Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Wild Card Project

Climate Change

Climate Change impact graphic

Scientists have been warning us that greenhouse gases were creating climate change since the early 19th century. In October, the UN released a study that shows we have about 12 years to clean up the Earth or risk a lot more wildfires, poverty, migration, hurricanes, and worse.  This is the first study to warn that it will only be a few years before we see horrible changes that cannot be reversed.

Projected impact on climate change on agricultural yields

13 federal agencies released a report last Friday warning that we're already being affected by it in major ways. Not only are there more natural disasters, such as hurricanes and fires, but we're being hurt economically by it. Extreme heat in particular is already affecting the world's productivity and food supply as well as causing more disease transmission. These are not new warnings, but they're getting more press lately. Every respectable scientist in the world agrees that mankind is causing climate change. It needs to stop if we're to survive in the next few decades.

Climate Destabilization

64% of Americans think that we should be doing more about climate change, but people are not willing to do much about it. They figure that someone will fix this. However, it probably won't be fixed because of these attitudes.  These are the facts from NASA that cannot be disputed.  Some think that we need more education and media attention to the problems, to make people care about climate change before it's too late.

Two Possible Futures for Climate Change

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Classmate Blog Critique

 Colby Clinton

typing up a blog

I've read through the blogs written by my classmates. I try not to be too critical when reading them because, unlike me, they are all probably full-time students (with more limited time than I have), and they've only been writing a short while. I was not a very good writer back when I was their age, so I try to judge from that perspective. I'm only taking a few classes, and I've had 30 extra years to hone my writing and typing skills.

Colby's blog screencap

There's one student that I think writes really well in his blog: Colby Clinton. I didn't see many errors at all in his writing. Perhaps he's just better at using Grammarly or spellcheck than the other students.  However, it's not just his fine use of spelling, punctuation and grammar that I like. He has a very concise method of writing that suits him well, especially for the news stories we write for this class. I tend to write too much most of the time, so I admire anyone that can write in an informative way without too much verbiage. It's especially impressive considering he's a Sophomore.

Trying to read the blog

The only thing I don't like about Colby's blog is his choice of blog theme. I'm not too keen on the white-letters-on-dark-background design. It's hard for me to read. However, most of the students seem to choose that style of Blogger theme, so he's hardly alone in this regard. His layout is very good, though, and makes it easier to read.

photos on Colby's Facebook page

He chose a wide variety of topics about which to write, from movies, to sports, to politics. I found his choices to be interesting and well-researched. Good job!

blog cartoon

Monday, November 19, 2018

News App Critique

news sites

 An "app" is usually a program that you download and install, especially on a mobile phone or tablet. I really don't use any news apps on my phone, and I don't have a tablet. I don't usually go out of my way to read, hear or watch the news (which you may have read about in my August post about "Defining the News."). My husband is a news junkie, but I've never really been interested in it. Since the last election, though, I've subscribed to the New York Times. I get a Morning Briefing every day in my email. I sometimes read that, if I can find the time.  I use Gmail for my email, so I guess that would be my primary news app. For weather, I usually use the weather on my phone, or I go to Weather Underground, or I find the local news channels' Facebook pages.

Other news I see on Twitter or Facebook. I have a lot of friends on both social media sites who are politically active, so I see their posts, some of which have links to articles or video news. If something interests me, I'll watch it, or read more about it.  Twitter, Facebook and Gmail are all apps on my phone, so I suppose they count as "news apps." I think Twitter is much better than Facebook for getting the latest news on just about anything. It's more instant, from what I've seen.

On Twitter, I also follow many news organizations such as The Associated Press and The Los Angeles Times, so I often see breaking news when I happen to be on there. I follow a few local news and weather stations on Facebook and Twitter as well, such as the Banner-News and KTAL News.

I'm sure there are many news apps out there that I could use, but I don't have the time to add any new apps. I would probably not use them if I had them.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Opinion - National

Smoking in the U.S.


