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Five Free Apps to Help Study Habits

By: Terran R. Smith

Surrounded by a technology-addicted society, it is difficult to disconnect—even for the most studious-oriented learners. Fortunately, the following five, free apps allow students to harness smartphone ‘addiction’ to his/her academic advantage.

*Note: These apps will likely be most helpful for those individuals in secondary and/or higher educational levels.

app-studyblue StudyBlue

      • Pros:
        • Search millions of study materials from colleges nationwide
        • Searches specific to school, textbook, instructor and/or specific course
        • Save study materials in virtual folders organized by subject
        • App tracks amount of study time in each set and answer accuracy
        • Both free and premium versions offered
        • Premium Trial not mandatory for free membership
        • Sync to Facebook for easy sign-up and access to classmates
        • More than 350 million users; most popular on list
      • Cons:
        • Study materials are greatly limited without premium subscription
        • Lack of filters makes search disorganized and timely
        • Typing flashcards minimizes memorization vs. handwriting flashcards

icon_256myHomework

      • Pros:
        • Less to carry with a planner on-the-go
        • Writing space is unlimited
        • Optional notification setting for deadline reminders
        • Includes separate section for to-do and checklists
      • Cons:
        • Interface could be more aesthetically pleasing
        • Not exactly ‘user-friendly
        • Tracks homework, assignments, etc., but only if user manually enters item
        • Does not sync with Facebook or any other social media

1200x630bf FocusNow

      • Pros:
        • Timed sessions help habit formation, time management and concentration with competitive incentive:
          • Fruit tree sprouts at beginning of session and grows to full bloom, if smartphone or tablet is left untouched
          • Touch device during session and tree withers and dies
        • Saves fruit tree for complete session; begins to form fruit tree castle kingdom after multiple sessions
        • Worldwide ranking boards
        • Creative, colorful design with simple interface
      • Cons:
        • Does not sync to Facebook or other social media–difficult to find friends
        • Certain areas of menu, such as settings, only available in Chinese
        • Creation of account is mandatory–new password with no purpose

evernoteEvernote

      • Pros:
        • Take notes anytime, anywhere
        • Add images, audio and/or video related to notes
        • Office docs and PDFs compatible for adding to notes or tasks
        • Syncs with Facebook, so classmates are easily found
        • Collaborate on course agendas, share notes and connect with classmates within app
        • More than 100 million users; 2nd most popular app of list
      • Cons:
        • Premium, paid membership required to access all features
        • Free download doesn’t offer online access, unlimited uploads or Touch ID privacy option
        • Complicated interface for not-so-tech-savvy individuals
        • More hype than help

sep8bipcFlashcards by NKO:

    • Pros:
      • Makes studying fun
      • 13 different games to choose from
      • Use your study materials in games
      • Sync with Facebook and beat friends’ or classmates’ high scores
      • Bright design with simple interface
    • Cons:
      • Again, there’s something to be said for writing materials by hand
      • Study materials must be manually added and/or edited

School is hectic at times, granted, but the key to controlled chaos is to simplicity. From cluttered work-space to daily distractions, every student can use a helping hand with school and study habits. Smartphone software can help students sustain success in school.

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Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold

The recurring revenge theme for underrepresented populations in Quentin Tarantino Films

The theme of revenge is one of the oldest recurring subjects in literature; it is used in numerous works of art from Greek mythology to Shakespearian tales. A thin line exists between justice and revenge, but the biggest difference between the two is that the desire to seek revenge is actually a natural instinct towards certain situations. It is true, in reality, that seeking forgiveness within one’s own heart is better than to become consumed by seeking vengeance upon others. In fantasy, however; not only is anything possible, but also the lines between justice and morality become more than blurry—they become non-existent.

Although the spiritual activist Gandhi once said, “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” that hasn’t stopped the media from promoting revenge, or audiences from enjoying every second. During the past 16 weeks, I have gathered research and investigated the connection between diversity and revenge in the media. More specifically, I’ve studied and will elaborate on the recurring theme of revenge with regards to underrepresented populations in renowned director Quentin Tarantino’s four most recent films: Kill Bill Vol. 1, Kill Bill Vol. 2, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained.

Quentin Tarantino, probably best known for his film Pulp Fiction, is one of the most famous directors in Hollywood, and perhaps of all time. He is known for many recurring elements within his movies including: foot fetishes, lip close-ups and, most of all, tons of blood and gore. “His filmic signature is the signature of what it’s like to be alive right now – the frenetic energy, the black humour, the Shakespearean bloodbaths, the mishmash of themes and images and dialogue,” (J.S. Porter, InRetro). The underlying theme of a movie is undoubtedly the most important aspect to Tarantino’s work, as it is the heart of the ultimate impact said piece will have on an audience member. It is for this reason that the theme of underrepresented populations receiving revenge was the choice trend for media advocacy with regards to Quentin Tarantino’s four most recent films.

