Category Archives: News

Vaping Poses Danger to Health

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 1,080 patients in 48 states and the US Virgin Islands have developed lung illnesses associated with vaping. At least 18 people have recently died from using vaping products. 

E-cigarettes are electronic devices that resemble pens or USB flash drives. The devices heat a liquid that vaporizes into an aerosol that the user inhales. A significant number of patients have experienced respiratory illnesses from vaping nicotine and cannabis. One puff generates a distinctive cloud of steam which lingers in the air.   

At Chabot College, Janette Muñoz, Student Health Clinic Supervisor, says she is very concerned about the increase in youth becoming addicted to nicotine. “It seems like [e-cigarette] commercials are targeting young users more and more,” says Muñoz.

A sophomore Chabot student, who preferred not to be named, said he has been vaping flavored pods for one year. He thinks the news coverage is sensational and pertains to heavy users only. 

However, experts disagree. The American Lung Association asserts that “even in small doses, inhaling the two primary ingredients found in e-cigarettes — propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin — is likely to expose users to a high level of toxins and that the more ingredients a user is inhaling, the greater the toxicity.”

Common ingredients in e-cigarettes include nicotine, flavorings, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-an active ingredient in marijuana), and toxins. Other ingredients include benzene (an organic compound found in car exhaust), heavy metals such as lead, and the herbicide acrolein (used to kill weeds).

People who vape may experience chest pains, shortness of breath, coughing, diarrhea or nausea. The CDC recommends that anyone who experiences any of the above symptoms after vaping should contact their physician as soon as possible.

The unnamed sophomore at Chabot started vaping to stop smoking cigarettes and plans to quit vaping in six months.

E-cigarettes were marketed as a safe alternative to smoking tobacco, and as a tool to stop smoking. In fact, no US studies have proven that vaping is a safe alternative to smoking for young adults.

Don Fuller: The Joy of Music

Have you ever walked past the 200 building on the Chabot campus and heard someone singing and playing the guitar? If so, that’s Don “The Guitar Man” Fuller. He writes his songs and has been playing them during his lunch hour for the past 15 years. He sits on a bench between the 100 and 300 building singing and playing his acoustic guitar Monday through Thursday. 

Fuller says he enjoys playing on campus. It’s his outlet. “I enjoy playing. The reason I’m out here playing is basically for my mental health. I appreciate people stopping by and giving me compliments it’s heartwarming.”

Fuller has opened for Country singer Dottie West, has played with the actress/singer Madonna’s guitar teacher, and with the San Jose garage rock band named Count Five. The group is best known for their hit single Psychotic Reaction. Fuller said, “I played with Count Five, a San Jose and the Cleveland Hall of Fame band. We played together at my house.”

“Love for Love”, “When You Woke Me Up” are the songs Fuller wrote. “Fluffy Monkey Butt” is a funny, unique song he also wrote with a student on campus. 

Fuller stated, “It was eight years ago when a student was watching people walking by and saw them walking with their cellphones. I just started singing “Fluffy Monkey Butts.” We wrote that song to get the student’s attention who were walking with their cellphones. It caught their ears.” 

Fuller can also be very serious about the songs he wrote. “Home on The Range” is a song he wrote. His song talks about kids that are losing to drugs, and it may cut to the heart of many people. It’s an Anti-Drug song. 

One of the lyrics of that song is “…. The last straw was when I walked into the bathroom. You had a glass pipe in your hand; it was a stone reaction. When was the last time you just weren’t wasted, then you had the nerve to ask me if I wanted to taste it? Life is so strange, making me want to go back home. Back home On the Range.”

The lyrics talk about a person walking in on a friend using crack. His friend tempts him to use it but refuses. Fuller says he sings it twice a week. It’s his favorite song.

Fuller was born in Massachusetts but raised in the Bay Area. He was four years old when he first learned how to play the piano, then five when he learned how to play the Ukulele.

Fuller mentions, “at ten years old; I started playing the guitar. My family was all musical. My grandparents had a band. My Uncle had a band, and I was in his local band.”

He has written Over 100 songs and performs daily on campus.

