GiovanaDeOliveira and BridgetHoffmann, Staff Reporters
In recent years, there’s been a growing debate over cultural appropriation, which is the adoption of elements of a minority culture by members of the dominant culture. While cultural appreciation is used when elements of a culture are used while honoring the source they came from. It can be difficult for one person to distinguish the fine line between either of these scenarios. How can both sides of this controversial topic be happy without crossing the line of cultural or racial insensitivity?
It all begins with respect and knowing what rules you can not violate. For example, imagine someone decides to dress up as a Native American and wear a headdress for Halloween or a music festival. Yet, they have no sort of cultural background as a Native American and the place that they will be going to has no sort of aboriginal background within the community. That would then be wrong and it crosses the line of cultural appreciation and appropriation and the elements aren’t being honored like they should for appreciation.
The significance of religions and cultures are rooted in history. This means that if one decides that they want to wear something that comes from a different religion or culture to look “hip” or “trendy,” then they’ve crossed the line and are no longer appreciating that culture. However, when you try to participate in another culture and religion in order to show its members your respect, it has to be done right in order to truly be appropriate.
Understanding the culture and being able to use it in your own style depends on if you have any type of connection with it in your background in order to make sure that it does not become an inappropriate use of its relevance. No culture nowadays is homogeneous, meaning that it’s a society that has similar kinds of people, especially where there are no significant ethnic differences. This means you need to understand the history of its people to appreciate the culture correctly. However, no variation of using other cultures or religions to just be trendy is acceptable. Understanding where one person crosses the line of appreciation and into appropriation is essential to understanding how to not be offensive and disrespectful to others.
ChristianRonzoni, Editor of Seniors and Sports Sections
(Yes that is a REAL image captured over Kyushu, Japan in the early morning.)
The average person never really pays much attention to UFO sightings. While some may have read about the occasional incident, their curiosity never really expands beyond those few famous cases. It is far too often that focus of UFO stories is on the mystery itself as opposed to the solution of that mystery. Plausible explanations take a backseat to fantastical embellishments. The Netflix documentary – and I use the term “documentary” very loosely – Extraordinary: The Stan Romanek Story is about a man who claims to be harassed and pursued by aliens. In one scene, he has someone bob an alien mask you’d get for Halloween outside a window and it is played completely straight. We, the audience, are supposed to believe that this is a close encounter of the third kind when it looks like a close encounter of the trick-or-treat kind.
Stories that were genuinely different to rationalize, such as the Roswell Incident are the stories that deserve attention however, nothing can convince me that Earth is a galactic resort but these are all mystifying stories are all the same. To understand where I’m coming from in the sense that these are stories that need extra attention, we need to go back to the year 1947.
In the summer of 1947, news and government agencies across North America were flooded with reports of strange objects in the sky. This UFO mania was provoked by a pilot named Kenneth Arnold. On June 24, Arnold was flying over the Cascade Mountains in Washington when he observed a formation of nine saucer-like objects zooming across the sky. Unbeknownst to Arnold, this innocent description would come to popularize the term flying saucer.
The unknown objects appeared to be traveling at a speed of some 2000 km/h (1242.742 mph), a speed yet to be achieved by any man-made airplane in 1947. Arnold initially suspected he’d observed some secret military test flight, but the U.S. Air Force quickly denied responsibility and merely dismissed the sighting as some form of optical illusion. But it wasn’t quite that simple – not only was Arnold an experienced pilot but his story was corroborated by a number of witnesses on the ground, who all described a series of oval-shaped objects traveling at a tremendous rate of speed.
Furthermore, other sightings had been reported days before and would continue for many days after. There were more than 800 cases in less than a month, including the famous Roswell Incident. Publicly, the U.S. Air Force dismissed the sightings as nothing more than a combination of overactive imaginations and misperceptions of natural phenomena, but internally the Air Force was just as mystified as the public and quite concerned. Hundreds of unrelated persons from all walks of life, including high ranking military officials, scientists, engineers, politicians and professional pilots, reported uncannily similar experiences in the span of a few weeks. Both the public and the intelligence community grew increasingly convinced that something was hiding amongst the clouds.
