Should schools require vaccinations without religious or philosophical exemption?

Little child have a vaccination shot in studio. Image taken from: https://thrivingschools.kaiserpermanente.org/5-reasons-to-get-kids-vaccinated/

In Minnesota, vaccinations are required by law before enrolling your child in school, whether it be public school or private school. However, it is legal for people to get a religious or philosophical exemption from getting their vaccinations. Should such a thing be allowed if it puts other people’s and children’s health at risk? 

Parents choose not to vaccinate their children for a number of reasons. While in general, there are no restrictions on vaccinations in any major religions according to History of Vaccines.org, there are a few smaller denominations of religions that do, such as Christian Scientists or the Dutch Reformed Church, denominations of the Christian church. There is also a number of muslim people who claim that they cannot use vaccines made from pork (gelatin), as it is against Islam to consume pork, but the refusal of vaccines is not agreed upon throughout the whole religion. Additionally, both of these religions support the morals behind vaccines, them being to prevent children (and adults) from suffering. 

So, it’s a very controversial topic even within one religion. Can the excuse that vaccines are against one’s religion be used even if it is unclear whether the religion as a whole opposes this idea or not?

Another reason parents do not vaccinate their children is the fear of vaccines, specifically the vaccine for mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR), possibly causing autism. According to historyofvaccines.org this is most often thought to be because the rate of a child born with autism is increasing while we are getting more advanced medically and using more vaccinations to defend against diseases. Not only that, but the spread of misinformation in the media and in person can be a great reinforcer of this idea.

According to ncbi.gov, widespread exemption from vaccines undermines the benefits of herd immunity. Herd immunity is when a large group of a population has a strong resistance to a type of disease. This helps not only people but also people with weaker immune systems such as babies or young children.

Parents who don’t vaccinate their children contribute to outbreaks of diseases that could have been preventable by vaccines, such as measles or whooping cough, according to the University of Michigan Health Lab. It keeps these diseases alive. For example, according to The Hospitalist, measles, which the USA had been declared clean of by the CDC, has started to make a comeback because people refuse to vaccinate either themselves or their children. 

The graph below, which can be found on the CDC website, shows the number of measles cases recorded in each year. 

As you can see, between the years 2015 and 2017 the number of measles cases were generally small, staying in the low hundred. However in 2018 there was a spike in outbreaks which brought the numbers up to 375 and even higher in 2019 at 1282 cases.

This brings us to the million dollar question. Should vaccines be completely required for every student, regardless of religious or philosophical beliefs?

The practical answer would be yes. They prevent diseases that could be fatal amongst children and without them these preventable diseases keep coming back. Thus, without question, requiring vaccines would turn out for the better.

However, would we be violating the religous freedom of those who are against vaccines? Religious freedom is an incredibly important part of what makes our country so diverse and something we have fought so very hard to keep.

The real question is does it matter what the religious or philosophical beliefs of one person is when it comes to the well-being of all the children around them?

Ending animal testing

At this very moment there are animals that are being tested on. Testing on animals happens worldwide. It is a big problem, but it is often ignored. Testing on animals is another way of animal abuse. According to PETA, these poor animals are exposed to: burning, shocking, poisoning, isolation, starvation, and brain damage. No animal should be exposed to this kind of harm no matter what.

Animals that are often tested on are dogs, rats, rabbits, pigs, and fish. They are used on a daily basis for tests in the laboratory. Each year, around 100 million animals die for the purpose of experimentation. One of the most common products that use animals to test on, is make-up.

Testing on animals is just a waste of time overall. Not all the information they find on animals will be accurate on humans. It’s an inhuman act that scientists take on animals that are defenseless. Animals are also very different from human beings, which is why they make bad test subjects, the anatomy of animals and the anatomy of a human are very different. They may be able to pass tests that are dangerous to humans. 

So, what can you do to make this situation right and save more animals? Some things you can do to help suffering animals is to buy 100% cruelty-free products. If you don’t know where to look, you could look for any bunny logos on the product or you could search up a list of brands that sell cruelty-free products.

You could also educate people about the dark side of animal testing and why it shouldn’t be supported. You could also educate friends on what brands to use and not use, because your friends probably don’t know how bad animals are being treated in labs; help them see and understand this horrible situation and help them make the right choices. 