His inspirations for writing songs are things that happen in day to day life like; driving a car, eating food, or birds. Fuller stated, “I write about anything that goes on, anything that’s around. It doesn’t matter if I write a song about a bird or a smelly trash can. I don’t have to be inspired to write songs.”

Fuller has also contributed background music toward multiple TV shows for Chabot TV Channel 27 Comcast. Chabot Television Studio Manager/Engineer Sujoy Sarkar mentions, “I begged him for it. When I first started, I was by myself, and we needed some background music to use. I saw him outside and asked him if he happened to have a way to make some background music for TV and he said sure. Ever since then, he gives us some background music, and so I have his music for background on TV Shows.”

It’s OK if you want to play your guitar and sing a song with Fuller. So, the next time you hear someone playing a guitar and singing, don’t be shy and walk on by. Stop and take a listen and lesson from Don “The Guitar Man” Fuller.

Women Candidates in 2020

Over 800 people have filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president, yet only three women made it to the third presidential debate. The three women are senators: Kamala Harris from California, Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota, and Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts. This is the first time that the three women have run for national office. There appears to be a lot of excitement about the prospect of having a woman on the Democratic ticket.

On Sept. 12, the top 10 presidential candidates met in Houston to debate. September’s debate allowed voters to witness the candidates’ demeanor on the same platform. Whereas Klobuchar sounded forceful, Harris appeared joyful and diplomatic. Warren seemed eager to debate and deftly responded to challenges from Joe Biden — the leading candidate in the presidential race.

Chabot student, Veotis Latchison II, thinks all the female candidates are strong. His advice to these women is to speak louder, powerfully, and respectfully. Latchison thinks highly of Elizabeth Warren but prefers Cory Booker over Warren.

This year, Warren has been the most competitive among the top female candidates and has occasionally edged out Biden in national polling.

For Harris and Klobuchar, their campaigns face pressure to gain traction since Iowa and New Hampshire voters will cast their votes in Feb. 2020. A look at the candidates’ positions on College and Immigration in Table 1 may explain the senators’ current rankings.

IssueHarrisKlobucharWarren
CollegeAllow current students to refinance college debt.
Future students to attend college debt-free.
Tuition-free community College.

Expand Pell Grant Eligibility.
Forgiveness of $50,000 in college debt.

Free college for 2-year or 4-year degrees.
ImmigrationProvide a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the US and contributing to the economy.

Reinstate DACA and implement protections for DREAMERs and their parents from deportation.
Provide a pathway to citizenship.

End the policy of separating children from their parents.
Decriminalize migration.

Raise the refugee cap.

Expand legal immigration.
Created the Office of New Americans to support new immigrants’ transition into America.
StrengthRaising Teacher PayMental Health PolicyPlans for nearly every public issue.

Table 1

Senators Harris and Klobuchar both served as prosecutors, government attorneys who brought charges against defendants.

In the September debate, both Klobuchar and Harris were asked to defend their records. 

Harris responded by stating that she developed “requirements that a state law enforcement agency would have to wear cameras and keep them on full-time” and that she “created police officer trainings … on the issue of racial bias.”

Klobuchar referred to two incidents where perpetrators were found and jailed. She asserted that her prosecutor’s office made changes, such as to pursue “white-collar crimes in a big way, diversify the office in a big way, [and] work with the Innocence Project to make sure we do much better with eyewitness ID.”

Harris sounds strong when she is talking about barriers she overcame to succeed in her career. However, she often changes her position on critical issues, including her health care plan. 

According to the website FiveThirtyEight, Harris has received nearly as many endorsements from Democratic leaders as former Vice President Biden. Representing the populous state of California has helped catapult Harris to the debate stage. But Harris’ support from last summer has declined precipitously in California and other states according to recent polls.

Klobuchar continues to voice moderate positions on hot issues and often touts her ability to get work done. According to Quorum (a legislative tracking company), Klobuchar has introduced more than 70 bills in 2019, more than any other US senator in the current Congress. These bills have not yet been enacted, but often include bipartisan sponsorship. The majority of these bills have been referred to the appropriate legislative committee for consideration.

