Category Archives: Opinions

Ranking the Holidays: Which ones score highest with students?

Unsurprisingly, Americans value some holidays more than others, but have you ever wondered how some of them stack up to their peers? How does Father’s Day compare to the Fourth of July? Saint Patrick’s Day to Groundhog Day? We’ve put together a list that will hopefully answer all these questions.

Black Friday

Black Friday is the worst holiday celebrated by the United States. It isn’t even close either, as no other holiday has a widespread counter for injuries and fatalities associated with it. Blackfridaydeathcount.com, an updated site since 2006, continues to supply the internet with a stream of Black Friday tragedies. With 17 recorded deaths and 125 recorded injuries, and Black Friday dying out and slowly being replaced by Cyber Monday, it’s not hard to see why Thanksgiving’s second fiddle finds itself at the very bottom of this list.

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D Tier

While it’s not hard to be a better holiday than Black Friday, some fall short of their peers and have settled down into the D-tier. Whereas Black Friday is actively detrimental to people’s well-being, April Fools’ Day and Groundhog Day are simply underwhelming. In other words, they feel less like holidays and more like absurd inside jokes.

It feels somewhat ironic that April Fools’ isn’t even the funniest holiday; that honor goes to Groundhog Day, the most absurd holiday created by the United States. It’s hard not to sound insane when explaining Groundhog Day, seeing as the glorified weather forecast revolves around whether or not a groundhog gets scared by his own shadow. One would think that after the 6th year or so, Punxsutawney Phil – yes, they named the groundhog – would have realized that he doesn’t need to be scared of his own shadow anymore, but he’s managed to maintain his act all these years and land his holiday in D-tier.

C Tier

C-tier is where the unfortunate majority of American holidays lie. Holidays like Memorial Day, make their home in this spot. While almost every holiday in the tier has a good deal of symbolic meaning, they often don’t have the same cultural impact as they should. These holidays should be much higher, but they just don’t get the attention they really deserve!

For example, Labor Day is rarely celebrated with its intended meaning in mind. Honoring the men and women who built America and the accomplishments of the American labor movement should be a holiday held in pretty high regard. However, the holiday has primarily been reduced to a turning point on the calendar – signaling the end of summer break and heralding in the school year – and a three-day weekend.

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B Tier

B-tier is where the holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s, Day of the Dead, and Easter fit into the list and is also where this list’s holidays start to become more exciting. Most of these holidays are pretty good but not quite elite; Easter is a great example, provided you don’t have any traumatic memories of the Easter Bunny. However, New Year’s Day is undoubtedly the best in the tier, letting you acknowledge last year’s ups and downs and giving you a new year to start fresh.

A Tier

A-tier is for the holidays that are still great but have been held back from S-tier. The Fourth of July deserves lots of recognition, essentially being New Year’s Day but during the summer. Watching the fireworks fly on The Fourth is a feeling like no other, and it makes you proud to be American.

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Valentine’s Day is an extremely polarizing holiday, as no other holiday is entirely as dependent on the person celebrating it as Valentine’s is. Depending on who you are, it could be a day you look forward to for months or the one day of the year that you dread more than any other, but because of this holiday’s potential, it has been carefully placed in A-tier.

S Tier

S-tier is home to the trifecta of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. In addition to each being only a month apart from the other, each holiday brings unique celebrations. With the biggest parties being a tossup between Halloween and Christmas, and Thanksgiving being known for its food more than anything, it’s hard to find someone who dislikes all three of these holidays. These three are the holidays that the whole country looks forward to, and there will always be at least one person going all out to make them unique.

Alex Magno is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

Harry Kennedy is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

How the MLB’s revisions improve the game

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At the beginning of September, Major League Baseball announced three new changes that will alter how the game is played. Starting next year, the MLB will implement a pitch clock, increase the size of the bases, and enforce limits on the shift.

The new pitch clock will make it so that pitchers must begin their motion within 30 seconds between batters, 15 seconds for batters with no runners on base, and 20 seconds for batters when there are runners on base.

Pitchers will have two disengagements (pickoffs and step-offs) per batter, and if a third pickoff is unsuccessfully attempted, the runners will advance a base. However, if runners advance, the pitcher will get 2 more “disengagements.”

