Friday, February 21, 2014

News for listeners and gamers in 2014

   For some, the best part of a new year is finding out all the new movies, games, music, apps, and other forms of entertainment that will be available soon.  Everyone has a name or title they look forward to hearing.  Some are bored with Angry Birds and are on the lookout for a new game to play, while others hold their breath in hopes of their favorite singer releasing a new line of songs.  Listed here are some of the music and apps that you may want to look and listen for.

   To begin with music, there will be many anticipated albums that will be arriving this year.  So far, many of the release dates and even titles are unknown, and this is only a sample of the new music of the year.  It has been confirmed that Adele will be releasing her next album of an unknown name later this year.  Chris Brown will also have his next album at an unknown date.  Both soloist Rihanna and band Foo Fighters will be releasing their eighth studio albums at an undetermined date this year.  For country fans, Miranda Lambert will have a fifth album released this year of an unknown title, and Dierks Bently will have his seventh, titled “Riser,” February 25.

   However, new artists are not the only ones you should keep an eye on.  March 25, a never-before-heard album by Johnny Cash, “Out Among the Stars,” will be available for the first time.  This will be his fourth posthumous album, proving that his music is still making an impact.

   As for apps, the number of expected releases this year is as overwhelming as ever, on top of the several hundreds of thousands that already exist.  For those who have defeated all the levels of all the games on their phone and iPad, a plethora of games will become available for downloading.  For those who enjoy “paper” games, such as “Paper Mario,” a new game called “Tengami,” in which you make your way through an origami world, may spark your interest.  There are also some notable sequels to older games making an appearance:  for anyone who has played the game “Spider,” an adventure game about an arachnid, there will be a new game called “Spider:  Rite of the Shrouded Moon.”

   Those who like action games, strategy games, word games, and generally pointless games will be entertained.

   Anyone who enjoys music and games, or anyone looking for new content for their phone or tablet, should look forward to the coming year.  2014 is certain to bring plenty of entertainment.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Jazziest band in town

By: Lexi Martin

   Every year, Ripley High School has a jazz band class, directed by Sherry Poole, and consisting of bass guitar, trombone, saxophone, and piano. The jazz band is a regular class that takes place during 7th period before the regular band class.

   The jazz band class started at the beginning of the new semester, but before the class started, the band would have after school practices. In order to be in the jazz band, you have to take the class, but you do not have to be in marching band.

   There are 15 people in the band, four alto saxophone players, two trombone players, two trumpet players, two tenor saxophone players, three percussionists, one pianist, and one bassist.

   “Jazz band has widened my skills with rhythms and counting,” sophomore bass player Fellar Fay says.

   Jazz band differs from marching band because it requires less exercise and has two different instruments: bass and piano.

   “Jazz band is a much more relaxed environment than concert band is,” freshman alto saxophone player Ashley Knox says.

   Sometimes the band does themed jazz performances. For instance, last year, the band had a Harry Potter themed show. This year the band is playing a piece called “A Short History of Jazz” which explains jazz music from the early 1920’s to contemporary big jazz bands. The band is also playing a song called “Crunchy Frog,” which is a favorite for the band and features several bass guitar solos. A third song they are playing is “Brass Attack” and, much like its name, it features the brass section mostly.

   “I like jazz band because sight reading is much easier than marching band, with fewer and more focused people,” Knox comments.

   The jazz band has played at most of the variety shows in the past and they are probably going to perform for us again. We look forward to seeing more of the jazz band in the future and that they are going to do.

Super Bowl XLVIII takes over New York

By:  Baylee VanKirk
   The showdown on February 2 in Metlife Stadium was set to be one of the best Super Bowls to date.  With the Denver Bronco’s first ranked offense and the Seattle Seahawk’s first ranked defense, experts only had a three point difference going either way.  The surprise started 12 seconds into the game when the Bronco’s center snapped the ball over Peyton Manning’s head into the end zone, resulting in a safety.  This is tied for the fastest score in Super Bowl history.
   The first half was dominated by the Seahawks only allowing one first down in the first quarter.  Seattle’s offense wasn’t the story of the game; it was their defense, and the containment of NFL MVP Peyton Manning.  At halftime the score was 22-0, Seahawks advantage.  The second half was started off by Seahawk’s kick returner, Percy Harvin, taking the kick back for 87 yards for the score.  The Broncos did not even score until Manning hooked up with Demaryius Thomas for a touchdown as time expired in the third quarter.
   Broncos fan, Seth Wilson, stated, “I just about cried after the first quarter. It was so disappointing to have such a good season and then be let down like that in the Super Bowl.”
  With the final score being 43-8, it was the third highest point differential in a Super Bowl.  Seahawk’s quarterback, Russell Wilson threw for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch had 15 carries for 39 yards and 1 touchdown.  Super Bowl MVP Michael Smith had one forced fumble, one interception for a touchdown, and 10 tackles.

