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"Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

~Ephesians 5:16

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

30 Minute Essays: Should Young People be Subjected to Curfews as a Way to Reduce Crime?

Young people have a pretty bad reputation in this day and age. That's why whenever you see a teen being kind, adults usually say, "Wow, you're very nice." Teens are known in the 21st century as lazy, unfriendly, and rebellious. How often do you hear about a young person bringing a gun to school, or selling drugs? All intelligent parents give their teenage son/daughter curfews when to be home. (Obviously a lot of them aren't followed.) But is making curfew a law really going to make a difference? No, in fact, it would make it quite worse!

Young people are very daring. If they are challenged in an event or simple game, they will usually want to overcome it. Whenever I use to play dodgeball in youth group I would push myself, even when I was physically tired, because I was not going to let myself lose. Now going to the extreme, if curfews become a law, that would only 'challenge' a young person who is already thinking about committing a crime even more to do the wrong thing. For the person that's already involved in crime, that would only make him/her more rebellious, making the crimes more rampant and worse.

While a lot of young people are involved in criminal acts, adults perhaps outweigh them. A crime is committed everyday by an adult. If the government really thinks curfews will reduce crimes, then in that case everyone should have a curfew! That doesn't quite make sense though, does it? Crime is everywhere. Curfews won't make a difference.

There is one positive effect a curfew law can have, if followed. Young people wouldn't be in danger from others looking to harm them outside after midnight. Of course, that's only if it were followed. Another negative however is that by adding a law that's specifically geared toward young people, it further stereotypes. Sure, the government might say a curfew law protects the person from crime, but many will view it as a statement that he/she can't resist committing a felony.

Sadly, the reason why a curfew law would ever be considered is that some parents don't do a great job of keeping their children in their home. Why would a young person resort to committing a crime? There are many factors, but one of them is that he/she was raised in an un-loving, abusive home. A curfew wouldn't fix things, what needs to be fixed is in the home. Parents should always be loving, but strict when a child starts to exhibit any rebellious behavior. That is a way to reduce crime.

These 30 minute essays are short writings for practice for my College Composition exam, I call them '30 minute essays' because I have a time limit of 30 minutes to write a response to the topic question.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

30 Minute Essays: Are Competitive Sports Good for Elementary-Age Children?

In the high school years, most teens are very much into competitive sports. There's this strong mentality of "being the best" that sometimes runs wild. I know in my youth group days I was set on being the best at dodgeball. Is competitive sports healthy? They can be fun, and it pushes teens to become better at something. Elementary-age children can be a different story. Or is it? Competitive sports for the elementary age can be good, if regulated.

Competitive sports pushes the child to become better at something. If he or she is in little league, more often than not boundaries will want to be expanded so he or she can become faster and better at the game. This can have negative effects which must be put into consideration. We do not want to see a child become obsessed with winning and being the best. But competitive play can be good in small quantities. In other words, competitive play should be a side thing for children, not a big part of their life.

Being a leader at the AWANA program at my church, I've seen countless competitive games played among the young. After a day of school, it's easy to notice that young children do genuinely enjoy competitive play. It's a kind of reward after a day of work. I've seen on their faces how much they enjoy game time at the program, which is a testament that competitive play among this age group is good.

Parents should be careful not to force competitive play and being the best on their children of course. This can lead a child to thinking he or she is inferior to others that are better at some sports. Sports should be about having fun first and foremost, adding the competitive part just makes it more centered because it gives the child a goal. This can also relate to doing well in school. If a child works hard to become better at a sport, a parent can use that to show him or her that working hard to get good grades also leads to a great goal.

Competitive sports is definitely a good thing for the elementary age. It gives children a set goal when playing, and has them train themselves to become better. It shows them that if they work hard, a goal can be reached. Of course, being the best shouldn't be a focus either. When a child loses at a game, parents should be quick to remind them that they won't always win. They should tell him or her to keep training not to become the best, but to better himself or herself. Competitive sports is also a fun way to end a day of school!

These 30 minute essays are short writings for practice for my College Composition exam, I call them '30 minute essays' because I have a time limit of 30 minutes to write a response to the topic question.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

30 Minute Essays: Should Physical Education in Schools be Compulsory?

Physical education has always been an interesting factor in schools. For the sports-oriented people, it's always something they look forward to. For the more smart, less physically fit, it's a source of ridicule by their peers. (These are two extremes of course.) Should PE be mandatory in schools? The answer would be yes, because physical education is still education.

Exercise is something a lot of students take for granted. In today's computer age, students spend most of their day in front of a screen and very rarely go outside for a walk or hop on their treadmill at home. Why? Well, exercise can seem like extra work. When a person sits at a desk, or stands behind a counter all day and then comes home, jumping on a treadmill is nowhere to be found in his or her mind. This is why physical education is always needed, because it has students exercise on a daily basis.

When one thinks of education, the idea of books, grades, diplomas, and degrees come to mind. These things should, because that's what education primarily is. Physical education plays into this as well. See that last word? It's still an education, it's something that should be taught in schools and the home.