With a similar pitch clock in Triple-A ball this year, the average play time decreased by about 21 minutes.

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The MLB has been trying to make the game shorter for years and, in trying to do so, has made the game worse with the implementation of runners starting on second base in extra innings.

However, they have finally figured it out with the new changes. The new pitch clock will only increase the pace of play while keeping traditional aspects of the game, and this simple revision will make the games quicker and more exciting.

The MLB will also increase the size of the bases from 15 square inches to 18 square inches. This adjustment should lead to fewer injuries and more stolen bases.

With bigger bases, the injuries to players as they run to 1st base or slide into 2nd or 3rd base should be less frequent. Bigger bases also mean that the distance between bases is less, so there should be more attempted and successful stolen base attempts.

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This adjustment can only be beneficial to the players and fans of baseball and is another great change made by the league.

The final modification made is the new limits enforced on the shift. Teams will now need four infielders, with two on each side of 2nd base. Teams can add additional infielders by moving outfielders to the infield, but they must have four players within the outer boundary of the infield and two on each side of 2nd base.

Whether or not the league should enforce limits on the shift or not has been one of the most polarizing debates in recent years. However, implementing a limit on the shift allows for pull hitters to be better.

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Being able to hit everywhere on the field is a special skill that makes some hitters special. This change is bad for the league as it encourages players to not work on the craft of hitting everywhere on the field and lowers the skill level of the league.

However, implementing these restrictions on the shift should lead to more hits, making the game even more exciting.

The three revisions by the MLB will make the league more exciting and safer and generally good for the league. While implementing restrictions to the shift will reduce the consequences of being a pull hitter and lowers the skill level of the league, the other changes are significant for the league as they make the games shorter, safer, and more exciting.

Jimmy Thomas is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Understanding and talking thoughtfully about race

Race is so deeply felt in this country comparatively as a form of identity, and many find solace in their roots or become defensive over misrepresentation. As Americans, we believe it to be our greatest divisor or our only hope at integration. In this melting pot of a country, why do we find it so important? At the end of the day, identity is what everyone finds the most important. Being able to be uniquely you regardless of your story, ethnicity, nationality, or race and still find acceptance is the ultimate goal.

When speaking about race, many people can give you a multifaceted answer that involves one of three usual rebuttals. The first is usually a brief explanation of their racial or ethnic background. Something along the lines of being “Black,” “white,” or “Native American.” The second answer is usually discomfort with the topic. Some people grow up with backgrounds confusing them or that make the subject of race uncomfortable and, therefore, not central to their identity.

The third explanation would be along the lines of their nationality. You see this example often with individuals of Asian descent, as it becomes simpler for most to identify with their country of origin. For example, when asking senior Mung Siam about how he identifies racially, he said, “If I was asked, I would tell people I am Asian, but as per my ethnicity, it would be Burmese.”

When asking fellow senior Braylon Sims, what was most important, Ethnicity, Nationality, or Race, he told me, “That really is a tough question.” In an attempt to be fully understood and characterized correctly. Race and its intertwined nature with identity are imperative to connect with another person. It is the first step to bringing culture into the play of relationships with others and figuring out why and how we think and act the way we do. When asking Chris Wright, a member of the Black community and fellow MSJ senior, which of his identities were the most important? He said being Black was “integral to his identity.”

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After that, I spoke to cross country runner and senior student Christopher “CJ” Johnson Jr on being light skinned seen as mixed, and how it affects his life and identity. Being light-skinned can cause confusion with people less acclimated, as many will try to make someone choose a side, not realizing they’re asking someone to deny a part of their whole selves. When asked whether he internalized his encounters and whether they made him approach situations or conversations differently, he said, “yeah.” I also asked how much race means to his total identity he said, “around 60%,” and it is “not the end all be all” to who he is.

I had asked CJ if race had played a role and, if so, how important. He said it “played a considerable role in figuring out who I am. Having a predominantly white and predominantly Black side of my family led to me having to balance the two. Leading to me more so leaning to the Black side.” I asked if anything led to him leaning to either side, and he said, “family and environment.” The environment seems to be the leading determinant of what makes you in many cases. It is not news that children are products of their environments in many cases, and support and nurturing, will determine their roles as mentors and adults later in life.

