The Real World vs The Taught World

Throughout our educational years, we have been taught by our instructors that we can become whomever we want to be, we can achieve any dream we wish to achieve, and we can have anything we want to have. Our educators encourage us to dream big, to never give up, and to strive for success by reaching the top of the ladder in society with hard work and dedication. We are pre-programmed to think the recipe to make our dreams a reality is a dose of perseverance, an ounce of faith, and a smidgen of determination is all that’s needed to make them come true…along with a good, quality education of course. But the one thing that is not taught is the fact that our perception of how things SHOULD be and the reality of how things WILL be are two separate entities, that if ignored, is the recipe for disappointment.

The depressing reality is: half of today’s college graduates are working in jobs that are not in their chosen field or may be overqualified for, are making less money than what they’re worth, and are sacrificing a majority of their hard-earned income into repaying student loans for an occupation they were told would put a substantial amount of money in their pockets in order to cover their post-education expenses. In a 2012 McKinsey & Company survey, along with the collaboration of Chegg, Inc., 4,900 college graduates expressed their regrets of what they envisioned reality to be like after four years of higher learning. 48% of U.S. college graduates were employed in jobs that did not require a four-year degree while 32% of graduates were actually working in their field of expertise. Out of the 72% of college graduates who were required to complete an internship in their chose field of study, only 42% reported their internships have landed them a job. This means either 30% of these college graduates were either out of work or underemployed.

As the competition stiffens within the workforce, so does the number of available jobs for college graduates decrease. Of course, this all depends on one’s major, with the visual and performing arts being the most difficult to break into while science, engineering, and technology provide the most satisfactory results for job seekers. But with today’s economy, even choosing the “right” major still does not guarantee a stable job. Higher education institutions overlook this fact when promoting idealizations of reality in exchange for a signed promissory note. What appears to be achievable through hard work, dedication, and persistence is not always what will be attainable in the end.

©2013 Learus Ohnine

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Hollywood, Politically Speaking…

Celebrities often have to be extremely careful of what they say, what they do, and how they react when interacting with the public. The slightest well-meaning act of kindness or opinionated compliment can be easily blown out of proportion by the public eye, who is constantly watching their every move and quick to scrutinize their analysis. The voice of a celebrity is so powerfully influential on the public that it’s no wonder why marketing companies scramble like mad to get a high-prolific celebrity to endorse a specific product. The market place seems to be a common place for opinionated endorsements by celebrities, but what about when it comes to politics? Should there be a thin line that separates Hollywood and “Washington”? Celebrities such as Shirley Temple, Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood, and Arnold Schwarzenegger have all tested this hypothesis by crossing over that thin line, making major contributions to society beyond the entertainment level of the silver screen.

Shirley Temple, America’s favorite dimpled-faced child star in the 1930’s, was appointed as a United States delegate to the 24th United Nations General Assembly in 1969 by President Richard Nixon, appointed as the United States Ambassador to Ghana by President Gerald R. Ford, appointed as the first female “Chief of Protocol of the United States” in 1976, and later appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia by President George H. W. Bush. She was in charge of all State Department ceremonies, including coordinating the inauguration ceremonial protocols for President Jimmy Carter.

Ronald W. Reagan, and American radio, film, and television star, was inaugurated as the 40th President of the United States in 1981, serving two consecutive terms. Prior to his presidential victory, he served as California’s 33rd governor. During his first term, President Reagan was best known for his “Reaganomics” policy, which included reducing taxes, government spending, and inflation all in an effort to help boost the economy and control the money supply. During his second term, he focused primarily on foreign matters, including putting an end to the Cold War.

American director, producer, and former television and film actor Clint Eastwood entered the world of politics when he endorsed President Richard Nixon’s presidential campaigns both in 1968 and 1972. Labeling himself as a “liberal on civil rights”, his numerous endorsements influenced remarkable changes within the most prominent movements during that era such as the Equal Rights Amendment for women, pro-choice abortion, and same-sex marriages. In 1986, he was elected as mayor of his hometown, Carmel-by-the-Sea in California.

Eastwood’s impressive political views were supported by yet another Hollywood film actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appointed Eastwood to the California Film Commission after he himself became elected as the 38th Governor of the state of California in 2003. Nicknamed “The Governator”, Republican Governor Schwarzenegger expressed his political views quite differently than most other Hollywood celebrities of whom were reputed as having liberal or democratic stances on political issues. The Governor spent a majority of his time focusing on global-warming issues, and the other part of his time (as he called it) “behaving badly.” In 2010, a group called the “Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington” considered Schwarzenegger to be one of 11 “worst governors” in the U.S.

Conclusively, Hollywood has proved that it can have a positive influence on the political aspect of society. However, the effectiveness of this influence does not solely rely on the strength of that popular voice that speaks; it’s moreover how the weight of that political power is utilized is what gives the celebrity their influence.

