Monday, June 1, 2015

Chipotle says "No" to GMOs

As of April 2015, Chipotle is officially the first fast food restaurant in America to ever use food that is non-GMO, (meaning genetically modified). I believe that this major step Chipotle took will begin to also change other fast food corporations, especially because Chipotle is so popular; you can find one pretty much every where you go in America.

On their website, they have a great motto, or slogan, for their campaign: "Food with Integrity. G-M-OVER IT." If you read further down, Chipotle's mission statement lays it all out on floor, explaining that they "are on a never-ending journey to source the highest quality ingredients we can find. Over the years, as we have learned more about GMOs, we've decided that using them in our food doesn't align with that vision." In my opinion, this seems like a slap in the face to all other fast food restaurants in the nation. It's as if Chipotle is saying that because they've stepped up their game to better their food for the people, none of the other restaurants care enough to change their decision of ingredients for the health and safety of their customers.

On Chipotle's website, they do a good job informing the public about what GMOs are and where you would find them, and about the health and environmental impacts it has, but there are three specific statements they decided to pull out that enhance this idea that Chipotle has set a very high bar for other fast food restaurants.
1. Scientists are still studying the long term implications of GMOs.
2. The cultivation of GMOs can damage the environment.
3. Chipotle should be a place where people can eat food made with non-GMO ingredients.

I believe Chipotle made a positive change to their image and food, but again, there's this idea of always needing to improve things, always continue to set the bar higher and higher. Yet again, this is an example of the American ideal that the more you improve and work harder, you'll be more successful and make more money. What I'm struggling with is that is this a positive or negative to live by?

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Keeping up with the Age of Technology

Forget about your neighbor "the Jones'"; it's all about Keeping up with Apple now. Their desire to constantly and rapidly change the world of technology has made it almost impossible [for me] to keep up.

I have the iPhone 5s which is only a year old, and now there's already two different new models that have come out since then. It feels like everytime I upgrade, something even bigger and better and newer comes into play just moments after, and all of the sudden my skimpy little iPhone 5s is irrelevant. Of course this ideal makes complete sense as a part of the American ideal that constant persistence and improvement by working hard will pay off in the end. If you follow this path, it will lead you to success and riches. This mindset has been cemented into the brains of Americans and then applied to basically the entire country.

The most recent technology craze has been the apple watch, but I sincerely don't see the point. Yes, it's obviously cool, very sleek looking, and has got some awesome "techy" features like sending someone your heartbeat or even just having everything at the swipe of your finger tip. My question though, is what purpose does it serve? If you have to have your iPhone with you when you use the watch anyway, doesn't that defeat the purpose of the whole watch, hands free, shpeel anyway? I respect apple and a lot of their products,  but to me the apple watch seems like a luxury that is allowing for us to have even shorter more reserved encounters with one another.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Addressing Race on the Bachelorette

Up until two weeks ago, I had never seen The Bachelor or Bachelorette before. I was incredibly skeptical about watching it because the idea of a man or woman picking their "soul mate" pretty much based on looks doesn't seem like a genuine way to meet your husband or wife. Side note: another weird thing, to me, about the show is why do you have to be on tv to find love? My friend told me that not everything is judged by looks once the show gets past the first episode, so I decided not to judge the show's appearance because not only would I be a hypocrite, but also a ton of people seem to love it so why not give it a shot.

This week's episode shocked me, because one of the contestants during an interview commented on the fact that he felt he was only on the show because of his race. He said that he was concerned there was no connection between him and Kaitlyn, and that he was only being kept on the show because he was "the minority guy that fills a quota". I found him addressing this idea on such a widely watched show to be very interesting and unexpected. He, of course, was kicked off because of his rude attitude, and drunk talking behind Kaitlyn's back, but thats beside the point. On a show that is predominantly based on a persons' appearance, the idea of race comes up a lot, especially with the Bachelor/Bachelorette, because having an all white cast negatively affects their viewership.

A former Bachelor contestant, Sharleen Joynt, said "I have some sense of the apprehension that comes with feeling like you're in the ethnic minority, and certainly no one has ever given the 'bachelor' franchise any awards for diversity." As you can see, from this quote, the show does not have an interest with portraying diversity, rather wants to appeal more to the idea of drama to ensure the show is indeed interesting.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Circle of Media and Poverty

After spending the past week in AS learning about social classism, I stumbled upon an article by Charles Blow titled "The President, Fox News and the Poor," that seemed to fit perfectly with this topic.

President Obama spoke on a panel, at Georgetown university, that discussed poverty, where Obama stated his opinion that the media, mainly Fox News, has a tendency "to suggest that the poor are sponges, leeches, don’t want to work, are lazy, are undeserving." His main issue with this idea is that it's become more and more popular over the past 40 years.

