Air Pollution Causes School Closure in New Delhi, India: The pollution crisis in New Delhi furthers as schools are forced to close due to smog.

On Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, schools in New Delhi, India will be physically closed for a week from Monday as severe air pollution blankets the city, the chief minister of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, announced during a press conference after he held an emergency meeting to address the pollution crisis, – leaving the megacity’s officials to consider imposing a complete lockdown.

Government officials will work from home and private businesses are encouraged to do the same to reduce vehicle emissions.  Construction activities in the city have also been ordered to stop for four days starting Monday. New Delhi is often ranked as one of the world’s most polluted capitals every year.

Delhi struggles with high levels of pollution especially during the winter months.  There are several contributing factors: the burning of farm crop stubbles from neighboring states; vehicle emissions; coal-fired power plants and fireworks used during the Diwali festival. However, this time the situation will be made worse as weather forecasts say winds will not blow for several days.  Air quality in and around Delhi was rated very poor to severe early Sunday morning. Prolonged exposure to this level of pollution can cause respiratory illness and even death.  

On Nov. 17th, 2021, in response to the latest conditions, the Delhi authorities announced the closure of schools and colleges indefinitely, banned construction activity and told government employees to work from home until Nov. 21st.  According to Forbes Magazine , in 2019, 1.67 million people in India died due to toxic air.  That figure accounted for nearly one in five deaths in the country and rose from 1.24 million deaths in 2017.  Last year, around 57,000 people died prematurely in Delhi as a result of exposure to air pollution according to Greenpeace, despite the Covid lockdown. 

The central government, run by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is accusing city officials of inaction, and vice versa.  The country’s Supreme Court has stepped in to shut down factories and order farmers to stop burning fields.  But the court’s other efforts, which last year included ordering the installation of a pair of air scrubbing filter towers, have been derided as ineffectual. 

As stated by The New York Times, India’s air quality suffers from its appetite for fossil fuels, which has only grown after two decades of rapid economic growth.  Weaning the country off coal and other dirty fuels will be difficult, a reality underscored by climate negotiations that took place in Glasgow, Scotland, earlier this month.  India already struggles to meet its basic power needs.  Mr. Modi argues that the use of coal and other fossil fuels is helping build an economy that is lifting millions out of poverty.  But emissions from burning coals make the pollution problem worse for city dwellers, particularly the poor, who cannot afford air purifier machines or the electricity to run them.

Sources: BBC, New York Times, CNN, Forbes

Petey Greene Program Implemented at Eastern University: A look inside the important work that Eastern students and faculty will accomplish through the Petey Greene Program.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, studies have revealed that recidivism rates are reduced by 43-percent for incarcerated people who have received postsecondary education. Given that 95-percent of incarcerated people return home, postsecondary education programs amplify their likelihood of obtaining employment and pursuing life outside of prison. Eastern University’s Prison Education Program (PEP) has tirelessly aimed to increase the postsecondary educational opportunities for individuals experiencing incarceration. 

Established in 2008, the Petey Greene Program (PGP) provides over 3,000 people experiencing incarceration with educational opportunities each year. The program is named after Ralph Waldo “Petey” Greene, Jr., a formerly incarcerated 1960s activist and television personality who engaged in a lifelong pursuit of prison reform. Charlie Puttkammer, PGP’s founder, was so inspired by Greene’s legacy that he named the program in his honor. 

PGP envisions a world in which high-quality academic programs are accessible to people experiencing incarceration. Hence, PGP aims to inspire alumni – both students and volunteers – to become lifelong advocates, to take on leadership roles centered on reimagining the criminal legal system. 

Throughout the upcoming spring semester, Eastern students and faculty will be travelling to State Correctional Institution (SCI) Chester to provide college-level academic courses and tutoring to learners experiencing incarceration. Eastern students will serve as Teaching Assistants and tutors to their fellow students residing in SCI Chester. 

Marie Dileonardo, the division manager of the Philadelphia PGP, has explained that Eastern students who have applied and been selected as tutors will complete the mandatory, online PGP training in Jan. 2022. Tutoring will take place in-person on Thursdays beginning in mid-January and continuing throughout the spring semester. “Tutors will support incarcerated students by providing assistance with course work, reviewing assignments, and sharing study, test-taking, and note-taking skills,” Dileonardo stated. 

