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The Vox Box

Archive for February 2009

What?!

Okay this just seems a little nuts to me, but I guess it could be a sign of things to come…

On Tuesday it was reported that a man from Taiwan asked cops to send him back to prison (seemingly out of desperation). He was unemployed, and had been released from prison only two years back.

When police found the 45-year-old convicted arsonist lying on a street in a popular Taipei shopping district, he requested a return to life behind bars, nostalgic for the 10 years he had already served, the China Post newspaper reported.

Wang had also contacted police separately with his request, a spokesman said. Officers who found him bought him a boxed lunch but declined to send him back to prison, the police spokesman said.

“We advised him to keep looking for work,” he said. “I don’t know why he can’t find a job. Maybe employers think he’s not suitable or that he’s too old.”

The original article can be found here.

Frankly, I can’t blame the guy. I mean, in prison, they get three square meals a-day. They have food, clothing, a bed, usually a room to themselves or maybe they have a cell mate. They even get time for exercise and recreation, including watching TV. In prison, life is pretty much worry-free as far as day to day living goes.

Keep in mind, this occurred in Taiwan and their economy is fairing poorly. But the US is just as bad off. Do you think we might start to see more instances of this? Will unemployed, ex-convicts request to return to prison? What about those who are just everyday civilians who are unemployed? What/where/who do you think they’ll turn to?

Video of the Week

“Optical Illusion Girlfriend” courtesy of CollegeHumor

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a91eiu_eer4

Are Kids Getting More Dangerous?

 

Eleven-year-old Jordan Brown has been charged as an adult for a crime that is becoming more and more common in the news: shooting a family member. In this case, the family member was Kenzie Marie Houk, the twenty-six-year-old fiancée of Brown’s father (shown with her daughter). Houk, who was eight months pregnant, was asleep in bed when Brown shot her in the back of the head with a 20-gauge shotgun kept in his room. After shooting Houk Brown boarded the school bus as if nothing had happened. The police were notified when Houk’s four-year old daughter told workers on the property she thought her mom was dead. Brown told police he saw a black truck on the property that morning, but an interview with Houk’s seven-year-old daughter led police to take a closer look Brown, who later confessed. Despite Brown’s father’s insistence that there was no warning of the attack, family members claim he told Houk’s nephew that he wanted to shoot her.

As devastating as this story is, my biggest question has to be this: why did an eleven-year-old boy have access to a loaded gun (not to mention the fact that it was in his bedroom)? With all of the stories of kids killing their parents in the news lately, do you think parents need to start re-thinking having guns in the house? Did you grow up with access to guns? Do you think kids should be educated on gun safety, or should guns simply be kept locked up?

 

 

Story and photo from Komo News

Generosity at its best

Today the government of Mumbai, India accounced that they would built real houses for two of the small children of the movie, Slumdog Millionaire. Fabulous considering the two darlings were STILL living in the poverty stricten slums of India.

Now help the other Indian children in the slums!

Wrapping it up

Chloe and I figure we’ve dragged this out for long enough, so we might as well end it with a bang. As she said, we hope you’ll continue to break down the novel and discuss it with others, and we hope you’ll enjoy this last installment of the Vox Box Book Club.

7. Compare and contrast the lives of Max and Liesel. How does Max’s life give Liesel purpose? What is the significance of “The Standover Man?”

8. Death says that Liesel is a girl “with a mountain to climb.” What is her mountain? When does she reach the summit? What does she discover on her descent?

9. Hans Junior calls his father a coward for not belonging to the Nazi party. How did it take courage to oppose Hitler? How do the Hubermanns demonstrate courage throughout the novel?

10. Discuss Liesel’s friendship with Rudy. How does it grow and develop through the novel? Why is it so hard for Liesel to love Rudy? Why does Liesel tell Mr. Steiner that she kissed Rudy’s body?

11. How does Zusak use the literary device of foreshadowing to pull the reader into the story?

12. How does Liesel’s life represent beauty in the wake of brutality? How does Zusak’s writing style reflect this?

Which View?…

Last night, Obama’s address not only challenged the economy and our current state of financial affairs, but also questioned our level of patriotism and involvement as a population.

This is a very serious matter, I agree. Yet the question on my mind was about Hilary; Which view does she like more?  The seat above that she took during Clinton’s term - the place that Michelle occupied as First Lady? - Or the seat below that she took last night as our Secretary of State?

Which seat do you guys think she’s better suited for; a position as First Lady or certified cabinet-member? Which would YOU rather take?

A Farewell…

Yes - here it is, it actually came:….*drumroll please*…..the end of The Book Thief.  We’re bringin’ this amazing work of literature full circle and ending it here. As Caitlin and I post the pre-formulated Discussion Questions, we hope you’ll continue to really question each section of The Book Thief and maybe have a lil’ discussion with yourself, really dig in and chat it up here, (we won’t call you crazy, we swear…)

So here we go - here’s the wrap-up of a novel we’ve been working on since Christmas…

  • 1. Discuss the symbolism of Death as the omniscient narrator of the novel. What are Death’s feelings for each victim? Describe Death’s attempt to resist Liesel.
  • 2. What is ironic about Liesel’s obsession with stealing books? Discuss other uses of irony in the novel.
  • 3. The Gravedigger’s Handbook is the first book Liesel steals. Why did she take the book? What is significant about the titles of the books she steals? Explain rudy’s reaction when he discovers that Liesel is a book thief?
  • 4. Liesel believes that Hans Hubermann’s eyes show kindness, and from the beginning she feels closer to him than to Rosa. How does Hans gain Liesel’s love and trust? Debate whether Liesel is a subsititute for Han’s children, who have strayed from the family.
  • 5. Abandonment is a central theme in the novel. How does Liesel equate love with abandonment? At what point does she understand why she was abandoned by her mother?
  • 6. Guilt is another recurring theme in the novel. Han’s life was spared in France while Erik Vandenburg’s life was taken. Explain why Hans feels guilty about this death. Discuss how Hans channels his guilt into helping others.

Over and out!!