A huge problem with generalizing the behavior and attitude of poor people, is that it allows for people negatively stereotype that poor people don't have any money because they don't work hard enough, when this is not the case at all. This assumption is mainly to blame the media for; you don't see them advocating narratives of hardworking individuals trying to make ends meet for their families. "Very rarely do you hear an interview of a waitress — which is much more typical — who’s raising a couple of kids and is doing everything right but still can’t pay the bills," says President Obama.

I completely agree with Blow when he says: "There are people across the income spectrum who are lazy and addicted and want something for nothing. But it’s unfair and untenable to pretend this is the sole purview of the poor." When the media shows stories of  poor people saying they want just want a free Obama phone, (explained in the article), that's not how most people of low income people act. But the more their viewers see stories like this, the more they believe it's true. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Debate on Affirmative Action

The ongoing debate of affirmative action in higher education is a very tricky subject, because both sides are greatly affected whether it's taken away or not. There needs to be a way to find a "happier" medium and find a better solution than discrimination.

One major issue that have people against affirmative action is that colleges are required to have a certain amount of minorities enrolled at their college in order to maintain a more diversified campus. In other words, they must fill quotas for students who may not necessarily be qualified the most qualified, which takes away the opportunity from students who most likely a better candidate for that particular school. A student should not get accepted into college simply because of their skin color; there are many more important qualities in a person that should be considered rather than whether that person is minority or not. An issue with this though is that "affirmative action is seen by many whites as nothing but a fancy term for racial quotas designed to give minorities an unfair break." (This was said by Peter Katel, author of an in-depth report on affirmative action.)

While some people feel that it allows for minorities to have an "unfair break" getting into college, when non-minorities have to work twice as hard, it makes me think: would minorities get accepted into college nearly as much with out affirmative action? With out the law to push colleges to achieve a more diverse school, who knows who they would actually accept. Some schools currently don't have affirmative action, and some do, so thats why I look forward to continuing my research on why this happens.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Chocolate Core

Coming from a predominantly white neighborhood and highschool, I have been very interested with the idea that upperclass white people tend to stray from poorer, more diverse neighborhoods, to escape from possibility of living amongst black, Latino, and other ethnicities. (I say this sarcastically, but there is proof to back this idea.)

I was reading the book, "The Coming White Minority", written by Dale Maharidge, where he provides interesting statistics that explain, one of many theories discussed in the book, why white people, specifically in California, had moved away from diverse neighborhoods into more upper class gated communities. 

Maharidge offers a good example to explain what white flight is. He says that, "in the East and Great Lakes region, whites do not like living near blacks. Detroit is the epitome of this detatchment: it has a central urban black community living in wretched poverty surrounded by suburbs filled with whites who have fled." The best image he offers is: "it (Detroit) has a chocolate core surrounded by vanilla, as one study described it." 

It's interesting phenomenon that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. It may be naive to hope one day everyone will live together and not care who their neighbor is, but it doesn't stop me from wishing for it. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Rise in college tuition...why?

When I say college tuition, you say insanely expensive! Yes, I know this is not exactly new news, although recently I've been questioning why a college tuitions cost so much. I believe that everyone deserves an education, and the fact that money is the main reason why some students can't go to college makes me feel sick.

From the NPR segment, How the Cost of College went from Affordable to Sky-high, Sandy Baum, a woman who spent most of her career studying trends of college tuition, said: "It's not that colleges are spending more money to educate students, it's that they have to get that money from someplace to replace their lost state funding — and that's from tuition and fees from students and families." When we pay for college, we're not only paying for the actual education, but the experience at that college as well. (Don't forget housing, and books, and meal plans).

"If over the past three decades car prices had gone up as fast as tuition, the average new car would cost more than $80,000." This was said by Paul Campos, writer for the Ny times, and his statement seems to make quite a...statement. Campos believes that increase in college spending is correlated to the rise of the "percentage of the population enrolled in college" as well as the "constant expansion of university administration." 

Overall, the cost of college has become increasingly expensive over the past 20 years, and shows no sign of stopping. It's even changed in the gap between my brother going to college, and me going to college, (3 years). At this rate, there's no way our society will be able to thrive in the future, when a majority of America won't be able to afford a college education

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Feminist Approach to Basketball

It's the big final four this weekend: arguably one the most exciting time of the most exciting sporting event of the year. More people watch the NCAA tournament than they do the Super Bowl, but did you know that, at the same time, there's also a women's final four tournament? Probably not, considering that the only people who watch it are the players' mothers and fathers.

My question though is why? Why is that people find woman's basketball a joke? What makes watching woman's basketball so undesirable? The other day I was watching tv with my dad and he was scrolling through channels on the guide menu, until he passed the channel that shows women's basketball. I merely suggested we put it on and my dad laughed in my face. When I asked him why, he simply said, "because no one really wants to watch women play basketball." My dad wasn't purposefully going against women playing basketball, (he has nothing wrong with women who play), he just has no desire to watch them play.

