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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hip Hop and Shakespeare

Hip Hop and Shakespeare

Recently, I watched an interesting TED talk by award-winning hip hop artist Akala, a social entrepreneur who works at the convergence of two art forms that many would consider completely different: hip hop and Shakespeare. His music and production company explores the social, cultural and linguistic parallels between the works of English playwright and poet, William Shakespeare, and that of influential modern hip-hop artists.

Hip hop and Shakespeare share a broader appeal, with surprisingly similar themes and influence. Hip hop is frequently the expression of people who don’t feel as though they have a voice, such as youth from disadvantaged neighborhoods. While Shakespeare may appear elitist, most of his audiences were the people, those who could not read and faced the constant turmoil and poverty common to the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Both art forms communicate social messages while providing entertainment, with themes of self-boasting of one’s ability and potential and political commentary being especially common.

Image result for to be or not to be iambic
Similarly, the mechanics and effects of hip hop and Shakespeare are alike. The iambic pentameter, described by Akala in his TED talk as the “heartbeat of life”, is used to communicate feeling. Shakespeare is often commended for his illumination of the human experience, how perfectly he was able to capture complex, yet common, human emotions in words. The feeling expressed by hip hop and Shakespeare utilizes imagery, metaphors, irony, tone and diction. Lyricism and authenticity, or keeping it real, is sought out and praised. Both reflect themes of social change relevant at the time, a platform for issues such as racism, poverty or social structures.Whether in dance and fashion or language and philosophy, hip-hop and Shakespeare have undeniably impacted and inspired people of many different times and backgrounds.

What are your favorite hip-hop artists and Shakespearean works? How have they influenced your life today?

Post by Swathi P., Homework Assistant

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The 2017 Australian Open

2017 Australian Open
The 2017 Australian Open was a special tournament due to the fact that four old legends, each toward the end of their tennis careers, were finally able to face off again. For the past few years, those four players have been consistently defeated and replaced by younger, newer players who were rising up into their peak performance. Yet, at the 2017 Australian Open, we finally saw Roger Federer compete against Rafael Nadal for the Men’s final! It was a huge surprise, as Nadal had been out of competitive play for months, and Federer has not been doing as well as he did before. Serena Williams battled Venus Williams for the Women’s championship, an amazing and equally surprising occurrence. Venus had been falling out of her prime time, and to see her play for the championship was revolutionary.

The 2017 Australian Open was a revival of the clash of rivalry between both Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal and Serena against her sister Venus. Both Federer and Nadal had been injured in the past year, and after taking a break from professional tennis were stomping out competition that had defeated them last year. After a close, long fought match that almost lasted 5 hours, Roger Federer prevailed against Rafael Nadal to take the championship!

Serena defeated her sister Venus in a close match, finally assuming the title of world champion yet again. As sisters and also the best of the best, they have always had a rivalry between them that had begun earlier than Federer had even known Nadal. The former champions had retaken their thrones against their long standing rivals, making the 2017 Australian Open a memorable visit of years before that we may never come across again.

If you want to watch tennis live, there are grand slams including: the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open, all coming up this spring. You can watch these tournaments live online for free! Hopefully we’ll be able to watch exciting matches just like in the Australian Open in the months to come.

Post Written by Howard W., Homework Assistant


Tuesday, March 21, 2017



Living in the Silicon Valley, the significance of the STEM fields –science, technology, technology, engineering, and mathematics – is especially clear. STEM was introduced to shift the focus in the classroom to a more interdisciplinary approach, in hopes to foster the in-depth analysis, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills critical for solving real world issues. Education began to collectively use the academic subjects to further boost student innovation. As successes and jobs increase as a result of these measures, the importance of the incorporation of arts and design, creating STEAM, becomes even more relevant.

STEAM: science, technology, engineering science, technology, engineering, arts and design, mathematics. Activism for the inclusion of art has been spurred by scientific research on the benefits of developing the spatial thinking and creativity in driving innovation. The arts help students develop cognitive processes that assist in core subjects; in countries where an arts education is mandatory, such as the Netherlands, Japan, and Hungary, students consistently rank highest for maths and science test scores.

