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 Bolt

The Edison Charger Newspaper

November-December 2013


Fantasy Gifts Jameson Thies What do you get somebody who has everything? This is the question that multimillionaires and billionaires ask themselves every Christmas, because they and their families already have nearly everything they could want. Fortunately for those stuck in this conundrum, Neiman Marcus sells gifts for the ultrawealthy called Fantasy gifts. This year’s list contains eight very unique items that range in price from $11,000 to $2,640,000. The first item on the list is an exercise bike called the Ciclotte. It is crafted with premium materials including fiberglass, steel, and carbon fiber. Priced at a mere $11,000, the Ciclotte is the least expensive item offered by Neiman Marcus this year. The next item is a model of Jeff Koons's Dom Pérignon Balloon Venus. Koons is a famous artist who worked with Neiman Marcus to create a limited number (650, to be exact) of these elaborate champagne holders for sale in the Fantasy List. The object itself is a metallic-pink, balloon-shaped take on a 25,000 year old fertility goddess. This is the secondleast expensive item on the list, coming in at only $20,000. For $30,000 you can purchase a one night stay in the architectural icon known as the Glass House. This was designed by the late visionary Phillip Johnson, and is located in the city of New Canaan, Connecticut. (cont. pg. 8)

In years past the league has recognized the top 10 athletes of each level of competition (only 9 pictured above); however, th e new policy significantly reduces the number of people recognized. | Photo credit: Rich Gonzalez,


A Chorus of Boos Christopher Yin Normally at a League Finals awards ceremony, you expect to hear cheers and applause. It’s a celebration of student accomplishments, the culmination to thousands of hours of dedicated training, and athletes have every right to be excited for each other. But this year, the Sunset League Cross Country Finals awards ceremony did not begin with any applause. In fact, it was quite the opposite- the ceremony started with a chorus of boos. Why would students and parents alike seek to mar this celebratory occasion by verbalizing their disapproval in such a manner? It’s because of a new policy that the Sunset League has decided to implement. In previous years, the top ten runners in the frosh/soph, JV, and Varsity levels were recognized at the League Finals awards ceremony with medals. Now, however, the new policy states that only the top three Varsity runners can be officially recognized. This was announced apologetically to the (cont. pg. 2) SPORTS:

More inside...

The Future of American Football

“Thor: The Dark World” – Alicia Christian - a review of the latest addition to the Marvel canon (pg. 2)

“Fast Times and Steep Inclines” – by Blake Bonnet - a look at the 2013 season of the Edison boys’ cross-country team (pg. 7)

“The Flu” – Alex Hwang - what you should know about influenza and its vaccine (pg. 6)

“You Can Go to College! (Maybe)” – Docta Smooth - looks at the difficulty of gaining admittance to college (pg. 10)

Austin Smith Football is one of the most beloved games in America. Each year, millions of people around the US gravitate towards football because of the excitement, intensity, and entertainment that accompany this gritty sport. Our collective love for this game has made it the most popular sport in America. Currently, 64% of Americans (cont. pg. 7)



“Thor: The Dark World” Alicia Christian Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgard, and Christopher Ecceleston Synopsis: Loosely based on the mythological Norse god of thunder, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to the silver screen in this actionpacked and surprisingly witty sci-fi/fantasy adventure. In an attempt to counteract the Dark Elves and their apocalyptic schemes, Thor teams up with his former enemy and brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Flung into a battle between worlds, this dysfunctional duo find themselves defending the nine realms against the Dark Elves and their leader, Malekith (Christopher Ecceleston), who possesses an extremely potent supernatural weapon known as the Aether. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) return from the first film alongside Thor's love interest and notable scientist, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), to help the god save all the worlds. The most recent installment of the Marvel film franchise, “Thor: The Dark World” meets the standards set by previous Marvel pictures like “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Marvel's The Avengers,” and the film's precursor, “Thor.” While it is by no means a life-altering or momentous masterpiece, “The Dark World” does offer a marvelously entertaining experience that people of all ages can appreciate. In regards to casting, the characters are molded and interpreted perfectly by their actors. Portman in particular, who has also starred in blockbusters like “The Black Swan” and “Star Wars,” accurately portrays the passionate scientist's courage, willpower, and intelligence without lapsing into a demeaning "damsel in distress” archetype. In addition, Hiddleston, who has acted in numerous Shakespearean adaptations and the academy-award winning film “War Horse,” exudes an extremely-likable persona that has fans adoring him arguably more than even the main character himself. Hiddleston's appearance as Loki at Comic Con 2013 is proof that even villains can be revered by the masses, as the crowd literally followed his every command- even kneeling when ordered. He is idolized so much that fans have petitioned Marvel to create a film based exclusively on the Loki character. Hiddleston's signed contracts for at least five more Marvel films as Loki only serve to further demonstrate the character’s popularity. The set designs for “The Dark World” are far more intricate and intriguing than the original film's terrestrial landscapes. While Thor took place primarily on Earth, “The Dark World” transports the audience to the cruel, rocky terrain of the Dark World. The true visual magnificence of the film, however, can be seen in the interpretation of Asgard, Thor's home world. This golden, sil ver, and metallic realm (also inspired by Norse mythology) puts even “The Wizard of Oz's” Emerald City to shame. The plot of “The Dark World” is nothing special- by itself. However, the Marvel films all weave in and out of each other as part of a grander, more complex scheme revealed in show-stopping films like “The Avengers” and the upcoming “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Still, while the plot of “The Dark World” is fairly predictable superhero fare, it is nonetheless captivating. This film definitely captures the essence of what it means to be a hero. So, whether it be for the actors, the stunning visual effects, or the classic comic book story, “Thor: The Dark World” is a must see for anyone who is a fan of the Marvel cinematic universe. …from page 1 (Yin) roughly four hundred runners constituting the Sunset League’s cross country program, after many had finished their final race of the season, and some of their entire high school running career. Students- myself included- were understandably confused. What could possibly be the reason behind recognizing fewer athletes? At first glance, it just didn’t seem to make any sense. So, in order to find out more about the policy and the motivations behind it, I interviewed both Edison’s principal, Dr.


