Monthly Archives: February 2009

Letter to the Editor – Part II


And the legacy of Taxachusetts continues. Governor Deval Patrick has just passed a bill increasing tolls and gas tax fees. Maybe with some of the extra money they can finally fix the potholes that send cars speeding out of control. 
Anyways, I wrote to the Boston Herald regarding the story:
Being a regular Massachusetts Turnpike user, I find the news of Governor Patrick’s toll increase absolutely unnecessary. Driving from Palmer to Boston and back every two weeks, it costs me six dollars. With the increased toll prices as well as Patrick’s recent increase on the gas tax, it will cost me ten dollars just to use the Turnpike. 
With the expected toll increases, perhaps they can finally fix the potholes that stricken the Turnpike. If I’m going to be paying ten dollars, I don’t want to have to be on the edge of my seat trying to avoid them the whole drive. At least I can ride safely and comfortably. Or, perhaps they can setup a system where the Turnpike Authority can come and fix popped tires for free with all the new money they will be getting. 
Kevin Clerkin,
Amherst MA
I’ll keep it updated if it gets published. 

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Slumdog Millionaires Cast Still Living in Slums

slumdogWhen a movie wins the Oscar for best picture of the year, grosses over $100 million dollars, you would expect the actors and actresses to be living in their mansions with their ferraris parked in the garage. 

Unfortunately for some of the cast-members of the Bollywood film “Slumdog Millionaires”, they are still living in their run-down shacks scraping for food and clean water. 

The characters who played the roles of Latika and Jamal as younger kids are stuck in the slums of Mambia. Perhaps now more than ever, their lives are distorted because of the success and attention they received. Now, they are faced with the reality of living in the slums once again. 

As we all sit in our comfortable movie chairs for a few hours to watch the film, their lives are the film. We use it as a feel good story to make our day a little better, they use it as a way to portray their lives. 

When the cast-members were paid, there was no way to determine how well the movie would do. The children were paid their initial salary, and director Danny Boyle set up a fund for schooling when they reached 18. The parents of these children feel now the compensation is not enough. 

After reading some comments from the story, there are mixed feelings on whether the kids should be paid more. 


Brilliant, I guess we’re going to see a hell of a lot more slum movies, then. After all, you only have to pay them relative to the shit wages available to them.


From the other side: 


Danny Boyle has brought more recognition to Mumbai through his self-interest than decades of million dollar awareness programs and charity donations.

Danny Boyle took a risk, and it paid off. He didn’t know that it would make $100 million. At the time he actually paid the actors, the movie hadn’t even come out yet. How can you fault him?

You f***ing communist.

Looking at this from a different angle, how does this affect the profession of acting? If kids from the slums with no acting experience can win best picture of the year, it just goes to show there is acting everywhere, proving that the profession is grossly overrated as well as paid.

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Letter to the Editor

moeny-tree1There has been a debate in the Boston Globe about the current state of the University of Massachusetts’ financial budget. After reading responses from a UMass professor and UMass graduate, I felt it would make sense to provide prospective from a current student.

Here is what I wrote:

Being a current student here at the University of Massachusetts, it is frustrating receiving e-mails on the current state of the budget and projected financial cuts from the administration.

At current time, to cover the costs of the cuts, the school is planning on increasing fees and accepting more students. Parents and students are now faced with the burden of spending more money for the same education. Faculty and staff will have to accommodate for a larger amount of students, with less resources. How can this work?

Poor decisions and the lack of education got us into this mess. Now, we are going to hinder education by overcrowding classrooms, providing less resources, while expecting to maintain the same quality.

Ultimately, the students are the ones who end up paying. Where is our bailout?

With the current budget cuts, students and parents are expected to pay higher fees next year, while the faculty will have less resources to work with. On top of all this, UMass will be accepting more students without hiring more professors!

Undeniably, the budget cuts are going to create problems for many students as well as most faculty. Programs are going to be cut. Resources will luxuries instead of necessities. It is unfortunate that education is being punished.

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Chimpanzee Attack

chimp1 A 55-year-old woman became the victim of a brutal chimpanzee attack in the state of Connecticut on Friday. Charla Nash went to help her friend Sandra Herold get her chimp back into the house in the town of Stamford, when the chimpanzee lost it. Nash suffered major facial injuries to her eyes, nose, and jaw. Take a listen to the 911 call placed by Herold while watching Nash get attacked by “Travis the chimp.” 

