The Enderman is a Racist “Joke”

May 31, 2016 - Leave a Response

Minecraft is one of the most widely known and most played games of today. There are many things about Minecraft that make it an enjoyable game, such as the creativity and seemingly limitless possibles. However, there is one aspect of the game that can make a lot of people very uncomfortable.

In the version of Minecraft known as “Beta 1.8”, Notch, the game’s creator, added a character called the “Enderman”. Based on a conversation on a website called Reddit, many people thought that the Enderman was based on an internet joke/creepy pasta known as “Slenderman”. It makes sense, since Slenderman is a lanky, white male who is dressed in a black tuxedo, and the Enderman is a black color. But if you look deeper into the Enderman’s meaning, there’s much more to it than that.

First off, the Enderman is a tall, lanky character. And it’s black. So we’re already veering into the “black people are really tall” stereotype. That’s strike one.

Next up, let’s talk about the two objects which were added in Beta 1.8, the ‘cooked chicken’, and the ‘melon’. The stereotype that black people like fried chicken has existed in the deep South, and other parts of the United States for a long time. During the Jim Crow era, numerous advertisements were made of dark skinned children with big, red lips eating watermelon and being giddy about doing it. Now, I’m sure people will try the argument that Notch is Swedish, and therefore these stereotypes don’t apply. Well, word travels, especially since the dawn of the internet. That’s a very big strike two.

But I’m not done here. During gameplay, Endermen will not go into water. If they do, they are injured by it. Black people being unable to swim isn’t a stereotype, it’s a fact. During the slavery era, slaves were not allowed to swim, for fear they would escape. Since slavery existed for many generations, the children of the first slaves, and their children after them, and so on, never learned how to swim. So unfortunately, the reality that many black people cannot swim still carries on today. This is the third strike.

All of these things are pretty awful. And the problems with the Endermen keep going. If you look an Enderman in the eyes, it will run at you, screaming bloody murder, and try to kill you. I shouldn’t have to explain this, but that is the well known “angry black people” stereotype. And Endermen make a lot of noise, constantly. They are basically very loud characters.

Endermen also pick up blocks during gameplay. When they pick up a random dirt block off of some mountain, it just seems like they are effecting the environment. But when they take a block off of something you built, that’s stealing from you. All Endermen can, and will, do this. I guess Notch thinks all black people are thieves and/or commit crimes.

It’s pretty darn apparent what Notch was trying to say about an entire group of people. And I don’t know what angers me more, the fact that he did this, or the fact that Notch is no longer involved in the game’s development, but Mojang and Microsoft have allowed this to go on. How many blind eyes are going to be turned before people come to the realization that this is not acceptable?

I’m certain some people will question why I continue playing Minecraft. I don’t want to boycott the game, and I don’t think anyone should. I want Mojang to take responsibility for their actions, and fix the problem. Change the look and the behavior of the Endermen so that they don’t resemble black people, and perpetuate such gross stereotypes.

If I had know that the Enderman was in the game, and how it behaved, I never would have bought it. I could have lived my life without Minecraft, no matter how fun it is to play. It is my own fault for not doing more research before making that purchase, but I can’t undo it.

I want respect. I want Mojang to acknowledge that myself, and people who look like me, and are darker skinned than me, are human beings with feelings. I want them to acknowledge that these things, regardless of their intentions, are harmful and cruel. It is 2016, and it is about time Mojang and the rest of the Minecraft community wake up. Stop adding cute polar bears and other random, pointless changes to the game, and fix the problem that makes Minecraft nearly impossible for me to play because of how hurtful it is.

Let’s Have a Conversation on Youtube

April 1, 2016 - 2 Responses

One thing that most of my friends know about me, is that I am not a big fan of technology. To be more specific, I have a huge problem with these “smart” devices, such as tablets, phones, and basically anything with those ridiculous touchscreens on them. The reason I despise these things is because they are used by people for the sake of being used. We don’t actually do anything unique, educational or thought-provoking with these devices. We binge on random bits of information, and then we rapidly move on to the next thing because we can’t get enough. It’s like our brains are being trained to think in hyperdrive – if a webpage takes more than a few seconds to load, we start getting agitated. Don’t believe me? Watch someone try to load an app on any smartphone, and observe their bouncing knee, squirming or fidgeting in their seat, and repeatedly banging their thumb on the phone’s screen. And this all can happen within a span of 30 seconds or less.

The only terrible experience I have had on Youtube, is that people only stay subscribed to my channel for a few days. It took me forever to figure out why this was happening, because Youtube’s analytics function won’t tell you what you really need to know. My audience retention percentiles are all over the place. My comments, likes and dislikes, watch times and views are all over the place, too. So I can’t get a clear reading from this information, especially since the way traffic comes onto my channel is random. My videos only get views if someone happens to find them amongst the millions of other videos on the site.

So why do people unsubscribe? Most popular gaming channels upload one or two videos a day. If a Youtuber, even popular ones like Captainsparklez, Markiplier and ihascupquake, doesn’t upload for a day, they lose subscribers. Even when they are sick, experiencing issues with their life and/or family, they still have to upload. If they don’t, they risk their channel receiving some very heavy complaints and negative feedback. Granted, the channels I mentioned can afford to lose subscribers, because they have millions. I have, as of today, 166 subscribers. So if I lose one, it is a huge blow to my channel.

