Books Everyone Should Read

by Sandro Gvaramia

Image via Marshall Sellers

Good books can change you drastically and help you become a better person. They change how you look at and understand things and make you think differently. Everything you read fills your head with new bits of information. When people read books, they tend to interpret and visualize everything in their heads. Books affect your emotions and some people feel as if they have lost a friend when there’s no more pages to read. No matter where you come from, what language you speak, or what religion you do or do not practice, good books can affect you and those effects can last forever.

Here are books that I believe everyone should read at least once in their lifetime. Not because they have fantastic plots or unique literary devices, but are universal and timeless in the feelings they evoke within us.

1. ‘The Catcher in the Rye’
If taken too literally, it can seem like a slightly stupid book. It is an American classic and speaks for a generation. A generation that did not want to grow up. As the world is growing up around us, we are slowly exposed to the reality of relationships, hardships, adulthood, and a realization that our mothers and fathers will not be around forever. Everything that made our childhoods magical will come to an end at some point in our lives. Along with that comes the later realization that this is not a bad thing because every good thing has an ending.

The main character is a teenager named Holden who thinks that his life could not get any worse. Growing up he struggled in school even though he was a bright kid. He is a deeply polarizing character; you either think he is a rebel or a whiner. A lot of us are like Holden, at times we feel alienated. We tend to be stuck in our own idea of things and anyone who thinks differently or is more shallow than us, is a phony. At the same time, there are people we would do anything for and whose approval we relentlessly seek. Back when this book was published, there were a rarity of books that dealt with the lives of teens which made it an unique perspective.

2. ‘1984’ by George Orwell
The book was written in 1949 in a fashionable style for that era- revolutionary for its time. It predicted a dystopia with a bleak view of the future. It brought together many political strands such as Nazism, Communism, and Fascism and took them to their logical conclusion: a totalitarian state which controls every aspect of people’s lives, even their most private thoughts, desires and feelings.

3. ‘Persepolis’ by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis is about Iran. Marjane Satrapi points out in her introduction that Iran’s story is one that many people think they understand, but they don’t. It is a story often told in terms of violence and religious extremism, but the people of Iran and their stories are so much more than what we see on the news.

The book tells the other side of Iran’s story, that of mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers – decent people caught in a country that is continually torn apart and put back in new challenging ways.
You should read Persepolis to better understand the world around you, to understand that all over the world, despite the religion, race or age, there are good people everywhere you go.

4. ‘Norwegian Wood’ by Haruki Murakami.
The book takes place in the 60s in Japan and tells a story of a young man, Toru Watanabe, who finds himself involved in a tragic situation when his best friend commits suicide. It is a beautiful and captivating story with compelling characters.

5. ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ by Philip Dick.
This is a sci-fi book, written in 1968. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco, where Earth’s life has been greatly damaged by a nuclear global war. It follows a story of a man called ‘Blade Runner’, who is assigned to find and bring back the Nexus-6 Model Androids. The novel explores the issue of what it is to be human and whether or not empathy is a purely human ability.

Responsible Pet Owners Month

Image Via Natural Dog Company

by Lucy Maldonado

February was national Responsible Pet Owners Month. Many people have pets they love and care for, especially here at Rockwell.

Throughout time, dogs have been by our side. Science has proven that dogs were domesticated about 40,000 years ago. The domestication of dogs was probably one of the most heart warming events for humans. It is quite ironic that the dependents of an animal that we once feared the most, the wolf, would one day become one of our greatest allies.

Many students and faculty here at Rockwell love their pets and consider them an important part of their family.

“My family fosters dogs.” said Rockwell freshman Grace Maw. “I like it because they’re so cute and it feels great to give them a new home. It’s fun to take care of cute, little animals.”

Taking proper care of pets is something Responsible Pet Owners Month focuses on.

“Take your dogs for walks and let them go outside a lot,” said Rockwell junior Ruby Hernandez. “Keeping your dog isolated is not good for their health.”

Properly training pets is another way to become more responsible pet owners.

“I haven’t had a pet in a long time,” said Rockwell’s music teacher Ms. Larsen. “But training them is a big thing you can do for your pet.”