While Tarantino has many other films that give a subtle whisper to the means of revenge, Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Kill Bill Vol. 2 mark the first two of the four most recent and revenge-centered films, which each include a member of an underrepresented population as the plot’s protagonist. The plot of Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 center on the character Beatrix Kiddo and her journey to find vengeance for the man and his assailants responsible for shooting her and, as she later finds out, for stealing her baby.

The theme of these movies is immediately evident with the first screenshot of the Kill Bill Vol. 1. Before the credits or movie begins, a black screen reveals white text and a very famous quote, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” As the plot thickens and the audience is shown the act and aftermath of the domestic violence lain upon Kiddo, the opening quote ties in with Tarantino’s tale.

While it certainly isn’t legal for victims of domestic violence to go about killing their abusers, these two action-packed, rage-fueled and blood-galore films invoke emotions of justice anyway. “Nowadays, with the use of elaborate legal systems of trial and punishment, personal revenge is often perceived as ‘barbaric’ and unnecessary. On the other hand people can often sympathize with revenge plots, if it is obvious that the ‘law’ provides insufficient retaliation,” (Suzanne Klatton, MA Thesis). In other words, audiences set aside their legislative beliefs if an act is seen to be unjustifiable by the law, or is simply too horrific to not take action in to one’s own hands.

In the second film, Kill Bill Vol. 2, Bill speaks with his brother about Kiddo recently awaking from a four-year-long coma. His brother, Bud, states, “That woman deserves her revenge, and we deserve to die.”



Not only does this quote reinforce the audience’s desire to root for her bloody vengeance, but it also shows that the abusers are, in fact, aware of the punishment they deserve for their past actions.

The third most recent film in his installments of revenge-seeking plots is Inglorious Basterds. “The film tracks two separate, though converging, plotlines: the revenge conspiracy of Shoshanna, who, after her escape from the almost comically evil SS officer Hans Landa, recreates herself as a cinema owner in Paris; and the deployment in occupied France of the ‘Basterds,’ a squad of American Jewish Nazi-hunters led by an officer nicknamed ‘Aldo the Apache,’” (Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic). This film was the first of Tarantino’s to ‘recreate’ history.

A critic from Rense eloquently explains, “Tarantino manages to resolve the clear discrepancy between the cinematic ‘Jewish innocence’ and the Jewish nationalist ‘murderous reality’. He does it all through a fantasy,” (Gilad Atzmon). In that, he took historical events that ended horrifically, and created a satisfying fantasy of what could have, should have or would have happened according to the director.

Inglourious Basterds is, in a nutshell, about Jews dealing out justice to the Nazis who are trying to exterminate them. “Through a cinematic fictional plot, history has become a homogenous continuum in which Jewish past and Israeli present are unified into a relentless expedition of suicidal vengeance,” (Atzmon). Tarantino blurred the lines between fiction, non-fiction and vengeful desire in this piece that will forever represent the emotion behind the Jewish community because of the Holocaust.

It takes the blood and horror of the actual historical event, and plays role reversal. As Aldo the Apache, leader of the Basterds states, “We will be cruel to the Germans, and through our cruelty they will know who we are. They will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of their brothers we leave behind us.”

Undoubtedly Aldo, the Basterds, and Shoshana are all seeking the utmost revenge on Hitler and the Nazis: torturous death. Not only are swastikas carved into Nazi foreheads, but we also see a character known as The Bear Jew cave a German soldier’s head in with a baseball bat. The carnage in this film is abundant, to say the least. While this may sound disturbing, Tarantino’s presentation and approach to said subject is a form of gory eloquence that spatters across the screen.

As an audience member, Tarantino certainly doesn’t disappoint. “There’s just nothing quite so satisfying as seeing some of history’s greatest injustices fixed through two hours of big screen slaughter,” (Scott Harris, Next Movie). The film ends with the mass-incineration of Hitler and a movie theatre full of Nazis, and Shoshana proclaiming on the projected screen, “This is the face of Jewish vengeance!’’ While carving swastikas into Nazi’s foreheads and scalping SS soldiers sounds as though it would be quite controversial as a movie, the film has become a classic and is revered for its courageous premiere of rewriting history through fantastical fiction.