In late June of 1947, the Air Force covertly launched a preliminary investigation into the sightings as they suspected that some UFOs could be vessels of foreign or celestial origin. By late September, the existence of advanced aeronautic vehicles could not be eliminated. While the majority of cases could be ascribed to natural phenomena, the maneuverability and evasive behavior displayed by some UFOs defied all conventional explanations.
It was speculated that these seemingly mechanical UFOs could be part of some top-secret military project, either foreign or domestic. It was feared that the Soviet Union had seized German technology after World War II and developed some advanced aircraft capable of covert infiltration of U.S. airspace. This led to the formation of Project Sign, a classified investigation that would attempt to determine whether or not UFOs posed a threat to national security. While the project members entertained a number of plausible causes, by the summer of 1948, a minority of credible and well documented UFO cases could not be resolved. These cases became known as the unknowns.
By process of elimination, Project Sign, therefore, concluded that the most probable explanation for the most inexplicable of cases was the extraterrestrial hypothesis. In other words, the unknowns did not appear to be from this Earth. However, once this report reached the Pentagon, it was rejected.
Whether this is proof that there are actual aliens out there and or of a government cover-up” is yet to be seen. But what we can conclude is that there is significant evidence that simply cannot be explained by any science or natural explanation.
There is a great disparity between society’s view of education and the environment created for students: the architecture of many schools is simply subpar. Chattahoochee High School is no exception.
In the late 1980s, Fulton County Schools planned to build four new high schools, Tri-Cities, Creekside, Roswell and Chattahoochee, for the growing district. To limit the cost of the new buildings, the same basic layout would be site-adapted for each school, rather than having an architecture firm develop four separate concepts. The proposed design was made of dull, sand and dirt-colored bricks arranged in stripes and featured a large classroom block in which parallel and perpendicular halls traversed the section much like the grid structure of a city. To the north and skewed to the side of this block was a large, circular gym with an incredibly stout dome. These two pieces of the building were lazily connected by a gym lobby. A main hall extended to the side, offering access to the cafeteria and library before stumbling upon the main entrance–formed of two long, gable roofs side-by-side perpendicular to the main hall to create an open canopy structure. Continuing on, two more halls protruded to the north, housing various electives classrooms, and an administrative wing was tacked on to the south. The furthest of those two halls was bisected perpendicularly by another hall that continued in the same direction of the main hall. This last wing included an auditorium and mixed-use classrooms. The only part that extended vertically from the one-story building was a series of health and physical education classrooms as well as an auxiliary gym arranged in a square pattern underneath the cafeteria. Admittedly, even writing this out is confusing, as the various elements lack cohesiveness and seem to be sloppily connected.
This standardization of architecture makes Chattahoochee feel out of place, as there is nothing about the design that connects it with the environment. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact architectural style for the building –probably because there isn’t one. The best descriptors would be either International Style–as the design emphasizes large, flat surfaces–or Brutalism–as the overall exterior, while made of brick and not concrete, creates the same imposing, discomforting mood. However, disregard for the vernacular architecture isn’t uncommon in suburbia. In fact, it’s quite normal, though not in any way acceptable.
Driving down the narrow, slow, two-lane road to the school almost feels as if the architects didn’t want anyone to see the building. Even though reality is that this road was supposed to continue on to connect with Parsons Road, the lack of accessibility is a major downside. Many neighborhood entrances and trees line the sides of the street, but as one approaches the school, the foliage gives way to a meadow of asphalt and geometric shapes that form the west side. Such a relative emphasis on the western auditorium and elective wing gives the impression that the bulk of the school lies there. However, this is not true. As we turn into the student drop-off circle at the entrance, the stout, lengthy, uniform wall to the east implies that perhaps there are, in fact, academic classrooms in the building.
All good pieces of architecture connect, relate and interact with the site; they circulate people between the building, street and surrounding landscape. Yet, here is a building that actively pulls away from the street, one that forces barriers between us and the world–as seen by the vast parking lots and driveways that separate land with seas of asphalt.