Melendrez, and Athletic Director (AD), Coach Boyce. *



Me: I was wondering if you could explain to me the specifics of this new policy, and how it got started. What was the impetus for this change in policy, and what was the perceived problem that prompted this response? Dr. Melendrez: That’s a great question, and it’s multilayered. Okay, I’ll do the best

Alicia Christian

I can. Edison High School is part of the Sunset League. There are six schools in the Sunset League- Edison, Marina, Huntington, Fountain Valley, Los Alamitos, and Newport Harbor. The Sunset League has a constitution, which includes all the agreed-to rules for each of the sports and all the awards given. We have a Sunset League budget, and all six schools put money into the budget to pay for awards. Over time, due to the economy, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to pay bills; we have to pay more for referees now, so we have to look

at our budget and adjust. Coach Boyce: You know, everything’s gone up, to be honest with you, and I don’t want to say exactly, but if you have somebody who’s doing, let’s say, a frosh/soph basketball game back to back, they’re making almost a hundred- well, I don’t want to say. A lot of money. They’re making a lot of money. And every year they get a raise. Well, if you look at our school, we haven’t raised prices on most anything in a long, long time. We kind of try to stay the same because we want all kids to have everything. When those things happen, we have to make a decision somewhere along the lines what to cut. And unfortunately sometimes the things we cut aren’t popular things, but they’re not meant to hurt people or anything, they’re just the economic choice. That’s what sometimes we have to do.

other great things by eliminating medals for lower levels, as well as medals past third place. Dr. Melendrez: The problem I think that happened was, this was voted into our constitution…I want to say March. And the athletic directors knew about it. I don’t know if they all told their coaches, and Mr. Boyce will have to tell you the coaches should have communicated that to their players, prior to the run. I’m heartsick that kids found out after they ran the race that there’s only three places. That’s not the way it should have been; it should have been clearly communicated. And maybe it was, and certain students weren’t there, that kind of thing. The other piece of this is because we did this, we were able to add a new award…it’s a League Scholar Athlete Award. So this is going to be new, and it will be an award for athletes, Varsity level athletes in the Sunset League, who have a certain GPA. I think it’s 3.75 or 3.74, but it’s a really prestigious scholar athlete award and we’ve never had anything like that in the

the medals themselves, the Sunset League medals, we just decided to go third place for all sports. * * * At this point, I had a better sense of the “why.” And it’s hard to argue with saving money, especially when considering the current state of the economy. Still, I found myself disagreeing with some of the points Dr. Melendrez and Coach Boyce were making. For one, the sport of cross country doesn’t require a referee, and neither do many of the sports with League Finals. It doesn’t strike me as completely fair to penalize these sports in order to finance the sports that do carry the hefty price tag of referees. Also, I don’t think that it’s the best argument to say that just because everyone else is doing it, we should be doing it as well. Homogeneity isn’t necessarily the best goal to strive for; shouldn’t the Sunset League be proud that it is unique in rewarding so many students for their hard work? Lastly, I was a bit unsure about this new All Academic Sunset League recognition. Why unweighted? A GPA of 3.75 is much easier to attain without taking challenging Honors/AP classes. If the goal is to recognize the true scholar athletes, then doesn’t it make sense to raise the requirement to a weighted GPA somewhere above 4.0? However, there was still a lot more to find out about the policy before coming to any final conclusions, so my interviews continued.