Especially recently, several universities and institutions have taken steps to incorporate STEAM in both learning and the real world. The University of Florida paired up with Sesame Street to include arts and design to their curriculum: to encourage the application of arts and design into future careers, the musical show highlights their interdependence, with examples such as geometric shapes in art. Environmental art activism has created many powerful messages, such as the one to the right. The California College of the Arts, designers created videos and art on the scientific basis of climate change, presented to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change in South Africa to increase funding for environmental issues.

Architects designing monuments with historical significance, the use of micro-controllers and shape memory metal to create paper-based electronics, chemical engineers producing safe and appealing makeup; where do you see the creativity and innovation of STEAM in the world, and how do you plan to incorporate it into your life?

Post by Swathi P., homework assistant.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Joke's on You!

Having a bad day? In need of a laugh? Or maybe you’re ready to take whatever is coming your way? Whatever mood you’re in, I’ve compiled a list of just some really good jokes. And plus, it’s always good to have a nice pun in your back pocket for when you’ve got to break the ice!
A farmer counted 196 cows in the field. But when he rounded them up, he had 200.

I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.

If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?

Sometimes I tuck my knees into my chest and lean forward. That’s just how I roll.

Q: How do you drown a hipster?
A: Throw him into the mainstream.

Q: Why does Humpty Dumpty love autumn?
A: Because Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

Q: What’s the best thing about Switzerland?
A: I don't know, but the flag is a big plus.

Q: What stays in one corner but travels around the world? 
A: A stamp.

Q: What is trigonometry for a farmer?
A: Swine and Coswine.

Q: Why did the shark keep swimming in circles?
A: It had a nosebleed.

Doctor: You need a crown.
Patient: Finally someone who understands me!

Q: What do you call it when a chicken sees a salad?
A: Chicken Caesar Salad!

Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Why Vegan?

The trends are rising. Especially among teens, it’s becoming popular to ditch your meat for beans and tofu. Being brought up with the mindset that meat provides my necessary protein, I've never considered opting out of animals and animal products. But once you learn these facts, you just might want to try out this diet.

Just think of the animal ethics that surround raising animals in large quantities with limited space. Many people I know have gone vegan after seeing bloody animal parts at the supermarket or watching a documentary that showcased the ugly truth to raising livestock. It's pretty horrible in the slaughterhouses, and many animals are overstuffed so they give the most meat possible.

Think of the environmental impact. It takes thousands of pounds of water to produce just one pound of steak, due to the water that a cow drinks in its lifetime and the water used in processing the steak.
- Further, methane is a byproduct of raising livestock, due to “enteric fermentation,” or cow farts to put it bluntly. Methane, like carbon dioxide, is one of the largest greenhouse gasses that contributes to global warming.
- Additionally, humans have fewer resources because so many of our crops go to animals.

Think of your health. Some people have sworn that vegan eating has put them in the best fitness of their lives. Skipping animals and animal products reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, research shows. Further, many people undergo a healthy weight loss and maintain a low blood pressure.

I just realized that even if I were vegan, I would still have
fruits which are my favorite
Think of your health. If you are not smart with your diet and don’t find alternate ways to get typical nutrients from dairy or meat, then you can definitely subject yourself to malnutrition. There can be many health benefits to going vegan, but it takes time and effort to build your meals so that you are getting enough of the proper nutrients. You will have to do some initial research to make sure you are fueling your body properly. Many people lack energy and lose their source of Vitamin B12 and iron.

Think of your personal beliefs. I simply think that eating animals is natural for an omnivorous creature like us humans, and thus the repercussions of raising livestock is part of the process. Hey kids, it’s the circle of life, after all.

Think of your appetite. From a non-vegan perspective, I’m just thinking of all the beautiful foods I will be missing out on if I go vegan. I’m sure there are substitutes, but like, would I really want to live the rest of my life never again having an In N Out burger or vanilla milkshake? No thanks, I’ll stick to my current diet.

So what does your diet consist of? Have you tried veganism or vegetarianism before, and if so, what are your thoughts? As I go off to college next year where the cafeteria will have endless options, I hope to become a vegetarian for the environmental benefits. Hope this post has you considering your options and weighing the benefits of going vegan.

For more information, you can visit or

Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Monday, March 13, 2017

Music Streaming

Remember the age when we bought digital downloads of music, or better yet, physical CDs? The idea of purchasing music has recently been replaced by a cheaper alternative: streaming.  Apple Music, Google Play, Spotify, and Pandora are some of the most popular services I’ve encountered. Although I’ve dealt with pesky ads interrupting my music, I’ve enjoyed expanding my musical knowledge through the personalized features that accompany these apps. Here’s my run-down on each of these websites/apps, and which ones might be worth investing in for the premium service.

