All posts by Waiting Room USA

Movies and Their Impact on People

the-passion-of-the-christ-movie-poster-2004-1020194251Film industry plays crucial role in today’s economy, society, and culture.  Not only a source of employment and revenue for thousands of people, films are a major form of art, which can inspire, provoke debates and deep reflections, expose societal and other problems, open up new cultural horizons, and lead to future endeavors. Of course, not all movies necessarily become cultural phenomena, but many of them have big impact on their audiences and deserve the acclaim they receive from critics and/or people who come to value them.

Given the diversity of human condition, there are many subject matters, which can serve as a basis for a film. However, one of the riskiest decisions for any movie director is to make a film on a subject which is controversial, ideologically or culturally divisive, or unpopular with general audience. At the same time, such movies, when done right, can truly demonstrate their creators’ talents and instigate a meaningful discussion among moviegoers. Among some of the recent movies, which fall into this category, are such movies as “12 Years a Slave” and “Son of God.”

12-years-a-slave-quadThe movie “12 Years a Slave” has been released in 2013 and received three Academy Awards—Best Picture (Steve McQueen directed), Best Supporting Actress (played by Nyong’o) and Best Adapted Screenplay (screenwriter John Ridley). The movie, which depicts the life of Solomon Northup, a free man from Upstate New York who was abducted and sold into slavery where he spent horrible 12 years, was a huge success and made a lot of money (shot for a budget of about $ 20 million it earned, as of May 2014, over $56 million in USA and about $187 million worldwide). The subject of the movie is definitely a difficult one because it shows, unflinchingly and sometimes cruelly, the malice humans can inflict on one another and the depravity of slavery. However, at the same time it demonstrates the strength of human spirit and perseverance.

“Son of God,” released in 2014 is a movie based on mini-series “The Bible” which aired on History Channel and became quite popular. It was produced by husband and wife team, Mark Burnett and Romy Downey and depicts the life of Jesus Christ. The movie was widely promoted in the USA through church groups and Christian leaders and earned more than $59 million (as of May 2014). Inevitably, it was immediately compared to another Christian movie produced by Mel Gibson “The Passion of the Christ,” which was produced in 2004 and became one of the highest grossing movies in the film industry earning more than $600 million. While both movies are devoted to the same subject, i.e. Jesus Christ, they are very different in their style, message, and focus. While Mel Gibson’s movie concentrates on the last hours of Jesus’ life, “Son of God” covers the whole life of Jesus Christ. Both movies drew their followers and critics; however, most people agree that “The Passion of the Christ,” despite being very graphic and violent in its portrayal of Christ’s death, was a much more powerful and memorable movie.movie-reels

One of the marks of a great film is, certainly, the impact they have on people who have watched them. If the movie makes a person to learn something new, consider previously known issues from a different perspective, or allows one to open up his/her mind to new ideas and concepts— the movie can certainly be considered a success. Undoubtedly, “12 Years as Slave,” “Son of God,” and “The Passion of the Christ” have been such films.

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Mid-Term 2014 Elections and Media Coverage: Do Big Money and Corporations Rule Politics?

Rupert_Murdoch_-_Flickr_-_Eva_Rinaldi_Celebrity_and_Live_Music_PhotographerOn November 4, 2014, American citizens are going to re-elect their representatives in Congress, where all 435 seats at the House and 33 out of 100 seats at the Senate will be up for grabs. Currently Republican Party controls the US House; 232 Republican seats, 201 Democrat seats, 2 vacancies; and Democratic Party, 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans, and 2 Independents control the Senate. In the Senate, Republicans need to gain six seats to obtain majority; in the House, Democrats need to get that much desired 218th seat in order to gain control. Given current political climate in the country, the upcoming elections are of great importance.

It is not a secret that many American citizens are disillusioned by the course the government has taken: for example, 2013 annual job approval rate for Congress of 14 percent was the lowest since Gallup started taking the poll in 1974. Similarly, Obama’s job approval rate was only mere 40 percent in December 2013. Divided nature of Congress—where Republican Party controls the House and Democrats control the Senate—is often to blame for inefficacy of American government. Practically every initiative proposed by either party is met with opposition from its political counterpart. The situation clearly manifested itself in October 2013 when the government shutdown over Obamacare showed that both political parties are predominantly driven by their ideologies instead of constructive concern for the well being and progress of the whole country.