   On the Broncos’ side of the ball, Peyton Manning threw 49 passes while completing 34 of them for 280 yards and a touchdown.  He also threw two interceptions and lost one fumble.  One bright side of the game was Demaryius Thomas caught 13 passes for 118 and a touchdown.  The 13 passes caught was a Super Bowl record. 

Super Bowl XLVIII performances stand out

By: Audra Thomas

   Super Bowl XLVIII held in MetLife Stadium, in New York started off with Queen Latifah singing “America the Beautiful”.  This was followed by opera singer Renee Fleming singing the National Anthem. Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers performed at halftime.
   After a disappointing first half of non-exciting play, the halftime show was not much better.  Bruno Mars came out with his feet dancing away while his singing was questionable. When Mars first appeared on the stage alone playing a drum solo, he then went into his songs “Locked Out of Heaven,” “Treasure,” “Runaway Baby”.  He and his band members were all wearing matching gold suits. When the Red Hot Chili Peppers came out to join him on stage the show got a little more exciting. They sang “Give It Away” together and then Mars finished off with his hit “Just The Way You Are.”
   Controversy erupted after everyone noticed the guitars of the Red Hot Chili Peppers were not plugged in.  Bass guitarist, Flea, explains that the NFL knew that the music was pre-recorded, but vocals were live.  The NFL set this up because they wanted no possible way for the show to sound bad. 
    Before the game started, The Empire State Building put on a light show featuring the colors of both teams.  Last year was the first time they had the light show, but it was so popular they decided to do it again. When Super Bowl XLVIII concluded the Seahawks’ colors were shown again after the victory was secured. 


Monday, February 17, 2014

Hustling America

On the road to Oscar Sunday

By: Lexi Martin

   December 20, 2013, an all new kind of ‘con’ movie was released to theaters. Directed by David Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”, “The Fighter”), “American Hustle” is one of the greatest movies that came out last year.

   “American Hustle” is a crime/drama/comedy film about con-man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), and his cute faux British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), an obsessive FBI Agent, forces Sydney to work for him in lieu of jail time. Throughout the film, the con jobs become increasingly complicated, involving mayors, congressmen, senators, and the mob. At the same time, Irving’s extravagant wife, Rosalyn Rosenfeld (Jennifer Lawrence) is inadvertently making every scenario more difficult. Eventually Irving and Sydney realize they may be in over their head and escaping future troubles becomes the main priority.      

   On IMDb, the movie has a 7.6/10 rating, a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, a 90 on Metacritic which are all good reviews. Officially it is rated R because there is sex and nudity, violence and gore, profanity, alcohol/drugs/smoking.

   Critics say that “American Hustle” is a “high energy comedy that comes naturally to the filmmaker” and “the warmth that courses through ‘American Hustle’ makes it irresistible” Wall Street Journal and Washington Post judges.

   This movie has been nominated for 10 Oscars including Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, and more. Tune in March 2 to see if they win! “American Hustle” was nominated for so many awards, 10 being a very prominent amount, because it was one of the best movies of 2013. It was named this because of the spectacular acting, directing, and cinematography.

‘Devil’s Due’ brings fear to theatre

By: Alyssa Ballard
“Devil’s Due” is a supernatural-thriller film that was released January 17. Directors Tyler Gillett, Matt Bettinelli-Oplin, and writer Lindsay Devlin had a sinister plan for the movie. With a budget of $7 million dollars, the box office raked in approximately $24,521,533. Most of the money spent was on things like props, effects, and special feature.  
   The story is about a young couple named Zach (Zach Gilford) and Samantha McCall (Allison Miller,) who are newlywed and headed to the Dominican Republic for their honeymoon. The couple visits a sketchy fortune-teller who repeatedly informs them that, “They’ve been waiting for you.” Zach and Samantha also take a ride in a mysterious cab which takes them to a bar. Samantha ends up pregnant with no memory of how it happened because she had been taking birth control religiously. The couple takes multiple trips to the doctor after a series of sketchy events Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the movie, but eventually the baby is due and it kills Samantha. The end of the movie shows another couple going on their honeymoon getting in the same cab that Zach and Samantha took in the beginning of the movie. The time span for all of these events is a little under a year, about the span of a normal pregnancy.
   This movie didn’t get much love from critics on the internet or in the theatres. The movies overall rating was two stars, which is about a 3.9 out of 10. Avid blogger and movie reviewer Peter Sobczynski said, “ The latest movie aspirant for future heavy rotation on the lesser cable channels is ‘Devil’s Due,’ a bit of satanic silliness that is so derivative and full that it makes gumdrops like ‘The Devil Inside,’ and ‘The Last Exorcism part II’ seem borderline competent by comparison-that is, if anyone watching it could stay awake long enough to make the comparisons.”
   People who watched this movie were also mostly viewers of movies such as “Paranormal Activity”, “V/H/S”, and “Rosemary Baby.” Movie critics have claimed that “Devil’s Due” is like the 1976 hit horror film “The Omen”, a critically acclaimed film a child who is proclaimed as the anti-Christ. Even though the two aren’t remarkably related, they both deal with satanic children. ‘Devil’s Due is rated R.’ The film is 89 minutes long and was distributed by 20th Century Fox.
   If you’re not a fan of horror, and you get bored easily during movies, this is definitely not for you. Just by the ratings and reviews it got, you can tell it wasn’t exactly a crowd pleaser and didn’t really bring much excitement or fear to its viewers.