 Pandora and I go way back. I’ve had an account for five years now, and the more music I listen to, the better Pandora caters to my taste. You can create a playlist for an artist, song, or album, and Pandora will play that music and similar music. The ads are infrequent, perhaps playing 3 to 4 times an hour, and you do have a limited number of skips. But let me tell you, Pandora is an awesome place to expand your musical familiarity, as it introduced me to many of my favorite songs and singers. The premium service, Pandora One, has no ads and more skips, costing $4.99 per month.


      Apple Music (not to be mistaken with iTunes), is a recent feature that Apple added to their interface. You can stream unlimited music for $9.99 per month, as opposed to paying the (rather pricey) $1.29 per song on iTunes these 
      days. While there is a cost associated with the service, Apple boasts a free 
      3-month trial period. For iPhone and Mac users, this service is convenient 
       and streamlined for listening to music.             
Google Play is like a lesser known version of Apple Music, but for Android phones. I’ve found it very similar to Pandora, in that I can stream playlists and rate songs with the same “thumb up” and “thumb down” system. While Google Play does have a free streaming feature, I think the most annoying part is that you’re required to link it to a credit card before you start streaming, something rather inconvenient if you do not own a credit card like myself! The ad-free, unlimited version is $9.99 for a monthly subscription.

 Spotify! This app became really big in the past year, with the notion that you can look up any song and play it on demand. Spotify allows you to listen to the exact song you want to hear, unlike the shuffle playlists on Pandora and Google Play. Here’s the thing: the Spotify ads are SUPER annoying. They play part of a song, so you start jamming along, and then you realize it’s an ad and it is ruined midway.  The premium service is $9.99 a month.

When considering the frequency/annoying nature of ads, the number of skips per hour, the song selection, and the accessibility of each of these streaming services, it seems that Pandora takes the prize for me. Pandora has always been #1 in my heart, and it appears that it will continue to do so.
How do you prefer to listen to music? Share below if you like to stream or listen to your personal library!

Written by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Fight Against World Hunger

Most people in the United States are aware of an increasingly problem around the globe: world hunger. Charities are constantly fighting against hunger, both in the United States and around the world. But what if I told you that we actually have enough food to feed the world? If we did, wouldn’t it be so easy to fix our problems of world hunger and prevent further devastation of the environment in developing countries? In fact, the United States does have food to contribute, just that it is mostly wasted.
Unfortunately, America wastes the most food out of all the countries in the entire world. 50% of our produce is thrown away and not sold to the public. One reason for the waste of food in America is that food in America is very cheap. Many people can afford to throw away food that has been left over after dinner. When companies harvest produce, such as apples, they always check each one to see if it fits quality standards. If an apple is lopsided or has a blemish on its skin, which are natural occurrences, companies simply throw it away instead of going through the trouble of attempting to sell it. Many Americans would refuse to eat an apple, simply because it was oddly shaped. Restaurants, unable to sell leftovers, simply throw them away. With the waste of food by producers, restaurants, and consumers adding up, one can easily see how America does indeed have food it can use to help people in need.
The reasons for this are awareness and efficiency. Many Americans are not aware of the amount of waste it produces. Companies like to keep secret anything that might seem immoral to the public. If people do not know that the problem exists, then people cannot solve it. Next up is efficiency. Companies are made for money, and do what they need to maximize their profit. If they have food that is not shaped in an appealing way, they might dispose of the food instead of spending money to ship it and then have it be thrown away after not being bought.
What can you do to help? First of all, change must begin from within, not without. Set yourself up as an example, and others will follow. Show people that you are willing to conserve and not waste food simply because you can buy more. Then, tell people about the problem. The more people who realize why there are others who are hungry the better. But the best way to improve the situation is to work with the companies.
In order to fix the problem of food waste, many charities have begun to get food from companies that they would not sell. Instead, this food is given for free to people who need it. If expanded, this can reach across the globe, so that no food produced would be wasted, and no children would have to stay hungry. Another expanding idea is the idea of buying leftovers from restaurants and selling them at half price, so people who desperately need food can have access to it for less money. In reality, the key to enough food is simple: stop wasting it.

Post Written by Howard W, Homework Assistant