Why should physical education be taught? If a student isn't fit, having the smartest IQ in the world isn't going to make them feel good. Without exercise, there's laziness. How often do you hear the saying, "Teenagers are lazy?" While this can be a stereotypical view sometimes, you do often find that it's true. The people that are lazy don't have any motivation to exercise. It might not affect them too much now, but later in life it most certainly will. This is why physical education is important, because it teaches students that exercise is important and mandatory.

Physical education may not be fun for some students, but it nonetheless shows them the importance of exercising daily. Education is work, so physical education should be treated as such. But it's not an add-on or extra annoyance, it should be enjoyed because the student is working toward a goal just as with grades. That goal is to be physically fit, to be strong and fast. This is something the schools should always look to teach.

These 30 minute essays are short writings for practice for my College Composition exam, I call them '30 minute essays' because I have a time limit of 30 minutes to write a response to the topic question.

Friday, April 25, 2014

30 Minute Essays: Do schools have the right to search students’ lockers?

If an official law were passed granting the school the right to search students' lockers, controversy would most definitely ensue. To the students, it would seem like an invasion of privacy. But to school and government officials, it's a necessity in this day and age. How many school and college shootings have you heard about on the news in the last year? Granted, some of those are from outside sources that had invaded the school, but you also hear stories of kids bringing knives and guns to their place of education. How do they get away with this? Because lockers aren't checked.

A school is not a house, a student does not own his locker. The school gives it to him or her so supplies, jackets, and other things like those can be held. Basically, there's no reason why students should have a problem with school official checking their locker.

Maybe ten years ago the school things were different, but today schools most certainly should have the right to search lockers. A student can easily bring a pocket knife with him or her, and if the school doesn't check, (because this isn't like an airplane terminal where you're checked in-depth) that knife can easily be thrown into a locker. Poison spray, drugs, and even a mini revolver can be thrown into a locker and the school would never know until an event happened.

Some might use the analogy, "Well my parents gave me my room, so if they search it, it would be an invasion of privacy." But if the parents think their child may be hiding something, then they have every right to look, and so should the school. But the big difference is that the school is a government sanctioned institution where students are expected to behave at a certain standard. But the school knows not everyone will, so they should have the right to do routine checks of lockers. Of course, that's not to say men should be checking a girl's locker on a routine search, only in an emergency.

Should schools have the right to search student's lockers? The answer would be yes. It's too dangerous in society today not to have routine searching. And of course, if any student is believed to be hiding something, then it's obvious the school has the right. It's a tough thing to accept, but it's necessary to prevent school troubles.


These 30 minute essays are short writings for practice for my College Composition exam, I call them '30 minute essays' because I have a time limit of 30 minutes to write a response to the topic question.

Monday, April 21, 2014

King Kong vs. Godzilla: A New Kind of Monster Fight

King Kong vs. Godzilla is one of the most influential kaiju films of all time. In some ways, it's the most influential. Sure, technically the original 1954 Gojira is, because without it, there would be no Godzilla sequels. (And if you want to go one step further, the original 1933 King Kong might be the most influential since it was the first cinematic giant monster movie, inspiring Godzilla to get made.) But 1962's King Kong vs. G is just as influential. For one thing, it gave Godzilla a personality. The previous two films had him just as the personification of the atomic bomb. Here we see his arrogant, loves-to-fight character. But the most influential aspect was the battle, namely the final battle between him and Kong. This introduced a new kind of fight style for kaiju films.
Yes, the previous film, Godzilla Raids Again had the first kaiju fight to grace the big screen. But it was basically just two animals going at it. To this day, no one quite remembers it as a series classic. The final battle in King Kong vs. Godzilla was the first kaiju movie to have two 'characters' duke it out. What I mean is that these weren't just overgrown animals fighting, they were thinking beings. Here's some examples: We have Kong, who literally grabs a tree and tries to shove it down Godzilla's throat. We have Godzilla, who literally jumps and double kicks Kong to the ground. We have Kong, who makes a strategy to hide from Godzilla and strikes at just the right moment. We have Godzilla, who claps his hands every time Kong gets knocked over. And then we have Kong, who back-flips Godzilla to the ground. Do you see what I'm talking about?
The fight as you can tell was fun. This is where Japanese kaiju battles get their inspiration from. This is what separates kaiju fights from American monster movies. Can you think of any American monster movie where it had a monster vs. monster fight as memorable as the one featured in King Kong vs. Godzilla? No, I didn't think so. Fast forward 45 years later, you can see in shows such as Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle  where the kaiju dance around, grapple, and laugh at each other. Where do you think this type of monster battling comes from? It all dates back to 1962. While the original Japanese version of the film isn't available outside of Japan, you can still experience the magic with the recent Blu-ray release of the American version. 52 years later, and that final battle is still one of the very best. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Stand Above Your Circumstances

We all have years we label as our worst. "I hated sophomore year" one might say. "Being a 7th grader was awful" another. My worst would be 2009. It is not school related however. I would be in New Jersey, having moved here the year prior in 2008. I have rarely been what you would call a sad person, but it was in 2009 where I lost motivation to do anything important. I also lost a lot of weight. To put that into perspective, a normal weight for a 13 year old boy would be somewhere between 100 and 120 pounds. I weighed 77. That might not be clinically unhealthy, but it's not something you want to be at that age.