Dr. Melendrez: Research was done by the athletic directors- and that’s where all of the discussions begin for Sunset League business. The athletic directors from the six schools will do research and put things on the agenda, and it’s brought to the principals, and the principals vote on changes to the constitution. So our athletic directors, they did some research on this, and they looked at other leagues in Orange County, and the other leagues in Orange County for the most part do not give any * * * medals- League medalsbeyond third place. And it Me: Was any input was impacting boys’ cross solicited from students, country, girls’ cross athletes or coaches while The schools of the Sunset League whose athletics programs are subject to the new policy limiting country, swim- do you the policy was being the recognition of top athletes. | Photo credit: various sources know how many events considered, and how are in swim? the Sunset League. So that’s where we long was the policy in consideration? wanted to put the emphasis. Me: Eleven, I think, or about eleven. Dr. Melendrez: Coaches. I know coaches, Coach Boyce: Yes, it’s the All Academic Dr. Melendrez: Yeah, and then they’re and they researched other leagues. We’re Sunset League. So every Varsity Athlete giving what, up to seven places or comparing constitutions with other with a 3.75 unweighted GPA in their whatever for each event. So they leagues. So it’s not really a student-driven season of sport will be honored as an All analyzed the budget, they looked at what constitution… Again, most of the changes Academic Sunset League and get one of other leagues were doing, and said, “You to the constitution come through athletic the nicest patches I’ve ever seen. know, we could save $3000 in our league directors and they usually work with the budget.” And we’d be more consistent coaches at the various schools, and they Dr. Melendrez: Going back to the with other leagues. have meetings and do a lot of work before medals, we did tell the athletic directors they bring it to the principals and do of all the schools that they certainly could Coach Boyce: We had a meeting with the presentations, and we debate and kick it give a special award at their school CIF commissioner, and he said that the around. The principals are the ones who banquet and say, you know, our runner Sunset League is the only league that he vote on it, though. The athletic directors came in fifth place in Finals, and they can think of that doesn’t just award first do a lot of the research. I would guesscould give something special at their through third. So, the Sunset League well, it happened last year. Sometime last school awards. That’s fine. But as far as decided, well, we’re going to save some


year they began the research project. Coach Boyce: I would say the policy was in consideration for probably three to four months. Looking at the budget and seeing, you know, obviously we have to cut somewhere, the athletic directors decided hey, it is a good idea since we’re the only league that does this; plus, you know, it’s getting to the point where everybody celebrates first, second, and third. Nobody goes all the way to seventh, and it turns out, we got input from the track coaches that the lower level medalseven some of the freshman medals- were going to seventh or eighth or ninth place, and a lot of those didn’t even want them. They kind of just said okay, they didn’t even want to be there for them. So, it was decided that hey, yes, we’ll just go onetwo-three! Me: For cross country, I was talking to some of the coaches, and they had said for their League Finals, they had agreed together that they would be willing to get their booster clubs to pay for the medals personally, but that they were told they were not allowed to do this. I’m not sure if that’s true, or if you have any more information on this? Dr. Melendrez: They’re not allowed to use the Sunset League medal. Because that belongs only to the Sunset League. An individual coach, that’d be like counterfeit. (laughs) They’d be counterfeiting! But they could do their own medal, it could be an “Edison High School Medal” that could say “Edison High School Honors 5th Place Sunset League Finals.” So they could do that. Now they might not have known. I’m thinking that maybe they came back this school year, maybe there was some bad communication, or it broke down somewhere. But it hurts me that kids were hurt, in not getting the news in advance. Coach Boyce: Right, Sunset League only provides first, second, and third. If they wanted to do medals for their kids, let’s say an Edison kid came in sixth, and we wanted to provide a sixth place medal for it, they could do it- they just could not do it at League Finals because the Sunset League only recognizes first, second, and third. So if the cross country coach at Newport Harbor, his kids came in sixth and seventh, wanted to come up with a medal for sixth and seventh in League Finals, then they were more than welcome to do that. It just could not be presented at the Sunset League Finals, because the Sunset League only provides first, second, and third and that’s all we


recognize. Like most every other league in Orange County. Me: Yeah, I’m just wondering though, would the coaches be able to pay for medals that were officially Sunset League? It seem as if their medals would have to be basically just school medals, and that they wouldn’t be allowed to have the League recognition symbol. Coach Boyce: Oh, they could say that they finished seventh place at the Sunset League Finals. It would not have our Sunset League inscription, that the Sunset League has always had, but they could go ahead and do it if they wanted to. But once again the biggest thing is that it happens at the banquets, not at the Finals. Now I understand some kids might have been, you know, expecting like in years past if they finish seventh they get a medal. Now the coaches knew the policy, they should have said to the kids, hey, we’re only acknowledging first, second, and third today. But, like I said, if the coaches wanted to do fourth place in the Sunset League, they could do that at their banquet. * * * Here, I didn’t see why coaches and booster clubs couldn’t just pay for the Sunset League medals. For cross country at least, they had clearly demonstrated a willingness to do so. If the money isn’t coming out of the League budget, then what should the administration care? Since the coaches are going to pay for medals, it doesn’t make sense to deny them the ability to purchase official League medals. I understand that money is an issue, but if the money doesn’t have to come from the League…Regardless, the interviews continued. *



Me: Okay, I just want to check, does the policy at all affect team sports that don’t have League Finals? Because I know that there are a lot of sports- I don’t think that football has a League Finals, or basketballDr. Melendrez: There’s only three places in all the other sports. As I understand it, it’s the cross country teams, boys and girls, track and field, and swimming. And that’s why there’s like $3000 for all those medals. You know, we had to pay refs. Coach Boyce: For team sports, the League only provides a first place plaque. We don’t provide a runner up plaque to the second place basketball team or a runner up for the third place basketball