Consequently, the 2014 elections will be instrumental in ensuring that Congress, instead of being torn by bipartisan bickering, might at last become productive and effective. As such, it is imperative that American people vote and unequivocally tell their government what is expected of it. However, therein lays a big problem. Special interests, big money, and powerful corporations, thus effectively shutting down the voices of ordinary citizens, contaminate political campaigns in the USA. In January 2010, Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission has declared that corporate political spending does not affect political representatives and has given corporations, labor unions, and other influential groups the same rights as to individuals to spend their money on political campaigns, including TV commercials, print advertisement, and such. Now, the big companies have means to effectively buy political campaigns and elected officials in order to promote policies advantageous to their corporate interests.120629_kochs_adelson_trump_ap_605

Moreover, American media is highly consolidated. For example, today, six major companies (Comcast, Disney, News Corporation, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS) control most of the media in the USA, thus effectively managing what kind of information is available to people.  The same goes for cable, radio, and Internet, —which for all their seeming diversity—are in fact owned and controlled by just few large corporations. According to Common Cause Initiative, since 1990, the entertainment industry, including television, motion picture companies, music industry, etc., has put $283.5 million into federal elections. And in 2008-2010, about the same amount was spent by the industry on lobbying. In fact, Telecommunication Act of 1996, which lifted the limits of ownership, has had an opposite effect by allowing rich and powerful corporations to monopolize. As such, political ads, which run on TV, radio, and other media outlets, are often financed by big money and fail to provide unbiased views and diverse opinions.

It is of utmost importance to have access to true information regarding who, why, and how influences and finances political candidates and their campaigns. 2014 elections are fast approaching and American people need to act quickly.

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Water, Food, Energy and Our Future

Microsoft Word - Perfect Storm Scenario and Nexus Thinking

Our planet’s population is growing each year and is fast approaching eight billion mark. Our climate is changing due to carbon footprint, which influences all aspects of our lives. As such, widespread concern whether natural resources which supply water, food, and energy for people will be sufficient enough to provide all the necessary means for life is well-grounded and timely. In recent decades, many people—including scientists, researchers, and public figures—have voiced their worries regarding the future of our planet and insisted that we must develop new policies which would stress the necessity of sustainable growth and development.

The idea that natural resources will get scarce as population grows is not new.  One of the most famous people who brought it to everyone’s attention was the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834), an English scholar, cleric, and author. In his seminal work An Essay on the Principle of Population, he argued that while population grew geometrically, food supply grew arithmetically; thus, in the future, food supply would not be able to keep up with people’s needs. His work, while provoking a lot of criticism, nevertheless initiated vigorous scholastic debate for years to come and gave rise to many works devoted to the subject of population growth and its economic consequences.

Food

In recent years, the concept of water-food-energy nexus introduces by Stockholm Environment Institute and supported by such renowned organizations as Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, International Food Policy Research Institute, Stockholm International Institute, World Business Council for Sustainable Development and others, steadily gained in popularity. To put it briefly, the nexus concept promotes integrated approach to securing water, food, and energy supplies across the globe. While it might seem that water, food, and energy belong to separate sectors, they are much more interconnected than previously imagined. As a result, the disturbance in one of the sectors will inevitably result in disturbances in the other two, which will lead to catastrophic consequences all over the world.

renewable, energy

As such, concerted efforts should be made in managing, developing, and governing various areas of water, food, and energy sectors by all world countries.Despite all the progress the humanity has achieved over the centuries, 550 million people in Asia and Pacific still do not have enough food; more than 600 million people in the world have no access to electricity; and about 55 percent of world population does not have access to clean and safe drinking water. At the same time, it is obvious that natural resources are not limitless and should be managed in a most efficient and productive manner, should not be overexploited, and should be sustainable. Consequently, water-food-energy nexus approach offers a wide variety of policies to achieve such an end. For example, these policies include an active promotion of green economy principles, increase of the productivity of various resources, use of waste as a resource in multi-use systems, integration of poverty alleviation and green growth, and stimulation of sustainable development through economic incentives.

Water Shortage

The need to build sustainable and green world economy is pressing. As such, people at all levels— be it individual, business, or country—must take steps to secure a future for our children.

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Nature vs. Nurture: Perennial Debate

physical traits of parentsWhen a person looks in the mirror, he or she can easily see some of the physical traits inherited from their parents or other relatives such as eye color, shape of one’s nose and mouth, skin color, hair color, and so on. However, when it comes to psychological traits and character, the answer is not so easily found. Why our personalities are as they are? What factors contribute to each person’s character being one-way and not another? For years, researchers have tried to determine whether person’s character, individuality, and special talents are mostly pre-determined by genes or shaped by the environment a person grows up in.