Sometimes, I cannot upload. It’s usually because of my internet connection being really obnoxious, and I have very little power to fix it. Other reasons include the fact that I am a full time student, and I work part time in addition to my studies. So I have a very narrow window during my day in which I can record. Combine that with classwork, household chores, and my awfully noisy neighbors. So, even though I try very hard to upload at least one video every day, sometimes I can’t. If I have a choice between a video with kids screaming in the background and blaring music (that could get me a copyright violation), or a good quality video, guess which I will choose?

I’m sure someone is going to say to me that because of my lifestyle, that maybe Youtube isn’t a good idea. I’m not going to be one of those Youtubers who quit their job, dropped out of school and gave up a normal life to “pursue” Youtube. That’s not why I started my channel, just to get popular and bask in my own glory. I started my channel for speech therapy. I have a language impairment, and difficulty with speaking and performing tasks at the same time. Recording my videos has helped me tackle that problem. I’m also a mega-extrovert, so doing nothing else with my life but making videos, doesn’t work for me. It’s not healthy for my brain, and it can make me depressed. Being so extroverted is also why I make videos, so that I can talk to people.

I use games as a way to contemplate many things in my life, my community, world issues, politics, and just talk about my day. I like people to respond to what I talk about in the comment section, and then we can have a discussion about what they think and what I think. I don’t want people to just watch my videos and move on, I want them to stop, think about it, share an idea, then come back for more the next day. I want people to slow down and be patient. These goofball “smart” devices have robbed people of their ability to be in the moment, without them realizing it.

You should never subscribe to someone’s channel if you aren’t planning on sticking around for more than a few days. That gives the person who runs the channel false hope, especially if their channel has 166 subscribers, like mine. If you subscribe you my channel, you have to plan to be there, show support and engage in the content I provide, when I provide. You have to be patient and respectful of my channel’s community. You have to understand that my name is not theartbook35, and it’s actually Alexandra. There is a human being running this channel, and you subscribe to the person, not the webpage. So instead of being data hungry mindless zombies, let’s have a conversation on Youtube.

Windows 10 Updates Broke my Operating System

March 18, 2016 - Leave a Response

I am writing this as a serious warning to anyone who upgrades from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 to Windows 10. DO NOT DO IT.

Here’s the story: I saw that the upgrade was available and free, so I figured, hey, why not? I wasn’t totally happy with how 8.1 was running on my computer, so I thought this would be an improvement. When Windows 10 decided to install without giving me an option to back out of it, I knew there was no going back. That’s really what I thought, that there was NO GOING BACK. Microsoft will not straight-up tell you that Windows 10 has a “Go Back” feature within 30-something days of your upgrade. So I continued on with Windows 10. It ran pretty smoothly. I updated a lot of my drivers for sound and processor and was quite happy.

Then things got slow, really slow. I got to a point several weeks ago, where uploading my videos to Youtube would slow down my internet so significantly that I had to upload while I was sleeping, so both myself and my mother could use the internet during the day. My computer was also taking a long time to start up. I mean, I had a lot of stuff on my hard drive, and certain programs like Skype, AIM and a few others that would load on start-up, but they are small programs. They loaded up just fine when I was using 8.1, and honestly, 8.1 started up real quick before the upgrade. Before the upgrade, my computer was well beyond the minimum upgrade requirements.

I also have a very powerful antivirus – Panda Antivirus Pro 2015/2016. And when I say it is powerful, I mean it is POWERFUL. So don’t even suggest that malware was on my computer, because it wasn’t. That’s how much faith I have in my antivirus.

Last week, Windows 10 updates were downloaded. There is a way on Windows 10 to disable updates, but I have no idea how to do it, and I won’t say no to security updates. I like my computer to be secure. But I did enjoy having the option not to receive them, you know, because of the freedom to choose. This past Sunday morning, they were scheduled to install. So, they installed.

I go onto my computer, to discover that I cannot open ANY of my web browsers. Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Internet Explorer. NONE OF THEM. Most of my files won’t open either. My start menu won’t open. Basically, my computer was a useless fold-up rectangle.

The only thing that would open, strangely enough, was GIMP 2, a photo manipulation program I use. It would take a good five minutes to open (versus the 30-45 seconds it normally took).

I did what most people would do in a situation like this: A system restore. Well, it got to a certain point and it just sat there with a black screen for an hour. AN HOUR. Seeing as that wasn’t working, I shut my computer off an turned it back on. Before everyone freaks out on me and tells me you should never do that, what other option did I have?

So, I tried to get back into my computer but got an error message saying Windows couldn’t start up correctly. So I called Microsoft support (greatest oxymoron in existence). I was told that my operating system was corrupted because I did not complete the system restore, and had to do a clean installation. They actually wanted to blame the whole problem on me, even though I had explained that this started after the updates installed, and I had done a system restore to try and fix it. I got sick of arguing with this guy, so I hung up, and called back. I got a woman who could not formulate a sentence. And I don’t mean someone who speaks English as a second language, I mean someone who talks like this: “So tell me, after Windows updates and after system restore, what happen what you, did what to change.” You try and decode that. I have a language impairment, but I can formulate a sentence better than that.

So in my frustration, and after repeated attempts to get this woman to speak clearly, I started shouting for a supervisor. Her immediate response was that all supervisors were with other customers. I call bullshit on that one, because nobody can figure that out in 10 seconds or less! I hung up.

I tried two more system restores. The first one failed. So I undid the very first system restore, and that got me back into my screwed up desktop. I called Microsoft support again, and got a really nice person this time, who helped me to get to system restore through a “backdoor” method. Sadly, it didn’t work. So I reset my PC.