If you want more information on brands that are cruelty-free, visit: https://features.peta.org/cruelty-free-company-search/index.aspx 

 

Plastic bag bans: Are they really worth it?

Gavin Parsons, Marine Photobank: Image taken from: https://ocean.si.edu/conservation/pollution/plastic-bag-bans-work

There is no question that pollution and climate change are issues that are taking our world by storm. As new laws are put in place to add taxes to plastic bags or to ban them completely, it begs the question, are bans really going to work?

Everyday, people use disposable plastic products. Straws, cups, forks, bottles and, one of the most impactful, plastic bags. Plastic bags are easy to use, disposable, and many people use them for these reasons. However, are the benefits of them really worth the costs?

There is a shockingly large amount of plastic that is polluting our oceans. It endangers animals and leads to the emission of more greenhouse gases. According to ABC News, plastic bags clog storm drains and entangle and kill an estimated 100,000 marine animals annually.

The average plastic bag is used for about 12 minutes but they can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. People use about 500 billion single-use bags per year. This averages out to 150 bags per person.

The concept of reducing plastic usage seems easy, but it is harder than it seems. People have been building the habit to use these disposable bags for years and it’s a habit that is hard to break. 

According to ABC News, only three states in the U.S. have passed laws that ban single-use plastics like plastic bags. California, Hawaii, and New York are those three states. Other states like Delaware, Maine, and Rhode Island have mandatory recycling/reuse programs but plastic bags are not banned or taxed.

Ten states have placed bans on banning plastic bags. These states include Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. These bans restrict the ability to control and ban plastic-bag usage. The bans in these ten states ban laws similar to the ones in California and Rhode Island from being enforced.

This encourages us to ask the question, are plastic bag bans really worth it?

According to “Plastic Bag Bans Work” from the Smithsonian, in 2002, Ireland made a simple change by adding a 15 cent tax on plastic bags in stores. They hoped that the tax would help people notice their habits and convince them to bring reusable bags. After the tax was put in place, plastic bag use went down 90 percent. Many shoppers ended up agreeing with the tax and were able to see the benefits.

Plastic bag bans work (at least in tax form)! They have made a noticeable difference in Ireland and have the chance to make an impact all over the world. Enforcing bans across the United States could show an amazing change; especially for marine life!

Extreme animal abuse for a coat?

image taken from: https://www.canadagoose.com

This jacket retails for $1,050.00. Such a large price makes you wonder how it’s made. What makes it so special? But the real question is, is it humane?

Recently Canada Goose has become an extremely popular winter coat brand, and is being marketed as an extremely weather resistant coat. The company was founded in 1957 and recently has become a popular status staple. 

Although, recently throughout media, this company has taken a beating for animal abuse.

The Canada Goose states, “We do not condone any willful mistreatment, neglect, or acts that maliciously cause animals undue suffering. Our standards for the sourcing and use of fur, down and wool reflect our commitment that materials are sourced from animals that are not subject to willful mistreatment or undue harm.”

It is clear this company cares deeply about there product, but do they care about the source?

Throughout the past 7 months, PETA has been advertising anti Canada Goose ads to inform people of the horror going on through this company. 

Animals are not ours

In one of their recent articles, the company depicts how Canada Goose – traps, kills and skins wild coyotes for the fur trim of each coat.

According to PETA, wild coyotes are trapped in painful metal traps, desperately trying to escape.

The coyote will then suffer for days, remaining stuck in the trap.

Once the coyotes have died, they are skinned for their fur.

The trappers then discard the animal’s body carelessly, and are left with the animal’s fur which is sold to Canada Goose. The fur is sown into the jacket, and worn by a careless person.

In the same article, PETA also reveals that Canada Goose uses geese who are killed in a slaughterhouse for their down. Each animal involved with this company will not die a pleasant way. Their last moments alive are conscious and terrifying.

PETA recommends that to prevent this abuse from continuing, STOP BUYING this product.

Ultimately, always make sure that the clothes you are buying are ethical and sustainable. It is crazy what you can find out if you dig a little deeper.

The Game Awards

So the Game Awards happened again. The 2019 Game Awards. If you don’t know, the Game Awards is basically one giant advertisement for upcoming games, and they announce things like game of the year. Normally, I look forward to the Game Awards, but this year, it was kind of a mess.

