Protesting Puppets: Why Supporters of PBS Marched on Washington

Written by buzz. Posted in Politics

Written By Jessica Nichols

The first presidential debate sparked a lot of controversy, the least of which did not fall on America’s sweetheart, Big Bird. Romney’s comments about cutting funding for the Public Broadcasting Service, though conceding, “I like PBS, I love Big Bird,” inspired the protest held November 3, aptly named “Million Muppet March.”

The “Million Muppet March” brought together more puppets than probably had ever been in once place, standing for one purpose before.

Protesters marched Saturday, November 3, in support of PBS after Romney makes comments about cutting federal funding to the program

If Romney likes PBS and Big Bird, then why would he attempt to cut funding for the household name and channel? Romney had this to say, “I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS… I’m not going to keep spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.”

Romney has been under fire about the comment ever since. Trending on social networking cites, memes, thousands of tweets, and an extensive media debate over whether cuts to PBS would begin to make a dent in federal deficit later, organizers created the “Million Muppet March.” Supporters of public broadcasting were outraged to hear Romney’s comments, and critic Bill Maher from “Real Time With Bill Maher” pointed out the PBS subsidy’s small proportion of the federal budget: a mere $445 million of $3.8 trillion.

The spirited march on Washington was started by animation executive, Michael Bellavia, and Chris Mecham, a university student, in response to Romney’s comments. Bellavia said, “I figured, why just make it a virtual show of support? Why not take this opportunity because it seemed like there was already a growing interest in it and actually make it an active, participatory event.”

The “Million Muppet March” saw protesters toting anywhere from fun-sized sock puppets to full-sized creations of our favorite neighborhood friends from Sesame Street: Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Animal, and more.

Sesame Street, which has been airing for 43 years, is a very popular educational program, so there was no problem for organizers of the march to find people willing to come out and show their support for this longtime American institution. Organizers of the march say that at least 600 people signed up to participate in the actual march at the capital, with thousands more showing their support virtually through Facebook, Twitter, and even their own marches across the nation.

As the election draws nearer, supporters hope that their efforts raised enough awareness about the importance of federal subsidies to the Public Broadcasting System, for public television and public radio.

Brandon Roy Returns to NBA in Timberwolves Uniform.

Written by buzz. Posted in sports

Written By: Tom McKay

Brandon Roy shoots over Marcus Thornton in Minnesota's opener vs. Sacramento.

Brandon Roy shoots over Marcus Thornton in Minnesota’s opener vs. Sacramento.

Two years after his second NBA All-Star game and one year after an early retirement due to knee injuries, Brandon Roy has returned to the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Roy played in the Wolves’ regular-season opener Friday against the Sacramento Kings, recording 10 points, six assists, and five rebounds in 30 minutes, helping the team collect their first win in what is a hopeful season for the 28-year-old guard.

His health will be the major question mark this year. Wolves coach Rick Adelman has said that he and Roy plan to adjust Roy’s role as the season goes on, until they have a clearer picture of how Roy’s knees will handle the long, grueling NBA season. His 2-year/$10-million contract is certainly a risk on the part of Minnesota’s management. If Roy is unable to maintain a certain level of play due to his health, the Timberwolves could potentially use their amnesty clause on him.

Roy, averaging a career 19 points per game, was entering his prime two years ago as the Portland Trailblazers’ undisputed leader, before being derailed by a degenerative knee condition. His final season with the Blazers was comprised of limited playing time and frustrating performances for a player who was once heralded as the best shooting guard in the Western Conference not named Kobe Bryant.

However, the season also ended with one of the most memorable playoff comebacks in Blazer history against the Suns, orchestrated almost solely by Roy. It was a flash of his former brilliance which had Portland fans pining for the return of their superstar’s old form, and kept Roy in the backs of any potential NBA General Managers looking to improve their team via Free Agency.

Minnesota saw just such an opportunity.