A lot of it has to do with the under-publicized players, unlike the NCAA where each team has players with personalities. You can get to know the players and feel like you have a sense of what kind of person they are not just on, but also off the court. You won't find that at all with women's basketball.

So tell me, what is so wrong with watching women play basketball?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Blank Box

I'd like to start this blog off with a question: What does "political correctness" mean to you? (Don't worry, there's no correct answer here.) In terms of the "wake of Charlie Hebdo", it's important to never forget the atrocities that occurred several months ago in France, but I want to focus on the why more than the what.

In this society, its hard to ever say something without offending at least one person's values or opinions, but that shouldn't mean that we lash out with accusations and aggressions...right? 
This cartoon above was printed years ago by Charlie Hebdo, although I find it incredibly accurate. Of course, the cartoonist (Shaw) intended for the cartoon to be highly sarcastic and leaning towards offensive, yet I still find it blindingly true. It has become so difficult in this day and age to say your opinion with out someone finding you wrong or at fault, therefore the only thing left in this world that can't offend someone is a blank box.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Madness during March Madness

Why aren't college athletes paid? This year's March Madness has really emphasized the fact that talented, hard-working athletes don't get paid a cent for their efforts. Each year, the NCAA generates a whopping $771 million, none of which goes to the actual players. So tell me, where does it go?

It's time for dedicated athletes, like Shabazz Napier, to finally earn money for the amount of time and energy spent on playing basketball. The ends don't justify the means. Last year, Napier was awarded the highly prestigious Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award, and he worked incredibly hard to maintain his ability and strength.

What people don't realize is that many of these student-athletes on scholarships barely have enough money to sustain themselves throughout the year. “I don’t feel student-athletes should get hundreds of thousands of dollars, but like I said, there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I’m starving,” Napier said to CNN. Even when Napier was starving, he would have to get up the next morning and go to class, and practice, and games where he had to "play up to his full capabilities," no matter what. I can also promise you that he's has not been the only college athlete to feel this way.

They put in their best efforts, yet the profit that is, literally, made off of them never makes it back to the players. The State Rep. Matthew Lesser stated that, "He says he’s going to bed hungry at a time when millions of dollars are being made off of him. It’s obscene." 

Basketball scholarships cannot cover everything, so basically these students are left in the dark to figure out how to pay for their other expenses. It's especially difficult when all of your time is consumed by either class or practices/games, so there's almost no time they're able to get any type of job. 

There are schools out there, like Northwestern, who are exploring ways to allow the athletes to unionize. The Northwestern union ruling seemed "kind of great" to Napier. At least its a step in the right direction.   

The athletes who spend the majority of their time working insanely hard aren't getting paid one dime for all their efforts. The money is used for equipment, or is used to fund the school (sometimes not even the athletics program), yet the people who need it the most are completely overlooked.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I heard it from CBS

What does credibility mean to you? Well, google defines credibility as the quality of being trusted and believed in. There are several interpretations to this word, but I'd like to focus on the importance of credibility in the news, pertaining to journalists, news casters, and especially talk show hosts.

The past several weeks, there has been a lot of talk about the news reporter/television host Bill O'Reilly, and that over the course of many years, he had been building up a story that has recently been proven false. He had made up accounts of being at a war zone in the Falklands, and that he had also heroically saved his camera man while escaping.
Starting on 1:56 and ending at 2:44, that section from the video above explains and shows Bill O'Reilly telling his fallacies on live television. The women who speaks at the end of the clip brings up the most important point: we rely on certain talk shows and news stations to obtain our information, but now its obvious and relevant that we shouldn't believe everything we are told. We must become more critical of the information we obtain, and importantly, where it is coming from.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Its on us

President Barack Obama made a very special appearance at the Grammys tonight. His eloquent speech addressed that "its on us" to change how we treat each other, and how our generation has the power to spread the awareness of domestic abuse, especially through the means of music.

It was mentioned several times, throughout the show, how important the impact of music has on people, and its ability to change someone's life. Last year at the Grammys, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed the song "Same Love," as Queen Latifa stood as a temporary commissioner to marry 33 couples of varying ages and sexual orientations. They made an incredible statement that night, showing that we should accept everyone, and the choices they make with their life.

This year, after President Obama spoke, a woman who was a victim of domestic abuse spoke bravely of her traumas, and following this was an enrapturing performance by Katy Perry. At the end of Obama's speech, he asked the artists to spread his message, and I felt this was a very smart choice. Targeting music artists who have a significant impact on our culture in this society, and the power and the ability to send positive messages out to their listeners, expands his message world wide.

