Category Archives: Opinion

The Hypocrisy of “Black Lives Matter”

 

When the Black Lives Matter movement started, there was a sense of self righteousness and maybe even some form of misguided purpose. A line was drawn and cops were suddenly seen as the enemies for oppressing poor black communities with violence and blatant racism.

But this narrative is just a string of lies pulled together by apologists and radical ideologists. It has warped the vision of so many that even a video of Michael Brown, an apparent “victim” of racism, robbing a convenience store is disregarded and seen as heresy. Even when an autopsy report shows that the first shot was fired inside a Police officer’s vehicle, the information is disregarded. When witnesses claim that he apparently had his “hands up”—which has been proven to be false—we claim this specific knowledge to be fact.

 

A protester kneels before a ruined street – Photo from Freedom Daily

 

And it doesn’t matter what you show these people as they all seem to turn a blind eye. Whether it be a march of their movement chanting “What do we want?” and continuing with “Dead Cops,” or when Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Yusra Khogali tweeted “Plz Allah give me strength to not cuss/kill these men and white folks out here today. Plz plz plz,” it is merely brushed to the side by BLM representative Khogali with nonsensical points and irrelevant claims of racism.

In 2015 The Washington Post created a database of police shootings in the nation. Nine hundred ninety-one people were shot dead over the course of that year. Out of all of those deaths only 93 were unarmed. Out of those 93, 34 were attacks in progress. Out of those remaining 59, only 34 were black people. 42 police officers were shot and killed in 2015 but apparently BlackLivesMatter is pioneering the grounds of social justice and BlueLivesMatter is something hateful.

I personally am sick of these calls for “justice” and screams for racism with no real plan of action—just buzzwords and riots to fuel the apparent divide in the nation. Excuses for crimes and justification for cop hating.

 

 

Michael Brown Thug: <https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/03/04/doj_report_on_shooting_of_michael_brown_1.pdf>
P.18
P.6

“Dead Cops” chant: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqQXmnMr_w8>
Washington Post Database: <https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings/>
Yusra Khogali: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYkvZodBRuY>
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuE4kV_eLf8>

 

 

The Fourth Estate: The Press

Insights from big data analysis contribute to major manipulation of the public, often, without their awareness. In the political context, the issue with this is that the information that is collected is being put to use in optimizing marketing strategies that help attract and retain potential supporters in a prejudiced fashion.

The internet today has accumulated enough information about each user’s preferences that their home page is modified by what they like, from news to memes. A look at the specific keywords, tags, browsing history, et cetera, make it all the more easy to decipher a person’s interests. This aids the media, the fourth estate of a democracy, in playing a greater governmental role in society.

“The Press is an essential component to a functioning society” — Image from Big Brother Watch

Although the number one rule in journalism is that a reporter must remain neutral and unbiased to represent the two sides fairly, it’s difficult when media firms have been bought or sponsored by a particular political party that it feels the obligation to sport. Information gathered by data mining companies and the media is used to portray these candidates and c

Campaigns in colorful lighting by interpreting big data and turning it into smart data that converts and makes the respective presentations more relatable and favorable to the people.

For example, if “Barack Obama” was put into two different search engines, such as Google and Yahoo!, the prioritized order of news listed as the results will be drastically different as well. This influences the internet surfer to develop an opinion for or against the political cause and/or campaign, ultimately, manipulating the public opinion and sentiment.

The press is an essential component to a functioning democracy, but it is commonly referred to being the fourth implied branch of government. If journalism is to refrain from taking any sides, then how is it that FOX News today is known for reflecting Republican values and CNN democratic values? The distrust the American people have in the media is therefore not so misplaced.

 

 

 

A Student’s Two Cents

Radford in the Fall — Photo courtesy of Alexander Burnley

Regardless of where you study, if you’re not one to take the initiative, then do not expect to thrive. While there’s that image of RU being a party school, I honestly think that that’s got absolutely nothing to do with you. Some will scrunch up their face or look at you demeaningly for going to a school with a negative connotation like that, but I can easily see this place becoming a proud institute of higher learning where students not only know how to play hard, but work hard as well; the culture is changing.

Join any organization(s) that will help you develop, network, get you out of your comfort zone & get your name out there. Give your locals a chance, volunteer with them if you have to in order to pick up on new skills or just for the sake of providing a helping hand. You’re bound to learn something either way. The first semester has yet to end for me here at RU, and, if you know me well, you know that I wasn’t exactly all too hype to be going to Radford University.

Now?

I am determined to graduate as a Highlander and make the most out of my experience here. While my studies are a priority for me and my grades were pretty awesome, I was still upset with the way life was going for me.

