Friday, May 16, 2014

10 Things You May Not Have Known: Part Two

Image courtesy of Cutes Paw
The other day I was scrolling through some of my old blog posts, and stumbled upon one I did a couple months ago. It was called 10 Things You May Not Have Known + Poverty, and it's probably my favorite post on this blog. Since I enjoyed writing it so much, I figured I'd make a part two, so without further ado, here's another set of ten things you may not have known.

1. All US presidents, dead or alive, have worn glasses (just not necessarily in public).
2. Duck's quacks don't echo
3. Switzerland has four official languages: French, German, Italian, and Romansh.
4. Penguin's propose by presenting their partners with a pebble. They also stay together forever.
5. Winston Churchill was born in the women's bathroom.
6. The French allow their people to marry the dead.
7. The world's most practiced religion is Christianity.
8. Obama is left handed (apparently left-handed people are smarter, which makes sense). 
9. A larger percentage of North America is wilderness than Africa. 
10. Coconut oil reduces seizures in children with epilepsy. 

So what's the purpose of all these random facts? No, it's not to bore you to death. Actually, the opposite. 

I want to make the point that everyone is smart in their own way. Some people may know lots of information about penguins. Other people may be really good at understanding people. No matter what, it’s pointless to criticize people for not knowing certain things. I know a fair amount about history and politics (in other words, I’m “book” smart). However, I know next to nothing about horses and texting slang (these are just examples). A couple months ago my friend texted me GTG and I had to Google what it meant (for the record, it means “go to go”). 

However, because I love academia, I do well in school. Majority of my teachers like me (or at least they act like they do). On the other hand, some of the kids in my school know a lot about skiing, but hate academia, so they don’t do as well in school. That doesn’t mean they’re destined to a life of homelessness when they’re older, like the school system thinks. They just learn differently. 

So next time you (or I) call someone “dumb”, think about all of the great things and knowledge you’re not seeing and reconsider. 

Credit:
France Fun Facts

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Happiness for All

Image courtesy of Kevin and Amanda
Guess what the happiest country in the world is?

Answer: Denmark (what is it with these Scandinavian countries being such great places to live?)

Despite paying insane amounts of money in taxes (think 60%), Danes are very happy people. Here's why:

1. It's a great place to be a mother (or a father). Families receive a total of 52 weeks parental leave. Although 18 weeks of that is allocated to the mother, and two weeks is allocated to the father, the rest of the time is left for Danish families to use as they need. And get this: families who adopt get 48 weeks of parental leave! On top of that, Denmark has inexpensive (or free, depending on your income) childcare.

2. Danish citizens have free access to health care.

3. They get their exercise in through biking. A report shows that half of the Danish population commutes to school or work by biking. Half. Bet they have a low obesity rate.

4. Danish citizens feel a responsibility to be good people. They believe in health care for all and caring for the poor.

5. Danish citizens are very involved in the government. In the recent elections, almost 90% of them voted! Meanwhile, less than 60% of Americans vote.

(I found all information above here)

After looking at the list above, I think America needs a reform. Although I'm a bit iffy about giving up 60% of my families income in taxes, I don't think America would have to do that in order to have a government like this. If everybody in America (with exceptions for those earning below the poverty level) was made to pay 20-25% in taxes (including you, Donald Trump), we could have a government with free health care and long maternity/paternity leaves. All the extra money coming in from billionaires (who are currently paying ~5%), would make up for the fact we're not paying as big a percent.

I realize a lot of people don't want to give up their money. I get that. But I still believe that we should give to the poor and support them. If you were homeless and poor on the streets, you would hope that your fellow citizens would help you out. If I was poor, I would not want to be in America. Let's change that so America becomes a happy place for everybody.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Death Row

Thanks to Stella the Star for giving me this idea. 
Image courtesy of Cardinal Health

Today we're going to be talking about the death penalty. Yup, the death penalty. Happy times. 

In case you didn't know, here are some "fun" facts about the law. 

1. It exists in 32 states, including Utah (no surprise there), California, Florida, and Pennsylvania. 
2. According to deathpenalty.org, it "costs more to execute a person than it does to keep them in prison for life." 
3. Types of capital punishment include hanging, lethal injection, firing squad, gassing, and electrocution. 
4. The South, a region with 80% of the countries executions, has the highest murder rate in the US, although that might be due to the fact that the South is the poorest region in the country. 
5. The number one reason people are executed is murder (deathpenalty.procon.org). 

I personally ere towards the side of getting rid of the death penalty, however, I think my opinion would be different if I'd had a family member or close friend who'd been murdered.  Often times, people feel closure when the murderer of their loved one is put on death penalty and killed. However, some people don't feel that way; they believe that's it's dishonoring the memory of their loved one by killing another. 

