Category Archives: Opinion

Shut Off the Movie, Pick up the Book

by Brooke Karanovich

The book is always better than the movie.

As an avid reader, I will argue this point any time, any day. As an avid reader with friends that prefer movies, I have to argue this point all the time, every day.

I’m sure that we can all agree that modern cinema is going downhill. As studios try harder and harder to sell blockbusters, there seems to be more and more fluff being produced instead. Fluff movies are an awful waste of time.

And you know a fluff movie when you see one. Lately, they have included romantic comedies, terribly done sequels to romantic comedies, corny action movies, equally corny sequels to action movies, and overly poignant heart-wrenchers.

Studios are trying too hard to make the next blockbuster. Movies are over the top nowadays. The budgets of movies are through the roof, and when these movies flop there is little return.  Everyone is vying for an instant hit, yet the movies aren’t reaching the desired status.

Much of my problem seems to lie with sequels, which is an originality issue in itself. However, the original originality issue with movies is the lack of unique screenplays.

For years and years, the movie industry has relied upon literature to provide the ideas for movies. Which is actually wonderful because who doesn’t want to see their favorite book on the big screen? It’s pretty interesting to see what someone else made of it.  Maybe the characters are exactly like you pictured them. Maybe they’re completely different. That in itself is a fun thing to see.

Creating a movie from a book is not necessarily a bad thing. The problem arises when the only movies that are coming to theaters are adaptations of books.

Additionally, a problem arises when an author writes a book with the direct intention to sell it to a studio and have it made into a film. Where did the art of novel writing go? It seems terrible to me that literature has been turned into a hollywood business.

A novel tells a story with great detail. Authors use words to paint pictures. They have to spend their words carefully, creating histories, developing characters, and telling the plot. Movies have the advantages of using images to convey all of this. So, when people insist that movies are better than the books, it’s unfair.

Movies have all the advantages while authors work long and hard to produce the amazing stories that they craft. For example, the Harry Potter books are an intricately created series of seven books with amazing character development and detail.

It’s ridiculous to imply that the movies are “better” than the books in any sense of the word.

One Country, Two Systems

By Acadia Otlowski

Hong Kong is in turmoil following protests Sunday night that have finally boiled over after tensions have built all summer.

The recent protests are a result of Beijing’s controversial plan, which would allow citizens to vote for their representatives, but would restrict candidates to those approved by a committee. Politicians opposed to the plan say that pro-Beijing representatives dominate the committee.

Students led by Occupy Central and Scholarism, pro-democracy groups, have been peacefully protesting all week, and in essence shutting down a large part of the city. This came to a head Sunday night when police began using force on the protesters, including pepper spray and tear gas.

Hong Kong is technically part of China, but it operates under a different set of rules than the rest of the country. Not only is the press free, but also protests are allowed. The Chinese government justifies this through the phrase, “One country, two systems.”

In 2013, I visited both Mainland China and Hong Kong through a study abroad program at CCSU. Visiting both on the same trip really defined the sharp contrast between the two systems.

In Beijing, the government heavily controlled the newspapers. The newspapers praised it excessively. But in Hong Kong, the newspapers were more similar to our own. We visited CNN Hong Kong and found it to run similarly to a news station in our country.

In Hong Kong, we could access all of our social media, while in mainstream China we could not. But even with all of these differences, it was clear that the system was tenuous at best.

Chinese citizens had to get special passes to Hong Kong, which our hosts from the mainland failed to acquire before our arrival. But imagine being a Chinese citizen going to Hong Kong for the first time. Imagine seeing the apparent freedom of the people living there and then going back to Mainland China.

Also, imagine being a citizen of Hong Kong, with free and open access to the Internet, and not being able to participate in the same sort of democracy that is displayed in a lot of the rest of the world.

That would make me protest too.

China has a decision to make. A country can’t have two systems — one “free” and one heavily restricted.

This causes internal turmoil like the events that transpired weekend, which according to Occupy Central, was only a precursor to the larger Oct. 1 event, which will have occurred by the time this article is published.

It seems Hong Kong is being offered a sort of pseudo-democracy in place of a real one. While this could work if it were being implemented in a place like Mainland China, this bait-and-switch tactic will not fly with the residents of Hong Kong.

They know something better is out there. They’ve seen it.
The people of Hong Kong have been watching. They have seen protests around the world. They also interact with Western democracies on a regular basis.

It will be interesting to see how Mainland China will react to further protests. They can either crack down, wherein the populous of Hong Kong will lose all hopes of democracy, or procure further freedoms.

The implications of this will be global, because they will affect the mainland as well.

