Category Archives: FEATURED

The Religion Of Bob Marley, The Rastafarian Movement

Bob Marley Crop 9th Logo1The Rastafarian movement was born in Jamaica in 1930 when news of the crowning of Ras Tafari (Haile Selassie) as King of Ethiopia, attracted the attention of various Jamaicans who had been to some extent influenced by Marcus Garvey.   Haile Selassie is known to be JAH because of his direct descendancy to King Menelik, (son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba) and King David and because of his inherited title, King of Kings, Lord of Lord, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, which identifies him as the living JAH whose coming was foretold in the Bible, Psalm 68.4, Revelation 5:2-5, 19:16, 22:16,

Various persons connected Garvey’s prophecies of the crowning of a black king who would deliver black people from their oppressors, with certain biblical passages that confirmed to them that Selassie was indeed the Messiah.

Interestingly, these persons are said to have reached this conclusion quite independently of each other.

Among the key figures in this birth of the Rastafarian philosophy were Leonard P. Howell, Joseph Nathaniel Hibbert, H. Archibald Dunkley and Robert Hinds. All were ministers, who formed separate groups based on this revelation.

Howell is the man most credited with the initial spreading of the Rastafarian way of life.  He was a well-travelled man and was reported to have fought on African soil and to have command of several African languages.

Howell had stationed himself for a period of time in North America where the social ravages of racism were common practice.  This directed his intent in working for necessary reforms.  He began his ministry in the slums of Western Kingston, Jamaica. Continue reading The Religion Of Bob Marley, The Rastafarian Movement

Share

Interracial Marriages in the USA


Interracial MarriagesWhile it might seem implausible today, but not until very long ago it was illegal to marry someone from a different race in the United States. Only on June 12, 1967 in the landmark case Loving vs. Virginia, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously ruled that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional. As the court stated, “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not to marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.” With that ruling, many people were finally free to marry whomever they wanted—no matter their race and ethnic background—with no fear of being legally prosecuted for their actions.

19MIXEDRACE1113Anti-miscegenation laws were adopted in the United States since 1660s—first in Virginia and Maryland and later in all the original thirteen states—to prohibit people from entering into interracial (i.e. between white and non-white people, mostly blacks, but sometimes Native Americans and Asians) marriages, sex, and cohabitation. As a trial judge in Lovings vs. Virginia case asserted, “Almighty God created the races of White, Black, Yellow, Malay, and Red… and He placed them on separate continents…And but for the interference with His arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages…The fact that He separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” As such, the sentiment against interracial marriage ran deep within the American population, especially in the South. For example, in 1958 Gallup polls as many as 96 percent of white Americans were against interracial marriage. However, starting in the 1960s this attitude started to change and today we have a society in which interracial marriages are no longer taboos.

interracial-marriageAccording to 2010 census, almost 15 percent of marriages in the United States were interracial. There are many configurations of interracial marriages in the country, some of which are more prevalent and some are less so. For example, 9.4 percent of whites, 17.1 percent of blacks, 25.7 percent of Hispanics and 27.7 percent of Asian
s married someone outside their race. Some of the combinations are more prevalent while others are rarer (for example, white male/asian or black female are much more prevalent than asian male/black female). In any case, given the melting pot which the United States is made of, it is not surprising that interracial marriages are on the rise.

Aarathi3.jpgInterracial marriage is still a hot topic for many people. Whether you are pro- or against them, there is a good chance that you will encounter different races’ couple in the course of your life. No matter what one’s beliefs are, one needs to be respectful and treat interracial couples no different from others. Today, when the boundaries between ethnicities and races become more and more obsolete, one can envision a future where race and nationality do not play a role at all. In The Time Will Come That Everyone On Earth Will Be A Shade Of “Beautiful Beige”

Share

Community College: Is It for You?

Howard_Community_College_QuadHigh cost of college education in the USA is a subject of concern for the majority of ordinary people. According to the College Board, an average price for an in-state public college in 2013-2014 was about $ 22,826 and an average cost for private college was about $44,000. Compounded by rising cost of living, troubled economy and unclear job perspectives, college education can become an unattainable dream for many people.

However, there are many reasons for getting a college degree: the main one is that, on average, a four-year college graduate earns $ 800,000 more than a high school graduate by the retirement age. As such, it is certainly better to explore your educational opportunities and maybe consider less expensive options such as community colleges, on-line educational institutions, and such.

Many people believe that the quality of education one receives at a community college is much more inferior to the one at four-year colleges and thus is not worth the effort and time. Also, there are many additional negative stereotypes associates with community colleges such as that only those who could not get into a four-year college resort to them; if you decide to transfer to a four-year college, only few transfers will be allowed; quality of teachers is much worse; and that community colleges provide little benefits career-wise.

615_Harvard_Geneticist_Professor_ReutersHowever, if one approaches the decision to attend community college with due diligence, he or she can certainly be assured that they can present an excellent basis for a lifetime of gainful employment and good earnings. First of all, the cost of attending community college is much less than the one associated with four-year colleges (generally, it is about tenth of the amount). Also, community colleges offer greater flexibility and students can work full-time while taking classes—another huge financial incentive.

Besides, many people who attend community colleges are already living close-by thus saving the cost of living at the dorms, etc., which can be quite expensive in many areas of the country. However, the excitement of living on campus is something many students look forward to; but on the other hand, there are fewer distractions from studying when one lives at home. Continue reading Community College: Is It for You?

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

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

Share

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.

Share

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 

Share

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!

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share