TUSKAN TIMES VOLUME 10 ISSUE 2
IN THIS ISSUE
NEW REALITY FOR AFGHAN WOMEN
THE ISSUE IS STILL ABORTION NORTH KOREA LAUNCHES A MISSLE SAME SEX MARRIAGE
RILEY LAMANTEER JACK WANG
THE EFFECT OF THE CLIMATE CRISIS ROBOTS OF TODAY
DEVAKI MENON ALISIYA ERMOLENKO
LOUISE GUTBROD & CAMILLA VITALE
SHANG CHI AND DUNE
KAZUO ISHIGURO REVIEW
ON THE COVERS
THE FRONT COVER REPRESENTS AFGHANISTAN’S PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY WOMEN AND THEIR STRUGGLE AND HARDSHIPS UNDER THE STRICT RULE OF THE FUNDAMENTALIST GROUP THE TALIBAN. THE MOTHER IS COMFORTING AND TRYING TO PROTECT HER DAUGHTER FROM THE VIOLENCE AND PERSECUTION OF THE TALIBAN. THEY ARE ENCIRCLED BY THE MOON AND THE DAUGHTER IS HOLDING A STAR, REPRESENTING THE ISLAMIC FLAG, WHICH SYMBOLIZES UNIVERSAL PEACE AND HARMONY.
EVA GOULDER MY INSPIRATION FOR THE BACK COVER IS SELF EXPLANATORY. REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS. I AM PRESENTING THE FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM AS A UNIQUE FLOWER THAT IS CAPABLE OF DOING SO MANY AMAZING THINGS.
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MEET THE TEAM
Introducing the Letter to the Editors section!
YOU’VE ALL BEEN LISTENING TO US FOR SO LONG, WE’D LIKE TO HEAR WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY. IF YOU WANT TO COMMENT ON ONE OF OUR ARTICLES, HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT A TOPIC, OR WOULD LIKE US TO ADDRESS SOMETHING IN A FOLLOWING ISSUE, WE WANT TO KNOW! WE MIGHT EVEN INCLUDE SOME OF YOUR RESPONSES IN THE NEXT ISSUE!
FOR ANY QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, RESPONSES, OR THOUGHTS, PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL TO K.DICK@STUDENTS.ISFITALY.ORG WITH THE SUBJECT “LETTER TO THE EDITORS.” WE LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING FROM YOU,
THE TUSKAN TIMES TEAM
ALISA TILMAN ANNA PAPINI DEVAKI MENON FILIPA GAMEIRO LOUISE GUTBROD MARJORIE CARLSON SELINA MARTON ELLIOT GRIMM GIOVANNI VAGLIO SASHA WILCOX PIETER VERBANCK
ASSISTANT-EDITOR KATHERINE DICK
HEAD OF LAYOUT GIUSEPPINA LOPEZ
SUPERVISOR KATHRYN VAN FORST
ART EVALIN GOULDER CAMILLA VITALE
EDITORS JACK BACH LUISA REGO AVERY FERNIE GUSTAVO REGO STELLA FRANCESCHI CAMELIA PALLANTI SELINA MARTON
ALISIYA ERMOLENKO AVERY FERNIE CAMELIA PALLANTI CAMILLA VITALE CAROLINA HOHAGEN DEVAKI MENON JACK WANG LOUISE GUTBROD RILEY LAMANTEER SELINA MARTON SIMON KARÁCSONYI STELLA FRANCESCHI
In this section of the issue, our writers explore topics related to ISF and our community as a whole
Trunk or Treat at the Upper School
GETTING TO KNOW ISF’S SPEAKERS AT TEDX
BY LOUISE GUTBROD, '23
We have gathered some of the past ISF TEDx speakers to share their experiences, giving insight into what it was like for them to give a TEDxYouth talk in front of the ISF community.
This experience can change your perspectives on many things, especially regarding the confidence and selfsatisfaction you gain once done. I would recommend it to everyone, especially those with a personal story because it helps you understand that you are not alone.
Name: Annalisa Been What was your topic? My topic was Stagardt's disease, which is the name of my genetic eye disease. How do you think this experience will help you in the future? This experience will definitely help me for university as well as helping me while needing to deliver future presentations. What did you learn from your experience as a speaker? I learned that there's a lot of respect and support from everyone around you, as well as learning to deliver with confidence, especially while talking about something personal. How would you describe your experience in three words? Empowering, scary, self-satisfactory. What would you tell other people who want to participate? As it was at times a stressful experience, it was worth it.
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Name: Selina Marton What was your topic? My topic was on the importance of learning how to pause and take a break from life, and how developing that habit could improve your mental health and ultimately could have saved so many people who felt there was no way out. I chose the topic because it was something that I felt very passionate about and it was important to me that I share it with the world. How do you think this experience will help you in the future? I think that this experience will help me in the future because I am now a confident public speaker and I am not afraid to go out and share my ideas and views with the world. What did you learn from your experience as a speaker? I learnt that public speaking actually isn’t as scary as one might think.
How would you describe your experience in three words? Exhilarating, terrifying, inspiring.
What would you tell other people who want to participate? I would definitely recommend this experience to other students. Especially to those who are more introverted, or have trouble speaking in front of audiences. The event is formulated in an amazing way where one can learn public speaking while simultaneously presenting a topic that is very interesting to a wonderful audience. I think it was a great experience overall and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.
What would you tell other people who want to participate? I would tell them to not be afraid to get up and speak in front of a room full of people, because no matter how scared they are, it’s worth it. Name: Ardalan Tayebi What was your topic? Fast fashion How do you think this experience will help you in the future? After doing a presentation with TEDX I found that I was more comfortable talking in front of other people. Because of this, I am now able to communicate more effectively not only in a group setting but also individually with different people.
What did you learn from your experience as a speaker? I learned the importance of research and delivery in regards to the way you present research. For example, if you have a fascinating point but convey it in a banal way, the point is less likely to resonate with the audience. Likewise, if you have an amazing presentation but banal research, your overall argument is not going to stick with your audience. After doing this presentation I learned the importance of having both good research and a strong delivery. How would you describe your experience in three words? Challenging, Impactful, Motivating.
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In this section, our readers explore topics relating to politics around the world.
OPPOSITION PRIMARIES TAKE PLACE IN HUNGARY BY SIMON KARÁCSONYI, '23 For 12 years, Hungarian politics have been dominated by the national-conservative FIDESZ (Alliance of Young Democrats) party, and its coalition partner KDNP (Christian Democratic People’s Party). During this time period, the coalition government was accused of dismantling the democratic institutions of the country and the checks and balances of power. As the ruling party changed the constitution and the election system through gerrymandering, they have been securing ⅔ majorities in the parliament for more than a decade.
For 12 years, Hungarian politics have been dominated by the national-conservative FIDESZ (Alliance of Young Democrats) party, and its coalition partner KDNP (Christian Democratic People’s Party). During this time period, the coalition government was accused of dismantling the democratic institutions of the country and the checks and balances of power.
