Sunday, December 7, 2014


A few days ago my mom came to pick me up from the Howard L station, on the border of Evanston and Chicago, and told me that she made an illegal U-turn right infront of a police man, but that he didnt even give her a warning. I can't help but think what would have happened if my mom had been a black person instead. Would they have gotten off "Scott free" like my mom?

With so much going on in the news about police brutality and the murders of non-threatening black people like Eric Garner or Michael Brown, its hard not to think that the police man would have fined a black person just because of their skin color.

How is it that it feels like we've made no progress with racism and the equality of all skin colors as a country, over the past 50 years?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

America; Home of the Turkey and Tee-shirts

I love tradition and I love shopping. Put them together and what do you have? Black Friday. It's a perfect excuse to drag your friends along to participate in day where people are brainwashed to think they're getting much better deals then they actually are. The fact that I knew this, yet still decided that going to Old Orchard Mall while thousands of people were also going shopping at the same place, says a lot about how this society is persuaded by false advertisements.

A fellow blogger, Seth Godin, offers four steps for how he believes a marketing phenomenon is created:
1. Find something that people are already interested in doing (in this case, shopping)
2. Add scarcity, mob dynamics, a bit of fear.
3. Repeat the meme in the media. Press releases, B roll, clever statistics regardless of veracity
4. Do it on a slow news day, and mix in famous names, famous brands and even some hand-wringing about the plight of workers.

Godin's steps help prove that companies will take advantage of peoples interests and manipulate them to increase their own profit. Sounds kind of like Black Friday, which was created for the sole purpose of tricking consumers to think they're saving more money than they actually are.

Thanksgiving is one of the most (if not the most) American holiday this nation celebrates, yet the day after seems to have a greater influence on American lives than the holiday itself. Is that how Americans really want to percieved? I guess we've truly accepted our title as the worlds largest consumer nation.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Money solves all problems...

Although I'm no expert on the subject of football, the topic of domestic abuse in the NFL this year was too captivating not to notice. I'm speaking, of course, about the Ray Rice case. Yesterday, it was announced that Rice was officially reinstated back into the NFL, and is now eligible to sign with any NFL team.

I'm sure Rice is glad to be put back in the league, but what about his wife? I wonder how she feels, listening to him promise to "continue working hard to improve myself and be the best husband, father, and friend, while giving back to my community and helping others to learn from my mistakes." While this statement sounds quite enticing, its much easier said than done. The fact that Rice has returned to the NFL does not ensure the safety of his wife.

Janay Palmer, (now referred to as Rice), stated in a interview with Jemele Hill, that she was "sick to my stomach," so much that she could not bring herself to watch the second video of Ray Rice beating her. How could someone stay with a person like Rice after being physically abused by them, let alone marrying them?

Is it possible Janay Rice decided to stay, and then marry, with Ray for his money? I see no other logical explanation. Who knows if that was the first time he's hit her, unless he's that unlucky to have gotten it caught on camera the one and only time he's ever laid a finger on Janay. I know I have a naive perception of love, so maybe I just do not understand, but how could you ever stay with a person who could hurt you so much, and yet still says they love you?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

What's Your Number?

I'm just going to say what everyone is already thinking. Standardized tests suck. Evidently, I have a lot of issues with standardized testing, and, after taking a practice ACT this morning, it has only made me more fired up towards the entire system.

ACT and SAT scores do not represent students in an accurate way. For some people, they can study, walk in, take the test, and get a 30, (or above), without having to put forth much effort. For others, like myself, testing is much more of an ordeal. It doesn't come, I guess you could say, as naturally as I wish it did. This is my first red flag with the ACTs: just because I may not be an excellent test taker, should not mean that I am not a hard-working, intelligent individual.

The culture of the ACT and SAT encourages students to pour themselves over studying and taking  practice tests all for a number that will help determine the college you get in to. How can we say that that is who we are? As students, we are letting ourselves be confined and limited from so much more than we are capable of. The former Dean of Admissions, Bates College, William Hiss, offers his experience: "I'm trained as an ethicist, so I wasn't trying to find the perfect formula to admit students when I was dean of admissions. Rather, I was trying to say, how do we understand human intelligence? How do we understand promise?" Hiss understands and values the fact that there is so much more to a student than just some test score. He searches for students that apply themselves to learning, and who embrace their education in other ways, for example, participating in sports or playing a musical instrument.

During this stressful time of tutors and ACT/SAT crash courses, I'd like to remind people of the fact that you are still a person, not just a number.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ballet: Sport or Art?

In the world of sports, ballet has always been ignored as a "candidate", until recently. A few months ago, Under Armour came out with a brand new campaign and slogan, "I will what I want." (Below is their new advertisement with New York City Ballet's soloist Misty Copeland.) 