Finally, I had a desktop and I could go on the internet and also back up my files. During this process, all I kept thinking about was the hours upon hours of video footage I had made for my Youtube channel, and how I didn’t want to lose any of it. My videos are a part of my daily routine, and are also language therapy. This is important to me, because it helps me with my speech and it helps me with my self confidence. I was on the verge of tears at the idea of losing all of that work.

However, I could not reinstall my antivirus. Panda support wanted to charge me a fee to install it for me, and I said no to that. Something was still wrong with my computer, and I had decided that I would not leave Microsoft alone until it was fixed. People had the audacity to suggest I just buy a new computer. NO. This is NOT my fault, and Microsoft will be held accountable. PERIOD.

So I called back, and got a guy who tried to reinstall Windows 10. During the installation, he stopped it, and would not respond to the support chat. He basically abandoned me. I called back the next day and made a complaint about that. I also asked that the re-installation of Windows 10 be continued. This technician would not do it, and kept trying to get me to buy Windows 10 and do a clean installation. That will WIPE OUT all of my files, and I had no way to properly back them up. So I started shouting for a supervisor. And I wouldn’t let up until he transferred me to the supervisor.

There is a part of me that thinks that Microsoft intentionally corrupted my operating system to try to get me to buy it. Mainly because, during this process, the first thing out of these technicians’ mouths have been about buying an antivirus or Windows 10, rather than trying to fix the problem.

So when I got my hands on that supervisor, I kept explaining that I wanted to reinstall windows 10 and keep my files. He kept arguing that that wasn’t possible. And finally, I let loose, and told him that Microsoft will reinstall Windows 10 for free, and if they don’t, I will not only contact the Better Business Bureau, but also demand reimbursement for my laptop which I still could not use properly, and even file a lawsuit if necessary. Is that a bit much? Yeah. Do I care? Obviously not. He transferred me to a technician who listened to me retell the story, then transferred me again to a very sweet woman who thankfully knew what she was doing.

And by sweet, I mean sweet. Like, when we were going through the re-installation process, she would say to me, “This will take a while so you can go get a coffee or a snack and relax while you wait”.

Sadly, the re-installation didn’t work. So we agreed to try again tomorrow (It was 1:30 am at this point). The next day, I was called by support and they scheduled a level 2 technician for me to try the re-installation. Windows 10 still wouldn’t reinstall correctly. We decided the last, and best option, would be to go back to Windows 8.1, and you can imagine how happy I was to hear that. They are also doing it for free.

So yes, they are taking steps to fix the issue. And to get them to do that, it took 5 and a half days, screaming matches and me going to bed at 1 or 2 in the morning. I have a pretty nasty head cold right now, maybe because of the stress related to this, and lack of sleep it not a good thing for me while I am sick. I had to take time off of work, and could not go to my classes at my university because of being sick.

We live in an age where computers are necessary. Sure, the fun side of the internet and Youtube are not necessary, but to be able to write papers for my classes, submit papers and quizzes online for my classes and communicate with my professors, it is VERY NECESSARY.

I will never upgrade to Windows 10 again. And if, someday, I may need to replace my laptop, and Windows 8.1 is no longer available, I will not buy a computer with Windows 10. Even if all of these bugs and serious problems are fixed. Instead, I will get an Apple computer, something which I never thought I would say within my lifetime.

Note: If the installation of Windows 8.1 is successful, I will let you know. If any other issues occur, I will keep you posted.

The Youtuber That I Will Never Become

March 12, 2016 - Leave a Response

There are some fantastic Youtube channels that I am subscribed to, which are a combination of well-known and lesser-known individuals. I am subscribed to these people because despite how popular they have become, they have maintained their self-respect, genuine characters and respect for their channel’s community.

One of my favorites is iDeactivateMC, who has well over 100,00 subscribers now. His commentary, in the beginning, was hilariously awkward, and his tone of voice was also very comical. It’s pretty obvious that recording himself scared the living hell out of him, and that makes it easy for us to relate to him. After a few years, Anthony is the EXACT SAME as he was when he started out (He has grown as a person as people naturally do). And we, his fans, adore him for it.

Usually, I can’t tolerate women who squeal. Which is weird, because I tend to squeal in my Youtube videos. But anyways, they are channels like Aureylian which make me want to drive ten thousand nails into my own head, and then there are other channels like ihascupquake (Tiffany) and OMGitsfirefoxx (Sonja), which I happily celebrate. I think it’s because, unlike Aureylian, Tiffany and Sonja have maintained their sense of self-respect and have stayed real. They don’t need to use their breasts to get attention, or like Aureylian, try to get popular by being featured on a male youtuber’s channel. It also helps that they are great at the games that they make videos for. It also helps that in addition to their charisma, their intelligence shines proudly.

Now that I’ve mentioned a few favorites, it’s time to talk about the Youtube channels who frustrate me, so much so that I no longer watch their videos. A good example is TheDiamondMinecart, also known as Dan. Dan started out with slightly awkward, but otherwise mature and relaxed commentary. His videos were informative, and his thumbnails made it easy to tell what the video will be about. Nowadays, Dan just shouts into his microphone, and most of what he says is nonsense. This makes his voice unbearable, and before unsubscribing, I would turn down my volume to 1/10th of the normal level I keep it at. His thumbnails are just random images of his face, or his Minecraft character, and they don’t give a clear indication of what is in the video. I’m not so certain that this formula of immaturity and nonsense is actually working for him. (Having a lot of subscribers doesn’t mean a channel is popular, only a third of his subscribers actually watch his videos).