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As the ruling party changed the constitution and the election system through gerrymandering, they have been securing ⅔ majorities in the parliament for more than a decade. For a very long time FIDESZ-KDNP and leader Viktor Orbán seemed undefeatable because of the advantage they had stemming from the election system; as was previously mentioned, the ruling coalition has a ⅔ majority in the Parliament despite winning 48% of the votes. However, this changed in 2018 when after the death of Hódmezővásárhely mayor István Almási, independent candidate Péter Márki-Zay, who was endorsed by all opposition parties, won the by-election. This was even more surprising, as Hódmezővásárhely was considered to be the bastion of FIDESZKDNP. As the by-election took place just before the national elections, coalition talks began between the major opposition parties. However, no agreement was reached and
The government yet again won with a ⅔ majority in Parliament.
As the ruling party changed the constitution and the election system through gerrymandering, they have been securing ⅔ majorities in the parliament for more than a decade. For a very long time FIDESZ-KDNP and leader Viktor Orbán seemed undefeatable because of the advantage they had stemming from the election system; as was previously mentioned, the ruling coalition has a ⅔ majority in the Parliament despite winning 48% of the votes. However, this changed in 2018 when after the death of Hódmezővásárhely mayor István Almási, independent candidate Péter Márki-Zay, who was endorsed by all opposition parties, won the by-election. This was even more surprising, as Hódmezővásárhely was considered to be the bastion of FIDESZKDNP. As the by-election took place just before the national elections, coalition talks began between the major opposition parties. However, no agreement was reached and the government yet again won with a ⅔ majority in Parliament. The FIDESZ-KDNP coalition seemed invincible until the 2019 local government elections. This time the opposition parties were able to unite behind one candidate in every district and managed to win several of them. A major success for the opposition was the victory of Gergely Karácsony, who became the mayor of Budapest. After seeing the results of the elections, last October the opposition parties agreed to have just one candidate in every district and one candidate prime minister for the 2022 elections. After the first round, three candidates for prime minister were left to contend in the second round.
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They are Klára Dobrev, Gergely Karácsony, and Péter Márki-Zay. Let’s take a look at who they are and what their policies are in brief: Klára Dobrev is a veteran of Hungarian politics. She is the wife of former Socialist (MSZP) prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány and is a member of the Democratic Coalition (DK) at the moment. Prior to her candidacy, she worked in the government of Péter Medgyessy. Now, she is the vicepresident of the European Parliament. She is the most liberal out of the 3 politicians;
She believes Hungary should integrate further into the EU and supports the introduction of the Euro.
Socially, she is progressive; she believes that homosexuals and lesbians should have their rights extended. Additionaly, she supports keeping abortion legal in Hungary. Gergely Karácsony is a centrist politician who is known for his ability to compromise. He has been in politics since the mid-2000’s first as an assistant to Ferenc Gyurcsány, then as a member of parliament for the green Politics Can Be Different (LMP). After leaving LMP, he joined Dialogue for Hungary (P) and now is running as the joint candidate for MSZP-P. He is a supporter of the European Union and believes that wealth inequality is the most significant economic problem in Hungary. Socially, he is more on the centrist side, preferring to keep the current social structure of the country. Karácsony is distinguished by his explicitly environmentalist approach to politics.
As the Mayor of Budapest, he passed several laws aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality. éter Márki-Zay is the surprise candidate of the election. It was unexpected that he would reach the required 20% of the vote to advance to the second round. He is also a special candidate as he is an independent, without the support of any party. He is the most conservative candidate in the field, and, although he denies this, has been accused of being a radical. PHe is also very new to Hungarian politics, making him stand out even further from the field. For this reason, he is very hard to attack by other candidates or the government allied media.
Overall, it seems that Péter Márki-Zay is the strongest candidate against Orbán. Firstly, his views are the ones that align the most with Hungarian society, making it easy for citizens to connect with his program. Secondly, his spotless record makes it hard to accuse him of unlawful or unjust behaviour.
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Goodbye Frau Merkel, Hello SPD!
BY CAROLINA HOHAGEN, '23 On October 29 of 2018, the world was left in awe after former German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she would be stepping down as the head of Germany’s government. Merkel, who became Germany’s first female Chancellor in 2005, was known for her pragmatism and steadfastness which were reflected in her leadership — from standing up to Donald Trump to letting in over a million refugees into Germany during the Syrian Civil War.
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But, with the conclusion of the federal elections on Sunday, September 26, a new government is in sight for Germany, marking the end of the esteemed politician's 16-year stint. The German elections bore surprising results with the left-leaning Social Democratic Party (SPD) narrowly defeating Merkel’s long-standing conservative alliance of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU). The polls showed 25.7 percent of the vote for the SPD, while the CDU/CSU bloc, which had dominated German politics for decades, came short at 24.1 percent, its worst election results since World War II. The Green Party came in third with 14.8 percent, followed by the Free Democratic Party (FDP), a socially liberal but economically conservative party, which received 11.5 percent. Fifth, at 10.3 percent, came far-right, populist party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), and then the Left Party, with 4.9 percent. SPD negotiations to form the new government are already underway, but it could be months before the actual makeup of the new government is known. Nonetheless, there has already been talk about potential coalitions. Under Merkel’s “Grand Coalition”, the CDU/CSU and SPD had governed Germany together for years. However, it is unlikely that alliance will continue, given that SPD party leader, Olaf Scholz, has made it clear that he believes it is time for a new coalition, specifically one between the Greens and liberals.
Though both the Green Party and the FDP are the most popular parties among young voters, bringing them together under one coalition may pose a challenge after a Greens spokesman said it was no big secret that they were not close to the liberals. Regardless, a probable coalition would be one between the SPD, FDP, and the Green Party. If it goes into effect, not only would Germany be governed by its first-ever three-way coalition, but the country would enter a new center-left political era. A center-left Germany could look very different than it was under Merkel. The SPD, FDP, and the Greens all agree that the modernization of Germany’s economy and public administration is essential: accordingly, their coalition would likely encourage digitalization and education reforms.
The SPD and the Greens wish to increase taxes for the wealthy and unleash an investment drive and despite their slight discord, the FDP and the Greens will both push for reforms in civil rights and national security issues such as promoting gender equality, the legalization of cannabis, and lowering the voting age to sixteen. All three parties will also want to tackle climate change, although each with their own approach . The SPD wants Germany’s electricity to come entirely from renewable energy sources as early as 2040, the Greens want stronger laws, or possibly even bans, to trigger a change towards more environmentally-friendly means of production and transport, and the FDP, which focuses on more market-centric solutions, wants to dissolve unnecessary processes in order to allow companies to invest in emission-free technologies such as hydrogen wind turbines.
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Evidently, things in Germany are about to change. But could the new German government inspire a rise of Europe’s centre-left as a whole?. Over the past decade, the decline of Europe’s centre-left has become increasingly visible. Its struggle was seen in 2017, when France’s Socialist Party was nearly obliterated after it failed to make the second round of the presidential election, plunging from 280 Members of Parliament to merely 30 In the same year, the Netherlands’ traditionally centre-left Dutch Labour Party, fell to historic lows with less than 6% of the vote, losing three-quarters of its Members of Parliament.