Modern schools are often jokingly referred to as “prisons,” and it’s easy to see why. The exterior alone depresses people with its lifeless sand and dirt colored bricks. The sides lack any form of ornamentation, and windows are as rare as good architecture in suburbia. Walking through the entrance is like going underground; it’s nearly impossible to tell what time of day it is while inside. There are two adverse effects to this subterranean atmosphere. Firstly, cell reception is rare, further emphasizing the “institutional” aspect to the building, and secondly, much more energy is consumed controlling the climate inside rather than utilizing natural aspects of the site. The main hall is clad in the same bricks as the exterior, but here, the dismal, fluorescent lights make the mood even more dispiriting. Just as little thought went into the rest of the interior design: locker breaks are sporadically placed, sections of cinder block are placed in the middle of the halls which inhibit circulation and the breaks between various building additions that happened over the years are not smoothed over.
The school’s relationship with the site is minimal, but even the circulation between various spaces inside is questionable. For one, the main hall stops short of the last two halls, forcing traffic through the upper F Hall intersection and creating major congestion. Likewise, class changes before and after lunch are especially hectic because of the massive onslaught of people forcing their way out of the cafeteria and into the classroom block. Moreover, the placement of the CT Hall in the middle of the A Hall drives home the notion that Chattahoochee is a maze-like mess of competing components.
The one simple part of the design is that it’s composed of four basic geometric shapes: circles, squares, rectangles and triangles. The circular, dome-capped gym is an innovative element evoking images of large stadiums or even the Colosseum, albeit without the arches. However, the curved walls clash with the rigid lines of the rest of the building. The gym lobby’s north wall ends up bending so that the northeast corner extends awkwardly beyond the normal foot traffic area. The connection from the gym to the cafeteria is also graceless, as the sliver of lower ceiling between the two forms a hall of gawky, varying width. Lastly, the curved wall in the media center, though it makes the space interesting, is completely unnecessary and looks foreign compared to the hard lines near the entrance.
Though efforts were made to improve the aesthetics (gable skylights in the intersections, colonnade-like sides in the cafeteria and a well designed gallery space as an auditorium lobby), this building is quite strictly utilitarian. There is no life here, only masses and forms. It speaks to a very conservative model of education, one in which the teacher lectures and the only job for students is to listen and scurry around between classes. The few examples of flexible classrooms are results of later renovations. This explains the lack of communal spaces in the building. Very scarcely are there places to sit, catch up with friends or work on homework, and even in the areas that have some sort of seating, it is always very limited.
More recent developments look promising, however. Towering almost two stories over the original building, the new entrance stands as a stark yet welcome contrast. The breadth of the arched roof, monumental nature of the stone pillars and liveliness of the glass curtain walls draped around stand as a testament to what Chattahoochee truly values, even though the rest of the building might not always align with it. Its greatest asset is the addition of more communal space. Though the administration doesn’t quite allow the entrance to function like this, the school desperately needs it to. The uplifting environment it creates and the way it connects with the site is almost analogous to Le Corbusier’s concept of raising buildings on “pilotis.” Again, it’s not about what it is, but rather what it could be.
In addition, the new lecture design and layout in G125 brings an air of freshness, new paint colors throughout the building lighten the atmosphere and the current media center is both innovative and successful. The greatest outlook comes from the art hall, where student work and instillations adorn the walls bringing splashes of color and vibrancy. This truly sets an example for the rest of the building. Perhaps we should not think of Chattahoochee’s architecture as a dismal failure (not that it isn’t) but more as a blank canvas: a chance for opportunity. These institutional, cinder block walls could be so much more.
Design-wise, Johns Creek is just as much a city as Lake Lanier is an ocean. This is true for many suburban areas, where various winding roads and strip malls are grouped together to create a “city.” In reality, these are far from the well designed towns we usually think of.
The entire concept behind the suburb is rooted in the idea that it’s more desirable to live on the outskirts of a city where there is more space. This allows people to have wide lawns, big houses and a “pastoral” life. Though it may seem as a “return to nature,” the suburb is just as man-made as the city. The winding streets that curl and curve to form cul-de-sacs aren’t built out of necessity but rather to create a constructed reality. There’s no practical reason to do this other than to make the space “feel” more natural or pastoral. Wide lawns exist only because having lots of land makes it seem like someone is wealthy and stable. If we built more compactly, that land could be used for agriculture or new development. Having a big house gives people space to live freely, but it also degrades our mental health, as it’s easier to hide in our own rooms instead of socializing with others.