The most recent film by Tarantino also focuses on revenge through the recreation of history as well. Django Unchained, stars Jamie Foxx as a slave and Leonardo Di Caprio as a slave owner. Django sets out to reclaim the love of his life from Di Caprio’s property, and to reclaim the freedom of the land our constitution promised for all people.

After Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino declared that he would continue with a trilogy of revenge-based films tied in with his own version of what should have happened in history. “Perhaps the best thing to be said for Django Unchained is that it shows that Inglourious Basterds was no anomaly. Tarantino leaped forward in that film – in his ability, skill, meaning and purpose – and he gives nothing back with Django. He has found that elusive spot that all artists strive for, complete spontaneity and absolute control,” (Mick LaSell, SF Gate). Similar to his previous revenge films, Django’s character does indeed get his bloody revenge on the white southerners, and the movie ends with him and his love rejoicing on horseback for their bright future ahead.

Due to the success of his previous two films, he will complete a trilogy of ‘recreated’ historical revenge films with his newest project, but has yet to reveal the minority group chosen to receive revenge. “He also knows where the good scenes are, and by now he’s developed a repertory company of actors who can pitch their performances right on that Tarantino border between real and unreal, farce and tragedy,” (LaSell). Although there hasn’t been a reveal yet, the audience can be sure it will be as satisfying, if not more so, than the previous three.

The distinction between reality and fantasy is most important when discussing Tarantino’s use of revenge in filmmaking. Although his previous four films have done extremely well with regards to the every day audience, there has been quite a bit of political controversy surrounding his work. Specifically, the political issues surround his two most recent films, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained.

Certain movie critics and political journalists have criticized these films for, not surprisingly, racial reasons. “The racial situation in America has swung so far to the other side of the pendulum that Hollywood is now making racially inflammatory movies to cater to the bloodlust in an emerging market of anti-White racial snuff films,” (Hunter Wallace, Occidental). It has been argued that the portrayal of white and black people is one-sided and static in the two most recent of Tarantino’s vengeance fueled films. “There isn’t a ‘racial double standard’ here: it is a single standard that blacks and Jews are noble beings and Southerners and Germans are savage beasts who occupy another rung of the racial ladder somewhere below them,” (Wallace). Django Unchained certainly stirred up more controversy than the two previous films before it, but why?

The lack of controversy over Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 and Inglourious Basterds shows no comparison to that of Django Unchained. The three previous films don’t put the entirety or even a large sector of American whites in a negative light. In fact, white southerners are actually the heroic gang of Nazi killers in Inglourious Basterds. However, when Tarantino unleashed a film about blacks getting their revenge on whites for their enslavement, controversy turned into a divide.

Many critics argue about the film’s historical inaccuracy, one-sidedness and purposefully imposed ‘white guilt.’ The amount of controversy over Tarantino’s three movies prior to Django Unchained simply doesn’t match up. But the only difference between this movie and the previous three is the fact that blacks are staked against whites, and, in this version, blacks prevail over their abusive oppressors. Once again, the underrepresented population is set as the protagonist, and the oppressors of history are ultimately turned into victims by the oppressed. This most recent installment of his revenge-driven films may have been the most controversial thus far; however, controversy is not something that will get in the way of Tarantino’s filmmaking.

A notion that I’ve previously quoted and mentioned throughout this paper is the difference between reality and fantasy. Criticism of these films about revenge for underrepresented populations isn’t justifiably supported. Art isn’t something one can put limitations, boundaries or political institutions on. Quentin Tarantino is in the art of making films, and therefore has the right to create whatever fantastical re-envisioning of history’s horrors that he desires. Not only does he have the right to continue this cinematic art form, but he also has the inspiration to do so in a manner with the utmost balance between reality and fantasy regarding historical accuracy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Barshad, Amos. “QT&A: Quentin Tarantino on Django Unchained: ‘I Cut Their Heads Off. They Grew Another Head, But They Were a Little Traumatized'” Grantland. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2014. <http://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/qta-quentin-tarantino-on-django-unchained/&gt;.

Goldberg, Jeffrey. “Hollywood’s Jewish Avenger.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 01 Sept. 2009. Web. 14 May 2014. <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/09/hollywoods-jewish-avenger/307619/?single_page=true&gt;.

“Just Another Movie Blog.” : Redeeming Violence: Tarantino’s Revenge Philosophy. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2014. <http://bloggingmoviesrus.blogspot.com/2013/02/redeeming-violence-tarantinos-revenge.html&gt;.

“Oscar Countdown: The Hidden Message in Inglourious Basterds.” Do Something. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2014. <https://www.dosomething.org/news/inglourious-basterds-was-there-hidden-message&gt;.