I decided to get involved with Highlander Student Media here on campus—an interest that corresponds with my major—which, by the way, branches out into seven legitimate media outlets. I’m part of three teams: Radio Free Radford (RFR), Radford On Camera (ROC-TV), and Whim.

I joined RFR as an amateur disk jockey, got promoted to being the social media manager as well. With Radford on Camera, we get exposed to editing soft wares like Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, After Effects, etc, & you may wonder why a Journalism Major like me would need to know all that. The competition for us is getting tighter & tighter out there in the workplace. Radford on Camera, for example, also gave me the opportunity to cover a historical moment of our seventh presidential inauguration with Brian O. hemphill, along with a Press Pass that allowed me to free roam—which I’m still geeking out over. Then there’s Whim, Radford’s online media publishing outlet, that I just recently got accepted to work for, and not just as a content writer, but as an Editor for the Opinion’s column!

I may seem all over the place, but what’s significant here is the fact that the experiences your future employers are looking for do not just lie within your classroom walls. Going to class then straight home will not suffice when it comes to your end-of-the-year portfolio because regular classes tend to drag a project or two for periods in which you could’ve finished twice or thrice the amount of projects.

Take the initiative, see what works for you and what doesn’t.

The Magic Lota

How splendid would the world be if people, instead of holding one another’s faults over their heads, picked up and adopted the good in others? Allow me to introduce to you, The Lota.

The Magic Lota

I say introduce because to many, surprisingly, the lota is still a foreign concept. Technically, it’s a Muslim thing–introduced by them, evolved by them, carried on by others. “Cleanliness is half of your faith,” they believe. So if you’re a hygienic person, congratulations–you’re 50% Muslim.

What is this magic lota that you speak of? Do you mean to say it has magical powers and if I rub it, then a genie would appear to grant my wishes? 

Please. You’re your own genie.

And unless you’re Donald Trump, born with a silver spoon in your mouth (and perhaps even something sour because god knows how that man gets away with the things he says), then like any other, you have to work your bum off for the life you go around calling goals.

Speaking of bums, consider the lota your savior. It helps prevent or at least reduces the chances of one catching an infection or a disease that can potentially lead to death. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a study done in 2008 goes to show that the urinary tract infection (UTI) is the second most common type of infection in the body, accounting for about 8.1 million visits to healthcare providers each year. An estimated 13,000 deaths are attributed to UTIs annually in the United States, states the Virginia Department of Health.

That’s that, but what exactly is the purpose of a lota? 

A lota is a vessel usually placed within reach next to toilets. It is filled with water that is then used to cleanse the anal area after one’s done with their business.

How is pouring water down your genitals suppose to efficiently clean you? 

Well, there’s really no other way to say this, but shove your hand down there and make sure to clean it good. Once you’re done, pour some more water over your hand, grab some toilet paper to pat yourself dry, wash your hands with soap, and then pull back your pants. And yes, after every time you urinate or poo.

But who would touch their own doo doo? 

The choice is yours. Just wash your hands at the end, it’s as simple as that. A content writer for VICE brought up a good point regarding this: “If a bird shat on your hand you wouldn’t just wipe it off with a tissue would you?” The point is: anal hygiene is important for so many reasons.

Where can I get a lota from? 

Really, from just about anywhere. If you’re not feeling up to hit the bazaar, there are plenty of online stores that sell lotas made out of brass, copper, and/or plastic.

Or you could use a cup that’s already lying somewhere in your kitchen.

 

 

 

At the Cost of Diplomacy

It’s already a terrible thing to put someone down, to bully others, but silence . . . silence is far worse. It is what fuels partisan stances, discriminatory behavior, sexism, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, you name it. A good example of who stands today as an embodiment of these values is Donald J. Trump. Who’s to say he won’t wage war the second he sits in office? Some would say the same thing about Hillary Clinton.

The point I’m trying to make here isn’t who is or isn’t worth voting for, but that this culture of harassment must be discouraged and called out in order for it to change for the better. If we were to imagine the application of this on a politically international scale, logically speaking, the implications are bound to be catastrophic.

And speaking up for someone isn’t the only way to stand up for somebody—simply showing up can mean showing support.

“Let us never become indifferent to the loss of a soul . . . ” — Image from teachermagazine.com.au

We see how people change their profile pictures on Facebook with overlays that pay tribute to a certain nation, but then we also notice just how underrepresented third-world countries are in these shows of patriotism.

This selective attitude—be it due to laziness, lack of knowledge, or sheer pettiness—is what will drive us to the depths of a pathetic, inhumane future. May I never become the sort of journalist who cares more about political correctness than life itself. If you stand up for the weak, then know that you are powerful. With power comes great responsibility? But together, if we stand for all who are vulnerable, who are without voice, we won’t just be powerful . . .

We’ll be invincible.

