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All posts for the month April, 2013

The Manhunt

Published April 19, 2013 by Britt

So, ever since this morning I’ve been watching the news and following the manhunt for Dzokhar Tsarnaev in Boston, and I’ve been commenting on Twitter (See them in the sidebar at the bottom if you’re curious). It’s gotten me thinking about many things, and what on earth is going on, because face it, this is insane.

But before I really begin, I know I didn’t post anything along the lines of “RIP Victims” or anything like that. Primarily because I get really uncomfortable with that kind of thing. I don’t know these people, and I do feel bad, but still. It’s not like they’re going to hunt you down and say “TWEET REST IN PEACE NOW!” So yes, I do feel bad. But I’m more analyzing the present and the events that go on now, because maybe then the cops will bring them justice.

First and foremost, when I heard the news of the original bombing, and they proclaimed it a terror attack, I was pretty sure it was a domestic rather than foreign terrorist attack. I thought that it was too sloppy and not extravagant enough. After 9/11, we’ve all been desensitized to smaller attacks, and we all think “Oh, only three people? That’s not as bad.” A foreigner, or at least if it was Al-Qaeda, there would be more explosions and more dead people.

I was a combination of right and wrong. Hadn’t anticipated the Russian part.

Now, I’m livestreaming CNN right now, and they just showed a YouTube video of the dead suspect, and he’s just fooling around with a pen knife in the car. They said they thought he was the ringleader in this attack, which is making perfect sense in the scenario I’ve been creating in my head. The scenario, at least for this kid, is that the brother was abusive and was overall not a good guy towards him. And he got this idea and needed help. Who better to help you than your kid brother? So originally Dzokhar said no, then Tamarlan threatened him and the kid got scared and agreed. The rest is history, and now Dzokhar is hiding in a dark corner of a house and crying, scared out of his mind. The only reason I’m thinking this is because the kid is 19, and all the descriptions are saying he was a very good kid who volunteered, was a wrestler, etc. He wasn’t a loner like some of the evil people like James Holmes (Aurora) and the guy from Sandy Hook.

Now I’m not condoning what he did and saying “Oh, he’s just misunderstood!” This is all strictly hypothetical, and I’m not pitying him at all. I think that there’s a missing piece that we need him to fill in, and he’s not much use if he’s dead. The fact he could be dead makes things a lot harder, just like the guy from Sandy Hook and how we can’t put all the pieces together like a motive or something. And as a teenager myself, I think I would hide too. There are people saying he did something awful, and he’s afraid of people hurting him and afraid to go to jail.

I have family four blocks away from the scene in Watertown, and more in Northbridge. I have friends in Boston locked down. My mom has many friends up in Boston locked down as well. I hope the kid comes out of this alive, mainly because I want to see motives and an explosive trial. But I feel like he’s going to be dead when they find him. Because that’s what these people do.

Also, why do people watch reality TV when you can watch this? It’s pretty intense.

Education These Days

Published April 17, 2013 by Britt

Ahhh school. Supposedly this is a place of learning and fun and all this good stuff. However, our education is filled to the brim with faults, to the point where it is borderline not good enough. It’s not the fault of a certain group of people, it’s the fault of many. And allow me to sit here, get on my soap box, and tell people my opinion on this.

Problem #1: Time

It is common knowledge that there are 24 hours in a day. I am awake for about 18 of them. I get up in the range of 4:30-5:15am, depending on how much I hit the snooze button and how much time I want to get ready in the morning. I am out the door at 5:45, the bus comes and gets me in the dark at the corner of my neighborhood and an incredibly busy road at 5:55am. I come home around 3pm and take naps. To top it off, I don’t get lunch every day (This is being remedied next year). My bedtime is 10pm, and between 3-10 I do whatever, unless I have an after school activity, at which point I am home around 6pm during handegg season and 5pm the rest of the year.

My mom and I went to this school drivers ed presentation thingy earlier this year, and one of the problems that teenagers face nowadays that leads to car accidents is falling asleep at the wheel. They recommended getting at least 8-10 hours of sleep. You just read my schedule, and 10 hours of sleep would me going to bed at around 8, which is before my 7-year-old sister goes to bed. When I had gotten back home from the meeting, it was about 7:30 and I still had homework. Some students take longer to do their homework and have other activities, and sometimes I have no idea how they survive.

The teachers yell at us if we fall asleep in class, and I see high schoolers drinking coffee to stay up in the morning, and then in health class they tell us not to drink energy drinks and that we need to sleep more. There are huge hypocrisies in the system, and next year when I do get a lunch every day, school is in for 15 minutes longer. I want to cry.