Farewell Captain

by Sean Begin

The very first time I watched baseball was in 1998. It was the first sport I ever got into. No one in my family had any interest in it, my curiosity was piqued by a family friend.

So when I decided to pick a team to root for, the decision was easy. It was ’98. The Yankees were the best team in baseball all season long. They couldn’t stop winning. As a nine-year-old, that was reason enough for me to root for them.

“Who roots for a loser?” said nine-year-old me.

Fast forward to Sunday, when Derek Jeter swung a bat for the last time: an infield chopper to third that resulted in a single and an RBI. Quite Jeter-ian, to borrow the phrase.

I have never known a Yankees team without Derek Jeter. I’ve been spoiled, really, getting to watch him play. I imagine it’s how people felt watching Ted Williams or Mickey Mantle retire.

It’s been a season filled with cheap gifts and donations to Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation — a season-long love fest for Jeter that’s made me sort of sick. But, as he walked off the field Sunday afternoon, I understood why he did it.

The game is always bigger than the people who play it. But Jeter is one of those once-in-a-generation players that seems to elevate himself above it.

Yes, he was never the most defensively gifted shortstop. Yes, he struggled when ranging to his right. No, he didn’t win a major offensive award, although looking back, it’s pretty obvious he should have been named MVP on 1999.

A quick note about that season: Jeter finished sixth in MVP voting in ’99 behind Ivan Rodriguez, Pedro Martinez, Roberto Alomar, Manny Ramirez and Rafael Palmeiro. He had a better WAR than every player on that list except Pedro. He was also the only one to break 200 hits. But this did come at a time when the steroid-filled long ball dominated the sport.

So, no: Jeter was never exceptional on a year-to-year basis. Even during his prime, he probably wasn’t the best shortstop in the game. But, unlike his peers Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra, Jeter managed longevity.

And, he managed to keep his image clean — often more important in New York than the play on the field. Yeah, he dated. A lot. If that’s the worst thing you can say about Jeter, I guess he did all right.

Where Jeter really stands above most of the former baseball greats, though, was the position he took as a leader on the team. He worked tirelessly year in and year out. And to kids growing up watching baseball in the 1990s, he was the player to look up to.

Just ask Xander Bogaerts, a young shortstop for the Red Sox who wears number two on his jersey in honor of Jeter. He was there with David Ortiz when the Red Sox presented Jeter with his going away gifts in his final game in Fenway Park.

And for me, a young kid who fell in love with one of America’s oldest sports, who picked a team because all they did was win, Jeter was the one who showed me what passion really is.

So thanks for the memories, Jeter. Thanks for great moments on the field and the funnier moments off of them. Thanks for caring more about the fans and the game than anything else.

U.S. Judge Denies Detriot Right to Water

by Sean Begin

Imagine a city of 700,000, filled with empty, light-less streets and dozens of abandoned buildings and warehouses. Homes fall apart around the families that live there. Poverty is increasingly high. Families go without fresh, running water.

This could be an accurate description of a third-world country. But it’s actually closer to home: Detroit, Michigan.

The decline of Detroit has been a part of the American consciousness for some time now. The recession hit not only the housing market especially hard, but the American automotive industry as well. The Big Three of Detroit — Ford, Chrysler and GM — were bailed out by the government. But while they thrive today, Detroit continues to suffer.

In 2013, they filed for bankruptcy on $18.5 million worth of debt. It was the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in history.

A report released later that year by Kevyn Orr, who had been appointed by Michigan to oversee Detroit’s finances, said the city “is clearly insolvent on a cash flow basis.”

The bankruptcy is the result of the declining auto industry and widespread corruption. In March 2013, a former Detroit mayor was convicted on 24 charges of corruption and bribery that included racketeering, fraud and kickbacks for city contracts, according to an article on BBC.

But things seem to have gotten really out of hand on Monday, when the judge overseeing the bankruptcy case ruled that he had no right to stop Detroit from shutting water off to thousands of homes behind on their bills.

“It cannot be doubted that water is a necessary ingredient to sustaining life,” said Judge Steven Rhodes in his ruling, adding that there isn’t “an enforceable right to free and affordable water.”

Wait, what?

“Detroit cannot afford any revenue slippage,” Rhodes added.

Maybe Rhodes is unaware of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25, Section I: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

Here we have a bankruptcy judge calling money for Detroit more valuable than water that is necessary for human survival. Here we have someone who shouldn’t be making decisions. This is just another example of putting money for before humanity, business before the right to life.