Our silence will only further enable demeaning behavior if it is continued.

A recent attack on a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, took the lives of at least 74 civilians, out of which about 60 of them were lawyers. Many of us won’t stand with Pakistan because, for one, some of us find the nation an embarrassment. Many of us won’t stand with Pakistan out of fear of being accused for supporting a “nation that breeds terrorists.”

I’m just as much a Pakistani as I am an American. These people, they’re like you and I. Among us, sure, whack jobs are walking around—but that’s true regardless of race, of creed, of nationality. People who have a mother, a father, a lover, a brother—like you—are dying. Being killed, and murdered in numbers. Be it one life or a hundred, let us never become indifferent to the loss of a soul. In the end, that is what will differentiate us from them. Let us retaliate with peace, but firmness. Let these attacks strengthen our resolve, not render us oppressed.

 

 

 

How to Cope with an All-Time Low

I’m supposed to be doing my homework. Nothing’s easy about college, especially when you’ve loaded your schedule with sixteen credit hours, a commitment towards four organizations, have a cat to feed, all while trying to make sure familial issues do not get too out of hand. Despite the end to Daylight Saving Time and an hour more that I’ve received to wrap up my work, it’s been difficult for me to focus. The clock right now reads 4:26 p.m., and if I don’t submit my work by 11:59 PM tonight, guess who’s bringing home a big, huge F?

But it’s become increasingly difficult for me to go on with life pretending like everything’s okay, like everything’s normal.

“Normal.” Ever wondered about what normal was for you? By definition, it means “conforming to a standard.” Other phrases it can be substituted with are: the usual, the typical, the expected – which is a funny way to describe life because life’s full of interruptions, no? It’s full of twists and turns at every point, so is there really a point for sulking over the way things used to be?

Let’s pause right there today. Let’s talk about this. Let’s talk about depression and some coping skills that I’ve picked up along the way to get you by with some smiles, okay?

“Nothing’s easy about college . . .” – Photo from URNA Career Pro

Rule #1: With time, everything changes. 

Do you hear me? Carve this well into your heart and mind. Everything changes, for better or for worse, and time’s the best teacher of them all. You, your surroundings, your social circles, your relationships, even your dreams –  they’re susceptible to change. The sooner you realize this, the quicker you move on to the next best thing in store for you.

Rule #2: Acknowledge the pain.

Some out-of-the-blue events really shook me up, disturbed me, even hurt me. It became hard to breathe at home and even harder to get out of bed. All I wanted to do was sleep, sleep, sleep. If I wasn’t sleeping, I was keeping myself distracted, buried in my studies or photography. Or food.

The first two days, I was in shock and denial. The next four days I was sad, but because I had accepted reality, I was able to be optimistic in regards to the future. More than a week has passed now and I’m doing much better. This is how it works-

You deny the existence of something that clearly exists, you’ll always find yourself at a dead end. But when you acknowledge what is for what it is, you’re able to come to terms with it and find another, if not the same, pathway.

The past becomes a lesson.

Rule #3: Make time. 

This one’s super important and super tricky. People can’t seem to find time for themselves! It is so necessary to set aside time investing in your self, creating a happiness that’s independent of others.

Anytime you’re feeling down, try something new. Find a hobby. As I mentioned in a brief previous post of mine, there are those who’ll pick up a paintbrush or a brow brush when dealing with something similar. That becomes their way of coping with the negativity. In the beginning, you may fail. But with practice and patience, symbols of your resolve, your attempts will certainly lead you to success.

 

Rule #4: Be YOUR best 

It’s not about following in someone else’s footsteps or trying to be somebody you’re not. It’s about unleashing your best version of yourself. Bruce Lee once said, “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”

 

That’s the secret to happiness: self-love. 

Self-love is genuinely caring for yourself, giving back to yourself, being yourself. It’s taking a break, however that looks, from all conventional matters and putting everything on hold for some me time, time that’s a natural born right, just like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

If you’ve experienced hitting rock-bottom at least once in your lifetime, you’re aware of the sentiments that come with it- feeling of confusion, anxiety, fear, a drop in self-esteem, and god knows what other awful thoughts.

Hang on. 

 

 

 

Why You Should Join the Fight Club

The first rule to Fight Club is: you do not talk about fight club. Today we break that rule.

Much has changed with time, especially for us women. We now compete, and we compete alongside men… almost. As a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast, I’m a big advocate on women learning how to defend themselves with any form of self-defense class: Karate, Kickboxing, whatever martial art really. Pepper spray can only go so far.

The first hurdle you might come up against is overcoming your timid self. When you fight, you fight. You don’t have the time to feel shy or awkward, especially if the friendly-fire is off and your opponent is legitimately out to get you. You need to be able to fall into the mindset right away, as if it were part of your reflex.

