Editors’ Desk Decency and Diversity In the aftermath of the presidential election, in which Donald Trump’s campaign received vocal support from white nationalist groups, racist and xenophobic rhetoric has spread, as have incidents of intimidation and violence targeted at minorities. The recent increase in this divisive hatred demonstrates that many who harbor hostility toward others presently feel validated and emboldened. This is likely due in part to the effects of a campaign that, even if it did not explicitly endorse these groups, did not to do enough to prevent these groups from spreading hatred. Unfortunately, this trend has not been limited to distant communities and faceless strangers. Though not as extreme as events taking place on other campuses, within UTD, someone has posted white nationalist propaganda in the Student Union, near JSOM, and in other areas. The flyers included claims that roughly a third of all Muslims are “radical” by default and website links that included a 6000+ word treatise on why white America should jettison cities and states with high minority populations and form a purely white nation-state. Off campus, Plano apartments and homes were also invaded with flyers stating that “we need to get rid of Muslims, Indians, blacks and Jews” and that the circulators “are not responsible for the torture starting now”. Incidents of this sort were not commonplace on our campus before the recent election cycle. Rather, people subscribing to these sentiments have only opted to emerge in its wake. Their efforts amount to cowardice — only playing their cards when they feel the time is ripe for their message to be received. However, UTD has not been, is not, nor will ever be a place
Zackary Boullt - Editor in Chief
Nicholar Provenghi - Web Editor
where racist or discriminatory actions will be allowed to thrive. As stated by President Benson, “Our university strives to foster a campus culture in which all voices are heard and valued, differing ideas are treated thoughtfully, and every individual is afforded dignity.” UTD is a community of broad and beautiful diversity. Not only is our campus welcoming and thoughtful to students, staff, and faculty of a multitude of ethnic and religious backgrounds, but it also serves as a supportive community for students of all different interests, pursuits, ideals, and lifestyles. This has not changed, and it never should. In an era of outrage, in which it has become fashionable to pillory and defame those whose identity, whether cultural, religious, or political, differs from our own, we should not mimic the division and bigotry that fills cable news broadcasts and clogs our Facebook feeds. On the contrary, it is now more important than ever to affirm, through our speech and our actions, that our campus isn’t an echo chamber for prejudice, isn’t a forum for hate speech, and most certainly isn’t a community that will tolerate racial hostility. Treating our neighbors and classmates with respect and dignity, valuing each other for the ways in which we are infinitely more complex than any label, is a matter of fundamental human decency. It is non-negotiable. No matter what occurs on the national stage, no matter what kind of rhetoric is promoted by any politician in any office, the core character of our university should not change. We encourage UTD students to embrace and celebrate the qualities by which some would seek to divide us, and reject the arguments of those who believe that diversity is detrimental.
Ruchika Darapaneni - Marketing Director
Matt Carpenter - Managing Editor
Bryar Bennett - Creative Director
IN THIS ISSUE 12 04
by thatcher reisman
How ignorance, complacency, and rapid technological advances are jeopardizing our safety
“Happy Holidays” by elyse mack
Jewish students have unique experiences during Christmas in a country that often presumes belief in Christianity
Art Director Bryar Bennett
Web Editor Nicholas Provenghi
by bryar bennett College students must subsist on a budget, but sometimes that means risking life and limb
Every Bit Counts
A Secret Identity Crisis
by benny rubanov Why you can and should advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals on campus
by andrew swanson Superhero bockbusters are victims of their own success
DJ Sendoff: Maham Tirmizi
Food for Thought: Monta
by AMP staff AMP interviews the host of Ther[pop]ylae
by bryar bennett
UTD Heroes: Nick Rotundo
Contributors Nick Chiavel Elyse Mack Angeera Naser Maria Neblett Maisha Razzaque Thatcher Reisman Benny Rubanov Andrew Swanson
Media Adviser Chad Thomas
by nick chiavel
It’s the Thought That Counts
AMP Naughty or Nice List
7 Reasons You’re An Irredeemable Failure
Rabia Fatima Chiamaka Mgboji Jennifer Moravits Shannon Ramirez Katie Risor
by maisha razzaque
by zach boullt
by angeera naser
Dodging Your Relatives: A Survival Guide by maria neblett
Disclaimer Opinions expressed in AMP are those of the editor or of the writer of the article and are not necessarily those of the university administration, the board of Regents of the University of Texas System, or of the operating board of the magazine.
Have an opinion? Think you’re funny? Write for AMP! Contact us at email@example.com and follow us on social media for more information.
Happy Holidays CULTURE
Jewish students have unique .experiences during Christmas .in a country that often presumes belief in Christianity
t’s a crisp December Saturday. Walking through the mall, I’m surrounded by gingerbread scented candles, red and white sweaters, and the constant chirping of jingle bells. I am not nostalgic for gathering round the tree. I am not excited to tear open red and gold striped boxes. I just needed a new pair of jeans before Christmas, and the debt I owe on this account is two hours of “All I Want for Christmas is You” blared through blown overhead speakers (and $50). To top it all off, I won’t be going to church, seeing family, making cookies, or even getting presents on December 25*. This is my life as a Jewish American. Being Jewish is often difficult to explain. Our “bible” is the same as the Christian one, just without the Jesus parts. A lot of Jews, especially in America, rarely attend synagogue ( Jewish church), but still eat traditional Jewish foods, question everything, and disappoint their mothers. Growing up, being Jewish often meant explaining that I celebrate Hanukkah (Chanukkah? Chanukka?) instead of Christmas. It became easy to say Hanukkah is Jewish Christmas, but this is hardly true in a religious sense. Just as Valentine’s Day is really a holy day for a specific saint which American capitalism has bastardized into a chocolate-ravaged exaltation of “true love”, Hanukkah was originally the festival of lights before the free market got its grubby hands on it. Its eight nights (the Jewish calendar begins each “day” at sundown, as it follows the lunar, not solar, cycle) celebrate the miraculous victory of the Maccabees (a particular group of Jews) over whoever was trying to murder all the Jews at the time. During the battle for the Maccabees’ right to be Jewish, their temple ( Jewish church) was destroyed, leaving only enough oil left to light the candles for one night. Even though he wasn’t there to stop the Maccabees from being persecuted in the first place or to even save their temple, God was clearly on the Maccabees’ side, and the oil stayed lit for eight craaaazy nights. Culturally, “Jewish Christmas” is actually pretty accurate. Conveniently for major retail outlets, Hanukkah also happens to take place in December. What’s the only logical game plan? Make Hanukkah as much like Christmas as possible! Buying stuff makes everyone complete, and is the only really meaningful way to celebrate a holiday in America — and like every other American industry, the Jews are doing it way better. An eight day festival means we get presents, eat latkes, and play dreidel for an entire week, not this weak-ass one morning bullshit. Despite the Christmas-ization of Hanukkah, growing up as a Jew in America means awkwardly explaining things to people, not believing in Santa, and lots of Chinese food. For example, I never believed in Santa, even growing up in a family which was half Presbyterian — we gave each other gifts, but it was always very clearly “from Mom and Dad.” So in Kindergarten, when all my friends started telling me how excited they were for an old man to bring them stuff via chimney (an architectural feature half the houses in my hometown didn’t even have), I laughed and told them this guy didn’t even exist. A few kids insisted I was wrong, others cried. The teacher had to call my mom, and that night we had a talk about respecting other people’s beliefs — and specifically keeping my mouth shut tight about Santa Claus. While being Jewish at Christmas may still mean getting presents, it also means enduring (at least) a month of blissfully ignorant “Merry Christmas” wishes. It’s not just Jews who might not connect with this well-intended greeting, of course; UTD is full of diverse religions, cultures, and celebrations. So while it may be tempting or normal to spread Christmas cheer, “Happy Holidays” includes at least one more religious group in the spirit of Christmas, at the cost of just one more syllable. *Technically false. Thank God Hanukkah overlaps with Christmas this year.
elyse mack junior | art and performance She’s in Germany right now in an international and European studies course. She’s been Jewish all 20 years of her life (except the year she was 14 and hated everyone, especially God and her mom).