Perennial Debate

The proponents of “nature theory” (known as nativists) stipulate that their genes largely determine people’s innate characteristics, personality, and abilities. As such, each of us has predetermined IQ, special talents, or inclinations, be they bad or good. While environment can make some difference, genes play a much more important role in shaping one’s personality and capacities. On the other hand, supporters of “nurture theory” (known as behaviorists) argue that their environment mostly forms people’s characters. As such, they believe that each person is born as kind of a “blank slate,” (or “tabula rasa” as introduced by philosopher John Locke) which gets “filled up” by one’s experiences, environment, and social determinants. Consequently, the environment can determine whether a person will grow up to be a success, for example in academic or creative field, or a failure. However, most people agree that both nature and nurture play somewhat equally important role in shaping one character, abilities, and personality.

Perennial Debate - how environment effects people behaviorThe debate regarding what makes us what we are is a significant one. For example, if one considers the problem of addiction (such as addiction to alcohol, drugs, or gambling) from the point of nativist, then it is clear that the research should be directed towards discovering specific genes responsible for such behavior and, if possible, manipulating them in order to cure people from their addictions. However, when one believes that environment is mostly responsible for people’s behavior, then the effort should be directed at providing stable and nurturing environment where these types of addictions are actively discouraged and disapproved.

Lately, the debate regarding nature vs. nurture came into limelight due to the discussion whether there is a gene responsible for people being gay. Given the pressure gay people often find themselves under, it is indeed important to understand the mechanism of homosexuality and whether it’s predetermined by one’s genetic make-up or societal factors.

Nature vs Nurture 4The relative importance of both nature and nurture is best understood when one considers twins. Both fraternal and identical twins have many more similar innate characteristics than other types of siblings. Still, if one is a believer of “nature” theory, identical twins who are reared in the same environment and exposed to the same social norms and culture should be much more similar in their personalities than they usually are. At the same time, when twins are brought up in different families and even in different cultures, they still share many common traits and talents.

Obviously, both hereditary and social determinants play crucial roles in shaping one’s character, abilities, inclinations, and personality.

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Excessive Dieting and Exercising

Strict Dieting and Excessive Exercising: How Do They Affect Your Health?

Extream Exercising jwilliamsModern people live in stressful times. We are constantly barraged by new information, connected to our devices such as phones and computers, and have too little time for anything else except our jobs and household chores. Realizing the pressure of everyday lives, many people do their best to stay healthy by eating right, exercising regularly, and avoiding bad habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol. However, some people take their healthy habits too far by exercising excessively, adhering to very restrictive diets, or taking too many vitamins and different supplements. Many well-regarded studies have shown that such behavior, instead of making one healthier, might in fact harm one’s well-being.

The United States is a country with one of the highest obesity rates in the world According to 2013 UN report, it ranks second—after Mexico—with 31.8 percent of population being obese. Although in the last few years the obesity growth rate has slowed a little bit, it is still a very alarming issue. Many obese people suffer from a wide array of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and generally bad health which negatively affect the overall economy of the country (lower productivity, higher health costs, etc). As such, it is a very positive development when a person decides to take control of his/her health and embark on a healthy lifestyle. However, one of the main rules one needs to remember is that everything is good in moderation.

For example, if a person eats a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet, he or she rarely needs to consume additional vitamins or supplements because all essential nutrients are already provided by food. According to Cynthia Sass, MPN, RD if one takes an excessive amount of such popular supplements as omega 3 fatty acids, iron, vitamin C, zinc, calcium, to mention just a few, he or she can seriously harm one’s health.

Man Drinking after ExerciseTo illustrate, high levels of omega 3 fatty acids can lead to weakened immune system, too much vitamin C and calcium can cause kidney stones, excessive zinc can cause many undesired effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lowering of bad cholesterol, and excessive iron can build up in tissues and organs such as heart and liver. Consequently, it is much better to commit to eating healthy combination of vegetables, proteins, and good carbs than risk overloading one’s system with unnecessary, and potentially hazardous, nutrients. Very strict diets also negatively affect peoples’ health by depleting their bodies of essential nutrients.

