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Your Addiction is Killing Me: Why People Shouldn’t Smoke in Public by Sophia Fantoni

If you are a smoker,  the issue is not if you get cancer; it’s when you get cancer. Smoking is absolutely awful for you, but most people don’t think of the consequences and the pain they are putting their body through. In fact, when you smoke outside you are hurting other people just by smoking in a different area. You are not only ruining your life, but the lives around you.

Smoking is not only unhealthy to smokers, but also to the people around them. For the smoker, it would make no difference to smoke in public than to smoke at home. On the other hand, when the smoker decides to light up a cigarette outside, it affects the people around them. As a result, the people in the vicinity of the smoker are now being affected just because of the smoker’s addiction. The smoker has put other people’s health in danger. For example, Quitter’s Circle, a website made by the American Lung Association and Pfizer to help smokers quit smoking, says that “Secondhand smoke–whether it’s from a neighbor’s burning cigarette or from a cigarette outside your window–has shown to have instant effect on the cardiovascular system of nearby individuals.” Therefore, the same is true when you breath in smoke wherever you go. Just by breathing in cigarette smoke your health is slightly impacted. When I walk by a smoker, and smell the vile smell of cigarette smoke, my head starts to throb and I become nauseous. That feeling stays with me for a few hours, making my day less enjoyable than it should have been. This proves that just because of an addiction someone else has it’s affecting people in our everyday lives.

Some have thought that when people smoke it won’t affect other people unless they are in an enclosed area, like a room. And yet, they are wrong. If someone is smoking outside or in an enclosed area the people around the smoker are still being affected. In fact, just by being in the same room as a smoker, it will affect you more because the smoke will stay in the room for a while forcing you to breath in smoke. But nevertheless, when you are outside it still is affecting you, because you are still breathing in the smoke. Consequently, breathing in cigarette smoke will affect your cardiovascular system.

At the same time, smoking in public can make a new smoker out of someone else. In fact, if an adolescent sees someone smoke–most kids see people smoke almost everyday wherever they go–they may think it’s okay for them to do just the same. They will think it’s okay to smoke and won’t know the consequences of their actions and what will happen in the long run. For example, Tobacco-Free Kids, an organization that has been working for 20 years to prevent kids from smoking, says that “Kids are more susceptible to cigarette advertising and marketing than adults. 83.4 percent of youth smokers (12-17) prefer Marlboro, Newport, and Camel (the three most heavily advertised brands), while only 61.1 percent of smokers (26 or older) prefer these brands.” This fact demonstrates how kids are being sucked into the smoking world. They see smoking as a cool thing to do and think that they should give it a try. Furthermore, kids are being attacked by cigarette brands. The brands are trying to draw them in, knowing that the kids are more likely to be influenced than adults. The advertisers are first drawing the kids in, but when kids see people smoking almost everyday, it makes it more enticing. As a result, more and more kids are being sucked into the habit of smoking because of what they see in public and on the media.

Lastly, it is like smokers are at war with society using their litter as weapons.  In fact, cigarettes have many things in common with weapons; weapons hurt people, are dangerous, leave bullet shells on the ground (like leaving cigarette butts on the ground), and leave smoke in the air. When smokers are done smoking they just leave their cigarette butts on the ground. The world is not their ashtray. Smokers can’t just drop their weapons (cigarette butts) on the ground like it doesn’t matter. It does matter! When I am walking in New York, I can’t help but notice the cigarette butts that cover the street. I mean they really aren’t that hard to miss. Every step I take, I step on a part of a weapon. It’s like they are part of the sidewalk. Like they are supposed to be there. In my eyes I see the ground as if it is a battlefield covered in debris left from weapons after war. Hence, cigarette butts are slowly covering and destroying planet earth’s surface. The beautiful green plants and the magnificent oceans are being turned into people’s ashtrays, contaminated by these weapons. Therefore, smokers are at war with the places where they live and are contaminating the society around them.

When smokers smoke in public they are not only affecting themselves, but the people around them, planet earth, and children. Stop smoking in public and the world will become a better, safer place.