Porter, J.S. “Quentin Tarantino & the Theme of Revenge.” InRetro Magazine InRetro Radio. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2014. <http://www.inretro.ca/2013/03/quentin-tarantinos-revenge/&gt;.

“Quentin Tarantino Talks about the Appeal of Revenge Movies.” Total Film Movie News RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2014. <http://www.totalfilm.com/news/quentin-tarantino-talks-about-the-appeal-of-revenge-movies#null&gt;.

Wallace, Hunter. “Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino’s New Anti-Southern Racial Revenge Film.” Occidental Dissent. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2014. <http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2011/05/05/django-unchained-quentin-tarantino-anti-southern-racial-revenge-film/&gt;.

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Through the Looking Glass

IMPORTANT UPDATE AS OF JULY 29, 2016: Taking a look back at my mental health hurdles and accomplishments during the short duration of this mini-documentary is astounding. I made much progress in a few months; however, I would like to present where I am at now versus two years ago. Approximately two months ago, after about 10 sessions of EMDR (Eye Movement Disorientation and Reprocessing) Therapy, I am officially no longer diagnosed with Complex-PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). While I still have lingering complications that come along with PTSD, I am ecstatic to say I have started my first on-air position directly after graduating from the University of Kansas in December of 2015. I’ve been working as a morning show host and as a DJ for three stations at Great Plains Media, for about two months! I’ve been able to reduce and even entirely rid myself of many medications I previously needed. To put it concisely–I am better than I ever conceived would be possible. I hope that my struggle, along with my success to overcome it, helps even one individual who sees this story and/or documentary. Thank you for visiting, and I would love to hear your feedback!

-Terran Smith

PSTD IN THE PRESS:

The United States Census Bureau recorded the population number at 316.1 million as of 2013. Of more than 2.3 million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, approximately 460,000, (20 percent), have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Findings from the National Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Study confirms one out of every five is the astonishing prevalence of PTSD in said military officials and troops.

Experiencing trauma doesn’t automatically give someone PTSD. In fact, more than half of the nation’s population will experience trauma at some point. Of the entirety of the US population, about seven to eight percent have or will have PTSD at some point in their lives, according to the National Center for PTSD.

Mass media and the consistent coverage of PTSD increased awareness in recent years, specifically with regards to war veterans. It is true, as found in the National Center for PTSD, that intentional traumas, including combat, are more likely to cause this disorder; however, it is imperative to remember the infinite intentional trauma scenarios, (i.e. kidnapping, domestic violence, childhood abuse, etc.), unrelated to war veterans in order to prevent further stigmatization of said population and to stop overlooking the individuals that make up more than 93% of the population of persons with PTSD.

LIFE BEFORE MY DISABILITY:

The first thing I ever remember was the jar of translucent, red marbles. Each piece of glass had an intricate shape, and clouds passing in the sky, watching them kept my undivided attention. My mom used this fascination as an opportunity to see just how much she could teach her tiny toddler about numbers and mathematics.

The marbles, used as a visual aid, each represented one of my friends, as my mom explained. After a few problems of addition and subtraction, I remember the moment I understood what my mother meant by “two times two.” In that sitting, the hunch that I was different from most children my age was confirmed by my mother’s face; it contorted with complete astonishment as I grasped the concept of multiplication and division at the ridiculous age of two.

I attended school a year early, skipped second grade, participated in the gifted programs, yet I still wasn’t being challenged enough as a child. As I neared age 10 in late 2001, already overwhelmed by my parents’ recent divorce, the immense boredom from lack of stimulation became too much to take any longer.

THE STORY OF MY TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE:

My parents decided to find a school that would better accommodate my needs for my fifth grade year of elementary school. After a series of academic testing sessions, I was accepted to attend a private school designed specifically to educate individuals who are either gifted learners, or are simply unable to learn in a traditional classroom setting.

Accelerated Schools, located in Olathe, Kan., included grades four through nine in the same classroom. One of the students who rode the same bus as myself was named Tyler, and even though I was barely in the double digits, my age didn’t stop his 14-year-old mind from creating a delusion of a relationship between us. This delusion would start with vulgar harassment, and unfortunately resulted in my rape as an innocent child, as well as the diagnosis of PTSD more than four years later.

DEALING WITH MY DIAGNOSIS:

Although I happen to be one of the lucky 50 percent of the individuals who have this disorder to actually be diagnosed with it, I treated the symptoms the only way I knew how for a very long time–by masking them with medicine. During the past five years, I lost the presence of myself as an individual as prescription drugs and the side effects they had on my behavior replaced my identity one part at a a time.