Since their are so many pros and cons to this issue, I think the best way to lay out the facts is to list them. Here it goes: 

PROS
1. The death penalty may prevent would-be murderers from killing someone due to knowledge that the decision could cost them their life. 
2. As previously mentioned, death-row can give justice to the victim's family. 
3. Death-row not only brings justice to the victim's family, but it brings justice overall. Murders do horrible things, and deserve to be correctly punished for their actions. 

CONS
1. Death penalty trials are more expensive than keeping someone in prison for life. Some sources suggest that it could be as much as two million dollars more out of taxpayer pockets. 
2. Many question if the eighth amendment (which prevents torture) makes the death penalty illegal. A recent execution resulted in what many witnesses called an "agonizing scene." Other executions have also resulted in similar situations. 
3. There is a possibility (some statistics suggests 4%, others 12.5%), that a person on death row is found innocent. You can't bring people back from the dead, and killing an innocent person is seen 

But the overall solution to this all is... EDUCATION! People who graduate high school are significantly less likely to end up in federal prison. So by putting more money in education and encouraging kids to graduate, we keep our country safe. Yay!

Friday, April 25, 2014

We're All the Same: My Discovery That I'm Not So Different From the "Bad" Kids

The "perfect" child
Image courtesy of CNN.com
A couple things about me:
1. I am judgmental
2. I am sometimes a bit selfish

Not trying to deflect attention from my shortcomings here, but I know plenty of people have these problems. Part of it is human nature; part of it is the way society is today. But that doesn't mean you can't do anything to fix it; actually, people will respect you more if you try and work on your issues. 

The reason I'm bringing this up is because it has a lot to do with the way that we structure our schooling systems. Education today is often all about
being perfect and always arriving at the right answer. Schools praise kindness; they broadcast the ideal that not only should you be happy, smart, kind, and friendly, but that you should also be neutral and hardworking. Schools don't pay attention the fact that no one is perfect. Just because someone bullies another doesn't make them a bad person; it just means that they need work. 

I have often met children that are labeled as "bad". They do drugs, fail most of their classes, and have no respect whatsoever for their superiors. I have always been the opposite of that: little goody-two shoes who takes things way too seriously and does her homework. Judgey-judgey me doesn't really approve of those who choose to go the less conformal route. But what I've come to realize is that although I'm never going to approve of those that do drugs and flip off teachers, the "bad" kids are just like me, trying to figure out how to be a good person. And it's not fair for school's to judge them and suspend them without thinking about this is going to affect said child's whole life. Everyone has problems: some are just frowned upon more than others.

I know this post is different from the usual, but I still hope you enjoyed it.

Click here to see the article that got me thinking: Suspending Students is A Bad Idea


Friday, April 11, 2014

7 Things To Bring in Your Carry-On

1. KIND bar(s)
Image courtesy of Kind Snacks
My friend Stella recently introduced me to these and I LOVE THEM. They are so healthy and delicious- the perfect thing to pack for a trip through the sky. Also, I believe that so long as you don’t open packaged food before you reach security, you can carry it on your flight.

2. Books
I already did a post on my favorite books for travel, but I’ll just quickly mention the ones I’m bringing for this flight in particular:
Obviously I won’t be able to read all of those on the flight, so I’ll probably just keep one (or my Kindle) in my carry-on. 

3. An extra set of underwear
You never know if your flight is going to be delayed, so it’s always good to be safe. Trust me, you don’t want to get stuck in a hotel room without an extra set of underwear because the airline lost all your luggage. It’s happened before, and it will happen again. Just hopefully not to me, because I've had my fair share of delayed flights. 

4. Silly magazines
I admit, People publishes some rubbish stuff, but it can be kind of fun to leaf through the pages and discover what lie the press is making up this time.

5. A zip-up sweater
Planes are cold, but destinations are often warm. Bring a zip-up sweater for the flight to keep warm, and then take it off when you arrive at your (warm) destination. 

6. (Home)work
As much as we would all like them to, vacations don’t put a hold on (home)work. With that said, you can make your vacation more fun by getting your work out the way on the way down there. So bring it with you for a better and less stressful vacation. 

And last but not least....

7. Nail polish (a large variety)

Image courtesy Glitter and Nails
It’s super important to bring at least 30 bottles of nail polish on the plane. You never never know when your nails are going to need a little of bit of jazzing. Don’t forget the pure acetone to take it off when you get tired of the color! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Travel Tips: Aeroplane Books

If there's one thing I know about airlines, it's that sometimes they don't offer the best entertainment for non-international flights. Therefore, it's an absolute must to bring your own entertainment. Sure, you can spend your time surfing Netflix and watching Downton Abbey on your iPad, but you could also take it as an opportunity to crack open a new book. Here are my recommendations:

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
"If I’m going to be a student here, treated on equal terms, then I have to be willing to do everything that they do,” I said. “There can’t be two sets of expectations, one for them and one for me, the only girl in the class."
Image courtesy of Beauty and the Bookshelf
Set in England during the early 1900s, the novel follows a young girl named Vicky. Vicky's family is part of the upper class, so she has almost everything she could ask for. However, all Vicky wants to do is be an artist. She secretly attends art classes while at finishing school in France, and while there, poses nude. Her finishing school finds out and expels her, causing her parents to quickly try and find a new husband for their daughter. 