Giving your pet time and love is another thing Responsible Pet Owners Month focuses on. These pets are a part of your family and they have proved time and time again that they will love you for who you are. There’s a reason dogs (and cats) are often referred to as “man’s best friend.”

For more information on being a responsible pet owner, visit http://www.avma.org.

The importance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day today and every day

Image via Getty Images

by Kaya Garza

As Black History Month comes to an end, we reflect upon the sacrifices Dr. King and similar activists made in the 1960s ultimately led to the success of the Civil Rights Movement, but many believe that it’s still far from over.

We should all believe that.

The United States has a stained history regarding African-American liberation and equality, and it has continually progressed through many eras and presidencies. From slavery and segregation to Reagan’s War on Drugs that led to mass incarcerations of minorities, more specifically that of African-Americans. This conduit of oppression has a particular cadence, one that lingers despite strenuous efforts to abolish it. Many Americans truly believe racism isn’t a problem, considering the former African-America President, Barack Obama, and comprehensive education that teaches our children from a young age that racism is a giant mistake on behalf of our country. One that we must never make again.

But here’s the catch: just because we recognize racism as a nation certainly does not mean we’ve mitigated it enough. Racism has effectively become political: if you condemn police brutality, you are now anti-police. If you condemn the media for a lack of representation, you are a millennial liberal who grew up offended by everything. If you condemn our prison system, you are “soft on crime“ and “soft on drugs”.Black activists are often portrayed as anti-America because if you condemn these things, you’re a radical and extremist.

Colin Kaepernick is a perfect example of this: he kneeled peacefully during an NFL game, protesting racial injustice in our country. Members of extreme right-wing think tanks and media outlets reprimanded Kaepernick, accusing him of being unpatriotic and disrespectful towards our veterans. Then a small minority of Black Lives Matter activists broke a couple of windows. An action explicitly condemned by the group leaders. Isn’t it odd that they get angry about both forms of protest? It seems like they simply find the protesting unnecessary.

“That’s what America is built upon,” said Rockwell senior Marshall Sellers. “It’s the right of the people to protest peacefully and stand up for what they believe in. Even if that means sitting.”

So how does this translate and coincide with Martin Luther King Jr Day?

Perhaps we can look back on how Dr. King and other activists were treated by political figures and members of the media. They condemned him, called him a communist, ridiculed his efforts. Now, he has a monument in our nation‘s Capital.

We have to understand as a nation that protest is the cornerstone of our sovereignty, and has led to the guarantees afforded to us by our Constitution. A protest is not un-American, it is actually quite the opposite. Having the right to fight for your rights is the most American thing I can think of. Let’s take some time to consider why we still must protest, and to defend our country’s minorities. The importance of Dr. King‘s holiday will never be diminished, no matter who may disrespect modern day Civil Rights activists. That fight is far from over.

Movie Review: Black Mirror – Bandersnatch

by Nutsa Javakhadze

On December 28, Netflix released their psychological thriller Bandersnatch in the anthology series Black Mirror. The film does not disappoint.

Black Mirror is known for its dark social commentary. The series is critical of society’s dependence on technology, arguing that soon it will strip us of our humanity and in extreme cases, make us care more about robots than we do about actual people. This idea is explored in one of the episodes, where the main character falls in love with an AI.

“If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side effects? This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set,” said creator Charlie Brooker regarding the show’s name. “The ‘black mirror’ of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand; the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.”

Bandersnatch carries the same cynical attitude towards the digital age, but what makes it different from its predecessors is its interactivity. The Netflix original is a movie game, where the viewer gets to make decisions and choose their own adventure. The choices are innocent at first – deciding what kind of cereal the main character should have or what kind of music he should listen to.

Gradually, however, the options get darker and darker.
The plot revolves around programmer Stefan (Fionn Whitehead), who aims to develop a video game based on the choose-your-own-adventure book Bandersnatch. Its writer, Jerome F. Davies, is a controversial author regarded as a genius in his genre who later murders his own wife, convinced that she had been controlling him. As the story progresses, we start to see similarities between him and Stefan. Just like him, the main character starts to believe that he is not in control of his decisions, that someone is making them for him. Depending on the choices the viewer makes, the ending of the film varies. All of them, however, feature Stefan’s descent into madness.