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When speaking to these students, it is easy to see that even though race plays a massive part in their total identity, it seems to be the culture behind it that means the most to them. Analyzing the importance of their family structure and memories made. I am in no way saying that race is not important or that it defines a person in their entirety, but I am saying that it isn’t always the way things look but the way they are behind the veil.

Up to this point, I had been able to connect with and speak to other students my age, but I needed the perspective of someone with more profound knowledge about how race affects life. Knowing this, I looked to Mr. Shawn Turner for insight into race as it pertains to one’s identity and what he has noticed; being a Black man impacts someone’s upbringing, thought process, and interactions. My first question was how do you identify racially. Asking this question to a Black American is almost the same as allowing someone to differentiate themselves with their nationality. Being born and shaped by America completely converts the lived experience and, therefore, denomination by which you associate as a Black person. As a Black young man, I consider myself strictly Black/Black American. I do this because I cannot comfortably call myself African American since I have no lived experience in or from Africa.

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This allowed Mr. Turner to present the idea that, with being Black, in particular, things have context. Mr. Turner said, “I feel like, In professional settings, there is a tendency to want to say African American to identify a place where you came from and then the American piece.” He also said, “I learned to like Black more than African American.” He says this in comparison to white people and how someone whose family came from other countries would not have to be called an “Australian American” or otherwise because they’re being white, would just make them American as soon as they got here. Mr. Turner says, “I feel like as much as African American is used to dignify the Black population, it also feels kind of like a dig in a sense because I have to link you to where you came from and remind you of that but not necessarily do that in the other sense.”

I had asked Mr. Turner if there is any possibility to separate race and identity because many people have the question, ‘why is everything about race?’ or ‘how does it always go back to race?’ As people, we cannot remove any aspect of life and lived experience because it is at the expense of someone’s comfort, especially with race. Because of this, my question was not separate to remove, but separate from having varying levels of importance regarding what gets brought up or how we handle the two. Mr. Turner said, “When you talk about identity, you’re really talking about fractions…that part of my identity adds up to the whole me.”

He proceeds to also bring up the point that, “Race is the one identity of all of them that you can see. And you can’t look at me and see Christian or look at me and see those other things, but I think that’s where race has the most importance in terms of the consequences of your identity.” Mr. Turner says that you could see someone and see they are male or female but could not see that they are Christian. This is to say, a person could be seen as their race and judged as such, but it should not define them because everyone is made of the sum of their parts.

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Race can often dictate encounters and one’s portrayed image. Although the image always correlates with lived experience. How do you react to things because of where you came from? What caused your thought process? When analyzing race, the meaningful drawback almost everyone seems to find in some way, shape, or form, is heritage through the culture surrounding race. Knowing where you came from to order the steps in your direction. Race brings community and signifies growth. A person I do not look like, and they do not look like me, are inherently different for that fact. We can not live the same life from that factor alone on top of the difference in the family, area lived in, etc.

Race is one of those genetic factors that tie you to your person. Race is family, history, community, and individuality all at once. I find that better understanding yourself improves your quality of thinking and pulls specific ideas out of the dark. The next time race is brought up in conversation, make it thoughtful; understanding it is one step closer to finding out what it means to you.

Caleb Smith-Sims, Senior

Caleb Smith-Sims is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

A deep dive into the slow death of American public transit

I’m sure that at some point during your MSJ commute, either to or from campus, you’ve seen the buses around Irvington. It’s not an uncommon sight either, which makes it all the more shocking to learn that only 5% of Americans use public transportation as their primary mode of travel. A significant reason for that is how inefficient and neglected they are.

On paper, public transportation should be much more mainstream. Cars generally take up 17% of annual household expenses, giving public transport an edge in terms of cost, and with fewer people driving themselves, carbon emission levels would generally go down. Public transportation generally seems like a better alternative to cars. Still, most of these modes of transit have become forgotten due to the rising car-centric nature of the United States, and as a result, the quality of their services have stagnated.