Under Armour has developed a much greater understanding, and respect for ballet than any mainstream athletic company I've ever seen.  Dance, ballet specifically, has been poorly misunderstood by the "non-dancers" of our society; they see dance as a heavily feminine activity that we do for fun. 
I disagree with Brittany Kottler, who wrote the article Ballet is an Art, Not a Sport, because she says "Ballet itself is not a competitive sport; it's an art." Why can't it be both? 
Not only are dancers competitive among each other, but even dance companies are competing to achieve the highest rankings, and to always come up with the best new and exciting ideas, so to say ballet isn't competitive would be false. As a dancer myself, I speak for many when I say that ballet is incredibly demanding both physically and mentally, its competitive, and highly time consuming. But above all else, ballet is beautiful, and the moment you step out on stage everything else is forgotten. 

I feel as though Under Armour truly captured the intensity and strength that pertains to ballet, not sugar-coating their message to keep doing what you love, no matter how hard it may be.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

ALS doesn't scare him

I know we've all seen, or perhaps even been a part of, the ALS ice bucket challenge frenzy. All of the press and attention the organization gained made the disease seem almost like it wasn't a disease at all. Because ALS is so rare and fatal, I never thought it would ever personally affect me- until this past weekend.
My family's close friends from New Jersey came to visit us, and the husband was diagnosed with ALS about four months ago. I've known for a while that Arthur [Cohen] had been officially diagnosed with the disease, but upon actually seeing him, it was hard to wrap my brain around the reality that this despicable "thing" was actually effecting him now.
Now, I understand this may sound like a cliché blog post, but Arthur has truly accepted the idea of the "power of positivity." Not only does he face every single day with a smile and a thumbs up, (his trademark sign), but he refuses to let the disease keep him from doing the things he loves including his successful career as a photographer, or running his non-profit organization called Pickals. (They make pickles and sell them to donate money for the ALS foundation.)
It's terribly sad, and even ironic, to see the most energetic and talkative person I know, deteriorate before my eyes, although he refuses to see things that way. Even though he can't tie his own shoes, put on his watch, or cut his own food, he smiles and winks at me, his thumbs up high in the air. Instead of giving up, Arthur has chosen to live his life the way he wants to, embracing his disease, and the many bumps in the road that will follow.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Power of No Power

Several weeks ago, the power went out at my house.  When I was younger, I remember it being this exciting thing; no power meant an adventure. Now? A burden, to say nonetheless. At first, it was just awkward, sitting in silence with my parents by candlelight, because we didn't know what else to do. That moment was followed by the realization that I wouldn't be able to charge my iPad or iPhone, and slight panic set in as I considered the fact that my phone might...die. The next morning I woke up to the power working in my house. Although I was relieved, it made me think- if I couldn't even last 5 hours with out technology, what would happen to an entire society without technology for a week?

This world we live in, based on human desire, revolves around the use of technology. We are "satisfying each impulse in the physical world with the ease and speed of digital tools... Hit a button and something happens in the world (that makes life easier for you)." Alexis Madrigal provides a good point- with the use of smart phones, we have access to pretty much everything we want in the palm of our hands. "With all the powerful social technologies at our fingertips, we are more connected- and potentially more disconnected- than ever before," says  Susan Tardanico, as she explains that 'on-hand' technology makes it easier for teenagers [specifically] to live in two different worlds. Taken from a nationally representative survey, out of 802 teenagers ranging from 12-17, 78% have cell phones, one in four teens have a tablet, and nine in ten teens have access to a laptop/computer at home. Those are three ways for teenagers to become wrapped up in a virtual world, where you don't necessarily have to be yourself, so much that teenagers today struggle having face-to-face interactions with people.

We have "broken the barriers of space and time, enabling us to interact 24/7 with people with more people than ever before." The fact of the matter is that is this honest communication? In our society we no longer require face-to-face communication, therefore will we even utilize human interaction 30 years from now? What would happen if the power went out then?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Up's and Down's of Social Media Today

This past weekend I watched the film "Chef", which John Favreau wrote, directed, and starred in. It was an incredibly uplifting story about a critically acclaimed chef who realizes he needs to get his passion and inspiration back. He turns to the food truck business where his love for food is instantly revived. Much of this movie is based on the use of social media, and how many positive aspects there are when you fully embrace the opportunities Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and many more, provide.
After finishing the movie, I couldn't help but think about how our generation (of teenagers) uses social media, and the impressions we allow people to believe. For starters, we use Facebook and Instagram mainly to display ourselves-who we are, the things we like, etc.  The selfies and the constant updates of what we're doing, that no one actually cares about in all honesty, persuades people to believe all teenagers are innately selfish and and self-involved. I don't deny what Sharon Nton-Ntan said in her article about teenagers and social media and how we search for "validation and recognition from total strangers," and "feeling satisfaction, temporary sense of belonging." She feels that we've made everything "about us," and although I can't disagree social media has changed how we think and feel about other people and ourselves, I don't believe it automatically makes all teenagers needy attention seekers. We use social media as a way to express ourselves. Because you only see our side of the conversation, it comes across as self-involved, when in reality we simply send things out into the vast world of social media in hopes that just one person will see us for who we are.

