Thursday, January 21, 2016

Journalism Final Assignment

Sam Marcotte
Dr. Kefor
Journalism D
21 January 2016
The Ills of Zero-Tolerance
In today’s broken education system schools often employ the punishment tactics rightly dubbed “zero-tolerance” policies. These policies punish offenders harshly in order to set a precedent for the future.  They do not discriminate, and they do not pander to individuals or their rights. Zero-tolerance policies have no place in modern education, and have been proven to be ineffective and inappropriate in both schooling and in the justice system.
Among other things, this system of punishment shows laziness on school administrator's behalves. Instead of looking at all problems and the means of intent or malice, the school punishes the ill willed and well intentioned children the same. A troubled student that brings a gun to school to show his or her friends can get the same penalty as an innocent joker firing off a finger gun as part of a game they're playing. Everyone has played cops and robbers or reenacted a movie scene. Does this mean they should be expelled from school? It's quite clear to an observer who should receive the harsh and more focused punishment. Looking at each break in the rules individually is a responsibility on the school, and a deserved right for the children. Most go to school and abide by the rules, one mistake later, their lives can be uprooted. Look at Nathan Entingh. Reportedly, “The 10-year-old… pointed his finger… said ‘bang’” and was consequently suspended. Even after review, the board found his punishment just and correct.
The zero-tolerance culture can most likely be attributed to the 1994 Gun-Free School Act. This act requires and school that receives federal funding to follow a subsequently enacted state law that results in a mandatory one year expulsion for any student that brings a gun into a school. The sentence is mandatory, no questions to be asked or answered. Despite leaving an clause that a ¨chief administering officer¨ may modify it on a case-by-case, the large majority of cases simply are not. Period. End of story. Wants to shoot the school up? Punished, nobody’s complaining. Accidentally leaves a weapon in his backpack or pocket? Doesn’t matter. Therein lies the problem with this law. It doesn’t ask questions, it doesn’t care, it just punishes. It doesn’t rehabilitate or seek answers. It just punishes.
This type of punishment exists under the assumption that possible rule breakers will see the ones who first break it, see the punishment, and not do it. This simply is not true. Not only does this result in the unfair punishment of the first offenders to “set an example”, the next ones will do it anyway. In this scenario everyone loses. Stopping children from committing crimes in a school environment is extremely difficult to solve and will certainly not be solved with negativity and scare tactics. Instead of searching for healthy solutions, schools rely on the perpetuation of fear among the students. Clearly that is not the best way to solve behavioral problems. This can especially be seen in the United States criminal justice system, where zero tolerance and fear mongering is especially ineffective, see the ‘War on Drugs’. The decades long battle on a faceless enemy was meant to strike fear into drug users and dealers. Quite clearly, it didn't work at all and resulted in the unfair incarceration of hundreds of thousands of victimless ´criminals´. If it didn't work on a country wide scale, why would it ever work with children, whose brains aren't even fully developed? Simply put, no sense there is no sense put into the enactment of zero tolerance policies.
It’s extremely unfair for schools to slap a one-size fits all sticker on punishment, because not every case is the same. Administrator's use the classic excuse that they're hands are tied, or there’s nothing they can do. How can they be tied if you are the one who made the rules. They literally can do everything. In almost every rule book, there is a clause saying principals and staff reserve all rights to change rules according to what they deem fit. So use that clause! Instead, they hide behind their laziness and lack of aptitude for their jobs, leaving the children to suffer from it.
Often times, schools will assign a ¨resource officer¨ to enforce rules, which is basically a cop. The intention here is to promote a protected environment with a nice officer to keep everyone safe. In reality, the police presence does more harm than good. The current image of police in America, right or wrong, is a picture of an evil white man with no morals, willing to shoot down any minority who steps in his way. This image is burned into the minds of the young and impressionable students. Is this the image schools want walking in the halls? The introduction of a resource officer has the opposite effect than intended. Is scaring children into behaving the only thing that school administrators know how to do? Countless horrifying videos can be found online of police in schools of officers committing acts of gross misconduct. Not only this, but most often these proven racist officers target minorities. Juvenile justice worker Jim Germain finds that “...74 percent of arrests in New York City public schools in 2012 were for misdemeanors or civil violations...And more than 95 percent of school-based arrests were of black and Latino students.” Parallel to the US justice system, students are being arrested for non-violent crimes, minorities especially. Much more productive, healthier things can be done with 100,000 dollars a year than creating an environment where students are fearful for their safety and their future, the opposite of what schools exist for.
Zero-tolerance policies have been proven to not work. The effort put into punishing students could instead be put towards solutions. Instead of focusing on destroying the roots of behavioral problems, schools try to machete the resulting overgrowth. Even ignoring the facts and figures, and they certainly exist, the sheer reasoning and logic behind this type punishment just does not add up. Zero-tolerance policies have been proven to not work, and have absolutely no place in the current education system.