Need a buck?…

$1 is going to save the economy? Well, according to Msnbc.com, Washington State thinks it’s the best plan, “supposed to bring millions of dollars worth of food stamps to the state by March.”

The state is sending out thousands of checks made out for $1 to “the state’s neediest residents”, all with the purpose to aid our current economic struggles. 

When adding up the cost of paper and postage, this may not make much sense. (Helloo? I can barely buy a Sprite with a dollar…or anything off that ‘Dollar Menu!’…) How is a buck supposed to help Washington’s 250,000 resdidents on food stamps?

“We’re trying to do this at a time when people need assistance the most,” said Leo RIbas, head of community services at the Department of Social and Health Services. He says that the food stamp recipients can recieve this dollar for “energy bill assistance, that qualifies them for extra federal assistance….someone [on food stamps] could recieve about $30 more per month in food stamps.”

I think I’m going to take my dollar to the pop machine…ooohh..

Is the buck-a-roo really worth it? Do you think the economy will balance out based on this check send-out?

 

The Green Hereafter

If you’re like most Americans, you’ll want to be buried or creamated.

But exactly how safe is this for the environment?

Burial requires a decomposition below the surface, without oxygen, producing a sloppy mess that emits carbon dioxide into the soil. It is estimated that americans use more metal each year for coffins than was used to make the Golden Gate Bridge and enough concrete to build a two-lane highway from New York to Detroit. The embalming fluid used on corpses is another 800,000 gallon-discrepancy on Earth, leaking carcinogenic formaldehyde.

Creamation is much less environmentally impacting, (less muss, less fuss, after all.) Yet better still is a process called  promession, a corpse gets freeze-dried with liquid nitrogen and then shattered into powder. The result is two parts—a powder, and a liquid that you could pour on your house plants.

So, you experimental types—why not turn yourself into the ultimate recycling project and donate your body to science? (Wink, wink..)

What’s on your Record?

How about a 9-year-old boy charged with murder? You might’ve heard about the Arizona boy who confessed on video to killing his father and another man last November with a  .22-caliber handgun obtained from his house. At the time he was 8-years-old, and heading home from school. He told police he decided to walk around the block “like nine or 10 times” before going home — something he does on Mondays and Wednesdays “because my mom doesn’t get off until 5.”

In the confession video the boy denied shooting the men first but later confesses that he shot both men twice, saying, “After I shot him once he was still moving, I think I shot him again.”

The officers ask whether the boy was mad at his father, but the answer is not audible.

On Thursday, the boy pleaded guilty to one count of negligent homicide. The boy will remain in the custody of the state until he is 18. He will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he should be placed in a juvenile detention center; in a therapeutic facility; in a foster home or with his mother, who is divorced from the boy’s father.  

What do you think? Should the boy had been charged as an adult? If the boy is not convicted of any other crimes before he turns 18, the county will clear his juvenile record; is this fair? Though the motive for the killings remained unclear, there was no evidence that physical abuse had taken place in the home before the shootings like some speculate.

Cash’s Capitalist Reactionary Pig Quotes of the Week

In the true and individualistic spirit of a self-made, free market capitalistic pig-dog, I am starting (right now) a weekly collection of quotes from various conservative figures, both modern and historical, with no regard to what the welfare-dependent socialists up top think about it.  After all, I’m rich, influential, and unethical enough to buy out this company, aren’t I?  This will veer in and out of seriousness and satire, as well as in and out of praise and criticism for the conservative viewpoint and the representatives of conservatives throughout history.  The manner it’s done in will be scatterbrained and confusing.  

https://secure.nbcuniversalstore.com/img/product/resized/00031867-524076_400.jpg


Cash’s Radically Leftist Secular Quotes of the Week

In the true and arrogant spirit of a freethinking, politically-correct pinko, I am starting (right now) a weekly collection of quotes from various liberals, both modern and historical, without regard to what the fascists up top think of it.  After all, I’m entitled to my absolute and unquestionable freedom, aren’t I?  This will veer in and out of seriousness and satire, as well as in and out of praise and criticism for the liberal viewpoint and the representatives of liberalism throughout history.  The manner it’s done in will be scatterbrained and confusing.  

http://img.timeinc.net/time/magazine/archive/covers/1998/1101980202_400.jpg



Video of the Week

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSjRRswSEgE

The cutest little girl rambling through a fairy tale of sorts that she makes up on the spot.

“Revenge on Vegetarians”…

Cash’s ‘mouse-baby wine’ will be a tough act to follow - really how can anything compare to the visual of …well…he summed it up perfectly with that ending “Squeak”…but his post got me thinking about our future…(and hopefully that there won’t be more baby creatures made into beverages.) One thing we do know? - There will be no more wondering what the end of the world will look like; this artist has given us every visual example we need….with food.

Photoimagist Carl Warner shares his view of what the apocalypse could look like with ‘mmmmazing’ pictures of food made to represent scenery.

io9.com brings some life to this piece as a “black olive-and-watermelon ship sails through a sea of cabbage seeking revenge on vegeterians who have virtually annihilated the entire fruit and vegetable population…”

Whoa - Annihilated the produce available to the world?  That’s intense…

How about them’ apples?….

Obscure World “News” of the Week: Korean Mouse Wine

Specifically, baby mouse wine.

It’s been several years since I last left South Korea, but I still hold a high and consistent, if not overly detached pride, for my now-thriving homeland.  Less than a century ago, the Korean peninsula was being ravaged by Japanese rule and warfare, infamously splitting into two and arriving at a still unstable peace with the armistice between the North and the South.  Until the late 80’s, it was under dictatorial rule, and of course in 1990, bore the undesirable responsibility of bringing me into the http://images-cdn01.associatedcontent.com/image/A1138/113874/300_113874.jpgworld.

Simply stated, despite currently having an incredible advantage of Western support and economic success over its northern brother—who, despite sharing culture, blood, and language with the South has been dealt so poor a hand by fate and atrociously fascist rule that it has officially been declared a “failed state” by Fund for Peace—South Korea has not had it easy.  Despite my inherent pride as a native, I have loved the nation much like I love America: unconditionally and with empathy, but with the cynicism, disappointment, and criticism that any non-Utopian society inevitably inspires in me.