The same can be said for Captainsparklez. Jordan is horrifyingly bad at video games, and not in a way that is funny or easy to tolerate. I can tolerate a gamer who sucks at games if their personality, and genuine effort to play the game to the best of their ability, make up for it. The problem with Jordan, and Dan too, is that they are men, and they don’t have to try very hard. Jordan will never research the mods he uses for Minecraft. He aimlessly wanders around, shouts angrily when he fails, proceeds to blame his failures on everything other than his own in-game choices, or even accuses people on servers of hacking when they are just better at the game than him. Jordan is dangerously close to becoming like JNasty720, a horrible Youtube gamer who calls people words I will never write here, encourages people to harass other Youtubers, and blames his failures on everyone else. I personally HATE people like this, who are nothing but leeches who can suck the air out of a room and drain the world of all of its resources. There is a reason why we don’t see people like Sethbling, Aureylian, AllShamNoWow, AntVenom, and a plethora of other youtubers featured on his channel anymore. I really wish I had the money to repeatedly buy cars and move from one home to the next, throw an extra laptop into a bathtub and pretend it’s an accident. Need I remind you that Jordan, as far as we know, has NOT finished a college education? Is this really the kind of message he wants to send? That being fake, wasteful and uneducated will get you 9 million+ subscribers? Even if he is not trying to send that message, he still falls into the category of a painfully blind white male who doesn’t understand that out of the top 10 most popular Youtube channels, only one of them represents a black woman (RihannaVEVO), and no other women or minorities.

I vow, as a lesser-known youtuber who might by some miracle, become popular, to NEVER turn into one of these obnoxious, disrespectful attention whores. I vow that, no matter how popular my channel might become, I will still respond to comments and engage in my channel’s community. I will not use the excuse that I do not have time to talk to people. I will continue to be myself, my relaxed, normal, genuine self, who is frankly, SO MUCH BETTER at games than these idiots who get attention for SUCKING AT GAMES. You do not have to like my channel or subscribe to it, but if you are a fan of the awful channels I mentioned, like TheDiamondMinecart and Captainsparklez, please consider giving your attention to people who are not male versions of Kim Kardashian. The more videos of these morons that you watch, the more you feed their stupid habits and forgive their terrible behavior. You are inadvertently feeding sexism and white privilege by supporting these guys, and stomping on everyone else who actually works hard just to gain one subscribe per month, if that.

Dawn Bliesener vs. Jay Bergman, CCSU, and the World

February 12, 2016 - Leave a Response

Before you go any further, please read this NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/1996/01/14/nyregion/free-speech-faces-a-test-on-campus.html?smid=fb-share

I need to set the record straight.

This article is not perfect, but it certainly is 85% non-bias. But the journalist misses several important points, and certainly did not dig deep enough for more information. The reason why I am writing this is because Dawn Bliesener is my mother, and I was living with her when this incident occurred, as well as after the fact. I saw the damage that it did to her, not just her grade point average, but the personal wounds Jay Bergman inflicted.

This is not a blog entry where I am going to slander Bergman and hail my mother. I have this freakish ability to treat everyone equally, and a person who gave birth to me is not immune from that treatment.

First off – Jay Bergman is a white man. He works as a history professor at CCSU. He encounters a large variety of people, day in and day out. Despite that, he lacks the sensitivity to understand that putting up fliers which are opposed to affirmative action, can greatly effect the atmosphere of the CCSU campus, as well as the mind-sets of the students residing there. When a student took down one of these fliers, Bergman complained that his right to free speech was violated. In other words, Bergman has the right to say whatever he wants, but a black student does not have the right to an education, according to his political views, anyway.

What the article doesn’t tell you, is that Bergman approached my mother, automatically yelling at her. He never asked her what she was doing, or tried to resolve the situation in a professional manner. He became so enraged that at one point, his spit was spraying my mother in the face. Anyone on the receiving end of that behavior would feel threatened.

Yes, my mother removed the flyer from the bulletin board. Yes, she did so because she was offended by it. While Bergman may have the “right” to say and post whatever he wants, students also have the right to be safe from racism while on campus. Anti-affirmative action fliers are not educational material, and are instead a political view. And while I will always respect political views (no matter how vile they can be), I will also hold people accountable for the things that they say (and do).

That is what this article fails to touch on. The fact that a white man did what white people often do – act however they want, say whatever they want, and assume that they will get away with it. When my mother said that she did not care about his rights, and that she had the right to remove anything she found offensive, she meant that she had the right to protect herself, and other students, from racism.

Would I remove the flyer? No, I would not. The first step I would take would be to approach Bergman directly and try to reach a compromise, at the very least. It’s in my nature to be that way, to try to resolve things as comfortably as possible. My mother taking down the flyer, put herself in a position to be told “Hey, you can’t do that”. CCSU would not have been wrong in telling her to avoid doing that again, and peacefully ask her to next time try to discuss the issue with the instructor. But CCSU never did that.

You did not see what I saw. Following this incident, my mother was threatened by CCSU with expulsion. Yes, expulsion for taking a piece of paper off of a bulletin board. After all of the investigations and interviews, my mother’s grade point average dropped significantly. I won’t say how far it dropped, for privacy reasons, but I will say that the atmosphere of any school, public or private, can greatly hinder any student’s educational success.