Works Cited

Germain, Jim. "Take Cops out of Schools." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 28 Oct. 2015.
        Web. 21 Jan. 2016.

Hinkle, A. Barton. "Zero Tolerance Hurts Kids and Ruins Schools." Reason., 31 Mar.
2014. Web. 21 Jan. 2016.

Skiba, Russ. "The Dark Side of Zero Tolerance: Can Punishment Lead to Safe Schools?" The Phi
Delta Kappan 80.5 (1999): n. pag. Web.

American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force. "Are Zero Tolerance Policies
Effective in the Schools?: An Evidentiary Review and Recommendations." American Psychologist 63.9 (2008): 852-62. Web.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Ant Man - Movie Review


     A first sight, I question Paul Rudd starring in a major Marvel action blockbuster, but I soon realize he fits the role well. Almost washed up, the 46 year old goes from starring in unremarkable, low budget comedies such as "Role Models" to his career being reignited by the $130 budget million slam "Ant-Man". Quickly into the movie, I realized why he was so good for the role Scott Lang. This isn't like the other Marvel films. Scott Lang is like funnier, more relatable, more charming version of Iron Man's Tony Stark. This movie heavily focuses on comedy, which makes it much more entertaining than other Marvel movies, which get stale with the cliche script and predictable action sequences. Pair this with the extremely well done animation and special effects of action, this is my favorite Marvel movie.
        One of the most interestingly shot movies I have seen in recent time, action revolves around Scott's primary "power": a suit that he can shrink down to microscopic sizes while retaining the same power. This same power the villain is attempting to replicate and produce for the sweet cash, thus turning the world into chaos. Putting the plot aside, the blend between large and small shots of Scott as the super hero of an ant and as a ridiculous looking man in a ant suit provides for hilarious comparisons. After one sequence of being attacked by an ant, Scott proclaims "That was a lot scarier a second ago". A funny, but also artfully depicted final fight scene ends up with an extremely enlarged Thomas the Tank crashing through a house. The first scene we see Scott shrink, the camera seems to shrink down with him, following him on the same level. Some of the most creative shooting follows him on a large scale, he shrinks and begins fighting, but the camera does not change views, and he can barely be seen. The special effects were seamless, and I was fully immersed nearly the full time.
      The largest flaw in this movie was the boring and played out story. Way too predictable, almost every turn is predictable and formulaic. The plot is basic at best. Paul Rudd's criminal life is redeemed when he suddenly becomes the holder of a special powered suit. He undergoes the training process in a long exposition, and eventually the time comes when he must take down the evil corporate villain trying to profit from the dangerous power. There are way too many cliches throughout: daughter the hero can't see, hero tries to stay away from crime but goes back, hero is taught to fight and learns in training sequence, hero falls in love, hero saves the day. The saving grace of this script is the hilarious lines delivered by T.I, Michael Pena, and of course Paul Rudd. Although also very obvious and transparent, the movie embraces the comedy aspect and hardly takes itself seriously, even at the climactic fight scene. Evangeline Lily's and Michael Douglas' acting seems awkward and out of place at times, seeming too serious for this not to serious movie. The evil villain, Darren Cross (Corey Stall) also suffers from this, but I think it's the script and not the actor's fault. Unlike the more legendary or mythic villains of other Marvel films, this one man represents a much more toned down and believable nemesis, in comparison to massive alien invasions. This contributes to the much smaller and less epic, but more fun movie.