The reasons are the same for either country.  Materialism, conformity, anti-intellectualism, and a corny, toned-down Americanization are all prominent in my childhood memories of South Korea.  It is, really, the epitome of my traditionally Korean mother’s philosophy on life: “You go Ivy-League school, you be doctor or lawyer, you make million dollars, you marry pretty woman, you buy nice house, you drive nice car, or else I won’t love you.”  And this was my view,  however superficially arrived at, of the entire South Korean culture.

How delighted I am, then, to see what is becoming of Korea.  Of course, it is quite the economic superpower, Hyundai and Samsung among the international monoliths of their corporate kin.  But aside from that, it is becoming culturally aware.   But there is one thing for which my culture is responsible that is so thoroughly and uniquely reprehensible that all of my optimism may as well have never risen at all.

Baby Mouse Wine.  Yes, that is exactly what it sounds like, and yes, it is possible.  Baby Mice, fermented in large packs for about a year and tossed into jugs for the sake of inebriation.  Despite being used as a supposed medicine throughout Korea, it seems more along the lines of a beverage designed for sadists and masochists, people who think along the lines of, “how can I make myself suffer, while knowing that a tiny animal had to suffer in order for me to suffer?” Someone willing to digest other disgusting results of the foreign food market such as Balut, Pacha, Monkey Brain, and Lutefish (which you will need to google, as I am ethically opposed to revealing them on this blog, though monkey brain is rather self-explanatory). 

If I were dared, offered a large cash sum and a long-term relationship with Angelina Jolie, I would still be reluctant to put a drop of this stuff inside of me.  Just looking at it hurts.

Remembering that this is not actually an accurate representation of the every Korean ever, just as dog-eating and phallic insufficiency are not, tell me: would you consider, on a strong enough dare, to allow this stuff into your stomach?

Squeak.

Does Hollywood Ruin Novels?

It’s an often-heard complaint after the release of the newest book-to-film movie; Why does that suck? In our society, it seems to be a given that the book will always be better than it’s movie adaption.

What’s going on with this translation from the pages to the silver screen?  Willing Davidson, author of Great Book, Bad Movie, says it’s all a matter of time.

“The answer is simple, but it has complex implications: Novels are long, but movies are short,” he says.  A wide range of movies suffer from this limitation, Davidson listing those such as Harry Potter, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Da Vinci Code as examples.

Davidson notes that time isn’t the only issue, we’re also left with that one main character that’s always in need of some lovin’. “The movie replaces character with plot, and the result lands with a wet flop,” he notes. The movie adaption often revolves around the breakthrough plot points, moving our focus onto the surroundings and away from the complexities of the characters.

What’s YOUR favorite book-to-film movie? Did the film do the original work justice? Do most movies based on books indeed suck?

“Now That’s Progressive”?

We’ve all seen those Progressive commercials with the car insurance shoppers literally “shopping” for car insurance, and the gimmick always seems to be “name your price.”  With a struggling economy, cost has become the primary means of competition among companies, although quality definitely remains a factor as well.

For one London restaurant, “name your price” has become a head turning idea.

Obviously, the U.K. is experiencing a slightly different economic situation than the United States.  A recession is underway, and a “credit crisis” has affected everyone.  The Little Bay restaurant has begun to make waves with its revolutionary pricing.  Like Progressive Car Insurance, The Little Bay restaurant has adopted a “name your price” system.

Peter Ilic, the owner of four restaurants including The Little Bay, encourages his customers to evaluate the meal and service and to pay whatever they feel is appropriate.

Ilic boasts an increase in revenue because of customers’ payment methods.  Many will overpay in an effort not to offend anyone nor to feel embarrassed.

Peter Ilic reiterated his theory as he stated, “It just seemed the right thing to do with everyone under the cash and feeling pretty miserable.”

American Idol

As every Idol fan knows, tonight is the first night that we get to vote for our favorites. The Top 36 contestants were chosen last week, and now it’s up to the public to chose.

As you are watching Idol tonight, pay attention to who seems to be getting a lead, and who just won’t make the cut.

Was there anyone who should have made it into the Top 36 but didn’t? Am I the only one who thinks Nick Mitchell and Tatiana Del Toro need to be drop kicked out of the state of California?

Photo from readthesmiths.com

Mall Cop: Cute or Corny?

Two movie tickets and plenty of laughs later, I still can’t figure out why someone wouldn’t enjoy Paul Blart: Mall Cop!  I watched this film at the theaters twice: once with “the guys” and once with “the girls.”

I loved the original plot; Paul Blart is a security guard/officer (“big controversy—sure you’ve heard of it…oh, well—you will!”) at a huge metropolitan mall, and the holidays have struck.  Black Friday is peeking out around the corner with its knack for trouble.

The biggest shopping day of the year maintains its mischievous reputation when Blart and the rest of the security department are betrayed by one of their own.  Hostages are taken, threats are made, money is transferred, and a McDonald’s Happy Meal is requested (you had betta believe it). 

Does one man have the power to rescue the people he swore to protect?  Does that same man have the ability to defend his mall from invaders with Santa’s Reindeer’s names? 

Blart leads the life of a hopeless romantic who has filled this void with sweets, sweets, sweets, and his commitment to his mall.  He reluctantly agrees to begin dating again when his daughter and his mother remind him of a promise he made to himself a year ago.  Paul falls head over heels for Amy, a small business owner in the mall.  This romantic “spark” first inspires Blart to take on the criminals himself when he recognizes that Amy is one of the hostages.

So here are my questions.  What do you think of the film?  Have you seen it?  Did you find it cute or corny?  Why or why not? 

 

Nevada Takes on Mountain Lions

The state of Nevada has announced a plan to increase the deer population by reducing the number of mountain lions. Animal activists are outraged at the plan, saying that housing developments, drought, and automobile accidents are more detrimental to the deer population than are mountain lions. Kevin Mayer, director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife, says “it’s not an effort to exterminate mountain lions. It’s an effort to better manage lions with the prey base. Some hunters think the solution to the deer population is to kill a lot of lions and the deer will come back.”

