Make Way For The New Antonyms: Internet and Thinking

CNN's Kihan Chentry makes a visual compilation of "New Media"

Times bring change. It’s one of the most accepted axioms among the human species. As we develop and learn about
the world, we become more capable of creating social change. Without a doubt, since the beginning of civilization we have certainly made progress and change that we have far surpassed the deeds and acts of any other intelligent species. Without a doubt, one of the biggest changes that this century has seen is the Internet.
The internet has indubitably revolutionized mankind as we know it. From having full time access to a copious amount of knowledge to changing the way we go about our daily routines, the social standard of living has changed drastically since the inception of the world wide web. In an age where YouTube, Google, and Facebook seem to hold the world under their thumb, it’s hard to ignore the fact that internet has not only changed our lives but the way we perceive and think about the world.
Long before the modern studies that neuroscientists and psyschologists are doing today,  philosopher, Martin Heidegger predicted the adverse effects that technological advancements such as the Internet would have on human society–especially that society’s perception of the world. In a paper written by myself, I explore those notions of Internet changing the way we think. Essentially, the gist of the argument reveals that we begin to live in a sort of nihilistic way; the way think about things are strictly utilitarian and detached.  Admittedly, the e-generation not only seems to ignore intimacy…they also seem to be, at times, petrified of it.
This theory is supported by Newsweek writer Sharon Begley. In her article “Does the Web change how we think?” Begley offers some support by holistically analyzing over 100 separate studies from philosophers, neuorobiologists, and psychologists regarding the topic at hand. One such expert that she cites is Howard Rheingold who feels that the internet creates “shallowness, credulity, and distraction.” Despite how pessimistic sound, holding someone’s attention nowadays seems to be more difficult than it used to be and face-to-face conversations are becoming increasingly awkward. When one spends three-quarters of their adult lifehood living behind a computer screens to communicate and get their information, it’s safe to say that they start to develop a bit of a dependent relationship upon tha way of living.
Other’s such as Nicholas Carr feel even stronger about the adverse effects of the internet. In his infamous article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?’–first published in The Atlantic–Carr gives a sort of first person account of the adverse effects that the internet (Google) is having on his brain a la gonzo journalism. He makes a point to establish that not only does media supply the thought that we have infinite access to but also shapes the process by which we memorize and comprehend that information. In laymen terms, if we can rely on Google to give us the answer to evry question we have at any time possible then we have no burden to actually learn the information that we have been given.
Interestingly some people of our generation like University at Albany students, Jake Silver and Tess McRae, feel that this is not the case. Jake Silver, for one, believes that individuals of the older generation has made it their duty to make the internet look like a bad thing. Back in their days they didn’t have the internet to learn with and this is our day. Simply put “times have changed, get over it.” On the other hands, students like Mike Campana strattles the fence saying that surely “we have started to think differently but why must this necessarily be a bad thing.”
Although evidence is surely piled up in support for both sides of the debate, it is impractical to deem the internet either evil or good. With all the adverse effects listed in this essay, the Internet has still provided the world with an assortment of benefits that we have never had before. Communication has become much more common and much easier. One can use the internet on their smart phone to find suitable solutions for tough dilemmas they might be in while overseas. If one is to truly answer the question of whether or not the internet is changing the way we think then one must say yes. However,  this is not all due to the process by which we think but more so due to the idea that we all have access to the things that only a select minority could think about before the internet age.
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How to Be Cost-Efficient & Travel Europe [At the Same Time]