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from blowing off holiday shopping, it’s that there is a painfully thin line between a cute DIY project and absolutely losing the security deposit on your small, already questionable apartment. With the rise of sites like Pinterest, it has become easier than ever to make gifts on a budget, and since my third-grade cousin has a monopoly on quality macaroni art, I’ve had to up my game. With everything from home improvement to vegan hair dye under my belt, I’ve come up with a few basic rules of thumb to help you avoid the disaster that is 90% of the holidays.
Measure twice, cut once.
Accidents happen, and that’s usually ok, but you get bragging rights if you get it right the first time. Double checking measurements, ingredients, steps, and even results can save you from a whole mess of issues. Like an embarrassing dye job… or third-degree chemical burns on your scalp.
can you commit?
This might not apply to the festive cupcakes you’re throwing together, but it definitely applies to the wall you’re trying to knock down. You probably aren’t a professional, and you have to be ready to commit to the potentially garbage fruits of your labor. I’ve found that calling the new hole in your wall “bohemian” creates the illusion of innovativeness and throws visitors off the scent of your complete and undeniable lack of skill.
are you really saving money or are you a damn hipster?
I’m convinced that the DIY trend train exists because young people can make anything seem cool, including being poor. Even though the initial idea was to save some cash by making athome, knockoff versions of your favorite things, upper middle class soccer moms everywhere have hijacked the genre and turned it into a talking point instead of an actual way to make rent this month. This should be obvious, but just in case — if you’re spending more money making the thing than you would just buying the thing, you are wasting your time. Don’t be a Brenda.
You may want to test that homemade acid peel on a discrete part of your arm before you slather it all over your very vulnerable, not-so-great-for-acid face. Duh.
you’re not a doctor.
Lip contouring with leftover eyeshadow? Super cute and innovative. Trying to give yourself Botox? Not so much. Whether you live that DIY life to save money or to brag to your way less artsy friends, it’s never a good idea to cut yourself open. And while I personally love pantry remedies for the occasional cuts and coughs, you won’t be any less trendy, hip, or cool if you stop by the hospital for that broken leg.
do your resesarch. you have the Internet.
There is no such thing as a stupid mistake, but there are mistakes that make you look stupid. Luckily, we have Google, so if you make one, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself. Before you blindly follow instructions, consult your local Google to make sure that you’re making the cheapest, smartest, and most effective choice. Then don’t tell anybody that you checked the internet, because we’ll all laugh at you for not knowing exactly what we know. Which is like, so much more than you.
Assess the risk.
Messing up a tie-dye craft with your kid sister is not a big deal. She doesn’t have any fashion sense anyway. Worst-case scenario, you disappoint an 11-year-old; best case scenario, you get to be the stylish sibling for a few weeks while the rest of your family pretends that tie-dye is still a thing. On the contrary, doing your own electric work can lead to house fires and death. Best case scenario, you get a nifty new light switch; worst case scenario, you burn down your apartment. It’s super embarrassing. Hundreds are dead.
and don’t risk your life.
This is a good life lesson. You should approach every situation with an open mind, because opportunity is everywhere. Everywhere but death. That just hurts.
bryar bennett senior | EMAC Has 47 boards on Pinterest and a refuses to throw away gift bags. Definitely not a hoarder.
mere 30 minutes after my plane touched down in New York City, I am crossing the East River and entering Manhattan, eager to participate in an event whose ambitious magnitude of purpose would mirror the enormity of this city. I arrive at NYU, where a good friend, Carlos, and I will be staying, and crash on the couch. By eight in the morning, we are awake and heading towards 92nd Street and the big event. We enter the building, pass through security, and take our seats at the front of the auditorium, right beneath the stage. The fanfare begins within the hour as the first presenter, with much bravado, announces the opening of the Social Good Summit. The Social Good Summit, which is linked to the United Nations Foundation, is held annually during the week of the U.N. General Assembly, where every U.N. nation’s representatives or leaders gather at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City. The Summit is meant to initiate an incredibly important conversation: how can technology and, more specifically, “new media”, forms of information distribution and communication that take place digitally, impact social good initiatives around the world? The United Nations has outlined a new set of 17 goals, called the Sustainable Development Goals, that aim to “shape global sustainable development for the next 15 years”. The Social Good Summit met to discuss these goals, and address how they may be furthered by Internet-rooted social initiatives. These sorts of initiatives are shaping up to be one of the, if not the singular, most progressive and moving forms of social initiative. The power of these new initiatives derives from the fact that 3.2 billion people use or have access to the Internet. Those are 3.2 billion people that can interact with “new media”. This makes it much more facile to develop wide-reaching platforms and programs that can create real change. On stage at the Summit, Vice President Joe Biden said “I believe that there is no time in history that there was more power within our control, at our disposal, to do more good for more people”. The power that the Vice President referred to is all around us; our generation, which has discovered the power of social media, is in the position to “do more good… than has ever occurred”. Social media has created a plethora of platforms for reaching and tackling issues anywhere in the world, including social, cultural, environmental, and political issues. The issues that demand the most immediate attention, as well as the ways in which social initiatives should work to address these issues, have been specified, in part, by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Goals are meant to “end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all” by the year 2030. This is a monumental task. All humanitarian efforts being conducted in today’s world, from providing cheap vaccinations to disease-ridden areas of Africa, to addressing the Syrian Refugee Crisis, to expanding the number of people with
Internet access, to renovating crime-ridden districts of urban areas, to the growth of clean energy are all efforts that are embodied by the SDGs. Although they are ambitious, they also embody challenges that are already receiving dedicated attention from the international community. That is what makes the SDGs so significant: they are achievable. Why should we, as college students, care about these global issues? This rhetorical question is not meant to be facetious. It is perfectly valid, as well as important, to ask how can and do these goals affect our lives. Our world is more interconnected than ever before, as are we. Any change on a global scale ripples to cause changes on a local scale. When an oil crisis strikes, the U.S. economy takes a blow, and gas prices shoot up. Lines at the gas station become common. When a disease that arises because of deplorable health and sanitation standards in one part of the world sparks an inevitable epidemic, the result can spread throughout the world rapidly. This principle of shared global consequences is true for long-term and institutional issues as well. The fact that over 50% of the world’s children not in school live in sub-Saharan Africa confines that region to a state of “third world” development that does not allow it to help the world economy prosper. Rather, it breeds inequality and poor standards of living that can create many more problems. The world is truly global now, and tackling these issues in whatever way we can, from wherever we live, is imperative to achieving the SDGs. As students in a dynamic, forward-moving college campus environment, we are uniquely situated to work towards the SDGs on a local scale. Empowered by “new media”, we have the ability to make meaningful strides on global issues like never before. Taking steps one at a time, on a local level, is the grassroots beginning necessary to bring change to campus, our community in Dallas, and the world. To start out, join or start an organization that is involved with some sort of social good, and contribute whatever you can to the cause, using your specific talents. (If you have an idea for a new organization but don’t have the time or the knowhow to start it, send me an email to benjamin.rubanov@ utdallas.edu. I’ll do my best to help you get started and connect you to the right people.) For example, Goal Four of the SDGs is to provide quality education for every single human being. There is significant progress already being made: the number of children out of school worldwide has dropped by almost half since 2000. But we can do better. At UTD, organizations such as Helping Hands, which aims to provide underprivileged
children nutrition, education, and encouragement, and WeTeach, which reaches out to local schools to help with tutoring and education events, are facilitators of this progress towards quality education. Goal One of the SDGs is to end worldwide poverty. Just looking at our city: over 15% of the 100,000+ population of Richardson Texas has an income below the poverty level. Only 4% of those working full time are at this poverty level. This indicates that the majority of this poverty exists among residents who are not working, for whatever reason. It is incredibly important that these residents be given economic opportunity to do work for their living, and a wide variety of local activism can accomplish this within our city. There are four Goals that directly relate to the impact that humanity can have on the environment; they include climate action, life below water, life on land, and responsible consumption and production. Regardless of the politicization of climate change, its occurrence is undeniable, and local changes can positively affect the environment. At UTD, we have a very active Sustainability Club that provides many avenues for effecting change at UTD and in our Dallas community. It is one of many facilitators of environmental support organizations that make it easy to become an activist. The Citizens’ Climate Lobby, an organization focused on the legislative side of environmental advocacy, has a chapter at UTD. These grassroots organizations have managed to cultivate extensive community support, which manifests through the activism brought on by local volunteerism. Goal Seventeen, which calls for a partnership among countries, is the uniting element of this massive call to action. Progress cannot be made without a united effort, regardless of the scale of the movement. That is where raising awareness and activism becomes so crucial. As individuals on a college campus, we are limited to the role we can take on a national and international scale. However, if we assume the role of a University that is united as a vanguard for change, we suddenly can make much more of an impact. The UTD name should be known for its students and their drive for progress. Collaboration across
