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Nothing Personal Kid: Why Jarvis’ Lifetime Ban Should Stay

Eric Myers, Contributor 

Nov. 11, 2019


Earlier this week, Jarvis Khattri, also known also as FaZe Jarvis, was given a lifetime ban by Epic Games, the creators of the immensely popular battle royale game “Fortnite.” Khattri is a member of a professional gaming group known as FaZe Clan and is a content creator on YouTube, for those of you who – like myself – didn’t know who he was prior to this story.  


This ban was handed down by Epic Games after Khattri uploaded a video of himself using an aimbot hack in a public match of “Fortnite.” Though he was using an alternate account, his main account was issued a lifetime ban from the game and Khattri himself is barred from attending any official “Fortnite” events or creating future content around the game.  

 

So far, this story seems pretty straightforward: a popular player uses a hack and is given a punishment befitting Epic Games’ zero tolerance policy on the matter. Case closed, right? Not if you ask most mainstream news outlets like CNN have been covering the story and weighing in. While most of the gaming community is unsympathetic to Khattri’s ban, these stories and some prominent gaming figures have been treating the ban as unreasonable and some even calling for it to be changed.  

 
I’m here to tell you that not only is the ban justified, but that these calls to “Free Jarvis” only serve to hurt gaming and prove why this ban was necessary. Think of literally any other type of popular competition, from poker to football. If a player was caught cheating — for example, a football player using steroids — that player would be immediately removed from the sport in its entirety.  

 
Now, you can say that Khattri wasn’t playing in a competitive scene when he was banned, and you’d be right. What isn’t correct is that this makes the situations different. The NFL runs professional games exclusively, but if they somehow ran matches open to the public and an athlete used steroids in one of those matches, the NFL wouldn’t allow them to go into competitive play again because the athlete’s transgression was in a public match. “Fortnite” is the same; the platform runs professional and public competition under one umbrella.  

 
Moreover, I think it’s ridiculous that there is a double standard in how traditional sports stars and esports stars are treated in regards to cheating. When Lance Armstrong admitted to using steroids, I didn’t hear a choir of tearful people crying for him to get a second chance like there is for Khattri. Khattri is also in a far better situation than other sports stars; as unlike them, he’s still young enough to choose another path in life to make ends meet and even flourish if he so chose to. Some people, however, are treating the situation as if Khattri's life is over, while a professional football star that cheats is said to be given his just desserts, even though he is at a point in his life where he can’t just go apply to a minimum wage job like Khattri can and move on with his life.  

 

These double standards just go to show the separation people still make between traditional sports and esports, as though esports are just a silly game while traditional sports are a serious matter. Double standards aside, there is another issue that doesn’t apply to traditional sports. By using a hack, Khattri explicitly tampered with the source code of the game, code which is property of Epic Games. He damaged property in that sense and there are some already calling for the use of hacks in games to be labeled as crimes by law on that basis.  

 
Finally, as a professional gamer, Khattri should know how hacking in games ruins the experience for everyone. For the people playing alongside the hacker, they are denied the ability to have fun and just relax from their stressful lives. For developers, these hacks force them to devote resources toward anti-cheat measures instead of towards new and exciting content for people to enjoy. If hacking becomes a well-known issue in a game, it can also cause its sales to plummet and effectively kill what would have been a great game.  

 

With millions of fans, Khattri should also know that he is a role model and that by using a hack, he was telling his fans that hacking isn’t a big deal. The only way to offset that is for Epic Games to ban him like anyone else, so that they can send the correct counter message. At the end of the day, I hope Epic Games stays the course and that this can serve as a productive case study for the ever-maturing community of gaming. 

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First Impressions of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare”

Eric Myers, Contributor 

Nov. 4, 2019


Note that this review is being typed as of Oct. 31, so by the time it is published there may have been patches or hot-fixes that have rectified some issues I have with the game’s multiplayer component. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” feels like an earnest attempt at change to the “Call of Duty” we’ve come to expect to release every year. 


I want to stress that the operative word here is “attempt.” Also, this review was conducted with a standard PS4, which will be important when I review how the game runs. Without further ado, let’s go dark and see what this new installment has to offer.  

 

First, there’s the campaign. Rest assured, there will be no spoilers in this article. Much of the story itself relies on first impressions to make its impact, so spoilers only serve to degrade your first experience. I can tell you the game developers gone with a more grounded approach to this campaign. 

 

You won’t find the whole world in jeopardy from nukes or a chemical/technical McGuffin, there’s no big set pieces that you blow up, and while the antagonists are pretty cut and dry, the “good guys” aren’t portrayed as spotless action heroes. The story focuses more on presentation to get its point across rather than dialogue, but compared to some of its predecessors and by its own merits, it is far from bad.  The story tells a much different narrative than previous installments, choosing to hyperfocus on the moral ambiguity and the atrocities war births, particularly in the modern age.  

 

Mechanically, I think this installment proves that future campaigns have so much more potential with the new engine and all that entails. Graphically, the game is absolutely stunning, even on a standard PS4. I have heard that the cut scenes before missions had stuttering issues, but I am unsure if that was because of random chance or if it was because players were playing with maxed out settings, as I encountered none of these issues.  

 

This allows for greater immersion, especially if you play on Realism Mode where the user interface is disabled. This campaign still has very standard “Call of Duty” missions, but there are a few that focus on stealth or aren’t very fast paced.  

 

This game did an excellent job in one mission of having you experience firsthand how tier 1 operators clear a house, floor by floor, not knowing what’s behind the next door. These new types of missions were the strongest in the entire campaign and could have made for an overall better campaign if the game makers had stuck to more of these kinds of missions.  

 

The biggest flaw with the was the run time. If you play on a harder difficulty and die a lot, the campaign will only take about 6 hours, which is criminally short seeing how this is the first campaign in a “Call of Duty” game I’ve really liked since “Black Ops 2.” 

 

The multiplayer option is definitely something. The new engine, visuals, inclusion of door mechanics, huge range of gun customization, making the game less focused on watching the mini-map and a preference towards maps that aren’t just three lanes all holds huge potential for this game.  

 

It’s quickly countered by two major flaws, however: spawning and audio. Spawning is just a mess as of the time of this review and even if the game makers manage to fix it later, they don’t get a free pass for releasing it the way that it is. Spawn camping is a constant sight as spawns don’t flip when they should, leading to you sometimes getting killed in your spawn three or four times before the game decides it’s cool to flip the spawns, though by then you might as well put the controller down because the time you’ve spent trapped has likely lost you the match. 

 

Next is the audio which is unrelenting. Overly frequent call outs, overly loud footsteps and next to no moments of quiet lead to an unproductive chaos. 

 

For now, I’d recommend you hold off on buying Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, do your research and see how these glaring issues get handled. 

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Should You Upgrade to the iPhone 11?