Reality of reality television

   In the past decade, reality television has grown to be the most consumed form of televised entertainment. The focus of the genre has spanned from famous celebrities to backwoods-nobodies and has attracted positive and negative reactions from the public. Shows such as "Keeping up with the Kardashians" and the ever popular "Duck Dynasty" have taken over TV sets in the homes of countless consumers who are happy to escape to the seemingly more interesting lives of their famous "friends." The question, however, is what kind of impact is reality television is having on the viewers and society as a whole.
   In the mid-90’s “The Real World” premiered on MTV, marking the beginning of the current reality trend and the end of MTV actually showing music videos. “The Real World” follows a group of seven to eight young people living together in an elaborately decorated house with amenities that don’t belong in most peoples’ “real world.” Since then, television has suffered through the atrocities of “Jersey Shore,” multiple “love-based” shows such as “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette,” “Flavor of Love,” and the innumerable brain-cell-murdering series that have taken over TLC, A&E, and the History channel.
   The absurdity of the topics growing continues to increase as the genre “matures” (or immatures). Sure, nobody actually admits to liking “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” but watching it still kills brain cells and promotes future similar programs. And similar programs will happen. Reality television executives have very little confliction when it comes to creating a carbon copy of an existing show. For example: “Say Yes to the Dress,” “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta,” “Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids,” “Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss,” “Say Yes to the Dress: Randy Knows Best,” etc.  All focus on the same topic. This implies to TV executives that they can make the same show twice and get away with it. If the trend continues, the creativity and originality that used to fill television could eventually cease to exist.
   What’s more depressing, though, is how willing people are to buy into the fantasy of reality television. By now, everyone is aware of the scripting that occurs in even the most realistic series. No one, especially famous people who rely on their public image, want to be themselves in front of a camera. But, viewers support these people who are essentially fooling them. “Duck Dynasty,” perhaps the king of scripted reality TV, has pulled in viewership that tops even the greatest of original scripted series. When viewers are promoting television that doesn’t challenge those involved with making it, the laziness that currently exudes from the genre could erode into other genres.
   Possibly the worst impact of reality television is on our society. Last December the amount of controversy that surrounded the Phil Robertson homosexuality debacle was embarrassing. On a day where news was going full force with issues such as the limiting of NSA spying, senate budget deals, and security breaches in Target stores, we, the people, were focusing on the words of someone who makes a living for being filmed…living. The fact that someone with no political standing has so much leverage in our country proves how harmful such entertainment can be. Ignoring the important news in favor of something that really does not matter at all shows where the minds of the general public are and suggests where they need to be.
   Although quality television still exists and has even grown in the past years, it’s obvious what most people are watching. No signs of reality TV releasing its grasp on society are present and, if the last 20 years of entertainment is any indication, it probably won’t happen anytime soon. Still, it makes sense to remain hopeful that the trend will eventually die out or at least adopt some kind of quality. Until then, changing the channel is your best weapon in the ongoing fight for watchable TV.

‘Wolf’ prowls on audiences’ morals

   On Christmas Day director Martin Scorsese (“Taxi Driver,”“Goodfellas,”“The Departed”) graced the screen with the least graceful film in recent memory. “The Wolf of Wall Street”delves into the money, drug, and sex-obsessed mind of Jordan Belfort (played Leonardo DiCaprio), a real life stock swindler who scammed over a billion dollars in the 1990’s. The movie has garnered praise from critics and the public. In January, “Wolf”picked up two nominations at the Golden Globes, where DiCaprio pulled in a win for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical. It is also currently nominated for five Oscars, three of which are in major categories.

