Artwork at RICE Day

For RICE Day, I needed to attend at least 2 presentations that were not part of the STEM poster session. I chose to go see the art gallery because it is not something I would normally go do. I am not a huge fan of art, and going to go actually see and try to enjoy an art gallery was a pretty new thing to me and I was not very excited about it. Everything that the seniors had to show was amazing though. There was one artist whose work that really caught my eye too, that artist was Nicole Lettau. All of her pieces had something to do with HIV and AIDS. I asked her why that was, and I really enjoyed her answer. She said that she based them on HIV and AIDS because it is something that no one really talks about. It is a very taboo subject wherever you go so she wanted to learn more about it and wanted to bring it more to people’s attention. One of her set that I really liked was a painting of hands with a bunch of pills in them. She said it was supposed to represent all of the medications with HIV and AIDS have to take, and all of the money that they spend on it. I found this to represent a lot of diversity because it is not something that anyone ever thinks about. It was specifically meant to bring attention to something that people tend to ignore most of the time. I thoroughly enjoyed the gallery and I left there thinking that there may have been some pieces that I would have possibly bought if I was older and had actual spending money. I also wish I would have been able to go see more things during RICE Day because this alone was really cool.

Diversity at Wartburg

When you think of Wartburg, would you say it’s a diverse college? Personally, I think diversity is one of the things that Wartburg strives for. As a college that’s located in the small town of Waverly, Iowa, it can be difficult to develop and attract a diverse student community. The college experience, in general, should be one that’s filled with diverse experiences that make a better, more well-rounded student. Wartburg’s 2016 to 2017 enrollment was 1,482 students. Of those 1,482 students, 48% are men and 52% are women. Those 1,482 students come from 28 states in the United States and 58 countries including the United States. Of Wartburg’s 1,482 students, 193 are students of color from the United States, and 131 are international students.  These 324 students make up the diverse student population at Wartburg. In total, the student body belongs to more than 25 Christian denominations and eight world religions. There are approximately 450 students involved in music on campus, making up 30% of the student body. There about 600 students who are involved in athletics. As you can see, Wartburg is a diverse community that helps its students become more well-rounded people and ready for the real world.

Independents Hold Majority in U.S. Party Affiliation

In the United States, we are seeing a change when it comes to party affiliation. In an article written by the Pew Research Center titled “A Deep Dive into Party Affiliation,” it shows that from 1985 to 2009 party affiliation stayed relatively the equal with democrats, republicans, and independents. However, since 2009, we have seen a shift in party affiliation where more and more people are identifying as independent.  According to the article, “39% call themselves independents, 32% identify as Democrats and 23% Republicans, as of 2014.”

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Then in another article written by Jeffrey M. Jones of Gallup titled “Independent Political ID in US Lowest in Six Years,” we can see that this trend continued into 2015, where independents were at their highest at 42%. This continued into 2016, where 39% identified as Independent, 31% as Democrat, and 28% as Republican.

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Moderation and diversity in politics is an important factor in creating bipartisan compromise. This departure from partisan politics is a good step forward in diverse thinking and will hopefully lead to a more moderate legislature instead of the polarized one we see today.

Enforcing a New Red Line?

The world was shocked when they saw the horrifying images of children and adults writhing on the floor, gasping for breath as they foamed at the mouth. On April 4, 2017, the Red Line was crossed again by the ruthless Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, and his murderous regime. Assad launched yet another chemical weapons attack on his own people in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria. This time it was in the form of Sarin gas. Sarin gas is a highly deadly chemical nerve agent that’s banned under international law. The attack killed 89 people and injured dozens more. In retaliation for the attack on civilians, President Donald Trump took much-needed action in America’s first direct military strike against the Assad regime. On his orders, US warships launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the airbase where the aircraft that preformed the chemical attack were being stored. The strike targeted aircraft, aircraft shelters, petroleum, logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, and air defense systems. The strike was successful with 58 of the 59 missiles severely degrading or destroying their intended target. This was a necessary response that should’ve been taken by the Obama administration back in 2013 when Assad used chemical weapons near Damascus killing 1,400 civilians. The United States must continue to enforce the Red Line when it comes to the barbaric use of chemical weapons. It must also work towards a way to unseat Assad and restore order to Syria.

Diversity at RICE Day

April 11, 2017, was Wartburg’s sixth annual RICE Day celebration. RICE stands for Research, Internship, and Creative Endeavor Day.  It recognizes student achievement in and out of the classroom, and showcases Wartburg’s academic and co-curricular diversity across the disciplines. This day allows all students to see the diverse possibilities and opportunities at Wartburg College. I saw a lot of different academic presentations at RICE Day, but what fascinated me the most was the amount of diverse subjects being researched in the social sciences. I will highlight two of them in this post.

The first poster I’m going to talk about was titled “House Ventilation in Kenya” and was created by Emma Fuhs and Clay Henning. This group designed a stove that will reduce exposure to emissions and improve the overall health of the user and produce economic opportunities for Kenyan entrepreneurs. They believe that if this design was implemented, it would help save 4.3 million people’s lives annually from lung cancer because it would give proper ventilation. The design they came up with will reduce exposure to CO2 emissions by 90%. They estimate the cost to be around $50 and last for 15 years and could really help communities in Kenya.