Downed by Ayaan Rashid

The plane was in a 45 degree nosedive as I wrestled with the yoke to control the plane. I could hear passengers screaming with fear. How am I going to slow down this plane? My arms burned as I reached forward, and pulled the lever to deploy the speed brakes to 100%. My whole body was falling forward; the only thing holding me in was my belt that carved into my stomach. I must have lost all of my air; my heart beat faster, and I was panting to stay conscious. I used all of my strength to reach forward, and grab the control column. I gripped it so tightly my knuckles turned white. I heaved it all the way back, my muscles tightened as I struggled to hold the yoke back. The plane slowly pulled up, exerting a great deal of G-force on the airframe and everyone on board. My legs stiffened so much that I couldn’t feel them. They must have hit the rudder pedals because the plane yawed left and right a little bit. I ignored the passengers’ wails as best as I could. One of the overhead baggage compartments got unlatched, allowing suitcases to fly about the cabin. As the overspeed alarm continued to go off, I was thrown into the bottom corner of my seat. The altimeter on my instrument panel now read 3,000 feet.

The plane plummeted at an extremely dangerous rate of descent at 25,000 feet per minute. While the rate of descent had slowed to 10,000 feet per minute, we were still alarmingly close to the ground. The altimeter was violently spinning counter-clockwise. When we hit the 2,000 foot mark, what felt like every terrain alarm blared. Pull Up Terrain, pull up terrain, pull u-terrai-pull u-terrain… All of the alarms blurred together into one undecipherable word.

At 1,000, feet I looked at First Officer Charlie Walters. His resigned eyes looked back at me as he picked up the phone, and said solemnly, “This is your First Officer. Brace for impact.” I gazed up from the instrument panel and felt a strange sense of peace. My muscles relaxed as I saw an open, lush, green field, dotted with grazing sheep. The yoke fell back into a neutral position. We’re not going to hit the ground. There were a few men running in and out of a deep red barn in the distance. One of them looked to the sky, and they stopped in their tracks and looked straight at me. We can’t hit the ground! The men dropped everything in their hands and ran to the sides of the farm.

Oh, God, no. There was a loud bang. Then everything went black.

Animals Have a Soul, Don’t Put Them In Your Bowl: Why People Shouldn’t Eat Meat by Catherine Houde

“If you were stranded on an island, and to survive you had to eat meat, would you?” I have been asked this question in my life more times then I can remember, and my answer is yes. Humans would do almost anything to survive in a foreign and dangerous place. My question for you is, if you lived in a place where you didn’t have to harm innocent animals to survive and be healthy, would you choose not to eat them? For most meat eaters out there I’m guessing that the answer is no. Most people eat meat because they think it tastes good, but at the cost of a living breathing creature, is it worth it?

First, a vegetarian diet is one of the best ways to have a healthy diet. Plants are full of everything you need to live a healthy and happy life without taking the life of an innocent animal. According to the American Dietetic Association, “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” On top of that, many studies have proven that in America, vegetarians have better health rates than carnivores. I have been a vegetarian all my life, and I have never had anything more than a common cold that lasted a day or two. You can get everything you need from a vegetarian diet.
Despite this, some might say that meat has a good nutritional value. Meat has a good amount of protein in it. Although, this may be true, meat is not the best way to get protein. Things like dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds have a lot of protein also. The organization One Green Planet says ¨Here’s the facts. We need to eat foods that supply us with the nine essential amino acids that our bodies can’t make on their own. Some plant-based foods have all of them (quinoa, buckwheat, soy, chia and hempseed) while others have a mix of some and not others. As long as foods like legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables are consumed daily, you’re getting everything you need and more.¨ Furthermore, plants are the best way to get protein because you don’t need to kill an animal to get it.