Another extreme behavior to which people become susceptible when trying to living healthfully is excessive exercising. Some people run every day for many miles, others enroll in such demanding fitness programs as CrossFit without being physically prepared for them, and third spend many hours at the gym. Once again, many researchers maintain that health benefits fall dramatically when person puts his or her heart and cardiovascular system under high pressure during strenuous and prolonged exercising. In fact, there are always stories when people collapse or even die when they run marathons, as was a case in Raleigh, NC when two people have died while running Rock’n’Roll half-marathon on April, 13, 2014. Usually, runners’ deaths are cardio-related, as it was in this tragic case.

While everyone should be mindful of their health and committed to eating well-balanced diets, exercising regularly, and avoiding bad habits—one also needs to remember that everything is good in moderation. – Becky Kospanova

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Non-White Oppression

A Tale of Oppression And Suppression of Non White Americans

This story was inspired by a relative of an African American’s sibling’s plight of racism and injustice at the hands of raciest and oppressive law enforcement in southern sates by fabricated and illegally charging them with crimes they did not commit; which still happens to young men and women of color in America today. This creates a minimum wage work force all across urban areas of America. These tactics actually began during the early nineteen century and continues today.

Black Teen Agers

The main affect of this form of discrimination was and is to document and keep youngster of color Americans, from having the same chance to succeed in life as their young white male and female counter parts, simply by adding there names to the criminal systems for the rest of their life’s, even though they committed no crimes; all in a systematic attempt to control and denying many of them the opportunity to vote in elections and provide a low income work force.

Once they are labeled and wrongfully targeted, they are always looked at as criminals by society and that alone hinders their chance of landing top-level jobs and higher education at upper level Collages and Universities. It also keeps these victims in the lower income bracket. Many of these victims end up choosing a life of crime, drug and alcohol abuse as a result of the stigma of being a criminal that was wrongfully place on them early in life.

This systematic way of targeting people of color especially young men has been a mainstay conspiracy outline originally by the decedents of former slave owners nearly two hundred years ago, mostly in the south as a way to help provide a large pool of low wage workers available to southern landowners, after the civil war and the passing of the emancipation law. This conspiracy also has created the largest prison population of any country in the world, with seventy percent of the inmates being people of color, which again as records show also diminish the voting block for that population in favor of the controlling interest and are generally owned by those billionaire’s decedents of slave owners.

unanameergfCheap labor along with preventing voting rights now days or at the forefront of many legislators actions in congress today according to major media outlets, and is considered to be the driving force behind conservative agendas. Many state’s governments leaders allegedly are accused of gerrymandering senate and congressional districts maps in order to control minority voting by legislators, and is under investigation by the US Justice Department, mainly in the south prompted by the midterm elections of 2012. Several states maps were order to be redrawn by federal courts as a result that election according to Associated Press reports.

The GOP controlled house has refused to even consider voting on raising the minimum wage to $10 as requested by President Obama in order to keep their donors, happy and helps secure cheap labor for the corporations they own or control, while quietly approving bills that allow their donors to build more privet prisons.

In America, the prison system is a multi billion business just to house many of these young people who were unjustly force into a life of crime and drugs by the actions of those who swore to protect all citizens. These citizens were left with few outlets to succeed. Gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries to create partisan advantaged districts. The main incentive is to hinder people of color, which is also a way of enslaving people of color both young and old and should never be allowed to happen in America.

America was founded on the belief that all men are created equal as written in the constitution; which means everyone, not just those who were elected and vote on establishing unjust laws for their own benefit, or actions that just benefit their billionaire donors that ultimately allows those same billionaires the opportunities to buy elections.

When American politician and law enforcement personal are ultimately brought to justice for breaching the laws of Americans are found guilty of these atrocities, then and only then, can the oppression and suppression of young people of color be eliminated in America, and truly be the Land of The Free.

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Handwriting a Dying Skill?

Is Handwriting Becoming a Dying Skill?

HandwritingFor centuries, the only way to communicate with people at distances or record one’s thoughts and experiences was to put things in writing. Although it might seem that writing had existed as long as humankind itself, it was certainly not the case. The history of writing is a long and fascinating one, starting with primitive drawings on the walls of caves and rocks and gradually developing all around the world in different forms such as pictographic, hieroglyphs, and finally to the earliest known alphabetical systems such as Proto-Sinaitic, Ugaritic, Egyptian, and Phoenician which were dated to about 3500-3000 years ago. Over the time, the materials for writing have changed, the writing instruments have changed, the subject matters have changed, but the enthrallment of people with writing itself has always been constant.