Carly Styka, Opinions Editor

Oct. 28, 2019


With so many phones on the market today, it can be hard to decide which is the best purchase. IPhones are a popular option due to their vivid displays, quality camera and easy-to-use operating system.  


Earlier this month, Apple announced three new iPhone models: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.  


The iPhone 11 is the cheapest of the three, starting at $699 and is the successor to the previous model iPhone XR. The iPhone 11 Pro is the “premium” version of the new models (successor to the XS), sporting a bigger price tag ($999 starting). The Pro Max, which starts at $1099, is the plus size version of the regular 11 Pro. 


The main difference between the 11 and the Pro is the camera. Apple has been running a dual camera setup on their iPhones for a couple years, but now they’ve added a third lens.  


The Pro has a wide-angle lens, an ultra-wide lens and a telephoto lens. The three cameras are calibrated individually but work as one to achieve a better image. The lenses allow for 2x optical zoom-in, digital zoom-up to 10x and dual optical image stabilization.  


The iPhone 11 features a new dual camera setup, which consists of a wide and ultra-wide lens. Although these updated lenses are most likely very effective, previous models such as the iPhone XS, X and 8 Plus all include both a wide and telephoto lens. A jump from one of these models to the 11 is a small upgrade camera-wise.  


Another key difference between the 11 and the 11 Pro is the display. The 11 features a 6.1-inch LCD Retina display with 1792 x 828-pixel resolution. Meanwhile, the Pro has a 5.8-inch OLED display with 2436-by-1125-pixel resolution.  


Although it is smaller, the Pro’s display has much better contrast and colors due to it being OLED. The iPhone XS also has an OLED screen with the same resolution.  


All three models come with Apple’s new A13 Bionic chip, which Apple claims is “the fastest chip ever in a smartphone.” The new chip allows for speedy processing and loading times. 


The 11 has a glass back and comes in a wide variety of bright colors, while the Pro has a textured matte glass and a stainless-steel design, which comes in muted colors.  


As far as battery life, the iPhone 11 beats the Pro. According to Tom’s Guide, the iPhone XS lasted for nine hours and 41 minutes of continuous web browsing, while the iPhone 11 lasted 11 hours and 20 minutes. The Pro lasted for 10 hours and 24 minutes. 


There are many deals available for the iPhone 11, such as the typical mobile carrier deal where you must open a new line and trade in your old phone to get a discount. Apple is offering up to $16.62 per month or $399 with a trade-in for the iPhone 11, and $24.95 per month or $599 with trade-in for the Pro.  


Whether or not the iPhone 11 is worth an upgrade depends on what phone a person is upgrading from and what features they value the most. If you are a hobbyist photographer and enjoy using your phone to take pictures, then the 11 Pro is a great choice.  


Besides the camera, there isn’t really a strong case for upgrading to the Pro. The better display and battery life of the Pro are not a huge improvement compared to the 11. Most consumers wouldn’t notice the difference and it wouldn’t have a huge impact on their day-to-day lives. 


Unless you are upgrading from a phone three years or older, it wouldn’t make much sense to upgrade to the new models, unless you place a high value on display, camera quality and having the latest tech.  If you have an older phone, either iPhone 11 would be worth the cost because you would be getting many new features in both cases. 


Another good reason to upgrade is if you are looking to switch phone lines and have an eligible model to trade-in. Discounts as much as half-off are available. 


Since the iPhone 11 hasn’t been drastically redesigned, it would be worth it to wait in most scenarios. Anyways, who knows what Apple will come up with next fall. 

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Mental Health Day and the importance of mental well-being

Carly Styka, Opinions Editor

Oct. 28, 2019


On Oct. 10, World Mental Health Day was recognized around the globe. Initiated by the World Federation for Mental Health in 1992, the day is meant to bring awareness to mental illness and how it affects thousands of lives. It also aims to reduce the social stigma surrounding mental disorders.  


It is observed by the World Health Organization and other health organizations. WHO supports the technical side of the day and assists with communication materials.  


The awareness campaign has a different theme each year, this year’s theme is mental health promotion and suicide prevention. Past themes included mental health in the workplace, living with schizophrenia and the global crisis of depression.  


According to WHO’s website, the day “provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.” 


The tagline for this year’s event is “a day for ‘40 seconds of action.’” This comes from the WHO’s statistic that someone loses their life to suicide every 40 seconds.  


This sobering statistic shows why World Mental Health Day is so important. Mental illness is a largely prevalent problem that affects people of all types.  


According to the World Federation for Mental Health, the goal of choosing suicide for this year’s theme was to “attract the attention of governments so that the issue might be given priority in public health agendas around the world.” 


WHO’s website features video articles and information packets on what emergency workers, health workers, teachers, and employers can do to help prevent suicide. 


Events that took place during the week of World Mental Health Day included guided meditations, mental health festivals, and speeches at libraries and community events. 


Some psychiatrists decided to give out free mental health screenings as part of World Mental Health Day. These screenings are meant to stress the importance of keeping tabs on your mental health.  


A psychiatric physician with the Psychiatric Associates, Dr. Sam Shultz, speaking with KRCG, explained the importance of mental health awareness and why she offered free screenings.  


“It's not a bad thing to talk about mental illness, it is a good thing," Dr. Shultz said. "Think about it as any other problem with your body; [if] you have sugar problems and you're a diabetic, you need insulin. [If] you have a broken arm, you need to get it checked out. Mental health shouldn't be really any different.” 


Having good mental health is key to getting by in life. You can’t perform well at work or school if you are psychologically ill, which is why mental health is just as important as physical health.  


Mental illness affects people of all ages. According to a 2018 study from WHO, one in three college students reports having symptoms in line with at least one mental health disorder.  


Luckily, society is starting to recognize the importance of focusing on mental health. Employers are beginning to accept “mental health days” as a valid excuse to miss a day of work. Counselors at schools are training to deal with students facing emotional issues.  


But there is much more work to be done. If we continue to spread awareness of mental health issues and create more support services for those struggling with mental illness, then we will be one step closer to changing the grim statistics.  

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Pink tax continues discrimination against women

Stephanie Lingenfelter, Contributor 

Oct. 28, 2019


Women have gained more rights and respect in the last 50 years, but not all battles have been won. The main is the wage gap, where men are making on average more than women with the same job skills. Part of the wage gap is the pink tax. The pink tax refers to women-specific products costing more than men-specific. Most people talk about the pink tax in regards to cosmetics and personal hygiene products, but it also occurs with toys and clothes. Basically, women are being paid less than men at work, while also being charged more.  


A survey conducted in late 2015 by the New York Department of Consumer Affairs showed products geared towards females cost 7% more compared to men’s. Girl’s toys and accessories cost on average 7% more and women’s personal care products cost 13% more than men’s.  