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Even in my own experience, American public transport, with the exception of subways, feels inefficient and inadequate. Not only are most trains too expensive for what they give you, but buses always seem behind and almost always have some arbitrary rule or schedule that makes them inconvenient. But why is this? What led to the downfall of a system that is so prevalent in other countries?

After World War II, veterans were sent home with a sizeable sum of money through the GI Bill. The significance of this cannot be ignored, as that money allowed most Americans to buy houses, which led to the creation of the suburbs, residential areas often outlying cities.

More often than not, people from the suburbs would work in the cities, meaning they would need a means of getting there and back. While cars did exist before World War II, the need for them then wasn’t as great as it became after the creation of suburbs. With the GI Bill allowing most Americans to afford cars, the explosion in car ownership was inevitable. As time passed, families would start the tradition of each new generation owning a vehicle, ingraining automobiles into American culture and society.

In fact, cities themselves were shaped by cars and highways, literally and figuratively. Streetcars are a perfect example, as the cabs and rails used to be around every corner of nearly every city. However, as the influence of cars began to spread into cities, the rails were paved over, and most cabs that once rode them were bought out and scrapped. While a few are still in operation today, they aren’t nearly as widespread as they were over 70 years ago.

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In terms of the actual shape of cities, they were usually grids, making it easy to get around on foot or by the now defunct streetcars. While the grid shape is still somewhat visible in today’s cities, the curved lines of highways carve into the once-uniform streets of the cities, disturbing the efficient system that public transport once had.

This efficiency, which can be seen in the public transport systems of other countries, is notably absent in the United States. More specifically, most American buses and subways only succeed at moving outlying communities into city centers and fail to connect the communities themselves to each other.

In 2022, America has been shaped by cars, leaving most modes of public transport to fall by the wayside, not only because of the increase in car ownership but also due to America’s geography. High-speed rails flourish in places like China and Japan, often reaching speeds up to 200 miles per hour due to their area’s relatively flat geography. In contrast, in the United States, rougher geography leads to more difficulty, time, and cost during construction.

Cost is a significant reason that trains specifically have been neglected, and it’s not hard to see why. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which supported the construction of the Interstate highway system, granted a whopping $175 million to their construction. Accounting for current-day inflation, it totals just under $2 billion, a gargantuan sum of money that our government isn’t exactly keen on spending nowadays.

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A recent example of this can be seen in California, through their “train to nowhere,” that cost over $5 billion. Beginning in 2008, the high-speed rail project aimed to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles and eventually connect the entire west coast. However, after 14 years of work, the project is still in indefinite limbo due to its lack of support from the government.

The car-centric nature of the United States, developed over decades of change, has seemingly left public transport in the dust, and despite volatile gas prices, it doesn’t seem like that fact will change any time soon. It’s a shame to see that a system with such potential has been neglected, especially since – if a few slight changes in American history were made – things could have turned out very differently.

Alex Magno is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism Class.

The rise and fall of Andrew Tate

Disclaimer: The views shared by Andrew Tate and his community are not the opinions shared by The Quill or Mount St. Joseph High School.

After a brief stint with fame, self-proclaimed hustler Andrew Tate has been banned on most social media due to concern for his preaching towards young men. Tate is a 35-year-old British-American who rose to prevalence with his polarizing opinions on masculinity, especially in male teenagers. His ban sent waves throughout the internet as the former kickboxer completely dominated the online world this summer. Posting his final video to Vimeo, the only available video platform after his ban, Tate solemnly said that many of his quotes were wrongly taken out of context and that his eradication would leave a “black hole.”

Now that a few weeks have passed since his defeat and the dust has settled, we can question how Tate grew to such infamy and whether or not his ban was rational.

Tate had grown from 1 million Instagram followers in June to 4.5 million shortly before his ban. (Lumared, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Anyone who was on the internet this summer knew that Tate was everywhere, rapidly building a fanbase of young fans that knew him as the “Top G.” Fan accounts were reposting his debatable opinions, such as that depression isn’t real or that men need to “man up.” Content creators voiced their disagreements with him, and commenters were split entirely. Others think his controversial speeches are stunts to gain more traction for his “Hustler’s University” program since many of Tate’s sermons contain harmless motivational advice. An example of this is in his quote, “Close your eyes. Focus on making yourself feel excited and powerful. Imagine yourself destroying goals with ease.” 