No smoking sign
U.S. State governments have been trying to reduce smoking rates with laws that ban smoking in certain places, since 1995 when California enacted theirs. The U.S. and state governments have also been trying to educate people, especially children, about the dangers of smoking, since 1964. Due to this concerted effort, smoking dropped drastically. The annual Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee's report came out in 1964. Back then, 42% of the adult population smoked. Now it's down to 15%, thanks to their efforts. The federal government restricts use of advertising smoking, and sales to minors.

menthol cigarettes

Many cities, counties and states have smoking bans in restaurants and other public places. There is no federal smoking ban, however.  The reasoning behind smoking bans is that second-hand smoke can give a person smoking-related diseases, such as cancer and emphysema. Now the federal government (in the form of the FDA) wants to restrict menthol cigarettes and flavored vaping (out of concern for children, who prefer sweet flavors).

Joan McGline, my mom

I'm not a fan of smoking at all. Both of my parents were heavy smokers, and I never understood the appeal. I never wanted to try it. Not only is it very unhealthy, but it makes your home, car, hair and clothes smell bad. My mom knew smoking was bad, and she had asthma, yet she still smoked.  She died in 1972 after a minor operation, when she caught pneumonia in the operating room. I'm sure that smoking didn't help that outcome.

I have some problems, though, with the government trying to ban adults from smoking, and using children as an excuse. There are already laws preventing sales and advertising of cigarettes to minors, and they have a lot of anti-smoking education in schools and on TV.  This is a not-very-well- concealed attempt to ban smoking altogether. The high taxes and prices of cigarettes has also had an effect on reducing smoking.

Prohibition Era Protests

In general, I have no problem with the government regulating everything, and making American health a priority. I do have a problem with them taking away our rights with regards to things that we do that affect our own health and no one else's.  Prohibition showed that banning liquor didn't work.   The war on drugs has showed the same. If they tried to ban cigarettes, it would also fail. Adults should be allowed to make bad choices with their lives if they want to.  Now, if they wanted to try to ban smoking inside your house when you have children, I would agree with that, but it would also be very hard to enforce.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Opinion - Local

Magnolia needs more things to do and better restaurants


Wikipedia's page for Magnolia

Our town of almost 12,000 needs a movie theater, a bowling alley, public transportation (at least Uber!), and other entertainment and shopping options for the local community, as well as for all of the students. The SAU student enrollments have been increasing every year, and I believe they will increase even more if we make Magnolia more like a real college town.

map of some of the Mexican restaurants in Magnolia

Besides all of the things mentioned above, we need more restaurants.  What we don't need are more Mexican restaurants. We have three right now, and more opening up. There will be 5 or 6. I don't know why we need so many.  None of them are great - just adequate. I might be a little biased because I'm from San Diego, CA, which is right on the border. I like Antigua's and El Compadre just fine. Not many people seem to go to the latter. I'm not sure why because I think their food and drinks are just as good as any other in town (possibly better). It might be the location.  Antigua's is right near the university.  El Compadre is across from Flying Burger and next to the new Blue Bull Grill.  One would think that would be a good location, too, but it's not, from what I can tell. To be fair, El Compadre doesn't advertise very much.  They have tried to have trivia and karaoke nights to bring in more customers, but they didn't do much advertising for those, either. They don't do a good job of keeping up their Facebook page, either.

El Compadre

Up until a few months ago, there was Cancun (on Main Street), which was very popular. I thought their food was disappointing, the few times we went there for dinner.  A new place, Santiago's, opened on North Jackson St., a block away from another new Mexican restaurant, Los Tovares Grill. I liked Los Tovares, too (I haven't tried Santiago's yet). There's another Mexican place moving in where Cancun used to be, and Los Tovares is now moving to the Square and will be called Los Maguelles. I believe that yet another Mexican restaurant will also be opening up in our little town, too.


None of them are great Mexican restaurants. It's not that they're not authentic - the people who own and run them are Hispanic/Latino.  The problem is that restaurants cater to the local tastes. Apparently people here just don't like spicy food, so that's why the restaurants make very bland Mexican food.  If someone tried to open an Indian or Thai restaurant, they would probably be just as bad as the Mexican, Chinese and Japanese restaurants here.  Still, it would be nice if someone actually tried to open some good quality restaurants (besides Backyard BBQ, which is the only truly great restaurant in our town). And while we're at it, can some of them have gluten-free options so I can eat at them? That would be great... I keep hearing that there's a lot of money in this town. If so, the people with money need to open up some better restaurants!