It was a little more than a year ago when I came to the realization I needed to decide whether to allow this disability to take complete control over my existence, or to take back the reins on my own life. On December 1st, 2013, I quit smoking cigarettes, lost 40 lbs. by February 1st, 2014, trained my dog, Tootsie, last spring to be my service animal, and even moved into an apartment without an roommate for the first time.

The steps I took before Fall semester of this school year were undoubtedly positive; however, PTSD itself is not treated with medication, only the symptoms it causes are. Because of this, when the condition is left untreated, it greatly worsens over time. I felt my self as a whole slip through my fingers as I hit rock bottom early in August of this year. It took me until the beginning of October to see beyond my pride and into the hypocrisy of my behavior versus my beliefs.

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH:

I’ve represented myself as an advocacy journalist throughout college and the two years and counting that I’ve had this website because I truly do love to tell the public informative stories that give something back to help others and the community overall. It was the moment I thought about my audience that I realized how phony I was being, not only to myself, but to every individual I claim to represent on this blog.

With my career, credibility, and conscience all hanging in the balance, I decided to make a change for the better, seek improvement through self-exposure treatment to the things I have been avoiding for so many years, and to document the struggle along my path to happiness for all friends, family, acquaintances and audiences to see. Additionally, I made the difficult decision to withdraw from almost all of my courses for the semester in order to fully dedicate myself to the healing process.

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD:

Since I began progressing through treatment a little over two months ago, I’ve lowered my prescription medication dosages greatly, am returning to school next semester with about 15 credit hours left to graduate and have honestly accomplished improvements more vast than I could ever have imagined. However, the amount of work and struggle it took along the way were just as frequent.

Exposing myself to situations I would normally avoid is the most successful, long-term treatment, but in most all cases causes symptoms like flashbacks and anxiety attacks to become more likely and more extreme. Other than the uncomfortable symptoms that intensified from exposure treatment, the reduction of my medication, namely Xanax, had adverse physical consequences I can only be thankful didn’t hurt me.

Whilst lowering my prescription of the highly addictive, controlled substance called Xanax, I experienced withdrawal from my body’s built-up dependence to the drug, and actually went into convulsions whilst experiencing a seizure less than a month ago. Thankfully my boyfriend, Joel, was around at the time; it goes without saying that incident scared the hell out of the both of us.

ONE DAY AT A TIME:

The challenges I’ve faced were mental, emotional and physical. I may never be completely free of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but what’s important is the constant effort I make to become a healthier, happier and more helpful person.

Many people believe that we never truly stop growing as individuals. This milestone in my life’s journey taught me it is, in fact, true that we never stop growing if we try, but it’s also true that if we stop trying, we never grow.

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Poll Results: And the winner is…

With 61% of the vote….

Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo journalism takes the win!

Stay tuned for the article , “Bat Country,” coming very, VERY soon🙂

 

-Terran Rae

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What do YOU want to learn more about?

Attention! It’s time for LNP’s first ever Reader’s Choice Poll! It’s up to YOU to decide which article I’ll post next! Poll closes Thursday. Just choose between the two topics below–it’s as simple as that! I can’t wait for your feedback!

 

As always, thank you for visiting. I’ll post the winning article on Thursday evening.
 
Be the change,
 
 
Terran Rae Smith
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Happy Birthday, Daddy:

Father of Mine: Reflective Analysis of Moral Development

By Terran Rae Smith
Preface: This is dedicated to both of my parents. To my mother, thank you for constantly striving to improve under the unfortunate and harsh conditions life has given you. To my father, I thank you for helping me to see through the ailments, and into my mother’s beautiful heart.
2006: Dad, 47, and myself, 13

2006: Dad, 47, and myself, 13

I am told that my mother was once vibrant, charismatic and breathtakingly beautiful inside and out. I don’t remember her this way because my mother began abusing prescription pills during my infancy, and developed many mental illnesses as the addiction continued throughout my childhood. Today, only a glimmer of that happy, outgoing woman I’m told about remains.

My mother suffers from a number of mental illnesses, some of which include: Bi-Polar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Hypochondria and Munchhausen Syndrome. Because of her illnesses, she was very abusive, manipulative and made unethical decisions, to say the very least. Although my father divorced her when I was nine, my mother fought for custody of me until the day I graduated high school.

 Other than my father and I, my sister and the rest of my family have been estranged from my mother for over eight years. She has been able to maintain a lifestyle of lounging and pill popping by using the technology of today to her advantage, much like the following topic discussed in chapter two of Rushworth M. Kidder’s, How Good People Make Tough Choices. “Widespread, designed for great speed, often decentralized, [our] systems are increasingly susceptible to misuse or manipulation by a single individual making a single wrong decision” (Kidder 24). My mother receives Social Security, Disability and other government paid leisure because she knows how to manipulate, at all costs, anyone and anything until she gets what she wants.

