Role Models in Sports

Every parent wants their child to have one. Not just any one, but the best one there is. Some of us still hold on to the one we originally had as a child, and still cherish the day we found it throughout our entire lives. It may even be safe to say it’s ingrained in our nature to seek out a least one of these. All of us at some point of our lives will have had at least one or more, but there’s nothing more disappointing than finding out the one we have is not all that its cracked up to be.

What we’re talking about here are role models. A role model can be defined as someone you look up to; someone you admire for their achievements, triumphs, goals, etc., or in short, someone with whom you would like to mirror their image. The behavior of a role model should exhibit a set of examples for others to follow. For example, when a child has dreams of one day becoming a famous fashion designer, pictures of Donatella Versace’s work may be something found plastered all the child’s bedroom walls along with article clippings of magazine interviews highlighting every detail of this designer’s life. The same goes for a child who has dreams of becoming an actor/actress, a model, and so on. Admiring the work that someone is known for being famous for seems harmless at first, and also quite inspiring to the young learner indeed. However, this is also one major reason why parents need to show great concern if their child’s role model is rumored to be involved in less than desirable behaviors.

Over the past 100 years or so, it seems the quality of role models has declined greatly, especially in the world of sports. There has been so much controversy publicized by the media today to the extent where it not only discredits the athlete, but it also undermines the athlete’s integrity by which the individual appeared to have used in order to achieve their victories. Athletic icons of the past such as Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, and Michael Jordan were all portrayed as genuine highly-skilled athletes whose only “less than desirable” behaviors included reckless gambling, draft evasion, and profiting without conscious.

Nowadays, a majority of global athletic heroes are constantly under scrutiny for steroid usage abuse to the point where their reputation will forever be tarnished as well as their career. Jose Conseco has said he regrets writing his book on the abuse of steroid usage in sports because it exposed a truth that had major adverse effects on his career as well as those of his fellow team players. Chris Benoit was involved in a double murder-suicide role when he killed his wife, his 7-year-old son, and himself while suffering from brain damage due to his steroid usage. This opened the doors for a federal investigation into steroid abuse in the world of sports. While some athletes don’t deny their usage and have actually been convicted as being guilty and disciplined for it, many have been innocently been accused and also suffer with the same murky reputation as the ones whose names really do deserved to be smudged.

With a lack of athletic role models available to play in the lives of today’s youth, should sports be put on the endangered species list of careers for the sake of preserving our fragile youth? Sports should be fun and engaging as well as provide a healthy dose of competitive entertainment to win, but not at someone else’s expense, which is exactly the impression we get from today’s athletic role models.

©2013 Learus Ohnine

To Eat or Not To Eat

The warm-weather seasons are one of the most favorite times of the year for enjoying the outdoors, especially those fun backyard barbecues. One can pretty much be guaranteed to catch a whiff of that delightful aroma of burning charcoal combined with a mixture of fresh flaming meats mainly on those traditional barbecuing holidays, such as Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.
As with most any holiday, purchasing large quantities of meat are usually sought out with the best bargains in mind, depending on the budget of the shopper. However, most of us who are not health-conscious about what we stick in our bodies are likely to walk away from the store with the cheapest bargains, feeling satisfied at being able to carry home a few more extra dollars in our pockets than expected. We save money in the long run, but are we really saving money? Or are we really sacrificing our health for the sake of a principle?

Conventional foods seem to be the cheapest to buy, but alternatively come with a hefty cost in the long run.
Bovine Somatotropin, also referred to as BST or BGH, is a peptide hormone that is naturally produced in cows. Molecular cloning of this growth hormone created the synthetic version named “Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin”, or rBGH, which is widely used by the agricultural industry to increase livestock productivity. By injecting dairy animals with rBGH, this increased the level of production of the IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1 hormone, also naturally produced by cows and humans) that is neither destroyed by pasteurization or homogenization. Physicians became increasingly concerned with the risks associated with the human consumption of this synthetic hormone as a possible link to developing breast cancer in males as well as females, especially pre-menopausal women. Other risk factors may include a higher risk for infertility, heart and kidney abnormalities, gastric ulcers, arthritis, heat intolerance, prostate and colon cancer, and an increased susceptibility to infections.

Organic foods are normally priced substantially higher than conventional foods, however, the health benefits associated with its consumption versus consuming conventional foods outweighs it monetary forfeiture in the long run. Natural fertilizers, such as compost and manure, are used to treat the soil for cultivating plants and vegetables. Pesticides made from natural resources are used as opposed to using synthetic insecticides, and environmentally-generated plant-killing compounds are applied in the place of using synthetic herbicides to control weeds. The harvesting of these naturally-grown plants and vegetables are also used as feed for the livestock, which in turn suggests these animals are assured to have a proper balanced diet. In ensuring these animals have a properly well-balanced diet will also insure no synthetic growth hormones and other potentially harmful chemicals will be passed through human consumption. The results are: a greater human consumption of antioxidants naturally found in foods, reduced pesticide exposure, and reduced exposure to potentially life-threatening synthetic chemicals.