The second poster I visited was titled “Capsaicinoid Concentration in the Carolina Reaper” and was created by Lily Zheng and Tessa Helmle. This group looked into the development of capsaicinoid in the Carolina Reaper, which is currently the hottest pepper in the world. The group researched the development of capsaicinoid, the chemical which makes peppers hot. They wanted to know the point in the pepper’s development when the pepper is at its hottest. They found that capsaicinoid develops in the pepper during weeks 1-4, and at week 4 it is at its highest. After 5 weeks, capsaicinoid starts to taper off.

As you can see, RICE Day showcases Wartburg’s academic and co-curricular diversity across the disciplines. Wartburg College is an amazing place where you can truly follow whatever passion you have.

The Eleventh Doctor

Before I had watched an episode with the eleventh doctor, I had already decided that I was not going to like him because I was just starting to get used to the tenth doctor. It took me quite a while to get used to David Tennant as the Doctor, so I assumed it would also take me a while to like Matt Smith as the Doctor. However, I really enjoyed the Matt Smith as the Doctor from the first episode I watched with him in it. I found the bit with him trying to find food that he liked to be very funny and I liked the way he interacted with Amelia. From all the mixed opinions I had heard about Smith, I was happily surprised with his performance.

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The main reason I think I like Smith from the very beginning was because I enjoyed the plot of the episode and how episodes after that continued to connect with the first episode of the season. The episode was interesting and kept me invested through the entirety of it. I liked the new characters, and I liked the new Doctor’s quirkiness.

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I think a large reason why I did not like Tennant right away, like I did Smith, was because I did not at all like the first episode that Tennant was in. I found the plot to be somewhat silly and boring and I did not like how different his personality seemed to be from Eccleston’s, because I really enjoyed him as the Doctor.

If I had to choose, I would say that Smith is my favorite Doctor so far and a lot of this has to do with his supporting cast. Amy is a good companion and I really like that Rory comes along to travel with her and the Doctor. Rory is a great character and, in my opinion, is the perfect combination of silly, oblivious, and somewhat intelligent.

The Trouble with Mystical Pregnancy

If you’re a fan of science fiction, fantasy, or horror television, you are probably aware of the cliché trope of mystical pregnancy. Since many shows in these genres feature a lot of female characters and aim to scare viewers by making them uncomfortable, it seems obvious to writers have a mystical pregnancy of some sort. While mystical pregnancies are effective in scaring viewers because of how it violates the female character, it is a trope that needs to ends because it negatively exploits a woman’s reproductive abilities. I’m going to give some examples of (fairly) recent times mystical pregnancies were used in television and explain the issues surround each one.

Amy Pond – Doctor Who

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In the S6E7 episode A Good Man Goes to War, it is revealed to viewers that Amy has actually been pregnant the whole season and was kidnapped and held prisoner during her entire pregnancy.

My main issue with this scenario is that Amy’s trauma from this incident is never fully addressed. First of all, Amy is only 21 which is a pretty young age to get pregnant. She has also never shown any interest in having a child. This makes her consent to getting pregnant very questionable. Secondly, Amy finds out that she is pregnant, has actually been kidnapped and held prisoner for months, and starts going into labor within just minutes of each other. This would be a highly traumatic experience for anyone, but rather than addressing it, Amy and Rory are back on the TARDIS and traveling with the Doctor two episodes later. Also, considering River Song had been introduced to the show before Amy, it makes is almost seem like Amy was only written to have a baby and give River a background story.

Cordelia Chase – Angel

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In the fourth season of Angel, Cordelia is mystically impregnated by a Higher Power for that Higher Power’s own birth, only to go into a coma immediately after giving birth. It is also later revealed that the Higher Power had instigated several miracles to ensure that this would happen.

There are so many issues surrounding this, both on screen and behind the scenes. The main issue on screen is that since the Higher Power had influenced history to ensure that Cordelia was impregnated, her consent to the situation is questionable. Also, falling into a coma just after giving birth and then being killed off in the 100th episode of the show just after she returned makes it seem like her only purpose in the show was to have a child.

Behind the scenes things were an even bigger mess. The actress who played Cordelia, Charisma Carpenter, had gotten unexpectedly pregnant just before filming the fourth season of the show. When she told the show’s producer about it he was reportedly very angry that he had to rewrite her character’s story line and chose to kill her character off despite promises not too. It is horrendous that women in the film industry are shamed and punished for getting pregnant since it is a personal decision for those actresses to make.

Caroline Forbes – The Vampire Diaries

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When Jo Laughlin is murdered on her wedding day, her family of witches performs a spell that transfers the twins she is pregnant with into Caroline’s own body.

This whole situation is incredibly icky. Jo’s family impregnates Caroline without asking for her consent. On top of that, Jo’s fiancé, Alaric, is her professor and best friend’s adoptive father. Caroline has known him for years and he has served as a mentor figure for her and her friends throughout the show. When word gets out that she is pregnant with his children, fellow students and professors at the school are highly judgmental. It is terrible that the writers shamed her for getting pregnant despite it not being her choice. As if things couldn’t get worse, Caroline decides to raise the children as her own and gets engaged to Alaric who is twice her age.