Detroit’s problems are many but the people shouldn’t be subjected to a lack of water because they’re too poor to afford it. The government should be finding other solutions to the debt problem that don’t further the burdens of the American poor and lower middle class.

This wildly perplexing decision will hopefully meet swift and furious backlash from the United Nations and a quick reversal. Maybe Rhodes and the government he works for should be more concerned with why a city like Detroit has catastrophically failed financially instead of further grinding the American public into the ground by denying them basic human rights.

California Redefines Consent

The state of California has flipped the conversation when it comes to defining consent in its state, changing it from “No means no” to “Yes means yes.”

The new law is looking to improve the way universities deal with sexual assault, requiring “affirmative consent”. Affirmative consent goes further than “Just say no” and requires that the person consenting be awake and alert. This means that a person cannot give consent while asleep, or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.

“Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time,” states part of the law.

California is the first state to take such a step, requiring colleges to follow certain guidelines when it comes to investigating sexual assault.

Advocates for the new law praise it, saying that it will bring consistency to the way sexual assaults are handled across college campuses in the state.

Connecticut has had its share of issues with sexual assaults on its college campuses, such as the recent lawsuit by former and current UConn students that accused the university of sweeping rape accusations under the rug. Then there are the fraternities at Wesleyan, recently ordered to become co-ed, which were known as “rape factories.”

If any state needs to adopt a set of laws like “Yes means yes,” it is Connecticut. While Central Connecticut State University has reported no sexual assaults since 2011, according to its Clery Report, it is likely that these guidelines would aid the university in investigating claims.

The bill also contains language that would require training for faculty who deal with sexual assault complaints. This would prevent inappropriate questions from being asked of the victims during such a difficult time. Additionally, the bill requires that universities offer the victims counseling and healthcare services.

This new standard for consent is being criticized by some for being overbearing. They believe that it is not the state’s job to define consent. But if that is the case, who’s job is it?

The university system has proved itself to be incapable of effectively dealing with sexual assaults on its campuses and even less capable of reporting them properly. If not the states, then perhaps the national government should pass legislation defining consent and holding universities more accountable.

California has set a high bar for the way states handle sexual assault in the future. It would be in the best interest of CCSU and Connecticut universities if the same were to happen here.

Hello Ello

by Brooke Karanovich

 

Social media has become insanely popular in the past few years, with Facebook leading the pack. Facebook has over one million active monthly users, making it the most popular social media platform in use currently.

As Facebook has progressed, the platform has changed in a variety of ways. It has become more user friendly, and recently, messages have changed. But the most noticeable change was the appearance of ads on the site.

Advertisements first appeared on Facebook around 2007 and were clearly advertisements. They became more and more prevalent on the site and now advertisements can be found in the newsfeed as sponsored stories. The amount of advertisements has created quite a stir and caused some people to jump off the Facebook bandwagon.

In the wake of the decline in Facebook’s popularity among some people, different social media platforms have popped up. The most recent site to do so, and with quite a big splash, is Ello.

Created by a Vermont Bike Shop owner, Ello recently opened up to the public on August 7th. Currently, Ello is invite only. And apparently people are requesting invites at an alarming rate.

What is the big deal with Ello? Ello has been called the “anti-facebook” network because its founder has pledged to not advertise on the site, or sell user data — two things for which Facebook comes under critique.

The site has come under critique since its release because, despite its popularity, it has been buggy and not user friendly. Yet people are still excited about it because it is advertisement-free social media!

It’s amazing that people flock to a product like Ello quickly: Facebook, despite its flaws, has been popular and in high demand since its inception. The public craves social media more and more, despite the wide availability of multiple types of social media platforms.

The beauty of the world wide web makes networking on these sites easy and readily available — and, apparently, prone to advertisements.

Ello has promised users an advertisement-free social network, and I guess we’ll have to wait and see if they can hold true to this promise. I doubt that any young entrepreneur foresees selling out on their original vision for advertisements and sponsored networking. Only time will tell if this wonderful utopian social media site will continue to be all it’s cracked up to be.

How to Cause a Racquet

by Ariana D’Avanzo

The game of tennis is not just winning and losing, keeping score or having an amazing serve, but outsmarting your opponent. The fundamentals of tennis are extremely important; this sport is one of accuracy and being able to always think one step ahead of your rival.

There are many factors that play a role in a given match. In this column, the focus will be on the importance of the grip and head size to a player’s racquet.

First, the size of the racquet head must be determined; there are different sizes for different age groups.

Young adults and adults tend to play with a surface area of around 85 to 105 square inches. Beginners can play with a larger surface area of around 105 to 130 square inches, while children tend to play with a head size between 21 inches and 23 inches.