Retailers questioned about the price discrepancies credit more labor required for women’s products and services then men. This does apply in some cases, but not all. It’s hard to believe a women and men’s deoderant require different amounts of work.  


Another source given for the price discrepancies is advertisement. Companies make it seem like women have to purchase their product to be worthy. Your outfit isn’t good enough unless it features a Gucci bag and Louis Vuitton heels. You’re flawed if you’re not wearing expensive makeup brands from Sephora, such as MAC and Anastasia Beverly Hills. This is more reflective of the culture advertisers have created in which women think they have to have the best clothes, do their makeup every day and have clear skin. Therefore, they spend more money on products to make them fit into what society has deemed the ideal woman. Advertisers are just catering more towards this toxic culture and adding more self-doubt into women who already feel like they aren’t good enough, when women need to be empowered.  


One of the pressing issues involving the pink tax is tax on feminine hygiene products for menstruation. In 37 out of 50 states, menstrual products are taxed as luxury items. A luxury item is something deemed not necessary by the state, so it’s taxed higher. In Illinois, sales tax is 6.25 on luxury items, while there’s a one percent tax on food, drugs and medicine appliances. Illinois joined 12 other states by adding menstrual products to the non-luxury item list in 2018 and the rest of the states need to follow. In states like Indiana, products deemed necessities, like food and medicine, aren’t taxed, but tampons and pads still are.  


According to authors Barbara Seaman and Gary Null in book, “For Women Only!” 70% of women use tampons. Women typically menstruate from the age of 13 to 51, according to the Office of Women’s Health and with a box of 36 tampons averaging seven dollars, women would spend $1,773.33 on tampons in their lifetime, not including tax. While that may not seem like a lot, adding Illinois Will County’s sales tax of 7% that women previously had to pay adds another $121.33 to that total. If there is not full sales tax on medicine or food, then there shouldn’t be any taxes on tampons either.  


Menstrual products are a necessity. There’s no argument against it. If women had the choice to opt out of having a menstrual period, most probably would. However, that’s not how the female body works. Tampons and pads aren’t luxury items and shouldn’t be taxed as such.  


The current U.S. sales tax system was drafted between 1930 and 1960. The first time a woman was elected to Congress was 1929. This means most state’s laws and taxes were determined when older white men had a large majority; therefore, this mislabel of menstrual products as luxury could be due to their ignorance. Many men don’t fully understand how the menstrual cycle works, and some women too, so maybe the blame can be put onto health education. Or maybe you can blame it on an ancient stigma. Women used to be shamed for being on their period and taught to keep it to themselves. In today’s world, many women will complain about their period to anyone who will listen. It’s a part of life and there shouldn’t be this gross stigma around it as its nothing for women to be modest about. It’s the job of politicians to understand necessities for all genders and update this outdated tax system.  


Whoever you want to put the blame onto doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the pink tax should disappear and women should be treated as equal in the economy.  

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Pink tax continues discrimination against women

Staff Editorial

Oct. 28, 2019


A standard expectation for college students is to shell out some of their savings for textbooks at the start of each semester. Yet, in many cases, students are left spending hundreds of dollars on books beyond their budget. This expenditure often causes anxiety among students, especially when some of the book they are required to purchase may or may not be used in class. Additionally, with general education courses, students are often left at the end of each semester books unrelated to their declared major. 


Aside from the costliness of most textbooks coupled with the simple fact some of the books won’t be used in required general education classes, students also lose the opportunity to gain new information presented in the test. Despite most professors designing exams and tailoring assignments to the information discussed in lectures, textbooks offer additional information and sources for students to utilize. Ultimately, a textbook is an excellent resource, but when only partially used or completely ignored, the resource is useless and becomes a paperweight. 


Some textbook publishing houses create online materials related to the text, which is then embedded into an electronic textbook. Students then can purchase an access code in addition to the physical textbook or sometimes as a substitute to the physical textbook. Often e-books are a cheaper option for students; however, when the subscription for the text ends, access to the book is immediately revoked, which reduces the amount of resources a student can draw from in future courses. This primarily impacts students who purchase e-books for their major courses, for many students keep the books from major courses as they will benefit the student in their professions. 


Though e-books are a cheaper option, the limited subscription period nullifies the effectiveness of maintaining a textbook for future, professional use by students. This is the same issue for rentals. Yes, renting a textbook is a more cost-effective option for students on a strict budget, but the rental must be returned at the close of each semester or a student is fined heavily. 


Moreover, on rare occasions, professors ask students to purchase a textbook that was authored solely or partially by the professor. This practice has long been considered unethical, yet still persists in the modern classroom. 


To avoid ethically grey areas and to increase the effectiveness of textbooks as a classroom and professional resource, professors should consider having their students purchasing a later for earlier edition of a text. The latest edition of most textbooks includes minor changes and slightly updated graphic. The difference can be easily compensated for with a simple discussion between professor and pupil. Faculty should also consider reading and annotating at least half of a textbook to ensure the purchase is worthwhile to students and the text, as a resource, is being used to a higher effectiveness.  


Again, the goal is increasing the effectiveness of textbooks as a resource. As such, students can do their part and really consider how to use each textbook for each course. For general education courses that do not impact their major, consider purchasing the e-book or rent the text. For courses that do impact their major, really consider purchasing the hardcopy for continual use. Textbooks are resources not just for individual classes but also for lifelong, professional work. 

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Fully Loaded: A Review of ‘Borderlands 3’

Eric Myers, Contributor 

Oct. 21, 2019


This review is an extension of the Progress Bar on “Borderlands 3,” so please reference that article for my views on gunplay and core mechanics. “Borderlands 3” is the right kind of sequel in my opinion, delivering the gameplay that made the series a staple as well as a story that does what it’s supposed to do, with a few moments that actually register a serious emotional response. Without further ado, let’s get into why you should play “Borderlands 3.”  


I have to say that I’m really happy to find a game like “Borderlands 3” where content wasn’t sacrificed. “Borderlands 3” has a 30+ hour campaign and after completion of your first run-through, it offers new difficulty levels with better rewards, as well as special challenge modes. With four classes to pick from at the start, plus these new options, this game is overflowing with replay-ability. 


Side quests are fun throughout any playthrough and I found myself on multiple occasions wanting to pursue them before continuing on the main quest. Even if I didn’t need to level up, the concepts of many of these side quests gave me a good chuckle and I enjoyed seeing them to the end. 


The game's conclusions also came with a cool, unique rewards, such as a rocket launcher that shoots radioactive cheeseburgers.  You heard me. My only nitpick is such a cool weapon like that was given at a very early side quest, effectively ensuring I could barely use the weapon before it became out-leveled by other guns.  


Bosses in the game this time around are actually fairly challenging across the board. Many bosses you will face have environmental or secondary mechanics you have to contend with on top of the usual onslaught “Borderlands” bosses dish out along with the adds that spawn every now and again to harass you. 