Come on say it with me: I’m broke. In a time where the word recession is being thrown around like the word ‘if,’ government officials are getting unnecessary salary increases, and the fifth stimulus check plan is in effect, it’s safe to assume that there are a multitude of people uttering this trendy phrase. Isn’t it a dying shame when that phrase becomes trendy in the twenty-first century? Our current reality is that life is not as comfortable as it used to be. All of the luxurious pastimes that we used to indulge ourselves in are things of the past. We miss the extra money we used to have to buy those Venti Extra Caramel Frappucinos and pay for tuition at the same time—and with our second, third, and eighteenth jobs to make up for it, we feel like we just don’t have time to simply do things that make us happy. What if I told you that you could get some happy time and be broke at the same time? Trust me; I’ve got too much financial worries on my mind to even muster up snarky, sarcastic questions. My intentions are far from pulling your legs for my own personal enjoyment. However, that wouldn’t be such a bad idea considering how economic of a pleasure device that would be, but I digress.  Believe it or not, you can travel the cultural hot-spots of continental Europe for a relatively cheap price—one that refrains from damaging your fragile pockets and here’s how.

Goal: Navigating & Enjoying Europe

Budget: $1000 USD (Pocket Money Not Included)

Length of Stay: 1 month [Hypothetical Dates: November 24, 2010-December 26, 2010]

Getting There

The first step of course is getting to Europe. A key observation that many travelers have made that is significantly cheaper to get to England than it is to get to any place on the actual continent of Europe. Too many individuals this is rather disrespectful. However, what many fail to observe is how easy and cheap it is to get to the continent from London. The essential move to getting to Europe is getting across that huge gap we refer to as the Atlantic Ocean. The best option for achieving this feat is London! After all, what could be the pain of visiting one of the biggest multicultural fashion capitals of the world? A standard round-trip ticket to England usually costs anywhere from 800 dollars to 1200 dollars. However, the key to getting cheap tickets is exploring deals and filter websites. This is the part where you should take out a notepad and a [preferably black-inked] pen.

Bing Price Predictor:
A universal way to find these cheap deals is via Bing’s Price Predictor. Although this feature—and search engine altogether—is relatively new, it’s very reliable and trustworthy. As most frequent travelers know, the trick to getting cheap tickets is knowing when to buy them. The closer one gets to the desired date of travel, the more expensive. However, in this recession, ticket prices tend to follow a less predictable fluctuation pattern—one much too hard for the average traveler to figure out on their own. Well, let me say thank God for technology. This is where the predictor comes in. Currently, a round-trip ticket from Newark International Airport, located just 30 minutes outside of New York, to London’s Gatwick airport is as low as $671.32. It’s important to note that a round-trip ticket from New York to London usually ranges from $900 to $1000. With the price predictor, an individual is able to spend a month abroad and do so during the holiday season.

Using it is rather simple as well. Unlike other search websites (priceline anyone?), the price predictor is relatively easy to use. All one has to do is simply fill in the departing city and the destination. For example, if one wanted to travel from New York to London, one would simply type New York in the departure bar and select “New York (All Airports)” drop-down selection. Do the same thing for the destination bar; simply type in London and select the “London, United Kingdom (All Airports)” suggestion. After completing that light task, simply choose the dates that you wish to travel. The wonderful thing about this predictor is that it gives immediate responses even before you press search. Sometimes, individuals have searched for the same trips and dates prior to your search. Consequently, the price predictor has a sidebar that gives immediate results on the cheapest deal available for your trip. This deal is often provided under the “Flight Summary” section. Even better, most times the sidebar offers one or two cheaper deals below the primarily suggested deal. The cheaper deals are often offered as alternatives because they deviate from the original trip that you planned. These options are conveniently located beneath the “Consider These Options” deal.

Student Universe:
Another website basically made for people attempting to achieve this hard feat is Student Universe. Although this website has multiple limitations, it is still very helpful in helping a large percentage of the individuals attempting to have the Europe experience. Most of the individuals who travel to Europe on a spur are young college students. Just like the price predictor, this search engine has the power to offer alternatives to your planned trip. All one has to do is punch in their trip and dates, and choose the +/- 3 days option next to their departure and return dates. Of course, as the name indicates, this website is only available for students. And yes, the website does enforce this. In order to buy a ticket through this website, one must provide online proof that they are a student. A great way to do this is by providing a screen shot of your online class schedule or transcript. Luckily, the website provides easy-to-follow instructions on how to do this. For the most part, prices are significantly cheaper than usual and fall around the same prices that the Price Predictor usually offers.