Problem #2: A System Similar to a Factory

The thing about school is that it’s filling us all up with the same knowledge. Sure, it’s taught differently, but the stuff that we learn is all the same. And we freethinking people think “When am I ever going to need this stuff? When am I ever going to need Stoichiometry, or need to know what the graph of a sine or cosine looks like? I have zero interest in going into a career with chemistry or trigonometry.” And the only reason it is required is because it’s needed to look pretty on a standardized test or add credit to your diploma. The options I am currently kicking around in the department of career choice are: archaeologist, lawyer, English teacher, or some form of journalist. The only one I can see using any form of chemistry is the archaeologist. I see no use for Trig. But yet I still need to take it.

Another thing that’s wrong with some of these classes is that some of the things are just overall confusing with previous things we’ve learned. For example, another chemistry story. The other day I asked my teacher a question about significant figures and why the heck we need them. I also exposed a huge flaw: you can shorten a day from 24 hours to 20 because of significant figures. And I look at my teacher and asked her why you would do that when it is a clearly well known fact that that there are 24 hours in a day. And she told me “Don’t worry about it! Just do as I say and use sigfigs!” Teachers are not supposed to do that. Teachers are supposed to  teach, and if they don’t know something, they are supposed to say “I’ll look that up and come back to you.” or “You should research it and get back to me, I would love to hear more.”  So, not only am I sitting here with something I will never use and is almost totally discredited, in a class I’m not very good at, with a teacher who can’t seem to teach correctly.

Since I mentioned standardized tests earlier, allow me to add something to that. They need to go away. The school system only teaches a certain amount things in a crunched amount of time because it’s required for the SOL. They don’t go in depth, they don’t have time for review or another day of learning, it’s “we have to move on and make sure we have everything for the SOLs!” I just Googled the names of the tests, and looked on the Wikipedia page.

The Standards of Learning(SOL) are a public school standardized testing program in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It sets forth learning and achievement expectations for core subjects for grades K-12 in Virginia’s Public Schools. The standards represent what many teachers, school administrators, parents, and business and community leaders believe schools should teach and students should learn. The Virginia Department of Education, schools, and school systems routinely receive essential feedback on the effectiveness of implementation and address effective instructional strategies and best practices.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. You know what that tells me? That tells me that

  1. Not everyone who is “in charge” think this is right
  2. Emphasis on SHOULD. That does not mean we HAVE to learn it.
  3. If you’ve seen any of the politicians on TV, you would know they are not that intelligent of people when it comes to decisions like that.
  4. Parents do not always know what is best for their kids. I’m not saying that my parents don’t, but there always are certain cases when they are wrong, because they are human. And so kids deserve the chance to choose for themselves. Let them make their own mistakes.

So, at the end of the day, I come out of school not knowing how to balance a checkbook, but I can do Stoichiometry! I’m sure that will really help get me out of debt!

I’m sure there are more flaws, and I can go on about total reform, which is definitely needed, but I’m just going to start rambling. Sir Ken Robinson did a very nice lecture that I believe sums up everything that I like, so I’m going to get off my soap box now and leave you with this video that I’ve seen twice in school. Enjoy.

Reviews with a Mug Brownie: A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

Published April 16, 2013 by Britt

I can’t seem to find a reasonably sized one.

Summary: In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the North of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hands perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

So here’s a funny story. My friend Avenger Jordan told me she was going to start watching Game of Thrones. She said it’s only two seasons in, only takes a couple weeks, and this was right before Season 3 premiered. So I asked my dad if I could jump on that bandwagon, because I heard there’s a ton of bad stuff in it (gore, sex, alcohol, etc.), and after consulting with my mother, even getting her to watch part of an episode, they said no, not even if I watched it with my dad and he told me not to do that. Even though I truly do know better. They won’t budge on the sex part, simply because they think I’m still in the “Hee hee, penis” stage.

So, normally I’m a decent child. Yeah, sometimes I don’t do my homework, but I don’t do the drugs, the alcohol, the sex. I stay away from that crowd because I have too much self respect for that. And here comes teenage rebellion, Brittany Style: Yeah, I watched it anyway. #Yolo. My punishment was to cook dinner for five nights, and this was after some arguing. But as a consolation prize for not being allowed to watch the show, my dad said I could read the book that’s been sitting on his nightstand unread because he hasn’t been in a “reading mood” and he thought it would be less graphic in word form. Well Dad, it isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s not terrible, but still there.

HOLY CRAP THIS BOOK IS LONG URRRGGGHHHH. My copy is 807 pages long and it always looked like I had less to read than I truly did, and it infuriated me. The struggle was real. But we went and got a new car (I’ll save that story for a later post…) and knocked out around a hundred pages in one night. Plus, Spring Break. And one day, I finally finished it. And started on the second book. Which is 969 pages. Isn’t that great???

Anyway, back to the actual review of this book. They call it fantasy, but it’s incredibly light fantasy, and the fantasy is used in a good way. There’s dragons, ice zombies, and direwolves. A little bit of magic, but not much. This is more about the politics and war than fantasy, the fantasy part just makes it cooler. They mention giants, but they aren’t prominent. Yet. It’s a pretty cool setting, although, as my friend Sean put it, there are Nation Roleplayers who are better at naming countries than he is. He does better with the last names, although I wonder how many more Starks there are going to be in the world of fiction. Tony Stark, House Stark, all these people. Uggh.

