with history that dates back thousands of years before the founding of my home country, and the weather is perfection if you love warmth and sunshine. For the sake of not rambling on into eternity, I will list my three favorite things about Greece, and why, if you had the opportunity to travel there, you should.

Spaghetti with feta cheese--Santorini

Spaghetti with feta cheese–Santorini

1. Food. We all love food. As a vegetarian, I was happiest in Greece. Their pasta is to die for and feta cheese is topped on everything from pasta to french fries. The Greek diet is rich with fresh fruit and vegetables, and not only is their food amazing, but coffee lovers will feel like they have died and gone to Coffee Heaven. Greece is a place where you can easily have three coffees before noon and not think twice. Be careful though: their coffee is strong, and if you’re about to be stuck on a boat for three hours, I’d limit your caffeine intake.

Near the Parthenon--Athens

Near the Parthenon–Athens

2. Scenery. If you’re a fan of sunshine all day, lush green trees, historic architecture, and the greenest, brightest sea water you’ve ever seen, then Greece is the place for you. The whole country is a photographer’s Nirvana; there are endless things to photograph, whether you’re simply a tourist or a professional photographer. The country is simply majestic.

Palace of Knossos--Crete

Palace of Knossos–Crete

3. History. The history of Greece dates back thousands of years, and the Greeks were some of the first storytellers. You’ll find museums with sculptures, paintings, and learn about the Greek theater. Anyone interested in the history of theater must go to Greece, because these guys were the first actors in history. If it weren’t for the Greeks, we wouldn’t have had Shakespeare, or Breaking Bad!

While the food, scenery, and history were my three favorite things about Greece, there are endless amazing things to experience. The country is diverse and the culture is unique and rich. The people are warm and happy. If you ever have the chance to travel to Greece, you will have the trip of a lifetime.

The Grinch Who’s *Trying* to Steal National Novel Writing Month

Source: revolutionpublish.com

Source: revolutionpublish.com

The library in my town is promoting National Novel Writing Month, which starts this November. Before I had time to research the event online, I have already found a grinch who’s upset that people want to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. Her name is Laura Miller, and she is a staff writer and one of the co-founders of Salon.com. I was simply perusing Google for articles about this national writing event because it’s the first I’ve heard of it, and I was curious because I have always wanted to write a novel. “Why not research and participate?” I thought. “I could write a novel in a month…maybe.”

Laura Miller appears to think otherwise. Her opinion, in an article titled, “Better yet, DON’T write that novel,” is for me to do exactly what she has stated in the title. You can find the article here. I don’t know why she bothered to write an entire article when she’s already told me how she feels. “Okay, Laura, I get it. You’re having a bad day. But honestly, National Novel Writing Month can’t be that bad, can it? Just tell me why you think that.”

Laura’s opinion is that the organization’s mission is a load of crap. Their mission is essentially for anyone to reach a goal of writing 50,000 words by the end of November. They are hoping to promote the importance of writing every day, and making that a daily routine. For Laura, this means that people who have no business writing a novel will attempt to do so. Even though she’s not a publisher reading these manuscripts, it pisses her off. I mean, how dare these people try their handing at writing? The nerve!

She goes on to dash the dreams of writers everywhere, saying that it’s a waste of time because 1. You suck at writing if you aren’t a published author already, 2. No one reads novels anymore, and 3. We should be reading, not writing. Laura Miller is the Grinch Who Stole National Novel Writing Month. The end of her article commends two women who began an event in which they read a lot of books. Those women knew their place: they should only read books, not write them!

My challenge for us is not only to DO National Novel Writing Month, but also to prove this Laura Miller woman, and all people like her, wrong. Just because arrogant writers believe that anyone who isn’t a published author shouldn’t dare try to write, I believe we have that right. Perhaps Laura has become a Grinch because she one day realized she could never write a novel, and she has been since out to crush the dreams of others? In my opinion, as long you’re not waving your novel in my face, you can write as much as you damn well please.

My advice to Laura Miller is to get off her high horse and let people have fun. Maybe if we all write amazing novels, she’ll realize what she’s missing and look down from her cave at the top of the mountain, watching us dance around the Christmas tree. Maybe she’ll participate next year. Her tiny heart will grow, and she’ll celebrate by writing every day of November away, spreading joy to all.

Creativity in America Today: What Is It? And Where Is It Hiding?

Source: dailypaintings.com

Source: dailypaintings.com

“Creativity” is about as complicated a word as “art.” They mean different things to every person. For this blog post, I want to use my personal definition of what creativity is to me, and where it’s gone in America (I don’t know about everyone else, but I think it’s hiding somewhere.).