However, with the astonishing progress of technology in recent years, there is one form of writing that seems to be slowly eroding. It is writing by hand. Modern people are very much connected technologically and seem always to be e-mailing, tweeting, texting, instant messaging, etc. to each other. Surely, there is an occasional note or signature handwritten; but it is an undeniable fact that we all write less and less by hand. Is handwriting need to be preserved nowadays? For example, there is much debate regarding the need to teach our children to write in cursive. Many people argue that cursive, writing can be difficult for elementary level children to master and, as a result, might negatively affect their academic success.

Moreover, many school districts in the USA have voted in favor of teaching of keyboard typing skills than cursive writing. While children still write by hand at schools (though most of them print), they rarely write long compositions and mostly fill in blanks with few short sentences. I know this for a fact. My son, who is a seventh-grader and a very good student, almost does not write by hand. He does most of his work on computer (supposedly, this way school saves a lot of paper and trees), and as such he types at terrific speed but his penmanship is quite poor. Frankly, it saddens me.

Handwritten letters, notes, cards always bring so much more pleasure than anything typed. Somehow, knowing that a person took time to write by hand evokes closer feeling to a writer and the things he or she is writing to you. Not only that, but there were studies (quoted in Martha Stewart’s Living magazine article by Joanne Chen), that have shown, that when people write by hand, their hand movements make them remember the written things better and maybe even become smarter and more creative. For example, when one studies a foreign language, he or she will remember new words and language rules much better if they were written by hand (probably because it makes one to concentrate more than when typing).
Handwriting is gradually becoming more and more marginalized in today’s technology-obsessed world. However, it is a form of art which needs to be preserved because it is so human, personal, and expressive. – Becky Kospanova 

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Ex-Wife & Ex-Husband

unnamedEx-Wife & Ex-Husband

Dear Wife:

I’m writing you this letter to tell you that I’m leaving you for good. I’ve been a good man to you for seven years and I have nothing to show
for it. These last two weeks have been hell. Your boss called to tell me that you had quit your job today and that was the last straw. Last week, you came home and didn’t even notice that I had gotten a new haircut, cooked your favorite meal and even wore a brand new pair of silk boxers. You came home and ate in two minutes, and went straight to sleep after watching all of your soaps. You don’t tell me you love me anymore, you don’t want sex anymore or anything. Either you are cheating or don’t love me anymore. Whatever the case is, I’m gone.

Your Ex-Husband

P.S. Don’t try to find me. Your SISTER and I are moving away to West Virginia together! Have a great life!

Dear Ex-Husband:

Nothing has made my day more than receiving your letter. It’s true that You and I have been married for seven years, although a good man is a
far cry from what you’ve been. I watch my soaps so much because they drown out your constant whining and griping. Too bad that doesn’t work.
I did notice when you got a hair cut last week. The first thing that came to mind was “You look just like a girl!” but my mother raised me not to say anything if you can’t say anything nice. And when you cooked my favorite meal, you must have gotten me confused with MY SISTER, because I stopped eating pork seven years ago. I turned away from you when you had those new silk boxers on because the price tag was still on them. I prayed that it was a coincidence that my sister had just borrowed fifty dollars from me that morning … and your silk boxers were $49.99. After all of this, I still loved you and felt that we could work it out. So when I discovered that I had hit the lotto for ten million dollars, I quit my job and bought us two tickets to Jamaica. But when I got home you were gone. Everything happens for a reason, I guess. I hope you have the fulfilling life you always wanted. My lawyer said that with the letter you wrote, you won’t get a dime from me. So take care.
Signed

Rich as Hell and Free!

P.S. I don’t know if I ever told you this but Carla, my sister, was born Carl. I hope that’s not a problem!

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2014: The Year of Women in Politics?

Women in PoliticsOn November 4, 2014, midterm elections will be held in the United States where all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives; 33 out of 100 seats in the United States Senate (plus three more seats up for special election); as well as 38 state and territorial governorships and 46 state legislatures will be contested. The main question for most people is whether the Democrats will be able to keep their majority in the Senate because it would determine the policies of American government to a great extent in a foreseeable future. However, there is another exciting development related to it because the upcoming elections present an unprecedented opportunity for more women than ever to rise to political power.

