PSA from the NSA

IMG_0006Interview conducted by Lorie Hackman with Dolores Jean Louise Whitflick

Transcribed by Dillie Holliday

Lorie Hackman: This morning on The Soapbox, we have invited Ms. Dolores Whitflick from the NSA’s security detail to answer some questions about current rumors regarding the agency’s recent action.

Dolores J. L. Whitflick: Well, Mrs. Hackman, there have been talk about the NSA’s “backdoor” into the Apple company and its various device services.

Lorie Hackman: We have a Twitter question for you here regarding exactly that, Ms. Whitflick.  @JohnTalahasseehey asks, “Could the NSA utilize Apple’s security flaws and conduct surveillance on the targets?”

Dolores J. L. Whitflick: On behalf of the agency, I would like to assure and allay the fears of the American people.  The individuals that we choose to investigate, besides cursory checks, are questionable people we need to look into for the safety of all.  I think–

Lorie Hackman: Another question coming in right now…This one is from @CalpurniaJamesonIII who is asking, “Why don’t she answer the question straight ??”

Dolores J. L. Whitflick:  What I’m trying to say is that all this speculation is purely hypothetical and, quite frankly, a little far-fetched, if I may say so myself.  The plan and execution regarding the coding and observation through devices and the like cannot be shared publicly, if you would know.

Lorie Hackman:  Our listeners are just concerned about what the NSA is doing and the reaches of its speculation.

Dolores J. L. Whitflick:  The NSA’s inner workings have never been questioned until recent “leakings” and whatnot.  People’s trust is in our hands, and we know how important it is that we honor this trust.

Lorie Hackman:  One more for you then, Ms. Whitflick…@wreckinggallbladder commented, “She is beating around the bush!”  What is your response?

** the interview ended prematurely**

Lorie Hackman

Senior Soapbox Consultant

Lorie Hackman has written for several notable papers, including The Beets, The Mandrakes, and The Lettuceheads.  Her time at The Soapbox has given her much popularity, which is attributed to her sly way of asking assertive questions in a polite manner.  She has her sights set on the position of Executive Suds, and she will work tirelessly to earn that title.

THE  SHALLOT by    Jackie Hong

Class Spotlight: Sports Physics

Interview by Dustin Schwartz

Sports serve as a great jumping off point for the study of physics.

Science teacher, Tobias Hatten, is teaching Physics through the lens of sports.

For this week’s Class Spotlight, I sat down with Toby to speak to him about his new class, Sports Physics, a new science elective he is teaching this semester.

D: What inspired you to teach this class?

T: I wanted to make physics really interesting and in engaging. I think a lot of people watch sports whether it’s the main four, or different sports. They’ve all seen sports and kind of take what they know already and use it to show them how they can apply it towards physics and expand their basic knowledge from physics as they go to college.

D: What kind of activities do you plan on doing with your class?

T: Oh! I definitely want to start with races, then we’ll go into hopefully shooting some basketballs [to demonstrate] projectile motion. We may get into momentum with a pool. That would be pretty fun.

D: Are you planning any big projects or field trips?

T: I am planning big projects and that’s going to definitely come towards video analysis using the tools we have towards recording some sort of sports movement and trying to break it down from a physics stand point. Trips, I’m not sure if we’ll be doing any trips. We’ll be doing trips around [the Village campus] but I’m not sure about trips outside of here.

D: How is your class going so far?

T: So far, it’s going really well. I think that the students are taking to the math problem solving and hopefully giving them a taste of [a typical] first semester college course, when they get to college and take physics.

D: Thank you for your time.

Teen Titans Go! : A Bit Too Cute

By Jared Gomberg

Cartoon Network's, Teen Titans Go!

Cartoon Network’s, Teen Titans Go!

Teen Titans Go! is a continuation of the original 2003 TV show, Teen Titans. Though Cartoon Network has considered continuing the original cartoon (and it’s still possible), Teen Titans Go! has a completely different style than the original show.

The first thing I noticed about the show is its new “chibi” style, an anime style of drawing characters, often with oversized heads, giving the characters a cute or humorous feel.  While the chibi style of the show is cute and at some points enjoyable, I just couldn’t appreciate it very much. I felt like I couldn’t take the show seriously as I could with Teen Titans.