With the downfall of the centre-left, reports of the mid 2010s even claimed the “death of social democratic-politics”. Despite this, some have called the SPD’s win in the German elections the “revival of the centre-left”. If Sholz becomes chancellor, which is a likely possibility, he will be joining the centre-left heads of governments in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Spain, and Portugal. Furthermore, considering Germany’s role as a key actor on the European political stage, the spotlight will certainly be on Sholz and progressivists all across the continent will be trying to imitate him.
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To get a more local perspective, the Tuskan Times asked a German ISF student (Grade 11) their opinions about the new government: Q: How do you feel about the leaving of Chancellor Angela Merkel? A: She is a well-respected politician and still has high poll ratings. However, she has been Chancellor for far too long. 16 years is enough. The last term was characterized by political standstill and paralysis. On the other hand she was predictable and brought stability to foreign politics and the European Union. Q: Do you believe the SPD is capable of socially and economically improving Germany? A: SPD will have to govern in a coalition of three parties.
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Hopefully, the other parties will make sure that social and economic topics will be addressed by the new government. The SPD on their own has a very limited agenda when it comes to reforms and improvement. Q: Do you think a new centre-left government in Germany could boost Europe’s centre-left as a whole? A: It could be positive for environmental and social politics, as well as the digitization efforts. On the other hand, a new center-left government will probably have limited influence on Brussels redtape and a needed reform of the bureaucracy.
THE NEW REALITY FOR AFGHAN WOMEN BY SELINA MARTON, '23 When the Taliban toppled the last vestiges of Ashran Ghani’s government in Kabul on the 15th of August, women and girls all over Afghanistan cowered in their homes, fearing for their future. The liberties and rights that women had achieved since the last time the Taliban had governed threatened to crumble. Women mourned the loss of the lives they had led and wondered what their future would hold. Flashbacks of the last Taliban rule in the late 90s and early 2000s spread unbidden throughout the country. Repression had been not only a feature, but a theme of their rule, especially for women: Girls weren’t allowed to attend school and women couldn’t hold jobs or leave their homes without the accompaniment of a male relative. Open rebellion of the Taliban directives and their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam led to brutal punishments, often floggings or beatings. The Taliban might have marched through the country promising everlasting peace and a modern government, but in reality those were only empty promises. And while the fight for women’s rights had been present long before the Taliban developed a strong presence in Afghanistan, the future had never looked as bleak for Afghan women as it did from 1996 to 2001. The progress that has been made in the long trying years since 2001 has been put into peril in a few short months.
Women all over Afghanistan, and the world, are asking themselves: what happens now? As women are being turned away from work, and students are told to stay home from school, young girls are mourning the loss of a world they will never get to experience and are watching tearfully as their futures crumble to pieces all around them. The country’s first ever all-female robotics team, that had earned international acclaim on the competition circuit in 2017, as well as being an inspiration and a demonstration of all the gains that had been made, are now reportedly ‘terrified’. So much so that five of the original team have sought asylum in Mexico. Zharifa Ghafari, a woman who became the youngest female mayor in the country’s history in 2019, is staying home, avoiding the Taliban.
I’m sitting here waiting for them to come. There is no one to help me or my family. I’m just sitting with them and my husband. And they will come for people like me and kill me,
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she said in an interview with a British newspaper. Ghafari and millions more anonymous Afghan women’s lives hang in the balance, relying on the promises made by the Taliban during their first news conference, in which officials promised the protection of women’s rights within the limits of Islamic Law. However, the Taliban have always operated by their own severe interpretation of Islamic principles and Shariah Law.These promises of a softer government provide little comfort. The reality that Afghan women are now living in is a stark contrast to the one they were living with only a few months ago. In 2020, girls made up nearly 40% of the 9.5 million students enrolled in school. And yet, female students are now unable to complete the education they had worked so hard to achieve. There is also little chance for them to escape the oppressive world
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they have been cast into as many, if not most, of the evacuees being rushed out of Afghanistan are men. The United States’ frenzied evacuation efforts have been concentrated on the male interpreters and cultural officers who worked for the U.S. over the twenty-year war, and of the thousands of people who have been evacuated over the past month, relatively few have been women. The same women who symbolized America’s presence and influence in Afghanistan were cast aside as terror gripped and continues to grip the country. Despite being victims of this political war that was started by men, they have been forgotten. Now they sit at home with their families, waiting and looking at a future that has never seemed bleaker.
THE ISSUE IS STILL ABORTION By Stella Franceschi, '22 For the past eighteen years, the Union of San Marino Women, an association promoting a referendum, tried to win abortion rights for women. A century and a half after the initial ban was created, abortion is finally legal in San Marino. As of the 26 of September, popular judgment decriminalised voluntary termination of pregnancy. Previously, abortion within 12 weeks of gestation could have resulted in
Three years of jail time for the woman, and up to six weeks for the doctor who performed the procedure.
Now, partially thanks to voters, women are finally allowed to medically get an abortion. This milestone is emblematic of the adversity we, as women, have had to face throughout history and how we were able to fight to get the rights that we deserved. It is a major breakthrough for the feminist community of San Marino and shows the evolution of societal standards that have oppressed women and their bodies for centuries. Only 25 days before the referendum, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the irrational Texas Heartbeat Act came into effect.
The Texas Heartbeat Act is an act of the Texas Legislature, introduced on March 11, 2021 and signed into law a week later, that prohibits abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. It is the first six-week abortion ban in the United States, and the first abortion ban to rely on enforcement by private individuals through civil lawsuits, rather than by the government through criminal or civil enforcement. An ordinary American, from Texas or elsewhere, may now be able to seek up to $10,000 in damages in a civil court against abortion providers, doctors, and possibly anyone else involved in the process – such as clinic staff, family members, or clergy who encourage or support the procedure. The most shocking part of this act is the time frame. Nearly half of pregnancies are unintended, so most women don’t actually know that they are pregnant within the six weeks in which it is legal to get an abortion in Texas. On average, women discover that they are pregnant between week four and seven. According to this statistic, in the best case scenario they have two weeks to decide whether or not to get an abortion – a choice that isn’t simple in any way – and schedule the doctor’s appointment to actually have the procedure. This is barely enough time, and this is the best of circumstances. The six week abortion ban practically eliminates the possibility of an abortion for the majority of women.
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Many Pro-Life arguments go back to the idea that a fetus is alive as soon as it has a heartbeat. However, in Texas itself, a bill was considered, but fortunately not passed, that would have allowed women who had an abortion or doctors who performed the procedure, to be charged with assault or criminal homicide. In Texas this charge is punishable by death. The Texas lawmaker who proposed this bill, Bryan Slaton said, “It is time for Texas to protect the natural right to life for the tiniest and most innocent Texans, and this bill does just that.”