Where Ever Will I Stay?
One of the many novelties that one discovers when traveling Europe is the existence of hostels. Although these wonderful establishments exist in America, Americans are often—and unfortunately—ignorant of them. All across Europe in places like London, hostels are available to house backpacking travelers. A good way to get started on housing ahead of time is using hostel search engines.

Hostel World:
Nothing sooths the financial soul like a website that reduces your overall traveling costs by about 60% the usual price. Hostel World does its customers the favor of searching for hostels in a convenient area for sightseeing and accessibility. For example, staying with our planned trip from before, one could spend four-five days in London in the Clink 162hostel for as low as 95 US dollars. Fortunately, you can book this deals online as well; that way you can avoid conversion rates with your bank. Simply fill in the date that you will be checking and the amount of nights you plan on staying. Hostel World will give you results that tell you the hostel’s availability and type of rooms they are offering. It’s important to note that hostels are usually made for students travelling Europe. However, they are available to anyone. Consequently, individuals who stay in these hostels usually choose to stay in the 8 person or 18 person shared dorm rooms. As an individual who personally stayed in some on my trip to Europe, I can tell you that they are not as bad as they sound. In fact, they give you free access to the internet, towels, soap, sheets, and help you navigate the city some times.

Friends and Family Members:
Do you know friends or family members that live or study overseas? Well, this is a good time to reconnect. Crashing at a friend, family member, or lover’s—if you’re into that sort of thing—pad could help save a whole bunch of money. While traveling Europe, young study abroad students, Sheila Sister, Christina Lewis, and Lejandro De Ramos were able to save an enormous amount of money by reconnecting with their family members. All three traveling group had at least one connection in each of the respective cities that they were visiting. De Ramos had family in Vienna, Austria while Sister had  great friends and family who lived in Amsterdam and Rome. Usually, the money they would have spent on hostels would have added up to 300 dollars for a prolonged stay in all three cities. The traveling party saved themselves some money and had personal tour guides that they were not obligated to pay.

Travelling Europe:
The next big step is getting to the continent of Europe and more importantly, being able to get around easily. Two things that people usually fail to consider when travelling Europe is the coach bus—or what the French people refer to as le carEurolines is an awesome bus service that allows travelers to travel from city to city for cheap prices. As you can imagine, the bus ride can be long from London to Paris. However, it is a great way to catch up on sleep and save yourself another 30 US Dollars or so—the bus will be your comfortable sleeping place for the night.

Prices are relatively cheap for a trip from London to Paris around this time. If you book in advance, it’s even cheaper. For example, the aforementioned trip only cost $40. If you think about it, you just achieved getting to Europe for roughly $710. This is much more cost-efficient than buying a round trip ticket to Paris which can range from $800-$1300. After you get to continental Europe, the rest of your trip becomes much easier. It’s easier to buy a Eurolines pass in advance from the website. The pass allows you 15-30 days to travel up to 43 European countries. Of course, there are limitations to the pass but none that will limit your travel plans. For individuals under the age of the 26, a fifteen day pass costs only $250.  One’s best bet would be to pick four of the hottest spots to travel to and spend a few days in each. In an article posted on the mademan blog, Angela Thompson cited the top four cities visited behind London and Paris were Rome, Barcelona, Madrid and Amsterdam. The travel time between each city ranges from 1-2 days. Other popular cities that are less distant from Paris are Prague and Vienna. Visiting these cities would cut down on the overall travel time and ensure that you spent more quality time in each of the cities that you chose.