First off, a few new things were announced, most notably, the Microsoft X series Xbox. The X series will launch in 2020, and features a console that is taller than it is wide. I’ve also noticed the controller looks a bit different from the current Xbox controller, and not in a good way. Before you buy it next year, make sure the grip is comfortable, ask a friend or something.

Before the game of the year was announced, Vin Diesel announced a new Fast and Furious game: Fast & Furious Crossroads. A trailer was shown, and from what I could tell at a glance, the gameplay looked good enough. I’ve never seen any of the Fast & Furious movies, but as far as I can tell it features people in cars shooting at each other. That sounds like fun, but this game has a major flaw in it.

It looks like garbage. Save for a few clips of cars in the trailer (which look like they were out of a cutscene anyways), this game is hard to look at. The character models look like bulky robots with human skin stretched over them, and then they lost half of their pixel count. Seriously, the models look like they were made at 480p when the rest of the game looks like 1080p.

Screenshot taken from: https://youtu.be/1bAtuMIIvyk

But that’s not nearly the only problem with the game in the trailer. First of all, there is lag. Take a moment to let that sink in. There is lag for the trailer to a game that the creators had time to edit and produce properly. If there is lag in the trailer, how much lag is there going to be in the actual game?

There is a bunch of other problems with the game, that just shows a lack of effort from the creators. For one, there is a scene where a car starts shooting at another car and hits it several times, but there are no bullet holes. The bullet effects themselves look more like lasers or energy than actual bullets. Also, and this part is kind of funny, there is an awkward animation of this guy jumping onto a train, and the animation is so ridiculously stupid it’s funny.

But this colossal fail of a trailer is nothing to the real problem of the Game Awards: the choice for best games of the year. Every year, the Game Awards sets up an online poll for a bunch of different awards, like the best action game of the year, or the best fighting game of the year. However, they have way to many categories, and that doesn’t work in their favor.

For the most part, I like how they have so many ways to vote. It shows appreciation to all of the genres, including indie titles, and gives all of the good games of the year a chance to win. However, this isn’t true in the slightest sense. The Game Awards are based on a vote, which means the most popular games are going to win. Nobody is going to vote for a game they haven’t even played. Also, only the pick for Game of the Year is actually said onstage, and the rest are shown online, meaning that they won’t receive any praise from a live audience.

When you break it down, the Game Awards this year were just a three hour slog of watching advertisements for video games, trailers for video games, and a disappointing game of the year announcement. In case you’re wondering, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice won, which admittedly looks like a cool game, but considering Super Smash Bros Ultimate was also in consideration, it doesn’t seem justified.

And that is the flaw with the Game Awards. Because they choose a variety of games on different consoles for game of the year, most people who vote will have only played one or two of those games. That turns voting into a popularity contest.

So does this mean that the Game Awards should pick game of the year a different way? Should they do it based on a Metacritic score, or get a group of professional reviews to voice their opinions? No, then people would feel even worse than they would when their favorite game loses. 

If you want my advice, which you do, because you are reading this article, just ignore the pick for game of the year. Hearing that Sekiro won doesn’t devalue how fun Smash is at all. If the Game Awards continue to put on an advertiser-first display every year, people will start to catch on. But until the show improves, I don’t plan on tuning in next year.

The dangers of working for Amazon

By Toby Groves

Whether you use it or not, everybody knows about Amazon. This worldwide company has grown to be one of the most successful businesses in recent history. Amazon has grown a lot over the years since its creation in 1994, but they are not immune to issues. One problem they face is the way they treat their employees. Here are some of the dangers of working for Amazon.

ROMEOVILLE, IL – AUGUST 01: Workers pack and ship customer orders at the 750,000-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center on August 1, 2017 in Romeoville, Illinois. On August 2, Amazon will be holding job fairs at several fulfillment centers around the country, including the Romeoville facility, in an attempt to hire more than 50,000 workers. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Amazon employees are packaging, bending, running, and lifting boxes for 10-12 hours a day just to get your order to your house in 2 days. Having severe working conditions can have an effect on the company’s employees. One problem is that, aside from breaks, employees don’t have any time for leeway or mistakes. If they stop for a few seconds outside of their designated breaks, it hurts their performance evaluations.

Of the 145 Amazon employees surveyed in a recent study, 66% said they experience physical pain while performing regular duties. From the same study, 42% said they still experience pain even when they’re not working. The pain stems from mostly their feet, but also their lower backs and knees.