Many people question why the feminist movement, even in western countries, is still so active and present. These laws are exactly why: to bring justice to the thousands of women who are still fighting for their rights. According to the Guttmacher Institute – a pro-choice research organization – 2021 has already seen more restrictions on abortions enacted in any year since the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling of 1973 that stated US women have the right to an abortion until a fetus is viable. This isn’t just happening in Texas or in the United States, but in many places around the world, such as Poland. For every step forward, like the one in San Marino, the world decides to take two steps back.
As a woman, it is hard to explain what it is like to not have control over one's body.
The main ideology of pro-lifers is that a fetus is a living human being, and killing it is therefore murder, making it unethical. But why isn’t this same logic applied to the death penalty? The proposed bill in Texas, and the fact that the states which have the strictest abortion laws are also the ones that still sanction the death penalty as a form of punishment, show that the restrictive legislation on terminating pregnancy has nothing to do with respecting human life. The inconsistency with regards to respecting human life, as demonstrated in the two maps above, shows how it is quite obvious that abortion laws have little to do with life, but more with the control and repression of women.
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The liberty and freedom that is taken away from us all over the world, and even in the United States, a country known for its freedom, is incomprehensible. With these restrictions, women feel trapped in a situation about which they can’t do anything, something most men will never feel. While many people say that it isn’t just our body, but the body of someone else, feeling the constraints of having a child is only felt by women. Forcing a woman through nine months of a myriad of unpleasant side effects, some of which can last a lifetime, such as gestational diabetes which often leads to type 2 diabetes, should be considered more unethical than letting a cluster of cells die.
POLITICS/OPINION ABORTION OP-ED
Pregnancy is forty weeks of dedicating your life, your body, your energy, to something else, and if it is being forced, there is nothing that makes it worthwhile.
Getting an abortion isn’t like getting the morning after pill.
It is a decision of a woman to terminate a part of themselves, and this can happen for a variety of reasons. Having a baby isn’t just about life, but the quality of life: it is a commitment. Many people would argue that, what if that child had grown up to be the person who would cure cancer? And to that I respond, what if the mother was the one that would have grown up to cure cancer, but her pregnancy at 15 made it so that she never did? Having that child never gave her the opportunities in life to fulfill her destiny simply because she was tied to a cluster of cells. There are some people who aren’t financially or emotionally ready for a child, and so they shouldn’t be forced to follow through with it. It is worse to have a child brought up in an environment that wasn’t ready for them, than for them not to have existed at all. How can some people even imagine forcing an 11 year old child to bring a pregnancy to term? A child isn’t supposed to bear another child. In a similar way, if a woman gets raped, forcing her to have constant reminders for nine months, of the horror and violence previously enforced on them, shouldn’t be legal. Sometimes abortion is the only option. Pregnancy is difficult and can unfortunately lead to complications. Terminating the pregnancy can sometimes be the only way to save the mother.
Yet even in these cases, around the world it is illegal. Safeguarding actual lives should be more important than saving fetuses. It is almost ironic to see these two distinct cases of San Marino and Texas happening at almost the same time as it is an exact representation of the polarisation that is characterising 21st century politics. Yet, this subject shouldn’t be this controversial. Every mother has a different motivation for getting an abortion, none more valid that the other. If a woman doesn’t want to have a child they will find a way to terminate the pregnancy, but often at a much higher cost: their own life. Unsafe abortion is one of the main causes of maternal death, evidence that no matter how many laws are put into place, women will always have the right to their own bodies, one way or another. It is for this reason that it is imperative that abortion should be legalised. Preventing abortion is impossible. Let's at least make it safe.
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A COUNTRY'S PROVOCATIVE SEARCH FOR DEFENSE By Riley Lamanteer, '22 Inarguably, every country has the inherent right to self defense. No one should be allowed to tell a country what they can or cannot do to make themselves feel safe. On the other hand, if a country appears to be threatening the safety of another country by developing their means of defense, this I believe crosses a line. I have experienced this first-hand. On January 13th, 2018, I was living on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, when at 08:07 all residents received an alert announcing that a missile was headed towards Hawaii from North Korea. This message came a day after my 14th birthday, and when I woke up and read it, my heart sank. I was terrified. After the alert people were calling their loved ones to say goodbye, seeking shelter, and fighting for supplies. It was like an apocalypse. It wasn’t until 38 minutes later that another message was sent out announcing that the previous alert was sent out by accident, and that no missile was heading our way. Everyone was confused and angry.
People thought they were going to lose their lives and their loved ones
so when we found out nothing was going to happen, it was angering.
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In order to better understand why we felt so much apprehension during this false alarm, you have to look at the recent history of North Korea’s missile defense program. Starting in the 1980s, North Korea started to build and test ballistic missiles for the purpose of providing the means to use nuclear warheads against enemy targets as needed. Fast forward to the 2000s, North Korea continued to do this. This has caused a heightened tension between North Korea and the United States. In 2016, 2017, and in 2020 North Korea has threatened to release a nuclear strike on the United States. After the Trump administration and Kim Jong-Un’s negotiations collapsed, North Korea released a statement saying “In order to eliminate the nuclear threats from the U.S, The North Korean government has made all possible efforts either through dialogue or in resort to international law, but all ended in a vain effort. The only option left was to counter nuke with nuke.”
On September 12th, Kim Jong-Un’s sister announced that North Korea would be open to having a meeting with South Korea to discuss having an official end of the Korean War (technically the war ended in 1953, however a peace treaty was never signed). One day later, North Korea tested a new longrange cruise missile capable of reaching Japan and South Korea. After hearing of this, South Korea launched a new submarinelaunched ballistic missile. On the 15th of September, news channels released that two more short-range ballistic missiles were seen launching from North Korea’s east coast. Then again, on the 28th of September, North Korea confirmed they successfully launched a new hypersonic missile called Hwasong-8. They called this missile a “strategic weapon” which usually means the missile has nuclear capabilities. This has now been reported as the latest developments in an arms race between the two countries.
the purpose of launching these missiles is to show its citizens and countries around the world that they are powerful
As aforementioned, North Korea’s original reasoning for developing missiles was to defend themselves. Now the purpose of launching these missiles is to show its citizens and countries around the world that they are powerful and have the military strength to fight if needed. They have continually threatened the United States, South Korea, and Japan. Countries and their citizens should not have the right to threaten others in order to make themselves feel safer.
Just because it allows the government to insure security in terms of being threatened by other countries, it doesn't make it right.
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A PIVOTAL MOMENT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS:
SWITZERLAND RATIFIES SAME SEX MARRIAGE
BY JACK WANG, '22
Swiss voters approved same-sex marriage in a referendum on Sunday, September 26, 2021. The parliamentary initiative "Marriage For All '' was adopted with 64.1% of votes in favor, according to the Federal office for Statistics, with none of Switzerland's 26 cantons – the member states of the Swiss Confederation – voting against it. Now, same-sex couples will soon be allowed to marry and adopt children, and lesbian couples will have easier access to sperm donations if they want to start a family. Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said that the federal government
Welcomes this decision because the state should not dictate how people should organize their private life.