Things to Keep In Mind:

  1. The Tube (pronounced chube) is the Underground subway system that reaches all ends of tourist London. Tickets for the Tube are only 8 USD for the entire day. Once you have made it to one tourist spot, you’ve pretty much made it to them all. If none of the cities in America motivated you to get your exercise in, then London certainly will.
  2. In France, Barcelona, and Madrid any intelligent and crafty person can get on the metro for free. I would never promote illegal actions when abroad. However, one can ask one of the clerks in the train station to get on to the train without paying. As opposed to the stereotypes associated with Parisians, they can actually be nice every once in a while. If you can save your money while navigating those cities, then you should. Furthermore, Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris are just like London—once you get to one tourist landmark, you are basically in walking distance of them all.
  3. London is the place to stack up on good preserved food for the road. With such stores as “Poundland” and “ASDA,” the homeless can nourish themselves for the week with just ten pounds. This converts to roughly fifteen US dollars in the States.
  4. London is the place to convert money into pounds and into euros. You can convert all money for free at any post office in London. All you have to do is call at least an hour in advance and they’ll waive the fee.

Saving Chart

Cost-Efficient Planning Standard Planning
Air Fare $670 $795
Housing Accomodations $200-$300 $1200-$1800
Intra and Inter Travel Between Cities $290 (Including London to Paris & Continental Travel) $245
Total $1260.00 $2840.00

You Save: Approximately $1580

In this time of need, we are forced to learn how to be economic. Fortunately, there has always been more cost-efficient ways of living comfortably. The problem is that most of us have never been exposed to these methods. However, the desire to go on a trip like this helps one discover exactly how to make sacrifices and still achieve their wants at the same time. One does need to have a career job as a full-time lawyer to achieve this trip. In fact, the manager working at Cold Stone Creamery, who makes a $9.00/hr salary, can afford to do so as well. Taking into account a biweekly salary and bills, one could pay for all the things mentioned above after six-seven checks. In total the trip mentioned above costs $960 with friendly accommodations and gives you more wiggle room for pocket money. In the worst case scenario, the total price for all hostels would be $200-$300. In any case, the total would be $1260 which would save you $1580 from the typical costs of a round-trip ticket, trains between each city, and standard hotel accommodations. Maybe now, you can get two of those venti caramel frappucinos.

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New York State Four Loko Ban—Solving a Problem or Opening Up Pandora’s Box?

“Blackout in a can” is the cleverly crafted nickname for the alcohol concoction that has caused chaos and the equally chaotic discussion that followed thereafter. Since early May 2010, Four Lokos have become one of the media’s most-watched products on the market. Encased in a 23.5 colorful ounce can, Four Loko is a mix of caffeine and twelve percent alcohol. More importantly, it’s one of the very few drinks of its kinds to offer different flavors. For purposes that can only be ascribed to decadence, the drink is available in watermelon, blue raspberry, lemonade, grape, fruit punch, orange blend, lemon and the interestingly titled Four Maxed. For the first three months of its run, Four Loko garnered a lot of attention from its ultimate target group: college students. Being priced at an average of only three dollars, many college students could achieve a buzz for a relatively cheap price. Essentially, Four Lokos changed lives for college students and retailers. Everyone was happy and flowers seemed to bloom in the middle of winter. However, utopia is too intangible for Four Lokos to achieve that feat in a simple six months. Utopia was so intangible that the New York State recently banned retailers from selling the game-changing alcoholic beverage.

According to the New York Daily News, on November 14th, the New York State Liquor Authority pressured the state’s biggest beer distributors to stop delivering Four Loko and other caffeinated alcoholic cocktails to retailers by Dec.10. Even more unfortunate for fans of the revolutionary can of booze, the makers–Drink Four Brewing Company–agreed to stop shipping the product by November 19th. This decree immediately followed reports of several deaths and hospitalizations to which the media gave Four Lokos the full credit. Among these deaths was fourteen year old, Valeria Rodriguez. According to Russell Goldman of ABC News, the Texan teen was killed after she was thrown from the front seat of an SUV being driven by her intoxicated boyfriend–an intoxication induced by Four Lokos. Despite these incidents, many college students, retailers and advocates of the right to free-will have questioned the State Liquor Authority’s ban. Does the safety of a drink give government the legitimacy to ban it?