“I think it was a really interesting idea,” said Rockwell sophomore Sandro Gvaramia. “The plot was really intriguing and I kept watching it over and over to see what endings I would get.”

Bandersnatch is a much more ambitious project than anything Black Mirror has ever created. The series is filled with meta-commentary and skepticism of free will. The release is a must-watch for anyone who likes psychological thrillers and conspiracy theories.

Check out the series trailer below:

School Shootings: What’s the solution?

by Katie Hull

Image via Washington Times

As school shootings happen more and more frequently, people are looking harder and harder for different solutions to the problem. Most of the time people disagree with the one and agree with the other and so nothing is happening. It’s almost impossible to come up with a solution that pleases everybody. But something needs to be done. Innocent people are getting mowed down for no logical purpose. It needs to stop. A few of the most popular ideas brought up to solve this problem is stricter gun control laws, arming teachers with guns, arming schools with security guards and encouraging more mental health awareness. The most heavily topics debated are the first three. Most people seem to agree that there needs to be more mental health awareness. But no one is doing anything to accomplish this.

At this point in time, gun control laws are pretty relaxed. It is not difficult to get a gun, not even a military grade gun. The process does not require very intimate scannings. And it is fairly simple for someone to legally purchase a gun with mental health problems or a vendetta . There are twelve states where you allowed to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. Some states you can get a AR-15 in a matter of 15 minutes. You can walk in, fill out some paperwork, and walk out with a weapon capable of a mass shooting. Most of the time you are required to do a background check, but this doesn’t prevent someone planning an attack. The Parkland Florida school shooting ended up with 17 people dead. The gun was purchased legally. The Sante Fe Texas school shooting resulted with 10 dead and 13 injured. The gun was purchased legally. More than 75% of the guns that are used in mass shootings are purchased legally. Nothing has changed. Gun laws have not gotten stricter. It is no harder to get a gun than it was 5 years ago.

Arming schools are another way that is brought up to solve these problems. President Trump suggested this himself. This would mean giving teachers guns so that they can defend their students and protect themselves. Some people agree that this is the best way because you would be fighting fire with fire. There are many people that disagree because they are worried about the immaturity of students. They are worried that the guns would be easily accessible. If this were to happen, the government would have to pay for all of these guns, as well as provide basic firearm training for the teachers. If the government were you able to get the guns on a discounted price the least it would be is 180 million dollars. If they weren’t able to get the guns on a discounted price, the price would be closer to 1 billion dollars including ammunition, training, and the guns.

Increasing security at schools could be considered the middle ground between these other two ideas. It doesn’t make stricter gun laws and it doesn’t put students in classrooms with guns. metal detectors are something that are commonly discussed when talking about increasing security in schools. The government has come out and said that if schools were to look at getting metal detectors a reasonably priced one would be approximately $4,000 to $5,000. If this also includes a security guard, they usually are about $10 to $12 an hour. So for the security guard to be there for a week, all day, this would be about $2,000. Of course, some people still believe that this would not stop a determined shooter. But is it worth it to make the kids feel safer, as well as the parents feel safer?

Rockwell can be the change. We can use our voices to inspire change. We can be a fighting force instead of laying down and watching these shootings happen. You can make a difference. Speak out against these injustices.

How to Save the Earth

by Katie Hull

Image via Zastavki.com

There are so many things we do to this planet that can only be construed as destructive. We choose to put toxic gasses into our atmosphere and dump thousands of pounds of garbage and plastic into our oceans. 100,000 marine mammals die from plastic each year. The Worldwide Health Organization estimates that 4.6 million people die from direct causes related to pollution. How long are we going to let this go on?

Rockwell students could help. We could make a difference. Some of the top ways to save the environment are ways that you wouldn’t think. They are simple, easy and cost effective.