2006: Dad, 47 and myself, 13

2006: Dad, 47 and myself, 13

My mother is abusive, clinically insane and is the most unethical person that I personally know. Seeing the woman I didn’t want to become did teach me what not do to in life, but seeing my father forgive and empathize with my mother truly shaped my character as a person, and gave me the strength and wisdom to forgive her as well.

After my parents divorced, my father raised my half sister and I as if we were both his own. During one of the many custody battles my mother pursued, my father purchased a car and a house for my mother simply out of the kindness of his heart. This woman had committed adultery, drove our family to bankruptcy to feed her addiction and abused his children. For the rest of my family, that was enough. But my father saw something that no one else did: the illness.

To be completely honest,  I once hated my mother with my entire being. But my father’s actions and explanations taught me a lesson synonymous with one of Kidder’s. “Most wrongdoing arises instead from immorality—a violation of the precepts of morality,” (33). My father helped me to understand it is because of my mother’s long-time drug use and mental health that marred her moral judgment. Since graduating high school in 2010, I’ve forgiven my mother’s actions and, although we continue to be estranged from one another, my heart is and always will be filled with love for her.

 Today, the strongest person I know turns 55 years old. Michael Scott Smith watched the mother of his children succumb to addiction, raised two daughters as a single parent and still manages to be hopeful helpful and sympathetic to the woman who tore his life, family and heart apart. He is my father, my warrior—my best friend. Without his guidance, I would not be able to, as Kidder puts it, “ identify, systematically and deliberately, the values [I] and [my community] hold” (33). Today is his birthday. From his perspective, it’s just another day and another year put on his tab, but from my perspective, July 6th not only celebrates the birth of one man, but also the birth of two parents. For that is exactly the role he has and continues to play in my and my sister’s lives.

2009: My Mom and I

2009: My Mom and I

My mother may have made a lot of unethical decisions in life, but my father’s altruistic actions and wise words taught me to look beyond the surface and to realized that she is not an unethical person, or, more importantly to myself, an unethical mother. “She’s not a bad person; she just has a lot of bad problems,” my father says when my frustration reaches its limit. “She may not be able to show it sometimes, but she loves you and your sister so much, Terran,” he says. There is more to my mother than repercussions from poor decisions; behind the mistakes, pills and sunken eye sockets, lies the woman my father fell in love with—my mother, Stephanie Joy Smith.

 

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Please take a few minutes to view the info-graphic below. 61 million Americans, including myself, have mental illness. Some wounds are invisible, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still heal❤

 

NAMI NYC-Metro IWL Infographic FINAL

 

SOURCE: How Good People Make Tough Choices by Rushworth M. Kidder

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Immigration: Friend or Foe?

Read the article below prior to my blog’s analysis for a better understanding of my stance.

Debating Immigration

The following is an opinion-based analysis of two opposing arguments proposed in the PDF file located above.

 

By Terran Smith–

 

Immigration is, arguably, one of the founding principles of our nation. However, in modern society, illegal or “undocumented” immigration is a very hot topic in politics. Although liberals and conservatives both have strong points to contribute to each side of the matter, the debate continues with passionate ferocity. Kurt Finsterbusch’s Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Social Issues presents each side of the immigration debate from two credible, unrelated sources. Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, holds the stance that immigration is a threat to the American lifestyle of today. The polar perspective, advocated by an editor named Jason L. Riley of the Wall Street Journal, bears the encouraging notion that immigration is, in fact, beneficial for the American way of life in the present and the future. Valid points are made from each narrator’s perspective; however, I found the reasoning behind Krikorian’s overall outlook to be the more relevant and longstanding than the opposing excerpt.

            One of the recurring themes Krikorian mentions is modern society’s accountability as the key elements preventing prosperity and perpetuating problems from immigration. Unlike many arguments, (both for and against immigration), Krikorian refreshes his side of this prolific political problem by focusing on the modernity of America as the main obstacle toward immigrant assimilation, rather than the weak and, arguably ignorant, blow of blame towards the immigrants themselves.

            The American identity is essential to the core of our nation. Because the country was built on shared beliefs rather than shared blood, assimilation has always been an important American value that’s held as necessary to become a part of the unified culture that is this country’s shared identity. As ‘modern’ as Americans may consider themselves, Krikorian claims that societal advances, from technological to multicultural, are all actually making the process of assimilation more difficult for immigrants. Krikorian addresses the obvious inquiry of how immigration economically impacts America’s market individually and overall. While the number of employed persons increases the technical ‘size’ of our economy, the fiscal outcome has shown lowered wages for native employees of equal skill levels, which results in a largely populated economic pool with lowered profit.