I was told by more than one witness of the incident, that Bergman followed my mother down the hall, still yelling at her, and prompting her to hide in the office where she worked. No student should ever feel that afraid on a college campus. No person should ever be treated that way.

If CCSU had responded to my mother’s complaints about the fliers from the get-go, then perhaps this would have never happened. If Bergman truly felt this was a topic worth discussing, he could have organized a forum, maybe brought it up in one of his classes if it was pertinent to the subject matter of the course, or found another way to vent his feelings about affirmative action that wasn’t so blatant.

It’s also important to note, based on the information from the article, that other individuals working within CCSU had said the fliers were all over the place. When my mother wrote in her complaints that she does not pay these instructors to waste time making copies and pasting them wherever they can find two inches of space, she was not exaggerating. These fliers were EVERYWHERE. Any time that public school was closed, I typically went with my mother to her on-campus job or to her classes. I saw these fliers, and I remember thinking to myself, “Why do you need so many?”

In terms of what is and is not acceptable to say… As Americans, we are within our right to have any kind of opinion about what anyone else says. Free speech does not make you immune from other free speech.

However, it can often be difficult to tag a news article or another piece of literature as hate speech, despite how obvious the implication may be. The law looks for specific language and terms which clearly identify something as a hateful attack on a group of people on the basis of gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity. Do I think that anti-affirmative action fliers are hate speech? I do.

My Reaction to The Fine Brothers Trying to Trademark the Word “React”

February 3, 2016 - Leave a Response

A long time ago, The Fine Brothers did something very cool on Youtube. They created reaction videos, which are videos that record a person’s reaction to come type of content (music video, youtube video, commercials, songs, etc.). They eventually created well-known series such as Kids React, Seniors React, Teens React, and so on. They were essentially the first on Youtube to create videos like this, and in their enormous popularity, they sparked a popular internet fad known as “reaction videos”. Everyone, at some point, has done a reaction video on their channel. Even I have.

I recently unsubscribed from The Fine Brothers channel, along with over 170,000 people. The reason being, they have tried to trademark the word “react”. If you know anything about trademark laws, then you know that if Company A, feels that Company B has made a brand that looks similar to Company A’s brand, then Company A will send a cease and desist letter to Company B. If that doesn’t work, Company A will sue Company B. This is to prevent trademark confusion.

A popular example of trademark disputes, is Disney vs. deadmau5. Deadmau5, for most of his career, has had a black mouse logo, with crossed out eyes and a big grin. We all know the difference between Mickey Mouse and deadmau5, but Disney didn’t think we were capable of distinguishing the two trademarks. So much so, that Disney took deadmau5 to court, and won.

If Disney had not won, and deadmau5 was allowed to keep his original trademark, then deadmau5 could actually go to a group like Modestep, for example, and tell them that because their logo of an emoticon with crossed out eyes, looks too similar to the crossed out eyes on the deadmau5 trademark, and thus sue them. The original creators of emoticons, could probably sue Modestep, as well.

Trademark battles are supposed to be a matter of PROVING that the trademark infringes another trademark, so much so that consumers would get the two trademarks confused and buy the wrong content. In other words, Disney was worried that people would buy deadmau5 music, thinking it had to do with Mickey Mouse. But what if someone buys a Mickey Mouse product, thinking it is deadmau5? Disney makes bank, but deadmau5 isn’t represented in that kind of scenario.

So the reason I bring all of this up, is to explain why what The Fine Brothers are doing, is a very, very bad idea. Trademarks are very important to Youtube channels. I have distinctive logos on my channel, just like most other Youtubers do. Our trademarks define our channels. Trademarking the names of series such as Kids React, makes perfect logical sense, because Kids React is a distinctive series name that appeared on their channel first. But now, The Fine Brothers want to trademark the word “react”. React is so commonly used, and not always for a reaction video. Putting the word “react” in a video title, possibly even it just being in commentary, could allow The Fine Brothers to attack other Youtube channels and take them down. We have seen what has happened to Youtube channels which are unfairly attacked, like the Revenge and TNT parody videos by Captainsparklez and TryHardNinja. According to the law, if I make a parody video of a song or TV show or movie, it is protected from the original content owners claiming copyright over it. But not all Youtubers have the funds to fight a lawsuit when big-name companies disregard the law and claim copyright over parodies. Also, when a big-name company claims something in your video belongs to them, Youtube will make the video private, or make it unavailable in most countries, or delete it completely. In essence, that Youtuber now needs to prove they are innocent, which is not how our justice system works.

So what if, tomorrow, I upload a PARODY video of The Fine Brothers’ series, Kids React? Even if I change the title to something other than “Kids React”, they also trademarked the format of that series, so they could still claim that my video infringes their trademark.

It is always important for Youtbers to protect their trademarks. Examples are the “CS” logo from Jordan Maron’s channel, Captainsparklez, and the golden lion from Tom Cassell’s channel, TheSyndicateProject. But a word like “react” is just too generic to be trademarked. It gives The Fine Brothers too much power to strike down other Youtube channels that could become very popular from an internet fad that they started. They couldn’t be happy with the credit of creating a giant internet fad that will exist for a very long time. Instead, they had to get greedy, and get competitive.