This is told in many different points of view. Each character has their own games to play, their own distinct features. And they’re all incredibly human. There is no valiant hero, as the more obvious good guys each have darker motives as well. The more obvious villains have good motives as well, mostly in the form of survival, and then there are some guys (Re: Joffrey) who are just worthy of being punched repeatedly. Everyone hates Joffrey. I had hoped he’d be more like Malfoy from Harry Potter, and I was wrong. He just got worse, and it’s just… ugggghhh. It’s easy to hate characters, and some you love, and some you’re indifferent towards. I really love Tyrion and Daenarys. But I warn you, George RR Martin is also one of those authors who murders characters you love. Like J.K. Rowling. Or John Green. Or even Suzanne Collins to an extent. There’s one particular character who had so much potential and then he got the ax. Literally. People who have read this book or watched the series know who I’m talking about. I saw a comment once where this person’s mother came in during the last ten minutes of that episode and she’s all “Someone’s going to swoop in and save him. They won’t kill him this early, would they?” WRONG, LADY. WRONG.

The plots remain pretty consistent with each other and overlap nicely despite many points of view. And they’re all going somewhere. I’m just waiting for them to start intersecting. Perhaps I’ll see that as the series continues.

ALSO, the TV Show aged everyone about two or three years. Believe it or not, in the series, wars are being fought by twelve year olds. It’s just like high school. But with beheadings.

Overall, five stars. Very good.

BONUS ROUND: I need to start talking more to my followers. So, my advice is to take this quiz and leave your results in the comments. I’m primarily House Targaryen (DRAGONS, GUYS), but I also received: 56% Stark, 67% Lannister, 75% Baratheon, 54% Tully, 53% Tyrell, 64% Martell, 41% Greyjoy, and 18% Arryn.

Social Networks

Published April 11, 2013 by Britt

Social networks have become a huge part of our lives now. Anything from a stupid rumor to a social revolution gets started there. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Youtube, they all have millions upon millions of users who happily post whatever they think they like and whatever crosses the teeny tiny brain of theirs.

And all I want to do is

Because SERIOUSLY. The things these people post are just getting on my nerves! I can’t take it anymore!

Well, Tumblr’s kind of the exception because I hang out in the cool part of Tumblr. Facebook I use to stay in any form of loop, and Twitter I use to follow people and get strange. If you’ve paid attention to the sidebar, my tweets get strange. When I’m famous one day, I know it’ll come in handy.

I use YouTube too, but YouTube is just for following, I rarely ever comment.

But sometimes I want to just hit people for being stupid, and all of those like pictures they post on Facebook are just so STUPID!!! The latest trend on Facebook, “X likes and I can Y” is just really dumb because you don’t know these people, and it’s just like those posts where they promise to donate a penny per like. You know it won’t happen.

And in response, I found one on Tumblr:

It made my former history teacher laugh, which is always good. (:

Instagram I have flat out banned from my networks because it is Twitter for people who can’t read. I feel so bad for the inventors though, because it’s used by people who think they’re being cute or funny and really it’s just stupid.

Twitter in the meantime… I’m not popular there, but I kind of think it’s fun. Mainly because I get very weird with Mother Russia and Mayari. You have no idea. I have 36 or so followers, but I use it mainly for following celebrities. No, not Lindsey Lohan. John Green, Misha Collins, those people. They’re entertaining.

Anyway, back to Facebook, and I may crossover into Instagram as well. Let’s start by saying most cyberbullying nowadays is done over Facebook. I wouldn’t call myself a victim or a cyberbully, but occasionally I see something so troll worthy I just can’t resist. I have most of the stupid people blocked anyway. I remember once that a guy in 8th grade made a like page called “VB Pooping” like it was some form of team. Guess what they did? That’s right! Post pictures of their poop! Poop! It’s disgusting, but some people you just have to let them make a fool of themselves.

Now I’m not saying Tumblr is perfect. It’s not. It’s like 4chan’s sister. All the fandom stuff is posted there, and I have more followers there than I do on Twitter and here combined (333 last I checked). Sometimes fandom wars start, sometimes the hipsters get scared (They post pictures of kissing, food, and hair. It’s like Instagram on that section) (For a good example of hipsters getting scared, please see the Mishapocalypse), and sometimes Anons get mean. It’s not perfect, but it’s got better people than Facebook.

Youtube… Let’s just not. We’ll call it all of them combined. Sometimes you’ll just know you wandered into the weird part of Youtube when you start seeing the Japanese music videos. We’ll call Youtube like Boxxy (Thanks, Youtubers React.).

Other than that, I crawl around on forums, roleplaying. I really don’t go very far. 4chan I avoid, and other than that I just sit in that corner.

The internet is strange guys. And some places just suck.

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