The reform had been debated since 2013 when Liberal Greens first proposed it. Supporters said approval would put samesex partners on an equal legal footing with heterosexual couples. Opponents – mostly conservative parties, argued that replacing civil partnerships with full marriage rights would undermine families based on a union between one man and one woman: "Marriage and family are closely linked ecause children are born naturally only from the union of a man and a woman," says the inter-party committee. Switzerland was among the last Western n European countries where same-sex marriage is still outlawed.
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Switzerland only extended full voting rights to women in federal elections in 1971, with one canton holding out on full voting rights for municipal elections until 1990. Nonetheless, the Swiss vote also marks a turning point for LGBTQ+ rights in Europe. All of Western Europe, except Italy, is now allowing same-sex couples to wed. In Central and Eastern Europe, marriage equality continues to face fierce opposition – in many countries, including Poland and Hungary, it is even subjected to a constitutional ban. As of 2021, same-sex marriage is legally performed and recognized in 29 countries; in contrast, 33 countries have gender definitions of marriage in their constitutions that prevent same-sex marriage. Supporters say it could still be months before same-sex couples can get married, mainly because of administrative and legislative procedures. The new provisions can come into effect on July 1, 2022. Katrin Hugendubel, Advocacy Director at ILGA-Europe, an LGBTQ+ rights group, said, "The Swiss vote is really a huge achievement. It's been a very long process following the tireless efforts of activists over the years, and it's amazing to see how clear the vote was. And, of course, such a vote then resonates across borders as well.". This result shows there has been more awareness and acceptance in society but at the same time hate crimes still exist. Much more has to be done in terms of prevention and raising awareness; especially in school curriculums.
An eastbound view of East Stassney Lane in south Austin
Our writers provide fascinating insight on new scientific breakthroughs.
WHAT THE CLIMATE CRISIS MEANS FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR PLANET
BY DEVAKI MENON, '24
The climate crisis has defined the last decades, each year bringing new urgency for change. Climate change cannot be ignored and forgotten about – its effect on the present state of our world and the future of our planet is so critical that ignoring it could lead to a significant change in the world as we know it. Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or the IPCC, released their Sixth Assessment Report, which addressed the climate crisis's position in the world, currently and in the future. The report, which comes out every five years, details the condition of the Earth's climate - its current state and its predicted state. The newest report emphasizes the influence humans have on the planet. How it has 'unequivocally' harmed the environment and heated the atmosphere, ocean, and land, and how the rate of heating of the climate is 'unprecedented.' Although the main result of climate change, the climate crisis is not shaped solely by the heating up of the planet. Climate change induced by humans has also led to weather extremes – not only have there been more droughts and wildfires, but there have also been a lot more floods and precipitation, and hurricanes have intensified globally. The climate crisis has started taking its toll on our daily lives and the world we live in, and it could worsen as the years go by if we don't take action.
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Scientists predict that, with the rate at which the climate emergency is progressing, Earth could warm up to 3 to 5 degrees by 2100, and more intense natural disasters and the weather could become the norm. The global water cycle, an essential part of nature, could also escalate, and carbon sinks in the ocean and land could become less effective, increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Although the future of the climate may look grim, that does not mean that we can't do anything to reverse it. If humans are the main perpetrators and can significantly affect the environment, humans can do better. Individually, just lessening the number of times you use your car or using more renewable energy at home can help in small ways.
However, what is necessary is for governments and leaders of countries to lead such things at a larger scale. Recently, several countries have pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Reaching net-zero emissions means balancing the number of greenhouse gases entering the environment and the number of greenhouse gases removed from the environment. Countries will have to invest in powerful renewable energy machines. One can achieve a net-zero environment by reducing the number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and removing any excess gases.
How? As António Guterres, the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, says, "the climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win." By working hard to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the environment, educating others, and doing small measures at home, we can save ourselves and our planets from the catastrophic future that awaits us.
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ROBOTS OF TODAY
By Alisiya Ermolenko, '24
Advances in technology today often seem like huge leaps towards the distant future of a science fiction book. Scientists are inventing more new inventions such as humanoid robots that will revolutionize the world and change life as we know it. Although the science behind it is very interesting, many people are wondering if this will be the end of humanity and a new beginning for robots. Some worry that robots will dominate social media platforms like Lil Miquela on TikTok and human hobbies like Ai- Da the painter.
A group of Oxford scientists called Engineered Arts created the world's first robotic artist, Ai-Da, capable of combining performance art, drawing and painting. Augusta Ada King, or Ada Lovelace, an English mathematician and writer who specializes in technology, algorithms and machinery served as the inspiration for the name of Ai-Da.
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Many say that its work sums up the work of technology, science, art, machinery, and design into a virtual and physical work of art. In Japan, science has advanced so much that in the Henn na Hotel located in Nagasaki, robots welcome guests at the reception and assist them throughout their stay. The technological staff is made up of 243 robots which include dinosaurs and women and men who can speak in different languages and perform basic tasks such as welcoming guests, doing the check-in, carrying luggage and cleaning. However, as innovative and efficient as it may seem, the hotel eventually got rid of half of the robot staff due to the numerous problems they encountered. The robots suffered malfunctions, failures, woke guests up in the middle of the night and were unable to answer simple questions. Aside from the creative use of humanoid robots, a Russian company called Promobot developed and conducted trials with its robot model, Robo-C, designed to resemble the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Promobot, Alexey Yuzhakov.
In fact, it has already been put to the test in Perm, Russia. Promobot reported that the simple tasks that the robot does saves at least 43 minutes of the administrators time per day. The company's overall aim with this product is to allow any person to replicate themselves in the form of a humanoid robot who could perform daily tasks, such as taking the trash out. To create Robo-C's appearance, the company used advanced 3D printing for the eyeballs, which are later painted by hand and inserted the hair follicles individually. In addition to the long programming process, it can take over 3 months to make the robot appear human-like.
Lastly, there is Lil Miquela. Unlike the other three examples, she is a virtual/CGI influencer: a computergenerated "person who has the realistic characteristics and personalities of humans." Lil Miquela has an account on TikTok and Instagram, more than 3 million followers, and earns around 8,960,000 euros a year.
She has been active since the 2000s and was created by Brud, a group of people specializing in robotics in Los Angeles. She sometimes acts as a model, recently appearing in a commercial with Bella Hadid for Calvin Klein. She’s met other famous influencers and goes to many events such as the Milan Fashion Week. These examples show that there are some pros to having humanoid robots: they help us save time doing ordinary tasks, act as a form of self expression for the people who create them, and are entertaining to build as well as discuss. They are something that humanity has never seen, but can this make up for the downsides? The main con is the chance of glitches and malfunctions. Secondly, psychologists discovered and even gave a name to the feeling of discomfort we experience around objects very similar to humans: "The Uncanny Valley." The more that something resembles us, the more we feel the sensation of discomfort, disgust and fear. Additionally, humanoid robots set unrealistic expectations about beauty and what we should look like which could possibly lead to serious consequences for many. In Lil Miquela's posts, many people comment things such as, "She is so beautiful,” “I’m jealous,” and “I wish I looked like you." The Industrial Revolution first introduced workers to competition with machines. Since then there has been striking progress and success in building robots. According to the calculations of the World Economic Forum, it is possible that by 2025, almost 85 million human jobs will be lost to robots. Before it is too late, humanity should define the limit to the production of robots and how much they are allowed to control.