Bosses sometimes felt like raid bosses from MMO’s, though you can beat every boss on your own (though I imagine that when you play in a larger group, the bosses will not lose their challenging aspects), and I only found one boss that I felt had a cheap trick to make him difficult, but he was luckily an optional boss. 


Like every other “Borderlands” story, the story in this latest installment does what you expect: it’s a wacky, tongue-in-cheek ride with a serviceable story that contains a few twists that most people will probably see before they officially reveal it. The story did manage like the second installment to really grow the players drive to defeat the main antagonists, the Calypso Twins, who constantly taunt you over your ECHO device throughout the game, much like Handsome Jack did in “Borderlands 2.” 


The game also had a few surprise celebrity voice actors, but I’ll not mention who they are so that you get the full experience of their surprise performances. Without spoiling anything, I really enjoyed the ending of “Borderlands 3” and felt it had a bigger impact than any of the other installments. 


I noticed during my play-through that a patch was released that I believed alleviated some of the graphical and performance issues the game had at launch, but not entirely. Texture load-in can still be an ugly thing to witness, but I don’t think it will ruin anyone’s experience. I also noticed enemies stopped swarming you while you were downed, which I was very happy to discover. 


Overall, “Borderlands 3” is a game that does what it needs to do and executes it masterfully, with the minor graphical hiccup here and there. I give it a solid 8.5 out of 10 for solid gameplay and enjoyable humor. Borderlands 3 is held back by minor graphical issues and, while a great game, does nothing groundbreaking or above and beyond to bring it to a 9/10 or a perfect 10. 

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Pound of Flesh: UN Investigate Human Rights Violations

Eric Myers, Contributor 

Oct. 9, 2019


Do you wonder what it costs to make your smartphone? You’d probably think of the money, man power and engineering behind it. What if I told you your smartphone’s price was one man’s beating heart?  


On Sept. 24, Reuters reporter Emma Batha, presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to investigate into the appalling allegations of human rights violations that China has been and currently continues to harvest organs from prisoners of conscience on a large scale, sometimes while the prisoner is still alive. 


For those who don’t know what a prisoner of conscience is, it is someone who is incarcerated for political or religious beliefs that aren’t tolerated by a governing body. In China’s case, the allegations cite prisoners of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, Uighur Muslims, and even those from Christian sects as those selected for the harvesting of organs.  


China has categorically denied the allegations, claiming that they have not harvested organs from any executed prisoners since 2015. In June of this year, an independent review panel concluded that China’s organ harvesting did indeed fall under crimes against humanity. 


To many, it might sound like China has been caught red-handed: a credible investigation has ruled their actions as crimes against humanity. China has been known for numerous other human rights violations in the past, and the nature of the matter is of common human concern regardless of politics. 


So, good triumphs, right? No. Sadly, we don’t live in a logical world where moral equations are adhered to. We live in a world of money, power and debt. Even if the U.N. wishes to pursue these matters, what will come of it? Sanctions, possibly? Though, if there are any, they won’t be substantial, how could they be? 


The Office of the United States Trade Representative website states that in 2018 alone, imported goods from China totaled at $539.5 billion and supported around 911,000 jobs in America in 2015. All this culminates to one simple conclusion: China will likely be unscathed due to it being an essential economic powerhouse. As a consumer, you need only look at tags and manufacturing labels around your house to know how much we depend on China. 


I will be clear with you all: I’m no business savant or juggernaut of politics. I understand the complexity of the situation the world is in, though not in depth like others. But I share one aspect: I’m human. I can imagine being imprisoned for my faith. I can imagine guards storming my cell one day and dragging me out. 


I can imagine being strapped to an operating table, my last thoughts knowing that my most basic of human rights, the right of my body, will be violated as they kill me. Even typing these words gives me pause, knowing that this scenario is not abstract, but has been a reality for untold thousands in China.  


But we are not entirely without hope or power. As a democratic republic nation, we choose who we can do business with. As consumers in a digital age, we can be well informed on where the products we buy come from. As human beings born with unalienable rights, we can find the constitution and conviction to reassess who we do business with. 


Just as China’s economic power wasn’t built in a day, neither can its deconstruction be in a day. But we can take steps. We can be vocal with companies who do much of their business or production in China. We can demand our representatives oppose trade deals that further tighten China’s economic stranglehold. In short, we can make a difference over time.  


If your conviction ever wavers, knowing what you know now, merely look to your smartphone and remember the pound of flesh it costs. My hope is that if not I, that a generation who takes my place can one day give justice to the victims of this heinous crime through economic responsibility and discipline. Let us start today with that progress. 

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Are holograms the future of live music?

Carly Styka, Opinions Editor

Oct. 7, 2019


Technology has changed the way we interact with music. We can access millions of songs in an instant and stream them across our devices. Gone are the days of standing in line at record stores, waiting for the next big hit to be released. Of all the ways technology has changed the music industry, bringing dead artists back to life is one of the most controversial and strange.  


Holography has been explored in the media since the ‘70s. It has been featured in many sci-fi books and films, such as “Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” but few would have imagined that we would have completely digital performers.  


One of these performers is Whitney Houston.  


On Sept. 17, the dates for “An Evening With Whitney: The Whitney Houston Hologram Tour” were released. Produced in partnership with Houston’s estate, the show kicks off in Mexico in January 2020 and will continue across Europe. Dates for North America are tentatively scheduled for fall 2020.  


The company behind the tour, BASE Hologram, is responsible for a tribute show for singer-songwriters Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly. Their roster also includes a tour devoted to opera singer Maria Callas. 


“What we are creating here is a new type of theatrical concert experience designed to capture [the] magic [of Houston’s performances,]” said Brian Becker, chairman and CEO of BASE Hologram in a press release. “When she performed there was an unmatched level of charisma and emotion to it - that’s what we are going to bring to audiences and it’s an honor to be able to help add to her legacy with this project,” said Becker.  


The shows will include a live band, back-up-singers and dancers with choreography from Fatima Robinson, who has worked with artists like Kendrick Lamar and Pharrell Williams. 


“Whitney is not with us, but her music will live with us forever,” said Pat Houston, Whitney’s former manager and CEO of Whitney’s estate. “We know we made the right decision partnering with BASE because they understand how important it is to produce a phenomenal hologram. Her fans deserve nothing less because she gave nothing less than her best.” 

Speaking of her fans, many are not thrilled with Houston’s holographic resurrection. They feel her legacy and her very soul are being exploited for a capitalistic money-grab. Twitter user @santikapowski called it “utterly disrespectful and disgusting.” 


Houston’s family share her fans’ sentiments. Speaking with Entertainment Tonight, Dionne Warwick, Houston’s cousin and fellow singer, shared her views on the tour.  