Many political analysts predict that there is a real chance to change the traditionally male-dominated American political landscape to one where more women will have a real chance to impact the country’s politics. It is a well-known, albeit disconcerting, fact that although American women represent more than 51 percent of voting public, they still hold only about 20 percent of political positions. However, some influential political positions are contested by women this year, which can make a difference on how the political process will proceed in the country.

For example, for the first time in the history of West Virginia, there are two female contenders for a Congress seat this year: Natalie Tennant (D) versus Shelley Moore Capito (R) (Capito is predicted to be a winner at the moment). In Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) is running for a Congress seat against Mitch McConnell (R), although she is facing an uphill battle in a predominantly Republican state. Terri Lynn Land, Former Secretary of State in Michigan, is one of those who holds a lot of hope for a Republican party to win the position after Carl Levin had retired. And, of course, there are media favorites such as Susana Martinez, New Mexico’s first female governor who is surely a force to be watched; Elizabeth Warren, Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, who became popular after airing her views at such shows as Jon Stewart; and Mia Love, who potentially can become the first black female Republican in Congress and the first person of color to represent Utah. There are many women candidates running for Governor of states, like Wendy Davis (D) Texas, across the US as well which is sure to change the political landscape.

Why women can make better politicians? Although it may be politically incorrect to say so, but women are more flexible, better attuned to other person’s view, and are more willing to compromise. If one considers low poll rates for an American government at the moment, women can provide new hope for people. The ability of women politicians to achieve results was well demonstrated during the shutdown of the American government. Out of fourteen senators of the bipartisan committee which worked out the compromise, six were women (which is very impressive considering the number of women there overall), and they delivered. The shutdown was discussed, debated, and ultimately resolved. Such is a power of women: discuss, listen, consider, compromise and deliver. – Becky Kospanova

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Child Free Lifestyle on the Rise

To Have or Not to Have: Childfree Lifestyle is on the Rise

bbbbbOne of the most frequent questions any married couple receives is, “Do you have kids?” and if the answer is negative, the inevitable follows, “So, when are planning to start having kids?” It is not surprising, of course. For centuries, marriage and parenthood were practically synonymous and—provided a couple did not have fertility issues—it was taken for granted that at some point they would have children. However, nowadays more and more people make a conscious decision not to have any children. For example, Pew Research Center found out that the value of having children in order to have a fulfilling relationship is gradually declining over years. To illustrate, 65% of people in 1990 agreed that children were important to relationship, but in 2007 only 41% did so. Consequently, nowadays every one out of five women of childbearing age does not have a child compared to one out of ten in 1970s (US Census Bureau).

What are the main reasons which make capable and, most of the times, financially secure couples forego the notion of parenthood? As with any human behavior, there is a plentitude of explanations. Sometimes, there is a relatively simple one such as unwillingness to pass genetic diseases. Modern level of medical science enables us to predict whether our children will inherit some diseases which are incurable; therefore, people can make a responsible decision not to risk to have a child with a potentially devastating disease.

Still, the majority of people who decide not to have children in committed relationships are perfectly healthy and driven by other considerations. Some of them are: concern about overpopulation; unwillingness to bring a child into a world where there are so many political, environmental, and societal problems; taking care of elderly or sick parents or other relatives which does not leave much time for children; financial constraints; unwillingness to jeopardize their careers; fear of pressure childcare might take on a relationship with a significant other; lack of patience when it comes to children; having bad childhoods and consequent fear of being inadequate parents themselves; unwillingness to pass on freedom childlessness allows and such.

aaaaThere is a certain stigma many people, especially women, carry if they decide to not have a child. They are often considered to be selfish and self-centered when compared to their counterparts with children. However, numerous studies have shown that while conventional wisdom dictates that children bring happiness to parents, things might be in fact different. Quite often, people without children report better satisfaction with the quality of their lives than people with children. For example, they have more money because childrearing is expensive; they are able to do many things such as traveling, working more hours, having time to pursue their hobbies and volunteering; they are able to focus on their partners more and, subsequently, have better relationships; and they are generally less stressed than people with children.

In the end, it is a very personal decision to have or not to have a child. While children, undeniably, bring a lot to a person’s life, some are just better without them. Given the current rate of population growth in the world, we are not in any danger of extinction, and as such we should be more tolerant and accepting of those who decide to be childfree. – Becky Kospanova

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Cohabitation vs. Marriage

Cohabitation vs. Marriage: What Is Your Choice?