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New media and how it inspires people. This issue looks further into the theories behind the film "The Platform".
Behind the scene of a film production
ALBUM REVIEW BY AVERY FERNIE, '22
Mac Miller Mac Miller’s sixth and final studio album, Circles, released posthumously in 2020, reveals an optimistic lens into the life of an aspirational artist. Presented as a companion to the late artists’ 2018 album, Swimming, the two work together as a twopart project following the theme of “Swimming in Circles.” The album Circles gives the listener a true look into Mac’s thoughts and feelings. “While it’s hard to listen to him talking about selfdeterioration and how he spends far too much time in his own head, it’s a privilege to hear him share his innermost thoughts over a bed of sweeping, inventive sonics. This is the album Mac Miller was born to make,” states New Music Express in their review of the album. When Miller suddenly passed away due to an overdose in 2018, Brion, Miller’s producer, was left with a mess of unproduced songs that he had developed into an album. In an interview with the New York Times, Jon Brion explains, “he had talked to me a lot about what he wanted sonically. Like, ‘I want this to feel wider,’ or ‘deeper.’’' Circles, compared to Swimming, adapts a more peaceful tone. The first part of the bipartite implies a journey of selfacceptance, while the second is the selfacceptance itself, all while dealing with anxiety and depression.
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His gruff vocals, followed by the mesmerizing rhythm, create a sound that listeners had never heard before from Mac Miller. Listening through his albums from K.I.D.S., to Circles, it seems like he almost leads into the more sentimental and slower sound, starting from a fun and uplifting sound presence of live arrangements that is extremely rare for a rap album. Circles perfectly represents the imagery of a cluttered mind. Looking back, every word holds significance, almost as if this album was a form of closure for the young artist. He introduces the album with Circles, a slow, yet relaxed song; the first words he utters are
This is what it look like/ Right before you fall/ Stumblin’ around you’ve been guessin’ your direction/ Next stop you can’t see at all.
As an avid Beatles fan, Miller adapted many of their signature traits which are very evident in That’s On Me – through his lively use of the piano. On Good News he uses synths that create a psychedelic fuzz. His use of slow guitars and drums combined with his weary singing add to the cheerful dreariness of the song. This sound is contrasted by the upbeat and more raporiented nature of the second song on the album, Complicated. It is admirable how often Mac Miller sings instead of rap on this album, especially coming from his almost exclusively rap background, yet it adds to the vulnerability he displays through the lyrics.
The vulnerability, mixed with the carefully written lyrics, created what, in my opinion, is one of Mac Miller’s greatest albums. He displayed talent that none of the fans or critics knew he was capable of and served as the perfect closure for the man’s career.
The album fluctuates between rap and lo-fi beat music mixed with indie folk.
The presence of live arrangements is extremely rare for a rap album. Swimming was considered the most vocal-oriented album of his career. This is highly contrasted by Circles, an instrumental focused album. That is exactly what the two albums were intended to do – balance each other out. Although certain characteristics of Circles reveal that Mac Miller was not present for the production of the entire album, it does not seem “incomplete,” which is not typical for albums released post-mortem. “He was clearly trying to sort through his demons and was just being very honest, not trying to hide any of it. I feel like the album is a clear picture of somebody with those troubles who is funny and intelligent and was trying to look at them critically,” states Brion.
Tyler the Creator
When Tyler, the Creator released his first single in over two years, LUMBERJACK, consumers were unsure by what kind of sound his sixth studio album Call Me If You Get Lost would have. Tyler has been known for having significant swings in sound and lyrics through his albums. The first single, LUMBERJACK, threw everyone off as it reveals the old Tyler, aggressive and assertive. The sound is rough and the lyrics reveal Tyler’s typical humor which led us to believe that the signature sound of the album would be very similar to IGOR, the artists’ fifth studio album. Yet on the 25th of June 2021, Tyler shocked us all. His sound, rhythm and lyrics were nothing like his fans had heard him create before. It was an innovative mixture of his earlier days’ charisma and the melodies of his most recent work, IGOR and Flower Boy. IGOR is known as Tyler’s most personal and intimate album, singing about homophobia, sexual assault and other sensitive subjects.
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None of this is seen in the most recent album, which discusses life as a rich man. He takes on the persona of “Tyler Baudelaire,” a sophisticated, well-traveled, suave gentleman with a keen interest in fine art. He manages to portray this without leaning on stereotypical rap lyrics about money, sex and fame. Tyler introduces the album with SIR BAUDELAIRE, where he begins with a faint split second of his voice alone, “The sun beamin”, that is followed by a more laid-back instrumental sound, which does not follow the anticipated theme from LUMBERJACK. He begins with “Cookie crumbs in the rolls/ Jet fuel scented vest” depicting an “average day” in Mr. Baudelaire’s life. The first song shows the success Tyler, the Creator has had in the past few years with the uprise of his career. LEMONHEAD, the third song on the album, featured by upcoming artist, 42 Dugg, gives off a similar ambiance as SIR BAUDELAIRE. Despite half the songs on the album having features, Call Me If You Get Lost, just like the rest of his discography, was fully written and produced by Tyler himself.
was fully written and produced by Tyler himself.
The length of the songs came as a shock to critics and fans. Of the 16 songs on Call Me, only five of them make it to the 3 minute mark, and two of which, WILSHIRE and SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE, are considered marathon tracks, lasting 9 minutes each. By the middle of SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE, Tyler added about 10 seconds of what sounds like “Elevator music”, which adds to the imagery of the rich lifestyle that Sir Baudelaire inhabits.
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Both CORSO and LEMONHEAD, begin with a menace before transitioning into a more techno sound. MASSA can be considered the most sonically complex song on Call Me, as he adds an inverted progression that throws off the entire album, as it’s brighter at the beginning only to dull again later in the song. Right in the middle of it, he switches his tone to a lower register and raps: “Everyone I ever loved had to be loved in the shadows.” This transition creates a more intimate and sentimental sound, which is rare in this album.
Yet, it is expected given the fact that he discusses the fact that his mother was living in a shelter when his first single Yonkers dropped in 2011. The main personal issue Tyler writes about is an affair between a friends’ lover and himself. In YORKSHIRE, the possible outcomes bounce back and forth as he goes from concluding that the friendship is worth damaging for the possible relationship to then deciding it is a horrible idea. Call Me If You Get Lost is without a doubt Tyler’s most conceptual album, creating a consistent storyline throughout the entire work. This being said, I believe that Tyler’s talent and capabilities did not truly shine through. Although he is working his way towards the development of a new and unique sound, this was just a stepping stone to that point.