In addition to this, the first study hall at SCI Chester will occur in 2022. This will support Eastern students experiencing incarceration who are working towards an associate’s degree from Eastern. “This is especially meaningful work for us at PGP because we believe incarcerated people who participate in college-level courses should receive college credit and should be able to pursue a degree-bearing program if they so choose,” Dileonardo stated. 

“PGP believes that everyone deserves a chance, that we cannot discount anyone, and are responsible for each other—it is the central life-long lesson our volunteers learn when they tutor students who are incarcerated, or have been recently released,” The Petey Greene Program declares. 

If you would like more information about this program, please reach out to mdileonardo@peteygreene.org

Sources: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Petey Greene Program

Emotional Support Duck Joins Runners in the New York City Marathon: Insights into the first duck to take part in the NYC marathon.

Marathons can be a challenging, but not impossible, endeavor for anyone willing to put the pedal to the metal and challenge themselves. Apparently, being a human is also no longer a restriction placed on the nationally acclaimed race. 

On Nov. 7, Wrinkle the emotional support duck became the first duck to run in the New York City marathon. Although Wrinkle may not have taken first in the race, she has achieved more than most other ducks her age. 

Wrinkle’s presence proved to be a hit, with her presence gaining the attention of everyone in attendance. Wrinkle’s endeavors also went viral on social media as well, with her post gaining attention of other webbed footed celebrities such as the Aflac duck. 

In the viral instagram post, which gained over 200 thousand likes, Wrinkle’s owners, Justin Wood and Joyce Kung wrote, “I ran the NY marathon!!” as Wrinkle, “I’ll get even better next year! Thanks to all the humans that were cheering for me,” the Instagram post stated.

The post featured a short clip of Wrinkle running alongside her fellow racers. A longer video was featured on Wrinkle’s YouTube channel. On the YouTube post, Wrinkle’s owners described Wrinkle as “She is fast. She is speed. She is zoom. She is Wrinkle. Still fast as duck boiiii,” YouTube stated.

Wrinkle was just one of 300,000 runners in the New York City marathon. She did not end up running the full 26 miles, and instead only ran the last 800m of the home stretch. 

Wrinkle arrived at the race that morning adorned with bright red webbed shoes and a willingness to bring joy to everyone around her. The shoes, her owners say, were made of a scuba-gear-like material that is soft, easy to clean and waterproof to protect the duck’s feet from bumblefoot. Bumblefoot is a common infection that can be caused by running on rough terrain, such as the course for the marathon. 

Due to the overwhelming support that Wrinkle received, and the interest in her shoes, Wood and Kong have stated that they are now looking into mass-producing the shoes. 

To many, Wrinkle was viewed as a prime example of how emotional support animals can come in every shape and size. Specifically, viewers declared that they can also provide support to people even beyond their owners, such as what Wrinkle did in providing encouragement and support to everyone present at the race. 

The winners of the marathon were Albert Korir of Kenya, who took gold in the men’s race, and Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, who took gold in the women’s race. Jepchirchir also recently won gold in the women’s marathon at the Tokyo Olympics.

Sources: People, SouthAfrican, PetaPixel

A Trip to Longwood Gardens: A depiction of the Christmas wonderland experience.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go to Longwood Gardens during the opening of the Christmas season. Longwood Gardens is located in Kennett Square, PA.  According to the Longwood Garden webpage, the garden is a botanical garden that consists of over 1,077 acres of gardens, woodlands, and meadows. I was in the garden for almost three hours and yet, there were things I missed. 

During the Christmas season, Longwood decks out the entire garden with lights, fountain shows, and the conservatory looks absolutely outstanding. When I first entered the garden, I took a sharp right and walked through a beautiful archway tunnel covered in Christmas lights.  Each arch would switch between the colors of red, green, gold, and white. 

At the end of the archway tunnel, I stumbled upon a small pond that had these little boats with light across it. Each boat had a white light on them and it looked stunning. On the side of the pond across from me, there was a Christmas tree colored with an array of lights. At the end of the pond, Longwood had set up a hot chocolate stand that had a line that was miles long. 