   “Wolf,” thriving in its lack of morals, follows Belfort from the beginning of his days in Wall Street into his years of wealth and prosperity that eventually resulted in imprisonment, divorce, and forced compensation for those involved in the fraudulent schemes. Acting alongside DiCaprio is Jonah Hill as the clueless Donnie Azoff who creates more problems for Belfort than solutions. Other notable performers include Margot Robbie who plays the trophy-wife “Duchess of Bay Ridge,” and Matthew McConaugheywhose visceral opening cameo creates an undeniably hilarious mood for the rest of the film.

   However, the standout is DiCaprio in what might be the greatest performance of his career. His comedic timing is perfection along with his deep understanding of Belfort’s persona. But DiCaprio really shines in the final moments of “Wolf,” which transforms into a much more serious look into the hollow lives of the individual. The risky performance has garnered DiCaprio with endless praise from critics, multiple awards, and a Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Oscar nomination in what is being viewed as the most demanding category of the year.

   What brings the film to life is Scorsese’s masterful direction. Scenes are expertly crafted, brilliantly captured, and flow in the skillful manner that only a master of the medium could create. “Wolf”draws heavy inspiration from former Scorsese films such as “Goodfellas” and “Casino” in terms of editing which determines the flow of any film. It’s also appropriate that “Wolf” depicts the rise and fall of a powerful man in dangerous circumstances which is a staple of Scorsese’s work. In terms of legacy, “Wolf” won’t go down as the best Scorsese film, but it will certainly be among the best.

   Despite the incessant praise, controversy has surrounded the content on display in “Wolf.” Criticism extended from a number of critics for the lack of ethics on display, constant use of illegal drugs, gratuitous sex scenes, and the record 506 “f-words” during the three-hour runtime. However, it’s clear that any critic of these particular attributes is ignorant to Scorsese’s previous work. At the time of its release “The Last Temptation of Christ” famously garnered innumerable complaints for the “freedom” it took with the Biblical narrative and the violence and nudity that encompassed it.

   Is “Wolf” a recommended watch for everyone? No. Unless you’re capable of leaving your morals at the door and spending three hours wrapped up in the drug-addled mind of a narcissistic criminal, this one probably isn’t for you. However, if you appreciate satire and can respect how well made the film is, “Wolf” will assuredly meet whatever expectations you have set for it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bridgegate scandal leaves public skeptical

By: Jacob Bailes

   In September of last year, the Port Authority in New York and New Jersey closed all but one of the lanes of the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee, N.J. that connects the two states. This is the most heavily trafficked bridge in the world. With two of the three lanes closed for four days, this caused a jam worse than most have seen in a long time. None of the authorities were prepared for these traffic problems.
   Speculation arose not long after that New Jersey’s governor Chris Christie had his staff create the incident as revenge against Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie’s reelection. This was verified when e-mails and text messages from high-ranking officials in his administration were given to the state legislature as they investigated the situation. Still, there is no apparent reason as to why Christie or his office would have wanted to do this.
   So far, no evidence has shown that Christie was involved in the scandal and the bridge has since been opened. He has denied all involvement in the issue, however, he was very dismissive of the ordeal and everything he said ended up to be a lie. He said that the lane closures were legitimate. The state legislative committee has also issued several subpoenas to members of Christie’s office and reelection campaign. Two people subpoenaed have refused to provide records and have cited the Fifth Amendment. If it turns out that he did know about it, this could seriously hurt his chances running as a presidential candidate in 2016.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