“Practice means up close and personal.” – Photo taken from GracieBreakdown, YouTube Channel

Practice means up close and personal. It means sweat, smell, strategy. As much as you’ll need the body strength, you’ll need to keep your head in the game just as much. It’s not an either-or situation; co-ordination between the two makes a belt-worth of difference. If you’re flailing your arms and legs at your opponent and thinking less, a win in that case would mean sheer luck- your opponent was lacking. If you’re being strategic about your next move but are taking forever to get into position, a win in that case would also mean you’ve got ways to go. Practice is what will condition you to get in shape- body and mind wise.

Knowing how to defend yourself comes with more benefit than just that one, though. It has an overall positive impact on your life, and these are some reasons why:

  1. Lets you burn off some steam: helps with depression, anger, frustration
  2. Boosts your confidence: helps with self-respect, discipline, control
  3. Makes you independent: helps you rely on your abilities rather materialistic things
  4. Increases awareness: helps contribute to a quicker response in the case of an emergency
  5. Makes you goal-oriented: helps with setting your goals as you try to nail a move

The list could go on.

 

 

 

Your Net Worth is Only as Good as Your Network

Maybe you’re looking into tropical islands to travel to next summer, maybe you’re filling out applications for internships later this winter. Whether it’s the money you’re looking to earn or the experience, allow me to share a personal anecdote with you on the importance and benefits of networking and a little on how you can go about making those invaluable connections.

Sometime during my senior year of high school, Mrs. B from Loudoun County High School taught us the fundamentals of business and computer information systems. Down along her lessons, 18 year old Shiza ended up creating an account on LinkedIn, an online platform made especially for those in search of seriously likeminded or relevant people looking to prosper through one another in the name of business.

And then I forgot I ever made an account.

Months later, as we neared the end of the school year and as we barely survived senioritis, the fact that I was transitioning from familiar training grounds to an unknown battlefield that we referred to as “the real world” put me in a peculiar sort of frenzy. Am I ready for this? I hardly know what I want to major in. Sure, Journalism sounds nice, but is that really what I want to do? I went with it anyway and boy am I glad for having a decent personality.

You know why? Skills are a must-have, but you’re going to need that, or a lot of money to get your foot through some doors. So 20 year old Shiza decides it’s time to find a mentor or any experience that would help build her profile as a reporter, and that’s when I go on LinkedIn and scroll through people related to the news industry, hit connect, and then the next thing I know- I get a message from radio WPGC’s Promotions Manager asking if I’d like a tour of the station. We set a date. I go in for the tour, get showed around, and then offered a position on the team when I expressed that I was working towards a degree in journalism! I had no clue he also took care of the hiring!

Good networking’s one concrete element that will set you up for definite success. It not only presents you with opportunities, but also assists with your credibility, boosts your self-esteem, and can even lead to friendships that last a lifetime! From face-to-face interactions to online pen pals, there are plenty of ways to go about it – the more, the merrier! So the next time you sit down with somebody for coffee, feel free to open up some. If you’re socially savvy, get comfortable with multimedia, post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or whatever about what you’re interested in doing and how you would appreciate some feedback or pointers. Utilize the power of hashtags and keywords to draw in your targeted audience. Look around! A web this big is bound to take you places!

When “Stranger Danger” Prevents You From Helping Yourself/Another

The night I felt homeless:

No clue what time it is, but the bus dropped me around 9:55pm. Can’t remember when exactly. I didn’t bring my car with me today. I don’t usually board buses, but it would help to know my options. That’s what I’d told mother who instead insisted on picking me up from campus this late hour.

It’s like mother’s nagging caught up to me today. She’d always ask me to avoid public transits after 8, to count on her for late night transportation. She’s always ask me to allow my phone to fully charge before I proceeded to use it or else I’ll one day find myself in a situation and have no way to contact anybody.

And that’s what happened.

The bus was to drop me at a stop near home, and I did let mother know where she would find me before my battery died. But we’re both still fairly new to this area.

So I waited.

It was dark. Nobody in sight. After what seemed like 15 minutes, I saw a red truck pull up. Thought I should see about borrowing their phone to make a call, but the stranger danger stories I’d heard since I was a kid made my hair stand on end. What if I ended on those ‘Have you seen this person?’ bulletin boards at Walmart? I tried to shake it off and looked for a brighter place to relocate to. As I did, the truck drove off as well.

She was supposed to be here a long time ago now. Is she okay? Am I being searched for? Have I been reported? I hope not. I’m not lost, really. I just don’t know how to get back home. I knew the general direction I should head in. I could walk along the highway, I could ask for a lift. But how can I trust just anyone? My family’s probably worried sick though. I don’t have much of a choice, but to reach out to a stranger.