Secondly, you will prevent cruelty to animals. Most people eat meat because they say it tastes good. Did you know that some animals in the US are treated so horribly that they are trapped inside a factory, in a small container where they can’t even turn around? How good does that piece of meat really taste when you know that poor cow or pig may have never even seen the light of day? How good does that meat really taste when you know an animal was viciously slaughtered just so you could have a burger. For Example, AnimalEquality – a website dedicated to animal rights-says “Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans. These shocking figures do not even include fish and other sea creatures whose deaths are so great they are only measured in tons.” We are killing very intelligent, living, breathing animals everyday just so we can have their meat. We have no right to take whatever we want and not care what we have to do to get it. If we were in their shoes it would be awful. Kept in a small area, being fed extra food to fatten you up just so you can be a nice big blob of meat on someone’s plate. Being raised just so you can get murdered. We should start treating these animals with respect, and letting them live a happy life as long as they should live.

Finally, producing livestock is one of the largest drivers of habitat loss. The more animals we are raising for food the more farmers expand their farms to increase the amount of cattle they can have. When they extend their property they are clearing trees and other places animals call home. Gidon Eshel, a geophysicist at Bard College in Annandale-On-Hudson, New York, who studies how human diets affect the environment, says. “Now we can say, only slightly fancifully: You eat a steak, you kill a lemur in Madagascar. You eat a chicken, you kill an Amazonian parrot.” That’s because species-rich habitats are being converted to pastures and feed crops as the human appetite for meat swells.” When you take away habitats of animals their species suffer. The population of earth is going up everyday which means we have a lot of people to provide food for. The more people on earth, the more food people eat, and most of the population is carnivores which means farmers need to increase their amount of live stock. To support all that livestock they need a bigger farm, and to create a bigger farm they need to clear land. Most of that land they are clearing is home to creatures that are going to become extinct if we keep taking away their homes. The less meat we eat the more species we are saving.

Moreover, eating meat is not a good way to help yourself or the planet. Sure, you may get a tasty meal, but is that meal worth all the suffering animals and people? To get one step closer towards the goal of a healthier world, try dialing back the meat. If you can’t make a change for the animals then make a change for yourself and your health. We need to stop hurting the earth and ourselves because we don’t care, and start helping, anyway we can.

Driving into our autonomous future: Are self driving cars to be trusted? by Jack Mehlman

Control– the power to influence or direct behavior. As a human race, we often strive for control, whether it’s at work, school, or most importantly, driving. Control gives us a sense of safety and comfort knowing that we are in charge. But what happens when we give up control to computers and unreliable software? We are in the middle of a new era, one where technology controls most everything, and everyday things like cars are changing before our eyes. According to Car and Driver magazine, mostly everyone will own a self driving car by 2025. These cars will have virtually no controls except for a keypad to type in your destination. Already, we are starting to see cars with self driving capabilities such as the well known Tesla Model S, but there have been malfunctions resulting in life threatening accidents. It all comes down to this, are we going to hand control over to technology, and trust it with our lives? I think self driving cars should never be allowed on the road, and here are some reasons why…

Autonomous cars are just like any other piece of technology– they can malfunction. There are often times, when using technology, that the screen glitches or freezes. This situation can also occur in the software installed in autonomous cars. These glitches within the cars can cause accidents that can be potentially life-threatening. Now I’m not going to lie, not having to drive three hours every weekend to my ski house sounds pretty nice, but getting into an accident does not sound appealing. For instance, multi-billion dollar car company Uber has been looking into self driving cars for a while now, and still has not been able to have a successful drive. In addition, According to Popular Mechanics Magazine, the autonomous Uber cars can only go 0.8 of a mile at max without a safety driver taking over the wheel. Recent crashes caused by software failure have made Uber temporarily “ground” its fleet of Volvo XC90 SUVs. Imagine a scenario: You’re driving down the highway in your new Tesla, the sunroof open, the cool breeze in your hair. After working a long day at the office you decide to sit back, switch on self driving mode, and watch some Netflix. Suddenly, the seventeen inch screen on your dashboard turns into a TV. Unaware of your surroundings, you didn’t notice that eighteen wheeler slowly merging into your lane, your sedan out of view to the driver. Just as you feel a nudge on your side, you look into the mirror and see the truck. As you try to brake, the car keeps on going, locked into its set path. Five minutes later, you find yourself sitting on the curb of route twenty, luckily escaping the totaled car with your life. Of course, there is a small percent chance that this would happen, but there is still always a chance. This all goes back to the car’s software, and the fact that technology is unpredictable.