Backyard Barbecue Ribs

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Entertainment or Pop Culture

Veronica Mars cast

Hulu is rebooting "Veronica Mars" for a fourth season. The original cult-favorite mystery drama ran from 2004-2007, starring Kristen Bell ("The Good Place," "Frozen"), Enrico Colantoni ("Person of Interest," "iZombie"), Jason Dohring ("The Originals," "iZombie") and others.  Creator Rob Thomas used crowd-funding to help finance a "Veronica Mars" movie in 2014, with most of the original cast, which was a success. Kristen Bell announced the news of the HULU series with a video on her Twitter feed.

screen cap of Kristen Bell's Twitter

Thomas and Bell will be returning for the 2019 HULU version, along with Dohring (Logan), Francis Capra (Weevil), Percy Daggs III (Wallace), and David Starzyk (Richard). There will be more cast members announced soon. One of Kristen Bell's co-stars in "The Good Place," Kirby Howell-Baptiste, will also be joining the show. The writing staff was also announced, including former NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Veronica Mars movie poster

The new "Veronica Mars" series will take place 5 years after the movie and will have one 8-episode-long mystery, which involves the town being in conflict between the rich and poor, and a missing college boy. More Information 

Veronica Mars cast

Monday, November 5, 2018

Trending on Social Media

Trending on Twitter Monday, November 5th


For the past month or so, people who are politically-motivated on social media have been urging everyone to vote. The hashtags #VoteTuesday and #ElectionEve were trending all day Monday on Twitter.  Other trending hashtags seen in the past month include "VoteBlue," "earlyvoting," "Vote," "voting," "election," "midterms," "electionday," and "GOPVotingBlue."

Alyssa Milano's Twitter

Actors and other Hollywood people on Twitter tend to be Democrats, like Alyssa Milano, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Jim Carrey, and Stephen King. Most of their tweets have been about telling people to vote, and especially to make sure to vote for Democrats. Some (such as Jordan Peele, Madeleine Albright and George Takei) just say to get out and vote, regardless of your beliefs. Quite a few celebrities are involved tonight with #TelethonforAmerica on YouTube, which is a non-partisan discussion of voting.

Changing your trends settings

 The trending stories on Twitter are usually about sports, politics or entertainment.  You'll see slightly different trending topics depending on whether you have it set for "Worldwide," or choose a particular country, or a large city, or choose "tailored trends" (based on your location or the people you follow).

Oprah meme about voting

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

International Hard or Feature News

Brits spent £419 million on Halloween this year

UK candy

Research predicted that British people would spend more than 419 million pounds this year on Halloween candy (or "sweets" as they call them), pumpkins, costumes, decorations and food (one assumes that they mean party food). This is a 5% rise from last year.

What People Spent Their Money On (2017)

Halloween's origins came from the pagan festivals in England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, but Halloween itself (especially trick-or-treating, and costume parties) was not as big in the UK until fairly recently. Many believe that's because of the popularity of Halloween in the U.S. Halloween popularity grew more in the past 40 years in the U.S., and now it's very big, even with adults, and those traditions have gone back over to the UK, since they get a lot of our movies, TV etc.  Some in the UK are not happy that Halloween has been combined with, or eclipsed, their Guy Fawkes Day celebration, which is November 5th.  Since that ritual historically involves burning a Catholic in effigy, which is now controversial, people in the UK may turn to Halloween as a better alternative.

In 2017, 52% of people in the UK spent money on Halloween. By contrast, almost 70% of people in the U.S. celebrate Halloween, spending 9 billion dollars. The UK may have a long way to go before they reach anywhere near the levels of Halloween mania in the U.S.