Warren worked as a Harvard law professor before joining the Senate in 2013. She has a good command of the issues and a reputation for bold plans. During the debate, however, Warren did not directly respond to questions on whether she would increase middle-class taxes to help pay for her expensive proposals.

Several polls are regularly conducted of voters in early primary states by various media outlets. According to Real Clear Politics, polling averages show Harris and Klobuchar in single digits below Warren, except in California. The average polling percentages for all female candidates expected to debate in October are shown in Table 2. For comparison, polling percentages for former Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii also appear in Table 2.

StateHarrisKlobucharGabbardWarrenBiden
Iowa5.34.72.323.020.3
New Hampshire6.31.04.317.722.3
Nevada8.701.315.027.0
California9.01.01.521.724.3
Texas6.51.50.815.826.8
Massachusetts5.01.01.519.024.5

Table 2

As the American public becomes more familiar with these women, some may drift into higher tiers or end up withdrawing from the race. On the other hand, one of these women may become the nominee or earn a spot on the 2020 Democratic ticket. 

The next debate will be on Tuesday, Oct. 15, in Ohio. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii recently qualified to join the October debate. Since there will be at least 11 candidates debating, the candidates may be divided into two groups and perhaps have more time to explain their views. 

To participate in the presidential primary, you must register to vote beforehand. To register online, visit https://registertovote.ca.gov/ or scan the QR code on the right. The deadline to register is Feb. 17, 2020, to cast your vote in California’s primary on Mar. 3, 2020.

Apple Releases New iPhone 11

This year’s Apple event saw Apple CEO Tim Cook reveal the new iPhone 11, 11 Pro, AppleWatch Series 5, and new plans for the giant corporation. Apple showcased it’s updated devices, an update that rocked the social media world of memes was the iPhone 11’s three-camera lens. It had mixed reviews on social media, most notably memes parodying the fact it had another camera added.

The Apple Watch Series 5 has added more features to the device, including being able to control your home lights, door, set the alarm, or it can even be used for subway stations as a pass. 

The event kicked off, introducing a new feature, Apple Arcade coming to the iPhone Sept. 19 along with the release of the iOS 13 update. Apple Arcade is a feature that will allow iPhone users to play games made by some of the best game developers around the world. One of them is the Japanese gaming company Konami who has partnered up with Apple in this feature to allow users to play more than 300,000 games for the price of $4.99 a month. 

The new iPhone 11 will cost $699 or $399 with a trade-in of a qualified iPhone, while the Apple Watch Series 5 will cost $399 for an aluminum one or $799 for the stainless steel.

Sept. 20, 2019, at the Apple store in Palo Alto, CA, customers talked about Apples’ recent releases, including it’s new iPhone 11 and their thoughts on the latest gadgets. 

An Apple store customer, James, who had preordered the iPhone 11 Pro and had been waiting since 7 a.m., 2 hours before the Apple store opened said he was most interested in the new iPhone because of the three camera lenses. He wants to test it out since he’s a photographer. 

Emily and her husband Carl also preordered the new iPhone 11, and they said, “We’ve been getting the new iPhone each year, and we feel each year the iPhone keeps improving, and that Apple’s technology is the future, our future, the price for the trade-in ($399) seems like a fair offer for us Apple customers.” 

According to Apple staff members compared to the past releases, the iPhone 11 seemed to be slow or less packed than lines from previous versions.

Round 1: Arcades Back In Action

Are you looking for fun? Excitement? And adventure for the family? For friends? For yourself? Or a place to hang out with your friends? There’s a new fun place at Southland Mall called Round 1. Round 1 located in the Southland Mall on the second floor above Dick’s Sporting Good on the north side of the mall. This Japan-based amusement chain offers karaoke, bowling, arcade games, and billiards. Round 1 opened July of this year and offers a variety of food and beverages, including alcohol. To play games at Round 1 players use cards instead of tokens.

Round 1 has a mixture of arcade games with fresh and new games. Some of the games are from Japan, and so is a crane machine that features stuffed animals. “I love crane machines that have cute stuffed animals; my daughter loves them too. The Cranes, unfortunately, cost a lot,” said customer Elizabeth Vonne. “I came here for a friend to meet up. I like this place because of Dance Dance Revolution, and I would come back,” said customer David Lawrence.