Having a working environment in which employees are in constant physical pain throughout their shift, and even when they’re off duty, is an injustice, and needs to be changed. Not to mention that these pains are not always temporary. Experts are saying that these constant strains on muscles and your body can lead to musculoskeletal disorders.

“I feel pain in my back, in my waist, because I do a lot of bending … Even if you squat, you still feel the pain in your waist. It’s a full-body workout all day every day.”

-Anonymous Amazon Employee

Amazon employees also face a mental strain as well. They can feel as though they are pressured into performing past their limits in order to receive good performance evaluations and maintain their career. These issues have shown to affect their sleep and cause psychological stress.

Just because Amazon is a successful company doesn’t mean it is immune to safety regulations and proper support for their employees. Amazon is an ever-growing company and requires a lot of management and staff to keep things moving. However, with the lack of support that they show for their workers, it is hard to see if this company will change their rules, or have their regulations stay the way they are.

Fast fashion

By Charlotte Lane

The fashion industry is one of the most powerful industries ever, and so many people contribute to it everyday: celebrities, designers, and the typical consumer. With such a powerful industry, there is a downside. 

What is fast fashion? 

 An inexpensive trend that produces clothing quickly. 

The fashion industry before the 20th century ran on 4 seasons: fall, winter, spring and summer. Fashion designers used to work for months in advanced before product would come out.

Now, after the Industrial Revolution, the industry has only quickened in pace…and lower in cost.

According to The Good Trade fast fashion basically copies trends at a fast production rate, and are all made out of low quality material. This is all in order to lower prices, and offer inexpensive styles to the public.

Why does fast fashion concern me?

You should care, because of how thin of ice these companies are skating on. For any product to end up in stores at Zara, forever 21, or H&M there are inevitable consequences.

All of these brands easily make billions just by how much product they sell day to day. All this means fast fashion garment workers assemble pieces at extremely low minimum wages.

“Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere is paying for it.”

– Lucy Siegle

Not to mention all of these clothes add extreme environmental waste to our planet. Fast fashion brands use hard chemicals, synthetic fabrics and damaging dyes all ending up in water systems in low income countries where these clothes are made. According to the New York Times more than 60% of fabric fibers are now synthetics, derived from fossil fuels. This means that when these clothes end up in a landfill, it will not decay.

There are also micro plastics and micro fibers that will end up in the ocean, and will never be able to be filtered out. Because of these effects of the earth, overall fast fashion is causing climate change.

Another alarming consequence of fast fashion is that it kills people. Yep, kills people!

In April, 2013, in Bangladesh, a factory collapsed and killed over 1,100 people.

The movie True Cost deeper explores this epidemic, exposing the ugly truth of fast fashion.

How can you make a change to fast fashion?

STOP BUYING

You may think not buying any clothes for a long duration is impossible, but really it isn’t. A great challenge to try out is the 333 project, which is where you only have 33 items of clothing for 3 months. The 33 items do include accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.

If this seems unreasonable try altering the rules for yourself, but really the whole point of this is to not buy for 3 months. Learn more about the 333 project here: https://bemorewithless.com/therules/

Instead of not buying, start supporting sustainable fashion brands

Some good ones are:

And last but not least THRIFT

Be conscientious about what you buy, and what you throw away. A true cost will forever remain.

 

‘Dungeons and Dragons’: The world’s greatest role-playing game

Dungeons and Dragons. What comes to mind when you heart those words? Perhaps you are a veteran of the tabletop role-playing game, and just hearing those words brings back memories of your adventures in the D&D world. More likely, you have no idea what I am talking about, and maybe think Dungeons and Dragons is some kind of video game. At the very least, one phrase comes to your mind: nerd stuff.

There is a common misconception that Dungeon and Dragons is only played by socially outcast nerds with no social life. I am here to dispel that myth; it is false. It’s not a video game either. D&D was made before video games existed. Instead, D&D is what is called a ‘tabletop role-playing game.’

But what does that mean? Basically, in D&D, there are two types of players: the Dungeon Master (called ‘DM’ for short) and the players. The DM referees the game, and is sort of the god of the world he creates. In a video game, he would be the system, the thing that controls all of the monsters and non-player characters, as well as describing the environment and world that the players are in. There is typically only one DM, and everyone else is a player. 