Couples Living Togeather 3Just a few decades ago it was socially and culturally unacceptable, or at least frowned upon, for couples to live together without being officially married. However, nowadays it is not only a common occurrence, but the trend is actually on the rise. For example, there were about half a million unmarried couples living together in 1960, by 2000 there were about 4.75 million unmarried couples, and by 2013 the number of such unions grew to a little bit over an eight million (which is an astonishing 1500 percent increase over the last half a century). What are the reasons for such a change and what impact does it have on a society as a whole?

One of the biggest reasons for such a change was the shift in cultural and societal norms in the country, starting with sexual revolution and the introduction of birth control pill. People felt liberated and the previously rigid norms of societal conduct became more fluid. Consequently, more and more couples felt that it was perfectly acceptable, and even advantageous, to cohabit, i.e. to share household and have intimate relationship without being officially married. For example, according to National Marriage Project report from 2002, “In recent representative national surveys nearly 66% of high school senior boys and 61% of the girls indicated that they “agreed” or “mostly agreed” with the statement “it is usually a good idea for a couple to live together before getting married in order to find out whether they really get along.” Thus, not only society as a whole became more open to the idea of cohabitation, but the belief that cohabitation is actually a more progressive form of family life which allows the couples to make sure that they are truly compatible before getting married became firmly entrenched.

Couples Living Togeather 2However, the evidence shows otherwise. According to National Marriage Project, couples which cohabitate report less satisfaction with the quality of shared life than their married counterparts; they break up more often and more easily; if they eventually get married, the rate of divorce among those who cohabitated previously to getting married is 46 percent higher than among those who did not cohabitate before the marriage; and it has an adverse effect on children. Why does it happen? Some researchers have suggested that people who decide to cohabitate rather than marry may already have lower commitment levels to their partners and, therefore, are more likely the end their relationship if something does not go the way they want. It holds especially true for those who cohabitate multiple times because they become more “habituated” to the idea of abandoning the relationship at the sight of trouble. In contrast, married couples are usually committed to long-term relationships and are decidedly more willing to find solutions to their problems such as improving their communication, seeking counsel, etc. Also, it has been suggested that when people choose to cohabitate, they do not apply the same criteria to their partners which they would have applied if they were choosing a marriage partner. Without a clear long-term commitment, people often get involved with “good-enough” partners, thus further diminishing the perspective of long-term and stable relationship.

Does it mean that cohabitation is a bad idea? Certainly not when approached with a right attitude and realistic expectations. The research has shown that when a couple decides to cohabit for a short period of time as a step to marriage, the rate of divorce is not higher than among those who did not cohabit. Of course, the idea that the cohabitation will surely lead to marriage needs to be clearly understood, articulated, and accepted by both involved parties.  – Becky Kospanova

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Micro-Apartments: Yes Or No?

2013-WRThere seems to be a new movement growing n the USA; people, especially in big cities, are downsizing and starting to live in very small apartments and houses. Primarily, it is an economical decision because rent rates tend to be very high in large cities such as New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles and smaller dwellings look like a good option for budget-conscious renters. Moreover, it seems to work the best for single people who spend most of their time at work and socialize outside. Many of the buildings with micro-apartments offer communal amenities such as gyms, media rooms, and outside recreational areas which provide the tenants with an opportunity to meet their neighbors and socialize.

Is it a movement which will catch up? Worldwide, people live in places which are much smaller than what an average American is used to, especially in such countries as Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, India, Japan, and China. But, the question stands whether the American public ready for such a downsizing? As such, there were many reports which claim that living in small quarters might lead to depression, substance abuse, and domestic abuse; moreover, children who grow up in smaller places might develop learning disabilities. According to Susan Saegert, a director of Housing Environments Research Group, children who live in small apartments “can end up becoming withdrawn and have trouble studying and concentrating.” However, such claims need to be studied more because the experience proves them otherwise. After all, school children of Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and other countries routinely outperform their American counterparts in all the school tests; and the lack of space does not seem to adversely affect them.