This place has only eight lanes for bowling. There hasn’t been a bowling alley in Hayward since the closing of the Holiday Bowl in 2005. “I wish they had more lanes here. My family and I had to wait an hour just for a party to finish their game. This place is convenient to us before this I had to go to Castro Village Bowl, and I live in South Hayward. This place is fun for my kids,” said Hayward resident, Philippé Morris.

Round 1 features six different game cards. The regular game card has a $2 activation fee, which is only for the arcade games. The Club card has bonus credits when you buy $30 or more for the arcade credits. Club card also features $1 off bowling, karaoke, and billiards. The Kids club card is only for children under the age of 13. Kids club cards give them bonus credits. With the kid’s club card children get 10% off and play a free game with adults, yet kids must be in the company of an adult. After a certain number of visits you come, you’ll get a silver card for $1.25 off bowling, karaoke, and billiards. The gold card gives you $1.50 off bowling, billiards, and karaoke. Finally, the platinum card is $1.75 off bowling, billiards, and karaoke. The more you play, the higher the rank you get.

There are two deals to play arcade games. The first deal is you can play any game in the arcade if you put however many credits you want onto your card. The second deal is the unlimited time play deal. The unlimited time play is all the games you can play in an amount of time with the green swipe games. A regular game card for unlimited play lasts up to one hour — the club, kids club, silver, gold, and platinum card last 90 minutes. The unlimited time play games include racing games (Mario Kart DX, Batman, & Dead Heat). Unlimited play games also include pinball machines, shooting, air hockey, and more.

This Round 1 is the third location in the bay area. Before the opening of this location, there were only two (Concord’s Sunvalley Mall and Eastridge Shopping Center in San Jose). For some, this location makes it convenient instead of going to further areas. “I’m so happy this place opened up. My family always goes to the one in Concord, and I enjoyed it here. I’ve noticed this place is clean and the staff are nice. So glad this is close to my home,” said Oakland resident, Jatemme Parker.

Two years before the opening of Round 1 there was an arcade in southland. The arcade was located downstairs in the food court, next to the public safety office. The arcade has changed its name over twice doing its 34-year run. The first name was Namco Time Out, and the Second and last was Tilt. Tilt closed January 2017. Round 1 is the first arcade in southland since the closing of Tilt.

One customer of Round 1 thought their arcade games are too expensive, “It’s too expensive maybe because I played a lot of games like; Initial D, Gitadora, Dance, Dance Revolution, Dark Escape and the plushie machines which is like 15 credits. As far as bowling the prices are the same as Castro Valley bowl and the bowling alley in San Leandro. The food here is decent, but today the wait was too long,” said customer Nathaniel Delacroix.

There’s one setback this place has, and that’s accepting cards from other Round 1 locations. Due to their system changes the credits or ticket balances on your card, will not be accepted. Their game cards from other areas will not function with the game swiper. “I hated how I can’t use my card from Concord. It doesn’t work here. When I showed the employees at the counter my card from Concord, they waive the $2 fee for a new card,” said customer Sean Luong.

According to the Round 1 website, the company arose from Sugino Kosan, a company founded in 1980 in Japan by Masahiko Sugino that offered roller skating and arcade games. In 1993, the business changed to Round 1 Entertainment, which provides food, alcohol, karaoke, ping pong and more.

Know Your Knowledge Garden

Did you know there are 121 species (Plants, Fruits, and Vegetables) growing on our campus? Chabot’s Knowledge Garden is growing plants, vegetables, and fruits from all over the world. The garden is financed by professors, the Student Senate, and other organizations. One of the primary groups caring for the garden are the students of SIC (Student Initiative Center). Fresh pantry is getting a permanent building on this campus.

The garden is tended to by clubs, classes, and community members. The garden is open to anyone who wants to be involved. However, once M & O (Maintenance and Operations) expands its yard, the garden is going to disappear from its current location behind the Softball field.

