Satire Club Editorial Division: Did Obama Invent the War on Christmas

Disclaimer: Satire can make you think, but it can melt the brains of literal-minded people; proceed with caution.  –CVC Eds.

Mr. Thomas Repudiak, SC Correspondant

Did Obama Invent the War on Christmas?  Let’s take a look at the facts I just made up.

Obama has long been championed as the leader of Christmas killers, making 90% of his 2012 agenda based around spitting on the Bible. Despite showing Obama a  photoshop I made of him hanging Santa, he denies any involvement in that matter sidestepping questions, and stating, “you photoshopped that — that never happened”.

I decided to dig deeper and present to you the most compelling reasons I made up about why Obama hates God.

Image courtesy of the AP wire

Image courtesy of the AP wire

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Will our Economy Tank if Our Politicians Don’t Start Compromising?

Mr. Isaac Cleveland

We can’t seem to get anything done. Our economy’s GDP growth rate and inflation rate has been fluctduating around 2%, indicating one of the worst recoveries after a major recession in the history of the United States (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Our politicians are particularly struggling to pass laws around healthcare and tax reform among other issues. What does that mean for us? We may see an unhealthy rise in prices, a lack of jobs, and the U.S. government may even shut down due to the inability to decide on a budget.

Is our government taking the appropriate steps to combat our stagnating economy? Americans have the appetite but congress can’t seem to compromise. The polarization both between Democrats and Republicans and between the members in each party makes resolutions of certain issues impossible.

U.S._Total_Deficits_vs._National_Debt_Increases_2001-2010

Graph courtesy of the Congressional Budget Office

Take the healthcare issue, for example. Many of the reasons why Republicans can’t agree on a healthcare bill are because of different ideologies and re-election thinking. As President Trump mentioned in his pre-election campaigning, he would repeal Obamacare and replace it with something “much better and less expensive.” However, the unpopular Obamacare bill has remained unchanged, mainly because our politicians are so divided on what should be implemented as a replacement.

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Opinion: ATC Privatization is the Wrong Move for Cutting Federal Spending

Image courtesy of the FAA

Image courtesy of the FAAAir Traffic Control (ATC) privatization is not the correct approach to reducing federal spending.  From the point of view of someone who flies, this is likely one of Trump’s largest missteps.

Mr. Enzo Delia

ATC privatization is an atrocious attempt to cut federal spending. Trump argues the Air Traffic Control system is, “an ancient, broken, antiquated, horrible system that doesn’t work.” Though the system isn’t without flaws, it sure isn’t as bad as he makes it seem. How would he know anyways? After all, his only airline economics experience consists of investing $365 million in his own airline only to have it come crumbling down into the depths of bankruptcy only 4 years later.

Privatization would have a horrendous effect on ticket prices. There would be an estimated 20-29% increase in ATC fees according to a 2016 Delta Airlines study. This would end up increasing prices for the consumer, as part of the cost of a ticket consists of ATC fees.

Another major issue of privatization is the federal cost associated with it. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s most recent estimate, the process of privatizing our Air Traffic Control system would cost in the ballpark of $98.5 Billion over 10 years. This money would come from taxpayers, and tax payers may not be able to cover this enormous cost in the first place.

Let’s not forget, privatization would also mean all of the currently federally employed Air Traffic Control Workers would be laid off, and airlines such as Delta would be “outsourcing”, thus taking away jobs and not getting them back (AOPA).

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A Letter to Bernie: Net Neutrality Necessity

Mr. Willem Hillier, Guest Editorial Writer

Senator Bernie Sanders

357 Western Ave. Suite 1B

St. Johnsbury, VT 05819

Dear Mr. Sanders,

I am a senior at Champlain Valley Union High School, and I would like to both thank you for supporting net neutrality and urge you to continue doing all you can to fight against the FCC’s likely ruling this December.

To demonstrate the importance of Net Neutrality, I have a story — a story you may have heard about last year. I modified a Power Wheels car to be used as a wheelchair by a young child with Shaken Baby Syndrome. I used a guide that a different high school team had put up in Instructables.com as the basis for the project, and I improved several aspects of the design in the process, before posting my own version on Instructables.com so that other people in turn can build these mobility devices and learn from my improvements. Likewise, I used many other amazing online resources, like Thingiverse.com, a community-based 3D model repository, and Arduino, a non-profit electronics learning and prototyping platform.