By: Kelsey Shamblin
   New Year’s resolutions are a promise a person makes for the New Year. No matter what your resolution is, it is to improve your life the upcoming year. Resolutions come in many forms and ideas. Some are to change bad habits, some are to develop positive habits, some are money related and some are relationship related. According to Statistic Brain 45 percent of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions, but only 8 percent are successful in receiving their New Year’s Resolution. 
   2014 had ten top New Year’s resolutions that are very common throughout the world. Here are just a few. The top New Year’s Resolutions was to lose weight, and stay fit and healthy. Many people around the world promise to lose weight throughout the 2014 year. Everyone may have a different reason of why they want to lose weight, some because of health issues, and some for appearance.
   Getting organized is the second top resolution. Getting organized could mean organizing your house, your business, or your future. Organization makes life so much easier. It makes your house look much neater, cleaner, and more welcoming. People would be able to find items easier if you knew exactly where they should be. Organizing your life could be figuring out what you want in your life.
   Many families around the world also want to try to save more and spend less. That could mean recycling, using coupons, and cutting back on running. There are many ways to save money if you just think about it.
   The fourth resolution is living life to the fullest. In today’s society you never know what could happen. People are coming to realize that any day could be their last day, so it is about time they start living it to the fullest and making the best of every moment. 
   “I would like to get out of bed before noon on the weekends, instead of sleeping until 1, and wasting part of my day,” said Kelsey Archer.
   Spending more time with family is a wonderful way to start out the New Year. Families may have lost contact due to divorces, family disagreements, or even just living away from each other. Americans would like to improve their relationships with their family, and spend more time with them in the New Year.
   “For the past two years, my resolution has been to fish 50 days out of the year,” said Mr. Canterbury.
   Many students across America are promising to make better grades. Seniors want to improve their grades to make it easier to get into college, and many others just for a better future. Grades play a very large role in our lives today, depending on your grades, depends on how easy it will be easier to get into college.
   “My New Year’s resolution is to get a 4.0 my senior year,” said Brooke Dulaney.
   American’s across the world are making promises to improve their lives for the New Year. Each person’s resolution may be different depending on their life situations.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Adopt-A-Family Volleyball Tournament

   Every year the school puts on an Adopt-the-Family Volleyball tournament.  This year the tournament raised equal to $447 in money and canned foods.  The Mongoose Tribe was this year’s champion after the double-elimination competition overcoming The Blueman Group featuring of (left to right) senior Brandon Tolley, senior Toran Cook, freshman Todd Withrow, Coach junior Stephen Gainey, senior Jake Casto, senior Braxton Morrison, and senior Cody Harris.
By: Baylee VanKirk
Photo Credit: Toran Cook      

Hot topics in mid-term elections

   This year, being the mid-term election year, all House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate’s seats are up for grabs.  Also, this year is usually the prediction for who will be running in the 2016 Presidential Election.  The main issues that will be debated over for all candidates will be about Obamacare and Benghazi.  Other issues that will be hot topics are the NSA scandal, the economy, and immigration.
   Some races for Senate to watch are: North Carolina, Louisiana, and Virginia.  Many people believe that Republicans will keep the House.
   Obamacare will obviously be the most talked about issue.  Many Democrats who voted for it are avoiding this topic all together.  They are worried that this controversy will sway Congress to become in control of Republicans and then they will have veto power.  If Congress does become Republican, then they can restrict Obama’s agenda.  Currently the Senate is Democrat and the House of Representatives is Republican.
   Benghazi could impact the 2016 elections if Hillary Clinton (D) runs for president, which many people are predicting that she will.  When the attack on the embassy happened she was the Secretary of State at the time.  This could hurt her since the reasons of the attack were withheld from the public.
   Many people are also talking about the Chris Christie (Republican governor of New Jersey) scandal.  Democrats are worried that he will run for the Presidency.  Some say that they don’t want him to be President due to the closing of the George Washington Bridge, but he didn’t actually close it.  Some of his top staff members merged three lanes on the GW Bridge into one toll booth.  He took responsibility for it since it was under his administration, but some of his staff closed it in retaliation towards a mayor who did not support Christie (even though Christie had the majority of NJ).
   These are all just predictions; actual runners for the presidency are not known yet.

It's called BREAK for a reason

   Now that the dreaded week of semester exams are over (after snow day, after snow day, after snow day), one question is still stuck in our heads:  Why do we have finals after break?
   Over break, a majority of the kids do not study at all.  The few that are left either:  A) Cram doing all of their study guides within the first few days and then never do anything with them till they come back or B) Embrace their inner nerd and space the work load over a few days.
   Regardless of which category students fall in, most of us agree that it is absolutely ridiculous that we have to spend our break studying (if you do study at all).  I mean if the point of high school is to prepare us for college (which have their exams before break so they can start off fresh) why don’t we have them before?
   Counselor Bea Isner said that the reason that we have finals after break is because of the State Policy that we need so many hours to earn the credit for the semester.  The hours are equivalent to 90 days of school which for our calendar goes into January.  This time is affected by our Thanksgiving and Christmas Break and the day we start school.
   Kanawha County had finals before break (which was convenient for them due to the chemical spill), but they started a week before us and gave up part of their Thanksgiving Break.  They gave up part of their Thanksgiving Break to be sure that they could have their finals before break.  Isner said that in the past we have taken away the first few days of Thanksgiving Break, but it failed.  The school did not have enough bus drivers, many teachers had subs, and many students skipped to go hunting or travel.  Classes were basically a joke, which wasn’t fair for the kids that did show up (or a blessing depending on your view point).
   If we were to do what Kanawha did, we would have a relaxing Christmas Break, start off fresh, and get out of school earlier.  We would have to sacrifice a few days off, but they would be added to summer!  Consider though, the possibility of having a relaxing Christmas Break, and getting out earlier for summer.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Realignment shakes up college sports