With the cost of health care these days, who could not afford to maintain a healthy diet that may assure them a longer life in the long run? Taking shortcuts when it comes to one’s health may not be such a profitable idea afterall…

©2013 Learus Ohnine

Preconceptions of Beauty

The first thing we notice whenever we meet someone is their appearance; their facial features, their hair style, their make-up (if any), and their complexion. All of these characteristics combined together determine whether or not we find that person physically appealing. So much pressure is put on men as well as women nowadays to conform to what society deems as handsome and/or beautiful in order to get noticed. Why? Because beauty implies having access to the best of the best in terms of friends, lovers, and careers. Beauty implies receiving special treatment, being judged more favorably in spite of the circumstances, and attaining power and status quickly… all based on looks.

But really, is that not all just a bunch of clichés?

When the cute and cuddly 15-year-old Paris Jackson, the daughter of deceased pop rock musician Michael Jackson, confessed to being a victim of bullying in school as one of her reasons for attempting suicide, one would assume this beautiful young woman would have no struggles in her life thanks to a good gene pool mixture. The notion of someone as gorgeous as this little girl breaking down from being the target of ridicule is absolutely preposterous to think of as real, since it would appear that her beauty would be enough on its own to keep her immune from such psychological torment. Or better yet, an attractive young lady like her could pull off acquiring the largest support system of friends with ease, eagerly willing to throw themselves on the front line for her to fight against any adversity that comes her way. Or what about the fact that she is extremely beauty; who in their right mind would believe the notion of a beautiful girl like her would ever be a bullied victim?

Unfortunately, this notion is real, and believable. Those clichés are without a doubt debunked. Contrary to popular belief, beauty does not always have the benefits of favoritism.

Norma Jeane Mortenson, famously known as Marilyn Monroe, was named one of the most beautiful actresses in American culture in the 1950’s. The public envied her gorgeous blonde locks, her charming personality, and voluptuous curves, all of which catapulted her to becoming one of the biggest sex symbols during this era. She managed to charm three highly desirable husbands most women could only dream of marrying, and also managed to drive these desirable husbands away. Little did anyone know what was really underneath that enduring smile of hers; a tortured soul with a tortured past. With all the world at her feet and more, it’s safe to say even her beauty wasn’t sufficient enough to save her from the demons that drove her to an early grave…

On an even more grizzlier stereotyping scale, assuming the best in a person based on their looks has been known in the past to be a “deadly” mistake. Anna Marie Hahn, nicknamed “The Beautiful Blonde” serial killer by the press in the mid 1930’s, had a pleasant appearance and the sweetest most comforting smile that any of her elderly victims had ever seen before. Her charming demeanor added to her beauty, which is what she used to her malicious advantage when offering to care for the generous elderly men on their death beds. These dying elderly men in turn compensated her for her services by means of a financial inheritance after their deaths. Anna claimed to be a nurse, although she had no formal training, and also dubbed herself as “an angel of mercy”, claiming it was her duty to poison these elderly men in order to speed up the process of their natural death. By the time it was all said and done, Anna had murdered fifteen elderly men, whom died in agony from being induced with four different types of poisons, mainly being large quantities of arsenic and croton oil.

The truth of the matter is: beauty holds no real value in society. Even beauty has its inner psychological struggles. It has its relationship problems. It has its self-esteem issues. Beauty is a byproduct of what we take for granted. We live in a world today where people are quick to judge a book by its cover but slow to listen closely to what those words inside are really trying to tell us…

©2013 Learus Ohnine

Higher Learning

With the United States supposedly being the leading country in terms of having the world’s largest economy and entrepreneurial climate, why is our education system falling behind other countries reflective of our student academic performances? Could the academic deficiencies of American children be due to their delinquency in starting their education at an earlier age than in most countries? Is there a learning gap between genders in the United States as opposed to international students? Does classroom size determine the outcome of an American student’s success?

When comparing the starting age of children in pre-kindergarten programs in foreign countries to the U.S., surveys revealed children are allowed to begin their childhood education during the most crucial stages of a child’s early developmental years. For example, Denmark allows children to begin preschool as early as 12-months-old. The main objective for their early education curriculums are focused on learning cultural norms, social and motor skills imperative for managing the cognitive, emotional and social development of a child. Kindergarten programs are taught at age 3 in Korea and Singapore. Belgium provides the same early educational opportunities for 2-year-olds, while the average age for kindergarten attendance in the United States is 4-years-old.

