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Saturday, February 27, 2016

The elongated presidential campaign season

If you feel this Presidential campaign cycle is taking way too long, you are not alone. From the first candidate announcing his candidacy, which happened to be Ted Cruz, to the general election,  the official campaign season will last 596 days. This huge number looks even bigger when you consider the U.K has campaign length is 139 days, Canada is 78 days, and Japan is 12 days. This doesn't even include the unofficial season, which future candidates raise money and attack voters and staff members needed to have a strong primary. Why is our campaign season two years while other developed countries have campaign seasons have less than a year?
        This why question can't be answered in a single blog post, but understanding the history of our nation's primaries can help answer this question. In the early years of our history, Congress choose the presidential nominee. There was a shift in the mid-1800's, when party conventions, held in mid-June, took shape. But this conventions weren't like the conventions you see in our cycle. Candidates back then didn't need to have vigorous campaigns. The nomination all came dow to the convention, where selected elites came to gather to choose someone. This led to "back door deals" and "smoked filed rooms". This allowed dark horse candidates to win the nomination. In 1910, Oregon was the first state to hold a primary to elect delegates for the nomination.
         However, those votes lack decisiveness because the big vote came in the convention and delegates were known for changing their vote. However, there was a major turning point in the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. In that convention, Hubert H. Humphrey won the nomination without winning a single state. This lead to a system where delegates per state were proportional to state's population. Also, state parries moved to more open procedures for choosing delegates rather than letting party leaders picking them in secret. This shifted the focus of the season from the convention to the state primaries. As a result, states wanted their primary to be the ear lies so it has the biggest impact There are now rules in place so every state can't vote in February.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A powerless situation

When working, bosses own large quantities of power. They can hire, fire, cut wages, increase wages, add hours, take away hours (ect). However, employees also have some power. They can negotiate for better conditions. They can go on strike and unionize. However, Ehrenreich was powerless as an applicant employee at Walmart. In the hiring process at Walmart, there is no point where the applicant has the chance to ask for more money of benefits. This is because the process is quick, and the employers never told her she was hire until her uniform was handed to her. In addition, the applicant has to pass a drug test, which gives them the feeling of having to prove yourself. Ehrenreich explains the hiring process on page 149, "Tilts even further," towards the employer because of the drug tests and the lack of clarity. Clearly, Walmart has designed the process to get the most cheap labor in the door and working without giving them the power to negotiate their potential power. Once the employee is working, there is no turning back. If the employee wants higher wages, Walmart can easily relieve that employee of their duties, and find someone else to replace them. Ehrenreich has no power because she is easily replaceable, and isn't given any chances to use her potential power. The situation Ehrenreich was in is the same situation too many working poor Americans face.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The invisible effects of being poor

     The definition of poor, as defined by the New Oxford American dictionary, is "lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society". Although lacking money presents plenty of problems that the definition addresses, one problem not addressed is the intangible effects. There is a social hierarchy along with an income hierarchy in today's society. There is a stereotype assigned to the lower class that they made bad choices because they are stupid. Thus, people who live comfortably feel they have the right to treat people lesser if they are waiters or maids. Barbara Ehrenreich documents this social hierarchy in her novel "Nickel and Dimed". On page 100, Ehrenreich describes how she used to go to a supermarket after work, but she stopped going because of the stares, which is a nonverbal way of saying, "What are you doing here?" Clearly, poor people don't have enough dignity to be in necessary public places like a supermarket. Without self-confidence to brave the ugly looks they will receive, the lower class is restricted to where they can be welcomed. The feeling of not being accepted socially is felt everyday in the life of minimum wage workers. This and a slew of other problems is felt everyday by low income workers.


Monday, December 14, 2015

The only thing to fear is fear itself

What I am about to write is very controversial. You may disagree with most of what I say, or maybe just some of it.

     Due to the recent events in the world (such as what happened in Paris and San Bernardino), the fear of Muslims has never been so high in America. Although very few Muslims are terrorist and thus are no good, very bad, people, most Muslims are no different than me and you. Yet, Americans are conforming to believing the stereotype that all Muslims are extremist. This leads to fear and hate crimes. Advocacy groups believe these hate crimes are fueled by not only mass shootings, but, "The inflammatory rhetoric of Donald Trump and other Republican presidential Candidates." Because Americans are listening these ignorant Presidential Candidates such as Jeb Bush, who said only Christians should be let in, and Donald Trump, who called for a ban not allowing Muslims to be allowed in to this country, people are conforming to these un-American beliefs. Persecuting against a certain religion goes against the principals on which the country was founded on, one of which was, "all men are created equal". Yet, Presidential candidate Rick Santorum question if the US constitution protected Islam. If American citizens believe this rubbish and conform to believing the stereotype that all Muslims want to do harm to America, then our society will become un-American. Innocent Muslims, who could be a great service to this country, will be left out this country and have to deal with the emigration factors that made them want to leave.
     The rhetoric of various Presidential candidates has already started to work. A spokesman for the American-Islamic council commented, "I have never seen such a fear and apprehension in the Muslim community, even after 9/11." This is bad, because if Americans fear innocent Muslims, and commit hate crimes such as vandalizing, threatening, and even leaving a severed pig outside of Islamic houses of worships, then we are conforming to the values of the KKK. The fear and the KKK like atmosphere that has been created could led Americans to committing even worse actions. These actions could be worse than America's worst mistake, which was creating Japanese interment camps during WWII. Even though FDR made this atrocious mistake, he also said "The only thing to fear is fear itself." So either way, we are going follow FDR's footsteps. We are either going to make the same mistake FDR made, or we are going to follow his advice and start fearing fear, not Muslims.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Bowl Games