Asked about his performance in Friday’s game, Roy said “I think as far as playing I feel good, but it’s just getting the legs back.” As far Roy’s talent goes, there is no cause for Minnesota’s staff to be concerned. Roy provides the Timberwolves with exactly what a promising young team needs: veteran leadership and a strong locker room presence. Roy’s ability to handle the ball, make plays, and draw defenses should take pressure off young, second-year point guard Ricky Rubio and franchise bigman Kevin Love, particularly late in games when Roy has proven himself as a capable finisher.

Only time will tell whether Minnesota’s experiment will pay off, but Roy is optimistic about his return, as are his many fans.

Pets Train People

Written by buzz. Posted in Pets

Written by: Devon Houtz

Parents always say the most important job is raising their child. One of the highest points of the parental career is the day they look at their offspring and see an adapted, functioning member of society. As soon as the little one is born, the countdown begins until the child will be on their own, taking control of his or her life.

How does a parent ensure their grown up kid understands what it is to be a full person? Animals.

Pet care requires a great deal of responsibility and the ownership of a pet is an excellent educational tool for children. By the age of three, children can interact with their pets using their voice and small treats. They can help fill a pet’s food and water bowls. Children at this age have the ability to respect boundaries of their pet by keeping their distance when the animal is eating. This can all take place in the safety of the home so parents are able to control the environment and ensure their kid is learning safely.

Some families may think three is too young for a pet, however, it’s important to note that there are advantages of pet ownership even for infants! Ganesa Wegienka, Ph.D and her colleagues published a study in Clinical & Experimental Allergy proving that teenagers who lived with a cat during their first year of life had a 48 percent lower risk of cat allergy than their peers, and the teen boys who lived with a dog had a 50 percent lower risk of allergy. So, not only will a pet teach a child some crucial life lessons as they grow up, exposure to a beloved animal will lower their risk of suffering from allergies! The advantage of a pet extends to special needs cases, as well. A French study has shown that autistic children who received a pet at age 4 or 5 were better able to share with others and comfort those in distress. And what about parents who see their children come home from school, angry with their classmates or rejected by friends? Allen McConnell at Miami University Journal of Personality and Social Psychology performed a study dealing with affect of pets versus friends. McConnell states, “one’s pet was every bit as effective as one’s best friend in staving off social needs deficits”

Pets are bountiful resources for parents. The little things that are easy to be overlooked like exercise or chores are made easy with a pet. Taking the dog for a walk is a fun way for children to stop watching television and get outside. Cleaning the rabbit cage or litter box establishes a routine of chores for kids, vital for their future understanding of duty.

Besides the usefulness of pets as teaching aids, animals play a large role in a happy childhood. Books and movies are written every year detailing the love and bond an owner shares with his or her pet. Not only will an animal in the home create a perfect catalyst for responsible behavior and pave the way to adulthood, pets are loveable creatures that a child will look back on with fond memories and adoration.

A pet in the home is a rewarding experience for both parent and child.

Organic sushi: A balanced meal for the health-conscious

Written by buzz. Posted in Food

A balanced healthy mealBy: Marina Ignatyeva

Health-conscious food lovers face a constant dilemma: how to balance their love for food with healthy eating that would not result in weight gain. A delicious solution is organic sushi.

Sushi is a culinary work of art that usually consists of rice, vegetables, fish or seafood, and nori seaweed that holds this all together. Some sushi rolls also contain sauces, which add flavor and spiciness to the roll.

The beauty of sushi is just how customizable it is. If one is concerned about eating too many carbs, one can choose to get sushi made out of brown rice instead of white rice or jasmine rice, both of which are much higher on the calorie scale. People can choose to get their sushi rolls lightly cooked in tempura batter, or avoid this crispy goodness and the calories from fat that come with it. Or they can choose to get sushi rolls with tempura-fried shrimp or vegetables, so that only a small portion of the roll is crispy, reducing the guilt of eating unhealthily. Customers can order rolls with cream cheese, or opt out from consuming this melty goodness. The types of vegetables used are different for each type of roll, as well as the types of fish and seafood used. If the consumer wants to opt out from eating any fish, they can always find vegetarian sushi.