Perhaps the worst aspect to the suburb is how much it emphasizes the use of the car. Having our own personal vehicles may give us privacy and freedom, but it also alienates us from others. We end up too absorbed in our own little bubbles to notice or talk to the people around us. It’s also no secret that cars are environmentally unfriendly, but we usually focus on the amount of carbon emissions they create rather than how much space and energy they waste. Next time you’re stopped at a red light, take a look around you and think about how many buses it would take to transport everyone around you. More often than not, it would take one bus half full, rather than the plethora of individual cars stretching 300 feet from the intersection.
Cars also create a hellish landscape for pedestrians. Since it’s almost impossible to get anywhere without a vehicle, we end up designing our environment for cars rather than people. Instead of placing buildings up against the street where it would give better circulation and easier access to the sidewalk, vast parking lots are constructed, pushing stores farther away from our fingertips. Having everyone travel around in their own personal bubble also means that more space has to be devoted to streets, making them absurdly wide and harder for pedestrians to cross.
So how exactly do we go about fixing this? Can we even fix this? It’s hard to say; most of what’s built isn’t going anywhere and would be too costly and difficult to ameliorate. Therefore, as we continue to build, we should keep some points in mind.
Firstly, the layout of the suburb should reflect that of a small town, where the layout is simple and everything converges at a central point. Johns Creek, for example, has no less than six “centers,” which are really just sections of strip malls. The best designed layout would be one so simple you hardly have to think about where you’re going. Whether it be in a radial, grid or some other pattern, the city’s layout should be obvious and clear to anyone that glances at a map. Street space should also emphasize pedestrian traffic, encouraging people to walk down the street to get lunch or meet with friends rather than drive.
So much of the architecture in suburbia is mass produced, cheap-looking caricatures of authentic buildings. Houses are a mess of mismatched windows, disproportionate walls, oversized roofs and garage-door voids. Ultimately, the architecture should speak to the individuality of a region, taking advantage of vernacular elements. Materials should be authentic, and buildings should not pretend to be something they’re not (in other words, don’t make a faux-Italianesque house in a colonial-style town in Georgia).
Although not vital, the resulting increase in density would make mass public transit more effective. Currently, we think of MARTA as the subway of Atlanta, which is true in many cases. However, when compared to the New York City Subway, the Paris Metro or the London Underground, drastic differences emerge. Perhaps the most notable one is that New York, Paris and London all have incredibly compact city cores, and even the outskirts of each are fairly dense and walkable. In Atlanta, the massive sprawl of the city’s planning means that each station must serve a plethora of far-flung suburbs miles from the center in order for the system to maintain enough ridership. The eventual densification of suburbia would mean that more stops and lines could be added to the existing MARTA system, and trains could run more frequently. This would also benefit the overall community as subway systems are specifically designed for people, not cars. They transport passengers directly to and from centers of commerce, not to mention the added bonus of not having to worry about parking in the city.
Our beloved “city” of Johns Creek could stand to be designed better. After all, there’s nothing “exceptional” about the typical suburb. As we progress in the modern world, it’s imperative that we create our environments to favor our well being, environment and community.
ChristianRonzoni, Editor of Sports and Seniors Sections
All of the tiny bright dots in the night sky are each individual stars or other solar systems that are millions of lightyears away. We naturally want to understand and be able to grasp the true vastness of space, as does the NASA program. With any journey into uncharted territory, unforeseen problems will almost definitely arise: the Apollo missions were no exception and did indeed encounter a few issues along the way. The problem that no one could have foreseen was moon dust.