Fresh pantry is getting a permanent building on this campus. If there’s a building for it, the garden can supply fresh pantry year-round. Instructor Eric Heltzel says, “The pantry will also receive space for the fresh new college center, which will come in the next five to ten years whenever they build it.” 

For right now, the fresh pantry is in the process of finding a permanent space on campus. When the fruits and vegetables grow, students take it to SIC and then supply it to the fresh food pantry. “With the food we give to the fresh pantry, we give it to the students, and they often bring their family members,” says Heltzel. 

No profits are made in growing fruits and vegetables on campus. It’s about helping students and families address food insecurity. Before having a permanent building for the fresh pantry, it will be located in portables on campus behind the cafeteria. 

Instructor Sean McFarland stated, “FRESH is making a proposal to the Facilities committee to secure the use of the portable. The advantage is that students can get food every day… instead of waiting for the Pop-Up Pantries which only happen every month or so.”

If or whenever M & O expands its yard, the garden is going to disappear. (“when the garden disappears) we’re going to look (on-campus) where else we are going to have to put the garden,” says McFarland.

For five years, M & O has been kind enough to lend the students the land. “M & O been very supportive of us with the garden. They’ve been helping us tend to it, and we have a good relationship with them now,” says Heltzel.

Plans are unknown as to when M & O is going to expand their yard. SIC is still looking to move their garden.

“We’ve at least had 30 organizations that have given us materials… we’ve partnered with places like California Native Plant Society, Home Depot, some churches, and the city of Hayward. More recently, we got support from Chabot itself. We’ve had a lot of partnering opportunities on campus and off. Amy Mattern helped as well to support the garden, in addition to the Student Senate,” stated McFarland.

The Seeds from the garden are coming from Mexico, Brazil, Greece, Italy, and various places around the world. The contributions are coming from students and their families, some from other countries. The campus garden is growing anise sage from Brazil, Phlomis fruticosa (Jerusalem sage) from Italy, just to name a couple.

“We have students who have families who live in other countries. Their families help send the seeds here for us to grow in the garden,” says MacFarland. 

The garden is open for anybody who wants to be involved. The Knowledge Garden isn’t for SIC or any particular person but anybody, even for clubs, and classes on campus. 

“Teachers have gone out there to garden like biology, art, and much more. We have an outdoor schoolhouse. We would love for more people and classes to come out,” says McFarland. 

“I’ve seen welding, chemistry, and biology teachers working with the garden,” states Chabot student Jennifer Marenco.

For the last six months, over 300 students have been involved in the Chabot Knowledge Garden. The R.A.G.E (Revolutionaries Advocating Greener Ecosystems) is a club on campus that also tended to the garden on campus, as well as with the food pantry the college presents. 

The garden represents a unique place student, and teachers can interact with each other. The Knowledge Garden is a place where people can learn something they can care about. 

Student and member of SIC, Colleen McHugh says, “Students are interacting on campus in a meaningful way. This garden is something that they have in common, something we all love, like food. It gives them something to learn together. It’s amazing to see the community around the garden.” 

The Knowledge Garden started five years ago. Two students from the UMOJA Program came up with an idea for this campus to have their garden. In the beginning, M & O supported the idea. 

McFarland stated, “So the two students from the UMOJA program had the idea, they told, a teacher, Tom Dewitt. He said, ‘Go talk to the maintenance guys.’ And the people of M & O gave us the land they have supported us since the beginning.” 

Juan Carrasco, a student, and member of SIC took an interest in the garden five years ago when it was all dirt. Since then he’s seen a lot of improvements. “It [the garden] improved a lot. There’s a variety of things growing in the garden that came from different parts of the world. There’s a different type of tomatoes, cucumbers, and other things too.” Carrasco stated. He went on explaining why it’s called The Knowledge Garden. “While your mind is growing, things are growing all around you, which is why it’s called The Knowledge Garden,” Carrasco explained.

The Knowledge Garden could be the focal point of the campus — a place where people can come to express their diversity and culture. The people who helped make this garden happen took a lot of pride in the work they do. A garden can be an excellent mentor.

Athlete Profile: Will Carter

Will Carter is a Mass Communications student at Chabot College, and while he doesn’t currently plan to continue football, he has a lot of respect for the game and the people who helped him learn and grow.