team. We just provide one plaque. Me: I was just wondering then, do you think that some sports will be disproportionately affected though, because some of the sports do have a lot of athletes in it, so that by limiting the number of athletes that are recognized there, you kind of havelike, for a sport like tennis where they have, I don’t know, I think fifteen people on a team, as compared to cross country where you have about fifty people on the team, do you think that might not necessarily be completely equitable? Was that ever taken into consideration? Dr. Melendrez: Boy, I don’t know. We debated a long time on this and I can’t recall. We examined it upside down. I don’t remember, I’m sorry. Me: I know the main sports that were involved in this would be cross country, swim, and track and fieldCoach Boyce: Correct. And wrestling also. Me: For all of these sports, except for cross country, there are a bunch of different events, and then within each of those events the top three get recognized, right? Like for the different distances in swimming? Coach Boyce: Correct. Me: So were you ever considering, when you were discussing the policy, that it might be a bit inequitable, for at least the sport of cross country where there’s only one distance, and there are about 400 athletes, I think, in League, training a lot of hours over summer and through the fall, to only have three recognized? Coach Boyce: Okay, our thoughts there were obviously yes, we understood that, but also if you think about let’s say - and we also have one of our athletic directors is a swim coach- that some of the medleys and relays and stuff like that, those kids swim all the time, there can be fiftysomething kids in a race over and over and over, in that one distance. So there can be half an hour, that same event, over and over and over, and if there’s fifty or sixty kids, they’re not going to recognize top seven or eight, it’s going to be the top three. Do you understand what I’m saying? So, pick any event- hundred yard, freestyle. There may be sixty kids entered in that event, but they race eight at a time, so there might be, say, seven races of that. So we’re still just going to recognize the top three there. Even though I know that

there are a lot of events in swimming,

High school runners just beginning their ascent up Mt. SAC’s steepest incline. | Photo credit: Erik Pederson

there are a lot of events in swimming, it’s the same thing, it’s just one event right there and cross country is just basically one event. Me: The only thing I’m saying is that when you consider cross country as one event, then there are way more people in that one event than in one event of swimming. Coach Boyce: That’s true, but listen to it this way. When you run Varsity League Finals at Sunset League, some schools ran seven kids, some schools had ten, some schools maybe had only four or five, right? So you’re saying at a Varsity race with six schools, let’s say an average of say, eight kids. Okay, let’s say nine kids. That’s fifty-four kids, correct? Same thing in swimming; some of those events have maybe sixty kids. Those kids train as hard as cross country kids. It’s like every high school athlete trains hard. It’s the way it is… And in the long run, I’ll be honest with you, we’re not trying to hurt kids, we want kids to strive and shoot for everything. At some point, you know, one of the ADs did bring up a point that nowadays, it seems like every little league and everything, if you finish seventh you get a trophy. Everybody gets a trophy. Everybody strives to be first, second, or third in the Olympics, everybody tries to be top three in League and go to the playoffs, so the ADs thought we should reward those kids. We should make it special. If you finish ninth in the Olympics, you don’t get a ninth place

medal. You want to be in the top three. We’re still concerned with all the kids, we want all the kids to enjoy it and strive for everything, but I’ll be honest with you, I had a lot of medals in high school and I couldn’t tell you what they are. It wasn’t a big deal to me. I wanted to be first, second, or third. I want to be in the top three. And you know, I ran cross country when I was in high school. If I didn’t finish first, second, or third- I didn’t care if I finished fourth, I mean what’s the big deal? I want to be in the top three. I wanted to be those guys. I think in the long run it will help kids saying you know what, we wish we could be, we want to finish in the top three. I don’t think any of you guys running cross country ever said “I want to be the seventh place finisher,” right? I want to be that guy who finishes first. So, while we understand that it’s been tradition that we give everyone top seven or anything, and it’s still something we stand for, we want to strive for the top three; and like we said earlier, we’re the only league that was doing that. The medal people- who make the medalswhen we asked them, they said “We never have anybody ask for these kind of medals all the way down to seven or anything.” So, it was an economic choice, but it was also a choice to say hey, you know what, time’s are what they are, let’s go for first, second, and third. *



I definitely did not agree with some of the things Coach Boyce was saying. Maybe when he was a runner cross

country was a bit different, but now there’s a pretty large distinction between the good and the really good. The extremes are just that- extreme. Last year Edison had Jeff Thies on its team, and he was running three mile races under fifteen minutes; that kind of a runner isn’t very common. There are always going to be a few athletes with insane natural talent, but that doesn’t mean the people below them don’t work equally hard. At Mount SAC Invitational, the largest cross country invitational in America, the top fifteen finishers in frosh/soph, JV, and Varsity all receive medals. If only the top three Varsity runners were to receive medals at this invitational, then a lot of amazing runners and their accomplishments would go unrecognized. Some of the athletes in Southern California might actually be future Olympians; this area is probably the most competitive in the nation for cross country runners. Seventh place is genuinely deserving of recognition in many of these races, and a lot of places beyond seventh represent significant accomplishments as well. I rarely hear runners talking about going for first through third, because for most it just isn’t feasible. And while those who attain these “coveted” spots certainly merit recognition, I don’t see how recognizing additional athletes takes away from their accomplishments; giving a medal for sixth place doesn’t change the fact that an athlete achieved first. In the Olympics, sure, they only give three medals. But high school athletics aren’t the Olympics, and I don’t think it makes sense to treat them in the same way. Rather, I think it only serves to discourage students from trying; if only so few athletes are recognized, then the vast majority of runners are left hanging out to dry. You could argue that personal records are their own reward, but that works both ways. I have a friend on the cross country team who tried his entire high school running career to place high enough to earn a medal, and finally this year he succeeded. But he wasn’t top three; not even close. He worked hard for four years- doesn’t he deserve his award? *