Without Net Neutrality, resources like these likely would not exist. They rely on community-sourced content and support, which Net Neutrality upholds. If it weren’t for Net Neutrality, these amazing platforms likely would not have been able to rise and flourish the way they have. If it weren’t for Net Neutrality, the big ISPs could go so far as to directly censor or block access to these smaller community-based platforms, which they might see as a threat to their corporate mass-media platforms.

The Internet rose from open-source philosophies and transparency, and thus has allowed regular individuals to exchange information on an unprecedented scale. The use of the Internet as a communications platform can only grow in the future, and if we as a country, society, and species want to continue to be able to exchange information in an open and uncensored form then we must preserve the original essential principles that the Web was founded on. As a young person, I feel especially responsible for supporting Net Neutrality; whether it is upheld will likely have a large impact on our society in 15, 30, and 50 years from now – well within my generation’s lifetime.

Thank you for your continuing support in this battle. I urge you to do everything you can to continue supporting Net Neutrality.

Sincerely,

Willem Hillier

 

Opinion: Many Students Disgruntled by Tech

Mr. William Braun

As our society and school grow more dependent on computers and technology, it seems that CVU has come up with the “1:1 plan” to stay ahead of the curve. In reality, the idea was rushed and implemented before we were even ready.

As a result, seniors who decided to use their own devices have virtually no source for tech help and those who didn’t were given the “opportunity” to use the school’s old, beaten, and cheap computers while the rest of the student body strolls the halls with their nice and new Chromebooks.

Oh, and the CVU student Wi-Fi still stinks.

Matt Vile from IT says the purpose of the 1:1 plan was to “give each student a tool to do their work,” that students have “equal access to technology,” and that everyone would be “using the same technology.” While the goal of the 1:1 plan is sound in theory, the means of its execution are far from logical.

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Movies: The New “It” puts fresh clown makeup on the King classic

Ms. Joyce Ke, CVC Film Critic

Be aware of the red balloons, people, and remember don’t talk to strangers. It, the 2017 edition, has just recently landed in theaters, and everyone is raving about it. Everyone who has either seen the first adaptation, read the book, or has heard all the good things about it, is going to go see it. The movie is definitely worth it if you’re into a good/classic horror movie.  

This adaptation was directed by Andy Muschietti who is a director and screenwriter. It is his second movie. The main actors Bill Skarsgård (Pennywise the Dancing Clown), Sophia Lillis (Beverly Marsh), Finn Wolfhard (Richie Tozier), Jaeden Lieberher (Bill Denbrough), Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie Kaspbrak), Wyatt Oleff (Stanley Uris), Chosen Jacobs (Mike Hanlon), and Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben Hanscom). The movie is roughly 2 hours and 15 minutes and is the second adaptation of the popular Stephen King novel (the first was made in 1990).

It is about the adventure of 7 kids based in Derry, Maine who works together to fight a clown they call “it.” The clown is named Pennywise, and he lives in the sewers under the town and wakes up every 27 years to feed on children and terrorize the town of Derry before he goes back to rest.

In the book, the story was told through two time periods of when the characters were kids and when they were older, but in this adaptation, they only focused on the time period of when the characters were kids. I thought that it was smart to only focus the movie on when the characters were children because it really got to the point of the movie. Focusing on the kids was also clever because it made the length of the movie shorter.

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Book Review: 23 Minutes

Ms. Julia Baker, CVC Book Critic

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Title: 23 Minutes

Author: Vivian Vande Velde

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 176

Overall Rating: 6/10

Quick Summary:

Zoe, the main character of 23 Minutes is a loner living in a group home and hating life. She, like most characters in YA novels, has a secret. Hers is that she can time travel, but only back 23 minutes at a time (hence the title), and she can only do it a limited number of times. When she witnesses a bank robbery ending in death, she decides to be a hero and try to save the day.

 Reason For Rating:

Although this story is thrilling, (full of danger, time travel, a bit of awkward romance and lots of action) there’s almost no backstory or character development. Zoe is witty and sarcastic, but lacks a purpose. I’ll give the author credit: the story centers on 23 minutes, a pretty short time to show what a character is made of.  