The biggest problem with this idea is stated by Mayer himself. It’s the hunters who want less lions around. Mountain lions are being blamed for the low deer population, meaning less deer can be hunted. Due to the large number of hunters in the Northwest, the pressure to the Nevada Department of Wildlife might have been great enough to convince them to pass the new plan. Scott Raine, a hunter and wildlife commissioner, said that studies show mountain lions eat about one “deer-sized” animal a week. Raine did not comment on how many deer hunting permits were given out to human hunters this year.

Read the article here

Is this the right solution to increase the deer population? Should more mountain lions be hunted, or do hunters just want less competition? What do you think of hunting?

Quotes of the Week

In honor of President’s Day, the quotes from this week are from US presidents.

Quote 1:

Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.
John Adams

How much knowledge do you have of the American government? What is the most interesting part, to you?

Quote 2:
A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Abraham Lincoln

Do you agree? This was said about the Civil War- anything interesting to share?

Quote 1 and 2 from Brainyquote.com

Quote 3:

Our kids hopefully are watching and saying, ‘You know what, there are no shortcuts.’

Barack Obama, in his first press conference as U.S. President, on Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez’s admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs

Did you watch this press conference? What was your reaction to the A-Rod thing? Did you care?

Quote 3 from Time Magazine online.


 

Showin’ Some Love…

It’s the age-old activity for Valentine’s Day; many pop in a movie, cook up some popcorn, then sit down and enjoy the cpmpany of loved ones. Here are the classics…

When Harry Met Sally
Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal see sparks fly in New York City. (I LOVE the resturant scene…gets me every time..:D)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Any Audrey Hepburn fans? She’s amazing as Holly Golightly in this love story.  She has a really adorable cat too…

Titanic
This movie proved to fans everywhere that tragedy is often really romantic and enjoyable. Not many can pull off drowning as handsomly as Leonardo DiCaprio.

The Notebook
Ya…Nicholas Sparks really nailed this one. I’ll bet that every girl out there knows what I’m talkin’ about with this tear-jerker. (I’ll bet most guys understand too…)

Juno
Kind of untraditional, underground-hit - but amazing just the same. A love story between two teenagers and a lot of ‘slushie’ references…it’s a classic.

What’s YOUR favorite lovey-dovey movie? What are you plans for today?

Happy Anti-Valentine’s Day!

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The TRUTH About Valentine’s Day — powered by flowgo.com

Sad and pathetic

I understand reality television has not always been the classiest genre of television, but for goodness sake people! E! television channel is set to premiere a new reality show in March called Hot Girls in Scary Places. And yep… you guessed what it is! Girls placed in scary castles with cameras.

Ugh. At least it beats the VH1 reality shows. I can’t even watch the theme songs for them. How are these shows getting good enough ratings to even be on television? Come on America!

Conan O’ Brien Departs New York for New Show

I’ve watched Conan O’ Brien since I was in elementary school, staying up far past any reasonable person would just to get glimpses of manoras on wheels and bears in diapers with lewd behavior.  I hope dearly that none of the show’s previous vulgarity or material is sacrificed for the move, but seeing as Colbert stole Conan’s invisible hip strings, it’s apparent that at very least, a little piece of the original show will not be going with it.

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/218735/february-12-2009/goodbye—conan-o-brien

What are your favorite late night television hosts and why are none of them Carson Daly?

Obscure World News of the Week: Arrests made over tainted batch of ‘My Pikin’ cough syrup in Nigeria

Authorities reported on Thursday that twelve pedestrian arrests occured in Nigeria after the deaths of 84 children from a tainted batch of teething medication.

The My Pikin teething medicine has been reomved from shops in Nigeria.

This medicine, bearing the brandname “My Pikin”, was found to contain a solvent usually present in antifreeze and brake fluid.  This chemical, diethylene glycol,  has been responsible for 110 ill children since November, all cases which stemmed from the very same batch.  A high concentration of this is capabale of damaging the kidneys, heart, and nervous system.  And, obviously, of killing people on a mass scale.  Most unfortunately, in this case, all of said people were within the range of two months to seven years of age.

Five arrested suspects came from the manufacturing company of My Pikin, the rest being members of the chemical company which sold the diethylene glycol.  All suspects have been bonded out of imprisonment, but if caught will serve fifteen years in prison or, for some reason, a $3,380 dollar fine, which, though an amount worth much more in Nigeria than America, gives me a bad impression of the Nigerian justice system.  Not that I know anything at all about it, but concerning the fact that responsibility for murdering eighty-four infants and children garners a strange choice of either prison time or a simple fine, its quality and fairness don’t seem too likely to reveal themselves to me any time soon.

Dear Mr. Vonnegut,
What should we do about this?

Dear Human Race,
Get used to it.

Why are people so terrible?

What are the Odds?

A defunctional Russian nuclear satellite and a still-active U.S. Iridium satellite smashed into each other 500 miles over Siberia on Tuesday, and some scientists call the accident “catastrophic.”

Simulations by software company AGI explain why— together, the satellites weighed over 3,000 pounds, have created hundreds of pieces of debris, and the multitude of space junk orbiting earth prior to the collision is estimated at 17,000 pieces.

The collision occured about 500 miles from earth-a popular orbit space for satellites. And there’s no global air traffic control system that tracks the position of all satellites. (AP)

An artist’s impression of the cloud of debris over earth shows Russia’s hopes that the collision would force the new U.S. administration to address the issue of debris in space.

Video of the Week

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-ZnPE3G_YY

“Translations of Popular Hymns for the Hard of Hearing by the Hard of Hearing” or “How They Sing Hymns in England”

Size Does Matter…

Beagles, cars, chocolates, even hamburgers: Everything is cuter when it’s a ‘mini’. Downsizing is becoming the new trend with these popular brands as portions and leg-room alike are decreased.

Burger King ‘Burger Shots’
You’ll get more bang, (or at least more bun…) for your buck with these little sliders.  Sold in 2 or 6-pack cardboard boxes for $1.39 or $4.09, respectively. (They even have mini BREAKFAST sammies! Little cheese and little eggs on top of little bacon, sausage, or ham. Gosh, they make eating look really cute…)

Mini Coopers
Ever seen the ‘Italian Job’? Ya - coolest movie ever and all the cool bank-robbers drive color coordinated Mini Coops…they are the epitome of cool.

