Category Archives: Opinions

College and Success

 

KimaraSmith, Staff Reporter

In 2017, the question of the necessity of college and how it affects one’s ability to be successful is more relevant than ever. Many measure success based on the amount of money obtained, but is that what truly defines success? Society places a strong emphasis on the need to attend college in order to be successful, yet many obtain true success without college.

After attaining two masters degrees in teaching, Sherita Harkness began teaching at Woodland high school in Stockbridge, GA. She expressed that “in order to be successful it is necessary to get a degree and use it in the most effective way possible.” This statement is one that many seem to disagree with completely.

For example, Hannah Kornegay (SR) articulated that “there is no correlation between college and success.” Numerous people including myself seem to share this very same viewpoint. Success is not measured by how much money one makes or the degrees that one has, but is defined as one’s personal accomplishments. These personal accomplishments are an accurate measure of the success a person achieves.

A relevant example about these conflicting opinions are the number of  people that attend college, receive their desired degree then never end up pursuing that career path. Most often, these individuals find success elsewhere without the preferred degree. A recent fad is the abrupt success of Youtubers. Countless millenials have found their own route to success through vlogging and making videos for their subscribers. After becoming an established Youtuber, it is easy to be recognized by prominent businesses and live a prosperous life solely from the funds made possible by vlogging.

Success should be measured on a personal level and college is not necessary to be successful in 2017. The pressure that society places on young people to go to college and get a degree is a pressure that is becoming obsolete.

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What Net Neutrality Will Do to Your Internet

SireeshRamesh, Editor-in-Chief

NadiaDowlatkhah, Staff Reporter

 

“Under my proposal,” said the FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, as he proudly announced his new plan that would repeal net neutrality laws, “the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet.” With that very announcement on a Tuesday morning, Ajit Pai almost single handedly sent the internet into a panicked frenzy. Social media stars took to their audiences pleading to participate in the movement pushing to keep net neutrality. YouTuber Markiplier, for example, proclaimed to his 18 million subscribers that “the internet should be open and accessible to everybody” and “we as a species are not defined by profit.”  A user on Change.org even created a petition pleading for Congress to preserve net neutrality. In a little over two weeks, the petition amassed over 800,000 signatures.  

So what exactly is net neutrality, and why are so many people upset about its potential removal? The basic tenet behind net neutrality is that all content is created equal in the eyes of an internet provider. As a result, tech giants like Facebook cannot simply access more bandwidth, and thus higher speeds, by paying internet providers. In net neutrality, internet service providers are almost like a public service providing equal speeds to all content (from a local blog to a social media hub.) In 2015, the Obama administration created clear legal protections to preserve net neutrality.

Yet, the conservative backlash of 2016 and ensuing assignment of Republican Ajit Pai as FCC chairman has led to a reversal in the government’s degree of involvement with the internet. As Ajit Pai sees it, net neutrality will allow internet service providers to gain more money from companies willing to pay for faster service speeds. Ideally, this surplus money would go back into investments that could create technologies that increase overall internet speeds for consumers. On Dec. 14, the Senate will vote on the FCC’s proposal to dismantle net neutrality.

But this isn’t simply a party issue. Liberal and conservative constituents alike have something to lose if Pai’s proposal prevails. The dire nature of this situation can be understood with some context. Let’s say net neutrality was not enforced starting from the year 2000. Though Google would still have reigned as the number one internet search engine and browser provider, Microsoft would have been a major competitor. This is because, at that time, Microsoft was a larger and more profitable company. They could have outbid Google to internet service providers and made their speeds faster than Google’s, despite Google’s superior platform and service. Without net neutrality, Google would not have become such a corporate giant and there’s not a single person who prefers Internet Explorer to Chrome.

Thus, net neutrality impacts any person who uses the web. It’s our duty as a citizenry to make sure that the freedom and equality of the internet is preserved.  

 

Talented and Gauche

GraceSassaman, Staff Reporter

A standardized creativity test sounds like an oxymoron, right? It’s not, at least according to the TAG, or “talented and gifted,” program. Teachers and students alike have blindly accepted the supposed meaning of scoring well on these tests. It’s confusing to think that literal convergent thinking is considered to be creative thinking. Once a student has met the required standards to be considered talented and gifted, the student adopts a bumper sticker mentality, quietly believing that their natural intelligence will allow them to succeed without putting in effort and referring back to this label when comparing themselves to on-level students.