Moreover, life in smaller places can also mean being more environmentally friendly because one simply spends less energy and leaves smaller carbon print when living in a micro-apartment. If the culture of competing with Joneses was considered outdated, many of Americans might have well agreed to live smaller because it would save them money and effort. – Becky Kospanova

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2013 – A Look Back

2013: Looking Back at What Was Happening

2013-WRThe 2013 year was a year full of events: from serious ones such as the U.S. government shutdown, contentious introduction of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or commonly known as ObamaCare), and a NSA spying scandal to some rather silly ones such as perplexing popularity of “twerking” incessantly perpetuated by the infamous Miley Cyrus, the widespread posting of “selfies” which once again brought down former governor of New York Eliot Spitzer, and the unfortunate drug habit of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Of course, some of the biggest news of the past year was happening in political realm. A lot of people were dismayed, but probably not very surprised to learn that the U.S. government spied not only on its citizens but also on many foreign nationals. Edward Snowden, a former NSA employer leaked the facts about it; as a result, he was forced to seek political asylum in Russia. Of course, it did not add to the popularity of the government. Gallup poll—a well-regarded outlet to observe the nation’s feelings—demonstrated that job approval rate for Congress was 12 % in December, a slightly higher number from an abysmally low 9% job approval rate in November, 2013. All in all, 2013 annual job approval rate for Congress was 14 %, or the lowest one since Gallup started taking the poll in 1974. Similarly, Obama’s job approval rate is rather uninspiring; according to Gallup poll, it was 40 % in December 2013.

One of the biggest controversies introduced by the President Obama and which negatively affected his popularity to a large degree was the ObamaCare, the universal health insurance plan for the Americans, which led to the government shutdown in October 2013. While many critics argued that the plan was “socialist” and run against the values of market competition deeply ingrained in the USA, ObamaCare provided a major help (aside from Medicare and Medicaid) for many Americans who could not afford health insurance before. As such, Americans might take a little longer to appreciate the value of ObamaCare, but it still was an undeniably big step for the government.

Of course, there was much other news that dominated the media in 2013. There were tragedies such as Boston Marathon Bombing, death of Nelson Mandela, devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, and wildfires in California, but also the stories of human achievement and perseverance such as the recognition by the Supreme Court of the right of gay marriage, Pope Francis’s encouraging acts which showed that Catholic Church is becoming more accepting, and the actions of many regular people who were kind and considerate to their countrymen (a cop buying shoes for a homeless person, a waitress buying a meal for government worker’s meal, and numerous donations to sick and poor).

What can be learned from looking back at 2013? Probably, the most important lesson is that people of all stations in life make history. One does have to be rich or famous to show a little kindness, compassion, and love. – Becky Kospanova

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Timeless Classics Reggae/World

HousTone Records Announces The Release Of
Timeless Classics Volume III Reggae/World January 15th, 2014

Timeless-Classics-Vol-III-Reggae-World-Vol. III Reggae/World is a collection of Gold and Platinum songs recorded, by reggae stars and undiscovered artist from around the world. There are many people around the world that enjoy and listen to reggae; but many others that have not really listen to reggae music, mostly because they cannot understand the music and what the artist is singing. That is no longer a problem as Reggae/World features all well-known songs performed by Reggae and World artist from around the world. This CD is great for theme pool parties or just enjoying the great vibes and feeling that Reggae and World music offers from songs you know.

For more than 25 years HousTone Records has released LP/CDs, from the fields of Rock, Jazz, Classical, Blues, Country, New Age, Reggae, World Beat and R & B. One of the key elements in HousTone Records signing, processing, selecting and distributing artist’s products is, the artist must agreed to record for the CD two well known cover songs. This allows the artist music to be judge by fans for the talent they have, from the music they know.

UB40, Bunny Wailer, Big Mountain, Shaggy, Little Kirk, Aswad, Dennis Brown, Sammy Levi, Fauzi & Tribo De Jah, Johnny Dread, Tony Tribe, Fugees, Mikey Spice are just some of the artist on the Timeless Classics Vol. III Reggae/World compilation.

Hear their versions of some of your all time favorite songs like No Woman No Cry, Man In The Mirror, Me And Mrs. Jones, Ribbon In The Sky, What A Wonderful World, Now That We’ve Found Love, Girl From Ipanema, Wings Of Love, Killing Me Softly, Roxanne and many other million selling hits featured, on Timeless Classics Vol. III Reggae/World CD.

ABOUT:
HousTone Records does not except unsolicited material. Artist can submit a request to have, 3 songs reviewed and one of the three must be a well-known cover song. Submit request by E-mail only but hard copy promo package must be sent by regular mail only.

HousTone Records: Making a difference by Marketing, Recording and Distributing One Act at a Time!

PO Box 8305-Houston, Texas 77288
PH: 713-866-4009, EXT 2
E-Mail info@HousToneRecords.com
www.HousToneRecords.com

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