THE GEN Z DRUG: TIKTOK
BY LOUISE GUTBROD & CAMILLA VITALE, '23 By now, almost everyone has heard about the short video platform ‘TikTok.’ The Chinese IT company ByteDance launched its original app, Douyin, in September 2016 for the Chinese community, and soon followed up with an international version of its app: TikTok. TikTok became accessible worldwide for users after merging with another Chinese social media service, Musical.ly, on the second of August, 2018. It didn't take long for TikTok to become serious competition for other platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Snapchat and even movie platforms such as Netflix. These top-notch social media platforms even recreated TikTok’s key features in order to keep up. For example, Instagram reels or YouTube shorts. The success of the new app is clearly reflected in its user numbers. In 2020 alone, more than one billion videos were watched daily, and it is expected to surpass one billion monthly active users by the end of 2021. Starting as a simple dance app for teenagers and kids, TikTok became an allpurpose app controlling trends in music, food, and even politics. It has become a huge part of our entertainment and trading economy. However, the powerful key feature for the success is said to be the AI algorithm and content distribution strategies. With its ability to process enormous amounts of user data, the recommendation algorithm has a
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significant contribution to the success of the app. To handle the massive amount of videos, the app installed a recommendation system that, according to the user's engagement and identified interests, suggests new posts. This recommendation algorithm is so powerful it easily makes people addicted to its service. Nevertheless, to every success story there are the critics. TikTok is fun and quickly hooks its users, but the content shown is not always good nor educational (even though it depends on the user's interests, there is no tendency to such content). Recommendation systems have their downsides, such as addiction, shaping rather than simply reflecting consumer preferences, and potentially fueling biases by influencing people’s everyday choices. Another concern would be the
which excludes the users from anything not predominantly known to the users. You could say users are being imprisoned in the realm where the only content shown is based on what the recommended system gathered to be their interests. The app reaches a large variety of different age groups all over the world, building a diverse community.
With this type of reach comes a lot of responsibility, not only to the app but also to its users. Despite the fact that the algorithm is designed to only show videos relevant to your interests, it also offers you things it thinks you will enjoy. It uses everything, from the videos you give a ‘like’ to, to the users you follow, and even to the videos you look at for longer. Through this approach of identifying user interests it's easy for anyone to get pushed into a rabbit hole of unfitting or inappropriate content. Especially since the majority of TikTok users belong to generation Z, between 10 and 25 year olds, the question is raised
Is the app safe to use by minors?
The Wall Street Journal published a research on that question by creating multiple accounts registered as minors. They looked at what would happen if users clicked a few times on inappropriate users or videos. Soon they found themselves on disturbing sides of the app. Featuring drug use, pornography, encouraged eating dissorders, violence, torture devices and other adult content. After time, the Wall Street Journal found a lot of these inappropriate videos to be banned and deleted by the platform. However, not fast enough to not be allegedly seen by these ‘minors,’ and not all of them. A spokeswoman said as defense that most of the content viewed by the journal's accounts either did not violate guidelines, or was deleted shortly after. She also stated that the algorithm does not know how to modify content from videos shown to adults or minors, but that they are
working on a tool that should filter content for younger users in the future. Is that enough? Of course, users have some responsibility for using such platforms; but the responsibility of the app should be to reassure that it’s not easy for minors to access inappropriate content. The TikTok content advisory council, David Polgar spoke to this topic. He said, “Tiktok, and all social media platforms right now, are realising they have tremendous responsibility in how they affect individuals and information they consume.’’
Tiktok, and all social media platforms right now, are realising they have tremendous responsibility in how they affect individuals and information they consume.
In addition to manipulating its users, TikTok has proven to fuel consumer culture. Something, like a handy gadget or a good book, can be smoothly sold to the target audience. For example, “The Little Green Machine,” a portable carpet cleaner, has been available since 1997. However, in the last 18 months, its sales have more than doubled as more people on TikTok continue to praise this product. . The algorithm puts viewers on different “sides'' of TikTok, creating their ‘For You Page’ (FYP: where personalized videos are viewed). Various types of TikTok exists, such “CleanTok,” “BookTok,” “FoodTok,” et cetera. Similar to the situation with the portable carpet cleaner, “BookTok” has brought the sales
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up of multiple books. “It Ends With Us,” a novel first published in 2016 by Colleen Hoover, is selling tens of thousands of copies per week and topping bestseller lists, all thanks to it’s huge popularity on “BookTok.” Whether it be cleaning products, books, makeup, or clothing items, TikTok has become a powerhouse for shopping. What seems like an innocent recommendation, that isn’t explicitly paid for, has become an important tool for brands. Because ‘random’ videos can appear showing something you “must” buy, people continue to buy things they don’t necessarily need. The algorithm, and companies, have found ways to show up on one’s FYP, subtly influencing shopping and causing sales to skyrocket after becoming TikTok sensations.
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Even without directly interacting with the content shown, TikTok is tracking users’ every move. Due to the personalization of the FYP, your habits and preferences will lead to spending countless hours scrolling, without even noticing as you fall into the depths of a specific TikTok direction. The negative effect TikTok has on their global users increases everyday. The dangerously designed algorithm takes over, infiltrating whatever TikTok wants to its viewers. Exaggerating this situation, one could ask whether your ideas are really yours, or are they unconsciously controlled by what you’ve seen on TikTok?
SHANG CHI AND DUNE
BY CAMELIA PALLANTI, '22
Recent 2021 releases Shang Chi and Dune have been met with instant, staggering box office success as of their early September releases. They have both respectively stayed at the top of the box office charts since their initial releases. This is everything you need to know about the two films SHANG CHI, released on September 2nd of this year, is the newest addition to the Marvel universe. 2021 has been the year to be a marvel fan with all of the newly released mini-series: Wanda vision, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and Loki, as well as the announcement of the new phase 4 works in progress. Shang Chi and The Seven Rings follows Martial-arts master Shang-Chi as he confronts the past he thought he left behind when he's drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization. Like many other Marvel phase one films, Shang Chi is a stand-alone film in the Marvel cinematic universe. The film does a deep dive in the origin of the ten rings organization, famously being mentioned for the first time in Iron Man Three. Iron Man Three also happens to be the film in which the Mandarin, supposed leader of the Ten Rings and Iron Man's nemesis, is first mentioned. Additionally, One Shot-All Hail The King, the newest addition to Disney plus, is a mockumentary about Mandarin.
The short looks into the Mandarin's past involvement with the ten rings, and investigates the ten rings’ history . Shang Chi is also the first film in the marvel cinematic universe to star as the main character an actor of Asian descent, breaking records not only with the box office but it's a refreshingly diverse cast.
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DUNE, released on September 3rd of this year, is a cult classic of the sci-fi genre. Just like what Lord of the Rings is to fantasy literature, Dune has been called it's equivalent in the realm of sci-fi literature. The film follows its main protagonist Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, as he travels to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As evil forces explode into conflict over the planet's exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence, only those who can conquer their fear can survive. The film belongs, as of this year, to a nineteen novel anthology series, including novellas, short stories, prequels, sequels, and everything in between, so it can seem quite the daunting task to begin. The film is a stand-alone but may be challenging to get into because of its ensemble cast of peculiar characters and sci-fi world building (when reading, one must check the appendage an innumerable amount). Although one can watch the film without any previous knowledge, the novels help contextualize the universe.