Or maybe I should stay here, where I told mom she would find me. Upon looking around, I found a spot just a little off the incline. More people, more lights. An arena for skateboarders, that’s where I found myself.

I asked one skater if he knew of an outlet nearby. I would’ve asked him for his phone, but I couldn’t afford to lose the one chance I had to get in touch with my family. What if he perceived me as someone looking for an opportunity to rob him of his belongings? What if I scared him, and he left with his pals? I didn’t want to bother him, nor be left alone on this playground.

He pointed towards a small hut nearby with an all-gender bathroom sign sticking out of it. “There’s a vending machine behind there. You might find an outlet somewhere.” I nodded, thanked him, and went to check it out. He went back to skateboarding. The wiring behind the machine threw me off, so, defeated, I headed towards the bleachers, threw my bags down, and slumped into them.

For a long time, I just sat there. More skater dudes joined the park. They were good. Flying on and off the ramp like they were born with wings, it was a sight to see. Quietly, not knowing how to approach anyone, I stuck with observing them. The temperature had dropped. More time passed. I wondered what mom was up to and how we would laugh if she went, “I told you so,” on me. Will the abundant lunch she packs for me each day be coming in handy tonight? Is this how it feels to be homeless?

I mustn’t cry still. There are those who enjoy taking advantage of the emotionally vulnerable. Look intentional, I told myself.

One by one, two by two, they (the skaters) were leaving. One of the overhead floodlights went out, leaving me and now only two skaters in partial darkness. Given I should be bold enough to do my part, but why is it that no one will inquire about a stranger? A simple “are you okay?” is all we need in order to create an inclusive environment; what is so hard about that? Am I invisible? Can’t anyone see that I’ve been here for what feels like three hours? Can’t anyone tell that I’m distressed?

I cupped my face with both hands, shivering with a cold realization about the world that I lived in: because it’s every man for himself, we must equip ourselves with the oxygen mask first.

 

I made that call.

American Exceptionalism

American Exceptionalism can be seen as a device favored by American politicians to follow through with their political agendas. More important is the question, to which no one has an answer still, of which side has gained politically from the emergence of this new political word.[1]

American culture and history play a significant role in the power manifested within this term – it is what ultimately shapes the way people think about politics and government.[2] As a country of immigrants first inhabited by British settlers (early Puritans), then Africans, then Ireland and Germany, Poland and Italy, Mexico, China, India, and so on – the nation’s known to have become a melting pot with a diverse set of values.

However, the key concept ingrained in the very pillars of this nation and something everyone can agree with is that the role of the American government is to safeguard each individual’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – a belief now suited for all its citizens regardless of class, color, or creed. The belief speaks to all American people despite their differences, as well as wanna-be Americans who are in search for the last best hope for mankind.[3]

The idea of exceptionalism, to think itself unique from the rest of the world, directly influences American foreign policy.  Presidents have invoked the idea of exceptionalism in the past that have interfered with affairs abroad. During the Cold War, for example, Ronald Raegan believed that America had a duty to be “the shining city on the hill,” an example [to the world] of what a good and blessed country should be like.[4] This of course led to more immigration and foreign involvement.

Liberals, being antiexceptionalists, wish to take America down a notch[5] when it comes to exceptionalism. They do not agree with the notion of assessing another region with their own standards of belief, no matter how democratic they are. Conservatives do; they take pride in pointing to how America is unlike other advanced democracies.[6]  But our foundational ideas have (at least) two sides[7] to them; disagreements and debates are what constitute the American ideals, the American culture.

As we’re constantly being redefined, it is safe to assume that our country is destined to be the great nation of futurity,[8] just like Brits believe in British exceptionalism and Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.[9]


[1] “The Origins and Character of American Exceptionalism, “American Political Thought 1(1): 3-28, by James W. Ceasar

[2] “Ideas that Shape American Politics,” by J. Morone & R. Kersh

[3] Abraham Lincoln’s annual message to Congress, December 1862

[4] American Exceptionalism, Sparknotes

[5] “The Origins and Character of American Exceptionalism, “American Political Thought 1(1): 3-28, by James W. Ceasar

[6] “The Origins and Character of American Exceptionalism, “American Political Thought 1(1): 3-28, by James W. Ceasar

[7] “Ideas that Shape American Politics,” by J. Morone & R. Kersh

[8] “Great Nation of Futurity,” John L. O’Sullivan on Manifest Destiny, 1839

[9] “The Origins and Character of American Exceptionalism, “American Political Thought 1(1): 3-28, by James W. Ceasar

Taking the Initiative

Ever heard about characters getting sucked into a video game and getting stuck there? What about chemo patients being able to go to the beach with their friends? Or military troops submersing themselves in the training and mindset they need way before they even set foot on the actual battleground? How about being able to attend your favorite artist’s concert that’s happening all the way in Germany, without having to leave your bedroom? The possibilities are endless when you combine virtual reality with the capability of a 360 degree video platform.