Mini M&M’s
I’m convinced these lil’ candies have a better flavor and more satisfying a crunch then their average-sized counterparts. (AND they come in that awesome colored tube! Packaging sells, man…packaging sells.)

Miniture Beagles
Look at those adorable floppy ears…that’s really all that needs to be said. They’re just out there looking for a hug…(and someone to play fetch with.)

What is some of YOUR favorite down-sized stuff? Is ‘mini’ really better, or just a sign of the diminishing economy? (Either way…it’s stinkin’ adorable…)

Reverse Discrimination

In my debate class at school, next week we’re going to be discussing the topic of Reverse Discrimination. If you are unfamiliar with this term, the dictionary definition is as follows: “(in the context of the allocation of resources or employment) the practice or policy of favoring individuals belonging to groups known to have been discriminated against previously.” A good example of this is college admission. A TIMES story was written many years back, about this very thing. Feel free to read it here. So, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the matter. Is reverse discrimination prevalent in our society? Have you ever witnessed or experienced reversed discrimination? Have you ever even heard of reverse discrimination? Is it right or wrong? Is it necessary or uncalled for? (You get the idea…)

A good educational movie that focuses on this topic is: The Constitution: That Delicate Balance - Affirmative Action Versus Reverse Discrimination. If you want to learn more about reverse discrimination and affirmative action, I’d recommend finding this and watching it.

$37,000 Sweet Tooth…

Now THIS is what you call a sweet deal…or rather, it could have been.

A teen in Middletown, Ohio ordered more than $37,000 of candy online while charging the bill to his former high school. (I don’t think I’ve ever even seen $37,000 worth of candy in my life…)

The candy company, The Goodies Factory, got suspicious when the purchase order came in for thousands of lollipops and candy bars.  Msn.com reports that detectives “contacted the school and [told the company to] send an empty box.”

The teen was arrested upon delivery - Yup…the teenager had the candy shipped to his home address. (duh…)

He’s now facing two counts of felony telecommunications fraud.

Rate this potential heist on a scale from 1 - 10. 10 being ‘Bond-worthy’ and 1 being..well..you know…terrible. What do you guys think?

Seriously?

By now you’ve probably all heard about allegations being made against pop star Chris Brown for supposedly beating his girlfriend, singer Rihanna. Although initially efforts were taking to keep her name a secret, reports of leaked that she has canceled her Friday concert in Malaysia and her 21st birthday.

She’ll bounce back from it, but do you think Chris Brown will have his massive teenage girl fanbase anymore?

Violence is not acceptable in teenage relationships! This shows that it can happen to anyone.

The Book Thief - Bringin’ On Part 7

Champagne and Accordions

  • Throughout this section, we are faced with the task of defining the town of Molching; a town of contrasts. Which contrasts are most evident? Do you see sharp differences within the residents of this town?
  • Hans is very obviously in his happiest state of mind when at work. Like Hans, where do you feel “most alive”?
  • We close this section with the definition of ‘zufriedenheit’, (meaning ‘happiness’).  What other words fit the tone and feeling of this section?

The Sound of Sirens

  • The sounds wake up the Huberman family; thus they are forced to take shelter in the approved Fiedler household. As necessities, what would YOU bring with you to the shelter? Which material objects would you never be without?
  • Like above, we are given the definition of ‘angst’, (meaning ‘fear’). What other words would describe the emotions strung throughout this shelter?
  • Later, Death describes the times through contrasts between the life of a German and that of a Jew saying, “For [the Germans], life was still achievable.” Does Death view ‘life’ as an achievement? Something to be won, conquered, or fought for?
  • What do you think our Narrator thinks of the determination needed to continue with life?

Frau Holtzapfel’s Offer

  • ‘Gelegenheit’, (‘opportunity’) is our next word. What kind of an opportunity is this for Liesel? Do you see any scene ‘foreshadowing’ taking place?
  • Liesel mentions a possible ‘karma’ working behind Frau’s offer, Has karma ever given you some hard times?
  • Two weeks is a significant time period; “Two weeks to change the world, and fourteen days to ruin it.” How does this apply to today’s polictical, environmental, or even satriacle worlds?

Peace

  • ‘Schweigen’ - (‘silence’). What power is found within this silence? Do the places replacing the noise have significance to Liesel?
  • “Silence was not quite or calm, and it was not peace.”  Going againts the given title for the section, how does this phrase link with the actions Max has taken thus far?


Robot Baby

After reading the 14 babies post, I thought about the experiences I have had with multiple babies. There aren’t very many. I expanded it to taking care of baby(s) single handedly. I babysit, but very rarely do I get to take care of babies. However, as part of the Child Development class at our school, students are expected to take home a RealCare baby for 1 weekend. The baby functions much like a real baby does: it cries, it gets hungry, needs to be fed, can experience Shaken Baby Syndrome, and requires actual care.

During a simulation, Baby cries to be cared for as a real infant would. The participant must determine what Baby needs and respond in a timely manner. Baby must be fed, burped, rocked and diapered around the clock.
Baby tracks its care (rocking, diapering, feeding, burping) and safe handling. Detailed data can be downloaded after the simulation, including exact times of missed care events, and specific mishandling—Shaken Baby, head support failure, wrong positioning and rough handling.

 How realistic a view do you believe this represents for parenting? It is primarily used in teen parenting classes or Child Development classes. It’s definitely not like the real thing, but do you think it would deter a potential mother from having a baby in her teen years? Have you ever cared for one of these babies? What was your experience like?

Single Mom Attempts to Raise Fourteen Children

Nadya Suleman has outgrown her childhood.  She grew up as an only child.  Now she longs for a family, and she will do anything for it.  The mother of fourteen children deflects the glares she receives from other families; she denies being selfish whatsoever.

Nadya recently gave birth the octuplets, and science has proven that this number of children cannot be born safely.  Mental, physical, and even social problems are sure to arise.  The kids are under close medical supervision right now as they begin to live their tender lives together.