The hilarious clip above is one of many examples in the film that show how social media isn't as trivial as some may think. Throughout the movie, you see the father, played by Favreau, and his son grow closer together. The son teaches his dad how to use twitter, (the short scene above), takes videos and pictures to document their trip with the food truck, and even promotes his father's business. Social media offers a sense of connectedness between people, and is able to bring to people from all over the world together with one cohesive idea. This is a huge contribution to why small businesses, food trucks to be specific, are able to thrive utilizing Twitter and Facebook. (Especially when this kind of advertisement is free.)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Gender Steryotypes Still Prevalent in the 21st Century

Julia Pierson resigned from her role as the Director of the United States Secret Service, after 30 years of devotion.  While Director, The service made several huge mistakes that could not be over looked, including letting an armed intruder break into the White House, making it through three rooms before being apprehended.  In addition, another event was reported that a private contractor with a concealed gun had been cleared to share the same elevator with President Obama. Pierson had failed to acknowledge the President of the situation, even though she had the opportunity.  These incredibly dangerous mistakes were not excusable by Pierson. I don't disagree with her resignation, although I do not agree with Bryce Covert--that being a woman had anything to do with Pierson's failure.

Women are "thought to have qualities associated with cleaning up messes," Covert explains, so when a company's success begins to plummet, many times a woman will be brought in to 'clean up'. For hundreds of years, women were percieved as the cooks and cleaners of the household. It wasn't until the 1960's that women actually had a fair chance at getting a job in the work force. We say times have changed, although men still see us as the "cleaners" of the world, picking up after the messes they've made. Pierson was the first woman to become the director of the Social Service in its "149-year history," and will probably be the last due to her failure.

People fail all the time...including men. Why is it that when a woman fails, the fact that she in a WOMAN is brought up? Is it fair to judge a person's actions based on their gender?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Question of Independence for 16-year-old Scots

This past week, Scotland held a momentous election - to vote whether or not it should become an independent nation after 300 years of living under British rule. But after the vote on Thursday, Scotland maintained its position as a part of the United Kingdom (55% no, 45% yes).  Alex Salmond, now former leader of the SNP, had specifically lowered the voting age to 16 and 17 year olds, primarily because the younger generations of today tend to be more progressive and open minded when it comes to breaking old traditions and accepting new ones.  He had been sorely mistaken.  A majority of the teenagers had voted against Scotland's independence, their decisions shocking both Salmond, as well as myself.

As a 16 year old myself, I can understand why many of the teenagers voted against such a huge change to their country.  These voters have the most at stake in this situation.  Their youth means that they will have to live with the consequences and implications longer than any other voter. "I'm part of the next generation of young people who will be left with the legacy of this referendum where the ramifications of the result will be felt throughout our lives," said Stephen Anderson, 17. Their youth also means they still have an authoritative figure making decisions for them and taking care of them-- sort of like how Britain takes care of Scotland in a sense.  They're not ready for "independence" as 16 year olds and their votes show similar feelings for Scotland.  Putting myself in their position, I would have voted against independence as well, opting for the safer choice.  It's easier to chose what you know rather than the unknown, especially when it determines the fate of your own country.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

She's done it again.

Today I was able to witness the "legendary" Serena Williams take home her 18th Grand Slam at the age of 33 years old. (Her first win at the young age of 17).  Everyone knows that Serena is a great champion of the sport, but the more I thought about it, I was staggered by how someone can be at the top of a highly competitive sport for so long.

First of all, tennis is highly competitive sport.  Especially when you're number one; everyone wants to knock you down.  There's always someone younger, someone just as good as the more seasoned players, with just as much focus and drive.  Serena has dealt with people like that for almost a generation now, yet she manages to stay on-top, constantly fighting them off as they seem to get younger and younger.  As a dancer, I can relate to that feeling of not only competition against your self as well as competition with everyone surrounding you.  There are the younger girls slowly creeping up from the levels beneath you, as well as the higher levels where the girls know they're better than you and love rubbing it in your face.  There's so much more that goes on underneath the surface between tennis players and ballet dancers that the 'audience' never discovers, although I like to think of competition as a healthy way to keep you going.  

Something I truly admire about Serena is the singular drive that she possess to keep her going, even when the game isn't going in her favor, she always manages to push foreword.  Many stars her age feel they can only push themselves for so long, until they've reached their tipping point.  They'll decide when they've had enough, retiring from the exhausting lifestyle of tennis.  Serena on the other hand has accomplished pretty much everything she's ever wanted, yet still strives for more.  She's never been ready to throw the towel in, to call quits and say "eh, I think I've had enough".  Watching her play tennis is so incredibly inspiring, showing the world what a fighter she is, each game at a time.  

Serena is truly a one of  kind athlete, the kind who always accepts a challenge, the kind of athlete who always  pushes herself to be the best she can possibly be, the kind of athlete who doesn't just quit while she's ahead.  After watching her play, Serena showed the world today how amazing she is, for the 18th time.  There are many reasons as to why Serena Williams is who she is, but the main reason why she has been untouchable for so long, is that she is fearless.  She doesn't let anything get in her way from what she wants, and its that razor sharp drive for success that lead her to where she is today.