For the most part, a common factor that remains consistent among anti-Four Loko enthusiasts is the age range. Those who are against Four Lokos have mostly been parents and individuals that range from 30 years of age and up. According to a report by Time Magazine, when Jason Keiran, 20 year old Floridian, killed himself in early November, his family blamed it on the Four Lokos. They claimed that their son drank three cans of Four Loko which resulted in an instantaneous manic depression. Many feel that this is due to the extremely dangerous combination of caffeine and alcohol. According to Wikipedia, this combination is particularly dangerous for college students. Perceived as party kids, college students buy Four Lokos as a cheap way to get drunk and stay up all night. While that sounds appealing, one of the biggest problems with Four Lokos is that its effects are slow. To break it down, alcohol is a depressant while caffeine is a stimulant. For the average college student, this means that although they are drinking such a large amount of alcohol they will not feel the effects that they are so accustomed to. This unfortunately, encourages binge drinking. The bigger question, though, is whether this a probable reason for relieving people of the right to buy the drink legally as they wish?

Myriam Lecorps, a 21 year old biology and psychology student at the University of Albany felt that the government should not have the ability to intervene in situations such as these. “People should be able to choose what they drink. If it’s death in a can, then that’s their business. Why should we care about it?” According to the reserved powers clause in the tenth amendment of the United States Constitution, the state does have a right to control the sphere regarding such things as alcohol. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to States are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” When one puts it that way, it would seem that the State should care because according to the constitution, it’s their job. However, the real question is whether the government should even be prioritizing caffeinated alcohol drinks as their number one enemy? Despite the prevalence of dismay among the older generation, many still believe that the State might be overstepping their boundaries and being Big Brother. Unfortunately, there are more college student who believe that the government is only trying to become an Orwellian Big Brother a la 1984. Twenty year old college student, Paris Day Fabi feels that “the government really has no control over the economy anymore, so they feel as though they need to throw weight and authority around where they can. It’s not about trying to save lives of young people. It’s about demonstrating who has the say so.”

It’s hard for people not to be reminded of the Prohibition era, when the government banned all alcohol from its citizens. One of the biggest questions that students are asking is why pick this particular drink over a series of alcoholic drinks that has caused the same damage. As 22 year old New York student, Kevin Barbosa, outlined you can’t live by the idea that you should “pick your poison, except for that one…” This point revisits the idea that Americans have always held other people accountable for the independent choices that individuals have made. Some feel that instead of putting blame on students who engage in under-aged binge drinking, parents and government have put all their energy in to ensuring that alcohol becomes more and more unavailable to even those who have a right to consume these drinks. As twenty-year old Rockland County resident, Samantha St. Jean, outlined, the government “shouldn’t have completely banned it from people who are twenty-one and have the right to drink it.” This seems to be the popular sentiment amongst students who are of age. Many admit that the drink is dangerous, especially in the hands of underage students but feel that this is not to blame on the product itself.

Barbosa passionately expressed that this problem has gotten way out of hand. “I still don’t understand how the ban remedies any issue, especially underage drinking. That is an issue of bad parenting if you ask me.” Despite this notion, many parents side with the American government when it comes to the fact that the American public has an issue with alcohol abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23,199 of United States citizens have died as a result of alcohol. Surprisingly, this number does not include alcohol-related deaths that have resulted from motor-vehicle incidents. Additionally, reports that the United States of America is the number one offender when it comes to alcohol abuse. Ahead of countries like Brazil and the United Kingdom, an estimated 15.1 million people in the United States are either alcohol abusers or alcohol-dependent. But is this due to the availability of alcohol or citizens’ ignorance to safe-drinking techniques? When given a chance to express her thoughts on the danger of Four Lokos, 21 year old student and Dover Plains resident, Adria Mohammed, said “people just don’t know their limits. One person of average weight should only consume one Four Loko per every 4-5 hours. You have to give it time to wear off.” Studies done on Four Lokos have also proven this. One must give time for the stimulating effects of the caffeine to wear off before they can feel the effects of the alcohol. As Joshua Heller of the Awl outlines, one should “use the drink responsibly. The reports of hospitalization among college students are related to their overconsumption. Just because the drink is called Four Loko does not mean you should drink four of them.”