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The first six are all you need to read and are "a finished series," written by Frank Herbert, the creator of the universe. After his passing, his son continued the dune legacy leading to many other literary works in Herbert's Universe. This Dune 2021 release made 37.8 million dollars within the first three days, beating its 1984 counterpart. The film is relatively slow passing, but makes up for it through its groundbreaking CGI and cinematography, mostly filmed in the breathtaking Jordan desert. Dune, soon to be a cult classic for this new generation, is a must-watch. 2021 is the year for groundbreaking films, just as cinemas worldwide are opening back up; these two films are a must-watch for those wanting to catch up on pop culture and cinema culture of the twentyfirst century. .
KAZUO ISHIGURO REVIEW
BY CAMELIA PALLANTI, '22
Never Let Me Go As the summer weather cools, we head into autumn, and the fog sets in, here is a fall 2021 recommendation: Kazuo Ishiguro. Kazuo Ishiguro, of Japanese British descent, is notably one of the most wellknown contemporary fiction novelists, notably for his ‘89 novel The Remains of The Day, later receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017. Never Let Me Go is a perfect introductory novel into Ishiguro's literature and an ideal autumnal pick, set in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England. Notably, Ishiguro's novels all share the same writing style and similarly grim themes, although varying drastically in genres; dystopian, historical, and fantasy. Never Let Me Go, categorized as a piece of speculative fiction (not to be confused with science-fiction), follows a 1990s England that has deviated from its utopian aspirations, seeming grim and dehumanizing. Narrated by Kathy, now thirty-one, Never Let Me Go dramatizes her attempts to come to terms with her childhood memories, seemingly clouded by her innocence, at the
"idyllic" Hailsham School and the fate that always awaited her friends in the broader world. The complete picture is exposed through fragments through flashbacks and flashforwards as Kathy flows through her memories, while anything that might have seemed patchy or glossed over comes together.
I thought the book revealed a great deal in its beginning chapter and would have liked to grow up with the characters and have a more gradual progression. The writing style is to be commended as
the flow of thought naturally and rapidly occurs while maintaining connections intact.
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Kathy's stream of consciousness presents her thoughts and feelings as they appeared in her memory while juxtaposing them to her contradictory current retroactive views. As her memories change how she feels about the present, the present changes the light shown on the memories. Although Never Let Me Go is often categorized as a science fiction novel, it is dystopian speculative fiction. The critical dystopian elements in the novel are lack of individualism (with the corollary of lack of choice), the prevalence of illness, and the failure of the educational system. England portrayed in the novel is a society that deviated from its utopian aspirations, turning positive features into negative ones.
The dystopian threads mainly act as a tool to explore the theme of individuality versus collectivity, with the novel primarily contemplating the tension between memory and identity.
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GENDER AND RACE REPRESENTATION IN GOSSIP GIRL BY RILEY LAMANTEER, '22 The six-season series, Gossip Girl, first aired on TV in September of 2007. The series followed the privileged, rich, and drama filled lives of the five main characters: Blair Waldorf, Serena Van Der Woodsen, Chuck Bass, Nate Archibald, and Dan Humphrey along with several others, such as Dan’s sister Jenny, Dan’s best friend Vanessa, their parents, and more. The series aired on TV through The CW, a television network, until December of 2012. Joshua Safran, one of the crew members, began working on the series as a writer and consulting producer but ultimately was added as an executive director before his departure from the series at the end of the fifth season in the beginning of 2012. In 2019, Josh Scwartz and Stephanie Savage (the creators of the series) discussed the idea of a reboot of the show with Safran. He originally declined the idea, but eventually changed his mind. The three then brought the idea to the streaming service HBO Max, and they accepted. Fast forward to later that year when the reboot was announced, Vulture Magazine, the entertainment and culture site from New York Magazine, came out with an article discussing the reboot’s representation of race and gender. In the article, Safran stated:
When I look back back on Gossip Girl, the only things I regret were not as much representation for people of color and gay storylines. Those are two things we probably could have delved into more deeply.
In the original show, there were very few LGBTQ+ or POC (person of colour) storylines. Almost all of the recurring cast members were white, except for Hungarian actress Jessica Szohr who played Vanessa. The only other POC’s were extras or side characters. As for the LGBTQ+ community, only one recurring character was a part of the community, Eric van der Woodsen. Eric’s coming out and his story of being a gay man was only really talked about in the first season, though he did have two boyfriends during the show’s run. Other than Vanessa and Eric, the representation for POC’s and the LGBTQ+ community was extremely limited. Nine years after the end of the original series, the Gossip Girl reboot’s first episode aired on July 8th of 2021.
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The show followed a similar storyline to the original, the main characters are tormented by an online account owned by an anonymous person who posts about all their mistakes and drama.The reboot features eight main characters: Audrey Hope, Luna La, Julien Calloway, Max Wolfe, Akeno “Aki” Menzies, Zoya Lott, Monet de Haan, and Otto “Obie” Bergmann IV; along with their teachers and parents. Other than a different time setting and different characters, arguably one of the biggest differences between the reboot and original is the reboot contains a lot more representation both in the cast and the characters. Jordan Alexander, who plays Julien identifies as queer, Zion Moreno, who plays Luna, is a transgender female, Jason Gotay, who plays Rafa (one of the teachers), identifies as gay, and Savannah Lee Smith, who plays Monet, identifies as bisexual. Along with many cast members being a part of the LGBTQ+ community, many of them are also POCs. 43 TUSKAN TIMES
Jordan Alexander, Whitney Peak (who plays Zoya), and Savannah Lee Smith are all African-American. Zion Moreno is Mexican, and Evan Mock (who plays Aki) is Filipino. In comparison to the one LGBTQ+ member and the one POC in the original, this is a HUGE improvement for the show.In terms of the characters themselves, the LGBTQ+ members are even higher. Max Wolfe identifies as a pansexual, Luna identifies as a transgender female, Monet identifies as lesbian, Rafa identifies as gay, and Aki starts the series being confused with his sexuality but later confirms he identifies as bisexual. The creators of the Gossip Girl reboot did not create gender or identity specific roles of the show but instead adapted the characters in the programme to the actors selected to play those roles. For example, Monet was initially thought to identify as a straight character however, Savannah identifies as bisexual so Safran and her both thought it would be an interesting idea for Monet to identify as lesbian instead.
With Gossip Girl being such a popular show, the representation in the cast, crew, and characters helps influence other shows to be inclusive as well.
For people such as myself who neither identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and/or as a person of colour, representation of people who do can be very educational. The reboot of Gossip Girl doesn’t necessarily go into depth about the struggles of these two communities, however many other shows do. It allows people, who may not through natural avenues, to catch a glimpse of the stereotypes associated with these communities. It also allows them to witness the misunderstandings the people of these communities face, and puts into perspective their challenges, helping them realize that they’re not so different from them after all.
The representation of race, gender, sexuality, and other forms of people’s identity in shows and movies is very important.
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