Moving on from the pond, I followed the crowd and walked through the illuminated forest. It was decked out in the lights that looked like it was falling.  It was such a cool sight to see. I am out in what feels like the middle of nowhere, but beautiful white and gold lights are surrounding me. 

Throughout the garden, Longwood has placed various tree houses along the way.  Each one was lit up in its own unique way. My favorite one had Christmas trees placed throughout, each one with its own unique set of lights. This tree in particular had three rooms and a long bridge leading up to it. Each section of this tree house had lights, trees, and fake snow. It would be any kids Christmas fort dream.

One of the highpoints of Longwood is their conservatory. Oh my goodness, when I tell you this was beautiful I feel like I am not doing it justice. The conservatory gives guests an opportunity to get out of the cold and step into an entirely new Christmas wonderland.  

Right at the entrance, there is a little stream lined with Christmas lights and Christmas trees.  At the end of the stream, stands a gigantic Christmas tree decorated with the most beautiful ornaments. 

Passing this Christmas tree, there is another room with this long wide pool.  Around and on top, there are white Christmas trees of various sizes. At one end, there is a gigantic spinning white Christmas tree, and on the other end, there is an open space where guests can take photos.  The photo I have shared barely does conservatory justice. 

If you are looking for a Christmas light experience like no other, I could not recommend Longwood Garden enough. It is about a 45 minute drive from Eastern and you take 202 S to get there. Tickets are $30 each, but it is so worth it. 

In Conversation With A Hollywood Composer: Composer Dan Dombrowsky discusses his journey and advice for college students.

I first met Dan Dombrowski when I was offered an interview through his representatives during the promotional rounds for a film called “The Estate.” The first thing I noticed about Dan was how open he was. I was supposed to have a short window with him, maybe 15 minutes, and we ended up talking for an extended period of time about things that surpassed his score for “The Estate.” But that’s how Dan is; he is always eager to help and to chat about anything. I would consider him a friend that just so happens to work in the film industry. 

You may not know Dan by name, but if you have watched “The Carbonaro Effect,” you can hear Dan’s music and sound effects in the first three seasons. His music was also used for “Buying Alaska.” Despite the fact that none of his family members played music, Dan’s music career began before college where he played in a band. But it wasn’t until after college that he got a real job in the music industry. Dan worked at a recording studio in New York City that is no longer open. Dan described the position as: “I was essentially a runner, like just running around town, getting stuff for sessions and making coffee and cleaning the room and setting stuff up and putting stuff away and I earned a whopping $5 and 15 cents an hour in New York doing that.” 

After that stint, Dan found himself going to Costa Rica for a period of time before getting another job for Zomba Records. He began as a worker in the archiving department before secretly moving into the international marketing department. “I ended up working in the international department handling all of the release planning and manufacturing of us repertoire outside of the US so whenever we would really see us, artists, anywhere in the world, I would be the guy that made that happen. At that point, it was manufacturing, CDs because iTunes was just kind of happening,” said Dan. 

But even at this point, with a steady job and all, Dan felt frustrated and unfulfilled in work. This is where Dan’s story can be a message for college students: utilize your talents and do what you enjoy. Like many students, Dan said, “I didn’t know that [there were] other things besides getting out of school, working a job in rising up the ranks.” But Dan added, “You’re not going to be happy all the time. You’re not like there’s a lot of stuff that talks about this job. Like you write a piece of music, but if it’s not what the person wants.”

Dan’s biggest piece of advice was to take risks, especially while in school. Dan said, “You don’t need to send money to people. You don’t have a mortgage, [and] crazy payments. That’s when you should chase these things, you can always go get a job. There’s always a way to earn a living.” Dan’s big break in composing came when he was working at Sony, and someone he knew connected him with someone making videos that he could score for. That ended up being TV show “South Beach Tow.”

If one thing can be learned from Dan, it’s to find what you love and just do it. No matter what, you can always find a way to make a living. Dan knows that he may not be Hans Zimmer or John Williams (yet), but he is constantly booked and working on various projects for film, TV, and video games. For all of the uncertainty many college students face, as they prepare for the world, take a look at the story of a man who went from being paid $5 an hour to scoring for “The Carbonaro Effect.”