Gender discrepancies when comparing test scores in mathematics and science fairly compensates for the benefits of having an early education, but may also explain the rationale behind the differences in scores amongst gender due to the persuasion from cultural forces in other countries. South Korean and Singapore’s fourth-grade male and female students ranked in the highest overall percentile in test scores in math and science when compared to the 11th percentile ranking in math and the 17th percentile ranking in science for both male and female U.S. fourth-graders. In Korea and Finland, 15-year-old females scored 14 percent higher in science scores than 15-year-old males. However, male students within the same age bracket were in the overall lead by 15 percent when compared to the 15-year-old female students in the United States. Females as well as males in countries such as Russia, Asia, and the Middle East are persuaded at an early age to go into science and engineering occupations whereas females are stereotypically motivated to only pursue nursing, teaching, and administrative occupations in the United States.

Studies have shown student performance rarely depends on the student-teacher ratio regardless of differences amongst the diverse cultural and ethnic populations nationally and internationally. Korean and Japanese K-12 schools, with its 37-to-1 student-teacher ratio, still ranks higher in student performance than with Finnish K-12 schools at a 20-to-1 ratio. In the United States, Vermont and Wisconsin ranks closest in comparison to Korean, Japanese, and Finnish schools for high-ranking student performance yet with a lower student-teacher ratio. While Vermont K-12 schools currently has a student-teacher ratio of 11-to-1 and Wisconsin K-12 schools with a 15-to-1 ratio, both schools maintain more culturally diverse teachers than students.

Conclusively, there is no one contributing factor as to why America does not hold the highest rank in student performances nor is there any cause to blame why the United States cannot achieve a higher ranking than it has. American minority and Latino students have made a considerable amount of progress over the years, therefore it cannot be proclaimed that cultural diversity holds any sort of hindrance on a child’s academic success. All students enrolled in the education system in America are allotted the same equal opportunistic educational advantages as in other countries, but its up to our nation as a whole to encourage our students to make the most out of their opportunities before we can reach the rank of #1 amongst all other nations.

©2013 Learus Ohnine

Military Days

Long gone are the days when target practice for U.S. soldiers consisted of the use of OKC-3S Bayonets, Colt Dragoon Revolvers, and T-13 Beano Grenade drills. Over the years, military technology has incited a way for the United States’ Armed Forces to decrease the odds of our enemy’s victory and our country’s defeat as well as our fatality rates. While looking back on the analytical history of warfare involving the United States, one can easily see how American ex-militants could have benefited with the use of today’s advanced military technology.

The Korean War, held between 1950-1953, was statistically one of the worst wars for American soldier casualties with an estimated 37,000 deaths totaling at approximately 45 deaths per day; quite a number for such a short period of time. During this war, the United States Air Force experienced its first combat use of its jet aircraft, and also its first knowledge of just how flawed its employed aircraft was.

The F-86 Sabre jet series played a major role as being one of the main specialized fighter-bombers used by U.S. troops during the first half of this war. However, these sound barrier breaking jets could not outrun their MiG-15 adversaries with a maximum speed of only 1,100 miles per hour, were prone to experiencing engine overheating problems, and mechanical failures were often reported when discharging empty fuel tanks in an attempt to prevent aircraft explosions. Since then, the USAF has employed the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor Fighter jet equipped with signals intelligence roles, electronic warfare, and can excel at speeds of more than 1,300 mph.

The Vietnam War between 1961-1975, another “ugly” war for the United States in terms of casualties, resulted in approximately 58,000 combat related deaths with an estimated death count of 26 deaths per day. The United States’ military forces entrusted heavily on the use of firepower superiority for their seek and destroy missions though some of the artillery used was prone to having mechanical failures while in use. Popular artillery rifles used during combat, such as the M16 rifles, were often known for malfunctioning upon firing and many soldiers believed the cleaning procedures for the rifle were too time consuming.

Replaced by the upgraded version named the M4 in 1997, the same problems eventually still ensued. Today’s replacement candidates include the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System with its ability to hit targets hiding behind barriers with its sophisticated laser technology and its impeccable ability to automatically calibrate its microchip-equipped rounds.

Overall, the advancement in today’s military technology could have reduced the amount of casualties suffered by U.S. troops if used in past wars and may dramatically reduce the amount of casualties as well as injuries in the future. The safe return of our U.S. troops should first priority when designing military weapons, and with advanced technology such as drones still surfacing, one can only hope one day U.S. combat casualties will dwindle down to nil.

©2013 Learus Ohnine