I believe it was October the 27th when I walked into one of the many AdScape workshops being held on campus, and, truth be told, I only went because I had nothing better to do. Even the sound of extra credit for class wasn’t enough to move me, but because my friends were headed there, I thought why not? I had nothing to lose.

Long story, short- we left with business cards in our hands.

The workshop we attended was delivered by a team known as GoJourni- a group of innovative individuals working together to take virtual and augmented reality to the next level. As exciting as it is to see this project come together, it’s even more exciting to know that they’re open to students with a background in any major.

Now this is particularly exciting news for high school seniors and college students as it provides an open house feel to prospective recruits, granting them the full freedom to explore their career of interest while also keeping up with the times. Just the other day, I overheard two kids chatting about Musical.ly, a social media platform made especially for content creators with a knack for music. I tried to get into it, but I realized soon enough that it wasn’t for me, or rather I had maybe grown out of that phase.

So what I’m saying here is that eventually apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Vsco, et cetera will be replaced by far better, smarter ones, and we’ll be left trying to convince our juniors that we’re indeed not as old as they deem us to be. A career is like that, too. If you refuse to adapt with the times, time will easily leave you behind.

Around 2007, for instance, the sudden emergence of new tech had a direct effect on newsrooms across the nation, shrinking them in size. But by 2009 and 2010, that very technology was the reason journalists were back and all the more evolved. Writing, shooting, editing, and publishing- we were and are expected to enter the workforce equipped with all those skills.

Being a fairly small company with the mission to grow overtime, it’s natural to play with ideas and go through trial and errors. I see working with small companies as an opportunity of great investment, and there’s no better time than now to start preparing for the future. With VR and 360 video footage on the rise, there’s sure to be another purge soon that is bound to make the workforce even more competitive for upcoming reporters. The real question is:

Will you be ready?

“How Will You Get to Know Someone If You’re Not Allowed to Date?”

If I were to charge $10 for each time somebody asked me that question, you’d probably see me featured under a headline that reads Success Stories of the Century. I always wonder to myself– how can you NOT get to know someone without dating them? Is it really that complicated?

What is dating? And why do I even speak of it as a Muslim woman?

If you lack the company of diverse friends in your life, you probably also paint arranged marriages badly and see me as the least credible to speak on this matter. But, yes, a percent of us does look further than the whole arranged situation; though nothing is wrong with that.

Religion may have nothing to do with you receiving this question, no; you’re probably just not into the whole dating scene. Or maybe you did try to date in the past, and you’re too hesitant to put in that kind of time and energy figuring the person out only to call it off for not working out.

friends
“There are so many ways to get to know somebody without actually dating them.”

Caroline Zelonka, a freelance writer, exemplifies this best:

I met most of my partners at work. Typically, the relationship would start as a work friendship, segue into a platonic out-of-work friendship, then blossom into a romantic attraction.

It’s really an ideal way to start things. In my opinion, one often shows their best self at work. Your brains and resourcefulness take the lead. I suppose your physical attributes are also showing, but I have had much better results when I had a chance to “wow” the guy with my personality rather than rely on my looks or charm in the artificial situation of a date.

Being “friend-zoned” isn’t always a bad thing, nor do I think it’s even real to be completely honest with you. There are so many ways to get to know somebody without actually dating them, and my favorite approach would be friendship. I feel like relationships which begin on the basis of that sort of understanding—as friends have it—last longer compared to those that jump straight into one . . . but that’s just my opinion.

Pretty Sure it was the Catnip

As some of you are probably aware, I recently lost my cat. I love my cat, and I love him more than I love people. Is that even a surprise?

This would be the first time I’d ever volunteered to care after another life form as an adult, and, to one day come home to the news of his disappearance, I couldn’t feel as anymore of a failure than I did that day. I did end up finding him, thank god, or rather – he found us.

cat
“I’m pretty sure it was the catnip.”

Since I’d gotten into the habit of him snuggling next to me around bedtime, my first night without him was painfully lonesome. I placed his favorite flavor of Friskies outside, hoping the smell would reach him and would have him returning home. I woke up next morning, ran down the stairs to see if there was any sign of him, but I was greeted with the sight of flies buzzing over the untouched, now cold meat.

An advice a good friend of mine gave to me was to see if it was okay with my neighbors to place cat food outside their porch. Another told me to place anything and everything that was familiar to him. And I did. The next night I went full out.