I was really pleased to see such a huge, widely watched program like the Grammys, to address such relevant issues going on in our country. It means people are actually paying attention.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Old, White Men Love the Oscars

I'd like to continue the discussion of TV Tokenism, as I had talked about in my last post, and apply the topic to a more current and trending issue. This year's Oscar nominations have been highly disappointing, many people agreeing that the film Selma was seriously "snubbed". After talking about this in American Studies, I continued to wonder why no women directors were nominated, or no people of color to receive an acting nomination?

In the article "The Whitest Oscars Since 1998; Why the Selma 'Snubs' Matter," Kevin Fallon presents an interesting statistic: "94 percent white, 76 percent male, and average of 63-years-old— the nominations for the most prestigious and important awards in entertainment reflects the movie tastes not of a complicated, modern, and diverse culture, but a bunch of old white guys." Those numbers alone are incredibly alarming. How can this be ok? Last year, it finally felt like progress had been made, having several actors of minority nominated, (and who won oscars), while not a single person of color was nominated this year. Not one. Its hard to believe we're pretty much back to where we started, the year I was born actually.

The Oscars reigned in about 43 million views last year. I don't think all of those people watching were, like Fallon said, 63 year old men. A lot of the people that tuned in were probably excited to see some underdogs pull through, and finally gain some leverage in the entertainment world. I'm interested to see how many people will be watching the Oscars this year, and how many of those people will be rooting for Selma to win best picture just to throw the corrupt system of the Academy Awards a curveball. (Thats a whole other story though.) I wish there would be come consistency with racial diversity in the Entertainment business, and that instead, everyone has a fair shot at success with everything, but that would be too simple, right?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Get out of the Woods

After recently discussing TV tokenism, (which is when cable and network channels have a "token" minority character in their shows so they have the ability to claim their shows are diverse), in my American Studies class. I started to pay more attention to the shows, and movies I was watching, looking for the types of thing we talked about in class. Such as how long the minority character is on the screen for, how well are they dressed, what type of role are they playing. I noticed that the new movie/musical to hit theaters, Into the Woods, had zero African American actors, (or other minority groups), in the entire movie. Correction; there was one black couple that was on screen for approximately 2 seconds. As you can see below, here is a picture of all the white cast members.

For the past several hundred years, we've been told fairy tales, as children, about princes and princesses, mystical creatures, and fables that usually have an important moral of the story. Most of these stories were created from 17th to 19th century, when black people were initially brought to America from Africa, mainly used for slave labor as America was forming as a nation. Since then, it's always been inferred that white people will usually play the princes and princesses, and end up happily ever after. As our society continues to modernize its beliefs, I feel like we've come far enough to ditch the old fashioned values that Hansel and Gretel have to be white. So why can't Repunzel's prince be black? Why shouldn't an African American actor play the Baker in Into the Woods?

Finally, for the first time (6 years ago), Disney created a movie with a black princess called The Princess and the Frog. It was a huge game changer that children would be introduced to a beautiful black princess, who was also a great role model. For once a Disney princess wasn't looking for a prince to save her, he just happened to be an outcome for her following her dreams during a whimsical adventure to reverse a spell cast on her, Tiana, and the prince. Another great example is the new rendition of Annie, where the main characters are all African American.

Should we start telling children new stories of characters in fables described as African Americans, or  would that be too much of a jump? Why does it have to be that way, when we've made so much  progress over the past 50 years, especially in entertainment. Its hard to try and re-write history, so why not create new stories to tell our future children?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Where did America go?

I'd like to start off this post by simply stating my disappointment in America. With recent nationwide rioting of people standing up for the deaths of innocent people by police brutality, nothing goes better hand in hand with violence than a national distrust in this country. Several weeks ago, the Senate Intelligence Committee released vital information/documentation which showed the CIA had been using brutal, "and far less effective" methods of interrogation for terrorism suspects. The documents also show that the CIA's unethical tactics of interrogation have been going on pretty much since 9/11. For the past 14 years, there has been a major lack of communication between the Senate and the CIA, lying to public, and most importantly, embarrassed America by deserting our treasured values that we've firmly believed in for so many years. Now can you see my disappointment?

We (Americans) have been under the impression that our intelligence agency's do not use methods of torture to interrogate people, yet this has not been this case. Part of the American "way" is to stand up for your rights and what you believe is moral and just. What astounds me is the fact that the Senate Intelligence Committee had doubts and suspicions about how the CIA was handling business, yet they decided to investigate only recently. Published on their website, the CIA defends themselves by pushing back at the Committee. "Astonishingly, the SSCI Majority staff interviewed no CIA officers responsible for establishing, implementing, or evaluating the program's effectiveness. Let us repeat, no one at the CIA was interviewed."

With both sides attacking each other, its hard to know who is really telling the truth. Is that what this country has come to? We've lost America the Beautiful many years ago, and it's time to bring her back, along with all her values that started this country.