But even so, without details Zoe seems bland and boring. Case in point: As I was writing this I couldn’t even remember her name, even though I had finished the book the week before!

Although the details didn’t match my expectations, overall the book was a good read. The amount of action was satisfying, as well as the conclusion. I liked the quick way it was written: in snippets like a collection of short stories rather than a book. It kept me on the hooked, and I read it front to back with no pauses – all in one sitting.

As well as having a less than standard format, this book has been proclaimed “One of the best YA books of 2017,” by websites such as Goodreads and BuzzFeed.

Overall, I’d recommend this book if you’re into action and a unique formatting, but if you need a strong backstory and character development than, this book might not be for you.

Perspectives on Confederate Monuments from AP Gov Students

Ms. Emma Rosenau

Dear Editor,

Three weeks ago, all across the country people watched as white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Virginia and clashed with counter protesters. The violence came to a head when a man drove his car into the crowd of people, killing one woman and injuring many others. This disturbing event has since launched a national conversation about what fueled the protests and why a monument to Confederate general Robert E. Lee, which was slated to be taken down from its pedestal because of the racism and division the Confederacy represents, was such a “hot-topic” issue. These tributes to Confederate leaders are all over the South. They are in public places, funded by taxpayers, and increasingly controversial. We are now faced with a tough decision: what do we do with them?

Editorial cartoon by Brenna

Editorial cartoon by Brenna Comeau

 

Many Southerners view the subjects of such statues as heroes of the “lost cause of the Confederacy”, for their ancestorsseen as valiant warriors were only defending what they thought was right. This romantic idea of people like Robert E. Lee is deeply embedded in Southern society.  

Others view the statues as historical, arguing that all they do is commemorate important figures from the Civil War; yes, that war may have been to protect a system of slavery, and what they fought for may have left a legacy of racial injustice continuing into the present day, but removing a monument or two won’t change the past. History is history, and we have to remember it and learn from it…  but these monuments are not history. Not even close.

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Bear Season Loads up on Berries, Goes into Hibernation

Mr. Samuel Comai

CHARLOTTE, VT– Friday, September 8th marks the first day of bear hunting season in Vermont. Local hunters are shining their guns and stocking up on bullets for the season which will last until mid-October.

Bear season is split into two consecutive hunting opportunities. The first season, which lasts from September 8th to October 10th, requires a special tag to hunt. The second season, known as the “late season, is shorter, lasting one week from October 11th to October 18th.

“One black bear per square mile is the current population in Vermont, this is an incredibly high number that ranks among the highest populations in the country,” states VT bear biologist, Forrest Hammond.

Those statistics have created a surge of excitement among hunters all across the state. The 2016 season resulted in 697 bear kills. People may look at these numbers and be disgusted by the heavy removal of black bears. However, hunting is heavily regulated by the state, making it illegal to kill more than one bear a season and, according to Hammond, many hunters say it is incredibly beneficial to a controlled growth in the bear population.

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The Only Slightly Mediocre Pirates of The Caribbean: Jack Sparrow is Back At It Again

Ms. Halina Vercessi, Editor In Chief 

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

My initial reaction when I heard that a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie was coming out was “What? Seriously? Another one?” No matter how much a fifth movie seemed like a bit of an overkill and maybe just another way to rake in the big bucks from dedicated fans like myself, I was still excited to see Johnny Depp portray the iconic Captain Jack Sparrow and hear that kickass soundtrack again. Considering it is the fifth movie and that I heard it got bad reviews, I made sure to have low expectations as I entered the theatre. The film opened with a scene of a young boy and the quick flash of a piece of parchment saying “year seven” or “year nine”; it didn’t take much brain power: I knew immediately that this was the son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan. Just to jog your memory, the 3rd movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, ended with Will Turner taking up the Captain’s position of the cursed ship, The Flying Dutchman. This meant that he and his crew could only return to land every ten years. And, I must say, it was quite a sight for sore eyes to see the ever-beloved character of Will Turner (played by Orlando Bloom) make an appearance after his absence from the fourth movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and his heart-breaking departure in the third movie. One driving part of the plot was introduced when Will’s son declared his determination to free his father from the curse.