“Will showed me a picture of how he looked in high school, he was a heavyset little kid, I couldn’t believe it, even from when he got to Chabot he’s changed his body, but I guess he already made some big changes to his body during high school too. He was there for the voluntary stuff and worked hard for himself and his teammates,” said head football coach at Chabot College, Eric Fanene.

“Getting into a sport is a leap of faith, you don’t know if you’re gonna like something unless you try it. I had no intention of getting into football, but a couple of my friends were trying out and said I should join, and I felt like, What? Football? I don’t have no business playing football, but 6 years later, I was still at it,” said Carter.

Carter said he feels everything he is today is due to football, “It’s taught me a lot of things, like time management, ethics, accountability. It’s helped me grow in so many ways that I can’t even explain.”

“One thing I really praise coach Fanene for is he always gives you a reason for doing what you’re doing. Over time you’ll start to realize the work is actually paying off. We’re working so we get faster, so we get stronger, and build a better relationship with each other, and within ourselves. I appreciate the method to the madness of football,” Carter said.

Carter isn’t the only one who praises football’s methods. Evan Tucker wrote in his blog last year that football made him a better teacher. Oddly enough, while part of it is the team goal of winning, Tucker said an even more significant part is learning how to accept defeat.

“Having to do that time and time again made me able to accept struggle in life, and it made me a better learner. I think it made me a better middle school teacher, too.” Tucker wrote.

Will’s father wasn’t around when he was in high school, but he said the regimen, the integrity and effort football expected of him, helped him learn life lessons that he would have expected to learn from his dad. In that way, football was a replacement father figure, and he is grateful for that experience.

Football students are expected to spend time in classes to watch films, and learn football theory. They must also spend significant time in the weight room, for conditioning and plyometrics, and any other exercise needed for the position you’ll play on the field.

Online Censorship

The topic of censorship on the internet is a hot topic issue for everyone. Especially as the usage of the internet becomes more prevalent for Americans. Censorship online is not new to 2019. Everyday users have started talking about it and their fears of being censored online.

On May 2, 2019, Facebook and Instagram, a Facebook company, banned Alex Jones, and subsequently InfoWars, along with other accounts for spreading what Facebook considers violence or hate. Alex Jones had been banned on Facebook before in August of 2018.

“I am continuing to monitor the censorship of American citizens on social media platforms. This is the United States of America — and we have what’s known as freedom of speech!” Donald Trump posted on Twitter on May 3, 2019.

“Everyone has a right to say what they want, as long as it’s not causing harm to anyone. I do not feel that it is a violation of free speech,” said Teresita Rutherford an art history major at Chabot.

“If the material is inappropriate, then Facebook should ban those accounts, but not if it was just because of their political positions. It is a violation of free speech unless the accounts broke the terms of any contracts they had with Facebook,” stated Alejandra Espinoza-Mejia, a Business Major.

Facebook has not violated anyone’s freedom of speech, Facebook is not a government entity. Facebook is a private business that can refuse service to anyone when Facebook feels a user is breaking Facebook’s terms of service.

The last major time the topic of online censorship was brought up in the news was when the Federal Communications Commission repealed net neutrality in June 2018. Net neutrality is the belief that internet service providers (ISP), such as Comcast, should treat all websites equally, without favoring some sites and blocking others.

“I’m worried that net neutrality is gone, it could be like other countries where popular websites have a subscription by the internet providers on top of paying for the internet,” Rutherford stated.

Internet users were worried that ISPs would slow down or block websites for any reason. The blocking of websites entirely is a form of censorship on the internet.

The Attention Merchants

With the next meme or viral hit bursting into the cultural zeitgeist faster than Thanos can snap, it can be hard to organize your attention on what is truly important in the world. Columbia University professor Tim Wu, author of the book, “The Attention Merchants,” looks closely at media attempts to control our attention. From the advent of print media to the current digital age, Wu examines the formula for garnering our interest in celebrities, notably in his chapter on what he refers to as the celebrity-industrial complex.