Competitiveness on Youtube is why some channels suck. I remember how much my channel sucked before I started playing mini-games on a Minecraft server called Mineplex. People came on my channel and begged me to collaborate with other Youtube channels. I searched high and low, and eventually found another Youtuber who I am collaborating with. There is also a close friend of mine who I will collaborate in the future. The thing is, collaborative videos are often unique, and they expose viewers to something new. In addition, listening to two people talk to each other, and talk to you (the viewer), is far more interesting than watching any of my solo series. I like to watch solo series, and multiplayer series, and on rare occasions, both things can be really terrible. I grew up playing games WITH PEOPLE, and I just sound so more hilarious and dorky when I collaborate with other gamers.

There is a downside to collaboration, however. A good example is The Realm of Mianite, a Minecraft multiplayer server ran by some big-name Youtubers. The series quickly gained success after Captainpsarklez was invited to join. At first, everything was fine, but over time, a huge number of viewers felt the series took a dramatic turn and went from a storyline to a factions server (in a factions server, people are divided into groups and fight each other with no purpose other than to fight). Sometimes, when Youtubers collaborate, they show their true colors, and can appear like people who are high maintenance and impossible to deal with. For Captainsparklez, in season one he was too serious, and was terrible at PvP (player vs. player), so much so that he whined. A lot. And many of us got sick of watching it. He was so terrible at PvP, that he had to set up rules to make things “fair”, in other words, players could only fight each other with set parameters, so there was no strategy involved. No creativity. Because of the childishness of Captainpsarklez and other people on the server, one player in particular, Champwan, began using a function within Minecraft that enables hitboxes, which was never against the rules. Captainsparklez accused Champwan of cheating, which caused him to spend less time on the server. We barely saw Champwan during season two of The Realm of Mianite. Sometimes, Youtubers feel they need to take down other Youtubers because they are either insecure, or feel like they aren’t as skilled as other Youtubers, or they have let their popularity go to their head.

The Constitution Cannot Bend

November 17, 2015 - Leave a Response

As GOP governors pop out of the ground and declare they will refuse the entry of Syrian refugees into the states they govern, the angrier I become. The Constitution of the United States makes it expressly clear that governors CANNOT refuse refugees. Period. The Constitution was drafted as a living document which can be added to and/or partially revised as the American people move into the future. However, the Constitution cannot bend to suit anyone’s hateful rhetoric. The Constitution does not lean one way or the other, it is designed to suit all people, not just Americans but around the world, in the same fashion. Therefore, refusing to accept refugees into the United States is a violation of Constitutional law. Anyone who is familiar with Constitutional law, should know that violating it is an impeachable offense.

If you want to read more about this law, you can do so here: Refugee Act of 1980

If you are unfamiliar with the situation, allow me to sum it up for you. Paris was recently attacked by a terrorist group known as ISIS. ISIS primarily operates out of Syria, and because of the violence they have caused, thousands of Syrians are seeking refuge in other countries. Several states led by Republican governors have stated that they will refuse entry of refugees into the states they govern. However, Gov. Dan Malloy of Connecticut, stated that it is our obligation to accept these refugees. Connecticut residents are calling and emailing Gov. Malloy, screaming at him to refuse refugees also. People are actually creating petitions, and signing them, in the hopes that they will somehow persuade Gov. Malloy to refuse these people.

One of the most common arguments I see is, “We should take care of our own first!”. I beg your pardon? They are us. They are just as much a part of the human race as we are. Many people have photos circulating Facebook which try to say that homelessness is a more important issue than helping Syrian refugees. Why can’t we help ALL people?

Another grotesque argument is, “How do we know they aren’t terrorists?” Well, how do you know they are? Where is your evidence that a human being is a terrorist? Other than their ethnicity, background, clothing or name.

When I look back on September 11th, 2001, and the weeks after the attack on the Twin Towers, I remember how quickly the hatred boiled over throughout this country. Innocent people who had come here, built their homes and businesses here, had children here, were violently attacked, racially profiled by police and told they should “go back to their country”. Go back to where, exactly? They are already in their country. This hatred very easily fueled the fear, which then fueled the invasion of Iraq for weapons of mass destruction that didn’t actually exist. I remember in my Anatomy and Physiology class in high school, our teacher asked us who thought the weapons were in Iraq, and out of 25+ students, I was the only one who did not raise my hand. When asked why, I simply stated, “Where is the proof?”

I think when terror attacks happen, we need to look back on our history and remember events that transpired after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Many people my age and a bit older, were not alive during World War II. Japanese people began immigrating to the United States in the mid to late 1800’s, primarily the West Coast. Our government actually believed that Japanese-Americans, people who had built their homes, businesses and lives in their country, were capable of being spies for the Japanese government. So Roosevelt decided that the best way to calm that fear was to corral thousands of innocent people into internment camps. Their reasoning was “How do we know they aren’t spies?”. The Japanese-Americans were blamed for the acts of the government from their birth country, or in many cases, a country that they were never born in. There were many “stories” and accusations made without any evidence, so any claims by the U.S. government that they found Japanese spies during WWII have to be deemed false. A more in-depth explanation of what it was like for Japanese-Americans during WWII: Densho – Background

Even though we have a Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to protect us from atrocities like these, as well as President Obama who genuinely cares about these refugees, who will protect them after his second term is finished? The GOP have no problem blaming an entire group of people, for the acts of a few, and many Americans have no problem supporting that hatred.

Rumor Has It…

October 20, 2015 - Leave a Response

I am a current student at SCSU, and also a Studio Art major, so every day I have at least one (or two) classes in Earl Hall. Earl Hall is a small building, so the students are right on top of each other, and of course have their friends and/or are part of cliques. Whenever people are living or working in close quarters, conversation happens, and though not always, it tends to lead to gossip and rumor spreading.