Ant-Man: Marvel's least serious, but most entertaining movie. 7.5/10

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

808s and Heartbreak Album Review

Kanye West’s saddest and most instrumental album is the product of the most depressing times in his life. The death of his beloved mother coupled with the end of his 6 year relationship and engagement with Alexis Phifer lead to a time of heartache and grief for 31 year old hip hop phenomenon. The resulting album was 808s and Hearbreak, named after the Roland TR-808 drum, which is prominent on every beat of the album. Paired with autotune, the sound and atmosphere conveys Kanye’s melancholy in lush yet simplistic tracks made this album extremely moody and low-key. The stripped down instrumentals are simple and beautiful. The lyricism is almost not quite a step down but a step sideways from his previous work. Instead of using soul and R&B samples with his voice as the feature, his pitch corrected vocals seem to blend with the beats.
Kanye shows some depth in the beginning of this record on “Welcome to Heartbreak”, where he admits his loneliness, “Dad cracked a joke, all the kids laughed//But I couldn't hear him all the way in first class”. Almost a cliche at this point, where celebrities complain about their fame. Its hard for a listener to empathize with these sad lyrics when they're normal people. The structure of every song is heavily reliant on the catchy and melodic choruses. It feels as if a majority of the song is actually just the chorus, which is okay here, but sometimes the song can get stale halfway through. The features on the whole are fitting, however maybe the biggest mistake on this album is Lil Wayne. His lines are either just bad or jokes (“You think your ish don’t stink but you are Misses Pee-yew”), and either way, his persona just doesn’t fit the seriousness and sadness of the album. Still, the beat, melody and harmony of Kanye over the beat is so fantastic that I can forgive it. On the other hand Young Jeezy’s ferocious, ego-driven verse on Amazing is a fresh refrain from the sadness. Paranoid and Robocop are two outliers, the rhythm of both are very upbeat, and also a nice break from the sorrow. On Amazing, Ye just toots his own horn about how good he is, foreshadowing his next major record. Still, there is still almost a pity felt as Amazing plays, like Kanye is just telling himself that over and over hoping it’s true. Perhaps, like listeners, Kanye realized that he couldn’t make it through 11 tracks of complete and utter despondence.
It’s hard to take this album from an objective standpoint, because most people don’t care about Kanye. If you like Kanye you’re interested in his personal life and therefore, in his music. If you don’t, you don’t want to hear over 45 minutes of Kanye’s depressing life. Simple as that. Even as a huge Kanye fan its hard to ignore how difficult it is to hop on the wagon. Despite being very critical of this album I still think it is one of the best of the last decade. This album has paved the way for huge artists like Drake to make it big. Not my favorite Kanye album, but definitely an essential that I can both dance, sing, and cry to.

Favorite Tracks: Coldest Winter, Paranoid, Love Lockdown
Least Favorite Tracks:
Score: Strong 8/10 album ///// 7/10 Kanye Album

Monday, November 30, 2015

Data Collection

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Problem Statement/Research Question/Data Collection

Our landscape is increasingly asphalt and pavement as industry and capitalism have tattooed the otherwise idyllic landscape with streams of convenience to accommodate our metallic chariots. Ignoramuses in tiny beetles shuttling from place to place, scattered throughout the holy lands once coveted by Jesus of Nazareth. Millions of precious lives, old and new are lost to the non-stop traffic of sinners meandering aimlessly in their futile, fruitless lives. The materialistic vanity of these ungodly men extinguishes the lives young angels every blessed hour.

Marcuse, Herbert. "Industrialization and capitalism." Max Weber and sociology today (1971): 145.

Andersson, Henrik. "The value of safety as revealed in the Swedish car market: an application of the hedonic pricing approach." Journal of Risk and Uncertainty30.3 (2005): 211-239.

The Holy Bible Containing the Old Testament and the New. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire: Printed by Roger Daniel ..., 1648. Print.

Lam, Lawrence T., et al. "Passenger carriage and car crash injury: a comparison between younger and older drivers." Accident Analysis & Prevention 35.6 (2003): 861-867

Blows, Stephanie, et al. "Vehicle year and the risk of car crash injury." Injury Prevention 9.4 (2003): 353-356.

Research Question: What is the correlation between price of cars and chance of crashing.

Data Collection

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Obesity Distillations

Levy, Noah. "Op-ed: Inequality Is Driving the Obesity Epidemic." The Eagle. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.