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The Aftermath of an EF5 Sharknado

 

Mr. Thomas Daley 

One highlight of this coming summer (for some) is the highly anticipated release of the fifth installment in the Sharknado film

Image Courtesy of IMDb

Image Courtesy of IMDb

series. Subtitled “Earth-O”, Sharknado 5 is poised to be more ridiculous than Sharknado 4: The Fourth Awakens, whose Star Wars-inspired title is ridiculous enough in itself. Critics accuse Sharknado of being bad and a waste of resources, but is a bad movie necessarily a bad thing? And are the Sharknado movies actually “bad”?

A Dysfunctional Storm Surge

The Sharknado films have consisted of plotlines as weak as the science behind a “sharknado” in the first place. The fifth movie is set up to continue the trend. Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! might have taken lead, Fin Shepard, and company to a space battle with some rogue sharks, while Sharknado 5 promises to take the world by storm.

Sharknado 2: The Second One started a tradition of including well-known personnel as actors. Al Roker along with the rest of Today gave an eloquent weather report of a Manhattan sharkstorm; Daymond John from Shark Tank also had a cameo that ended well for a “real” shark; and Sharknado 3 showcased Mark Cuban’s service as president. The fifth installment does not appear to be as star-heavy, but will include British diver and Olympic medalist Tom Daley.

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Celebrities and all, a Sharknado film is far from conventional; however, unorthodox does not necessarily correlate with bad, especially in creative endeavors such as cinema.

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VT Birds: On the Decline and Cause for Concern

Ms. Carly Alpert, Special CVC Environmental Correspondent

Birds are like stars. They brighten up the sky and bring joy to those who view them. But unlike stars, many Vermont birds are in danger. There are eleven bird species in Vermont that are endangered, and two bird species that are threatened. There seem to be three major reasons for these alarming facts.

One leading cause of birds becoming endangered is habitat loss. Loss of habitat occurs for a variety of reasons. Climate change is one factor, being responsible for the rising temperatures in which some bird species cannot survive. Curt Alpeter, Chairman of the Vermont Audubon Society, as well as avid birder, provides a specific example in the Bicknell’s thrush. Alpeter says, “This is a bird that depends on cooler temps, higher mountain elevation, and the habitat that is found there to breed and nest. Climate change is impacting this habitat and the temperatures at 3,000+ feet of altitude and forces the birds out of their historical breeding areas. Since this is such a select area, the number of places that can support these birds is less and as a result their populations are dropping.”

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Bicknell’s Thrush, photo from Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology “All About Birds”

Additionally, forest fragmentation destroys birds’ habitats. Urbanization in Vermont is causing large forests with diverse ecosystems to be divided into many smaller subsections. Smaller forests don’t have the resources that many species need to survive, forcing them towards extinction. It is essential that Vermonters preserve their birds’ habitats if they wish them to continue to flourish.

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The Apology Complex: Why It’s Time to Stop Saying “I’m Sorry”

Editor-in-Chief, Ms. Koko Vercessi

sorry

Courtesy of BBC

How many conversations have you had with your friends where you don’t say sorry at least once for something that didn’t require it? While many people believe that old school manners and the art of etiquette is dying, others are suffering from a very different kind of problem that doesn’t involve rudeness. All around the world, people are plagued by what has become known as the “Apology Complex”, or “Sorry Syndrome”.

“Sorry Syndrome” comes in the form of a type of constant verbal regurgitation of the words “I’m sorry” during situations that do not really call for this kind of proclamation of an apology. An apology can take the form of an admittance of guilt, a way of showing regret, or an attempt to show sympathy. The words once used to convey an apology are now being used in everyday conversations. I doubt that anyone has passed by or participated in a conversation in which they have not heard or uttered themselves the words “I’m sorry” when the situation did not really call for an apology.“Sorry Syndrome” has gotten so bad that people assume judgement and feel the need to apologize for simply just being, or just acting in a natural way. But because of a comment or funny look, many of us resort to simply apologizing to the people around us for being ourselves.

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Opinion: College Athletes Should Not Get Paid

Mr. Josh Bliss

Last year, freshman superstar Ben Simmons was benched in a basketball game for failing to earn a 2.0 GPA in the fall semester. He later dropped out of school after the season ended, and has yet to play a game in the NBA.