As 19 year old Brooklyn resident, Olena Wills points out: the alcohol abuse Joshua Heller speaks of seems to be huge problem for Americans only. She says that “if you look at students in other countries, they are allowed to drink at a younger age and free to make choices. They don’t react the way Americans do. Americans are so restricted that when they are given the slightest freedom they tend to put themselves in great danger. This has been seen with the Four Lokos.” One of the biggest questions raised in response to this crisis is whether or not this ban will lead to more alcohol-related incidents. As Wills outlines, Americans seem to work harder to break restrictions then they are to adhere to them. If anything is to be learned from the protest that followed the ban, it’s that Americans consider freedom to be one of their most important rights. Although 19 year old Manhattan resident, Ashley Hilaire, is in favor of the ban against Four Lokos, she believes that “you can take something away from somebody but they are still going to find it. Just because someone banned the Four Lokos does not mean that students will not find alternative means of obtaining something else.” This is truer than Hilaire knows. In an open forum conversation on Facebook, 19 year old North Carolina resident, Lejandro De Ramos states that students are now finding ways to brew up their own Four Loko-like concoctions. On a viral video blog called BuzzFeed, two students give a detailed lesson on how to create Four Lokos out of five watermelon Jolly Ranchers, one caffeine pill, one can of Monster Energy Drink, Sprite, and a 40 oz. bottle of St. Ides. One need not think too hard to realize the potential danger this poses for future students.

This creates two problems: an easier access to this dangerous concoction and the potential for more deaths in the future. As a Brooklyn teacher outlines on HubPages, Home Brewing can lead to some big problems. Although he explains that home brewing is very popular, he does take into account the danger of inexperience. B.P. Angie, as he refers to himself, says that “it is truly important to know what one is doing, and think it through before creating a recipe.” Even as an experienced home brewer himself, he has created an alcoholic beverage with dangerous amounts of alcohol in it. Furthermore, he mentions that when one brews any sort of alcoholic beverage at home, he/she is more likely to increase his/her consumption based solely upon the immeasurable availability.

At best, it would seem that the government may have closed one door but opened the door to various other problems. Alcohol has always been a problem in the United States, but as Wills states: “they need to offer precautionary instructions with these types of drinks, not ban the drink entirely” Students like St. Jean worry that if the government continues to displace blame that “they will continue to make policies that will put them on a slippery slope. If they keep making policies like this, we might as well be a dictatorship.” Despite the concerns of parents and government, both parties need to understand that students are a part of the general civic population and they play a major role in this controversial issue. Indeed the alcohol abuse problem must be resolve, but as students like Barbosa and Nina Pham have voiced, “I happen to know my limit, which is half of one Four Loko. I’ve been able to keep my grades up; I still have a job and you won’t find me at the store everyday at like 8 a.m., with a handful of change, smelling of urine, and savaging every last sip like a wino with a King Cobra.” It seems silly that “they couldn’t legalize weed, but they could legalize the ban of one particular product.” Surely, the New York State government banned Four Lokos as a safety precaution, but it seems that the majority of students—both living in and out of New York—are more concerned with the precautions that the government are not taking—mainly, the precautions it should be taking to protect their freedoms.

To listen to special audio interviews with Ashley Hilaire and Olena Wills:
1. Click on the links below
2. Choose the open option on the dialogue box
3. Click on the slide show tab of the Power Point Presentation
4. Click on the “From Beginning” Option and the interview will begin to play

Interview with Ashley Hilaire
Interview with Olena Wills

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