The biggest concern that most people have with sushi is how expensive sushi can be. Most sushi houses and modern sushi bars use wild caught fish and organic ingredients. (For those who want to be absolutely sure of how organic their sushi is, Wholefoods has amazing sushi bars.) In Seattle, it is easy to find traditional sushi houses that make whole rolls for an inexpensive price, as long as they are not too fancy and if it is happy hour. Modern-style sushi bars with conveyer belt serving system occasionally also have reduced prices during certain hours, or choose to sell sushi pieces with farm-grown fish, which cost less. For example, Oto Sushi (http://www.otosushiusa.com/) is a traditional-style sushi house that sells whole rolls for as cheap as $4.99 during their lunch special. Conveyer belt modern restaurant AA Sushi (http://www.aasushi.com/) also has reduced prices on their plates during lunch hours. Blue C Sushi  (http://www.bluecsushi.com/) sells rolls with farmed salmon, which is less expensive than wild salmon or a different type of fish.

Organic sushi with brown rice is very nutritious and delicious. If eaten with a bowl of miso soup, a light healthy Japanese soup. it makes a balanced meal that does not induce bloating while filling the eater up. This is a perfect meal for the health0conscious consumer!

Scarves: Essential survival tools of a Seattleite

Written by buzz. Posted in Fashion

Scarves that keep the neck warmWritten by: Marina Ignatyeva

As another rainy autumn hits Seattle, with the promise of a cold winter after it, most fashion-conscious Seattleites are frantically trying to balance insulation with beauty. How does one manage such a colossal task, especially since the neck area loses the most heat? Most people prefer not to sacrifice their pretty and comfortable clothes and wear turtlenecks. Thankfully, retailers in every major mall have stepped up and delivered only the greatest and most essential invention of any cold season: scarves.

Now, my own recollections of scarves from my childhood had not been positive. They were ugly, bulky, had to always be retied, and worst of all were scratchy. Yes, they kept me warm during the very cold winters in Moscow, Russia, and in the Midwest. That does not mean I appreciated them.

So why do I now approve of these formerly-disliked articles of clothing? Simple: redesign. The scarves sold in my favorite retail stores, such as Nordstrom, are gorgeous, warm and made of the softest materials imaginable. There are wool scarves, cashmere scarves and simple cloth ones. They come in a myriad of colors, from cream and white to bright colors such as turquoise to dark ones like black. The scarves come in solid colors, designs, and multicolor bundles of joy.

The designs of the scarves are made to fit every taste. There are intricately knit scarves that look like a beautiful mesh; there are scarves that are knit so tightly that there are no gaps. Some scarves are sewn together from different patches; some are sewn from one cloth.

Best of all, there are different types of scarves. I, for the life of me, cannot wrap a scarf around my neck and keep it from either falling off or strangling me. That is why the discovery of a scarf that does not need to be tied was so essential to me. This season, I have a beautiful scarf that is sewn together at the ends, forming a giant scarf-y hoop. The scarf can be then wrapped around the neck again, similarly to a giant strand of pearls, forming two fluffy halos around one’s chest and neck. Asphyxiation and heat loss are no longer a concern!

Recap: Scarves are an essential part of any ensemble. They look good with hoodies, trench coats, sweaters and windbreakers, or whatever else people decide to throw on themselves before braving the rain and cold. Scarves can be worn by both genders, making them versatile. Most importantly, they are fluffy, gorgeous pieces of heaven that keep people warm. Use them.

P.S. – Scarves are not just for Seattleites.

Where Are All The Bookworms?

Written by buzz. Posted in Love

By Patrick James Quinn.

It’s a tale as old as time. The objectification of women as sex symbols or eye candy, told by society and the media to forego intelligence and values for skimpy clothes and a beguiling giggle.