In addition to her newborns, Nadya has six other children who are all younger than seven years of age, and she intends to raise all of these children independently in her own fashion.  Suleman is not currently married, and she is working toward a degree at college.

Why?  Why is someone who has no substantial or steady income so set on raising fourteen children?  Why is Suleman so stubborn in her quest for a family?

In an interview with Anne Curry, Suleman said, “All I wanted was children. I wanted to be a mom. That’s all I ever wanted in my life. I love my children.”  Suleman is determined not to allow her children experience the loneliness of being an only child like she was.

Do you support Nadya for her decision?  Is it safe for someone to raise this many children single-handedly?  Is Nadya giving her children the love and attention that she claims she is, or is she blindly robbing them of a normal childhood and happiness?

Recipes of the Week

Recipe 1:

Kosher Deli Roll

Recipe is here.

Something different for the next 2:

A CNN/ Cooking Light article on peanut butter alternatives, here.

Some tips:

1. Make your own spread.

2. Get creative.

3. Branch out beyond peanut butter.

 

Quotes of the Week

Quote 1:

Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.

Albert Einstein

Do you believe this is true? I mean, I know that I probably won’t remember how to do a quadratic equation in 20 years, but I’ll know how to figure out the tax on something. I learned that in school- is that my education or my school learning?

Quote 2:

Taking he SAT is like going to the doctor. It scares the willies out of you, but once you get there it’s really not that bad, and in the end it’s all for the best.

Anonymous Author

Have you taken the SAT? Did you find it to be difficult? What about other big-time tests like the WASL, ACT, ASSET or ASVAB?

Quote 3:

Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

Oscar Wilde

Agree or disagree? Why?

 

The Grammys: 2009

U2, Coldplay, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus…yup, this combination of talents can only mean one thing : The Grammys.

Msn.com gives all the otherwise-unknown details about the glamourous award show, like ‘Highest Hair Award’, ‘Cutest Dress Award’, and even ‘Most Puzzling Speech’. Here’s a couple of the good ones…

Cutest Unintentional Channeling of a Music Icon:
“Brit-soul sister Duffy looked just like Dolly Parton when she smiled, with her big blonde hair and those deep dimples.”

Least Appropriate “Brother Act” to Reference as an Intro to the Jonas Brothers:
“Cain and Abel”…enough said…

Best Impression of a Silvery Garbage Bag:
“Estelle’s unfortunate dress that looked like armholes had been cut in if five minutes before hitting the stage. Gorgeous girl deserves better!”

The Swallow IT Award:
“Best New Artist winner Adele (truly deserving)…is totally adorable, except that she was chewing gum. Onstage.”

What was YOUR favorite winner? Who was the best performer?

 

20 Movies that Make Men Cry

eHarmony, a popular dating site, came up with a list of 20 movies that are guaranteed to make a guy cry (a whooping six of them are sports movies). Click here for the list of movies and a short description. For those of you too lazy to click on the link, here’s the list:

1. Brian’s Song

2. Rudy

3. Saving Private Ryan

4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

5. The Natural

6. Shawshank Redemption

7. Schindler’s List

8. Old Yeller

9. The Pride of the Yankees

10. Terms of Endearment

11. The Iron Giant

12. Philadelphia

13. Big Fish

14. Million Dollar Baby

15. Life is Beautiful

16. Love Actually

17. Rocky

18. The Pianist

19. Mystic River

20. To Kill a Mockingbird

Do you disagree with any of these picks? Which movies aren’t on the list that should be (Marley & Me should have been on there, in my opinion)? What movies make you cry no matter what?

Christians retaliate against atheist bus ads

For the past month, the British Humanist Association has organized and funded an advertising campaign on London buses. The ads, placed on London’s well-known red doubledeckers, read: “There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life,” and are set to end on Monday. Needless to say, the ads have sparked quite a bit of discussion in their relatively short lives.

The religious strife isn’t over yet, though. On Monday, several Christian groups plan to strike back with their own campaign. The Christian Party (“a religious group that fields candidates for elections to the European Parliament”) is planning to run bus ads declaring: “There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life.” Another Christian group plans to advertise Psalm 53:1 (“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God,”), and the Russian Orthodox Church is chipping in as well with an ad that reads: “There is a God, believe. Don’t worry and enjoy your life.”

These Christian groups argue that the atheist ads are hopeless and misleading, while the British Humanist Association is accusing the Christian ads to be too dogmatic and narrow. “Our ads were undogmatic and funny, with the addition of the ‘probably’ in line with the continuing openness of humanists to new evidence,” said Hanne Stinson, chief executive of the British Humanist Society.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29056903/

Question: What is your take on these ads? Are either of them offensive? Is this Christian response necessary, and were the atheist ads necessary in the first place?

Yahweh or No Way

This week, Colbert covers Obama’s propechy of a Steeler victory, the failed sale of the Atlanta White House, and the reinstatement of holocaust denier Bishop Richard Williamson into the Catholic Church.

Blasphemy?  Eh.  It’s all subjective.  And, as Colbert stated (satirically), there are worse things in the world than blasphemy and heresy, including but not limited to denial of the holocaust.

Michael Phelps releases apology for “bong” photograph

Full story here.                                                                                                   

As some of you may know, swimming monolith Michael Phelps was very recently caught in the act of marijuana use while in attendance at a party.  Apparently, someone took a snapshot of him while he was proceeding with the inhalation of cannabis smoke from a vertically-designed water pipe, or, in the words of Cypress Hill, “taking hits from the bong”.  He was said to be very aware of how to use the device, leading to speculation that he has previously used marijuana on several occasions.

Phelps, who holds the well-known title of world-record Olympian in regard to number of gold medals, has been seen partying all around, whether in this instance or in his escapades with Playboy bunnies at Hugh Hefner’s infamous mansion.  As a result, many sponsors are threatening to drop him, while many fans are becoming ex-fans in disgust.  Still, many support him, apathetic to his personal, victimless lifestyle choices as long as his swimming abilities remain consistently baffling.