Me in costume, wishing you a Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2018


Playing the Lottery

 Powerball and Mega Millions

Recently, there were two big lottery jackpots in the U.S. The Mega Millions jackpot was over 1.5 billion, while the Powerball was about $688 million. Those are very large numbers. Most people would love to have that much money, even if they had to share it with another winner.  When surveyed, most people say they would share their lottery win with others (presumably family or friends). Almost as many said they would invest it. The rest would quit their jobs, pay off their houses or travel. With that much money, though, you could do all of the above.

 Lottery loser

Many winners end up spending or losing it allOne couple built a water park. Another created a trust for her family and named it after her favorite dessert, rainbow sherbet (which she bought along with her lottery ticket). Another put money into campaigning for marijuana legalization.  Experts say you should be prudent: Hire a good financial advisor. Don't quit your job. Save your money for the future. They also advise you to help out relatives, take a vacation and spend some of the money on yourself.  If you buy a ticket with a group from work, make sure to be careful beforehand, taking these steps, so that there are no hard feelings afterwards if you win.

Mega Millions odds

A lot of people love to buy lottery tickets, especially when the jackpot is so large. However, your odds of winning are very low.  The odds of winning either jackpot were 1 in 300 million. According to this math professor, the odds are 0.00000033 percent, or basically zero.  You're more likely to get struck by lightning, or give birth to quintuplets without fertility drugs, or be killed by a vending machine. Here is a list of very silly things that are more likely to happen to you than winning. One smart man used math to win the lottery in various countries, including the U.S., but they changed it so that no one can do that any more.

progressive slot machine

 You're much more likely to strike it rich if you go to Vegas and play a progressive slot machine (around 1 in 25 million). However, playing the lottery only costs $1 or so, while it will cost you a lot more to drive or fly to Las Vegas and stay in a hotel. However, if you play at a local casino, such as Oaklawn in Hot Springs, your odds aren't all that much different than winning in Vegas (this varies by state). Blackjack has the best odds, though, followed by craps and roulette.  Slot machines and the Big Wheel have worse odds than the other games. Good luck!

Thursday, October 25, 2018


Sandra Day O'Connor

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor released a statement Tuesday that she's retiring from public life completely, due to being in the early stages of dementia.  Brooke Blevins of Baylor University admired O'Connor (the first woman on the Supreme Court) and her commitment to education, particularly in the area of civics. She discussed that in a statement yesterday.

screencap of iCivics web site

O'Connor started the online learning program iCivics.  Specifically, it's "free online interactive games and curriculum designed to teach the core principles of civics to middle and high school students." Dr. Blevins was one of the first to study the effectiveness of iCivics. Justice O'Connor honored Dr. Blevins and her associate, Dr. Karon LeCompte, for their research.

Dr. Brooke Blevins

Baylor University has a summer program (iEngage Summer Civics Institute) where they implement the principals learned in the program. Dr. Blevins hopes that the country will commit to educating our youth about civics and understanding their role as informed, active voters in society. She praised Justice O'Connor's legacy, which she said had a "deep impact" on her life and work.  Coincidentally, O'Connor retired from the court in 2005 to take care of her late husband, who had Alzheimer's.

Sandra Day O'Connor being sworn in

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Listening Posts (Campus or Community)

Listening Post graphic from

In journalism, a "listening post" is a place where the press can get information, news, or sources, such as the police station.  In this assignment, we've been directed to talk about the listening posts in our own lives.  Not being a traditional student, I don't live on campus, so I don't get very many opportunities to speak with other students. When I do, it's on a very casual basis.  Also, we've only lived in Magnolia for a few years, so we don't know very many people outside of the university.

students chatting graphic from

This is my third year of being a student at SAU, so I know a lot more people than I used to. Since it's a small campus, I run into people I know quite often now. In my first class this semester, in fact, I've had conversations with some of the students, especially those who are also not traditional students. There are at least 5 of us "older" students in there, and I chat with some of them before and after class.  I'm always running into someone I know, though, on campus, or at campus events like the football games.