I didn't do anything productive. I watched TV over two hours a day. I didn't really attend a church on a regular basis. By definition, you could say I wasn't doing anything with my time. What was my problem? Why didn't have I any inner happiness? Why didn't I care about life? When I took a CT scan to see why I was losing so much weight, I got the answer I expected...

There was nothing wrong with me, I was doing this to myself.

Why? Was I not a Christian at that point? Well, I definitely believed in God. But I didn't live by His Words. And that was the problem. Simply believing God exists doesn't do anything for you unless you live by that belief. Many people believe that someone created everything. Many believe in a higher power above the clouds. But if you don't let your mind and soul live by that belief, that inner happiness, peace, will not be there. As Philippians 4:7 states....

And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
I didn't have that peace. I didn't know the Bible or the many great things it promises. Many others are in that same boat. Believing that God exists is one step, but one can't stop there. I grew up going to church, but it wasn't until 2011 when I came to an understanding of what trusting in God meant.

Attend a local church. Get involved. Read through Psalms, Proverbs, and the Gospels. These are some of the best things a person can do when he/she is lacking the "peace of God." We don't have to wallow in our circumstances. Sometimes we have to make an extra effort. I knew after I took that CT scan I was going to have to do some work in fixing myself up. I made myself healthy on the outside, but it wasn't until 2010 when I started attending my local church where I became a happier individual, knowing that I was made with a purpose. In 2011, I became a follower of God.

Life is always changing. The world is always changing. But God is unchanged. You can stand above your circumstances by having faith, love, and hope in Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Many people, myself included, were a bit perplexed when Marvel decided to hire Chris Evans to play the leader of the Marvel Universe. When The First Avenger came out, audiences were genuinely surprised by the portrayal and when The Avengers assembled, people were sold. The Winter Solider kicks off this year's superhero films. It's been getting a lot of hype, each trailer has been met with magnificent praise. Unlike Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, this one looked to be an actual film of quality storytelling. Not only is it by far the best Phase 2 MCU film, it's also the best solo move since the first Iron Man in 2008.

The story follows Cap who is on the hunt for the man who assassinated Nick Fury, the 'Winter Soldier.' As the plot unravels, it turns out there are bigger things at work. S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised, and the Winter Soldier turns out be an old friend...

The first Captain America movie was pretty solid. One thing it didn't really do right however was Bucky. That's why I was personally shocked to see the Winter Soldier storyline used so prominently. This film explains the friendship between the two in flashbacks than the whole first movie! The Winter Soldier himself doesn't disappoint. Somehow amidst killing many people on screen, the film makes you feels sorry for him later on. While I'm not sure the film should have been called "The Winter Soldier," (since only a part of the story focuses on him) he definitely doesn't disappoint as a character, Sebastian Stan does a really good job. While Cap is the main character, a great deal of focus is on Nick Fury. This is definitely his best role yet. It's another example why Samuel L. Jackson is the perfect Nick Fury.

The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) at first was pretty surprising to see get such a big role. Then we remembered, while this is a Cap movie, it's also in part a S.H.I.E.L.D. film. The last time she was in a solo film was in Iron Man 2. She's definitely a highlight here, and proves that the character can hold up her own film if the time ever arose. Interestingly, she actually doesn't end up being a love interest for Steve. Agent 13, aka Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) is instead introduced. Her character wasn't bad, just not very fleshed out. We'll see that in the third film. Anthony Mackie plays the Falcon, which was a welcome addition, since the two have been close friends for years in the comics. He has many genuinely funny lines whenever he's on screen.

Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce didn't really do anything for me. He's portrayed as another arrogant, annoying businessman, much like Killian from Iron Man 3. He won't be remembered. It's really cool how Marvel manages to make this an expansive universe over media. We had Agent Sitwell who appeared in last week's episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and now in this movie. The plot twist regarding him was well-done and unexpected. The soundtrack is definitely one of the stronger ones from Marvel. Each theme nicely fits the scene, and makes the battles even more epic. (The theme that played when Cap battled Batroc springs to mind.)

One of the greatest things I liked about about this film is how well it displays Cap's strength, speed, and agility. I have never seen a movie, film, or comic that such accurately displayed how powerful he is. The climax was definitely exciting and the best MCU climax since The Avengers. The film has some of the best action sequences from any comic book movie. How sad is it that we have such mediocre climaxes in Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 3 when one character has god-like strength and the other a metal suit of armor? It goes to show that sometimes the better fight scenes come from simple punches.

Overall, the Russo brothers deliver the best outing for Captain America yet. The story unfolds nicely with plenty of big plot twists that actually do affect the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The action is great, some of the most impressive fight scenes in the MCU are seen here. Also with the great pacing, you'll never feel bored or wondering what time is it. The Winter Solider part of the story was well done with the appropriate emotion induced. One thing's for sure, we're all ready for Cap's next adventure.