Take this recent event, for example, about a student who for whatever reason is refusing to remove their work from the display cases at the building’s front entrance. Aside from the fact that just about everyone knows who this person is, or has at least seen this person’s face a few times, this incident happened a few days ago and already tons of students know about it. So, while I dislike gossip and rumor spreading, it has come as no surprise to me that so many students have said such nasty, vile and inappropriate things about one of the art teachers, Professor Vu.

If you took a class or two with Prof. Vu and you didn’t like the experience, well, you are entitled to that opinion. You are even entitled to being honest, by stating why you didn’t enjoy the class or his teaching methods. No professor will please everyone all the time, that’s just how it goes. But it’s a whole other ball game when students who NEVER have taken a class with him, will tell other students what he is like as a teacher and as a person, based solely on what other people have told them.

I hear something “new” about Prof. Vu almost daily at this point. Most of it is negative, and often times has nothing to do with the class assignments or the course’s atmosphere. The trash talk typically has to do with his sense of humor, his ethnicity, his personality, his sexual orientation and his physical appearance. I don’t care what kind of person you are, or where you are from, but being a student does not absolve you from conducting yourself in a professional manner around your colleagues. You leave your bigotry and bullying at the door.

The most frequently shared opinion about Prof. Vu however, is in response to his constructive criticism. Many students, including those who have not had him as a teacher, label him as “mean”. Based on my experience with Prof. Vu during Art 320, I can say that I am proud of the paintings I created. He points out the things which you can improve, suggests how they can be improved, and remarks on the things which are most successful. This is what it means to be in an art class, because we are not there to learn what we did “wrong”, we are there to grow as artists (art cannot be wrong, anyway). Sure, he could walk into class every day and never give us constructive criticism, but if you don’t know how to improve your art, then, how can you improve it? If my choices are being a stubborn artist who refuses to learn, or an artist who wants to be intelligent about my art, I’m going to go with the later.

Prof. Vu has high expectations for himself, and shows that in his teaching methods. He will not swear at students, behave inappropriately, or demean anyone. He is always on time (unless there are circumstances beyond his control), he rarely cancels class, and he gives all students an equal amount of time during critiques. He also has high expectations for his students: Come to class regularly, don’t come late or leave early, appreciate your art and your classmates’ art, finish your assignments on time (or finish them enough to sit through a critique), and treat everyone with respect. Prof. Vu has a low tolerance for childish behavior, such as inviting your friends to hang out in class with you while you paint/draw, being lazy, not being prepared for class, etc. These are all very normal things that all professors in all subjects should expect from their students, and sadly not all of them do. He treats everyone the same, and somehow, from that evolved the notion that he “plays favorites”. I still can’t wrap my head around that one.

I think the most important thing to note is that Prof. Vu supports who we are as artists and as individuals. I remember him talking to us about our character traits in our art and personalities, and showing such an appreciation for those things. He discouraged us from hiding who we are, but he also respected our space. Have you ever tried to learn in an environment that doesn’t offer the support and motivation to do it? It’s absolutely horrible, and I am glad to say that with Prof. Vu, myself and other students never experienced that.

I am a firm believer in you get what you give, and the reason why I would even write an article like this is because I was given an equal amount of respect from Prof. Vu. There is nothing that I have done that makes me any more special than any other student, and the grade I received (A-) is the grade that I earned from my hard work.

If you would like to learn more about Professor Vu and his art, please check out his website: http://thuanvu.com/

Dear SCSU Freshmen: Welcome to Adulthood

September 22, 2015 - Leave a Response

This is not going to be one of those sappy but poignant blog entries where I tell you all about my best experiences at this university. This will not be one of those lectures on what it was like for my generation and how “kids these days” don’t know how to act. To assume that people who are ten years younger than I am, are capable of acting the same way as I do is silly. We are not from the same backgrounds, neighborhoods, schools, cities or even countries.

Congratulations, most of you have reached the milestone of turning 18. By legal standards, you are no longer a minor. Your parents no longer have legal custody over you, are not entitled to your health records, financial records or school records, etc. You have been given the responsibility to take care of yourself and your own life. However, turning 18 does not make you an adult. Being an adult means you have the maturity to properly conduct yourself in society.

There are certain things we do in society that are considerate of other people, and these things are never limited by your age.

For past three years I have been eating food in the Adanti Student Center cafeteria. And for those same three years, I have watched countless students, who are freshmen more often than not, leave garbage, half eaten food, hair and various other disgusting things on the tables and walk away like nothing happened. You have left these messes for the cleaning staff to deal with. Just because they are paid to clean the cafeteria, does not mean that you have the right to leave such filth for these people. In addition, I will not sit at a filthy table, nor will I clean it, because I don’t clean up after other people who are fully capable of doing it themselves. I do not understand how someone can make it to 18 years of age, and not know how to wipe off a table. I realize that we don’t always have enough time between classes to eat comfortably. If you do not have the time to wipe down a table, then don’t make a mess to begin with.

Between the times of 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm, this same cafeteria becomes horribly crowded. I typically grab whatever food I can get my hands on that’s on the shelves and get in line to pay as quickly as possible. Like most students here, I don’t have time to stand in line for a half an hour to order a hotdog. Weaving myself through the sea of people to get to these food shelves, is a nightmare. I have to yell “Excuse me!” several times at the same person, tap on their shoulders and even resort to pushing people out of my way because they ignore me and refuse to move. When in your life has it ever been okay for you to refuse to move out of someone’s way when they say “excuse me”? No student at this university at any age or college level should have to put up with behavior like that.