            Jason L. Riley makes many thought-provoking points while proposing the idealistic assets of immigration today. Riley focuses on the fiscal aspect of this argument for much of the piece. Economic predictions may be helpful when investing in the stock market; however, educated guessing is not, in my opinion, a concrete argument. The fortuitous future Riley believes immigration will provide our economy depends greatly on one of Krikorian’s main issues with modern immigration—achieving assimilation. After he presents the overall necessity for linguistic assimilation for work-related functioning, Riley defends this key conflict component with the lack of evidence that Latinos are against English assimilation. Using the absence of information as evidence for an argument makes me question the accountability of the author, and, unfortunately, takes away from previous persuasion towards said writer’s argument.

            I often find myself torn between both sides of the the issue of modern immigration to America; however, in this specific instance, Mark Krikorian undoubtedly made a stronger argument by: focusing on well-rounded representations of unique American characteristics as a society, addressing both sides of the topic without losing focus or merit, and, most importantly, explaining the origin and solution of a social issue without placing blame on the subject or the opposing side at hand.

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Business Behind Bias

Media and Profit Motive

                                                     photo courtesy of AntiCorruption Society

By Terran R. Smith

It’s no secret that the mainstream media is full of bias towards certain political parties. Fox News is conservative, CNN is liberal and MSNBC is even more so liberal. It is helpful to be able to choose a news station according to one’s political outlook because the bias of each news station is meant to appeal to a certain audience. With numerous channels representing various political beliefs, the issue at hand isn’t readily apparent.

Profit motive is a topic I’ve been learning about in one of my journalism classes this semester, Business of Media. The term is fairly self-explanatory; it means that the sole purpose of a business existing is to make profit. It goes without saying that companies must profit to provide services to consumers; however, mainstream televised news programs’ profit motive could be seen as profit greed.

https://i0.wp.com/www.exchangediplomacy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/mainstream-media.jpgphoto courtesy of WordPress

According to the profit motive, a consistent and profiting business must be established.  This can only be successful with government assistance, which ultimately results in government control. Therefore, news businesses favoring profit over the public interest succeed, while those favoring reportorial accuracy over profits fail, and are relegated to the margins of their markets.

The best way to gain profit is to gain a greater audience number. By segregating broadcast channels by different political party outlooks, each and every audience member with a political opinion can easily find a station suitable for his/her beliefs. Unfortunately, because the channel chosen suits the viewer’s political stance, most of what said viewer will see and absorb will include subjects relating to the station’s bias.

                                                           photo courtesy of Looking at the Left

The media we are presented with is a mere sliver of the spectrum of current events. Each ‘left’ and ‘right’ station presents information copacetic to that of it’s audience bias. Consequently, alternative opinions and entire subjects all together are very marginalized from the audience. The profit-driven media’s portrayal of reality is simply a miniscule subset carefully chosen to be convincing, informative and, most importantly, representative of the station’s political stance.

Maintaining the audience support and viewership is part of the profit motive for mainstream media but, but is certainly not the only. What’s more, large news stations do depend on the government for leads, tip-offs and sources. In the event that a dominating, mass station made the government unhappy, the government subtly, and perhaps permanently, ceases giving information to the corporations. This obviously causes great financial stress and is avoided as much as possible.

photo courtesy of Conservative Women for Truth

It’s become copiously clear corporate media are unable to deliver the news in a fair and democratic way to the people. Although government, investors and advertisers have mainstream media in a sticky situation that doesn’t mean it’s unfix-able.

The media needs to make a change towards focusing on the vital events relevant to the general public. In showing only ‘left’ or ‘right’ viewpoints, the bias expands and viewer opinions are formed based on falsities. If mass media only represented the facts in a democratic way, the public would become more educated with well-rounded opinions.

Because there’s such a powerful amount of markets controlling media, the citizens of this nation must unite, criticize the recurring failures and supersede with a suitable alternative. Until the public can come together strong and determined for change, mass-media will continue to marginalize opinions and overlook diversity.

Like any and every other social or political issue, the road to resolution is long and winding. When the government is involved with anything, a situation becomes at least ten-fold more complicated than it originally was. For now, viewers are barely at bay with the overly-biased and under-informative broadcasting; however, I believe that, like any other issue in history, time will eventually remove the red tape surrounding this media-based dilemma.

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Famous Fascination: Oscars Off-the-Screen

Where are the ‘budget cuts’ in Hollywood?