The Art of Birdwatching: What it takes to find your favorite feathered friends.

Birdwatching is a common pastime among outdoorsy folks, from older individuals to young aviary enthusiasts. If you’re like me, you love to bring your binoculars on a hike and spot some birds when you hear their chirps. This art form/pastime takes much skill, patience and effort but much beauty results from it.

Birdwatching takes some preliminary research. Just as a sculptor needs to know what they are going to model, a birdwatcher needs to know what types of birds they are expecting to see. Of course, you never know exactly what birds you are going to encounter, but having a general idea of the birds common to the area you are watching is very helpful. That way, you’re not thrown off by any birds that look unfamiliar to you.

Before even knowing the birds of your region, it’s always a good idea to scout potential birdwatching areas. If you want to take your binoculars on a hike like I do, I suggest researching the trail that you plan on hiking and checking if birds are even going to be in that area. It’s a burden on your neck if you’re carrying binoculars and not using them.

Once you have gathered your binoculars, put on your hiking boots and begun walking a trail, you can start looking for birds. There are several areas of parks where different birds like to hang out. To watch birds that stay primarily in the trees, you can find an area where the tree cover is just thick enough that you can see into some branches but just light enough so that other branches aren’t blocking your view.

To watch birds that fly in open air, primarily birds of prey like hawks, eagles or falcons, you should find a trail spot that opens up over a large meadow, river or field. The sky should be visible with minimal tree cover. You should be able to look up and out and see a vast portion of blue or grey sky. This is helpful because not only are the birds going to be extremely visible, but your binoculars won’t interfere with any bushes or branches when you’re observing the creatures.

Birdwatching does not only include the work of the eyes; it includes the work of the ears as well. Knowing some bird calls isn’t necessary, but it’s a bonus when birdwatching, especially if you’re planning to record your bird sightings. Birds’ calls are some of the most common ways to identify a bird, especially if they’re not immediately visible. Knowing that taps on a tree mean that a woodpecker is near, knowing that screeches are most likely a bird of prey or an owl (if you’re birdwatching during dusk) and knowing that some birds, like catbirds and blue jays, may mimic other sounds or other birds are very useful pieces of information.

You may find birdwatching utterly exhausting or downright boring. Sometimes it takes all day to spot the bird you’re looking for. However, beauty takes time, and once you see that bald eagle flying over the river, you know that your work and wait has paid off.

A Christmas Music Standout: A student explains the heartfelt meaning behind her favorite Christmas song.

In high school, my school organized caroling just after finals. We’d gather in the school’s courtyard, bundled up in scarves and gloves, as the music teacher passed out binders full of traditional carols like “Silent Night” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” We’d walk up and down the neighborhood by the school, ringing doorbells and singing by the light of our phones. Afterward, we’d gather again in the school courtyard, now stocked with tables covered in Christmas cookies and hot apple cider, marshmallows, candy canes and hot chocolate packets. On the way home from caroling, if my little brothers were in the car, we would play “Carol of the Bells” by Family Force Five or “Little Drummer Boy” by For King and Country with my little brother, Asher, doing a stellar imitation of a speedy drum solo.

I love all of these songs, but when you ask me what song screams Christmas to me, it’s not any of those. It’s my dad’s favorite Christmas song: “His Favorite Christmas Story.”

It’s got a little rock to it, and the lyrics aren’t really about Christmas at all, strangely. It tells the story of a man and a woman who meet at a dance one night in 1947. At a quarter to eleven, the man finally asks the woman to dance, but afterward, they go their separate ways. The man tells this story every year, and it becomes his defining feature, but he doesn’t know the woman’s name or how to find her again. The chorus of the song is the story of the dance, told the same way every time, even though the man is getting older and telling the story to different people. However, at the very end of the song, the man is dying alone in a hospital bed and he asks to hear a Christmas story. The story that the nurse tells him is the mirror image of the story he’s told all his life; he’s finally found the woman he’s been thinking of every Christmas for most of his life, only in his final moments.

I tear up just thinking about the song. Every time I listen to it, I can’t help but cry. I can’t tell if the story is happy or sad. On the one hand, he finally found this woman, but on the other, he has no time left. He’s dying, and he’s spent so much of his life waiting for this person. Is all that time and love a waste? I don’t know. I can never tell. The song certainly doesn’t pass judgement. It’s here to tell a story, and the interpretation is up to you.