Wu begins by telling the story of the founding of Time Magazine. Its creation was a response to the dominating news entity of the era: The New York Times. The great institution was not without its critics, as Wu reveals that a New Yorker writer in the early 1920s described the publication as “colorless, odorless, and especially tasteless.” In other words, dry and uninspired for the nature of the postwar Roaring ’20s.

It appeared that their audience wanted more than just the bare bones facts; thus, Time-Life Magazine was born. Here in the chapter, Wu seems to emphasize this shift as a point where news media also became an outlet for entertainment and personality. Even the standard for article length was changed, as Time founder Henry Luce decided that 200 words were the absolute limit. In the modern context, one can apply it to how people respond to the 200 character or so tweets that Twitter users publish, and how that can gain far more attention than would a 3,000-word article from The Guardian or Huffington Post.

If Wu is arguing that size matters in the attention economy, then it definitely pays to be short and sweet. As he quotes Luce in the chapter, “People just aren’t interesting in the mass, it’s only individuals who are exciting.” Time Magazine was the first magazine to focus on the individual. Whether they be significant statesmen, generals, artists, or entertainers, the philosophy behind the publication of Time was to put “a different notable face on the cover every week.” This would lead to the annual Man (and eventually Person) of the Year. “The relentless focus on personalities was a different way to do news,” as Wu explains. Over the years the faces of Stalin, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and even Taylor Swift have all graced the cover of Time Magazine; their images glorified and immortalized on a single glossy sheet

Wu falls short of saying that celebrity focus was popularized by any single news entity. However, some publications, like People, developed an effective formula. Richard Stolley, a former editor for People, explained that he decided each week’s cover based on two key factors: the face had to be “recognizable to 80% of Americans” and there had to be something you want to know about them.

Any average consumer of entertainment news can now infer that any individual making it onto the cover of a prestigious magazine like Time, Elle, or Vogue is an indication of status, as well as an investment into the attention economy.

As consumers, our eyes are drawn to the flashy covers, whether we want to recognize these individuals actively, eventually we passively come to collect enough general information about them that you can, at the very least, say you know more about them than they know of you.

As so-called attention merchants, media executives set the standards of what deserves their consumer’s attention, based on what attracts the most attention. Consequently, it developed very exclusive standards: young is better than old, pretty is better than ugly, rich is better than poor. These standards continue to permeate entertainment publications, despite “body-positivity” and “real women” movements, there are still narrow standards of beauty for women, and men for that matter. However, other standards have seen a notable change in recent years, that do not seem to reflect today’s media: TV is better than music, music is better than movies, movies are better than sports, and anything is better than politics.

Personally, this writer would argue that music, due to online streaming services has reached, if not surpassed the attention economy of TV and movies. Many people are dropping their cable subscriptions in favor of other services, and movie attendance has seen a general decline over the years. More to this writer’s point, politics has now become the main focus once again of the average American. From infotainment shows like “The Daily Show” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” to daily news coverage of national politics, it is clear that we have once again become an issue-oriented attention market versus the personality one that we lived in up until we reached peak celebrity culture.

Wu describes our passive participation in the attention market as almost insidious in its nature, “you don’t have to be a fan to identify [ …] Angelina Jolie or Leonardo DiCaprio. You know them like you know the names of major cities you never visited.” So what explains the fascination that literally can cause a physical reaction in our body? If you’ve ever encountered a celebrity or famous person, you know that feeling of your heart beating faster and having the urge to document the moment as if it were something so deeply important to your well-being.

Wu argues that the strength of these feelings can be connected to older traditions of worship, such as religion and magic, though he falls short of equating celebrity worship to a religion. Though he does bring up the allegory of Moses’ and the golden calf idol, he burned for being a false idol. In fact, there are several connections made to the Bible in this book, so much so that it’s hard not to equate celebrity and prophetic worship.

In summation, Wu’s general argument is that the celebrity-industrial complex is maintained not by “the existence of [celebrities] but rather the idea of constructing an industry based on the demand for feeling some communion with them.” In other words, the complex exists because we, as consumers of entertainment media, crave a connection with someone who looks just like us, yet feels worlds apart.

For anyone interested in the story of how our eyes and minds are controlled by advertisers and programmers, and how little control we actually have over what we consume, then “The Attention Merchants” by Tim Wu is a must-read.