“I haven’t a clue as to what that is,” said Warwick. “It’s surprising to me. I think it’s stupid, but whatever it is that’s what it is.” 


Many other iconic singers have been turned into holograms for live shows, such as Michael Jackson and Tupac. BASE Hologram had planned an Amy Winehouse hologram tour but had to postpone it earlier this year due to planning issues. These shows generate a lot of buzz and more importantly, a lot of revenue. 


It’s cool that technology gives us the opportunity to see iconic artists that are no longer with us. People who never got the chance to see them live can do so and experience what made them so great.  


However, no matter how fancy and advanced the digital projectors are, you can’t recreate a living person. It’s creepy seeing the likeness of these artists being used long after they have died. Many of these artists had hard lives and seeing them being used posthumously as a cash grab seems wrong. 


Many of these companies say they are honoring the legacy of the artist, but artists create their own legacy by creating art while they are alive.  


Either way, the show will go on. It’s not illegal and the estates of these artists are willing to produce these tours. Fans are willing to pay for the chance to see these singers recreated. 


I wouldn’t be pleased if one of my favorite singers was being brought back to life as a hologram. No amount of lights or trickery can replace a real person.  

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Halloween

Carly Styka, Opinions Editor

Oct. 7, 2019


Major holidays are big business for retailers. Stores build elaborate displays of everyone’s favorite goodies and decorations. Shoppers get together with family and friends to pick out their favorite decorations. 


Holiday sales have started earlier every year. We all know the horror of shopping in early October and hearing Christmas jingles being played over the PA system and seeing Christmas trees on display. But many stores have started ruining smaller holidays as well. 


Some stores, such as Target and At Home, have begun selling Halloween decorations as early as June. Believe it or not, some people are actually excited about this blatant disrespect for Labor Day. 


In July, Target tweeted, “Tomorrow is August...so...it's basically Halloween.” 


This tweet got over 10,000 likes and 4,000 retweets. A few people expressed disappointment over the statement, but most users were happy to see the retailer selling spooky items in the dog days of summer. In August, Target sold out of many pre-order Halloween items.  


Although it feels wrong to be shopping for skeletons in the middle of summer, retailers clearly benefit from it. Pre-orders help stores find out what items are popular so they can plan their inventories accordingly.  


One reason for stores to sell holiday items earlier each year is to stay competitive. If they are the only store in the region not selling costumes and décor, they are losing out on that potential sale. 


Holiday displays are also used to manipulate consumers into impulse spending. If customers know a store sells decorations, they are more likely to buy other items at that store while shopping for their holiday goods. 


Roberta Gleicher, a business development consultant and district manager, spoke with Yahoo! Finance about the strategy behind holiday displays. 


“It has to do with subliminal psychology,” said Gleicher. “Stores try to keep customers in there as long as possible because the more time they spend, the more they will shop and buy. Once they're shopping, they see holiday decorations and get in the holiday spirit.” 


There is a lot of money to be made in Halloween sales.  


According to a 2018 study from the National Retail Federation, more than a third of consumers will start buying Halloween products in September or earlier. It was predicted that $9 million was spent on Halloween items in 2018.  


Retailers follow where the money goes. If selling holiday items early leads to more profit, then that’s what they will do. This is why all holidays, not just Christmas, are being celebrated in stores weeks and months earlier. Black Friday sales used to just be on Friday. Now, they start before Thanksgiving. 


If this trend continues, these holidays will start to lose their special feeling. Consumers aren’t going to be excited about a Halloween display if it’s been featured in the store year-round.  


Hopefully, retailers will realize this and stop moving the dates of holiday sales earlier. Consumers can help with this by only purchasing these items in the appropriate holiday season. 


It’s just plain annoying to see jack-o-lanterns being sold in June and Christmas trees being sold in September. I don’t want to be seeing skeletons when I’m shopping for beach towels and sunscreen. There’s a time and a place for everything.  

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Who needs clean drinking water anyway?

Carly Styka, Opinions Editor

Oct. 7, 2019


On Sept. 12, the Trump administration announced the repeal of Obama-era clean water regulations that limited the amount of pollutants that could be disposed of in wetlands and streams. These restrictions were a part of the landmark legislation passed in 1972 that set new regulations on water protection and aimed to limit pollution in 60% of the country’s water. Obama’s rule was developed to protect waterways that connect to waters protected by the Clean Water Act. 


Andrew Wheeler, the EPA administrator, announced the repeal at an event in Washington at the National Association of Manufacturers. President Trump has fought to rollback various environmental protections since his election, such as restrictions on methane emissions, coal power plants and pesticide use. He signed an executive order in the early days of his administration directing federal agencies to begin the process of repealing the act.  


This rollback will limit the amount of protections that streams and storm water control facilities can receive. It also limits government protections on larger bodies of water.  


Manufacturers and industrial companies no longer need to obtain a permit to dispose of potentially harmful waste into waterways as a result of the repeal.  


Trump has touted that the Clean Water regulations harmed agricultural groups and other businesses that operated near bodies of water, such as oil companies and golf courses. He claimed it prevented them from running their businesses and called it “one of the worst examples of federal regulation.” 


During the Obama-era act, farmers located near bodies of water were restricted in how they could use their land. They had to obtain permits for plowing, planting and spraying pesticides and fertilizers, since there was a risk of erosion and runoff. Farmers, an important constituency for Trump, praised the rollback. 


Calling the water regulations an “egregious power grab,” Wheeler described how the rollback would benefit businesses.  

“Farmers, property owners and businesses will spend less time and money determining whether they need a federal permit and more time building infrastructure,” said Wheeler in a news conference. 


Environmentalists are not as happy about the rollback. They fear removing restrictions on water pollution will drastically reduce the country’s supply of safe drinking water. Many areas of the country still have well water, and with cities like Flint that are still recovering from water pollution issues, now is not the time to be stripping environmental protections. 


“The millions of children newly back to school could give this administration’s officials a basic science lesson: wetlands and streams connect to larger rivers,” said Bob Irvin, president of the advocacy group American Rivers. “They are vitally important to protecting water quality for all of our communities.” 


The Clean Water Act had a measurable and profound impact on the quality of our water. Rivers were mucky and dead fish lined the shores of lakes. Do we really want to sacrifice our clear waters so Trump can line the pockets of big oil companies and farmers? 


Protecting the environment and the resources in it are more important than money. With Trump removing more and more environmental protections, we need to elect a leader who is committed to ensuring the protection of this planet. If major environmental legislation was passed in the 1970s under a conservative government, we can do the same today.  

One would think that more people would want to protect a vital and limited resource we can’t go more than three or four days without. 

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Political Polarization Causes Lack of Progress

Stephanie Lingenfelter, Contributor 

Oct. 7, 2019


The divide between Republicans and Democrats is constantly increasing and has caused politics to become extremely severed. The middle ground is dissipating, leaving few options except the opposing sides of the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. This divide leads to lack of compromise and legislators failing to listen to their constituents.  