campuses, large-scale organizational support, and a youthful drive for betterment of the lives of people worldwide can truly incite change on an international scale. If we show that our campus cares for these Goals, if we approach students internationally and cultivate the same hunger for change, if we create a collective voice, then the seventeenth goal of the SDGs will be achieved, and the achievement of the others will follow. There are youth group organizations working closely with the United Nations that adhere to this unification regime. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) is an organization that is meant to verify the ban on nuclear tests worldwide. It has a youth group that is closely involved with engaging in activism in global peace and security endeavors. CTBTO champions global unification efforts that the youth group is active in pursuing at a local scale, including efforts that are already underway at UTD. We have a real, tangible ability to make lives different. There are so many local organizations that need help – students on campus can group together and work towards genuine change. In today’s world, there is a great need for that kind of collectivism. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that “it’s important that you, young people, set the bar high… work not just for yourself, not just for your community, but for the world, because the world is your community… be a global citizen: someone who works in the best interest of their neighbor, in the best interest of the global community”. We have the ability to be these “global citizens” and, in working for our community, effect change that could significantly impact these movements on global stage. Suddenly, the Sustainable Development Goals don’t seem that far off.
Empowered by new media, we have the ability to make meaningful strides on global issues like never before. Taking steps one at a time, on a local level, is the grassroots beginning necessary to bring change to campus, our community in Dallas, and the world.
freshman | undeclared Benny is a member of the CTBTO Youth Group, which has inspired him to effect change in his community.
beyond comprehen sion TECH
he last forty years have played host to an unprecedented surge in technological integration throughout all classes of society. Devices that only a few decades ago were absurd to the point of science fiction are now staples of modern life. This trend was first recognized in 1965 by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, who, in his seminal article, “Cramming more components onto integrated circuits,” predicted that the number of transistors within an integrated circuit would double every two years in perpetuity. In essence, the processing power of the average CPU has maintained the same exponential growth rate, doubling every two years, for the last fifty years. Only since last year has this growth rate decayed, and then, only by an additional half-year. Technological advancement on this scale was something society was objectively not ready for, and as such, growing pains were felt by those generations caught in the middle. The phrase “only ‘90s kids will remember _____,” while more of a meme these days than anything else, is a reference to a turning point in American society in which virtually all aspects of modern life (appliances, infrastructure,
entertainment, occupations, mass media, etc.) underwent varying degrees of electronic integration. The ‘90s saw the rise of the internet, the first Browser War, the first iteration of the modern Windows OS, 3D video games, and 2G cell phones. The phrase exists because of both the large amount and variety of technology that got outmoded in the ‘90s. This massive schism created a divide in generations, as Gen Y (‘90s kids) became the last generation to recall a time before mass integration, and Gen Z (millennials) became the first generation to have no recollection of that time. Consequently, Gen Z has taken not only all the new technology, but also the rate that this technology is being replaced, for granted. What these generations share, however, is a complete lack of understanding about the technology which permeates all facets of modern life. The average consumer, whether 89, 34, or 13, has virtually no idea how his or her devices work conceptually. Much of this is due to the abstract nature of computers and even basic electronics. These lack a basic intuition that is inherent in many other technologies. Take guns for instance. Though I am by no means an expert in firearms, through observation I can note that a trigger is pulled, causing a hammer to strike the small explosive on the back of a bullet, accelerating the bullet out of the chamber. I know this, not because I sought the information out, but because it can be casually discerned. The same cannot be said for Wi-Fi connections; the average person can determine that there is some sort of link between the router and their device, and that somehow data is transferred between the two, but anything more than that would likely require either research or an intent investigation of the process. And then, even if someone
How ignorance, complaceny, .and rapid technological .advances are jeopardizing .our safety
gained the impetus to attempt to become well-versed in an aspect of modern electronics, the perceived complexity and strangeness of the field could easily drive them away. Many assume that society’s general ignorance towards computer science is of no significance. Indeed, for most concepts that are not intuitive, such as computer science, the lack of comprehension among the general populace bears very few, if any, consequences for society. For example, the method by which airplanes generate lift is not common knowledge, yet situations in which the average person would benefit from this knowledge are extremely uncommon. Normally, for any sort of complex field, understanding can simply fall to a specialized group in society; in the case of airplanes, to pilots, aeronautical engineers, and others within the industry. Similarly, the responsibility of maintaining our electronics has been relegated to the computer science industry. However, the issue with this field is that electronics, unlike airplanes or guns, play a part in virtually every aspect of modern life. Consider all of the electronics involved in a trip to the grocery store. If your car is younger than 30, it relies on an electric igniter. If it’s younger than four, there’s a good chance it has some form of touch screen interface and internet connectivity. In the future, your car could very well drive itself. Each stoplight uses circuitry and sensors to determine turn order. After shopping, you use an
electronic card to transfer money to the store, and the entire time a micro-computer that contains virtually all your personal information sits in your pocket. Succinctly, computers are everywhere and are therefore unavoidable. Computer science must be widely understood because it is a uniquely integrated field, built upon decades of rapid evolution, that virtually all of society interacts within on an hour by hour basis. When a situation of technical illiteracy of this magnitude arises, it creates a massive risk of exploitation for the average user at the hands of those who have mastered, to even a slight degree, computer science. Be it individuals or teams, there are many active threats that the average person is entirely unprepared for. Many users don’t truly conceive of the level of damage that can be done to them. Consider the hacking of a smart phone, most likely perpetrated by an individual. The hacker would gain access to the user’s email address. Through the email address, the hacker could then access logins on any number of sites through a change of password which, depending on the hacker’s motivations, could lead to hijacked social media, stolen bank account information, and/or identity theft. The hacker might not only gain access to the user’s profiles, but could potentially block the user from accessing their own profiles. Additionally, if the user is unaware of the intrusion, he or she may continue to use the infected phone while the intruder has access to their camera and/or
microphone, potentially allowing illicit photos or video to be taken without the user’s consent or awareness. More advanced hacker teams like Teslacrypt and Ultracrypter make money by gaining access to users’ systems and encrypting all their files through the use of ransomware. They then sell the victim a decryption key that will allow the victim to get their files back. While these scenarios are relatively uncommon, more generic attacks like automated data breach hacks strike roughly one half of adults each year. If that number seems ludicrous, it’s because it is. These hacks are not unavoidable; rather their numbers are the result of ignorance on the part of users. Often uneducated users engage in risky behaviors, unwittingly making themselves vulnerable to attack, and, as many attacks are now fully automated, if a user consistently maintains a vulnerability they are all but guaranteed to become a victim of some level of infection. Furthermore, when people think of risky behaviors they tend to point to things like porn sites and pop-up ads. While those are definitely high-risk decisions, there are many other risks that people are generally not aware of. To name a few, shared USB-keys, open Wi-Fi networks, unsecured hyper-links, and yes, opening email attachments, all fall under the blanket of risk. These actions, while completely avoidable, and capable of being done safely with a bit of preparation, are common mistakes. A much easier solution than grasping the basics of computer science would be to produce a list of “don’ts” informing people about risky behaviors and how to perform them safely or avoid them altogether. However, there are two big issues with such a list. Firstly, due to the intense rate of technological advancement, new vulnerabilities are both created and discovered constantly. Secondly, hackers may be aware of vulnerabilities long before the rest of the industry is. Alternatively, if users understood the essential concepts of computer science, they could independently determine whether or not their actions were secure, eliminating the need for a blacklist and greatly diminishing the success rate of hackers. I won’t claim that learning computer science is easy, or that doing so will guarantee that you won’t get hacked. Frankly, computer science is a complicated field, and even the basics take some time to learn. What it comes down to is odds. The more risky behaviors you take part in, intentionally or otherwise, the higher your chances of getting hacked, and in today’s society, it’s impossible to avoid all of them. As time goes on and computers become even more integrated into our daily lives, the damage hackers can do will only become more substantial. However, by taking the time to become well versed, you can effectively minimize the risk of attack, and in all likelihood repel attackers without incident.