The bigger problem is Tate does not only make controversial claims about the mindset and hard-workingness of young men but how disrespectfully they should treat women. He has said many times that women should be submissive to men; a more recent interview sees Tate admitting that he loves women but thinks they cannot fulfill the same roles that a man could, and vice versa. It is important to understand that Andrew Tate’s ideas when it comes to gender roles are sexist and harmful to listeners.

Tate claims that he should help women and protect them. But by comparing them to dogs, children, and sports cars, he endangers the minds of his listeners with sexist views.

Tate began his empire shortly after his failure to reach success on the reality series Big Brother in 2016; he began to overflow his pockets with money from crypto and casinos, but that didn’t stop him from continuing to expand his brand. By 2022, Tate had set up online learning programs such as “The War Room” and “Hustler’s University,” teaching money-making strategies through the online platform Discord. Costing $49 per month, H.U. taught the strategies of crypto, e-commerce, copywriting, stocks, affiliate, and freelance. Although receiving negative reviews from professionals, the “college” still thrives with over 100,000 members.

The critical success of Hustler’s University comes from the affiliate program, which tasked students to find somebody else’s product and advertise it for their own financial gain. Many enrolled simply advertised Tate’s products by flooding TikTok with clips and edits of his finest quotes. A viral video in which Tate recounts his response “what color is your Bugatti” to a hater gained millions of views. These short but iconic videos not only made thousands for Tate but attracted a mass of impressionable young men to his brand. While the program is currently paused due to Tate’s ban, he is creating a 3.0 version which should only achieve a far higher level of success.

Above: The Front Page of “Hustler’s University 3.0” claims that it is the “future of learning.”

However, after his ban, one could argue that it is harder for him to network himself online. It seems as if the showrunners of social media want to keep Tate’s ideologies from young men. They, and many others on the internet, believe that his idea of “grow up” masculinity is harmful to our newer generations. A separate group defends him and his vision of a return to a more polar traditional masculinity. This minority argues that his ban was unfair, as anyone on the internet has a right to their own opinion. The season-spanning incident this summer may seem like a loss for Andrew Tate. Still, his message to the world about the unreliability and chaos of modern masculinity has left a massive mark on the internet.

Jude Danner is a sophomore member of The multimedia journalism class.

Getting a good night’s sleep before a test…Does it help?

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All parents say to get a good sleep right before a test or game, but is this actually true? Does a single good night’s sleep before a test or a game actually help with performance? The answer is that it can help, but only a little. One good sleep before a test or game can help to a minimal extent, but a consistent sleep schedule of 7-9 hours a week can help improve the brain’s ability to think and succeed. 

For tests, studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard concluded that inconsistent sleep can hurt test scores. In addition to inconsistent sleep, short durations of sleep can also diminish a student’s grades. Students who do not get enough sleep can not retain information from class, as well as decision-making being slowed down compared to students who do get enough sleep. Scientists proved that good, consistent sleep accounts for 25% of the variance in how students perform on tests. Students who get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night get approximately 10% higher on a test than students who get less sleep, which translates to 1.7 points on a scale of 20 points.

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A better sleep schedule does not only improve test scores, but can help with physical activities such as sports. As studies continue to grow, more professional sports teams, like the New York Jets, have changed their schedule to give their players an extra hour of sleep. A study from Stanford University revealed that basketball players who got at least 10 hours of sleep ran faster across the court and had a 9% increase in shooting accuracy on free throws and three-pointers. Having a good sleep schedule has proven to increase reaction time and overall energy in players. Sleeping also helps recover muscles and tissue, so if an athlete does not rest, muscles will not recover, which could put them at a higher risk of injury.

So what can someone do to help them get the rest they need for a test or a game? There are many different ways to get a nice, long sleep. These methods differ for different individuals, but creating a physical sleep schedule, having a good sleeping environment, and not drinking caffeine before sleeping are a couple of ways to help you ace your next test or perform well in your next game.

Collin Park is a Sophomore member of the Multimedia Journalism class.