The players each create a character from a variety of races and classes, which are jobs, and they pretend to be their character, and react how their character would react in the world that the DM describes. The best part about character creation is that you can really be anything. If I want to be a dwarven merchant who lost his parents to a dragon attack when he was four and now wants revenge, I can.

Once characters are created, they enter the world that the Dungeon Master has created. He’ll describe the environment, and the players get to choose what they want to do with the scenario he has set up. This is the real draw of the game: the freedom. You can do anything in the D&D world if you want to. If the DM says, “you are surrounded by orcs, and help is miles away,” you can respond to that situation however you want. You can attack them, try to make peace, even bribe them to let you pass.

Does this mean there are no rules? No, of course not. The way randomness is handled in D&D is through the use of exotic dice, ranging from a four sided die to a 20 sided die, also called a d20. Whenever you want to attempt something that has a chance of failing, you roll a d20 and try to get over the DC, or difficulty class. For example, if you want to arm wrestle one of the aforementioned orcs to assert your dominance, the DM might say, “Okay! Roll a strength check.” You would roll your die, and if it got higher than the DC the DM set in his mind, then you succeed, and beat the orc in arm wrestling.

But of course, not everybody is going to have equal skill in every category. A rugged barbarian would have a better chance at beating the orc in arm wrestling than a shrimp wizard would. To show this in the gameplay, everybody has six different ability scores, which represent your expertise on one of the following attributes: strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. Each of these scores has a modifier, a bonus you add to your d20 roll that increase your chances of passing the DC. If a barbarian, who has a +4 to strength attempts to arm wrestle the orc, then the DC is technically 4 lower for him because if he rolls 4 under the DC, his check will still work because his strength modifier increase the total of the roll to be over the DC.

I know that’s a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but that is just the technical stuff, for those curious about how the game works. To sum it up, you pretend to be a character in a fictional world in your imagination, and you make decisions, as in that world, and the success of those decisions is determined by your dice rolls and how good your character is in that particular field. This system is the basis for the technical part of the game, to make sure the game is fair, but the rest of it is up to you. 

I’m serious about that. Although this game is designed for the world you create to have a medieval-fantasy setting, you can make it whatever you want. If you want your story to take place in outer space, you can do that! Want to add laser guns? Simple, just make up some basic stats for it, and it’s as good as real. Remember, the stats are not what drives this game, imagination is what is. As long as you adhere to the core rules, you should be fine.

Making your own things for D&D, whether they be rules, weapons and armor, classes, races, items, or anything else, this process is called, “homebrew.” Homebrewing your own things can really make your adventure stand out. But say you don’t have time to create your own stuff, you just don’t have the free time to whip up some unique ideas. First of all, as a DM, it takes a lot of planning and effort to make a successful adventure. You’re going to want to spend a lot of your free time preparing for the next time you play if you want to get into this game.

But for those who really don’t have the time, or just want to see what other D&D players, both DMs and players, have come up with, then may I suggest www.dandwiki.com? This site is home to thousands of user generated pages, including everything from homebrew classes and races, to entire settings for your worlds. The site even has fan-made content from existing fiction, meaning you can play as people like Link from the Legend of Zelda series, Iron Man from the Marvel franchise, and even Jedi Knights from Star Wars.

Why else should you use D&D Wiki? I would say that it really helps you understand the full concept of D&D itself. By spending time on fan-made pages, you learn how to effectively make your own homebrew stuff by seeing what others are doing. You may have a concept or idea in your head, but don’t know how to implement it into the game. Chances are, you can find a rule or take inspiration from something on the Wiki and use it in your game. 

Here’s the thing: www.dandwiki.com is currently blocked by the school, meaning you can’t use it on your iPad at all, even when you are at home. Now, I know that the school has good reasons for blocking sites, and those reasons usually boil down to one of two things: they are not appropriate or they waste time. Allow me to explain why D&D wiki should not be blocked for either of these reasons.

First, the argument that this site wastes time in school. Well it’s true that I would spend a considerable amount of time on the site, both in and out of school, that doesn’t change a thing about wasted time. There are plenty of ways to waste time on your school iPad, even if the district were to block all the gaming sites in the world. Basically, using your iPad to waste time is a choice that the student makes, and blocking time wasting sites is not an incentive not to waste time.