thatcher reisman sophomore | economics Thatcher is AMP’s resident tech whiz. He only uses his powers for good, we hope...
imminent danger Currently, electronics are undergoing a new cycle of integration focusing on physical automation and “smart” devices. This means that in the future, hackers will have the potential to physically harm their victims. Some such risky technologies are included below:
xSelf-driving cars, which are Xbeginning to hit streets in a Xlimited form, could, if hacked, XXbe made to veer into oncoming XXtraffic.
XRobotic surgeons create Xa whole new exposure to Xattack in which patients could be harmed, intentionally or unintentionally.
X“Smart” homes could locks Xbe undone and the alarm Xturned off, all remotely.
XWireless energy transfer Xcould be used to overload Xbatteries and cause XXXXsmartphones to ignite, XXXXeven while off. december 2016
hat is it that connects a billionaire tech-mogul clad in a suit of power armor, a farm boy from Kansas with the might of a god, and a spandex-wearing mercenary who has an almost abusive relationship with the fourth wall? Other than their status in the average moviegoer’s mind as some of the many superheroes to grace the silver screen this year, very little. When it comes down to it there isn’t much that Iron Man, Superman, and Deadpool have in common except for their ability to partake in larger-than-life fights, and even then they do so in vastly different ways. Why, then, if these and other superheroes are so unique in their characterizations and capabilities, do many of their movies ultimately end up feeling the same? The superhero genre has been under increasing scrutiny in recent years, due in large part to the prevalence of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC’s attempts to mirror it. For many, “superhero fatigue” has begun to set in, as each movie presents what seems like one of the same three stories (the origin story, the revenge tale, or the battle for the fate of the world), with the only real differences between films being each hero’s name, his or her powers, and the amount of humor. Some films have been criticized for having more than one of these standard plotlines crammed into the timespan of a single movie (with 2007’s Spider-Man 3 somehow blending a tangential alien invasion plot with two separate revenge storylines). At its lowest points, the genre has been accused of producing films that tell effectively no story at all and only exist as a two-hour advertisement for installments to come (2010’s Iron Man 2 and 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice come to mind). It seems, at least for modern audiences, that it is very difficult to get a superhero movie “right.”
Maybe this is because, in the current cinematic landscape, there truly is no “right” way to make a superhero film. After all, with as few similarities as exist between Iron Man and Thor, how can we expect for their films to feel similar and still tell the best possible stories for each character? With other genres, this expectation is warranted. Westerns are characterized by both their setting, typically rural America outside the reach of urbanized civilization, and their protagonists, usually a lone ranger with a compulsion to bring about their definition of justice, be it within the confines of the law or not. Watch any two westerns back to back and the stories might be vastly different, but the atmospheres they evoke would be very similar. The same is true of spy thrillers, romantic comedies, epic fantasies, and virtually every other genre of film. But the superhero genre? Where and when do superhero films take place? Some in Malibu, many in New York, some in Gotham, and some in space, with almost all occurring in whatever year the film itself is actually released. What characterizes their protagonists more than the possession of some extraordinary (read: arbitrary) ability. There is nothing that Tony Stark truly has in common with Thor Odinson, meaning there is no reason for their individual films to have a similar structure, tone, or atmosphere. It is with this in mind that superhero film producers should do away with the notion of the “superhero genre” and draw their influence from the various other genres of film. This concept is not unheard of. 2008’s The Dark Knight, the subject of many moviegoers’ praise, is often cited as one of the best superhero films of all time. This movie, depicting the story of a billionaire crimefighter in a bat costume partnering with the police to take down an anarchist wearing clown make-up, could come across as hilariously
odd, or even cringe-worthy, if subjected to the lighter, more comedic “superhero” tone of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. However, because it was allowed to break from these tropes and draw influence from darker, grittier crime dramas, it achieved both critical and commercial success and is one of the most adored depictions of Batman’s rivalry with the Joker. On the other side of the fence we have 2013’s Thor: The Dark World, known to some as one of the weakest of Marvel Studios’ recent films. This movie had all the ingredients for an epic high fantasy film: a hero with a mystical and powerful weapon, a disgraced and untrustworthy brother forced to work with the hero for the collective good, an ancient artifact with untold power to reshape reality, and a long lost race of Dark Elves who wish to wield it. However, the film was subjected to the almost formulaic structure of most superhero films, which sees the hero go predictably from one location to next, slowly learning about the villain, with a joke every five minutes and a fight scene every 25. Rather than telling a story based around the arguably more serious and dramatic characteristics of Thor, whose humor stems from being a larger than life character oblivious to the norms of our society, Marvel felt the need to capitalize on the success they had achieved from the quip-ridden Avengers. When it released, viewers who were hoping for an epic sequel that would finally reveal the fate of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki after his actions in the aforementioned ensemble blockbuster were instead given a story of doomed love, public nudity, science gibberish, monotone elf-creatures, and teleporting shoes. The film wasn’t really bad, merely egregiously uninspired. These let-downs, mind you, are not an intentional insult from the director to the audience. No filmmaker wakes up, goes to work, and decides that they want to make a mediocre movie. Instead, these disappointments are more likely indicative of their belief that audiences truly want more of the same. Movies, after all, are a business, and every business must turn a profit in order to survive. How better to maximize your profits than by making the films that the people want? The faulty logic is made apparent when audiences are given films that break free of the tropes, proving what a superhero movie can be like if allowed to play off of the attributes of its characters and story. The Dark Knight did this almost perfectly. 2014’s Captain
America: The Winter Soldier came close, coming across at times as an almost Bourne-esque political thriller. Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man came closer, emulating the feeling of watching a space opera and a small-scale heist movie respectively. And it seems as if this trend is only becoming more prevalent with time. The trailer for Fox’s upcoming Logan, Hugh Jackman’s final film as Wolverine, emanates an atmosphere that is distinct from that of the other X-Men films and has viewers thinking back to such films as The Road and The Book of Eli. Even Marvel Studios’ upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, which details the life of Peter Parker as a high school sophomore, has been likened by insiders to “John Hughes with super powers.” Indeed, it would seem, for the most part, that superhero filmmakers are fighting hard against the once inescapable tropes of the superhero genre and forging their own paths into individualized superhero storytelling. This does not mean that we as viewers should be content with what we are given, however. After all, for every Dark Knight there is a Dark World, and it is our job to make known what it is we want to those that have the power to give it to us. I say all of this as an unyielding fan of any and all superhero movies. Ask anyone who knows me and you’ll hear about how unrelentingly (and almost blindly) excited I am for whatever is coming out next. That being said, I admit to wanting better. I want a world where the term “superhero genre” and its limitations don’t exist. I want a world where we are given movies that make use of more diverse genres to truly capture the essence and uniqueness of each character. I want a world where these movies are good enough to be included in serious discussion, despite their main characters’ ability to fly. For anyone who shares these desires, this world is within our reach. All we need is to speak out for what we want to see and against what we won’t accept. It seems to me that filmmakers are already starting to listen – and if we speak a little louder, they are bound to hear us.
sophomore | finance Andrew is an avid watcher and researcher of superhero films, which he believes aren’t living up to their full potential.