You may think that paying someone for a skill they excel in would be a good idea. However, if this were to be set in place, the consequences would greatly outweigh the benefits.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

 

This would be significantly unfair to non-athletes. According to the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), only six percent of students at a Division I College participate in sports. When taking into account the small chance of even becoming a part of this six percent (only seven percent of high school baseball players will even play Division I, which is also true for three percent for men’s basketball, and seven percent for football), it is very unlikely that the average person will ever be a part of this selective group. This is why paying college athletes would be unfair to those that aren’t filled with elite athletic talent. The money would only go to a certain crowd of people, which would be unfair to those that are skilled at something else, but they wouldn’t be getting paid for it, such as musicians, artists, etc.

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Waiting for more of that SAINT LAURÉN Vibe: A Shamana SoundCloud Review

Mr. Keenan Reinsborough, CVC Music Critic

In the genre of lo-fi hip hop, you will struggle to find an artist more polarizing than Shamana. With lo-fi hip hop bubbling under the surface of mainstream for quite some time now, I would not be surprised if he was the first to cross over. Shamana’s sound is difficult to describe. At times it is moody and jazzy, at times it is distorted and booming. I really didn’t know what to expect going into his first full length album, considering his ongoing style changes and recent struggle with depression. What I wanted was a project that exemplified his sound in all facets, no matter how strange or left field, and I wanted some bangers.

For the most part, I got what I wanted.

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Opinion: Just Suck it Up and Go to Prom

Ms. Koko Vercessi, Dancer-in-Chief

So it’s that time of year again, the overly priced dresses, the last minute corsage order, the dinner date, and the awkward “who do I go with?” hangs in the air during prom season. You either see this historic event as an overly popularized and fantasized pointless tradition, or you are among those who are excited for a night of uncomfortable shoes, questionable music, and lavish clothes. If you would consider yourself a scrooge of the prom season, I would encourage you to finish this article and see if I can convince you otherwise of your argument that prom is a meaningless, overly hyped, expensive, antiquated tradition.

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Ducky and Andy going in style (80s style)

The Cambridge Dictionary defines prom as “a formal party held at the end of the school year for older students in high school.” That doesn’t sound so bad does it? Afterall, who doesn’t want to go to a party? Apparently more people than you would think, as over 63% of Americans think that prom is overrated. Before we start delving into why I think you should not miss out on this formal, guaranteed to be awkward, time old tradition, let’s get more closely acquainted with the history of prom shall we?

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Review: Beauty and the Beast, Surprisingly Not Bad

Ms. Halina Vercessi, Film Critic-in-Chief

There was a whirlwind of hype surrounding the new Beauty and the Beast movie months before its premiere. There was a flood of new Beauty and the Beast toys throughout the children’s section (one doll in particular even got attention on social media for possessing an uncanny resemblance to Justin Bieber). And, of course, the major Broadway and Disney fans made their own guesses and judgments as to how Emma Watson would suffice as the leading lady. I must say that I went into the theatre with very low expectations. I felt as though it would turn out like NBC’s live “Sound of Music”…altogether disappointing and underwhelming. Oh yes, I walked into that theatre as if I were Steven Spielberg or something; (*yawn) I’m expecting to be disappointed so let me just sit here and haughtily eat my Welch’s fruit snacks. I can definitely say that I was pleasantly surprised (I also finished off all of my Welch’s fruit snacks before the movie started, but that’s beside the point). The prologue had just barely began and I found myself in awe of the stunning visuals. The original prologue in the animated film illustrated a brief encounter between the arrogant prince and the enchantress in disguise. However, in this film, the prologue was expanded and perfectly set the scene of a flourishing, decadent and egotistical lifestyle for the spoiled prince. The costumes were artistic, gaudy and intricate, but fittingly reflected the era of the late 18th century.

Emma Watson as Belle made her appearance shortly after the prologue. My predisposed ideas were true; she sounded very British (you can imagine we all had some Hermione déjà vu there), which was a large difference from the original Belle, and her singing didn’t sound trained. Though these judgments remained true throughout the movie, I felt that they did not affect the quality of her performance. Emma Watson, as the actress, did not have to be like the original Belle for the performance to feel right. Though I am partial to the original, she took Belle and developed the character in her own way, while still maintaining the original traits and goals. In this film, the characters were given the opportunity to grow before our eyes. I must say it was absolutely impossible not to love the Beast as his character was also further developed and given more nuances and quirks. The interactions between Belle and the Beast were priceless; there were formalities, but then there were familiar and charming exchanges of humor. Their connection was also deepened with the added backstory of the fate of Belle’s mother and how the Beast had also lost his mother.   