Even in our debatably socially-advanced 21st century, it is rare to find a girl valued for her intellect above her appearance. Chart-topping artists such as Maroon 5, Kanye West and Kesha endlessly encourage women to submit, succumb, just party and have fun, don’t think or care, just do. Innumerable films (specifically of the action genre, such as the “James Bond” or “Bourne” series) switch out girls with each new installment, instilling the idea that women are as replaceable as the cars the leading men drive.

However, not all media is bad. Character such as Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games” or Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” series, or artists like Taylor Swift, often depict strong, intelligent and purposeful women, giving young girls worthy role-models that they can look up to.

Why is it so difficult for a girl to be both intelligent and beautiful? Why must we put pressure on women to adhere to this perfect ideal that we’ve made up over time? “Everyone in Hollywood is so damn skinny and you constantly feel like you’re not skinny enough,” says Scarlett Johansson, a successful actress most recently seen in Marvel‘s “The Avengers“, “But I have ‘fat days’ and I accept that I’m never going to be rail thin. It’s hard not to feel pressure in this industry and I already use anti-aging products on my skin. I try not to let the pressure get to me but Los Angeles is a very hard place to be unless you have people here that love you. It can be very, very lonely, and it can eat you up if you don’t take care of yourself.” Even someone known for their beauty and sex-appeal still feels inadequate in the insatiable eyes of the public.

This article is equally a call for men to look beyond a girl’s appearance as it is about encouraging women to fight social pressure and find value in themselves, seeing their true beauty and self-worth instead of falling for a smooth line or dashing smile from someone tall, tan and handsome.

In our modern world of broken families, everyday abandonment, low self-esteem and mediocre role-models, a world where we are all looking for love and acceptance, it is difficult to truly be yourself and give worth to your identity. But security and self-worth are attractive, and it will draw the right people in, the kind of people who will see you for who you really are, build you up, and treat you the way you deserve to be treated.

How to Find Your Individuality in an Over-Populated and Media-Saturated World

Written by buzz. Posted in Design

Written by Patrick James Quinn.

We all want to fit in. We want to be accepted and regarded as important or popular. This often requires a certain uniformity, and the cost is often the loss of our individual selves.

Daily we are bombarded from all sides with endless pressure from the media, advertising, celebrities and social expectations. How to act. What to look like. How to dress. What category do you fall under? Are you a punk? Or preppy? A nerd, hipster, goth or jock?

Why can’t you just be yourself? E.E. Cummings said, “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” Yes, it takes time to grow into yourself and figure out who you truly are. It takes courage to push beyond socially-accepted categories and express yourself. But individuality is valuable, and worth the fight.

Style is a weapon, and what we choose to wear reflects what is inside of us. One of the biggest drawbacks to pre-existing categories is that they’ve been pinned with peoples’ preconceptions. A nerd is expected to wear thick-rimmed glasses and dress like a square. A goth is stereotyped  wearing heavy, black clothes, chains and dark eye make-up, and so on.

What if you want to express yourself as smart, and dark? Or beautiful but professional? What if you want to have a clean-cut but still aggressive look? What if you truly don’t feel drawn to any pre-existing category whatsoever?

Figure out what it is that you truly love. Don’t worry about what your friends think or what is “in.” If you love steam-punk, find some old-fashioned dress clothes and tinker with them. Stick to it even if some react negatively. There are exceptions, of course, such as workplace dress-codes that must be adhered to.

Whatever you do, do it with confidence. When trying out a new look, don’t be ashamed of it. You may need to make modifications and adjustments as you hone your taste, but wearing whatever you have chosen in a meek way will only serve to deflate your aspiring originality.

Be creative. For example, if you have expensive taste and want to dress up on a regular basis, updating your wardrobe via commercial means could drain your bank account. Instead, look in thrift stores, raid your attic or basement, ask your parents or friends for hand-me-downs that have been collecting dust in their closets that may perfectly suit your style.

One could claim that with the upwards of seven billion people in the world, there is no originality left to be had. Someone is surely walking around with your style, right? Always keep in mind that there is only one you. As Dr. Seuss said, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Find what you love, hold on to it, and don’t be afraid to express yourself honestly.