By: Audra Thomas

   In recent years during college sports, there have been many changes throughout the conferences. Some conferences got better and some of them became worse. 
   In past years, changes to the Big 12 included both Missouri and Texas A&M leaving to go to the South Eastern Conference. Taking the place of those teams was West Virginia and TCU. The Big 12 is now made up of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor, and TCU.  
   The Big 12 lost four teams and gained two in West Virginia and TCU.  This is viewed as a good move for both teams since they were leaving weaker conferences for bigger and better things.  They also received a big financial increase with TV contracts and better sponsors.
   One big change was the American Conference, which is completely new.  It is made up of Cincinnati, Memphis, Louisville, Connecticut, Southern Methodist, Houston, Rutgers, UCF, South Florida, and Temple.  These teams mostly came from the Big East and old CUSA. 
   There were also many changes in other conferences, one of them being the Big East.  Three teams joined the conference, Creighton from Missouri Valley, Xavier and Butler from Atlantic 10.  In the ACC, Syracuse, Pittsburg, and Notre Dame joined after leaving the Big East conference. 
   Changes to come in the next year are Maryland leaving the ACC for the Big 10.

2014 Olympic Winter games take place in Russia

By: Alyssa Ballard

   The 2014 Winter Olympics are scheduled to start February 7, and end February 23. They are to be played in the Adler arena in the heart of Sochi, Russia. Ninety-eight events of the 15 winter sports are to be played. There will be 88 nations participating in the Sochi Olympics. An expected 2500 plus athletes will be competing.
   The Sochi Olympics will be the first Olympics played in the Russian federation since the breakup of the USSR. The last time the Olympics were in Russia was 1980, in Moscow. Sochi, Russia was selected as the host city on July 4, 2007 during the 119th IOC meeting held in Guatemala City.
   As of October 2013, the estimated cost of the 2014 Winter Olympics is $51 billion dollars in American currency. The 2014 Winter Olympics are the most expensive yet, beating out the Beijing summer games at 46.5 billion dollars. These particular games are adding 11 new venues, which is why tickets are going to be super pricey.
   A major factor in Sochi’s income also adding to the cost will be the fact that there will be so many tourists coming to town for this event. Sochi gold medal contains 516 grams of silver and 6 grams of gold, which when the math is figured up, it’s worth about $566.
   There are said to be 12 new events at the Sochi Olympics. Perhaps the most controversial new sport being added to the venue is women’s ski jumping. Lawsuits and lots of lobbying have circumstantially, yet finally brought equality to the former all men’s sport.
   With all the excitement that the Olympics bring, this particular season seems to be what all of the buzz is about. News stories, blogs, and newspaper articles have already been published about the event weeks prior to the kick-off day.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Polar vortex engulfs the nation

   Since the earliest days of 2014, millions have been made aware of a “polar vortex” being the cause of extremely low temperatures this season.  Though the first blast of freezing air that appeared in the first weeks of January came and went fairly quickly, it managed to do a lot of damage in the southern and eastern parts of the U.S.

   Some laughed at the phrase “polar vortex,” thinking it sounded like something straight out of a science fiction movie.  However, after the first few days of temperatures plunging below freezing, the vortex was looked upon with more respect and alarm.

   What is a polar vortex?  The simplest explanation is that a large pocket of freezing air from the arctic has moved down to settle over the United States.The pocket of freezing air sits over the arctic every winter, and at times factors in the weather, such as high pressure systems, push it further south to visit more regions in the northern hemisphere.  This year was unusual because the arctic air doesn’t usually go far enough to reach the United States.

   Some relate this incident to global warming.   The initial reaction of the public has been that the polar vortex completely disproves the existence of global warming, but some scientists say differently.  They say that the unusually high pressures in the arctic are actually caused by global warming.  There is no concrete evidence to prove either side of the argument.

   This drastic change in the weather and its effects on the nation were considered a national crisis.  Even for those who do not keep up with the latest news, it was clear that the vortex had taken hold.  The coldest air in twenty years covered the nation, as well as wind chills 30 degrees below freezing.  Travelling conditions were slippery.  Schools were closed for weeks at a time.  Snow accompanied the freezing air in many states, even those who have rarely seen snow in many years.  Atlanta, Georgia, for example, was completely unprepared for even the few inches of snow that covered the area.