Perhaps you have seen this chimp before. Travis, as he was known, was featured in Old Navy and Coca-Cola commercials. He also was well known in the town of Stamford for walking through the center, watering plants, and eating at the table. As domesticated as Herold thought he was, he is still a wild animal and she deserves to face criminal charges. 

After reading some of the comments on the story, I had to get involved and voice my opinion on whether Herold should be charged for the attack. Here’s what I wrote: 


Herold is 100% responsible for the attack. She was the owner of the wild animal and was taking the risk of something like this happening. As much as she felt the chimpanzee was domesticated, it is a wild animal that belongs with its own kind! When where is a dog attack, the owners face lawsuits. This case should be no different.


It stunned me the amount of comments there were completely out of line though. Have a look at this one: 


It’s sad, the chimp was shot dead. Otherwise, it could become a living proof for Darwin’s theory of evolution.


This person was actually arguing the chimpanzee did not deserve to be shot by the police, as it was a case of survival of the fittest! How ignorant do you have to be to believe that?!

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Has the Public Lost their Voice?

CB059805In recent years, we have seen a major shift in the objectivity of journalism. Undoubtedly, journalists and the press have been censoring and harboring stories from the public. Taking a look at the last presidency of the US, stories were covered up daily. 

As Wahl-Jorgensen points out in Journalists and the Public, “it is apparent, then, that public debate in a liberal democracy is about what elites do and say, rather than what citizens want.” In the current environment we live in, journalists are not aiming to provide the public with the necessary information. Instead, they are strategizing to enhance and reinforce their values with the government and corporate America to make a good name for each side. 

Journalists are no longer serving as the watchdog. As German philosopher Jurgen Habermas notes, journalists are working for the best interest of the government and brushing the public to the backburner They are not holding the government accountable for their actions, and in case, the public is losing their voice. 

Journalists have the final word in what is printed and what is not. If they are unwilling to do the dirty work and report the grime, the public is going to be left out in the dark scrumming for answers.

In Chapter two of Journalists and the Public, Wahl-Jorgensen highlights the emergence of letters to the editors. In the beginning, letters to the editor were 

“a sense of engagement by incorporating readers’ writing in the form of letters and amateur belles letters, establishing the appearance of dialogue between editors and readers and sometimes among readers themselves, and representing readers writing about a variety of public and private concerns.”

The invention of letters to the editor served as a way of communication and was informational during the early days. It gave a forum for opinionated debates regarding politics, business, trade, etc. The purpose of these letters was not to provide entertainment, but to provide newsworthy tidbits. Sometimes stories were not released for months because of the slow mailing system. 

The public now had a voice and it was extremely influential in defining the identity of the American people during the early years of our country. It enabled the newspapers, as well as the public, to prosper together in a dimensional platform. 


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Silence Dogood Letters


We are now coming up on the 300-year anniversary of the Silence Dogood Letters. Benjamin Franklin’s bi-weekly letters to the New England Courant read like an archaic blog entry. As Franklin points out, he is writing every week with the help of the paper to “add entertainment.” 

Understandably, it was very difficult reading the Letters. They are written in old english, with random capitalized words like Distance, Town, Readers, Business and even Sex. Mulling through the letters, I found it tough not to begin dozing off while fighting through the boredom. 

But, there are definitely things we can take out of the Letters. At the time, newspapers were beginning to flourish. Information and entertainment were necessary, and that is exactly what the newspapers provided. As we stand today, people still like to be informed and entertained. We just need a different spectrum for journalism, and that is where the Internet comes into play. 

The job of a journalist is to entertain and inform. We can still do that, but in a different platform. Journalism is not dying, newspapers are dying. There is always going to be a need for quality, informed, un-biased journalism.

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The Hype of 3-D

Unfortunately, this post will not be available in 3-D, so don’t reach down for your cardboard specs. 


In recent weeks though we have seen 3-D become the new craze in the technological world. From Superbowl commercials, live football games, to the new Disney Movie Monsters vs. Aliens, everybody is going 3-D. 

If you haven’t been lucky enough to see virtual 3-D yet, your missing out. It is the new era of television allowing for the audience to become part of the performance. Once the small kinks are worked out, it will be the ultimate virtual experience. 

One of the small kinks that needs to be worked out is the CARDBOARD GLASSES, highlighted by the rainbow lenses. Until they can improve on these, watching 3-D will not be cool when wearing these shades! 

But, the 3-D images these shades produce is unbelievable, so I guess it leaves everyone repeating, the juice is worth the squeeze.

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