Me: Have you gotten any feedback since the new policy was adopted? I know it’s pretty recent, but… Coach Boyce: From most everybodywe’re very fortunate one of our ADs is a swim coach, we also have people in track and wrestling and everything- it is something that for people it will be hard to understand in the beginning, but you’ll get used to it in the end. We already have too many people upset; the cross country


kids, obviously, were stunned by it because they were the first sport to be affected by it. But, you know, not too much, I think. Kind of like everybody understands it, at some point if you’re going to save over $3000 by doing this, you can afford other things… Dr. Melendrez pointed out that one of the great things that Sunset League is doing now is honoring All Academic Sunset League athletes. Dr. Melendrez: Well, we haven’t had a Sunset League meeting since those awards. I got feedback from some coaches, I don’t think they realized, and they didn’t understand that they could honor kids, they could honor athletes who placed in the top… twelve you know, at their banquets let’s say. “Here’s a special certificate for placing fifth in the Sunset League Finals,” and they could do that with a school certificate. But I think there was confusion with the coaches, that they could do that, that they had that ability. Me: This question probably won’t get an answer, but I was wondering, would you ever consider reversing this policy, why or why not? I’m assuming since you haven’t gotten much feedback yet, you don’t necessarily have the grounds to answer this.

Dr. Melendrez: Well, and I don’t have the ability to change it. It’s voted on at the Sunset League meetings. And again, it comes through our athletic directors who work with our coaches. We want to be equitable with the other leagues in the area, and that’s what they’re doing. So we’re trying to be consistent across our leagues and the county. I don’t foresee it changing, at this point. Could it change? Sure. We change our constitution all the time. Every season, the coaches will come to their ADs and go hey, we need to change the start time of the games, or the playoff structure doesn’t work. So we’re always examining the constitution and making changes. * * * And thus my interviews concluded; I had my answers. Still…I’m not completely satisfied. I understand that money is a huge issue. But it seems like for at least some sports, there are means of alternate funding available. And it’s hard for me to justify recognizing fewer athletes, despite the arguments made by Dr. Melendrez and Coach Boyceespecially since there are so many athletes competing in the frosh/soph and JV divisions that are slighted by this policy. To me, increasing the exclusivity of awards doesn’t necessarily


The Flu Alex Hwang


The following article talks a little about the difference between the flu and the common cold, as well as the flu shot itself. What exactly are you getting when you are injected with a flu shot? Well, you’re receiving a vaccination for the seasonal influenza of course! However, don’t mistake it for your common cold. Influenza is very different from the common cold, and this difference is important. Both may have similar symptoms, but the common cold is much gentler. Generally, someone with the common cold suffers from maybe a sore throat, a stuffy or runny nose, and some coughing fits; only in bad cases may people get a mild fever. Furthermore, colds only last a few days. Influenza, on the other hand, can last anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks. It can cause high fevers, body aches, fatigue, chills, coughs, vomiting, or diarrhea, as well as pneumonia, bronchitis, infection of the sinuses and ears, and death. According to the CDC, the average number of flu-related deaths per influenza season in the U.S. from 2000 to 2006 was around 32,500, which lands us at around 11 deaths per 100,000 people (based on the average population sizes of those years). Don’t let that scare you too much though, because only about 0.4% of those deaths were from the age group younger than 19. Now, should you get a flu shot? Probably, but it’s up to you. The flu shot is made of safe, “dead” viruses that merely stimulate your immune system to build up antibodies against

improve the prestige of the top athletes, but it definitely has negative repercussions for those who finish behind them. In a way, it serves to emphasize that these other athletes are the “losers;” a la Ricky Bobby, if you’re not top three, then you might as well be last. So while I can appreciate the viewpoint that brought about this change in policy, I have to say that ultimately I’m against it. Maybe I’m in the wrong. Maybe most people will side with the administration on this one. And there are definitely valid points that Dr. Melendrez and Coach Boyce made; I appreciate them both taking the time to participate in my interviews. In the end, though, only time will tell how students and coaches will respond to this new policy. For me, I just can’t help remembering that chorus of boos.


Christopher Yin

the live virus; the nasal spray employs weakened viruses instead. The vaccination cannot give you the flu itself, but can cause soreness (from the shot), and possibly mild symptoms, including small fevers or aches. These symptoms (signs that your body is actually responding to the vaccine) usually last only one to two days and are much less severe than the symptoms caused by the illness itself. The nasal spray may cause similar symptoms, in addition to congestion, coughs, sore throat, or weakness. The vaccination takes two weeks to ensure the body is fully protected, so if people say they got the flu from the flu shot, it’s either because: a) they contracted the influenza virus during this two week period, b) actually got the common cold, not the flu, c) were infected with a rare strain of the virus, or d) are really old and have a weakened immune system that did not receive a properly dosed vaccination. The benefits of the flu shot definitely outweigh the disadvantages. Even though the influenza vaccine was shown to be associated with an increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome in 1976, the CDC estimated that among vaccinated people the risk of dying from this syndrome was only 1 case per 100,000 higher than among the non-vaccinated. The chance of a person dying from influenza is estimated to be ten times this amount, as mentioned before. [Guillain-Barré syndrome causes a person’s immune system to attack his or her nerve cells, which can lead to paralysis. Most recover fully after a few weeks, but some may die or suffer permanent nerve damage. The average background rate (regardless of vaccinations) for developing GBS in the U.S. is 3,000 – 6,000 people per year.] Ultimately, getting a flu shot is more likely to help than hurt. You have a smaller chance of getting the flu, and even if you do, you’ll exhibit milder symptoms.