Secondly, this site is by no means inappropriate. It’s true that Dungeons & Dragons is a generally mature game, that usually refers to the mental age required to play it effectively rather than if it has blood or not. You have to be older to play it, but that doesn’t mean every game is an edgy blood soaked battlefield. It’s up to the DM and players to agree upon if they will describe mature things in the game. There is a total ban on all foul language and mature content on D&D Wiki, if that is the issue.

So yeah, that sums up my article on Dungeons and Dragons. If this sounds like something you would enjoy, go ahead and check it out. All you really need to play is a Player’s Handbook, which you can find online for like $30. If you want to check it out, you can buy a starter pack for even cheaper, which gives you a premade adventure and premade characters for you to play. 

Also, as it turns out, the co-creator of D&D, David Lance Arneson, is a graduate from this very school! I didn’t even know that until I wrote this article. I mean, I knew the game was made by people in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but I never knew how close I really was to the creators of this game. 

If you want to find out more about David, check out this article:  https://www.minnpost.com/mnopedia/2019/05/david-arneson-the-co-creator-of-dungeons-dragons-developed-the-game-in-minnesota/

So, if you have a creative mind, and are feeling bored with the limited choices of video game adventures, then consider playing one of my favorite games of all time: Dungeons & Dragons.

What it is like to only have one arm

By 2050, there will be approximately 3.6 million people in the United States missing a limb. According to www.pewsocialtrends.org, the American population will be approximately 438 million. After doing a bit of quick math, I calculated that about 0.8% of our population will be missing either an arm or a leg.

But what is it like to be missing a limb, specifically an arm? I wanted to find out. I’ve had a passing interest in the idea of having one arm, thanks to anime and TV, believe it or not. In Volume 3 for RWBY, Yang, one of the main characters, gets her arm cut off during a fight. In Season 2 of Attack on Titan, Erwin Smith loses his arm to a titan in one of the best scenes in that show. As for TV, in The Walking Dead, Merle, Hershel, and Aaron all either lose a hand or a leg.

So, with the inspiration of some of my favorite shows on my back, I decided to go armless for a day. To do this, I simply put my left arm in my shirt and pulled in my sleeve so I wouldn’t feel tempted to take it out. If any safety issues ever came up that required me to use two hands, I could simply just take off my hoodie.

The second I left the door on my way to school, I put my arm inside my shirt and was already noticing a problem. Having only one arm means the weight of my backpack wasn’t disturbed evenly, so my one arm got tired quickly. I found myself pushing the bottom of my backpack upwards so it could stay on longer, because I feared it might fall off.

During first period, I noticed the major problems most amputees face: everything is slower. Typing takes much more time, because I only had one arm to type with. This may go without saying, but I think it’s an often overlooked part of having one arm.

Here’s a fun challenge: try to find the commonality with the following sentences. 

  • I had to ask people to zip up my backpack for me when class ended.
  • Eating my lunch was much slower.
  • I couldn’t play video games at all.

In case you forgot what you were reading, the commonality is that all of these sentences can be ended with, “because I only had one arm”. Anything from basic tasks like zipping my backpack to complex stuff like playing video games becomes nearly impossible.

For an example, let’s take a look at how lunch went for me. I had to open the front pocket of my backpack to grab my lunchbox. The coat I stuffed in there earlier was also there, so I had to remove that before I could grab my lunchbox. When I got my lunchbox out, I tried to put the jacket back in the backpack, but it kept falling over. I ended up using my feet to prop it up so I could fit in the jacket. Even so, I couldn’t zip my backpack, so I just had to wait for a friend to do it at lunch.

I’ve practiced eating with one hand before, so besides the fact that I couldn’t hold my cup of lemon pudding down while I ate, I was basically OK. However, that’s not the main challenge I faced.

My friend brought his Nintendo Switch to school that day so we could play Super Smash Bros: Ultimate during lunch. I forgot to inform him that I would only have one arm that day. Anyways, I ended up playing a round, and needless to say, I didn’t do very well. I figured the best way to play was to hold it like you do when the Joy Cons are split, so you hold it vertically. This means that you would have to switch which way the control stick moves the character in settings, so it’s conceivable that this would be a valid way for a one armed person to play the game, although still at a disadvantage. I didn’t have the opportunity to switch the way the stick moved, so I ended up losing the match badly.