No Sex Race Religion Politics graphic from

My husband and I make a point not to discuss anything controversial with our acquaintances. It's hard to have a less-than-superficial discussion with people if you're avoiding anything controversial, though. Still, it's important, especially if you live in a small town, to avoid discussing topics that might be touchy. Like most people we grew up with, we were taught never to discuss sex, religion or politics in "polite company," so we mostly adhere to that.

ladies having lunch cartoon from

I meet with a small group of people for lunch when I'm on campus (I only come in Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester). Some of the women that work for Aramark go to lunch around 11am, which is right after my class, so I usually sit with them. They know me, since I've been coming there so often, for a few years now.  We're all around the same general age, so it makes it nice to have someone to chat with about things like marriage, family, household, diseases, etc. Sometimes I do hear some good gossip about people at the university, or in Magnolia. I think this is probably the closest thing I have to a local listening post.

funny cartoon from

I don't mean to sound like I don't talk to younger people, because I do; but as I said, not very much.  I sometimes run into people from my photography class last year, or from one of my other Mass Comm classes, and it's always nice to catch up.  Sometimes I even get a hug! 😁 It's also nice to talk to the people in this class, and sometimes I come early and hear them talking. It can be very fun to listen to the chatter.

Our house is next to only one other house, in a cul-de-sac, so I do sometimes talk with my neighbor, and she loves to gossip and tell stories. I've heard some interesting things from her about the town and about some of the people in it. I don't know most of my other neighbors. We mostly just wave when we pass each other. I walk my dog, Brandy, quite often, so that's when I see most of them. I see other dog walkers, and sometimes we chat for a few minutes. Or I'll chat briefly with the kids down the street when they pet the dog.

professors at an SAU event in August

We go to many functions at the university that seem like parties or dinners, but they're all work-related for my husband. For me, they're more social, but they're not people I know, so it's all casual conversation.  Occasionally I will hear something interesting. There was a dinner we went to a few years ago where the local D.A. was sitting near us, and he was a great story-teller. He had many interesting things to say. Unfortunately, he passed away last year.  Apparently he was quite a good friend to SAU, too.  I enjoy going to Mulegating and other functions, but they don't really allow for much conversation.  We've had some of my husband's colleagues over for dinner, and that's a lot of fun, but for the most part, it's all work-related, not "just for fun." There's very little news that's discussed, and if there is, it's about people or issues on campus that I don't know.

The only other people I talk to are those who I've paid for repairs or something else. I don't have my own car, so I pay someone to give me a ride to school, or sometimes shopping.  The current driver is Trisha, who's really nice, and I enjoy talking to her. We get along very well.

Facebook Friends Day video screencap

I hope I don't sound too boring, or lonely, or desperate for friends! It's just that if you move often, like we do, it's hard to keep making friends. I have many friends, but they're all over the world. I keep in touch with them via phone, email, and social media (mostly Facebook). That's probably where most of my "listening post" is. I spend quite a bit of time every day on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Messenger, texting, and email. Some of it is work-related, but the rest is not. I have 2 Facebook accounts, 3 Twitter Accounts, 2 Instagram accounts, and 3 main email accounts that I check regularly.

I don't plan to become a "regular" news reporter. I plan to keep writing TV articles and reviews, and interviewing TV people (as I already do on my website). So my "listening post" is more online, and on TV, than in town. If I lived in L.A. or New York, then it might be different. I would probably have some local entertainment sources that I could interview in person rather than by phone or internet. I would get to know the local people and have more sources.

screencap of the Magnolia Banner-News

While I live here in Magnolia, I do read the local newspapers online. We used to always subscribe to the local paper, wherever we lived, but they do a poor job of holding the paper when we're out of town (which is often), so we stopped subscribing. I wish there was a better way of connecting with other people in town and finding out what's going on. When I first moved here, I was shocked that there was no public transportation (among other things), and I had a hard time finding people to do things, like plumbers, repair men etc. Eventually I did find some, but it took quite a while.  Websites like Craigslist don't deal with people in small towns, so they're not very helpful. I'm sure that most people who live here get their local information when they go to church, or meet people through their children's schools, or other local/family events.

Final Project: Visual Journalism

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