   Between January 6 and 7, records for cold temperatures were broken in Alabama, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, and several other states.  West Virginia also saw temperatures dropping below record lows of the past two decades.  Take Morgantown for example, where the record low of -4 degrees Fahrenheit has been replaced by -7 degrees.

   At least 20 deaths across the nation were blamed on exposure to the frigid temperatures, particularly in Illinois, Indiana, and surrounding areas.  Shelters were opened to allow the public to wait out the cold, which saved many lives.

   After days of anxious waiting, temperatures finally rose to normal for January, and the public breathed a sigh of relief.

   Now that the first blast of cold air has left, do we have anything left to worry about?  Unfortunately, yes – the polar vortex is still there, and factors in the weather may shift it to cover the U.S. again.  The danger will only pass when the high pressure in the arctic dissipates, and at that point the freezing air will move back up into the arctic.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Latino Bachelor takes field

   By: Kelsey Shamblin 
   ABC premiered “The Bachelor 2014” on January 6. On Season 18, “Countdown to Juan Pablo”, the bachelor is 32-year-old Juan Pablo Galavis, a Latino from Venezuela. A new twist is that he isn’t only searching for a wife, he is also looking for a woman to be his daughters stepmother.
   Juan Pablo played soccer in the Venezuelan first division for Caracas FC, Deportivo Italia and Monagas Sport Club. He decided to stop playing soccer after his daughter, Camila, was born on Feb. 14, 2009. He then began a career in the music business by promoting local bars, clubs and Venezuelan singers in Miami. Juan Pablo was a contestant on “The Bachelorette, but he lost the competition on Desiree Hartsock's season in 2013.
   Juan Pablo was previously with Camila’s mother Carla Rodriguez, but after two years, the couple split. Carla Rodriguez is still totally involved in his life, despite a lengthy child support battle. The two split in 2010 and they have been friends and co-parents ever since. This has some fans wondering, will this affect how he feels about the Bachelorettes and his decision in the end? Many worry Juan Pablo will end up back with Rodriguez.
   Juan Pablo had the chance to meet 27 beautiful bachelorettes to choose from. While 25 is the normal for the show, host Chris Harrison explains that there were just too many ladies who wanted to date Juan Pablo, so the net producers had no choice but to allow two extra women into the mix. Juan Pablo seemed very nervous as the limos pulled up, but who wouldn’t be?
   There were many outstanding first impressions made, which now are some of the fans favorites. The most off-the-wall impression was Clare, a hairstylist, who emerged from the limo holding her pregnant belly. She smiled at Juan Pablo, let him rub her stomach and cooed that she knows he wants more children. Instead of thinking its creepy Juan Pablo was kind of into it. Unfortunately, the pregnancy is fake and she’s just trolling into the world. Alli, a nanny, who emerged from the limo wearing Adidas kicks looking for a teammate Chelsey, who wants to make chemistry with Juan Pablo, and Nikki a pediatric nurse who has him listen to her heart beating to show him how nervous she was, are just a few of the first impressions that have stuck with the fans.
   Juan Pablo has taken many bachelorettes on dates, some one-on-one dates, and others group dates. Juan Pablo took Clare on the first one-on-one date, a winter wonderland. He also took Chelsey to jump off of a bridge, Cassandra, in a car boat, and many more. Two of the group dates were a photo shoot and playing soccer with Juan Pablo.
   Juan Pablo has eliminated it down to 11 beautiful bachelorettes, who he will continue to get to know, and hopefully find his wife and a stepmother to Camila, to complete his family.

21st Century Manners:

