Thursday, December 31, 2009

Whatever Makes the News

by Jourdan Cameron

A short while ago I started hearing about a certain man in a car accident; his wife had rescued him from the wreck with a golf club and he was mostly unharmed. Later I heard that this man had cheated on his wife with various women. This story, while indeed a sad one, is indeed common throughout the world. Yet, I heard this story over, and over, and over through media outlets major and minor for weeks on end. So what was the big deal?
The man's name was, as you likely guessed, was Tiger Woods; known to many as the world's best golfer, known to some as a friend, and to one as simply Daddy.

One night, as I watched the news, there was a short blurb about a woman murdered before her children. They mentioned her name and I heard my mother gasp. I felt the food in my stomach turn to cold, wet sand as she clenched her hand across her mouth to keep from screaming and began to cry. She explained that the victim was an old friend of hers. I felt nauseous, and looked back up at the television. As quickly as the story started, it stopped. The anchors quickly turned to the news of rumors about Tiger Woods marital infidelity, and I simply wanted to vomit, as they spent several minutes on what a few people said they did with the man.
I sat back and began to think; how can something so hideous and horrific as a woman gruesomely slain before her children's eyes be of less importance than a man cheating on his wife? Why does everybody across the nation seem to know about and actually care about what he did, while the information about the poor murdered woman only receives limited, local coverage?
It's a travesty known as Mass Media.
Things of real gravity are drowned out by what's known as sensationalism. The Mass Media could truly be used as a source for good, like making a point of highlighting environmental issues and what you can do to help, or encouraging non-violence in life, etc.
Instead, we're stuck hearing things that won't be of any use too us (or things that don't even concern us, for that matter).

So what do I recommend? Quit taking it. Inform media outlets that you dislike how they give very little importance to the things that are important, and that you'd like them to change.
Encourage people to make their own news (see Wikinomics and for more on the matter) and do so yourself! If there's a local issue you'd like to see covered, don't be afraid to write an article and take it down to your local newspapers, and maybe even publish it on your blog.
Lastly, don't give up.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

by Jourdan Cameron

I’ve heard much about the critically acclaimed Dune series- people’s reactions ranging from ‘total nerd fodder’ to ‘the best thing since War of the Worlds’. So I thought I’d take a peek inside the Dune universe to see what all the excitement was about. Initially, I had difficulty finding a single book anywhere in the library- I wanted to scream. How could a series of bestselling novels be nowhere within my library? I refused to panic, however, and headed to the nearest computer. As fate would have it, the books did, in fact, exist within my library- I was in the wrong place, however, as it turned out, I totally overlooked the fiction section (which, in my defense, was on the other side of the library). My own issues aside, I’d like to get inside the book. I picked up a copy of Dune: The Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, which was written quite some while after the original Dune by Frank Herbert. In case you’re wondering, the author of the original books had a son (Brian) who co-wrote several new books with Anderson.

The said, The Butlerian Jihad was written to serve as a prequel of sorts to the rest of the Dune series. What’s interesting is that, out of all the possible books, I chose that one at random and it turned out to be the first in a series of several books by Herbert and Anderson.

So what did I think of The Butlerian Jihad? For starters, it was brilliant. Through a properly winding plot, memorable characters, a pinch of irony and a heaping cupful of action, this book is most definitely one I’d recommend to just about anybody, regardless of their general opinion regarding science fiction, because it goes far deeper than that, touching on sociopolitical issues, prejudice of various sorts, the environment, and, as if to make Shakespeare proud, goes rather deeply into the dilemmas that the characters face, in their loyalties, misgivings, and naturally, relationships.

Going back into the sci-fi portion, this is, naturally, an epic book (Dune! This made sci-fi HISTORY! What kind of sci-fi fan doesn’t know that?!) and I particularly appreciate how they incorporated a bit of science fact (although I can’t quite say how lest I spoil the ending) along the lines of ecology.

In all, I can certainly recommend this one, regardless of if you like science fiction or not.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Join the Club!

It’s a very exclusive group- not many make it there, but the rewards are great, of epic proportions, in fact. So what’s it called?

Ben Sherwood likes to call it The Survivors Club, which just so happens to be the title of his excellent book. TSC is about real stories of real people in difficult- and potentially deadly situations, and how they survived them. Along the way, Mr. Sherwood not teach you how to stay alive. He will, however, enlighten you on the right attitude to maintain in order to get through a dangerous situation and live to tell the tale.

The first story is that of a girl who had impaled her heart with a knitting needle- and hadn’t even noticed! This book has many other interesting stories- all of them true. What’s really striking, though, is that the focus of the book isn’t quite on techniques good for survival (although in the book some are demonstrated) but it pays more attention to your outlook, and makes you examine yourself in ways you don’t really think about. For example, do you fit within the group of people that, in an emergency, will become statuesque, simply paralyzed, not necessarily with fear so much as with shock over the situation? A great number of people do. Or, even worse, you become panicked and hysterical, screaming and blubbering and not really making any attempt to alleviate the situation. But then, there’s that elite few who will stop, look around, and figure out just what they can do to help, aiding others and making themselves of use. This book will not show you exactly how to join that few. That’s for you to do. But, it will set you off on the right trail- the one that leads to a surviving attitude. But, it’s up to you, the reader, to follow it.

In all, I can recommend this book, it makes some very interesting connections that hook the seemingly mundane and everyday to out-of-this-world survival ‘secrets’ that Sherwood has simply thrown out into the open. What have your initials to do with your lifespan? How about things you look forward to, or your handedness? This books lays it all out.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Catching Fire

Spoiler Warning: Please do not proceed if you haven't read the book and don't want to know how it ends! See here for the review of The Hunger Games.

Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Many say that sequels disappoint and in most cases, they're right.
This, however, is not one of those cases.
Catching Fire, the riveting sequel to The Hunger Games, has retained all the character, emotion, and heart-stopping thrill of the original- and then some. In this brilliant book, Katniss has returned home to District 12. But things haven't returned to normal. In fact, a storm seems to be brewing over Panem, and another inside her heart.
Gale has gone to work in the mines, and seems to be upset over something. Katniss' family and friends are now being threatened by President Snow (her berry stunt may cause an uprising- something that have far reaching consequences) and to top it all off, she has to marry Peeta and convince Snow- and all of Panem that the handful of berries was the act of a pair of desperate lovers, not an act of rebellion.
All in all ,this book was simply incredible. From start to finish Suzanne Collins has managed to somehow glue your hands to the book because you will find yourself incapable of putting it down.
Again, she has maintained perfect balance in the storyline, and makes progress in all the right places. She has also put surprises right where they belong- where you don't expect them- and has been able to keep you from being bombarded.
In all, the book deserves 5 stars!

See also:
Participate in discussions about the series, an up-to-date blog, and have fun in general related to The Hunger Games.
The Official Website of the author, Suzanne Collins