The next thing I noticed was that the show is a comedy. Yes, it’s more oriented for children, but there are so many comedy shows on Cartoon Network, that it’s awfully repetitive by now. The original cartoon was a serious show with superheroes, action-packed battles, and scenes that drew its viewers into the plot as they watched.  Now, I just can’t take the show seriously.

Due to the comedy aspect of the show, they portray the characters nothing like themselves. The prime example of this is Robin, the leader of the Titans. In the original show and comics, Robin is the smart and skilled fighter, trained in martial arts, and can do anything with his never say die attitude, but most importantly, he’s a serious team leader. He captains the Titans with his smart tactics and leadership qualities. In Teen Titans Go!, Robin is depicted as, well, an idiot. In one episode, he’s seen swinging his weapon around in the supermarket, showing off his staff. In another episode, he’s shown as a bad driver, and says he’s just a bad test-taker (the show then goes to a scene of him failing an eye test, then walking into a wall).

The other characters are also portrayed incorrectly. Cyborg, the powerful, smart, half-human half-robot, Titan, is shown as a complete idiot, too. Raven, the dark, spawn of Trigon (demon conqueror of worlds, again portrayed incorrectly in the show), is seen watching children’s pony shows. In fact, Beast Boy and Starfire are probably the only Titans shown even closely to how they actually are supposed to be.

The Heroin Epidemic on Long Island

By James Heinlein

Preventing the Preventable: Overdose Reversal Kits, which utilize the drug naloxone, are being made available at crisis and health centers.  Communities are also proposing that  local Police Departments carry these kits while on duty.

Preventing the Preventable: Overdose Reversal Kits, which utilize the drug naloxone, are being made available at crisis and health centers. Communities are also proposing that local Police Departments carry these kits while on duty.

Heroin use by teens on Long Island has been growing at an alarming rate in the past few years. The LIE has even been nicknamed “Heroin Highway” because of its how commonly it is used by addicts to drive into Queens to buy the drug on the cheap. The users seem to keep getting younger and younger, too. It has been reported that adolescents as young as 12 are  becoming addicted to the drug.  In addition to ruining lives, this drug has also been taking them.  Heroin overdoses have quintupled since 1990.

The most probable reason for this increase in use is the crackdown on opioid painkillers. The recent arrests of doctors who over-prescribed medications as well as the creation of new laws have contributed to the reduction of the supply of painkillers, particularly oxycodone. This supply reduction caused a price increase and made it difficult to find the pills on the street. Heroin, a very similar drug, has taken its place– the drug costs about a third of the price and is twice as strong. Due to lack of regulation for illegal drugs, this heroin is cut with other substances that are contributing to the overdose issue. Recently, Fentanyl has been used to boost the intensity of the high. Another synthetic opioid, Fentanyl is cheaper than heroin but is much more potent and has played a part in many fatal overdoses. The two drugs have a synergistic effect and work together to slow down body functions, and often this is too much for a human heart to handle; many deaths occur when users fall asleep and slowly stop breathing.

The extremely addictive nature of Heroin causes crime to increase. It is typical for addicts to spend around $100-300 a day. Many of them turn to selling the drug themselves to make this money. Unfortunately, many addicts don’t have the self control to do this, so they rob and burglarize instead. This means that a few teenagers getting high can cause a previously safe neighborhood to be plagued with crime.

**If you or anyone you know is struggling with a prescription or illegal drug addition, there are many places to receive help here on Long Island**

A “Sneak” Peak

By Eric Bernstein

The New Air Jordan X in Powder Blue

The New Air Jordan X in Powder Blue

Jordan sneakers have been rocketing in sale lately due to hot releases, new designs, and many excited buyers. The Jordan brand is known for making shoes for everyone, so no matter, your style, be sure to check some new designs. They even made a new pair of baseball cleats designed after the iconic “Playoff 12’s”, which have already gotten very popular. Shoes like “Powder Blue 10’s”, “Infrared 6’s”, and “Toro Bravo 6’s”, have been blowing up the charts.  So definitely check these out, and get your wallet ready for next month, because coming in March, there will be some kicks we’ve never seen before! Including “Infrared 3’s”, “Jordan Future’s”, and “Venom Green 10’s”. Both the 3’s and 10’s are dropping at a retail price of $170 and the Jordan Futures are yet to be priced because the design has never been seen before. So, be sure to check them out!

