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?