Getting vaccinated also means that you’ll be less likely to spread the virus around the school, or, during the holidays, around your Peak Month of Flu Activity family. 1982-83 through 2012-13 Now if any of this was poorly written or confusing, I apologize. Here’s the gist of things: the flu shot vaccinates people against influenza, which is different from, and much more serious than, the common cold. Some have associated the flu shot with a higher risk of GBS, but the extent of this risk is highly debatable. Even if this association is considered significant, the risk of contracting influenza and dying from causes related to the illness is higher than the risk for GBS (which can easily be recovered from). However, don’t use this article as a definitive guide or let it pressure you into doing something you are uneasy about. Statistics can be misleading, and it’s best that you do some of your own research before making a decision. Remember that if you are The comparison in the peak month of flu season activity in the flu seasons from 1982-1983 to 2012-2013. | Photo young, healthy, and active, you credit: probably won’t need the protection against influenza as much as someone who is elderly and EDISON: possesses an already compromised immune system. This being said, flu season is still ongoing (it generally runs from October to around March, peaking around January or February), and you could benefit from a vaccination. It might Blake Bonnet also help to know that since the vaccine has been out for around a few months, the CDC has had more time to monitor any The most important trait in a cross country runner is potential problems with the vaccine by observing the people determination, and athletes at Edison High School certainly do who have already been vaccinated. And conveniently, now is a not lack for this trait. Whether you measure an Edison runner’s great time to get vaccinated, for the week of December 8 to determination by the amount of time he commits to practice or December 14 is National Influenza Vaccination Week! by the willpower he invests in every race, its magnitude is considerable. And this high level of dedication has paid off: - Alex Hwang under the leadership of Coach Brian Brierly, this year’s boys’ team produced noticeably higher average team times than the previous year’s. For instance, at Sunset League Finals team time …from page 1 (Smith) improved from 81:56 in 2012 to 80:24 in 2013. Additional accomplishments of the varsity team include placing ninth at Orange County Championships, finishing third at Sunset League Finals, and qualifying for CIF prelims. Notable individual performances belong to Cooper Kossick, who led the varsity team by finishing first at Sunset League Prelims with a time of 15:45; Jameson Thies, who inspired the JV team by running a PR of 17:56 at Woodbridge Invitational; and Shane Yoshiyama, who cleaned up the frosh/soph League Finals by finishing in third. So, it’s clear that Edison Cross Country has had a fantastic year, and runners can look forward to even brighter outcomes in the 2014 track season.

Fast Times and Steep Inclines

Football in the 1920s. | Photo credit: Kacie Shifflett

watch professional football on a regular basis, and 73% of American men say they watch football daily. In comparison, only 37% and 45% of Americans, respectively, watch professional baseball and professional basketball with regularity. But all this begs the question- how did football grow to

attain such an important position in the American conscience? Football has been played in America since the 1800s as an evolution of the sport of rugby. Naturally, spirited amateurs from all ages played this game for fun and enjoyment, but it wasn’t until the early 1900s that football became an organized, yearly sport with financial compensation for its athletes. Officially founded in 1920, the National Football League (NFL) aimed to create the premier sport for Americans to watch. Thus, it organized salaries, prohibited college players from participating, created a yearly schedule, and established rules to govern the sport. In addition, the NFL allowed for football 7 games

games to be scheduled ahead of time, which facilitated the development of “hype,” and further allowed for games to be broadcasted over the radio and on TV. These decisions correlated to a drastic increase in popularity, such that by 1965, football surpassed baseball as the most popular sport in America. This is where football has remained ever since. Many critics have praised the NFL for its consistency, and for its success at creating the most profitable sport in America. However, many other critics do not view the organization through such rose-tinted glasses. For example, Washington Post sports columnist Thomas Boswell states that “the NFL doesn’t have a PR problem. It has a reality problem. And it may be a grave one. Every month – and it seems every few days – the NFL is inundated by new, barely suspected revelations. What has the NFL become?” These “revelations,” or exposures, that Boswell refers to are the rampant injuries that accompany the decline in the appreciation for and participation in the sport, and which could potentially lead to the demise of football in America. The reality is that football can cause serious, lifethreatening head injuries. Head injuries as minor as a single concussion can cause long term memory and attention defects, confusion, depression, sleep apnea, difficulty learning, mood swings, migraines, and… the list continues. Moreover, this terrible injury happens far too often. At least 2% of college football athletes suffer from a concussion each year. These rates are lower at the pop warner and high school level, but they still happen too frequently, clearly begging the question- is it worth it to endanger a child’s welfare over a game? For many parents, the answer is starting to become “no.” For example, from 2010 to 2012 pop warner football membership decreased by 9.5%. Based on these rates, football is already losing prominence at lower ages. Many critics have stated that this is just the beginning, and that this trend will only continue across all age demographics. With a decrease in player participation, lower levels such as pop warner and high school football could succumb to sloppy and less interesting play, in turn making games less enjoyable to watch. Furthermore, the copious injuries that characterize high school, college, and pro football games can decrease the pleasure that football games are supposed to bring for observers. John Smith, a former high school offensive tackle and father of two boys, says, “Seeing my children getting concussions from football and seeing my friends’ children suffer injuries from football has really ended my love of watching the game of football.” Many