His bed, his favorite treats, his toys, and even his litterbox with his feces still in it – I put everything outside around sunset. I even went as far as spraying cat nip on his belongings, the bushes, the flowers in our backyard: an open invitation to all the neighborhood felines.

After searching for him for over 32 hours, I had lost hope that I would ever see him again; I continued to look for him anyway, posted ads everywhere from utility poles to Craigslist.

Around three in the morning, my brother goes down to grab a bowl of cereal while I’m in my room catching up with some of the assigned reading, and we hear a thump, followed by two meows.

We bolted down the stairs once again, swung open the door, and sure enough– it was Rajah, our beautiful Tabby boy sitting right outside on our WELCOME mat.

 

I’m pretty sure it was the catnip, but that’s just my opinion.

Unresolved Business

Nestled in the fringes of what is known as the Loudoun area around Northern Virginia Community College, there resides a story teetering on the edges of truth or slander.

This story revolves around victims and their accounts of the atrocities inflicted upon their families by a Christian church with the name of Calvary Temple right up in Sterling, Virginia. The multimillionaire and Head Pastor, Star R. Scott, along with other religious leaders there have been accused of the sexual and physical abuse of minors, as well as tearing families apart.

Molly Fitch, one brave mother, shares her experience: she will occasionally drop by her children’s place time to time, knock on their door, and would ask for them to show their faces because she misses them so dearly that she writes letters to them in hopes that her children will one day come across them.

venn-diagram
“This story revolves around victims and their accounts of the atrocities inflicted upon their families by a Christian church.”

Since Molly has been “marked” by the Church, any contact with her will jeopardize a current member’s relationship with the Church. Unfortunately, there are plenty more stories of the like, with few willing to step out into the light.

What’s disturbing is to know that a Math Teacher from NVCC, Youssef Taleb, rumored of being guilty of the same crimes will be “relieved of his duties,” but a pastor with such reputation is allowed to lead hundreds of people all over the globeI suppose that’s what they mean by separation of church and the state.

Another ex-member and victim claims everything about the Church to dangerously resemble the People’s Temple massacre in 1955  under the leadership of Pastor Jim Jones, with the only exceptions of relocating and murdering their followers left to be made. Of course, the members feel differently.

As I continue to pursue and document this case, you’re more than welcome to be in the know by following the popular hashtag associated with this side of the story: #exposecalvarytemple

By the way, Taleb, the 27 year old former Math instructor at NVCC, has been cleared of all charges and wishes to one day be able to teach again.

All Fun and Games till Someone Gets Hurt

As we all get ready for THE spooktacular time of the year, it is so important that we remain on top of our toes this Halloween. There’s no knowing what’s lurking out there, looking to make the most of the night of nights, in the worst of ways.

You can either hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband because these clowns are out there raping everybody or you can have a good time without being dumb about it. For instance, don’t wear a clown costume. Don’t do it. Don’t do it.

Don’t do it.

suicide-squad
“It is so important that we remain on top of our toes this Halloween. “

We have this one saying in the Middle East, “Come bull, hit me.” Regardless of your intentions, clowning around this Halloween may mean asking for trouble. And yet, despite the warning, I’m going to see Harley Quinn and the Joker on every other block in town; I just know it.  But the real question is–do they even count into this whole coulrophobia thing going on? They’re not really all that creepy as the classical clowns with plastered smiles and red noses that go squeak-squeak.

I have two Evil Jester costumes lying around from 2013 that I was planning on selling this year, but I’ve been more indecisive about this than the usual Chick-fil-a line makes me: will it be chicken nuggets today or waffle fries? Three cheers if you can relate!

Call it paranoia, call it precaution, but one Mississippi town has put a ban on clown costumes till November 1. The county “has declared it illegal to dress like a clown, and is threatening to levy $150 fines against anyone” that is caught doing so. Costume shops around the nation are advising against “clowning around the wrong people.”

As reported by NBC4’s sister station WKRN-TV: Gary Broadrick with Performance Studios in Nashville, Tennessee said, ““I’d feel really bad if I found out that somebody bought a mask of any kind from us just to have some fun and got hurt.”

It doesn’t get any better with the creepy clown craze making its way overseas, but that’s just my opinion. Be safe! Be smart!

Why Clinton will Win

I’m reminded of Ricegum every time that I’ve sat down to watch the presidential debates. For those of you who don’t know him, Bryan Le, best known as Rice Gum, is notorious for roasting people and their egos on YouTube. I don’t even feel the need to switch over to Crunchyroll or DramaFever with the way Hillary and Trump go at each other; so far they’ve been the best at keeping me entertained.

In less than 20 days, we’re to see a candidate emerge as the next President of the United States, and, no matter who it is, it’s sure to be historic to say the least. With the mass frustration of having to choose between “the lesser of two evils,” a good percent is leaning towards voting in Gary Johnson’s favor. But is that percentage enough?