Theo-ECI Partnership is Bringing Cocoa from the Congo to the World

Written by buzz. Posted in Food

Written by: Stephanie Hsieh

Last month Seattle-based artisan chocolate makers Theo Chocolate, in partnership with the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), have released two Congo chocolate bars made using organic, fair trade cocoa sourced from Congolese farmers.

The ECI is a non-profit organization founded by actor and director Ben Affleck. The organization takes a two-pronged approach to its work for and and on the behalf of the eastern ECI. On one hand they advocate for the area by encouraging private and public investment, raising public awareness of the region and its need for aid, and by helping drive changes in policy that will increase the USA’s engagement in the area. On the other hand the ECI is dedicated to funding local initiatives to improve the quality of life in the area by giving grants to community-based grassroots organizations. Theo Chocolate was founded by Joe Whinney, who first pioneered the importation of organic cocoa beans into the USA. Since then he and his company have remained committed to using organic, fair trade ingredients to make their artisan chocolate bars. Theo and ECI are working with ECI grantees such as Greenhouse, a Congolese cocoa cooperative, to develop training programs that help cocoa farmers improve the quality of their product and thus its worth on the international market.

Cocoa beans drying in the sun.

Cocoa: not just good for the world, but it becomes chocolate too. What’s not to love?

Theo and ECI have chosen to unite behind cocoa for a number of reasons. According to Dhena Bassara, Director of Greenhouse, cocoa is an ideal crop for promotion because it is “a fast-growing, sustainable, high yield crop that commands high global prices, requires minimal re-planting, prevents deforestation, supports food security, and is a major source of income for women. It’s also ‘militia proof’.” This last part refers to the fact that cocoa is a crop with little value until it has been processed into chocolate as well as being labor-intensive to harvest. These factors combine to make it an unattractive target for the armed militias that still roam the eastern DRC, allowing cocoa farmers to reap the full benefits of their work.

These full benefits have already begun to make themselves known. According to Atandi Isaka, a Congolese cocoa farmer and cooperative member, “household incomes have effectively doubled giving farming families the opportunity to take their kids to school and improving their access to healthcare.” With Theo’s commitment to purchasing 300 tons of organic, fair trade Congolese cocoa, it seems that this partnership between them and the ECI is set to continue bearing fruit in the cocoa farming communities of the eastern Congo.

Theo Chocolate’s Pili Pili Chili and Vanilla Nib chocolate bars are available at $5 a bar through Whole Foods supermarkets and their physical and online stores.

Muse Games is Creating a Unique Experience with “Guns of Icarus Online”

Written by buzz. Posted in Games, News

Written by: Stephanie Hsieh

Indie video game developer Muse Games is defying categories with their newest title, “Guns of Icarus Online”, which incorprates elements from a variety of genres to create someone wholly unique

“Guns of Icarus Online” is the spiritual predecessor to Muse Games’ previous release, “Guns of Icarus”. “Guns of Icarus” followed the adventures of the pioneering airship captain Gabriel as he captained his airship through the skies of a post-apocalyptic steampunk-inspired wasteland. The game contained a solo and cooperative mode, where up to three other players could join a player on their ship. “Guns of Icarus Online” takes the cooperative mode of its predecessor and expands on it with its Skirmish mode, which is a full player-vs.-player experience wherein airships—and more importantly their multiplayer crews—face off in the skies.

Screenshot from the closed beta of Guns of Icarus Online.

Taking aim at enemy airships in post-apocalyptic steampunk skies.

In Skirmish mode ships are piloted by crews of three players, each of a different character class. The Captain is in charge of marking targets and coordinating the crew’s efforts. The Gunner is responsible for manning the airship’s guns and attacking enemy ships. The Engineer is in charge of putting out first, both literally and metaphorically, and is essential to keeping the airship running. It is possible for crews to choose to play against AI-controlled ships as opposed to ships manned by other players in Skirmish mode. Players unable to find a full complement for their ship may also round out their crew with AI-controlled crew members. However, Muse Games cautions in its FAQ that players who choose to use AI crew will find themselves at a “noticeable disadvantage.”