The smaller the head size, the more stability; however, with small heads comes a rise in the power a player must generate. The larger the head size, the larger the sweet spot, which results in less out-of-control hits.

When choosing a head size, you will also be choosing the overall length of your racquet. Standard tennis racquets are around 27 to 28 inches, but you can also get ones up to 29 inches in length. (These tend to be used more by professionals.) The length of the racquet allows for leverage on your swing, which will result in a more powerful, faster shot.

Along with choosing head size, grip size will also need to be chosen. The grip size is important; it determines how strong or weak your hits will be, along with their accuracy.

Grip sizes for adults and young adults rang from 4″ to 4 ⅝”. When gripping the handle, make sure the bottom of your palm (right before your wrist begins) is on the bottom of the handle. You always want to hold the racquet at the bottom of the grip; this is where you will get the most control.

One method of choosing your grip is to hold the racquet in your dominant hand and place the index finger of your other hand in between your palm and fingers: if there is not enough space for your finger to touch the grip of the racquet, then it is too small, and it is too large if there is enough room to fit two fingers.

When deciding between two different sizes, always go with the smaller one. This is because you can always enlarge the size of the grip with grip tape, which will add width and padding for comfort.

Your racquet is filled with many elements that contribute to your overall game and score. A great player needs a great racquet, and a great racquet needs a great player.

Look to the Books

by Kaitlin Lyle

Following last Saturday, the literary world concluded another annual, week-long celebration to uphold the expanding list of banned books. As always, I find myself fascinated by what newfound material has made the list and, more importantly, how it got there in the first place. While some of the choices I understand for obvious reasons, the measures that people take in order to wipe out the books’ existence still perplexes me. I get it: parents don’t want their kids getting into drugs, having sex before knowing the consequences or, worse, thinking that if it’s done in the books, it’s okay to do it in reality. That I can understand and respect, as a reader and future educator. But to rid the libraries of them completely, to brand them into nonexistence with book burnings, and all while failing to provide an alternate route for covering the banned topics, is with what I have a problem.

What these book-burners seem to understand and disregard simultaneously is a fact of life: kids are growing up and they’re asking questions. The subjects may be uncomfortable, but they’re asking them honestly so that they can know about the world around them. Maybe it’s to protect them from getting the wrong ideas, but as a guarantee of maturity, they’re bound to find out what’s out there one way or another. And if they can’t ask their parents, if they can’t ask their teachers, who can they ask? The media glamorizes, so why not settle into the comfort of reading about a character that seems to be going through similar problems?

See, that’s the beauty of the author’s realm: they craft for us characters that, in spite of the varying circumstances, are relatable, that mirror the inner thoughts and feelings of their readers. Not only are they building us worlds to escape into, but they map it out the possibility of us empathizing with their characters along the way. We don’t necessarily have to undergo paternal rape (“The Color Purple”), develop a taste for ultra violence (“A Clockwork Orange”) or even face our own dark destinies (a la Harry Potter series) in order to find out that the world itself can be a frightening place. By the characters of their imaginations, these taboo writers manage to give us the words we unconsciously crave as we get older: “Yes, the world is a big place and it can get scary sometimes. We acknowledge that you have questions that need answers. Yes, we all have our sexual desires, and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. Yes we all wonder about drugs, but it doesn’t mean we’re going to shoot up. And yes, depression is a very real and serious matter, and pretending it isn’t there doesn’t make it go away.” (FROM WHAT IS THIS EXCERPT? NO LEAD-IN, NO TAGLINE?)

As a college student, I recognize that I may have come across a few books — Judy Blume’s “Forever,” for one — that were before my time, or at least before I was ready to handle them. After getting more experience out of life, reading these banned books and their forbidden passages almost feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. To know that, even with the changing times, someone out there mirrored what I worried about and wrote it all down. How else can we help our youth through adolescent turmoil when we can’t voice the matters ourselves? Ladies and gentlemen, look to the books; if not, where do we go from there?

Put The Cell Phone Away

By Acadia Otlowski

Look up.

No, really.

Click the power button on that glowing little screen of yours and join the present.

Be it a cell phone, a laptop or a tablet, Americans spend far too much time caring about the things that are happening on their various devices. According to the PEW Internet Research Project, 90 percent of all American adults have a cell phone, as of January 2014. The study also revealed that 58 percent of American adults have a smartphone.

Most of the time, it isn’t even because we are having an actual conversation with someone who is elsewhere. Most people are just flicking their thumb, scrolling through some social media feed. The result: spending time reading about other people’s lives and missing critical moments in our own.