…from page 1 (Thies) As the name suggests, all panels in the building are made of glass. And if the prestige of overnighting in this vitreous edifice isn’t enough, the package deal also includes a dinner for up to ten friends. The next most-expensive item is the Bespoke Falconry Companion. This set includes everything you need to care for and control a pet falcon, including several perches, an ostrich leather glove, multiple hoods, various leashes, and kangaroo anklets, plus (of course) a backgammon set and a couple of chairs. Everything is crafted from the finest material, and as a result this gift is priced at $150,000 (falcon not included). The next item is arguably the most practical- a limited edition Aston Martin Vanquish Volante. This convertible sports car has a 100% carbon fiber shell and a V-12 engine with a capacity of 565 horsepower. It is being sold for $344,500. Only one of the next Fantasy items is available for


Hamzah Abdullah is one of many former NFL players condemning the league’s sluggishness in taking action concerning the prominence of head injuries. | Photo credit: US Presswire Photos

parents share John Smith’s opinions and now believe that this violent game isn’t worth watching if it can lead to the demise of a young child’s future. Anecdotes such as this one are becoming more common across America and could be an important factor explaining why people stop watching and appreciating the game of football. Inevitably, more parents are going to begin questioning if it’s worth it to have their son or daughter play football, and this issue is only going to grow in prominence as more research is done. As a society, we have to make a decision on whether encouraging the youth to participate in this sport is right or wrong. Most people reading this will be future parents; would you risk your child’s future for a game? -

Austin Smith

purchase- the “Wild Child” Motorcycle that was driven by biking legend Indian Larry himself. This was the bike created in Brooklyn for the “Biker Build-Off” series on the Discovery Channel; Indian Larry rode it all the way from Missouri to South Dakota, where it was declared the winner of this competition. All of this history and prestige costs a mere $750,000. There are only two items on the Fantasy list within the million dollar range, and this is one of them: the Forevermark Diamond Experience. For $1,850,000, you could go on an international journey to learn about the diamond industry. It starts in London, where the buyer will enjoy dinner with the CEO of Forevermark in the London Tower. He or she also will also receive a raw diamond and meet the craftsman that will handcut and polish it to perfection. From there the buyer will take a cruise to the coast of Namibia to discover where the diamond was mined, and afterwards will be flown to New York to design a ring for the diamond.

As incredible as the previous gift sounds, this next one could be even better. Depending on what features you want, it will range in price from $1,600,000 to $2,640,000. It is the ultimate outdoor entertainment system- a television set with a 201” screen that folds and fits into a cylinder that can be placed in the ground. At the touch of a button, the screen rises out of the ground and unfolds to reveal its entire massive glory. So, this holiday season won’t be bleak for billionaires with up to eight family members who have come to expect gifts this fantastic. Still, while most of the items on the Fantasy list sound extraordinary, you have to wonder- what happened to American culture that made it necessary for the wealthy to buy their friends and family presents so extravagant? Could they not be content with more standard gifts? After all- it’s the thought that counts. -

2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante

Jameson Thies


Bespoke Global Falconry Companion $150,000


Jeff Koons's Dom Pérignon Balloon Venus



Indian Larry’s “Wild Child” $750,000

The Glass House Experience $30,000

Forevermark Ultimate Diamond Experience $1.850,000

Ultimate Outdoor Entertainment System $1,150,000 - $2,640,000



You Can Go to College! (Maybe) Docta Smooth This year between October 1st and November 30 th, the Common App website processed a record number of 2.5 million college applications. Before 2012, the average high school senior applied to 4.35 colleges; this number has now risen to 6.81. The reason for this dramatic increase is simple- worry. Students are worried that colleges will not accept them, so they apply to more in order to increase their chances of admission. And this anxiety is not unjustified. Colleges are receiving more applications and admitting less people every year. Harvard is one of America’s most selective schools, and in 2012 it accepted a mere 6.2% of its 35,000 applicants. In comparison, in 1990 Harvard received 13,600 applications and accepted 16.1%. This same trend can be seen across the country, with acceptance rates dropping an average of 8.12% and applicants rising an additional 10.5% since 1990. College is harder to get into now more than ever, and the confusing, misleading and often biased admissions process means that no one is guaranteed a letter of acceptance. There are currently 263 college students accepted in 2012 roaming the UC Berkeley campus who earned a GPA below the nationwide average and an SAT score (M+CR) between 600 and 1000. The same year of these students’ admission, 3,200 applicants with SAT scores of 1400 or above and GPA’s of 4.0 or above were denied admission. According to the dean of admissions, this is because colleges want a “diverse and unique class,” which some colleges seem to interpret as “deny worthy applicants admission in the interest of affirmative action.” For example, in the SAT scores of students that have been accepted into private universities, African-American applicants have a 310 point advantage over Caucasians. This means that between the collective averages of these two ethnicities, Caucasians have a score that is 310 points higher. Hispanics, with a 130 point advantage, also seem to benefit from the admissions process, while Asians have a 140 point disadvantage. This means that when compared to African-Americans, Asians have an average SAT score that is 450 points higher.