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CVC Scallion: Left Twix Leader Assassinated by Extremist Right Twix Group

Mr. Keenan Reinsborough, CVC Staff Satirist

Shocking reports released this Monday show that president of the Left Twix Alliance, Seamus Twix, was shot while addressing the public. Political analysts are speculating the motives of the attack were caused by the repeated abuse of prisoners of war held captive by Left Twix.

twix0000

Image from the Alt-AP Wire

When asked to comment, the vice-president of the Left Twixt Alliance (LTA) had some healing words for the nation: “In times of turmoil, we must remember that we are all human. We are not animals, for we cascade caramel on a cookie and choose proudly to bathe it in chocolate”.  

Charlie Beckham, a spokesperson for a political group that self-identifies as  an “Alt-right Twix”, was quoted as saying, “Though it is a tragedy that he is now gone, people need to remember that Seamus was a tyrant who cascaded caramel on his cookies. A man who engages in such filthy activities is not fit to lead a nation.”  

Tension has risen recently between the two sides as the public continues to argue at weather to bathe or cloak its cookies in chocolate. Bipartisan Twix continue to go unheard.     

***

The CVC Scallion is a little Onion-esque section of The Chronicle.  Please be advised: THIS IS SATIRE, and therefore is not to be taken (too) seeriously.  –CVC eds.

An Epic Trek: The Walk Down from the Junior Lot Involves Minor Suffering, Major Complaining

Ms. Olivia Cottrell

HINESBURG– On any given morning of the school year, you can see the 50 or so juniors, and few random lucky sophomores, making the long trek down from the junior lot. The walk isn’t too torturous. Unless it’s cold, rainy, windy, snowy, icy — or pretty much any other type of weather that isn’t sunny and dry. While the commute itself is not that long, less than ⅛ of a mile, it’s the conditions that make it seemingly tortuous.

For at least three months of the year, and  more often than not, closer to five and a half months, the walk seems to take forever. People stumble along, wrapped in layers upon layers of winter clothing. The whole way down the wind stings any uncovered skin and freezes your joints, as there is nothing in to stop it but the chain link fences, . The walk back up is rarely any better, except for the rare occasion when the weak rays of winter sun poke through and turn the snow into a blinding spectacle of blinding white.

Junior Lot 1

A hapless student scales the direct route to the Junior parking lot. Homework laded pack mules not pictured. Image by Isaac Cleveland

Though the path is plowed when there is snow, it is still slick if you are not wearing real boots, which many students don’t wear for the sake of style. The path from the junior lot winds down from Pond Road to the entrance to the faculity parking lot. It is made of white gravel that is loose in places, and will kindly stab your foot if you happen to find a loose piece and have on a soft soled shoe. The path is the safest, most reliable way down from the junior lot. But it is not the fastest, nor the most commonly traveled way down.

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Opinion: New Vistas Development Falls Short of Utopia

Ms. Carly Alpert, CVC Environmental Correspondent

If we continue emitting the amounts of greenhouse gasses that we do today, it is projected that by 2060, we will die from lethal heat stress, according to the American Geophysical Union. We clearly need to make a change in our lifestyles, preferably a drastic one, if we want to be able to continue calling planet earth home. Former Mormon bishop David Hall believes the problem of global warming can be combatted with his invention of a completely sustainable design called The New Vistas. However this design appears very cult like and does not seem like the appropriate method to address the world’s environmental issues.

In blue, properties bought by NewVista. In red, the Joseph Smith Memorial. All data is approximate. CREDIT NICOLE ANTAL / DAILY UV

In blue, properties bought by NewVista. In red, the Joseph Smith Memorial. All data is approximate. CREDIT NICOLE ANTAL / DAILY UV, by way of VPR.net

David Hall plans to build The New Vistas in southern Vermont; more specifically in the intersection between the towns of Turnbridge, Royalton, Safford, and Sharon. It is a non-profit organization, committed to building an entirely self-sustainable community. According to the New Vistas website, the goal is to “provide housing and employment opportunity within an ecologically and economically sustainable infrastructure, and conserve real property for fully sustainable development.” People who want to join this community must sell off all their assets with the proceeds going to the Foundation. In exchange, that person can live in The New Vistas. Everyone who joins the community will be entirely equal. He plans on 20,000 residents in this first community, but he expects it to grow, and eventually be home to 1 million people in Vermont alone. His goal is to eventually create a continuous empire of 5,000 acres, made up of many communities.