It’s rare for someone to fit into one group perfectly. Someone may lean toward one group more than another, but it’s unlikely they share the exact same beliefs as the group or others in the same group. According to a 2019 poll conducted by Pew Research Center, 38% of U.S. adults identify as independent, though all but 7% lean towards one side.  


Even though most Americans identify as independent, the political candidates that have been elected tend to be on the more extreme sides of their party or at least appear that way. This causes the candidates only to want to create more radical bills and develops a negative view toward compromise.  


The goal of a political party is to control the political playing field. They want to dominate the House and the Senate by getting as many elected officials to identify with their party as possible. The parties have complete opposite viewpoints on almost every issue, so this leads to disagreement and a lack of compromise in legislation.  


The job of elected legislators is to pass bills. The bill will not get passed easily if half of the legislative branch is controlled by Republicans and the other half Democrats. The House will pass it, but it’ll die in the Senate.  


Both parties are strong in their beliefs and want all policies to reflect their beliefs.  It’s not a bad thing to have strong beliefs, but it is a problem when strong beliefs lead to only strong, radical policies and a stubbornness within the parties that prevents compromise.  


The parties are failing to put their strong, radical opinions to the side to resolve issues and actually create bills that address the issues Americans feel strongly about. Instead, thousands of bills are proposed and discussed for months with no progress made. This makes Americans antsy and leads to marches and protests, begging lawmakers to stop arguing and actually do something.  


This divided climate is making it harder for Americans to get along. Everyone makes their opinion well-known and the lack of understanding or compromise within our government trickles its way down to the people. Democrats don’t want to associate with Republicans. Republicans don’t want to associate with Democrats. Facebook walls are coated with opinions and friends attacking each other due to a difference in opinion. All of this creates a toxic relationship between people and politics.  


One solution to this is to listen to each other. Everyone has opinions, some stronger than others. The only way to make progress is to respectively listen to all views and perspectives, come up with compromises that benefit both parties as much as possible. If most Americans aren’t radically Democrat or radically Republican, our elected officials shouldn’t be either. Or, if they are, they should know it is their job to serve the people that elected them and therefore listen to their wishes and put their stubbornness aside so compromise, and therefore, progress can be made.  

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Impeaching Trump won’t change anything

Stephanie Lingenfelter, Contributor

Sept. 30, 2019


The House of Representatives released an official impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Sept. 25. The inquiry was announced after it was revealed Trump allegedly tried to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating former Vice President and 2020 Presidential Candidate Joe Biden. While Trump’s actions are not acceptable, removing him from office won’t fix much.  


For a president to be impeached, enough lawmakers have to say the official committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” per the Constitution. High crime is based on British common law that addresses a potential abuse of power, not necessarily an actual criminal offense. According to the History, Art and Archives of the U.S. House of Representatives, only two presidents have ever been impeached — Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 — and neither was removed from office.  


The first step in impeachment is for the House to investigate the president and then hold a floor vote if the findings are sufficient. If a majority votes for impeachment, as will likely happen if the Trump investigation gets to this step, Trump is offically impeached. Then the invetigation moves to the Senate. If two-thirds vote to convict, which is unlikely based on the current political atmosphere, Trump would be removed from office and Vice President Mike Pence would take over until the end of the term, which is Jan. 2020.  


If the allegations are proven true with substantial evidence, negative consequences will follow, such as Trump’s removal from office. This, however, would just allow Pence to take power. Pence is notoriously known for his homophobic tendencies. In a 2006 Republican Study Committee, he said, “societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family,” and he called sexuality a choice and therefore preventing same-sex marriage was an enforcement of “God’s idea.” 


In 2016, he opposed Obama’s directive to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. When he was running for Congress in 2000, he supported federal funding for conversion therapy.  


For someone who has been openly against the LGBTQ community much of his political career, becoming our president would be damaging. Pence and Trump teamed up for a reason. They are both Republicans with conservative beliefs on all of today’s top issues. 


Democrats are tired of Trump, but they’ll get the same policies and beliefs from Pence (they just might be better quotes with less Twitter fights). The Democratic party should start focusing on more ways to take votes from Trump in the upcoming election instead of working to remove him from office early. 


For the latest developments on the impeachment inquiry, visit CNN's Live Updates

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Progress Bar: A Review of Borderlands 3

Eric Myers, Contributor 

Sept. 23, 2019


We live in a world where games with 30+ hours of content — sometimes not factoring in side content — are reviewed in a week. Jay-Z once said that you can’t review a music album in a day and with video games now being so massive and immersive, most reviewers can’t hope to do a game justice (looking at you reviewers who don’t even beat the game but still think they can “yeet” out a review). 


This is where this style of reviews, lovingly named Progress Bar, comes in. Progress Bar will be a first impressions review, followed by a complete review upon completion and adequate digestion of the experience.  


First on the block is the new “Borderlands 3” release. Right off the bat, the movement of the game is where it needs to be for a current generation release. Where movement was very simple in the first two installments, “Borderlands 3”s addition of mantling and sliding keeps movement fun and exciting.  


Gun play is still as solid as it was in the last installment, with the addition of alternate firing modes adding new life to mowing down enemies. Alternate firing modes can range from mundane, fully automatic fire to burst fire modes, to the more esoteric miniature rocket launcher and taser attachments. Elemental weapons can even have alternate firing modes that allow you to switch the elemental damage currently equipped, which can be a huge game changer. 


“Borderlands 3” has added new elemental damage as well, like radiation, which is a welcomed inclusion to spice up the elemental game formula. The dialogue and tone are still the same goofy, crude, and outright stupid things players loved or hated from the last game. The new major antagonists this time around are literally “Borderland” versions of influencers from Instagram, which gets a solid chuckle from me.  


The four classes you can play as all seem unique, but as of now I can only speak for the “Siren” class. Now, there are some things that immediately rubbed me the wrong way. Enemy A.I. can be a nuisance; when you get downed, they’ll often dog pile on you and make getting a Second Wind pointless as you’ll just be locked in place every now and again by a horde of enemies immediately as you get back into the fight.  


The next bit of criticism seems to vary based on whether you play on PC or console, and even what console you play on. As I was playing on a standard PS4 during my playthrough, visuals in the game were a problem. Every time I load into play, the texture pop-in is absolutely horrendous; I’ve heard the problems can be worse on higher end systems like the PS4 Pro or high-end PCs. Overall, the game seems to be checking all the boxes it should, minus a few technical difficulties. I’d say that “Borderlands 3” is something to look into getting, but my definitive opinion will not be given until the game proper is done. 

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It's 2019: Why Are We Still Banning Books?