And while tests aren’t the only component of an application that matter, if you think your extracurriculars will help you stand out from the crowd- think again. When filling out the California State University application, do you remember the extracurricular section? If not, then don’t feel bad, because there wasn’t one. Under the personal information section, the CSU application only asks for 3 things besides basic information: SAT scores, high school grades, and demographic information. So, the CSU system only evaluates the three aspects of an application that are most prone to bias. In contrast, the UC application does include an extracurricular and volunteer work section. But the question remains- how important is this section in admissions decisions? The answer, unfortunately, is not as much as you might think. Ex- UC Berkeley application reader Ruth Starkman admits that while many extracurricular activities are nice to see on a college app, they are more of “an indication of the student’s interests and passions.” So, despite being one of the few factors that can distinguish a student from thousands of others with similar GPA’s and SAT’s, extracurriculars don’t actually hold that much value in the admissions process.

It is nearing the time when high school seniors start receiving letters in the mail that either read “Congratulations!” or “We regret to inform you…,” and it is unsettling to think that a decision with such a large impact on students’ futures is left in the hands of an incredibly unreliable process. In their attempts to make college admissions more equal and fair, admissions offices have actually accomplished the exact opposite. And with college acceptance rates trickling downwards every year, admissions will only become harder and harder. When it comes to college acceptance, the only thing sure about this unpredictable and biased procedure is that nothing is sure. Ex-UC Berkeley application reader and current Stanford professor Ruth Starkman has made it clear that some factors many students believe are important in college admittance are often very subjective. | Photo Credit: World News Views



Docta Smooth

Note from the Editor -

 Black Friday has come and gone, bringing mammoth lines, crazed crowds, and even Taser fights. Every year it seems that American consumerism expands in magnitude, like a bacterial infection spreading its materialistic toxins throughout the country. Commercials depict triumphant parents as warriors in the fight to procure the best holiday presents, turning the act of gift-giving into a brutal competition. Isn’t it ironic? There is so much emphasis on buying and “giving,” as if the willingness to purchase things for another is the best measure of character. In a way, the increasing commercialism of this season encourages selfishness, because it’s not so much about the receivers anymore as it is the givers. Finding the perfect present is often a matter of personal pride more than anything else, because so much worth is invested in material objects. Yet in the end money itself is just a societal construct, born from the desire to own and control, to place oneself above others; it is not a natural occurrence. And it shouldn’t be the focus of this season. Instead of worrying about what to buy for each other, shouldn’t we be enjoying what we have already? The intangible components of life are exempt from the obsolescence that governs material objects, and that is why these holiday traditions have endured throughout the ages.

On a completely different note, the Bolt website is live! Check out to view full issues. Alternatively, you can search for individual articles by month, topic, or author. The purpose of the website isn’t just to increase availability of the paper, however. We want to start involving you, the readers, in the paper, and thus are planning to include reader responses to articles in our next issue. Please tell us what you think by commenting on articles on the website! Also, there is a suggestions page where we want readers to give us ideas on how to improve the paper. Our goal as staff members is always to make the Bolt the best it can be, and to do that we’ve decided we need to reach out to our readers. Thank you for your continued support, and happy holidays, Christopher Yin Editor-in-Chief


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Movie Pick of the Month

Book Pick of the Month

(movies that you may not have seen but should definitely check out)

(novels that you probably haven’t heard of but are well worth the read)

Garden State (2004)

The Monstrumologist (2009)

Written & Directed by Zach Braff Andrew, a quietly troubled young man living in Hollywood as an aspiring actor returns home for his mother’s funeral after being estranged from his family for a decade. Gradually, through his refusal to take his antidepressant medication, his reconnection with his past, and his growing relationship with Sam, a girl living in his home town, Andrew is able to see the potential for positive changes in his life. Cast: Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Ian Holm Drama/Comedy

By Rick Yancey A young orphan named Will Henry is apprenticed to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, a scientist devoted to the study of monsters. Presented in the form of folios written by the adult Will Henry, The Monstrumologist examines the darkest facets of humanity and questions what it really means to be a monster. The complexity of the relationship between Will Henry and his master will unfailingly engross readers, as will the haunting tone, Gothic atmosphere, and heart-pounding suspense. A true masterpiece of young adult fiction, the Monstrumologist is the first in a four book series. Fantasy/Drama

The Bolt Executive Board 2013-2014

Christopher Yin Editor-in-Chief

Jameson Thies

Emily Gong

Assistant Editor

Assistant Editor

Emi Yasuda Secretary


Ryan Smith Financial Representative

Peter Yin Layout Manager

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