Jordan Future's

Jordan Future’s, yet to be priced.


Hiroo Onoda: A Dedicated Soldier

By Tyler Plaktsis

imageHiroo Onoda was a WWII Japanese officer who surrendered only in 1974 after having hunkered down in the jungles of the Philippines for nearly three decades in defiant honor of the Imperial Army. Hiroo Onoda was sent out on a reconnaissance mission in February 1945. For the next 29 years, Onoda survived on a diet of rice and coconuts and meat. Onoda tormented the Filipino forces on his trail. He maintained his rifle, ammunition and sword in impeccable order.  He was also still wearing his now tattered army uniform. He said in a later interview that his mind had been on, “nothing but accomplishing my duty”.

Hiroo Onoda was born on March 19, 1922 in the village of Kamekawa in the Wakayama prefecture of south Japan. At age 20, he enlisted in the Imperial Japanese Army and attended the Nakano School in Tokyo, the main training camp for intelligence agents. His mission to Lubang in 1944 was to oversee the destruction of the island’s pier and runway in the event of a likely assault.

When the Americans arrived, Onoda and his unit of three remained at- large. While the four soldiers noticed that island activity had lessened, they refused to acknowledge defeat.

In 1949, Akatsu surrendered and his reappearance started the first of many searches including airdrops of written pleas from Japanese officials. Two of the soldiers were later killed in encounters with police search parties and Onoda was officially declared dead in 1959.

He was found in 1974 through the efforts of Norio Suzuki, a Japanese student who wanted to be an explorer.  Onoda set his rifle on the young adventurer but was assuaged by his calm approach. Suzuki told Onoda that emperor and the people of Japan were worried about him, but Onoda would not surrender until he had a direct order from his commanding officer. The following month, Suzuki returned with retired Major Yoshimi Taniguchi. Taniguchi assured Onoda that the Imperial command had ceased all combat activity and he should lay down his arms.

On his return to Japan, Onoda was welcomed with a heroes greeting but he failed to settle into life filled with technology of the 1970s. The year after his return, he moved to a Japanese colony in Brazil and became a cattle farmer. In 1976, he married Machie Onuku, a Japanese tea-ceremony teacher. On a visit to Lubang in 1996, he gave $10,000 to an island school. In 1984, he returned to Japan to open the Onoda Nature School an educational youth camp. Hiroo Onoda died January 16, 2014 at the age of 81 years old.

Class Profile: Sports Literature

By Jared Gomberg

MV5BMjA5NDMzNjg2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjQ4MzI1MDE@._V1_SY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_At Village School, there are always interesting electives offered each semester. Since my time as a student, there have been electives focusing on ornithology, car engineering, and even the history and culture of China. This semester, a new English elective caught my attention.

While my schedule didn’t allow me to take this class, I was able to sit down and speak with  Lauren Gengo—the teacher of Sports Literature—about this new offering.

Lauren summed up her motivation to teach this class by saying, “Some of the things I wanted to explore why we play sports, why we watch sports, why they’re such a major part of American culture.  I’m also interested in looking at sports hero’s through the lens of literary themes and lenses like the tragic hero and the American Dream”.

The class will explore these topics through literature and films, which is an interesting way of looking at sports. Some of the books they will sample from are, It’s Not About the Bike, Lance Armstrong’s autobiography, and despite Lauren’s “slight bias” towards one of her favorite athletes, it is an interesting story.  They will also be reading parts of Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, The Blind Side, by Michael Lewis, and, The Natural,  by Bernard Malamud. Some films they will view are Remember the Titans, The Armstrong Lie, and 42.