My dad plays this song every year. He loves playing music so loudly that it fills the whole house, especially during Christmastime, the same way he always buys massive poinsettias that my mum hates trying to keep alive and those netted bags of scented pinecones that always make me sneeze. I don’t know why he loves it; I’ve never asked him. But I love this song, because it makes me think of him. When I hear the title of the song, “His Favorite Christmas Story,” it’s not about the man in the song. It’s about my dad, pumping music through the house as he fries potato pancakes on the stove.

Being Offended is Okay: Sharing why having diverse opinions is good rather than bad.

With todays technology and social media, we are constantly being exposed to a multitude of varying opinions and viewpoints on a day to day basis. These can include topics such as racism, political viewpoints, gender inequality, etc. Issues like these can receive a lot of mixed reactions from people. Some groups of may praise an idea or policy, while other may criticize it. With division of idealisms in social media and themes of “cancel culture,” often times, we feel pressured into thinking with the majority, and may feel forced to agree, disagree, or tolerate something we would not normally. When we do this, we may feel as if our true opinion on a matter is wrong, and we might try to shut out how we truly feel. As human beings, it is natural to try to fit in with the norm and go with the flow when we are offended, but it is also important to take in mind our own feelings and opinions. Sometimes we have to sit back and ask, “Am I gaslighting myself?”

With many topics in the news today being so black and white, some ideologies spark much controversy and some groups of people are demonized for differing opinions or viewpoints. On social media, some internet users have come up with terminology to disclude groups of individuals who may be easily offended. With whatever subject it is at hand, the internet has coined terms such as “Karen”, “snowflake”, or maybe even “social justice warrior” to make others feel bad about what they had to say. Intimidation is just not only in the form of cyber bullying or name calling, but it can also be subliminal programming as well. When we see a certain viewpoint or idea being portrayed on social media frequently, this can lead to a majority of us into believing this ideology, making it the new “norm”. Programming can also lead us to second-guess our own ideals in more political topics, leading us to wondering if our own opinion is the problem, rather than the problem itself. With all this in mind, it is easy to be intimidated to express how you truly feel about a topic, and this may lead us to feeling muted in a lot of conversations.

As we all come from different backgrounds, it is understandable that we all have different boundaries than the peers around us. Due to different exposure and stimuli in our past environments, we all form our own opinions on what is and what is not appropriate. Some of us might find certain information on social media to be a bit too explicit, while others might find some political topics to be too controversial and might be uncomfortable discussing it. It is important to note that because of this, there is no such thing as normal when it comes to what is and what is not offensive. When we keep this in mind, criticism means nothing as that the problem lies not within ourselves, but in those who refuse to open their minds to the viewpoints of other people.

Eastern has a diverse community of students, who each have their own unique stories and understandings of today’s issues. This makes EU a great place to learn different ideas and philosophies. We just need to  surround ourselves with the right people, so we can share our ideas in a safe environment. 

 

Movie Spotlight: “The Elephant Man”: A reflection on David Lynch’s classic film.

A few weeks ago I watched David Lynch’s “The Elephant Man.” I am not sure what I think of David Lynch. Up until then, I hadn’t seen any of his movies, but the first word that comes to mind is lunatic. I think anyone who has read anything about his film “Eraserhead” is forced to agree. 

For being a David Lynch film “The Elephant Man” is quite tame. The movie is based on a true story. It focuses on a man named Joseph (John) Merrick, who was known as the elephant man. He was a severely deformed man, who traveled with circuses during the late 1800s. 

I am not always a fan of movies based on true stories. They often are cheesy. More than often they can get away with being unartistic, by luring people in with their true stories. There is nothing that irritates me more than people praising a movie just on the grounds that it is a true story. After I saw “The Elephant Man” I was surprised by how much of it is based on actual fact. I think Lynch balances telling a true story and attempting to make a work of art well in this film. He doesn’t become possessed by trying to tell a true story, but he also does not allow his desire to produce art to detract from John Merricks’s story. 