As a student who has taken both advanced and on-level classes, I can confidently say that there is a notable disparity in the way that my respective teachers have treated their AP and on-level classes but an even larger difference in the way Honors students perceive on-level students. Just the other day, I overheard one of my peers–who is admittedly extremely intelligent–say that he doesn’t understand how someone can have all on-level classes, but he failed to realize that on-level means exactly that–a student who is exactly where they’re supposed to be for their grade level.

This program claims to promote creativity to accommodate for the outstandingly intelligent kids, yet certain math and science scores are required to be enrolled. Those who excel in standardized common core subjects are disproportionately rewarded because their test scores elevate the ratings of a school, so these students are granted with extra resources. The TAG program’s blatant division discourages students on both ends of the spectrum from making the most of their abilities. An obvious fix is to include all students in specialized learning initiatives, allowing them to freely expand upon their talents.

The TAG program is a pipeline for TAG classes in middle school and AP and Honors courses in high school. Of course, every student learns differently, but to withhold certain resources from students who didn’t do well on a random elementary school test is unfair and usually causes them to be excluded from a future of rigorous and academic courses. Intelligence isn’t a fixed concept: it can expand and contract based on how we use our brains to solve problems. The TAG program does nothing but afford those in the program a false sense of superiority.

Taking “Christ” out of Christmas

Reindeers, Santa Claus, presents, ornaments, mistletoes, light shows, snow, cheerful songs, jingle bells, and decorations. What comes to mind besides the most wonderful time of the year? CHRISTMAS! According to Wikipedia, Christmas is a religious and cultural holiday, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ- a figure of Christianity. In fact, the name Christmas comes from Mass of Christ. But looking around, it seems as if EVERYONE celebrates this apparently religious holiday. So, the question remains: Is Christmas a religious holiday?

 

In a recent study by the Pew Research Center, it was found that “eight in ten non-Christians in the U.S. celebrate Christmas”. By the looks of this data, it hints at a wide acceptance of the religious holiday in America. However, after asking a fellow classmate, an atheist, why she celebrates this “religious” holiday, she replied “Why not? Everyone celebrates it even if you’re not religious. It’s like a cultural norm now.” It’s as if today’s culture has nulled the title of Christmas in a religious sense but heightened the holiday’s popularity as a cultural norm with movies and shows centered around the decorations and myths, Christmas baking challenges, and the extravagant light shows. Furthermore, celebrating Christmas over other holidays is almost inevitable due to its large selection of Christmas themed toys, snacks and decorations in almost any store as compared to the limited selection of other religious holiday decorations.

 

Formally known as a religious celebration, it can clearly be seen that in today’s society Christmas is in fact more of a cultural holiday celebrating a season of giving and communion.

Don’t be THAT Customer… Please?

As a Senior in high school, I recently got my first job as a hostess. Let me tell you it’s only been a couple of months but boy oh boy, a couple of months is more than enough time to realize the worst types of customers. So, don’t be THAT customer… please?

  1. The Babysitter
    1. I applaud you for not letting your kid get in the way of you living your life but maybe don’t bring little Jackson to a nice ambient restaurant for date night, yeah?!?!
  2. The Late Bird
    1. No one likes a customer that calls 15 min before and walks in at closing time saying “hey I called remember?”. Trust me no one’s happy and let’s be real you won’t get the best service either.
  3. The Locater
    1. Please don’t come up to me asking where I’m “actually” from because I am “actually” born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia
  4. The “Joined-at-the-hip” Couple
    1. C’mon people let’s save that for the motel not a nice restaurant
  5. The Preoccupied
    1. Your table is ready! You can follow me! “Janet Janet No I can’t close that deal with you right now. Janet. JANET.”
  6. The Extremely Temperature-Sensitive One
    1. “Excuse me, Why is it so HOTCOLDSTUFFYUCOMFORTABLYTEMPERATE in this restaurant?”
  7. The Nomad
    1. *Couple walks in* “Um can we actually move to the four top over there? No wait, maybe over there. Actually I think here is fine.” Does this look like your house??

