Monday, September 22, 2014

fREADom

 Yesterday marked the beginning of the Annual Banned Books week.Why do Author's write books? What is the purpose? Yes, for self expression, but more importantly, to be able to convey a message to be heard. This week is dedicated to celebrating the free access to information all over the country. But the fight for reading freedom, doesn't come as easily as many would think. In 2014, a school board in Missouri removed the iconic and classic novel by Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, which depicts the bombing of Dresden in World War II. Written in a satirical and dark voice, Vonnegut touches on the theory of time, mortality, anti-warism, and many other very relevant themes still occurring in our world today. A parent involved in the banning of the book, Wesley Scroggins, said that, “[Slaughterhouse-Five] contains so much profane language, it would make a sailor blush with shame. The ‘f word’ is plastered on almost every other page. The content ranges from naked men and women in cages together so that others can watch them having sex to God telling people that they better not mess with his loser, bum of a son, named Jesus Christ." Yet, why is Slaughterhouse-Five still considered 18th out of the top 100 English-language novels of the 20th century?

Parents worry that reading such a novel will expose and ingrain bad ideas into the minds of their children. Yet, in the new age of technology, children are more likely to see a number of various inappropriate images and profane language on any social media site they visit. I think it's better to have a teacher along side a child, helping them understand the inappropriate content and swallow the harsh pill of reality in a safe environment. Rather than a child being accidentally exposed to "wrong" without an explanation of why the image is wrong or why we can't use the f-word (or other words) casually. Parents are trying to do the impossible job of shielding their children from the truth of the world.  
A quote from Slaughterhouse- Five reads, "that's one thing Earthlings do, if they tried hard enough: ignore the awful times and concentrate on the good ones." 

I think it's wrong to ignore the awful times or the awful things in our world, because then we never learn from them. Slaughterhouse-Five depicts an incredibly tragic time period in our history, but it is our history to learn from. The world is a complicated place and I think it's important, in this day and age, that we explain and differentiate the wrong from the right by giving children the opportunity to reading freedom. 

                   "Banned Books Week started in 1982, the same year the U.S. Supreme Court
                 ruled that students' First Amendment right were violated when Kurt Vonnegut's
              Slaughterhouse Five and eight other books were removed from libraries."(cnn.com)
                                             

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Weight Loss At What Cost?

According to the Food Research and Action Center, about a quarter of 2-5 year olds and a third of all school children are overweight. It shouldn't be a surprise to hear that Obesity rates have more than doubled since the 1970's. It's hard to determine the root cause of Obesity in many individual cases, but a lot of Americans fall victim to the Fast (Cheap) Food trap. After being officially recognized as a disease in 2013, a lot of awareness has been brought to Obesity and trying to fight it. Michelle Obama's successful "Let's Move!" campaign is set to help raise a healthier America, by showing the importance of daily exercise and the benefits of a balanced diet. But what happens when daily exercise and healthy eating doesn't work?

This Wednesday, a new anti-obesity drug, Contrave, was approved by the FDA. Contrave doesn't effect the stomach, but it effects the brain and the appetite of the user. This is the third Weight-Loss drug to go on the market since 2012.

Consumers can pay $135.62 per dose, for a similar weight loss drug, Qsymia. The side effects of Qsymia include high risk birth defects (cleft lip/palate). But for a price starting at $206, a consumer can take a different weight loss pill, Belviq, with side effects that include low blood sugar, mental problems, slow heart beat, headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth, and finally constipation. Doctors already know that the newest of the Weight-Loss trifecta, Contrave, induces dangerous suicidal thoughts. Is weight loss worth it? Does the reward of the drugs really out-weight the risks associate with them? I think it's dangerous that the FDA is allowing these weight loss pills on the American market. On the other side of the pond, Qsymia and Belviq are banned from the European market for being "too harmful for any weight loss benefit"(Europe Medicines Agency). What makes these pills safe enough for American use? Ultimately now, the decision on weather or not to use these potentially life-threatening pills is up to the doctor and the patient. But is it worth giving the option and meeting the so-called supply and demand in the emerging Obesity market? These pills only promote an unhealthy idea of laziness to achieve a goal. Weight-loss is just as mentally exhausting as it is physically, and pills do nothing to change lifestyles and unhealthy habits.

The True Cost of Weight-Loss

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Finding Ways Around The Problem

Recently released on the market is a new type of nail polish that detects popular date-rape drugs by chemically changing the color of the polish when it comes in contact with drugs in a drink. The four undergraduate male students who developed the nail polish said on their Facebook page, Undercover Colors, that "With our nail polish, any woman will be empowered to discreetly ensure her safety by simply stirring her drink with her finger. If her nail polish changes color, she'll know that something is wrong." Although I think there's no such thing as being too careful and that the nail polish is a good defense to use against something terrible like rape; I disagree that this product really empowers women. 


Why should we have to make products like the nail polish anyway? We shouldn't have to avoid date-rape, because in essence it shouldn't exist. It make me angry to think that even from a young age, girls are taught to never accept drinks from strangers, as if date-rape is inevitable, like there's nothing we can do to stop it. Part of me thinks that these new products are giving girls a false sense of security, almost like they need these products like sunscreen or bug repellent. I really think that these products are just distracting from the real core problem of sexual assault and why it is even happening in the first place. I see this as a major societal red flag and it pains me to think that rape is becoming a sort of market that women can buy into to "feel safe." We shouldn't need new nail polishes or straws or cups to tell us what is right and wrong. All these products are doing is pushing the responsibility of prevention onto the young women. What if the nail polish fails? What if the girl forgets her special cups? Does that mean the rape is her fault because she wasn't "being careful"?


I decided to look up some statistics and according to ajc.com, 1 in 5 women experience rape in their lifetimes and nearly 1/3 of those rapes occur on  college campuses. Through that, I stumbled upon an amazing story about a Columbia University Student named Emma Sulkowicz. Emma was raped in her own bedroom and when she had brought the situation to the attention of Columbia's Dean, the perpetrator was found not guilty. She felt as though her case was "just pushed under the rug." (Hey, if you can't see it then it's not there, right?) In order to take a stand, Emma's thesis for her Visual Arts major is to carry around the mattress she was raped on everywhere she goes. At 0:57 in Emma's Video she says, "A mattress is the perfect size to just be able to carry it enough that I can continue with my day, but also enough that I have to continually struggle with it." The mattress is a symbol of the weight she bears of the sexual assault and the pain that she constantly carries with her. She will carry it until the perpetrator is expelled or until she graduates to challenge the schools failure to take action against the crimes committed against her. I think her enduring protest is inspiring and it's a great way to show the struggle that might otherwise be "pushed under the rug" or just kept in a dorm room.
                                         Emma Sulkowicz carrying her weight

Although Undercover Colors Nail Polish claims to be "The First Company Empowering Women to Prevent Sexual Assault." The company is really hurting women more than it is empowering them. Rape needs to be addressed, not avoided. We need to change the way a nation thinks and what our culture sees as right and wrong. We shouldn't let young women buy into a false sense of safety. Currently, we are taught to never leave our drink alone, rather than not to drug someone. I think this is the core root of the problem and with more and more awareness to the cause, there's no more ways around an issue like this.