On the first day of winter break, every football fan at New Trier will have their eyes glued to the tv to watch the thrilling Air Forces Reserve Celebration Bowl at 11am.  WHAT??? YOU AREN'T GOING TO WATCH IT? Ok, nobody is going to watch it because it is going to feature two teams  that nobody has heard of. Most bowl games now are either a matchup of two teams that have or are close to a .500 record or are between teams you have never heard of. You would think that nobody will tune into ESPN to watch these meaningless games, but that isn't the case. In fact, the number of bowl games are increasing. There are currently 41 games. I don't know why people tune into lesser known bowl games like the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. But when ESPN gets good ratings, then advertisers flock to ESPN and the NCAA to have their own bowl game. This becomes a problem. There are so many observe bowl games that there aren't enough teams bowl eligible to play in. To be bowl eligible means that you have 6 wins and thus 6 losses. I personally believe that .500 teams shouldn't be playing postseason football, but am irate when the quantity of bowl games and the lack of bowl eligible teams means that teams with more losses than wins will be in some bowl games. My dad tells me of the times when there were less than a dozen of bowl games, and to be in one would mean everything to the school and their fans. Now, being in the Quick Lane Bowl means nothing to a school and their fans. ESPN has taken the excitement of every bowl game and they have saturated the bowl game thrill with boring, poor quality games. Thanks ESPN, but I am not interested in the San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, thanks for trying.
ps. this is from 2012. Imagine 7 more logos in this picture. 






Sunday, November 29, 2015

Black Friday shouldn't be on Thursday

We are all familiar with Black Friday. It now goes hand and hand with Thanksgiving itself. However, Black Friday is becoming more ridiculous. It is now stretching to Thanksgiving in most instances, and in extreme cases, it covers many days after Friday. I am fine with having Black Fridays sales on and after Friday, but having them on Thanksgiving is simply unconstitutional. Ok, I am exaggerating a lot, but let me explain.
Having Black Friday on Thanksgiving is a violation of our 8th amendment right, which protects us from cruel and unusual punishment. Have a sale on Thursday takes employees away from their family's Thanksgiving meal and forces them to work minimum wage while getting trampled from all the shoppers who are rushing to get what they"need". These employees are being punish in an cruel and rather unusual way because they are forced to work in harsh conditions against their will while earning not nearly enough to make up for all the work they have to do, not to mention they are missing a major America holiday. CEOs of major department stories must realize how inhumane it is to extend Black Friday to Thanksgiving. If not, then they must be impeached from their positions. Ok, that doesn't make any sense, but my point is Black Thursday doesn't make any sense.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Grades

The way students and teachers handle grades (myself included) bothers me. It is natural to have grades on your mind and your mind on your grades. However, the ways students and teachers, including myself, go about their grade not ok. Here is a list why:

1. As finals are approaching and students are chewing their fingernails over the 89% they have in math class, it is worth reminding yourself that your grade is just a letter. An A vs a B isn't going to be the determining factor in rather a particular college accepts or denies you. There is plenty of other material colleges look at in your application.  And once you are in college, you high school grade doesn't mean anything.

2. I can't tell you how my times a teacher has handed back a graded assignment and I've heard some ask someone else what they got. First of all, grades are personal. If a teacher leaked out everyone's grade, they would be fired. Second of all, why would someone care how much material their friend understood about a subject? Does it really matter? Just asking makes it seem like grades are a
competition.

3. Here is the O'Connor theorem: Grade is just a number. A grade is just a way a crude summarizing a student's intelligence. However, one's intelligence is hopefully more complicated than one number. Judging a student by their grade is like judging how fit someone is by their weight. It is simply unfair to do both. I saw a Near True News article about all students students wear shirt with their GPA on it. This would never happen. But if we think about it, aren't all of us wearing this invisible shirt everyday?

4. We all have encountered the math department policy when we get our final back. We can't see our final, but rather just see our final score. If we want to see our test, we have to meet our teacher outside of class, which is a pain especially 2nd semester. I understand it is there to prevent academic integrity. However, this policy, in my opinion, defeats the point of learning. What is the point of taking a test if you can't learn from your mistakes?  Thus, the math department is focus on getting the grade to their student rather than truly teaching them.

So here is my challenge to the three people left who are reading this, don't be attached to grades. To students, we go to high school to learn, not to get good grades. An A in junior year english doesn't mean anything if you don't remember what you learn. To teachers, find ways to minimize the importance of grades. Take to O'Connor route is you want to be extreme. The middle would be having half the grade on assignments, half on participation, improvement, and other factors you don't see in grades.