People living here are limited to the opportunities granted within the small walls of their community. They are literally shut out from the real world; living in an alternate fantasy world. It sounds like a mix between Divergent and The Matrix. While this does seem like an enticing program because it supposedly will have little to no impact on the environment, it is very different from anything Vermont has seen before, which makes some people uncomfortable.

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Opinion: Trump Hit the Refresh Button on Democracy

Mr. Shane Beal, Guest Political Commentator

How Trump Rewrote the Political Script as the Founding Fathers Intended

First and foremost, when I say that Mr. Trump is healthy for the political system, I’m not making a defense of his character or any of his particular policies. The reason that he’s good for our electoral process is because he fragmented the strict two party system that has dominated American politics for decades. In this capacity, what he did could have been done by any outsider candidate, and the good he did has to be viewed in the appropriate context.

His victory is good in the sense that it prevented Hillary Clinton from winning. Had she won, both parties would have reinforced the notion that in order to win an election, their candidates would need to conform to traditional party values and platforms. Mr. Trump’s victory showed that a candidate who appeals to the concerns of the citizenry, regardless of where these issues fall on party lines, can win an election, and in doing so, encouraged both parties to diversify their views, reorienting their agendas from reinforcing party platforms regardless of current issues to paying attention to and addressing the individual and fluctuating concerns of the American citizenry. In this context, Mr. Trump’s election is a resounding success for our political system and, more importantly, for the American people. Mr. Trump’s victory now is a victory for every candidate who appeals directly to the citizens rather than to the party, and will allow the citizens of our country to better be represented by their candidates.

John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence" (1819) has hung in the White House Rotunda for nearly 200 years.

John Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence” (1819) has hung in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington DC for nearly 200 years.

The oppressive two party system that existed prior to Mr. Trump’s election was an evil that the founding fathers predicted and understandably abhorred. As John Adams said, “there is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

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Gorman is fired up on sno’chines

Mr. Kyle Gorman

A small community connected far outweighs a large community divided. Small areas in southern Vermont have become a primary example of that point. In these more rural towns there are far fewer restaurants and stores and way more woods. The people in these less modernized communities have used snowmobiling as a unique way to get out and socialize, indirectly creating a small, harmonious society.

In the cold of the stagnant Vermont winters, Springfield, Vermont is arguably the most happening spot in the northeast. The peace and quiet of the woods turns into a racetrack filled with the brap sounds of powerful snowmachine engines. These unique snow vehicles have become a staple of these small communities and have created a more harmonious stomping ground in an area that may be lacking in similar rallying points.    

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I was lucky enough to gain access to the inner circles of the tight-knit snowmobiling pack down in Springfield.  Upon first entry I met over fifty people who were regulars to the group. Each of them seemed ecstatic just to be sitting on the snowmachines. I asked Mr. John Prescott about his experience with the group and how it has affected his life. Mr. Prescott told me that there was well over 200 “riders” that would join in on the weekly excursions. Prescott then went on to talk about how he and his wife rely on the outings as their social circles. Mr. Prescott said, “It is a fantastic way for someone of my age, really of any age, to get out into their community and meet people, while also having the time of their life”.  He mentioned that he was very thankful for the group of people he rides with and that he was astonished by what good, life-time friends he had made just by ripping around the woods with them. Mr. Prescott relayed all of this information to me with an enormous smile on his rosy face, a similar expression that I observed on all of his friends winter-whipped faces.

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Opinion: “snowblades are the greatest ski medium known to man”

Mr. Douglas Schmidt

Two words: Snow. Blades. What are they, you ask? Well, quite simply put, they’re the greatest skiing medium know to mankind. Snowblades, also known as Skiboards or Snolarblades, are by definition “a winter sport which combines elements of skating, snowboarding, and skiing.” Now this definition is correct, but there’s much more to blades than just that.