For me, creativity is when a person uses his/her imagination to create a new idea. This can be done by mimicking other ideas, but the key thing is that there must be something new added to the idea when someone mimicks an idea that already exists. How can we be creative according to this definition? Various forms of art (also a more specific description of creating a new idea using your imagination) come to mind (but are not limited to):

1. Art (general)–Examples in this group include traditional ideas of art: painting, drawing, sculpting.

2. Writing–Many genres of writing exist, and examples include: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and screenwriting.

3. Music–Singing, playing instruments

4. Acting

5. Design–Examples include: furniture design, architecture, interior design.

Over the years, Americans have seen vast changes in the public education system. Education is a process that is changing continuously nationwide. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing; some changes can have a positive impact on students. But for me, the question is whether or not we think these changes will benefit or hinder students.

While I do have an opinion about that, that is for another post. What I want to ask of readers is, according to my definition of creativity, do you think it exists in the American educational system today? This answer can be based on any life experiences you have, things you may have seen in school settings, or day-to-day interactions with students. Also, do you feel that creativity is something that is taught as a significant value of our educational system?

Comment with your answers. 🙂

 

Breaking Bad: The End of Greatness

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Source: huffingtonpost.com

The definition of a genius according to the Oxford Dictionary is, “A person who is exceptionally intelligent or creative, either generally or in some particular respect.” According to this defintion, Vince Gilligan, the creator of the AMC smash series Breaking Bad, is a genius. Not only is he a genius, but so are the actors in the show, particularly the leads Bryan Cranston, who plays Walter White, and Aaron Paul, who plays Jesse Pinkman. The storyline, acting, and plot are all the definition of genius. The show will go down in television as one of the critically acclaimed best television shows of all time, and it is for good reason.

Breaking Bad, according to Gilligan, is a slang phrase meaning “Raising Hell.” This is just what Walter White, a 50-year-old high school chemistry teacher, decides to do in the pilot episode. On his 50th birthday Walt is diagnosed with cancer. While on a ride along with his DEA brother-in-law, Hank, Walt gets a glimpse into the world of making methamphetamine. Walt wants to make money fast to provide income for his family because he may not have much time to live. Providing income is important for Walt because his wife is pregnant, and he cannot pay for cancer treatment and a new baby on his teacher salary. But it appears that this isn’t the only motive Walt (a chemistry genius) has for going into the meth-cooking business. Maybe he does want to raise hell. Up until the age of 50, it appears that Walt has led an ordinary life. When he is given a deadline for his time left on Earth, Walt takes drastic action.

Walt seeks out a meth cook he saw on the DEA ride along, a previous student from his chemistry class, Jesse Pinkman. The two characters are vastly different in their ages, family backgrounds, and their life choices. Jesse has been a hell-raiser for many years, while Walt has walked a straight path for nearly 50 years. Their differences and the situations they run into as they begin to cook meth develops their characters immensely throughout the show.

Bryon Cranston, Aaron Paul, and other actors from the show have been recognized for their performances, and the strength of the entire cast is rare to see in television. The character development and depth is unlike any show I have ever seen. No matter how minor the character’s role in the show, we see every character’s flaws, strengths, and histories. It fills in the gaps and helps the viewers understand the story as a whole. The characters are all complex and three-dimensional.

Walt is the defintion of an anti-hero. He is the protagonist, yet as the series progresses, he displays traits of being a villian. His actions are evil, gruesome, and disturbing at times, yet not to the point that the viewers lose faith in him. Cranston brilliantly walks the line of creating a complex and conflicted character who the audience continues to root for, despite his flaws.

Aaron Paul’s character, Jesse Pinkman, is a drug dealer at first glance, but as the show develops, so does Jesse. We see many sides of him throughout the series, and Paul’s performance is sheer genius. The complexity he brings to this character is some of the best acting television has ever seen. Jesse is no longer just a drug dealer who has lost his way. He has many issues that manifest throughout the series. The audience is taken on a rollercoaster ride of his emotions, and Paul shows every emotion beautifully.

Breaking Bad is drama and action, but the storyline, acting, and plot of the series have made it a historical piece of art, and a piece of genius.

Tips For Writers

Writers! Here is a clever blog, called The Belle Jar. This post has some helpful advice for when we’re struggling with ideas.

The Belle Jar

Write because you have something to say.

Write because you’ve always wanted to.

Write because you only just realized that you might die next week, or tomorrow, or five minutes from now, and you want to leave something behind for posterity.

Write because you have a secret fire burning inside of you and the only way that you can fan the flames is by sharing your thoughts with someone else.

Write because you’re bored and don’t have anything better to do.

Write for yourself.