Marijuana is not a performance-enhancing or addictive drug, but it is a frightening and disliked substance in traditionalist American culture, much like sexual promiscuity is not illegal but is frowned upon in role models such as Phelps.  Do these aspects of Phelps’ lifestyle and personality have the power to dampen his achievements?  Are those who say he should be allowed to do what he wants correct, or should he dedicate more effort towards fitting a specific clean-cut image for the kids?  

Video of the Week

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ei81W228ww

A man from the not-so-distant future goes back in time to stop the internet from ever having been invented. The internet, as he says, has turned his world into a wasteland; people remain isolated, each on his own computer, flaming each other, speading gossip, watching porn, and doing absolutely nothing else. Warning: some bad language.

Question: Do you think this is where we’re headed? Is there any truth in this time traveler’s message?

The Book Theif - Death’s Diary

Death’s Diary: 1942

-Death makes an interesting statement very early into this section. “You want to know what I truly look like? I’ll help you out. Find yourself a mirror while I continue.” -What does he mean by this statement?

Death’s Diary: Cologne

-Death notes that after the bombings, he treats the souls of the dead like luggage, carrying them in one hand or tossing them over his shoulder; only the children he carried in his arms, -Why does he not give all souls the same respect, especially innocent civilians like these?

Death’s Diary: The Parisians

-In this section, Death states that he knows no more of God than we do, that God answers his questions just as infrequently as he answers ours. -Do you find this at all odd? Why do you think this is?
-After a depressing two pages about the Jewisn souls dying in the gas chambers, Part Six ends on this note: “They were French, they were Jews, and they were you.” -What does this mean to you? What parallels do you see between the desperation of the dying Jews and our own lives?

-Throughout all three of these “diary entries,” Death brings up colors, just as he has in the past. In the first section, he says that “there are soft, coal-colored clouds, beating like black hearts,” in the second that “the sky was yellow, like burning newspaper,” and in the third that the sky “turned from silver to gray to the color of rain.” -Colors have been associated with death since the beginning of the novel. What significance to they have? Are they the actual colors of the sky at the time, or are they more metaphorical, representing something about the deaths themselves? Or are the both?

Uncommon Names Linked to Criminality?

Thinking of the woman who sold the rights to choosing her baby’s name on ebay, uncommon names might not have negative any effects on the child besides the chance of getting their  “butt kicked.” But a study that is getting a lot of media attention claims there is a connection between having an uncommon name and being more likely to be in the juvenile justice system. (The study finds this relationship to be true for blacks and whites.)

Hatred or Heritage?

The confederate flag is seen by many as a symbol of racism and hatred, but according to an Associated Press article, some see it as a symbol of Southern heritage. Many public schools have banned wearing clothing with the confederate flag, but some students and parents are arguing that banning the wearing of the confederate flag is against students’ rights to free speech. Cases concerning students wearing confederate flag apparel have shown up in courts across the country, and the verdicts have varied. Many have sided with the schools, agreeing the flags are disruptive in a learning environment.  

Is it against students’ first amendment rights to ban the confederate flag, or is it for the safety of others? Do kids who wear the confederate flag understand the meaning behind it, or are they just repeating their parents’ beliefs?

Rae…You are SO My Hero!

Man - if only you all could have been there…well…those of you with strong stomachs, that is.

It was pretty brilliant, if I do say so myself.  As you may recall during the big, bad (and incredibly awesome) VOX Blog-A-Thon, Jen put up a great post about some really crazy websites including a Physic Ant Farm, People Who Hate Beanie Babies,….and of course…the website in question - Wild Recipes.  (threatening music…*dum dum dummmm…*)

Just like Jen said, the website features some gourmet (and totally insane…) cuisne like cheddar coffee and even chocolate covered hot dogs…this is where our hero, Rae, comes in. She came to the monthly Vox staffmeeting prepared - really prepared.

Out of a standard grocery bag she whipped out a lil’ container of Hershey’s syrup and a hotdog…her mission was laid out before her.

And…*drumroll please*…..she tried it. That’s all I need to say. (You can get a decent description from the pictures….)

So, Rae is officially my hero; Anybody out there who has tried something as awesome (and insane!) as this? Another other weird combinations going on?

 

 

 

 

Part 6, Man

The Snowman

  • What do you think the delicate snowman represents to Liesel and Max?
  • What’s your favorite snowman story? Any unique anicdotes?
  • Liesel describes Max as, “the colder he became, the more he melted.” What does she mean by this?

Thirteen Presents

  • As she reads to him, How does ‘The Whistler’ bring Max and Liesel closer together?
  • Which present means the most to Max? Which would have the greatest significance to you?

Fresh Air, an Old Nightmare, and What To Do With a Jewish Corpse
(Great title, huh?…)

  • Here our Narrator forces us to distinguish the difference between a ‘cynic’ and ‘being cynical’ -  Which do you think applies to the story thus far?
  • Concerning Liesel’s gloomy dream, “Was it a premonition of Max’s death? Or was it merely a reaction to the afternoon conversation…? Had Max now replaced her brother? And if so, how could she discard her own flesh and blood in such a way?”  Out of the questions Liesel asks of herself, Which is the most important? 

The Visitor

  • How could the Huberman’s have hidden Max? Was there any other way?
  • A pretty basic question for this section; What were your thoughts throughout the stress?

The Schmunzeler

  • What does this chapter show about Rudy?
  • How do you think Rudy and Liesel’s relationship continues to support eachother? Does their relationship change throughout this section?

Twilight Vs. The Shining?…

Talk about a rivalry…

When being interviewed by USA Today, Stephen King really let his opinion of Stephanie Meyer, author of crazy-famous ‘Twilight’ saga, fly.

He compared her to JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. According to King, “Both Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people…The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephanie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”

King sees no depth to Meyer’s writing, her books based on the love between a vampire and teenage girl. Is it just another ‘teenage love story’?

“…It’s very clear she’s writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up to a safe joining of love and sex in those books.  It’s exciting and thrilling and it’s not overly threatening because it’s not overly sexual.”

What do you think? Are the Twilight books based on the teenage summary of a relationship?