DJ SENDOFF | amputd.com
in collaboration with RadioUTD
What kind of music did you play on your show?
This month, AMP interviewed a graduating RadioUTD DJ about her show ther[pop]ylae and her advice for future DJs.
We started off just trying to make it focused on indie and alternative rock, then surf rock. Later it was supposed to be about world music only, but this year it’s been about pop and dance pop.
Can you explain the name and overall theme of your show?
What were other bands that were foundational?
After Arcade Fire, I got into The National and In Rainbows by Radiohead, but now it’s shifted to bands like San Fermin.
How did you go from getting an interest in music to wanting to have a radio show?
Ther[pop]ylae is based off of Grecian history and the battle, Thermopylae. We wanted the show to be a bridge to other worlds, and then this semester I took this approach of exploring our zeitgeist. I think typically when people talk about what the “spirit of the times” is, it’s mostly just one interpretation, and my show is about trying to get that interpretation, especially [that of ] Dallas and the local Dallas art scene. We have this contrast of growing up in the stereotypical southern city where everyone is all about country music and blue bloods, but there’s a wide diversity here, and trying to get everyone’s interpretation of how they are experiencing the world is what’s most important right now.
My freshman year, I had a friend that was in RadioUTD, and [I] thought that was so cool and trendy but thought there was no way I could ever get in, so [I] shied away from it until basically my junior year. I would always see people from radio and was inspired by them. I remember talking to Jamie before she was Station Manager, and she was very inspiring and told me to not be ashamed by what I like and to play what I want and that will get people to listen. A year ago, I told myself I would go for it and apply, and luckily I was blessed and they gave me a show.
What most motivated the music selections on your show?
What artists would serve as an introduction to the music you played on your show?
Mostly it depends on what I feel like, though my guests help influence it and curate it. Most of my guests have been past DJs of RadioUTD that are up to new stuff. It’s a modge-podge of having their influences, my influences, and the content they’re creating.
What first caused you to develop an interest in the type of music you played on your show?
I went to high school at Plano West, and there was a class called American Studies There was a six-week unit where they had us listen to The Suburbs by Arcade Fire. It was right after we were discussing the nuclear family and American culture. I never really cared about music; I liked Britney Spears and Hilary Duff but never thought much more about [music] outside of that. Then they had us listen to this album and really analyze it. It really caught the essence of growing up in suburbia and kind of hating it but also loving it and knowing you can’t really disrespect it because it’s what shaped you. Ever since then I was crazy about learning about music and understanding what influences artists, what they’re trying to write about.
Novelist, Kishi Bashi, Empress Of, and HONNE are artists I’ve played recently. I also have this bit on my show called Culture Clash where guests show me their top 3 songs that they love and make a case for them, but then they tell me a genre or 3 songs they can’t stand, and I play those songs on my show. It’s really interesting because they have to make a case for why they don’t like it, and sometimes I’ll get them to change their mind. One time my guest said they don’t like country music, and we went through and found three songs where he said “Hey, these actually aren’t that bad.” Then sometimes we find songs where we’re like “Oh my god, yes, this is really terrible.” A guest once told me that sometimes you can be not that interested in a genre, but you know when they’re doing it right, and you can respect that.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you or your show?
I’m gonna miss RadioUTD, and if you’re someone that’s not sure if you should apply, don’t be scared. My biggest regret is that I didn’t apply earlier, and that I could have had more years under my belt.
Food for Thought:
live about half an hour away from my family home, so winter break is a weird time for me. All my friends and roommates ship off to wherever they’re from to reunite with loved ones while I watch things here on campus and find creative ways to cope with the month-long lull in my social life. The first few days consist of a short hibernation period where nobody can tell me anything because shhhhh I’m on vacation. After that, I exhaust all of my hobbies, clean everything, wander around looking lost, and then eventually come to terms with the fact that literally nobody can hang out with me for another few weeks. This is my life now. A lone wolfpack of one. Wolves get cold and hungry, though, so I decided to start hunting for a few places with warm meals that I could hang out in on those long winter days. Cool looking places that I could take snaps of and get kind of dressed up for so all my friends with big, far-away families could see how much fun I’m having without them. So much fun. See? SEE? A lot of people don’t seem to realize that ramen didn’t originally come from those little orange packages that have been clogging college students’ arteries for generations. So I went hunting for the fancy kind. The kind that other people make for you. The kind that comes with actual Japanese greetings when you walk in the door. Monta Ramen is about 10 minutes off campus and offers all the fixings of a ramen shop you’d find in a much more exciting place. In fact, the owners own a few shops in Las Vegas, further driving home the cool factor. Staff will greet you with an “irasshaimase” and offer you a spot either in the dining room or at the bar. The menu is short, offering three-dollar appetizers, a variety of hot and cold ramen dishes, fried rices, and a few
specialty items. While all the ramen comes with basic toppings, customers can add anything from kimchi to corn for a few extra dollars and noodle refills (which I learned is called Kaedama) are available upon request. They also offer mochi ice cream for dessert, which is adorable and worth the visit in and of itself. I tried the Miso and Shoyu ramen entrees, which both came out fresh and flavorful. And when you’re not eating, it’s just a really rad looking place. The decoration and atmosphere are a modern take on a traditional ramen shop, and while it’s big enough to hold a busy dinner rush, it’s not so massive as to feel like you couldn’t be a regular. I went in and sat for an hour or so to write this article and it was freakin’ delightful. The staff was attentive and friendly, but never pushy about me camping out. At one point my server even chatted with me for a bit after checking to make sure my water was topped off. By the same token, I could see myself bringing a few friends here for a light meal and some sake before or after a night out. So all and all, pretty great. It’s a warm little ramen shop with nice people, quality food, and an undeniable cool factor. They even have t-shirts so you know it’s totally a thing. If you find the time to stop by, I highly recommend the takana fried rice in addition to any of the ramen bowls, because they’re all wonderful. Visit them at 800 N. Coit Road, Suite 2550B
bryar bennett senior | EMAC When she’s not designing this specific magazine, she’s on the hunt for delicious noms.