Write for other someone else, or maybe everyone else.

Write because you love seeing your stats counter surge every time you post something. Write because nothing satisfies you quite so much as seeing others share what you’ve written. Write because you like the attention; there’s nothing wrong with liking the attention.

Write because it fills the emptiness in your heart or your soul or your pancreas…

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Documentary Movie Review: Consuming Kids

Source: megehee.edublogs.org

Source: megehee.edublogs.org

Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood, is a 2008 documentary written and directed by Adriana Barbaro and Jeremy Earp that gives insight to American marketing and advertising that targets children. We see advertisements daily without even realizing it. Companies promote their products on billboards, television, Facebook, cereal boxes. The only way we can escape these marketing strategies to live in the mountains, never venturing into the real world. This film shows the strategies companies are taking to advertise to children specifically; conveniently for billion-dollar corporations, there are no governmental laws preventing them from doing this in America (yet almost every other developed country in the world has laws restricting this).

This film shows the intensive psychological studies companies do in order to target their marketing to what children will want. Their methods are creepy and borderline-stalking behavior. Yet these companies are doing anything they can to make billions of dollars. And it works. They take years planning every detail of their advertisements to cater to what will make them money.

Over the last 50 years with the advancements in technology, the way companies view the children they are marketing products to has changed. Companies are now realizing how significant and powerful children are in the success of a product, and thus develop strategies that revolve around targeting children directly. In the past, the parents bought inexpensive toys for their children because toys were age-appropriate in the past. Now, companies create products advertised for younger children when the product is designed for older children. This explains the creation of the term “tween.” Companies created this term as a sneaky way to market teenage products to younger children, thus making more money.

Consuming Kids shows that there are no limits to what companies will do. They have studied infants and have discovered that we begin to recognize and distinguish brands at six months of age. This discovery has led to thousands of new products designed for babies, and the products themselves are expensive and have never been scientifically proven to work. The Baby Einstein movies, for example, are movies for infants. Research shows that children who grew up watching these movies show no more intelligence than children who never watched them. Also, further research has shown that children watching television before the age of two can be damaging to their attention span.

This documentary is asking the viewer to peel back the layers of what is just beneath the surface, and realize that not everything is as it seems. This is a deceptive world, and asking questions is crucial.

 

Miley Cyrus: Professional Attention Whore?

Source: entertainment.verizon.com

Source: entertainment.verizon.com

Ah, that infamous VMA performance. Whether you’re five, 90, have cable, don’t own a TV, or have never heard of the VMAs or Hannie Montanie, you have heard of Miley Cyrus’, um, “dance moves,” for lack of a better phrase. Whether you troll her Twitter account or couldn’t give a shiz, you may secretly have an opinion about this 20-year-old trainwreck (or maybe you think she’s a genius?). No matter what your thoughts are, you have them. And from the information I’ve briefly gathered about Miley, my final opinion is that she is a professional attention whore. Joke’s on us! While all the parents of America are writing complaints about what a bad role model Miley is for their young, precious daughters, Miley’s raking in millions of dollars.

Think about it: Miley has been quoted in her timely-aired MTV “documentary” as saying that she knows her hair is ridiculous, her MTV performance is meant to look silly and raunchy, and she is purposely looking like a “giant kid.” While the performance appears to be a young girl having a meltdown, Miley has been calculating her career moves, or, at least, calculating how she can get the most attention and make the most amount of money.

After the VMAs, millions were Tweeting about Miley’s performance, which broke Twitter records for trending. In a tweet where Miley referenced the millions of people talking about her, she made it clear how proud she was of this. For her, all press is good press. She has brilliantly managed to remain in the spotlight for more than 15 minutes by appearing naked…everywhere. In her new music video, and on magazine covers, Miley seems to be a nudist. She also appears to be a twerkaholic. Miley always finds time in her daily routine to twerk for the American people and make sure the evidence is revealed to the public.

Many of us are outraged by her behavior. We may feel disgusted, annoyed, or pray that twerking will die with whoever started the trend. But no matter how much hate Miley gets, all that she hears is, “Cha-Ching, Cha-Ching.” Either she has managed to live happily without any self respect or she has a low self esteem and will have a real-life meltdown in the future, but for now Miley appears to have cracked the entertainment business code. In today’s world, you don’t need talent to be infamous or rich. You need to milk the shock-and-awe attention until your time is up and someone replaces you in the entertainment industry.

If Miley wanted to be respected for her talent, she would be making decisions to do just that. But it’s clear that she’s not after that. Miley is looking for success in the moment, and by that I mean money. She craves attention no matter how negative. It seems that for Miley, no matter what people are saying about you, all that matters is you’re being talked about.