Adventure mode is slated to be released later as downloadable content. It’s in Adventure mode that Muse Games hopes to incorporate more traditional MMO elements, such as trade, factions, and a world map dotted with towns. Leveling up and going on missions are more MMO elements that Muse Games intends to release with Adventure mode. However, Muse Games is adamant that despite these comparisons they don’t consider “Guns of Icarus Online” to be an MMO. As noted on their website, they “set out to innovate and make a game that doesn’t fit into any established genres,” and feel that the term MMO brings with it preconceived notions that “Guns of Icarus Online” doesn’t necessarilly fulfill.

In light of their statements, trying to pigeonhole “Guns of Icarus Online” in any of the currently-defined game genres seems counter-intuitive and misses the point of what Muse Games was trying to do with their latest project. However, only time will tell if their innovation and genre-bending will pay off.

Pantone’s Predictions for Spring 2013 Color Trends

Written by buzz. Posted in Fashion

Written by: Stephanie Hsieh

As the year draws to a close predictions for the color trends of Spring 2013 are in from the Pantone Color Institute, and it looks like fashionistas everywhere can look forward to new neutrals, bright shades, and lots of green when the new year begins.

The Pantone Color Institute is a research and information center devoted to the study of colors. Leatrice Eiseman is its executive direction and she states that balance will be the theme for Spring and Summer 2013. Eiseman believes that the forecasted palette for the coming year is one that balances a variety of colors through the use of what she calls “novel neutrals” and balancing between “light and bright” shades.

The Institute’s predictions consist of a ten-color palette that contains colors named: Dusk Blue, Grayed Jade, Linen, Emerald, African Violent, Nectarine, Poppy Red, Lemon Zest, Tender Shoots, and Monaco Blue. Together they cover all colors of the rainbow as well as a range of shades, from the very pale to the fairly dark.

The ten colors of the Pantone Color Institute's Spring 2013 color predictions.

Novel neutrals, light to bright, next year it’s all about balance.

The first three colors listed are what the Institute’s “novel neutrals”. Dusk Blue is a a slightly-greyish shade of blue that’s on the pale side and recalls calm, serenity, and twilight. More practically it recalls lighter denim tones, which bodes well for fans of that closet staple. Grayed Jade is a jade green with a strong undertone of grey, a soft and elegant color that also recalls serenity. Linen is a pale nude-like color that according to Eiseman gives a “light, airy, diaphanous” feeling to its viewer. All of these shades are capable of functioning like more traditional neutrals such as black or white, especially when paired with colors from the rest of the palette.

The rest of the colors are the light and bright shades noted by Eiseman to be part of the palette’s balancing act. Emerald is what starts moving the entire palette into brighter, more vivid tones. As a color it is evocative of spring and Eiseman suggests it will also serve to ground other colors in the palette. African Violet is a shade of purple that adds some floral tones to the palette, a color that like Emerald may serve to ground the palette but will also combine with other colors in what may seem like unexpected ways. Nectarine is a light shade of orange tinged with coral, strongly evoking the colors of its namesake fruit. Eiseman believes that its coming prominence will answer the question of where orange has been for the past few years, bringing the color back into the spotlight.

Poppy Red is a bright, exuberant shade, one that Eiseman believes is a must-have for any spring. Lemon Zest is a bright yellow that recalls “sunshine and good cheer”, one that balances well with the novel neutral colors. Tender Shoots is a third green in the palette, one that brings to mind new plants and fresh growth. Its presence in the palette points to the importance of green to 2013 as a whole. This is another exuberant color and one that’s sure to grab attention. Monaco Blue is a dark blue, similar to navy but brighter. This is a calming color that, appropriately enough, will serve to anchor all the other shades in the palette.

So there you have it, the Pantone Color Institute’s Spring/Summer 2013 color trend predictions. Only the coming year will tell us how on-target they are.

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