The moon is covered with an extremely fine powder-like substance that, at first glance, is harmless. As the Apollo astronauts would discover, it wasn’t as harmless as it first seemed. Moondust is created by micrometeorite impacts which completely pulverize the lunar surface. Because there’s no wind or any other natural elements on the Moon which can gradually erode these tiny particles and fragments, they remain extremely sharp and potentially lethal. The moon dust prevented space suits and other equipment from working as intended. For example, astronauts had trouble moving their arms during moonwalks as the joints of the suits became damaged by the moon dust. It’s so corrosive that it even cut through three layers of Kevlar-like material on one of the astronaut’s boots – it takes 10 layers of Kevlar to stop an average bullet from a handgun. Furthermore, moondust is also electrostatic, meaning it clings to anything it encounters. After long moonwalks, the space suits were covered in black soot that both looked and smelled like gunpowder.
As it was more or less impossible not to bring the dust back into the lunar module, it caused some pretty significant issues for the astronauts themselves. During the Apollo 12 mission, the astronauts were forced to keep their helmets on inside the module to prevent as much of it as possible from getting into their eyes and lungs.
Of greater concern to most people than moondust is the popular question of whether life exists beyond Earth. Almost every scientist or astrophysicist has talked about this many times before but the answer always seems uncertain. Many games, popular TV shows, movies, books and figures have theorized about this topic for decades. However, the answer to “is there life out there?” does technically have a somewhat anticlimactic answer. We can almost certainly say that life does exist on both the Moon and on Mars.
When NASA and other space agencies send materials and people to other worlds in the solar system, they go through meticulous stages of sterilization. But there’s a great irony in this sterilization process: while these harshly sterilized environments do indeed get rid of bacteria and other microbial life, they also provide the perfect conditions for bacteria that can survive in space and thus other planets. Essentially, we’re able to remove almost every bacteria, except the things that have the greatest chance of surviving in space. However, just because they hitch a ride to another world does not they will survive and adapt. It’s more than likely that these extremophiles will eventually die instead evolving into something new. Still, for the first time in our history, it is technically wrong to say that the Earth is the only place in the universe with life.
Returning astronauts and cosmonauts have reported all on the exact same thing, which has come to be known as the “overview effect.”These astronauts and cosmonauts alike have reported a strong sensation of euphoria and even a significant cognitive shift in their perspective on life as well as themselves once they saw the Earth from a distance. Many have explained it as an overwhelming sensation that everything in the universe is somehow connected, that national boundaries completely vanish, coupled with the realization that our world is incredibly fragile. Looking back at the Earth from a distance must be an experience like none other. And what makes the overview effect so interesting is that it’s not an isolated incident. Many people who have returned from space after looking back at our planet, either from orbit or from the Moon, have explained the sensation in a very similar fashion. Psychologists, neuroscientists and many physicians have all reported that many of these people have had a notable shift in their behavior and outlook on life and the world. Astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell described his experience upon seeing the Earth from the Moon: “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say: ‘Look at that.’” Humans believe that they are all the center of the universe – that their problems are the biggest issues out of everyone else’s. What many chose to forget to remember is that their existence is nothing but a microscopic blip in the grand scheme of everything. People need to realize that they aren’t the center of everything and that all the political fights and wars over such insignificant things has to stop or else there won’t be anything left to fight over.
Donald Trump sits alone at the beginning of the G-20’s plenary session on July 10, 2017. (Photo: Felipe Trueba / EPA) – via NBC News
In the age of Trump, decades of foreign and domestic policy are all worthy of shakeups; the way the United States currently approaches defense spending, immigration, environmental and industrial regulation and much more presents a clear break from prior presidents. So, if any president were to reshape the way America conducts itself abroad, it would surely be him.
But in his quest to “make America great again,” the president is relying on outdated and deeply flawed tactics of realpolitik that discard sacred American values for political – and personal – gain.
For the purposes of this article, realpolitik describes a diplomatic strategy that prioritizes political success based on the harsh reality of the modern world over greater moral principles and ideological stances. The strictly pragmatic, goal-oriented stance inherent to realpolitik has led to decades of American support for authoritarian regimes, human rights abusers and outright intervention that still continues to this day.
What separates President Trump from his predecessors is the open embraceof realpolitik’s moral ambiguity: support for Saudi Arabia or Russia normally occurs within the framework of a “necessary evil.” Even the most liberal of presidents, President Obama, vetoed a congressional bill enabling families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in 2016 (albeit for some understandable reasons), and under his watch, the United States continued to supply arms, intelligence and aerial refueling to the Saudis for their operations in Yemen.