News Year’s Resolutions

By: Tyler Barickman

   Most people in the world make New Year’s resolutions to ensure that they will have a “better” year.  Common resolutions range from losing weight, being an all-around better person and saving their money.  However many people that make these personal promises have trouble keeping them.  People also want to make New Year’s resolutions, but can’t think of goods ones that they would have the desire to keep.  We have some helpful tips on the perfect resolutions for you and how to keep them!
   One of the most common resolutions is losing weight.  A great way to lose weight is to cut the calories by doing something fun.  There are many classes out there that you can take to help you be active.  You want to pick a class that you will enjoy and that you will enjoy going back to, such as zumba and yoga.  Another easy tip to lose weight is to do crunches during TV commercials or in your spare time.  You wouldn't realize how much crunches can easily tighten up your stomach.  A great way to keep you motivated is to go to the gym with a friend.  Because you would be with a friend, it would be fun to go work out.  You will also follow through if someone else is excepting you to show up which will hold you accountable.  This may appeal more to girls, but I know that when I get cute new workout clothes, it motivates me to go to the gym and feel all sporty and professional.
   A very common New Year’s resolution is to give to charities.  If you are able to give to charities, then you should.  Many people are very selfish and don’t realize that other people in the world are in a lot of danger.  We take for granted our health, shelter, food and clear water.  If you are the type of person that loves giving necessities that you have enough of to others, then you may want to give to charities that help out the needy.  One very good charity to give to is the “Help the Children” organization.  This charity sends 25 million pounds of food to needy families in both the United States and other countries.  You may have a soft spot for children that have to live with a life threatening disease.  There are many charities out there that give treatment to sick children with illnesses such as cancer.  If you get very choked up when you see a poor innocent animal being abused and mistreated, then you could give to a charity that helps protect those animals.  For example, a great charity to give to is the “ASPCA”, which stands for American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  This charity gives help to animals that are being abused and mistreated.  Animals are helpless and there are many people that abuse their animals for no reason.  These charities and charities similar to these are great to give to, and will start your new year off right.
   We all should strive to be a better person than we were yesterday.  The New Year is a great excuse to be a better person than you were last year.  One tip is to be kind to others, even if they are not kind to you.  If you are kind to people, you will be given more respect and everyone loves to have that kind of person in their life.  Another great tip is to be kind to strangers.  You don’t realize how your kindness can affect a stranger.  You never know what people are really going through.  They may be having an awful day and if you were to just open the door for them or pick up something they dropped, you may make their day better. It’s not like you could make it worse.  You can do simple things, like not gossiping about others.  That person may hear you and you will hurt their feelings.  Other people will hear you and think less of you.  A great way to be kinder is to just smile.  If you just keep a smile, your day can become better.  When you smile it will make you seem more open and friendly.  You can gain friends just by smiling to people you know and especially people you don’t know.
   Most of the world has real trouble with money.  We spend and spend and then wonder why we don’t have any.  To start off the New Year, you would love to have money.  One tip you should do is to watch what you spend.  You should watch your bank statements and make sure you are not overspending from what you really have.  It is good to not spend money just to spend it.  Most people just buy things to spend money and that can hurt you.  You can also set aside a small goal to save each week-even a few dollars will add up.  If you don’t spend money right when you get it, then you can have money to spend on things later that you would love to have.  You can set a max budget for how much you can spend on clothes or entertainment per week.  It forces you to be more creative for fun and to prioritize what you want.  There is a difference in treating yourself and just draining your bank account.

   New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep because we make them and then we don’t follow through with our resolutions.  When the clock strikes midnight at the New Year, it sounds like a great idea to want to change your self for the good to start off the New Year.  Most people don’t follow through with their spur of the moment resolutions.  We gave you some great tips to help you keep your resolutions.  We should all strive to be a better person than we were yesterday, but what better excuse to start on the New Year. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Fukushima radiation affecting the west coast?

By: Jacob Bailes

   March 11, 2011, one of the biggest earthquakes ever recorded hit the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan causing a tsunami that led to a nuclear meltdown of the plant. This was the largest nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The radioactive materials released have caused health problems for locals and a worry about the chemicals affecting nearby waters and wildlife. Concern has also been raised as to whether this has a ability to reach the U.S.
   Recently, fish have been caught off the coast of the Fukushima prefecture to be tested for fatal levels of radiation if consumed by humans. It was found that some fish contain up to 124 times deadlier than what’s considered safe for humans consumption. Other fish were tested as well and found to be unsafe for humans to eat, but the rest of the fish were said to be within safety limits.
   Reports from scientists in California and Oregon show that when the local tuna were tested, their levels were so low that the radiation couldn’t be picked up until the samples were concentrated. There is radioactive material making its way across the Pacific Ocean, but models project that it will sink or be pushed west again before it ever hits the U.S.
   However, news radio host Alex Jones showed in a recent video at Surfer’s Beach in California that radiation levels have elevated. International Medcom CEO Dan Sythe tested the dirt from the same beach and found that the levels weren’t safe. The town’s local news has also found levels over 1,400 percent at the site, but still nothing has been done to warn the public. This caused county health officials in the area to alert the state government, but the state said that the radiation is naturally occurring and often seen on California’s coastline.
   Conflicting reports have people worked up, but nonetheless, Japan has seen an increase in cancers in children. Navy sailors on board the USS Ronald Reagan responding to the tsunami have also become sick since the incident. Their illnesses include thyroid and testicular cancer, leukemia, and brain tumors. This suggests that if it can happen to people living in Japan and the surrounding areas, it has the potential to affect Americans as well. Several models of ocean currents and streams show that radiation can hit the west coast but no testing by the government on the water or fish is being done.