 

Please, give us a holiday present by not being the “unwanted” at any restaurant. Thank you!

A New Year for Democracy

EthanBenn, Staff Reporter

Democracy is a fickle thing, an often-contradictory concept which teeters on the edge of disaster, perpetually at risk of falling to the malicious whims of the majority or those in power.

Nothing has done so much to prove the fragility of democracy and liberalism than the events of the past year. From Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, the institutions which many see as holding up the values of popular sovereignty, equality, secularism and other noble ideals have weathered assault after assault – sometimes from within and sometimes from without, and will continue to do so. The United States, Canada, The United Kingdom, Germany and various other western nations have put their own values up for debate via decisions, policies and actions which are quite simply antithetical to democracy and liberalism.

The United States: Demagoguery vs. Democracy   

A particularly American issue is the rise of the demagogue, for President Trump is not the first, and most certainly not the last, rabble-rousing, pitchfork holding, scapegoating mob leader to run for public office. By generating fear in the public and playing to their prejudices, demagogues ride an anti-establishment wave of (often misdirected or histrionic) outrage as they threaten and cajole their way to the highest office in the land. Andrew Jackson, Huey Long and Senator Joseph McCarthy were all apt at whipping the public into a frenzy, whether about Native Americans, FDR’s New Deal policies or communism. Scrolling through the President’s Twitter feed or watching his addresses and rallies shows a man capable of hopping from one outcry to the next while tactfully avoiding others. Not to mention the appearance of the proverbial “common man” which Trump routinely deploys, in addition to his cult of personality.

Why are such leaders so dangerous to democracy? Unfortunately, the greatest and most exploitable fault of democracy is that it relies on people. And people, for the most part, are not particularly intelligent. Time and time again politicians have harnessed the outrage of the lowest common denominator of humanity in order to propel their ambitions forward. In 2018, American voters could do better and avoid politicians eager to get elected by playing into the public’s fears. Rather than support a candidate who continually blames other groups for issues which they themselves lack solutions to support candidates with fact-based solutions to real problems.

The United Kingdom: The Trouble of Referendums

Yes or no questions suppose that an array of issues – which vary wildly between complex and vague – can be answered with either an affirmative or a negative. Very few things are an absolute black or white scenario in reality, yet popular referendums operate on the principle that public policy can be created on what is essentially an opinion poll with a promise attached to it. Brexit – a portmanteau of “British” and “exit (from the European Union)” – came to fruition through such a referendum in 2016, has continued into 2017 and will likely carry on into 2018. Voters in the UK could choose from two options, either remain in the EU or leave the EU, with no mention of the severity of the split – something which is still undecided upon by the Conservative coalition in power. Recent issues surrounding the status of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom and its status in the EU have seriously hampered Prime Minister May’s efforts.

Government is a complicated matter, one which requires willing and informed participation of the citizenry as well as openness and clarity from those in power: the Brexit vote and aftermath over a year from the initial vote lacks both. Many “leave” voters were quick to regret their decisions, with some stating that they never thought that such a vote could be successful and others bemoaning, in hindsight, the simplicity of the vote. In fact, nearly as many leave voters – slightly over one-million, have changed their minds, enough to reverse the result. A yes-no vote separates satisfied voters from dissatisfied voters with no respect to the severity of dissatisfaction: while one friend in a group of their peers may suggest restaurant A, anyone who dislikes restaurant A may vote for restaurant B – though they may have little knowledge of their dining destination. The confusion of the public and confusion of the government have put Brexit – and the continued use of referendums – into serious scrutiny. Theresa May’s government, like all democratic governments, could do better to educate the citizenry if they want them to decide on important matters of state: government must be intelligent and rely on the intelligence of the populace in order to run efficiently.

Germany and Canada: Thoughtcrime

Naturally, no such action proves such a detriment to democracy like the Orwellian classic of thoughtcrime: any questioning of state-sponsored orthodoxy must be stopped, at all costs. Germany has a long of history of laws which punish such thoughtcrime – normally fines and police raids directed at purveyors of hate speech and bigotry, often related to denying or minimizing the Holocaust. In fact, the homes of thirty-six Germans accused of posting hateful content on social media were raided in June of this year, The New York Times reports. And while the internet cannot be a free-for-all and therefore a race to the bottom of human depravity, a traditionally liberal state using its authority to legislate what people might wonder or propose (however awful) as unlawful and deserving of punishment is deeply unsettling. Silencing the people who question events which can be factually proven does nothing but further the claims of the silenced. Furthermore, there is a blatant irony in using authoritarian techniques to respond to someone who questions the actions of Nazi Germany. Clamping down on what is acceptable for people to think and then mandating it by law is no way to change minds – exposure to information is the best cure for ignorance, one Angela Merkel’s government could do well to distribute.