This feeling
“Voting for a third-party member means throwing your vote away.”

See, blind trust like that can be a dangerous thing. In case you forgot, we’re not a democracy; we’re a republic. It aggravates me when politicians will refer to us as a democracy, but yet we have a two-party system built that is made to discourage third-party members from rising, and then we have two main candidates that honestly just represent the top one percent, all while spouting nothing but pretty words, or ugly words as well in Donald’s case.

I am a strong supporter of Jill Stein, but we’ve never before had a third-party member become President. And, again, as long as we have an electoral college in place, this nation may never see one. It is true that they’ve come so far in the race, but, in the end, voting for a third-party member means throwing your vote away. Face it. And, yes, Gary Johnson is a third-party member.

The two options that  that leaves us with are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The way I see it, with the amount of disapproval rating Trump’s got, there’s no stopping Clinton from winning the presidency–but that’s just my opinion. Happy voting!

What Whim has taught me

Whim always has the right of way. Graphic from rubycantu.com
Whim always has the right of way. Graphic from rubycantu.com

When I started working for Whim, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I thought it would be easy, non-stressful, and somewhat boring, to be honest. I thought that I would have no trouble finding people to write for me, that they would write all five articles and turn them in on time, and that I would have barely any work to do. But, boy, was I wrong. I couldn’t find anyone to write for me. In fact, Molly, another employee for Whim, writes all my science, technology, and health articles, and I write all over her opinion articles. We have a good system going, but of course, it would have been easier if we had writers. Although working for Whim was more stressful and difficult than I thought it would be, I would never trade it for anything.

Whim taught me how to work under pressure and strict deadlines, which I know will come in handy for my next job. I learned how to write better than I did before. Whim taught me how to write more than all four years of high school english did. I understood what it meant to truly rely on other people to get work done. I realized that I really do love working with a team and two heads are better than one, as they say. I learned that friends don’t have to be the same as you. I met some amazing people this year, including our editor-in-chief, Becca, our managing editor, Janie, and the rest of the Whim writers. I probably would have never had the pleasure of meeting these people if it wasn’t for Whim, if it wasn’t for walking past the Whim booth at club day, one that I was forced to go to by my University 100 class. Whim taught me more valuable life lessons than I ever initially thought possible.

When I first entered college, I never wanted to join any outside clubs or work anywhere on campus. To be honest, I was kind of bitter about starting college because my high school experience was less than amazing. But Whim really made my first year at Radford much more enjoyable than I could have ever imagined. I looked forward to our budget meetings, as weird as that sounds, because I couldn’t wait to talk to my new found friends. Whim made my college experience something much more than just school and for that, I will always be thankful.

Food vs. Exercise: Who will win?

Food and exercise go hand and hand. Graphic from twitter.com
Food and exercise go hand and hand. Graphic from twitter.com

Food can be your best friend and your worst enemy. Sometimes, food is there for you when you need it. It’s a shoulder to cry on and to pick you up when you’re feeling down. Other times, food is a real bitch, talking about you behind your back and smelling up your kitchen when it leaves itself  out on the counter. When it comes to exercise, food can either play nice and be civil, or start an all-out war like rowdy relatives on Thanksgiving. There’s no happy medium when it comes to food and exercise…or is there?

Food and exercise can get along as long as you choose the right foods and exercises for you and your body. If you’re a morning person, God bless you. Breakfast, as they say, is the most important meal of the day. Depending on the workout you do and when you decide to do it, breakfast can either hurt you or help you. If you eat McDonald’s and then go for a run, then I hope you run into a bathroom, because you’re surely going to need it. When working out in the morning, it’s best to eat very lightly such as oatmeal, a breakfast bar, or some fruit. That way, you won’t feel dragged down by a big meal and have the energy to complete your workout.

If you prefer to exercise in the afternoon, I would try and eat a bigger breakfast, but not too big. Two eggs and some toast would suffice as well as some cereal or even an omelette if you want to get fancy. A bigger meal in the morning is better if you exercise in the afternoon because by the time you get the gym, you won’t feel bloated or starved. You’ll have the energy without the feeling of being weighted down by too much food. With a bigger breakfast, a light lunch is ideal. Don’t over do it. With food or exercise for that matter.

If you exercise at night, these previous steps can still be followed. It really all depends on what time of day, exactly, that you exercise. If you plan your meals and exercise so that they complement each other, you shouldn’t have a problem with the two getting along.

With all this in mind, don’t forget that you’re a human being who loves food. Everyone is allowed a cheat day. Mine just happen to be everyday, but I’m working on it. These types of habits don’t happen overnight, so don’t get discouraged. Practice makes perfect.