©2013 Learus Ohnine

The U.S. Government Shutdown: Whose Fault Is It?

Imagine you are kidnapped – you are held hostage against your will by a belligerent abductor who threatens to kill you unless they receive everything they are demanding in exchange for preserving your life. Your fate lies in the hands of the negotiator, who then refuses your abductor’s demands, and in turn, kills you themselves. Prior to your murder, your abductor did proclaim to the negotiator of their intent to kidnap a hostage long time ago, yet the negotiator did nothing about this warning to stop this from literally happening.

Now imagine the entire United States of America being held hostage by a committee comprised of 535 law makers whose congressional position would not have been possible if it were not for them being voted into their appointed seats by the U.S. citizens themselves. Unfortunately, this congressional committee cannot seem to collaborate on pertinent issues that are supposed to be made in the best interest of the country as a whole. Ironically due to this committee’s poor negotiating skills, the fate of the country soon begins to quickly plummet on a downward spiral by the very same people whom the citizens have willingly chosen to represent them.

Both analogies describe what the current U.S. government shutdown is really all about. One side of the congressional table, or the predominately-Republican House of Representatives, wants to have their way by insisting their own budget plan will work out for bailing the United States out of $17 trillion in debt by dismantling President Obama’s health care reform law, while the other side of the congressional table, the predominately-Democratic Senate, will not agree nor negotiate the idea of altering anything pertaining to the Affordable Care Act. Since Congress could not pass a budget by the October 1st deadline, shutting down the government was the only alternative left for them to do until a compromised can be reached by both sides.

In the meantime, as of October 1st, approximately 800,000 federal employees will not be paid, however, 1.4 million active-duty military personnel will get paid but may not receive their paychecks when they anticipate to receive them. Food programs that provide nutritional vouchers to low-income pregnant women and mothers with children up to age 5 will not be funded. All Smithsonian museums, zoos, national parks and monuments (this includes the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the National Mall, and the Statue of Liberty) will be closed. And as if this wasn’t bad enough, Senior Service Programs such as “Meals on Wheels” which provides food to thousands of senior citizens may not receive government funding, energy assistance and weatherization programs for the low-income families
to help them stay warm during winter months may cease to be funded, and social security and supplemental income programs may see delays in check disbursements.

The bottom line: who is really at fault for the government shutting down? Every American who voted for a congressional nominee based simply on whether or not they were a Republican or Democrat is to blame. We put those people in office, therefore, we gave them their power – power that is apparently devoid of any genuinely bona fide cofunctioning abilities, especially in a time of crisis. Only we, the voters, can prevent these politically catastrophic conditions from ever happening again by voting based on policy and NOT party.

©2013 Learus Ohnine

The Resurrection of the “Boob Tube”

Television viewers from around the world can certainly appreciate the way the “Boob Tube” has expanded not only its content by way of regular programming, but also its optional convenience of being able to access most programs at the viewer’s discretion. Gone are the days when it was imperative for television viewers to frantically race home from work in order to catch their favorite prime-time tv show at the exact moment it was to be aired or when the housewife had to postpone her housework during the only available airtimes for her favorite soap opera as to not miss one episode. Television viewing has become so advanced that not only do viewers no longer have to concern themselves with adjusting their own availability according to their favorite program schedules, they don’t even have to be present in front of a television screen to watch it.

VOD, or Video on Demand, has become the most popular (and most convenient) sought-out method for those who have a busy lifestyle and need to stay on-the-go, or even for those who just want to enjoy their favorite television programs and/or movies in the comfort of their own home at their own leisure by way of any preferred technological medium. Video on Demand allows its users to stream selected audio and video content through a “set-top box” connected to their television or personal computer to view in real time, or download content to a digital video recorder (DVR) or any portable media player device for leisurely viewing at any time. Users have the option of viewing their downloaded selected content in much the same style as with a VCR with functions such as fast forwarding, pausing, slow forward and rewind functions, etc.

For those who especially enjoy watching movies from the comfort of their own home without having to travel back and forth to the nearest video rental store, the most popular on-demand provider, Netflix, offers the widest range of variety for movies (and prime time episodes) for a small monthly subscription fee comparably lower than most video store rental rates. Netflix subscribers can choose between watching their favorite selected content online via Internet streaming or DVD and Blu-ray Discs via U.S. mail. Instant-watch devices compatible with Netflix include the Amazon Kindle Fire, the Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet, the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3, the Nintendo Wii, and the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch supported by the Android Version 2.2 and above web browser platform.

According to the research firm Rentrak, American households watched approximately 8.5 hours of programming per day through Video on Demand services with an all-in-all total of over 1 billion hours of VOD programming in 2012. With these statistics guaranteed to continue climbing with each passing year, television networks and cable companies can count on VOD to help build a new audience of viewers from all walks of life.

©2013 Learus Ohnine