Carly Styka, Opinions Editor

Sept. 16, 2019


In today’s society, we like to think of ourselves as fairly progressive and forward-thinking. In particular, pop culture continues to push the boundaries of what is acceptable to show in the media. What we see in movies today would never be allowed in the 50s. Married couples weren’t even allowed to be seen in the same bed in a film. 


Despite this, there are still times when people revert to old mentalities and fears.  

A reverend at a Catholic school in Nashville, Tennessee has banned the “Harry Potter” series due to the wicked nature of the books. According to an email obtained by the Tennessean, Rev. Dan Reehil explains to parents that he decided to remove the books from the library after consulting with exorcists in the U.S. and Rome.  


Reehil explained that the books present magic as something with the potential for good, which is harmful to teach young people. “The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text,” said the pastor. 


The Tennessean reports that Reehil banned the series after receiving a complaint from a parent. Rebecca Hammel, the superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, explained that the pastor was acting “well within his authority” even though the Catholic Church does not have an official stance on “Harry Potter.” 


What is interesting about the reverend’s statement is the fact that he made sure to note that “human beings” would be reading the story. As opposed to what? Dogs and cats? The actors in the “Harry Potter” films read curses aloud. Are actors not considered humans? 


Reehil is not the only person to have a problem with the wizarding series. It has stirred up controversy in many religious schools and communities since it was written. From 2001-2003, they were on The American Library Association's list of most challenged books, which means they were the most requested books to be removed from school libraries.  


Aside from “Harry Potter,” there have been many great works of literature that have been challenged by various groups and offended individuals throughout history. One wouldn’t be surprised to see titles such as “Lolita” and “A Clockwork Orange” on a list of banned books. Lumped in with these controversial titles are harmless, classic children’s stories such as “Tarzan” and “The Lorax.” Even stranger inclusions are Anne Frank’s diary and the “American Heritage Dictionary.” Words can be hurtful, right? 


There is nothing wrong with parents being concerned about what their children read in school. They have a right to object to the content their kids are being exposed to. But they have no right to dictate what other parents can show their kids.  


One group that agrees with this sentiment is The American Library Association. Each year they hold an awareness campaign meant to inform the public of the importance of free speech protection. This event, called Banned Books Week, celebrates the accessibility of banned and challenged books. Since 1982, it has encouraged people to examine controversial books and promoted freedom of speech in libraries, bookstores and schools. Many bookstores and libraries create special displays dedicated to banned books in celebration of the event.  


Critics of Banned Books Week say it is unnecessary and exaggerates the problem of repression. Books are never banned anymore. With the internet, almost anyone can access any work of literature. The banned books sell in the millions due to their controversial status and promotion during Banned Books Week.  

This event is necessary because it reminds us of the importance of a free society that allows everyone to have a voice. Banning books on a small scale, such as in a Catholic school library, can close people off to different viewpoints. For a kid living in a rural community, the library would be their only option of reading the banned material. They can’t drive to a bookstore or use a credit card on Amazon.  


Speaking with the Washington Post, James LaRue, from the Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association, discussed the current repercussions of banning books.  


“The censoriousness of our time is growing,” said LaRue. “It’s not just that we say we want to remove books; we don’t want people to voice in public opinions that someone else in the community might dislike.” 

Banned Books Week runs from September 22 to September 28. If you’re looking for a good book to read, check out your local bookstore or library with a banned books display. Be glad we have the option to read them. 

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Politicians Misuse Social Media

Stephanie Lingenfelter, Contributor

Sept. 16, 2019


Our world has become dominated by social media. The Pope has Twitter, people make careers out of being Instagram models, and with our online world we’ve seemed to have lost some of our basic human decency. Cyberbullying is a common thread throughout all platforms, but it gets pathetic when our politicians start resorting to it as well. There is a proper way to use social media and there is an improper way, and our politicians seem to only know the improper way.  


Social media is the way most younger generations get their news, so it can be used as a great tool for informing. However, instead of using it in a beneficial way, politicians like President Donald Trump have turned it into a drama battlefield. There is no longer educated debates and arguments. Instead, they bully and attack each other’s character. Trump has become one of the regulars of this cyberbullying. Some of his advisors refer to his bedroom as the devil’s lair and the time in which he formulates his tweets the “witching hour,” according to Wired. His 240 character messages aren’t liked by many, including his staff. The US already has plenty of political tension, but Trump is just increasing that tension and his enemy count. 


Politicians are supposed to be our leaders. We’re supposed to look up to them and respect them. It’s difficult to respect someone that publicly calls a woman a “Horseface” on Twitter. In late 2018, according to New York Times, Trump tweeted calling pornographic film star Stephanie Clifford that degrading term. That’s completely inappropriate and uncalled for. Besides, he’s the President and has more important things to do than make fun of someone’s appearance. It’s completely unprofessional and just rude. Throughout the years he’s called people clowns, dummy, dopey, and low class slob. He’s called Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand lightweights in separate tweets. What does someone’s drinking capabilities have to do with politics? In the same tweet calling Gillibrand a slob, Trump also said she would do anything for his money, which he immediately received backlash for the sexist connation. Even if others stoop to that level, it’s unprofessional for a leader as high as Trump to behave in that way. The president is the face of the U.S. It’s pathetic when our president takes to social media every time someone hurts his feelings and other countries make fun of the U.S. because of how immature our politicians tend to act on social media. If he wants to debunk what others are saying, he should be using facts and not acting like he’s still in high school and attacking their character. He would probably be more respected if he wasn’t one of Twitter’s biggest bullies.   


Social media can be an amazing tool for politicians to share what their beliefs are and inform the public about what they’re working on, but it becomes a destructive tool when they use it as a source of attack on their enemies. A good politician can prove an opponent wrong with facts, which requires no cyberbullying.

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Straight Pride Parade Detracts from the LGBTQ Movement

Stephanie Lingenfelter, Contributor

Sept. 16, 2019


Pride is supposed to be a parade to celebrate the LGBTQ community, who have faced continuous oppression throughout their history. In response to the increased attention given to LGBTQ rights, a group of organizers from Boston, Mass organized their own parade on Aug. 31, though this one focused solely on Straight Pride. This is disrespectful because the Pride Parade is to remember the history of the oppression of LGBTQ members and bring people of all sexualities together to continue to fight for equality. 


The organizers website, Super Happy Fun America, broadcasts the purpose of the parade of the front page of their website. “The Straight Pride Event will be held to achieve inclusivity and spread awareness of issues impacting straights in Greater Boston and beyond.” 


The LGBTQ community has been oppressed throughout all of history and continues to be oppressed. They aren’t respected as they should be, and this parade is another example of disrespect. Pride was started in New York in the month of June 1970 one year after the Stonewall Riot. The Stonewall Riot in 1969 was when police raided a gay club in New York City which led to a riot followed by six days of protest. Straight people have never been targeted and attacked for being straight, but in 2017, according to Human Rights Campaign, 27 transgenders were killed for being transgender. According to BBC, there are still 10 countries where being LGBTQ is illegal and in five of those countries, the punishment is death. In Brazil alone, an LGBTQ member is violently attacked every 28 hours despite Brazil having some of the most advance LGTBQ rights in Latin America, according to Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.  