Canada’s Bill C-16 likewise has a fairly innocuous concept – people who deny the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany are breaking the law: people who commit hate crimes towards individuals who may express their gender differently are breaking the law and in violation of the Canadian Human Rights Act. The issue again lies with the decision to give the state power to label certain thoughts acceptable and certain thoughts unacceptable – if you agree with the widespread notion of the “gender-binary” (i.e. there are boys and girls, men and women, who are referred to with he and she) and choose to act on your thoughts, perhaps not using someone’s preferred pronouns, you have broken the law by committing a hate crime. Mandating the legality of viewpoints is a poor decision generally, but promoting certain views while criminalizing others – especially when the scientific community as well as other experts have yet to deliver an answer to a multifaceted issue – is a dangerous game to play.

Democracies and liberalism center around freedom and choice: the freedom to choose your faith and practice it accordingly, the freedom of the press and its separation from the government, the right to make choices for yourself and your family – these are all professed by these nations, sometimes in documents centuries old, in anthems and patriotic mottoes or even in solemn speeches. However, it seems that many of the nations which claim to bear the torch of liberty and the scale of justice have let the flame burn down to low and the balance fall too far. For 2018, we should all hope that the great traditions of the past make their way into legislation and the minds of our leaders. Hopefully, these will be some of the few New Year’s resolutions that are fulfilled.

Disney Remakes: Are they better than the originals?

CarolineKurzawa, Staff Reporter

For the past couple of years, Disney has taken on a new project: remaking some of their classic films in live action. So far, Disney has released a live action “Alice in Wonderland” (2010), “Cinderella” (2015), “Jungle Book” (2016) and “Beauty and the Beast” (2017). Currently, Disney has several more live action projects in the works, including: “Mulan,” “Aladdin,” “The Lion King,” “Dumbo” and “Rose Red” (Snow White). “Mulan” will be the first one in theaters, projected to premier Nov. 2, 2018.

According to “Time Magazine,” rumors have surfaced that the live action “Mulan,” directed by Niki Caro, will be victim to whitewashing, meaning that a role intended for an ethnic character will be filled by a white actor or actress. Fortunately, however, this will not be the case. Just recently, “USA Today” announced that Liu Yifei (known as Crystal Liu), a Chinese actress, was cast as Mulan. Additionally, a “Time” article discussed that the remake will not feature musical elements. Therefore, many of the soundtrack hits of this film such as, “Reflection” and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” will not be featured. I, for one, believe that most of the Disney magic comes from the musical soundtracks and releasing a movie without musical elements should be considered a sin in the Disney playbook. It makes me think twice before purchasing my ticket to see the film.

Among the other live action projects is “The Lion King.” Last September, it was announced that Jon Favreau, director of “Jungle Book,” was set to direct the live action/CGI animation remake of “The Lion King.” This updated film is set to have a star-studded cast including Daniel Glover as Simba, James Earl Jones as Mufasa and Beyoncé as Nala. As someone loves “The Lion King,” I am curious to see if they will do this classic justice. Additionally, I am concerned that Beyoncé has only been cast to further promote the project and not because she is qualified to act the part.

With all of these new live action remakes of Disney classics, it raises the question: Are these updated versions of films we loved as children better than the originals? As someone who grew up watching the beloved Disney classics on VHS tape, I must say no. While the remakes have been topping the box office charts, with “Beauty and the Beast” racing to the top of the charts after making $170 million on the opening weekend of Mar. 17, 2017.

Whenever a live action movie is announced, many people, myself included, flock to the theaters to see if the remake meets our expectations of the films we loved as children. While the films are creative and beautifully done, it’s just not the same. The trademark Disney magic seems to have been lost during a film’s second appearance on screen.