Trump and his advisors perhaps view these strange diplomatic ties as opportunities for self-aggrandizing trips or photo-ops and a bit of graft on the side, of course. From laying his hands on a glowing orb with the Saudis to using Mohammed Bin Salman as an easel to boast about American arms sales or even showing off the presidential limousine to Kim Jong-Un in Singapore, it seems like President Trump is all too willing to work with unsavory figures.
Again, it’s not as if President Trump is the first to shirk diplomatic relations with Europe or traditional allies to side with nations that are, at the very least, behind the times. From oppressive tactics against citizen activists and the press, their love of autocracy and authoritarianism and overt belligerence to neighboring powers, America’s new “friends” seem to have walked right out of the 1930s.
But the gusto with which Trump and his State Department are pursuing diplomacy against American values is frightening. Does the United States truly gain anything by employing realpolitik to secure Middle Eastern oil and counter Iran if it costs innocent lives? North Korea may remove their missiles (or, as reports show, they may not be), but what does giving them recognition on the world stage do – and what about their egregious human rights violations?
Realpolitik doesn’t care to answer questions like these. Morality and ethics get in the way of lowering gas prices or winning a Nobel Peace Prize for kowtowing to a dictator. Unfortunately, the outsider president’s foreign policy is firmly under control of insiders who have been pushing the same policy for decades: shoot first, ask questions later.
But if the United States wants to be taken more seriously in this day and age – and it ought to – the American foreign policy of tomorrow needs to incorporate one thing: morality. Dictators and authoritarians alike should no longer count on continued material or diplomatic support from the leader of the free world. A commitment to our own values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness must determine our involvement and diplomacy around the world.
Young people visiting the Newseum look out upon thousands of people gathered for March For Our Lives on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC on March 24, 2018. (Photo: Michael Reynolds, EPA-EFE) – via USA Today
2018, the never-ending year, is finally drawing to a close. What seemed like eons ago was only a month or two in the past, and every day has felt like a week. Yet, at last, the year is ending.
What a year 2018 has been. From threats of nuclear annihilation, a once-in-a-lifetime lunar eclipse and one of the worst shootings in American history to royal weddings, international summits and the centennial of one of mankind’s deadliest conflicts, 2018 has had plenty of ups and downs.
With regards to the mundane, 2018 will go down like any other year. Life went on, and we laughed, cried and cheered all the while. Unfortunately, though, the past 12 months have been beset by tragedy.
Ask the peers of the 17 students at Stoneman Douglas High School, who on Feb. 14, had their lives shattered forever; ask those at Santa Fe High School on May 18, who faced the same fate; or the reporters at The Capital on June 28; the attendees of a video game tournament on Aug. 26; the worshippers in a synagogue on Oct. 27; or the folks out for the night near Los Angeles on Nov. 7.We will all hear the broken and battered spirits of our time – at least those that made it onto the 24-hour news cycle.
We’ve seen the degradation of our ethics and values as roadblocks to politicians with ulterior motives, some with hate firmly in their hearts. From partisan squabbles over a ballooning budget at the year’s beginning and now at its end, conflict at the border and policy via Twitter, it is some comfort to know that 2018 was relatively consistent. Words like corruption, bribery, treason and conspiracy fly from talking heads so quickly they can hardly be digested before the next news bulletin.
Was 2018 the year of doom and gloom?
Not entirely, for life goes on. Community meetings and memorials, candle-lit sermons and mass gatherings and so many other acts of humanity have turned the tide of hopelessness that seems as viral as the common cold.
2018 was the year Americans decided to once more stand up for their own beliefs, their own values, their own institutions. They marched in the streets, from Denver to D.C. and from New York to New Orleans; they marched to voice their views through ballot boxes around the nation; and most of all, they marched into the unknown of tomorrow.
The next year is here and now, and Americans nationwide are ready to offer their blood, toil, sweat and tears for the betterment of their fellow citizens and the world around them. Whatever 2019 may bring – good or bad – the resilience of the American people will go on.
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