hat do Supreme Court Justices, Melania Trump’s speechwriters, and mediocre high school cover bands have in common? They strictly adhere to previous examples. Except for Kevin the drummer. He doesn’t seem to understand that Don’t Stop Believing have a two-minute drum solo after every verse. Following precisely in the footsteps of trailblazers is a simple and surefire way to achieve success; you don’t have to do any work for most of the expedition, and when you find your predecessor collapsed, half-dead, 200 yards from the summit, you can quietly strangle him and claim all of the glory for yourself. The obvious professional benefits of using other successful individuals as models for your behavior are more certain than Hillary’s odds on election day. It is for this reason that AMP has spent this semester calling attention to UTD alums who have had profound impacts on this country. By showcasing the stunning qualities of Katrina Pierson and Ross Ulbricht, and highlighting how their UTD education taught them all of the skills they used to make an impact, we hoped to provide current Comets with strong examples of how to use their degree to maximum effect. Who better to serve as motivational models for UTD graduates than other alumni who have already made a name for themselves? I hope you’ve been taking notes, because the final exam of life starts the day after graduation, and boy it’s brutal; all free response, no partial credit. Pro tip: the answer to question number 126 (Describe a combination of the following evasion strategies that is useful for avoiding door-to-door salesmen: “Help! I’ve fallen and
I can’t get up,” playing dead, stop-drop-and-roll, and “No Hablo English!”) is the simply write “all of the above.” This month, in recognition of the fact that lots of UTD students have never lived outside of Plano, and never intend to, our alumni spotlight shifts to a recent graduate who has made a huge splash in our community, instead of on a national stage: Nick Rotundo. For those who are unaware, Rotundo was recently sentenced to over three years in prison for one count of cyberstalking. His crimes involved attempting to solicit photos of women’s breasts by pretending to be part of breast study, and later threatening one of his victims in an attempt to obtain more nude photos. Nick Rotundo was a 2013 graduate who majored in management information systems before landing a job at Google. In a heart-wrenching betrayal of Temoc’s friendship, Rotundo targeted his cybercrimes toward fellow Comets. Although Rotundo’s actions were exploitative, morally bankrupt, and indefensibly disgusting, he is also indisputably a UTD alumnus, which means the strict rules of college loyalty, the same rules that force grown adults to smash furniture during big college football games, mean that we’re all obligated to find the redeeming qualities in him that we can apply to our everyday lives. So, without further ado, here are the ways you can learn from Nick Rotundo’s example. The first impressive quality that becomes apparent when studying Rotundo’s story is his commitment to broadening his perspective through experiential learning. Going to prison is a bold career move. It’s a high risk, high reward endeavor; if he manages to survive with his sanity intact, employers will be thrilled to see three years as an
inmate on his resume. What better way to demonstrate your ability to collaborate on a diverse team and dedicate yourself to your work at the exclusion of all other parts of life? The kind of amazing planning and foresight Rotundo demonstrated when he carefully and deliberately devised a way to end up in prison for just enough time cite in as meaningful experience. Every step along the way, from the ease with which he was found out to his guilty plea, prove that Rotundo knew exactly what he was doing. While, his actions were both ill-advised and severely reprehensible, Nick Rotundo did display impressive entrepreneurial spirit on his voyeuristic crime spree. The intellectual vibrancy of a man who concocted a scheme to use fake science for personal gain is something all UTD students should seek to emulate. As a graduate of UTD, Rotundo must have been thoroughly trained in the arts of innovation, creativity, and interpersonal skills. To see an alumnus attempt to bring all of these skills to bear in order to see breasts should inspire all Comets, no matter what field they’re studying. Rotundo is living proof that the knowledge and skills you gain at UTD will be applicable later in life. Additionally, Rotundo, a graduate of the Naveen Jindal School of Management, has clearly embraced the example of his school’s namesake, something all Comets should attempt to do. Like Naveen Jindal, Nick Rotundo knew that in order to succeed, you must act first and worry about legality later. The real movers-and-shakers, the real game changers, the real Rocky’s and Forrest Gump’s of this world don’t have time for the rules and laws that bind the rest of
society. They’re so important, and so busy being examples of success for the rest of us, that they simply can’t be expected to continually ask themselves if what they’re doing is right. When they misstep, it’s only the small cost society must pay to allow bold new ideas, like committing cybercrimes to avoid paying for porn, to flourish. If history will be the final judge of everything, why even bother trying to criticize people in the present? Finally, Nick Rotundo will have a transformative impact on the mindsets of current students by showing that you can be a successful alum by focusing on making waves at a local level; no need for CNN interviews, global drug trade, or any other useless bells and whistles. All Comets, whether current students or graduates, should be relieved to learn from Rotundo’s story that “getting discovered” by the media can be as easy as threatening your classmates. We at AMP hope that our detailed and rigorous profiles on “UTD Heroes” have given you the greatest possible collection of resources and examples of success that UTD’s alumni network has to offer. At the very least, we’re happy to have shared the identities of UTD’s best alumni with the campus community.
nick chiavel sophomore | marketing After taking a gap year as Director of Tweeting for the Trump campaign, Nick now writes 140-character poems in his free time.
itâ€™s the thought that counts
an you hear the bells jingle, Comets? It’s December, and soon finals week will come to a close, giving you a whole new playing field for what to stress over next, and I’m not talking about deliberating over the best way to ask your parents for more money next semester. The holidays come with a particular kind of headache that can be hard to shake. You’ve spent your last paycheck on Red Bull and over-the-counter cold medication, and you’re in no condition to be purchasing extravagant Christmas presents for your loved ones. Not to fear, because in the spirit of holiday cheer, I’ve come up with a few gift ideas for a college student on a budget. If you’re looking for an encouraging kind of present that will leave you with more than potato chip crumbs to eat for the months to come, head to any abandoned alleyway behind a pet store, and more likely than not, you’ll find this holiday gem: an empty rabbit cage. You can’t afford a rabbit, but what you can afford is the potential. This is a great gift idea for any kids in your family. What better to motivate your little sister to save up for a rabbit than a ready-made reminder that your broke ass couldn’t afford to buy her one? Are you ripping out your hair, trying to find the perfect present for someone in your life who just seems to have it all? Look no further and curb that frustration, because I have the endall gift suggestion for your predicament: a set of novelty dildos aptly named “breakfast,” “lunch,” and “dinner.” Novelty items are symbolic in nature. They express that you connect with the recipient on a personal level. You won’t be doling out enough cash to leave you hungry on the holiday with this gift, but it will bring you closer together. Pre-holiday breakups can be kind of messy. Usually you hope it ends poorly enough that you don’t speak for six months, so that you don’t have to worry about getting a gift. Unfortunately, sometimes things end amicably right before the giving season sneaks up on you. Now you’re stuck in an awkward post-breakup friendly obligation to get a present. Don’t waste another minute on figuring it out, because why not just get them a hot dog slicer. You know… the kind that slices hot dogs into thin little pieces. What a thoughtful gift that tells your ex – while you’re not in each other’s lives anymore – that you’re still thinking of him on the holidays. For your favorite TV junkie, don’t go the extra mile and get the whole boxed set when all you need is the final season of Lost on DVD. Technically, you’re being kind. Who has the time or energy to sit through the trials and tribulations of six entire seasons? Your considerate gift puts minimalism in a new light. Now, your loved one can just read the episode synopses for seasons 1-5 and experience the finale in person. For your current significant other, turn your financial distress into an opportunity to send a message. You don’t have to give her
your heart on platter or expensive jewelry when you could just get her a single Wii remote. Promise her you’ll get the other one on an upcoming birthday. Perhaps you’ll even get her the console at some point. Nothing says commitment like a multi-part present. Let’s face it. You’re a sucker for sentiment, but you’re pulling out the bottom of your pockets for spare change. You can’t exactly splurge and get your dad a vinyl of his favorite band. Try settling for a vinyl of his fifth favorite band: one that he doesn’t totally hate but over which he fluxes from indifference to short-lived nostalgia. So what if an Eagles record is out of your reach? A Steve Miller band vinyl is just a trip to your local discount bookstore away, and more importantly, well within your fiscal limitations. Print out Buy My Silence coupons and give them as last minute gifts that your co-workers have wanted desperately all year. One coupon equates to one whole day of you shutting the hell up. This crowd favorite really brings a tear to the eyes of its relieved recipients. Nothing pulls the heartstrings like a blast from the past. Pull out your old stuff from middle school that’s been sitting tight in a storage bin. If you’re the type of person who hasn’t taken out your trash in half a decade, you’re in luck. Start digging for that first generation iPod Touch case. Disregarding the fact that this present is practically useless (unless you’re shopping for the rare few who still have a first generation iPod Touch for some reason), it accomplishes the two main considerations of buying presents. First and most importantly, irony. Second, digging it out of your crap drawer is way more economical than, say, getting out there and buying a brand new present. Do you find yourself weeping over the amount of plastic waste that piles up during the festive months? Is the death of the planet yet another thing weighing down on your already-overwhelming worries about paying off your credit card bills from all those happy hour Thursdays? The perfect gift idea for you is going to be an even bigger deal than Soylent: hand-knit sandwich bags. Yes, you’ll have to learn how to knit, but hear me out. What other present could so perfectly encapsulate the environmentally conscious initiative for the holiday season? Just give it some time, and these will be all the rage in the lifestyle blogosphere. Gift-giving in style doesn’t have to entail taking out a loan. All you have to do is venture above and beyond your comfort zone. Take some risks, get a little creative, and keep it legal. Happy holidays and good luck to all of you fixing to go home and explain your current bank statement to your parents.
junior | cognitive science In her spare time Maisha listens to podcasts, writes, and concocts absurd conspiracy theories about celebrity breakups.