“We want to thank all of you for watching us congratulate ourselves tonight.” -Warren Beatty

By Terran Smith

At a mere 13.5″ tall, each gold plated “Oscar” statue for the annual Academy Awards costs half a grand to manufacture. With just two dozen categories to cover, the awards alone still cost approximately $12 grand to manufacture. This is just one of countless examples of extreme frivolous spending for this Hollywood tradition.

Beginning as an elitist club for film buffs and other invites, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was established in 1927, and is a ‘film organization.’ The annual awards have since become a big part of the rest of society as a way to commemorate and admire those on the red carpet. Last nights Academy Awards were viewed in over 200 countries worldwide. With the never-ending pile-on of fiscal and social issues occurring, particularly in America, I can’t help but feel that this tradition has become contrived and greedy like many other historically successful markets.

From best actress to best dressed, every aspect of the Academy Awards is competitive in a way quite similar to dogs participating in Best in Show. Perhaps that statement could be seen as a bit extreme, but let’s really break down the facts. The only things people, in general, remember from the Academy Awards are: best movie, best dressed and worst dressed. The last two items on the list aren’t even relevant to the entire event! Yet the ensemble of an attendee can give an actor more attention than the winner of an actual award.

Almost $22 million was spent in 2012, during the recession, on the 84th annual production of the Academy Awards. Obviously, that number doesn’t include each pair of Jimmy Choo heels and matching Tiffany earrings. Even if average people do think it’s okay for actors and those in the Academy to spend ghastly amounts of money to celebrate one’s own success, that doesn’t change the fact that the viewers are the ones truly supporting the profit the Academy is able to rake in year after year.

If all of the diamonds, feathers, cameras, tripping, waiting, awkward laughing and political picks are that engrossing, then apparently the cost of this idolizing entertainment is of true value to the public.

Thus, it is truly the community that supports the financial whims of the Academy. Why, then, do the public still have no say in the awards or even right to become an Academy member? This is not only a public example of discrimination, but it is also one that society has celebrated throughout history.

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Is Facebook getting too friendly?

Random Rant on Targeted Advertising

By Terran Smith

Facebook is the epitome of everything that social networking and its evolution represent…or at least it was. Starting at a single college in 2004, the idea exploded into society. No longer limited to college students or even humans, the website allows pages to be made for pets, celebrities and alternate identities.

The website has always been wonderful at serving its market; however, it took the company a bit of problem solving to figure out how to make profit from the market that it served. Low and behold the mere beginning of Facebook advertisements.

‘Advertising’ seems too simple a term to sufficiently describe Facebook’s ever-evolving market strategy. Sure, triggering ads based on user demographics is actually quite common nowadays, but the information technology behind this company’s advertisements delves deeper than demography.

Based on a compilation of all your activity when browsing Facebook, various page suggestions and advertisements are displayed on the right side of the page. In not so many words—it’s personalized advertising. Being presented with random, constant advertisements becomes like white noise to the eyes after browsing for a bit.  It is the selectivity of Facebook’s ads that give the audience a tempting and unique ad experience.

Facebook app center
Photo courtesy of www.Inc.com

Facebook not only uses profiles, posts and interests to get to know users, but also gains information when smartphones or tablets choose to connect to Facebook within an application. A very popular example of this would be the top grossing game Candy Crush. Many people enjoy logging into Facebook to see if they can beat high scores of their friends. But, how many of these people take a second to think before linking up every app to a massive, moneymaking hub that analyzes personal and private information?

While creating user-friendly advertisements helped Facebook become more profitable, this innovation was really just the beginning of what has become its own business market within social networking.

When a user ‘likes’ a specific page on Facebook, a couple of things happen. First of all, the title and cover photo of the page are added to the user’s interests list shown on his/her profile. Secondly, the user’s name is added to the list of others who like the page.

new_facebook_ads_feature
Photo courtesy of Hubspot.com

The concept, though it may seem simplistic, is actually an elusive business tactic that’s beneficial for both pages on Facebook and the website overall. Just as anyone can create a profile, anyone can also create a page on Facebook for free. A free page is beneficial as users can still like the page, but without the advertising aid offered by Facebook, promoting on a large scale can be very difficult.

As soon as a user likes a page, Facebook’s virtual billboards immediately adapt the new addition with the advertising. The company’s strategy is, obviously, to provide advertisement that is more likely to make someone click because it is systematically aware of each user’s lifestyle and personality. With numerous payment plans and options for ad buying, Facebook provides other markets with the opportunity to reach their ideal target audiences with a user-friendly interface for all parties involved.

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