Noah Levy argues that socioeconomic status is directly connected to obesity in his article, “Inequality is driving the obesity epidemic”. Levy supports his argument with a professor interview and a Uconn study. The author's purpose is to criticize the food market and raise awareness to the issue. The author intends to speak to all Americans, and those affected by the problem.

Levy does not establish a reputable ethos, because he is only a freshman in college.

Levy goes to a private expensive college, so he is most likely not poor, and has a bias.

Levy uses very reputable and reliable sources, including a college and a professor.

Noah Levy's thesis is that if you are poor then you have a greater chance of obesity.

Levy uses a informative and angered tone to convey his message of unfairness.

In my view, Levy is right because it is wrong that poorer Americans are “forced” to buy cheap alternatives to products, and that this often results in the most unhealthy option. More specifically I believe that Big Food’s marketing should be limited as it only is detrimental to America’s citizens. For example, unhealthy products should not be advertised during children’s programming. Although Noah Levy says that “it is [just] that minorities so happen to fall under the umbrella of the American working class”, I maintain that obesity in poorer families is a direct cause of inequality of income of minorities. Therefore I conclude that Big Food only threatens minorities and the working class.

Contributor, Guest. "How The Food Industry Is Enabling The United States’ Obesity Epidemic." ThinkProgress. Think Progress, 11 Jan. 2013. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.

In the article, " "How The Food Industry Is Enabling The United States’ Obesity Epidemic", guest contributor criticizes Big Sugar and the government's lack of protective actions. He/she supports his argument with statistics and expert analysis. The author's purpose is to alert the reader's of the current problems in the food industry in order to raise awareness and start more anti-sugar movements. The intended audience are people in Americans who eat  normally.

 Guest contributor provides no ethos or credibility as he or she is an anonymous contributor.

The article is very objective as it only delivers facts and statistics along with expert testimonies.

The sources and supportive material are not great, the statistics are not cited, but the experts are phds, so those are much more credible.

The author has a clear angry tone towards the industry and seems fed up.

I think that sugar is a serious problem in today's food industry and that it is a major cause of the obesity epidemic. The author does a good job of convincing the audience of its seriousness.

Hoffman, Jan. "Parents’ Denial Fuels Childhood Obesity Epidemic." The New York Times. The New York Times, 15 June 2015. Web. 01 Nov. 2015.

In the article ""Parents’ Denial Fuels Childhood Obesity Epidemic", Jan Hoffman critiques parent's who ignore their children's unhealthiness. She supports her argument by interviewing doctors and parents. The author's purpose is to alert parents and readers in general of their misguided views. The intended audience are parents and family members who may ignore loved one's obesity.

Hoffman is a known New York Times author who specializes in health and behavior. She has a credible ethos.

Hoffman is very objective, as she is telling parents that they are wrong, which many will not like. Hoffman may have the correlation does not imply causation, because obesity isn't necessarily caused by parents ignoring it, but they are correlated.

Hoffman provides credible  medical doctors  that can be trusted.

Hoffman has a condescending tone, she thinks she is better than the parents.

I think that parents don't consciously ignore their children's obesity, I think they do it without thinking. Their subconscious does not want their children to be fat, so they don't realize it themselves.

Hoyt, Crystal L., and Jeni L. Burnette. "Should Obesity Be a ‘Disease’?" The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 Feb. 2014. Web. 01 Nov. 2015.

In the article "Should Obesity Be a Disease?" Hoyt and Burnette discuss the positives and negatives of calling obesity a disease in the medical world. They support their findings with their own studies of over 700 people. The author's purpose is to inform the reader that the issue is not black and white, and the solution is gray. The intended audience are people who have taken an opinion of their own on the matter.

The authors have credible ethos, they both hold teaching positions at the University of Richmond in psychology and leadership studies.

The authors could be guilty of the sponsorship bias, where they believe their own studies and findings are completely accurate.

The sources the authors used were not diverse, and very limited. Their study, however was published in a educational journal, so we can assume it is credible.

The authors take an informative tone.

I agree with the authors, its not a question of calling it obesity or not, and that is not even the problem. The problem lies in the fundamental issues causing obesity and is continuity and acceptance in today's America.

Hoffman, Jan. "'Body' Report Cards Aren't Influencing Arkansas Teenagers." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Aug. 2015. Web. 01 Nov. 2015.