NAUGHTY OR NICE LIST
Santa Claus is coming to town, along with his wellknown gifts for the good and coal for the corrupt! AMP knows that Santa is a busy man, so we’ve decided to take the noble duty of lightening his burden. Here are the AMP picks for the naughty and nice lists.
zachary boullt sophomore | political science Zachary enjoys pretending that his stupid jokes are changing campus for the better. Pseudonyms are for chumps.
Naughty UTD Chapter of Chi Phi
Chi Phi’s reputation on campus has Gone to Hell™ with a three-year hazing suspension. This should be just enough time for the chapter to (wall) sit in time out and really think about what they’ve done.
Nice Professors Who Gave You and “A”
These professors did not ruin your GPA, give you exams that were obviously harder than the lecture material, nor attempt to annoyingly push you beyond your limits. They should be rewarded handsomely.
Daniel Radcliffe’s Farting Boner Corpse
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice just wasn’t good, guys. Trust me, I know. I didn’t actually see it, but I read a lot of reviews. Also, the name is long and stupid.
All of human history culminated in the creation of Swiss Army Man, and the world is better for it.
These lovely ladies took home the gold and captivated the nation with their physics-defying stunts, reminding us that no matter how hard we try, we will never, ever be that good at anything.
Lochte’s lies in Rio caused international embarrassment for the entire nation. Thankfully, we’ve all learned our lesson, and Americans have pledged to never do stupid things while drunk in foreign countries ever again.
Life of Pablo’s artistic and commercial success was one of the highlights of the thriving 2016 music scene. Though I had great fun listening to the album and attending his Dallas show, he cancelled the show that was going to be my little brother’s birthday present. His health concerns aside, I’m still bitter.
That Asshole Who Took Your Seat in Class
That was your seat. That was your seat. You’ve sat in that seat every day since syllabus week. Your entire mojo was thrown off. How could you be expected to learn when your entire place in the world, the one place you felt secure, has been taken over by someone that hardly ever shows up to class? Thank goodness for Santa and his sweet holiday justice.
We assume Santa already has this one marked down, but recently some of the media and the public have forgotten that Nazis are bad, so we just wanted to make sure that Santa doesn’t make the same mistake.
U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team
Though Beyoncé pushed forward discussion and education on police brutality, race, and gender, she should be rewarded for giving us a new soundtrack for murdering our cheating exes. Lemonade is only the second greatest lemonade-themed piece released (the first being “Lemonade. *clap clap clap* Crunchy ice. *clap clap clap* Sip it once. *clap clap clap* Sip it twice. *clap clap clap*).
2016 was a great year for memes. From Dat Boi to Daniel’s white Vans to Harambe, they may have all been done to death, but they brought us temporary distraction in an otherwise painful year.
Ever since March, Garland has been stuck in the Limbo dimension to which all Supreme Court nominees go until their hearings are held. Left floating in the void, fumbling for meaning, purpose, entertainment, and joy, Garland deserves a little gift to reward his patience.
The Chicago Cubs
Who cares if he’s dead? The man knew his time was short but still gave us the parting gift of Blackstar. Santa can find whatever star he’s living in now and give him the gift he deserves.
Comet Cab Drivers
They were there when you needed them. They saved you from the embarrassment of being late. They protected your legs from the strain of walking those extra yards to class. These noble Golf Cart Gods gave precious minutes back to your life that would have been wasted walking.
By finally winning the World Series, the Cubs have fulfilled the first requirement for the Apocalypse as outlined in the Book of Revelations. Such an exciting victory for the city of Chicago will be worth little once the sky rains flaming skulls and the oceans rise a tiny bit faster than they otherwise will from global warming alone. They were never there when you needed them. Your memory is tainted with the vision of their cart in the distance as you walked in late for class. They left your legs sore from the excruciating extra walking distance. These dastardly Demonic Drivers stole time from your life that you will never get back.
~46.7% of American Voters
Donald Trump has promised to revive the coal industry as part of his presidency. This bodes quite well for the stockings of his voters.
Comet Cab Drivers
That Cute Boy/Girl That Handed You Your Pencil When You Dropped It
Such small acts of kindness should be rewarded generously. Especially theirs. Their eyes were so dreamy… Maybe Santa can include a special note from you with his gifts.
Baby Dory from Finding Dory
So cute. Like, ridiculously cute. God. All the presents. december 2016
seven reasons you’re an
irredeemable failure (academically, of course, but also as a person)
You’ve been trudging through this semester surprisingly successfully – or so you thought. While you’ve been treating yourself left and right for scoring decently enough on your midterms and making it through networking events without dying, you’ve also been letting tons of minor things slip through the cracks. They’ve been snowballing frighteningly while your back was turned, but now it’s time to face the facts. Here’s why your worst nightmares have already started coming true:
angeera naser sophomore | comp. sci. & molecular biology When she isn’t busy drawing or coding, Angeera can be found letting people know about her very strong opinions on things.
You’re doing too much Two majors and a minor means 18-hour semesters for as far as the eye can see. As if that wasn’t enough of a living hell on its own, you still have to keep up with all of your extracurriculars and their antics; you’re an executive for four different clubs while volunteering at Children’s on the weekends and working part-time on campus. You thought all of your work was going to pay off someday, but it turns out that the companies you’ve been eyeing all want to hire laser-focused individuals. Apparently, your multiple “talents” – the ones you were so proud of – indicate an inability to make decisions and function well in a highly specialized corporate world. Congratulations, you’re never getting hired.
You’re not doing enough
Everybody – yes, literally everybody – else around you has their life together. Their GPAs are higher than yours, and while they’re maintaining them, they’re also collecting more valuable skills and doing more impressive things with their time than you are. They know exactly what they’re going to do with their lives; in fact, they’re already halfway there, building incredible projects and doing cutting edge research you can’t even comprehend. Meanwhile, your majors are useless and your volunteering means less than nothing; you weren’t really doing anything more significant than filing paperwork, and every one of your would-be employers knows that. Your academic failures could have been at least somewhat offset if your personality had been even remotely redeeming. Unfortunately, even a Doctor Who-obsessed middle schooler can make better conversation than you can. Just quit while you’re behind.
You let one too many midnight dealines pass by
I know you thought you’d remembered every assignment – you’d even made a checklist of everything that was due this week. But while you finished your online stats work and submitted that project proposal for compsci ahead of time, you sent in your weekly discussion questions for humanities just after midnight. Guess what? Your professor has an ironclad no-late-work policy, and she’s just picked that assignment to be worth half your final grade. You desperately wish you hadn’t taken that five-minute break to check Twitter earlier, but your seemingly insignificant dalliance on social media has already done its damage to your grade.