The Gap Instinct

“We have [that irresistible] temptation to divide all kinds of things into two distinct and often conflicting groups with an imagined gap … It is [how] the gap instinct creates a picture in people’s heads of a world split into two kinds of countries or two kinds of people: rich versus poor.” This is a quote from Hans Rosling’s book, “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think.”

In this book, Rosling tackles many aspects of the world in which people see the worst rather than what they really are. One of those is “The Gap Instinct.” Which the quote above explains.

Basically, the gap instinct is this belief that most of the world is living in these extremely poor conditions when the reality is not that at all.

Rosling writes, “I call them mega misconceptions because they have such an enormous impact on how people misperceive the world. [The Gap Instinct] is the worst. By dividing the world into two misleading boxes — rich and poor, it completely distorts all the global proportions in people’s minds.”

Using data from the United Nations (UN), Rosling begins his break down of the gap instinct and why the gap isn’t as big anymore as it was a few years ago.

Referring to a graph showing how many countries are in a developing stage and how many are developed, Rosling writes, “ … this picture shows the world in 1965 … that’s the problem.”

The graph Rosling is referring to shows two boxes, one containing developing countries and the other containing developed countries. In the developing box, there are 125 bubbles, and in the developed box there are only 44.

Rosling shows an updated graph with the same structure, except the developing countries box is almost entirely empty now. Which means most countries are developed today according to the UN.

“Eighty-five percent of mankind is already inside the box that used to be named “developed world.” The remaining 15 percent are mostly in between the two boxes. Only 13 countries, representing 6 percent of the world population, are still inside the “developing” box” Rosling explains.

Now Rosling uses the example of mortality rate, making an emphasis on child mortality to paint a picture of how life is basically lived. However, he explains that it ends up tying into other aspects of the world, like the overall economy of those countries.

It’s simple, the more children and people that survive in those countries, the better overall lives the people are living. They have better health care, access to things like better education, etc.

Since according to Rosling, people will always try to divide things because naturally, it’s easier to look at and understand things when they are divided into groups. Rosling suggests not seeing the world in two groups, but instead in four groups called “the four income levels.”

The four income levels are as follows. People in level 1 are people who live in extreme poverty, which most likely means their country is still in the developing box from the graph mentioned above. Level 2 are people who are living a lower-middle-class kind of lifestyle, these people would probably fit into the countries that appear between the boxes on the graph. Finally, levels 3 and 4 are people who are what we would consider the middle class and high class. They probably live in an already developed country.

Rosling shows a graph with stats from 2017, which is the same year the book was published. As he explains it, “Each figure in the chart represents 1 billion people, and the seven figures show how the current world population is spread out across four income levels, expressed in terms of dollar income per day.”

Using information from the UN as well for this graph, it shows that only 1 billion people are living on Level 1, which it explains as people who make $2 a day. 3 billion people are living on Level 2 making $8 a day. 2 billion people are living on Level 3 making $32 a day. Finally, 1 billion people are living on Level 4 making over $64 a day.

According to the graph, 5 billion people are living in the middle, on levels 2 and 3. Which means the world is essentially getting better with wage gaps and so on.

Focusing on a smaller area and not the entire world, let’s look at the Bay Area, for example, which is one of the most expensive places to live.

It is a fair assumption to say most people in the Bay Area are probably in levels 2 and 3, some may even be on level 4. Of course, there can and are some exceptions like homeless people, or people who live paycheck to paycheck.

If we divide it, we can see the four levels within just the Bay. Level 1 would be homeless. Level 2 would be people living paycheck to paycheck, getting just enough to have the essentials. Level 3 would be people living comfortably, who can buy the essentials and a few luxuries here and there. Level 4, of course, would be people that live really comfortably and don’t necessarily have to worry too much about their situation.

So we can see Rosling’s point even within a small part of the world. Yes, it’s costly to live here, but we manage to pull through. Basically, that’s Rosling’s point, that this break down allows us to see a more precise break down because things are not what they used to be 20 or even 10 years ago and based on this model the world does seem to be getting better.