The cell phone usage epidemic has gotten so invasive that restaurants have begun to ask customers to please not use them. A New York City restaurant went viral a few months ago when it looked into complaints that the wait time for its restaurant was too long. The restaurant hired a company to look into the claim, and it found that it used to take about an hour for a restaurant to serve a meal, but now it takes closer to two. It compared 2014 to 2004 and came to the conclusion that cell phones were to blame. Cell phones slowed down the time it took to order and to eat.

But slow service is not the only result of heavy cell phone usage. At a restaurant, those tables where everyone is on their cell phones, a heavy silence usually prevails. What is worse is being that one person who is not on their cell phone. The one who is actually aware that no one is speaking.

Compare this to a table where no one is on their cell phones. This table is usually loud, the conversations are better. The same thing happens at parties. Good times do not happen when everyone is preoccupied with the words and pictures on their screens.

Some of the best times I have had occurred in places where cell phones were limited. Either charging the phone was inconvenient or impossible or the service was nonexistent or slow.

It is one of the reasons that I love traveling with groups overseas. Most of the time no one has data on their cell phones and it forces everyone to put down the technology and converse.

When the Journalism students went to France over the summer, the first place that we stayed had no Wi-Fi, so we were forced to be in the moment and talk to each other. It caused some of us to bond more than we normally would, because there were no little glowing screens as a distraction.

Cell phones have made us more social online and less so in person. They’re causing us to forget how to have a real-life conversation without answering three texts and checking our Twitter feed.

So, please, if you’re questioning whether maybe you should put the cell phone down for a moment, or even turn it off, do it. You will not regret it.

Alabama Wrongly Denies Player Transfer

by Sean Begin
College sports has once again shown why the “student-athlete” concept is a myth, at least when compared to the people who run the athletics programs.
The University of Alabama recently denied women’s basketball player Daisha Simmons a transfer to Seton Hall because it would leave Alabama without a scholarship.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Simmons was a stand-out prep player in New Jersey who spent her first year in college ball on the Rutgers teams. She then transferred to Alabama, where she finished out her undergraduate degree, graduating last December.
Simmons decided to pursue her MBA, but since Alabama didn’t accept her into it’s program, she transferred to Seton Hall, hoping to earn her master’s while playing her final year of eligibility for the Pirates.
There was also a deeper reason for this move. Simmons’ brother is the final stage of chronic kidney disease, known as end-stage renal disease. He requires constant dialysis treatment while he waits for a kidney transplant.
Simmons’ mother works two jobs, so she decided to move back close to home to help her family out while still going to school and playing basketball.
But Alabama’s women’s basketball head coach Kristy Curry and athletic director Bill Battle blocked Simmons’ transfer, meaning she could practice with and keep the scholarship she was given by Seton Hall, but she can’t compete in games with her team.
“This shouldn’t be happening,” Simmons said to the New York Daily News.
And she’s right.
It’s not like Simmons is still a student at Alabama. She’s graduated. And she was denied entry into the MBA program there. If she wants to continue her education somewhere else, she has every right. And if she wants to play basketball somewhere else, Alabama shouldn’t be allowed to stop her.
This, however, is not the first case of a women’s basketball player being denied transfer.
Earlier this year, Kansas State attempted to block the transfer of Leticia Romero. After public outrage, Kansas State relented and gave Romero her transfer. She now plays for Florida State. Before that was Sydney Moss and Florida.
After her freshman year at the University of Florida, Moss wanted to transfer somewhere closer to home. Florida denied her. Not only did they deny her from transferring to a rival school, they denied her from transferring to any Division I institution.
Again, after public outrage, Moss was allowed to transfer to any school except Kentucky. She chose a Division III school in Kentucky showing, as Mike Robinson writes on SB Nation, “that all she cared about was being happy and close to her mother.”
The unfairness of Simmons’ situation is cast in an even harsher light when looking at her coach.
Kristy Curry was able to leave Purdue University for Texas Tech in 2006, despite the fact that Purdue’s women’s basketball was under investigation for violations. Then, after seven years ar Texas Tech with little success, she was able to up and leave for Alabama.
Yet, a player who only wants to continue her education while playing a simple sport, is being denied by the same person (and her superiors) who have no problem jumping ship when necessary.
It speaks to the broken system college athletes exist in that Simmons isn’t being allowed to compete. The worst part is that the NCAA thinks it’s solved the problem by saying Simmons can play next year for Seton Hall.
These archaic and inane rules should be destroyed but until then, the NCAA should step in and just let Simmons play this year.