It’s Official…

According to this Fox Sports Article on MSN, these are the Top 10 Super Bowl Commercials of 2009.

  1. Bud Light: Office Meeting
  2. Doritos: Office Ball
  3. Bridgestone: Potato Heads
  4. Budweiser: Clydesdale Plays Fetch
  5. E-Trade: Babies
  6. Monster.com: Moose
  7. Careerbuilder.com: It’s Time
  8. Coke Zero: Polamalu
  9. Cash4Gold.com
  10. Hulu: Alec Baldwin

Not our golden boy!

It seems our #1 Olympic gold medalist has fallen! Pictures have surfaced of swimmer Michael Phelps smoking marijuana in a British tabloid. Phelps has acknowledged the photos were him with a press conference earlier this week. He also apologized for his actions.

Seriously Michael? With all your endorsements and younger people looking up to you? Smart move.

Mmmm…Peanut Butter

It seems to be an offense to even utter those two dreadful…(yet delicious) words: peanut butter.

As we’ve been hearing on the news for nearly 3 weeks, peanut butter has gotten a bad reputation with nearly 125 different products being pulled from shelves due to outbreaks of salmonella.

And thanks to all this talk about how terrible these crackers are, I’ve never experienced cravings for them so badly.  I’m almost willing to risk it…..but maybe not.

According to Associated Press, an Ohio-based distributor has cancelled two kinds of it’s peanut butter after an “open containter tested positive for salmonella bacteria.” King Nut Companies has asked customers to stop distributing under it’s King Nut and Parnell’s Pride brands with a code that begins with the number “8”.

Upwards of 400 people throughout 42 states have become ill due to this outbreak of peanut butter-related salmonella.

Some Products to say NO To

All Austin Quality Foods crackers…(yup, even those delicious and addictive neon orange ones…)
Keebler PB’n J Flavored Snack Crackers
Famous Amos Peanut Butter Cookies
Granola bars featuring ‘Peanut Butter Paste’, such as some flavors of Luna Bars, as well as some Clif bars
Chef Pierre Chocolate Peanut Butter Silk Pie by Sara Lee
Landies Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Perry’s Ice Cream products

The FDA has a website that features a completely indepth list of all the foods to be wary of…

A New Kind of Telephone Prank

Forget the old line “Is your refridgerator running?” Eighteen-year-old Randal Ellis was sentenced to three years in prison after calling 911 and telling the operator he was on drugs and just shot his sister. He gave the operator a fake address. Miles away, the couple at the address Ellis gave woke up to police sirens, a helicopter, and a fully equipped SWAT team in their backyard. It became apparent after they were arrested that the call had been a prank. 

This wasn’t Ellis’ first prank call to 911, however. In fact, it was his one hundred and eighty-fifth prank call. Prank calls like these are often called “swatting” calls because they usually involve SWAT teams. Not only do they target unsuspecting, innocent people, but they cost the city money. Even more importantly, they involve police that may be needed for an actual emergency elsewhere.

Read more about “swatting” here

What is the furthest you would go for a prank? Did Ellis deserve three years in prison? If not, did he deserve more or less? 

Steelers Steal the Win

The Pittsburgh Steelers emerged victorious in Super Bowl XVIII today when the team made a touchdown in the last two minutes to triumph over the Arizona Cardinals, who had been up by three points previously.

Pittsburgh’s wide receiver Santonio Holmes secured the win to bring the final score to 27-23.

Today’s game was the sixth Super Bowl that the Pittsburgh Steelers have won; now the team holds the record for the most Super Bowl games won.

The legacy of the Steelers continues…

Super Bowl Commercials

For those of you watching the game, you’ve obviously seen the commercials up to this point. I don’t know about the rest of you, but personally I think the commercials are the best part of the day.

What do you think? Are the commercials the “best part”? What’s been you’re favorite commercial (or commercials) so far?

For the record: I’ve enjoyed the Dorito and Budweisser commercials… In fact, here they are (my top 2!):

More Super Bowl Ads…

Too Much Freedom of Speech?

In a novel he published himself, Harry Nicolaides insulted royalty and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Nicolaides, 31, is an Australian novelist who was arrested five months ago for insulting a Thai king in his self-published novel.  This controversial arrest relates back to the idea that anyone who “defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the regent” is subject to a prison term of up to 15 years.

“Verisimilitude,” Nicolaides’ novel, became published in 2005 and has yet to sell more than a dozen copies.

Nicolaides states, “I would like to apologize. This can’t be real. It feels like a bad dream.”  He also admits to feeling as though he has experienced “unspeakable suffering” since he was arrested.

Would this situation have the same effect on Harry Nicolaides had he been an American and therefore entitled to freedom of speech?  Does this right give people the right to write that freely?  Where does the line lie where poor personal ethics become a legal issue? 

Numero Uno

Today is the day that either the Arizona Cardinals or the Pittsburgh Steelers will walk off the football field in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, with pride in their hearts and victory wrapped around their fingers as Super Bowl rings.

The Steelers have a legacy already established, but that won’t stop them from achieving even more.  If the team gains a victory today, this will be their record sixth Super Bowl title.  Coming into this monumental game, the Steelers are favored to win based on their season so far.

On the flip side, the Arizona Cardinals have emerged from the shadows of past team performances to be here today.  “Dynasty vs. Doormat,” an article in today’s Spokesman-Review by Barry Wilner, labels the Cardinals “a franchise that has defined dysfunction since the 1950s.”

I just gotta ask.  Who are YOU rooting for?  Will you cheer on the favorable Steelers, or will you root for the Cardinal underdogs?

Only one team will steal the win to become numero uno 2009.

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About this blog

In 2006, then-editor Steve Smith of The Spokesman-Review had the idea of starting a publication for an often forgotten audience: teenagers. The Vox Box was a continuation of the Vox, an all-student staffed newspaper published by The Spokesman-Review. High school student journalists who staffed the Vox made all content decisions as they learn about the trade of journalism. This blog's mission was to give students an opportunity to publish their voices. The Vox Box and the Vox wrapped up in June 2009, but you can follow former staffers' new blog at http://voxxiez.blogspot.com.

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