Your habits are terrible
You chew your nails. You pick at your split ends. You click your pens repeatedly. You tap on things while concentrating. Little did you know, people around you are keeping track of every annoying and unprofessional action of yours. The girl sitting next to you in biochem works part time in that lab you’ve been dying to get into, and she keeps track of all incoming applications. You were a strong (okay, passable) contender, but she was so disgusted by your too-loud breathing that your personal statement – and your hopes and dreams – went straight into the trash.
You spend too much time on social media
Those baby boomer thinkpiece generators were right after all – every additional minute you’ve been spending on Tumblr and Instagram between classes has been rotting your brain at an exponential rate. Your missing memories and increased irritability – or that time you woke up in the middle of the West Texas desert with no clue how you got there – should’ve tipped you off earlier, really. Sadly, the symptoms seem pretty irreversible at this point, so there’s no point in searching for a cure. Soon, you’ll be wandering the wilderness as a husk of yourself – driven only by the overwhelming need for better selfie lighting.
You rely too much on luck
Ever since your kitschy, neon-dyed rabbit’s foot broke, you’ve been scrambling for a replacement. None of the various amulets and charms you’ve been collecting and/or pickpocketing have worked quite the same for you; sure, you feel luckier going into your exams, but the eons-old eldritch horror who usually feeds you answers has yet to reappear. You’ve tried going back to the souvenir shop where you first found the talisman, but all that remains at the spot is a broken-down shack the locals swear hasn’t been occupied in over half a century. On top of everything, you skipped an anatomy test for your road trip, and now the professor won’t let you make it up. Typical.
The family curse, actually
The family curse, actually. One of your ancestors offended an ancient chaos spirit centuries ago, and the curse it cast upon your family has been their silent burden to bear for generations. Fortunately, it’s getting bored of torturing you, so you’ve avoided some of the more horrifically scarring “pranks” your forebearers enjoyed. Unfortunately, you’re still unemployable. I’d wish you luck, but I heard curses can be contagious, and you’re not even close to redeemable enough to risk it.
7 december 2016
t’s the Holiday season, and more than likely you’re going back home to celebrate. Right now, you can practically see all of the things you love: gingerbread houses, candy canes, no homework, a realistic sleep schedule, food – oh what a feast! However, where there is the light of hope, there is also a shadow of impending doom lurking beneath the surface of bright festivities: relatives. You have them. I have them. Everyone has them, and while we absolutely love them to bits, they can be quite overwhelming. Worry not though – here’s how to deal with the people you care about most without sounding like the worst.
The first person you will see when you arrive home will more than likely be your mother, and it’s fantastic to see her! Unfortunately, there has been a lot of time between the last time you saw her and now, which means she feels justified in once again asking the dreaded question “Is there anyone special in your life?” What’s worse is that if you don’t answer her question, then your aunt and grandmother are undoubtedly going to ask the same thing, forcing you back into the spotlight. Never fear though, for there is a way around this potential disaster. Should mother dearest decide to bring up the question, Craigslist will save you trouble as well as a headache. There are people on Craigslist that you can pay to pretend to be your partner for an entire evening, heck I’m sure you can find one for an entire week. Need somebody to text as if you were dating? Done. Need to bring a guest for dinner? Done. Problem solved.
That whole thing about flattery winning you brownie points doesn’t work with him. In most cases, fathers are the ones who ask the business questions: whether or not you have a job, did you fix that thing with the bank, do you know what you’re doing after graduation, why don’t you have a 4.0, the works. The questions that give you the most anxiety, that haunt you on a day-to-day basis, repeated as if you weren’t already thinking about them. How can you get around having to deal with more anxiety from Dad? Prior to coming home, create a fake Facebook account for a more successful you! Make it look like you have a job, make it look like you have money, make it look like you have all your stuff together and aren’t dealing with soul-crushing anxiety! If he asks, give him a fake number for work and tell him that I.T. is working on it.
Urgh. It’s them. It doesn’t matter whether they’re younger or older, you hate being compared. They go to the gym more, get great grades – they did a peace project to fight poverty where? Honestly, if it wasn’t for the fact they get on your nerves, you’d be questioning what time machine they’re using to get the spare time to do all this. So what do you do? Beat them at their own game. Anything they can do, you can do better! Oh, they’re going to do a project for the church? Well then, you better get ordained by the Church tonight, at three in the morning if necessary. HA! That’ll show the punk! They’re thinking about becoming a writer? Well, joke’s on them; you’re going to apply to 10 different publication contests just because! Remember, there can only be one favorite child/grandchild, and you’re playing for keeps. So don’t forget to rub it in their faces when you destroy them, they totally deserve it.
Grandmothers and grandfathers tend to be fairly similar – concerned, caring, and perhaps a bit more mischievous than other relatives, if only to give Mom and Dad a hard time. Unfortunately, what they’ll do to your stomach will make sure that the Freshman 15 seems like a lightweight challenge. Do you appreciate it? Yes. But good Lord if they put one more plate of food in front of you, your food coma will be one for the history books. Your escape? Return the favor. Seriously, return the favor – they run out of tea, you get them more. See a blank plate? Offer them more food, and then fill their plate with more casserole than they initially served themselves. Make them cookies and ask them to try some – stuff them with food. Freshman 15? Beware the Senior 60! Pretty soon they will get the distinct feeling you’re not feeling hungry.
Everyone has one, the insane uncle to whom you’re not quite sure how you’re related. At this point though, you don’t question it (if you don’t have a crazy uncle, then congratulations, your dad is the crazy one). He’s not all bad; he’s certainly a lot more relaxed than your parents and not about to question every single decision you’ve made, but good grief where does he get all these gifts from? Every year you slave away trying to think of the perfect gift for everyone, then he walks in and not only is it perfect, but it’s totally extravagant! If you’re going to be miserable while Christmas shopping, then so should he! To make his job harder, you need to develop some really outlandish interests. Oh, he doesn’t know about your latest hobby, pattern making for dog garments? Or about your favorite class at college, underwater basket-weaving? Surprise, surprise. Seeing him scramble around in a desperate attempt to set everything right certainly will be amusing.
You love her, you really do; she’s so much fun! If only she would stop making you try to buy a rock to soothe anxiety or drink suspiciously colored tea to improve your aura. Despite being the most relaxed person in the family, she is often the trickiest to deal with since nothing ever phases her. Trying to one-up her will bite you in the butt as chances are she’s already tried whatever you’re suggesting and then some. Listen, the only thing that can save you is your Overachieving Sibling. Talk to your aunt about how concerned you are about that sibling – their aura is a hideous shade of grey from all their stress, the poor darling, and only an expert in auras could hope to save them. The result: an aunt off your back, a sibling under the bus, and free entertainment.
You’re not quite sure how you’re related, but Mother keeps insisting that you’ve met your grandmother’s thrice-removed distant cousin, as well as all the other members of the slew of nameless faces that shows up every holiday. What you do know is that they may have seen one college movie too many, considering how they won’t stop asking how many keg parties you’ve been to, or how many useless classes you’re taking, or whether or not you’ve gotten hazed yet. They do realize that Hollywood college and real college are different, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, no amount of argument is going to stop them. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find some fun in it. Play everything up. Your favorite class? Hmm, that’s a tough one. It’s a guaranteed tie between Demystifying the Hipster and Juggling, though the Sociology of Snapchat Captions is up there too. Craziest party you’ve been to? Can’t say; all you know is that you haven’t been caught yet. Make your own amusement. They drive you crazy. They make you want to scream and shout. They ask too many questions and overbear. But at the end of the day, they love you twice as much as they annoy you. Even if they drive you off the wall, you wouldn’t trade a single hour to be away from them. Appreciate the moment, live every second, and keep loving them back.
sophomore | ATEC A pun lover, Maria loves hiking, working out, and her favorite food, salted sunflower seeds.
by katie risor
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It's the December edition of AMP, UT Dallas' one and only student opinion magazine!