In seems that the new influx of students have taken to OPENING the plastic food containers that are on display. These containers are see-through, so there is absolutely no reason why you should ever try to or open these containers and touch the food that is inside. This is something that five year olds do in the grocery store do when mommy or daddy aren’t looking, NOT college students.

Stop leaving the lids on the Au Bon Pain soup cookers open after you get your soup. People will breathe, cough and sneeze on uncovered food. There are students here that have compromised immune systems, and they do not deserve to be sick because you were careless.

When someone holds the door for you, the polite thing to do is say thank you. Time and time again I have held a door for someone, and the response has been silence. Hold the door for the person behind you as well. I’ve taken to letting go of the door when people don’t say thank you, so if you ever encounter a student who does that, guess who!

I am fully aware that 18 year olds are 18, and at that age the brain is still growing and maturing. I am also aware that people come from a variety of upbringings, backgrounds, etc.There is no way that you have been able to do all of the rude behaviors I listed for 18 years without ever being scolded. No one who acts this way thinks it is okay. It is a severe lack of empathy, and an over-abundance of apathy. It’s time to embrace adulthood.

Here’s How Two Professors Can Have the Same Rating, but Totally Different Teaching Styles

September 8, 2015 - Leave a Response

As I have mentioned more than once on this blog, I am a student at Southern CT State University (SCSU). Being a Studio Art/Painting major has allowed me to take classes with a variety of art professors, great and not so great. At the end of every semester, I leave reviews for the professors I have had on ratemyprofessor.com. It’s important to note that everything said in any review you read on that site, should be taken with a grain of salt. You won’t know a teacher until you have a class with him or her.

One of my largest struggles as an art student has always been the way that I learn. I’ve never had my IQ tested (because it’s total malarkey), but I learn at a rapid-fire pace, and if something isn’t challenging enough for me, I get bored. Most great, and even good professors can tell when they have a student like me, and have learned how to keep people like me busy. Learning never stops, so it wouldn’t make sense to stop pushing an artist to succeed. Sometimes you have to trust that student’s knowledge and let them take the reigns and make their own discoveries, and even learn from them. Learning doesn’t stop when you become a teacher, either.

For quite a while I had heard a variety of vocal reviews about two art professors, both of whom teach painting. Most reviews claimed that the female professor was wonderful, would push you to be your best, and was challenging. Other vocal reviews claimed that the male professor was too harsh, too critical and at times disrespectful. Naturally, I looked up both teachers on Rate My Professor, and found that they had the same rating, just over 3 out of 5 stars. I decided to use my better judgement and take a class with the female professor.

My experience with that female professor was the exact opposite of what I expected. We were taught only as a class, not as individuals. We could only achieve so much, and after that we were a lost cause. I received criticism like “watch out for the greens” (what does that even mean?), and was often told there were things I simply could not do. Prior to this class I had studied art at GWCC for 4 years, and had studied painting since age four. I also had 11 years experience with oils. So you can imagine how insulted I felt. Not that I wanted to be held up on a pedestal, but I don’t need to be told how to start an oil painting, how to mix colors, or any of the basic things we learn when we first start painting. What hurt the most is that myself and one other student were the only black people in this class, and we were the only ones treated this way. Another student in the class, with autism, was often ignored by this teacher because she would lose her patience with him.

When it came time to take the next class level of painting, I was still apprehensive about the male professor. Knowing the way that I learn best, and against my better judgement, I took the class with him anyway. And the experience was the exact opposite of what I expected. He was not harsh, he was honest, and even straight-forward. His advice was direct and thoughtful, and tuned to each student individually based on their skill level. He was no nonsense, you had to show up on time, and get to work (because that’s what you do in a class, who would have thought!). We were there not only to learn, but to continuously learn beyond the level at which we thought we could. The greatest experience I had was our first series, of a minimum of three paintings. I chose to do portraits, two of them would be of people who I had lost in the previous year, and a friend who I had gained during that time. I painted the first two portraits in a way that made it obvious these two subjects were no longer alive, both literally and figuratively. The third however was much more lively. It’s a risk to do something like that but I know myself well, and the professor supported it. What was special for me was that when other students criticized why I did what I did, the professor stepped in and became defensive. Not in a rude way, but in a way as if he was somehow attached to my art. He did this for everyone, not just me. Sure, he may not be the most affectionate or sweet and smiley person that society would expect him to be, but the teacher to student connection he builds is profound. I have yet to be able to take another class with him, and it makes me feel like I am missing out.

What I learned from these experiences, is that some students really like to take the easy way out, as is the case with the female professor. But when a professor actually cares about who you are as an artist and pushes you to be your best, they are treated like villains. Students tend to base their opinions of a teacher on the grade they got (Note: I received an A in both classes I described), the teacher’s age, personality, gender or race, and even on the word of other students. Your opinion of a teacher should be based on how much learned, how well you learned, and how well you were treated, not on the grade you received (the grade is equal to the amount of work you did, so you can learn a lot and still slack off in a class, or work hard and learn next to nothing).

I believe that if you are new to SCSU, or any college for that matter, that your best course of action is to NOT listen to what the student body says about a teacher. A person’s perception of someone varies dramatically, and unfairly. Lately I’ve tried a new tactic of observing how a teacher interacts with their students when the opportunity presents in an appropriate manner. You’d be surprised at what you witness.