Straight people are oppressed, but not because they’re straight. Sadly, there are so many prejudices in this world that lead to discrimination and inequality. However, being straight isn’t something anyone is discriminated for. Some straight people could be discriminated against for something like race or gender, which still isn’t okay. However, it doesn’t have anything to do with them being straight. Another line from the website is, “Super Happy Fun America invites you to celebrate the diverse history, culture, and contributions of the straight community!” According to The National Survey of Family Growth, 93% of women and 95% of men identify as straight. Therefore, the straight community would of course have a diverse history and made numerous contributions to our world seeing as the majority of people are straight. 


Pride is a place for LGBTQ to unite and celebrate the battles they have won and to brainstorm new ways to fight for equality. It’s to celebrate progress and unity and to hope for a change. The Straight Pride Parade just makes a mockery of Pride and that’s not fair to those who face oppression every single day for their sexuality.  


Straight people are invited to Pride. In fact, LGBTQ members invite straight people to come and join the celebration of their unique, diverse culture and learn more about it. The goal of pride is to increase inclusivity, so the best way to do that is to inform at fun events such as Pride. There’s no need to have a separate event for straight people when they are welcome to attend Pride. The organizers of Straight Pride Parade might benefit from attending the actual Pride parade to gain perspective on what being mistreated based on sexuality looks like from their end. 

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Is Social Media Harmful?

Carly Styka, Opinions Editor 

Sept. 16, 2019


Everyday, there seems to be a new study linking social media use to a myriad of psychological and mental problems. A quick Google search on the topic will bring up thousands of hits. It is not news that too much time spent online can be harmful, but is this fact being exaggerated? 


Social media can be addicting even when it causes stress, according to a recent study from Lancaster University. The habits of 444 Facebook users revealed that stress caused from one activity, such as scrolling through their news feed, would cause them to move to a new activity on the same platform. This cycle of stress and stress-relieving creates an addiction. 


According to the Science Daily, Professor Monideepa Tarafdar, who co-authored the study, said, “While it might seem counter-intuitive, social media users are continuing to use the same platforms that are causing them stress rather than switching off from them, creating a blurring between the stress caused and the compulsive use.” 


Teenagers are particularly at risk to the negative effects of social media. A recent study in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health examined the social media use of 10,000 teens ages 13 through 16. Researchers found that social media can displace other important activities, such as sleep and exercise, and expose them to online bullying.  


In the study, using social media sites more than three times a day was considered frequent. Greater psychological distress was associated with frequent use. The distress was not caused directly by social media use, but by the displacement of other important activities that have an impact on mood and well-being. 


Social media also has negative societal impacts. Hashtags and bot accounts can be used to sway public opinion, as seen with the Cambridge Analytica scandal. People create their own political echo chambers where fair discussion is frowned upon.  


But what many people seem to overlook is the positive side of these sites. The main use of social media is to connect with other people in real-time and share in common interests. I have met friends online that I would never had the chance to meet in real life. The world is a much smaller place with social media. It is especially helpful for people living in rural areas or for people with conditions that make leaving the house a challenge.  


There are ways to limit the negative effects of social media. Parents can take charge and limit their children’s time online to teach them healthy habits. 


“Telling kids not to use social media is probably not going to work,” Dr. Murthy said. “Instead of shutting down screen time altogether, maybe set up a deadline at 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m., whenever you go to bed, an hour before bedtime, leave the device downstairs and then everybody retires to bed.” 


There are many tools available to help limit the time spent on social media. iPhones come with a feature called Screen Time, which allows the user to see how much time they’ve wasted staring at their phone. Users can schedule time away from the screen, set time limits for individual apps and even set up screen time for family. There are numerous other apps like this available.  


An important concept to remember when dealing with social media is this: everything in moderation. Social media is a great tool to connect with others, but it is not representative of real life. If you find yourself growing anxious over the amount of likes you receive on a post or why your friend has more followers than you, it might be time to step away for a bit. 

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At Least I Got My Canvas Bag: A Review of Fallout 76

Eric Myers, Contributor

Sept. 9, 2019


When “Fallout 76” was first announced, I had high hopes. “Fallout 4” was good, but lacked a lot of what made “Fallout” an amazing IP (intellectual property) when it came to dialogue, character, and quests. When Bethesda announced they were releasing “Fallout 76,” aiming to expand upon what made “Fallout 4” great, add what was missing and even let us venture forth into the wasteland with friends, I was instantly hooked. 

I ordered my “Fallout 76” Power Armor Edition as soon as it hit the market. It’s been over a year now since its announcement and close to a year since release and what can be said other than this: What started as a dumpster fire has only continue to burn and degrade since then. 


A dumpster fire is the perfect analogy for this game, as it’s a mess no one should be unfortunate enough to deal with. Everyone who bought the game and dedicated time to playing it — especially those who bought the Power Armor Edition — were expected to be glad they got a new “Fallout” experience and the developers acting like it didn’t stink to high heaven.  


“Fallout 76” is the worst kind of bad game: it’s bad because it’s fundamentally broken. Despite their efforts, Bethesda has yet to fix any of the core problems. These problems aren’t even gameplay problems — there are plenty of those, believe me — but stability problems, as I still get booted from servers half the time I try to play the game, much like going on a first date only to be sitting alone in a restaurant, knowing you got ghosted.  


Those who got the Power Armor Edition, on top of getting a broken game at launch, also had to deal with the infamous “Duffle Kerfuffle,” when Bethesda sent cheap nylon carrying bags instead of the promised canvas bags. As one of these players, I can tell you they actually removed the bag from the artwork on the game case until June 18 of this year when the situation was rectified.  


Even when you’re actually able to play the game, you realize you really don’t want to. The grind — that is, leveling up your character and gaining new gear — is unbearably clunky and slow. There are no NPCs (non-player characters) to talk to outside of boring robots, despite a staple of the franchise being its interesting cast. The game world feels empty because of this. 


A year has illuminated much on why the game was such a failure, as it is clear Bethesda rushed the game out into the market hoping to build it up over time into a good game. They’ve promised NPCs and other missing features that make a good game in upcoming patches and downloadable content, but that’s ultimately the rub: No one bought this game to wait a year and a half to actually enjoy it. 


“Fallout 76” has been a public relations nightmare for Bethesda and one can only hope the once highly trusted company can return to their golden age if they give their upcoming projects time to be polished. But hey, at least I have that sweet, sweet canvas bag. It’s truly the lollipop after the terrible doctor’s visit.