  1. Reduce the amount of meat you eat. Scientists have found that red meat is responsible for 10 to 40 times as many emissions as greenhouses! This doesn’t mean getting completely rid of meat. But if you simply reduce the amount you eat you could start helping the environment.
  2. Reduce the amount of paper in your life. Almost everyone, if not all of us, have phone or access to a computer. 40% of the worlds trees that are being cut down is being used for paper.
  3. Reuse water bottles. Or even better, don’t use plastic bottles. Spend the money on a five dollar water bottle and reuse it. Over all you will spend less money then buying single water bottles that cost give or take a couple bucks.
  4. Don’t throw away just anything. Recycle when you can. Kitchen scraps can be used in gardens as fertilizer.
  5. Take notice of how much water you use. Try not to overuse. Turn off the water rather than leave it on when you are doing other things.

 

Basically these are a free simple things we can all do to help the environment around us. The Earth is our home and we are killing it one day at a time. We need to work on keeping it alive. Wendell Berry said, “ The Earth is one thing we all have in common.” Treat it like you would a home because it’s all of ours.

Midterms filled with historic elections, voter turnout

by Kaya Garza

Image via The Daily Herald

These midterm elections have been deemed “the most significant elections of our lifetimes,” and based on Tuesday’s events and Wednesday’s results, that title seems to be very fitting. The Democrats are projected to flip the House and the Republicans projected to keep a hold of the Senate.

First, what exactly are midterms?
Midterms are general elections that occur every four years during November, nearing the midpoint of the President‘s term. Senator, House of Representatives, and Governor positions are contested. Usually at this midpoint, the party opposite of the President‘s flips at least the House or the Senate.

This year, the House claimed a Democratic majority, and Republicans kept their Senate majority.

In Utah, Ben McAdams (D) challenged incumbent Mia Love for Utah’s 4th Congressional District. In the other three districts, Republicans won by a great amount. The Love vs McAdams race has not yet been confirmed by Utah District 4.
Mitt Romney is replacing Orrin Hatch’s seat in the Senate, winning by a strong 62.4% race against Democratic Jenny Wilson, with 31.6% of the votes.
District 1 results: Rob Bishop (R )
District 2: Chris Stewart (R )
District 3: John Curtis (R )
District 4: Unconfirmed but projected to be Ben McAdams (D) at a 51% lead.

Prop 2, concerning medical marijuana, was passed as was Prop 3 for Medicaid expansion and Prop 4 for a redistricting commission.

Constitutional Amendment A, which is military property tax exemption, was passed along with Constitutional Amendment C, Changes related to special legislative sessions.

And lastly, Nonbinding Opinion Question 1, the gas tax increase for education and roads was not passed with 66.1% against.

Utah is among the handful of states who legalized medical marijuana, and has seen an increase in Democratic voters.

Here is a list of all of the elected candidates who made history:
•Sharice Davids (D), first openly lesbian Native American congresswoman
•Ilhan Omar, first Muslim congresswoman
•Ayanna Pressley (D), first black Congresswoman from Massachusetts
•Veronica Escobar (D), first Latinx congresswoman from Texas
•Sylvia Garcia (D), Latinx congresswoman from Texas
•Rashida Tlaib (D), Muslim congresswoman
•Jared Polis (D), first openly gay man elected Governor
•Deb Haaland (D), Native American congresswoman
•Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D), youngest congresswoman ever elected
•Joe Neguse (D), first black congressman from Colorado
•Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), first Latinx woman elected Governor
•Chris Pappas (D), first openly gay congress member from New Hampshire
•Letitia “Tish” James (D), first black woman Attorney General from New York
•Jahana Hayes (D), first black congresswoman from Conneticut
•Keith Ellison (D), first Muslim statewide elected official in the U.S.
•Kalan Haywood (D), youngest state legislator
•Angie Craig (D), first lesbian mother in Congress
•Marsha Blackburn ( R), first woman senator from Tennessee

This has been the biggest historically altering midterms ever, and will certainly change the course of midterms and Presidential elections for years to come.

“It was definitely a Democratic win,” said Rockwell sophomore Jaron Winn. “I’m really glad they flipped the House.”

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