Snow blades are not just skis. They’re twigs, strapped somewhat flimsily to your ski boots, with one simple purpose; to put ordinary skiers to shame. Snow blades average around 75-99cm in length: just about two feet. It’s like skiing on the soles of your boots, just at very high speeds going down a mountain.

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(Not) Doug Schmidt getting rad on ‘blades.

You have an extreme amount of control on these little twigs of fury compared to your average 170 cm ski.  The reactiveness of your blades to your movement is almost instantaneous, whereas, for full-length skis, it takes a lot more power and strength just to make a turn.  Snowblades are also perfect for the woods. Because of their size, blades make it easy to navigate around tight trees and to stop on a dime if you run into trouble.

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Dawn of the zombies: sleep-deprived teens need to get off the screens

Mr. Nathaniel Mick

The recommended number of hours a teenager should sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is seven to nine; in reality, only fifteen percent of teens are getting that amount. Between blue light from screens, distractions from devices, homework, procrastination, and early school starts — teenagers have a lot to deal with. It’s no surprise that so little get sleep, but that’s no excuse for more than eighty percent of teenagers to lack sleep so often.

There’s a certain beauty to the irony that I am falling asleep at my keyboard as I write this.

The problem with sleep is that it is easy to go without it for a night, but that could mean up to a week of recovery. Many teenagers, and adults, haven’t felt what being truly rested feels like in a long time. With so much going on in life, it’s easy to put off sleeping for later. After all, sleeping takes up valuable working time, and seems so trivial. However, recovering a night of sleeplessness isn’t as simple as it seems. Sure, missing a few hours the night before a big test can be reversed with a few more hours of sleep the days after. Unfortunately, when you miss a few hours for a week or two, things start to get complicated.

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Opinion: skeptical politicos, it’s time to get real on climate change

Mr. Alex Merrill

Every year it seems that winter is getting a little shorter.  Climate change is a reality that we must understand. Snowfall is becoming noticeably unpredictable. What used to be a thick white blanket that coated the landscape has turned into a variable carpet frequently interspersed with rain and long thaws. While many of us hate prolonged periods of -10°, few of us complain about lots of snow. Shorter winters are the most notable effect of climate change, and others persist.  The drought that we experienced over the summer can also been attributed to climate change.

On a larger scale 100 year storms are occurring more frequently. Is the old 100 year storm now a twenty year storm?  What will the new 100 year storms look like?  Will we see more flooding? More droughts, and more heat waves?  From a statistical lens it appears so. Fifteen of the sixteen hottest years on record (through 2015) have occurred since 2000 according to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).  This does not include 2016 which may well be the hottest year on record according to weather.com. Saying that this is a coincidence is statistically impossible.

Image courtesy of Skeptical Science

Image courtesy of Skeptical Science

In the last several years, landmark deals on climate change have been reached, culminating in the Paris accords which stipulated that all countries seek to limit global warming.  This summer, a deal was reached to limit the emissions of fluorinated hydrocarbons, HFCs that are 100 more times powerful than other more common greenhouse gasses such as CO2. These international deals represent significant hope for the planet.

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Opinion: All men (and women) are (not) created equal(ly)

Mr. Bryan Claussen

The belief that all men are created equal is a concept that our country was founded under, for the text is engraved in the Declaration of Independence. As the document says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights…” Jefferson claims that is is “self-evident” that all men are created equal, but is that really true?

All men might be more or less equal in the eyes of the law, but in the real world, from the moment people are born, nobody is equal. From the genetics side of it, people are naturally born different. Some people are born sick or disabled. Some people are fast, others are slow. Some people are tall, others are short. The diversity in humankind cannot be overlooked, is what makes our species so strong and interesting. Every human is born physically and intellectually different than everybody else, which means that nobody is equal.

Image courtesy of ViewsoftheWorld.net

Image courtesy of ViewsoftheWorld.net

On the other hand, we are not equal because of the situation we are born into. The social class, physical location, and race that someone is born with can greatly affect opportunities that that person receives. The Economic Policy Institute analyzed statistics on young children’s reading and math abilities coming into Kindergarten, and found that “Children in the highest socioeconomic group have reading and math scores that are significantly higher—by a full standard deviation—than scores of their peers in the lowest socioeconomic group.” This means that children in lower social classes have a disadvantage in school from the very first day.

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