Anthony Hopkins plays Sir Fredrick Treves, the doctor who rescues John Merrick from the circus. Originally, Frederick Treves is only interested in John Merrick for medical purposes. He believes him to be incapable of rational thought. As time goes by he comes to the realization that John Treeves can speak. But this is only the beginning of his discoveries. He realizes the beauty of John Merrick’s soul. He finds that he has a love for Psalm 23. He discovers he has a great love for the theater, and for all things beautiful. The contrast between the ugliness of Merricks’s body and the beauty of his mind is wonderful. The makeup used on Actor John Hurt, who plays John Merrick, took eight hours to apply. John Hurt does an excellent job of bringing out Merricks’s humanity. Bringing a character’s life under so much makeup is hard, but John Hurt is able to pull it off.

The movie is filmed in black and white, which helps to stress its serious tone. The directing is by no means flawless. (This is Lynch’s second film.) At times it drags, and a couple of the scenes seem unnecessary. Despite this, Lynch is able to create moments of brilliance. I once heard James Stewart talk about how movies are made great by great moments. There seems to be some truth in this. It is these moments that make “The Elephant Man” a great movie. 

The greatest moment is the ending scene. I will not spoil it because I want you to watch the movie. I will only note that Lynch uses Samuel Barber’s “Adagio For Strings” perfectly in the last scene. The piece itself accounts for much of the power of its power. What Lynch does best in the movie is his highlighting Merrick’s desire to be treated like a human. John Merrick’s beautiful and almost pitiful line captures this. “I am not an elephant. I am not an animal. I am a human being. I am a man.”

These lines capture the theme of the film. Its simplicity is quite beautiful. The story is nearly unbelievable. That a human being would have to go through what John Merrick did. The movie is a testament to John Merrick as a man. More importantly, it is a testament to the love of beauty, something John Merrick, despite his pain and apparent ugliness, possessed. 

Debunking Study Myths: Not every studying tip you’ve heard will actually pay off.

As we go into finals seasons, it’s time to perfect those studying habits. It’s all about finding what works best for you and effectively planning out your methods of studying. Keep reading to discover some of the studying myths to avoid as well as some effective practices to implement. You may be thoroughly surprised to discover that you may have been studying all wrong. 

Study Myth #1: You should have a designated place for studying. 

Scientific studies have shown that studying in one specific area does not help you remember information better. According to the author of How We Learn, Benedict Carey supports the idea that switching up the setting where you study can actually drive increased recalling of knowledge. By studying in different environments the brain is challenged to work harder to recall the information in different places, causing better retention. In addition, new settings will lead to new associations in the brain, allowing easier retrieval of information. A pro tip offered is to study in the room where the exam will be held, so your brain will link your notes to the room and help you recall the material you studied there. 

Study Myth #2: Classical music does not help concentration. 

This myth is completely subjective. Some people are able to study with noise or music, while many may need complete silence. But according to the experts, a French study found that the music of Mozart will assist with better sleep and diminished stress levels. They discovered that students who listened to classical music during an hour-long lecture performed better on the exam than those who did not. The researchers asserted the individuals listening to classical music were in a greater emotional state which led them to be more responsive to new information. The music also allowed the students to be more focused, leading to better performance. 

Study Myth #3: Cramming works. 

Unfortunately, I am sorry to tell you that all of those late nights spent cramming material cannot be justified. Cramming is not an effective way of helping the brain to remember information. Gary Lynch a professor of psychiatry, human behavior, anatomy and neurobiology states that spreading out your studying over longer periods of time and taking breaks are the most effective methods of studying. Lynch also asserts that when cramming material, only one synapse of the brain is working. Multiple synapses are used when studying in short sessions spaced out over time. In this way, the brain is using its full power to help you recall information. 

Remember this finals season, study in various locations and environments or for the best results in the room where the exam will take place. For those who like noise while studying, play some classical music to help you focus on the material. In addition, if you have trouble falling asleep before an exam, play classical music to help you fall asleep and reduce any pre-exam stress. Finally, spread out your studying over time and in short sessions to maximize your brainpower and most effectively recall and retain information. Good luck on your finals, Eagles! 
Source: https://junkee.com/four-study-myths-debunked-by-neuroscientists/128526