Just to clarify, the novel is not at all about posing nude and flashing yourself to the whole world. I was worried about that before reading it, but rest assured, the book is 100% appropriate for most age groups (probably too advanced for third graders, but not for a smart seventh grader). It's also a great novel. Many historical fiction novels are super boring and lackluster, but this one manages to be both educational and entertaining. Also, there's a bit of information about the women's suffrage movement in it, which I loved. 

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood 
“A trio of sisters will come of age, all witches. One of the sisters, who will be gifted with mind-magic, will be the most powerful witch born in centuries."
Image courtesy of Alice Marvels
 Set in an imaginative world based on the ages of the Salem witch trials, Born Wicked tells the story of three sisters: Cate, Mara, and Tess. Cate is the leader of the pack, and the main character. Her mother died when she was young and entrusted Cate with the care of her sisters. However, things are complicated because Cate and her sisters are witches, something considered evil in a society run by the Brotherhood. To complicate things even more, Cate's "choosing day" is coming up, and she must decide between joining the Sisterhood and marrying her childhood best friend... but what if she's not interested in either?

I'll admit, my synopsis is a little cheesy, but this book really is fantastic. The writing is lush, but not to the point that the book is boring, and the plot keeps at a decent pace. I really loved all the imagery in this book: the poofy dresses, tea parties, and rose gardens brought me back to the colonial era. The biggest reason that I would recommend this as a good plane read is due to the fact that the book manages to deal with more serious issues without resorting to death and destruction. The novel is more focused on the characters, plot, and scenery as opposed to the "thrill" factor. With that said, if you do decide to read the second book, be prepared for a lot more action. 

Well, I hope you enjoyed hearing me blab about my favorite books. Goodbye for now!




Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Little History Lesson

I've loved history ever since I was a little girl. My mum used to let me watch Titanic, Marie Antoinette, Elizabeth, and the Duchess (all with some scenes fast-forwarded) for  girly movie nights. After watching the movies, I would go to the library and try to find a book about the topic of the movie. It was always one of my favorite things to do. So today, I figured it would be fun to do a little history lesson on my favorite eras in history.

Image courtesy of Movie Mail, Quo Vadis
Ancient Rome.

Fate will find a way”- Virgil, Roman Poet

What People Think: WAR! Murder! Assassination! And oh, let's get drunk while we do it.
Reality: While the Romans were very much so into war and conquering, their society was so much more than that. For starters they had very strong religious beliefs. The Romans were what we would consider polytheistic, meaning they believed in many gods. There was Jupiter and Mars; Venus and Minerva; and lastly, Pluto (of course the Romans had way, way more gods than this, I just can’t possibly list them all).  Most of you probably know of these gods interesting moral standards, so I’m not going to delve into any of that. 

Also interesting about Rome is their rigid class system. Back in those days it was near impossible to move up in the class system, even through marriage (often times, restrictions were place on who you could marry). At the top of this system the emperors and Patricians sat. They were the super rich, and spent most of their time listening to poetry, hanging out in their villas, etc. Below them were the Plebeians. Today they’d be consider blue-collar workers, but back then you called them Plebeians. At the very bottom were the slaves, and hopefully you’re smart enough to figure out what life was like for them. 

Image courtesy of Les Femmes Velours
The French Revolution & Marie Antoinette 

“Great and memorable night, we wept and hugged one another. What a nation! What glory! What an honour to be French!” Ernest-Francois Duquesnoy on August 4th 1789 

What People Think: People go starving. A lady says: “Let them eat cake!”
Reality: Contrary to popular belief, Marie Antoinette was not a cold-hearted devil queen. Born into the Habsburg family (a.k.a people who ruled most of Europe until WWI), the French queen was married by 15 and crowned at 18. She was known for her extravagant spending habits (she bought over 300 dresses a year), and was reviled by the people. However, Marie Antoinette was also a compassionate person. She funded and oversaw the education of a poor boy as well as tended to an injured peasant, something most nobility wouldn't dare do. 

Marie Antoinette, in my opinion, is a victim of history. Despite her relative ignorance in state affairs, she was blamed for the debt issues in France. Often slandered by papers as an "Austrian whore", Marie Antoinette was depicted as doing everything possible to bring on the downfall of France, including vetoing tax acts made to improve the overtaxation of the poor. In many ways, this bad press was the reason she lost her life on the guillotine in 1793.

Image courtesy of Confessions of a Ci-Devant
Versailles
Oh, and by the way, Marie Antoinette never said "Let them eat cake!"

Want more?
History.com Marie Antoinette (highly recommend!)