Because video games make up an embarrassing amount of my free time, this made me think about what opportunities are taken away from people missing limbs. One armed people are limited to the most basic of mobile games that only require tapping or swiping, meaning one of my favorite pastimes would be gone if I ever lost an arm. 

You know how I talked about how even basic stuff takes a lot of time with only one arm? Well, I really noticed that during 5th period, which for me was Beginning Drawing. We were working on our perspective summative, which involves drawing lines from a ruler to a specific point. Normally, you use one arm to hold the ruler steady and another to draw the line, and you can already see my dilemma. I ended up having to adjust the ruler where I wanted it, setting it down, putting my iPad on it to act as a weight while hoping it didn’t mess up the ruler, and then drawing a line. The entire process took at least 5 times longer at least.

One thing I wasn’t able to emulate that many amputees face is discrimination of any sort. Whether it be weird looks or being told outright that I wasn’t normal, I never experienced any of it. Even if you’ve never met me before, it’s obvious that I have two arms, even if one of them is in my hoodie. Whenever a friend or a teacher asked why I was only using one arm, I explained that it was for journalism class and they didn’t really ask beyond that. At worst, they silently judged me for my weird life choices.

Before I end this article, I quickly want to address how Amputees are viewed in popular culture. Earlier, I mentioned how in the show RWBY, a character by the name of Yang Xiao Long loses her arm in a fight. It’s a common fact that people tend to relate to people like them, so having a character with one arm can resonate with fans who maybe went through the experience of losing a limb, or people who were born without a certain limb to begin with.

However, I feel like this character moment falls flat on its face just a few episodes later. While losing her arm does play into her character development, making her more cautious instead of headstrong, the fact that she loses an arm at all is stupid, considering she gets a highly advanced robot arm just a few episodes later. 

Now, I know prosthetic arms are a real thing, and they are quickly becoming more and more usable, but not to the extent shown by Yang’s robot arm in RWBY. It’s hard to relate to a character that has a cybernetically enhanced arm. RWBY is a show that revolves around a lot of hand to hand combat, so maybe the writers felt too restrained with her just having one arm, or maybe they just thought a robot arm would be cool. Either way, I find it kind of lazy, because even if robot arms are a technology in the RWBY universe, that doesn’t mean you have to use it. Besides, there are plenty of ways the fights in the show could become more creative with one of the characters only having one arm. 

So, in conclusion, it sucks having one arm. Of course, my experience of having one arm is limited, and I’m sure people get used to it over time, but still, spare a thought for the people who don’t have an arm or leg. Thanksgiving is coming up soon, that would be a perfect time to give thanks for what you take for granted.

How to speak gender neutral

By: Charlotte Lane

Have you ever been in a situation where you suddenly realized you may have used the incorrect pronoun to address someone? Well I have, and it made me feel awkward. I was working at a hardware store and addressed a customer assuming I knew their gender. I believe my gender identifying language made us both feel uncomfortable. This situation got me thinking “Why can’t we clean up the English language to be gender neutral?” 

Use Honorary Titles 

One way to avoid these uncomfortable mistakes is by having the English language use more honorary titles. Honorary titles are often used in professional settings.  Doctors, nurses, professors, and teachers are all titles that are used to identify people without revealing their gender.  

The English language could invent more titles to use to categorize people. For example, we currently use Ms. Mrs. Mr. as salutations for individuals where we could substitute new titles that are gender free.  

Pronoun Refresh

Last year, the Merriam dictionary updated the meaning of “they” to refer to a “single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.” How about using the option of Mx. (pronounced Mix) or RP. (respected person) to address your neighbor or business partner?

Another option is using neo pronouns (new) that some individuals have started using. Xir (him or her) or Xi (he or she) could be used to replace the use of of current gender identifying pronouns.  

Share Your Pronouns

When speaking with others, use the pronoun you prefer to be addressed by and don’t be afraid to ask others what pronouns they prefer to use. It can help avoid awkward situations by letting other people know what your pronouns are. 

An example of this is when a teacher is open about being called “they/them.” Knowing this helps foster a healthier relationship between student and teacher. 

Be Forgiving

Similar to learning any new language, it gets messy. In order to make this new language work, we need to remember that no one is perfect and people are going to make mistakes. 

If and when you do trip up, respectfully correct the misunderstanding in hopes of change. When it comes down to it, we all have our own pronouns, but regardless of these we are all biologically human.