One of the main questions that will be asked in this class is, “Is it an athlete’s responsibility to be a role model for a society?”  In this day and age, we tend to elevate professional sports players to god-like levels. Is the pressure that comes with being a pro- football player, an Olympic runner or a NBA Champion in addition to the pressure to serve as a role model for everyone just too much?

Student Spotlight: Tyler Plakstis

By Max Cruz

This week, I sat down with Tyler Plakstis and talked to him about the unique and exciting accomplishment he recently achieved.

M: Can you tell us a little bit about your recent honor in the Fire Department?

T: Last week, I was accepted into the Alert Senior Fire Department after spending 3 years in the Junior Fire Department.

M: What prompted you to want to get in to that kind of work?

T: Everyone in my family is a firefighter and I felt like it was my time to join, too.

M: How did you feel when you got the job?

T: Very excited.

M: So how often do work at the fire department?

T: Every day- and whenever there is a call, I have to respond–even if it’s 1:30 in the morning.

M: So, how do you balance school and your work?

T: I’ve only had the job for a week, so I don’t know yet!

M: (laughs) Well, good luck with everything. What a great accomplishment. Thank you for your time.

T: Thank you.

Fashion Review: Neckbeards

Both neckbeards and fedoras, respectively, have skyrocketed in popularity in the past few years. Walk down any street within the vicinity of trendy hipster towns from Williamsburg to Venice Beach, and both looks were in full bloom.

However, a community of grown men, known for watching the television show, “My Little Pony” and the like, have adopted both trends, morphing them into one.

Since this overtaking, the fedora and neckbeard have become a symbol for a kind of atheists who are stereotypically known for their persistence in making others aware of their beliefs. They are known for paying little attention to personal hygiene, hence the neckbeard.

This group,not so cleverly nicknamed, “neckbeards” or “fedoras”, has become so associated with the hat, that even those who are not part of the group can be mistaken for members simply because are seen wearing the upturned brimmed headgear.

Due to this association, fedoras are no longer a viable option for fashionability and, sadly, neither is the neckbeard. While many a hipster may look good in a fedora or with a mess of un-groomed neck hair, it is probably best to avoid association with this dangerous group of gamers, atheists, and Cheeto munchers: the Neckbeards.

Tech Corner: Bitcoin Basics

By Jonah Wolmark

In Bitcoin We Trust

In Bitcoin We Trust

Bitcoin is what is known as a cryptocurrency or, digital medium of exchange that employs cryptography for the transfer and management of money. Bitcoin was first launched in 2009 by a pseudonymous developer known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Users have “wallets”, or collections of cryptographic keys, that are used to identify who owns which bitcoins. One of those keys is kept completely private, as that is the one that gives a user access to his or her bitcoins. The Bitcoin network stores all transaction data in what are called “blocks”.

You may have heard of people “mining” bitcoins. This does not mean that people are going out with pickaxes and shovels to dig up digital coins. To mine bitcoins, a special program needs to be run on a computer. The program connects the computer into the Bitcoin network. The program then helps run algorithms to verify transactions made with bitcoins. People profit from mining by the Bitcoin network automatically distributing a set amount of bitcoins to the miner for each block of transaction data that is processed.

Many people associate the use of Bitcoin with illegal activities. This is because there have been numerous reports of illegal goods purchased with bitcoins, including drugs, hits on people, and unregistered firearms. This is a misconception, not because these things are not bought with bitcoins, but because these goods are also bought with other currencies, including US Dollars.

Bitcoin theft is possible if one gets ahold of another’s Bitcoin wallet, or even just the specific private key used to unlock it. With this, one could transfer all of the bitcoins from the stolen wallet to his or her own. Private keys and wallets are kept very secure, however. Thefts happen when an online wallet, exchange, or payment processor that stores the private keys of its users are compromised due to malware or hacking. Once into a system, a hacker could gain access to the private keys of the users of that system. These hacks are not caused by flaws in the Bitcoin system, but by oversights or mistakes in third party systems.

Bitcoin is not the only cryptocurrency in existence, though it is the oldest. Other notable cryptocurrencies include Litecoin, Dogecoin, Zerocoin, and Ripple. Most cryptocurrencies are very similar, though some include changes to backend operations that make their processes very distinct.