Secondly, self driving cars can easily be hacked. Their software is no different from any other household technology. I mean, how creepy is that? Some random stranger can control your car from his computer. Hacking into cars can present serious security threats and danger to the passengers. In a self driving car, everything is controlled electronically opening the door for countless hackers. Do we really want to take the chances? It would take billions of dollars to create an unhackable system per car! Do you have that kind of money? I don’t think so. There have already been incidents where cars have been hacked, and we don’t even have full self driving cars yet! To demonstrate my point, Car and Driver Magazine did a test where they gave permission for a pro-hacker to hack into a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee’s software system. From his computer, the hacker was able to access the car’s infotainment system, brakes, speed, and even steering. The same software in that Jeep is also installed in millions of other Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, and Ram vehicles. See how easy it is? And that car only had partial self-driving capabilities. Luckily the driver was able to override the hacker by tugging on the steering wheel, but imagine when cars don’t have steering wheels? What are you going to do then? There are plenty of scary things regarding technology, but hackers are by far the worst, especially when they are in control of your car!

Lastly, in a self driving car– you can’t drive, and what fun is that? While you might feel that driving is boring, In reality, the thrill of your foot on the pedal as you accelerate, or the strong grip on your steering wheel are both feelings that you can only find while driving. Not on your living room couch. Now, why do you think I brought up your living room? Well, in a self driving car, you don’t do anything. In fact, the only difference from your home and an autonomous car is that your home has a bathroom. You basically just sit there tediously staring at your phone until you arrive at your destination, and you can’t drive because you’re in a self driving car. This sounds pretty obvious but it’s true. In fact, lots of people enjoy driving, and I’m not talking about your commute to work, I’m talking about those beautiful winding roads in the mountains. Driving gives people a chance to take their mind off all the hard stuff in life, while also providing an exciting thrill. Do you really want to be cooped up in a glass box doing nothing for hours on end? Because I sure don’t! According to Huffpost, driving can release stress when you’re in the right environment. When filming Skyfall (James Bond film) Ben Collins, a racing driver, said: “When we filmed Skyfall I drove an Aston Martin DB5 across a mountain pass near Fort William before handing the keys over to 007. That car, with its yacht-like steering wheel and soft suspension, took me closer to heaven than anything I can remember.” Driving really should be treasured, not taken away by computers. If computers controlled our cars with no way for us to take the wheel, we would lose the pleasure, relaxation, and stress relief included in drives like Ben Collins’ in the windy mountain roads. Companies like Tesla can not take that away from us.

And it all comes down to this word: control– the power to influence or direct behavior. Yes, some people want cars that will drive them around, but is that really necessary? We as humans are getting so lazy that we can’t even drive ourselves, so some “genius” came up with the idea to make an autonomous car. I’m honestly worried about our future. Throughout this article, we’ve seen the many risks that follow “the driverless road,” and have explored the upsides of pure human intelligence. And i’ll end with this: Do we want our cars to be controlled by technology and artificial intelligence?– Or do we want the control for ourselves?

Once and Floral: Why Flowers Might Not Be the Ideal Gift by Isabel Xue

It’s the day before Mother’s Day, and of course, like everybody else, you want to get your mom –the most common, most unimaginative, most cliché gift ever– flowers. You and your dad sneak out of the house like two little mice, in hopes to obtain a bouquet of flowers, not cheese. After driving to the nearest grocery store, you quickly dash to the flower section, your father not too far behind you. “Hurry up! Pick one that is not too expensive!” he says. You quickly browse through the price tags, looking for the cheapest but still somewhat alluring bouquet of flowers. To your dismay, all of the blossoms are pricey, so you choose the cheapest one. Later in the day, you present the bouquet to your mom. She smiles and thanks you, only to put the flowers in a vase, and not pay any more attention to them. They die almost as quickly as they are forgotten. Flowers might be known as the most romantic gift ever, but does that status make it a good gift?

Many people believe that flowers are a good gift because for many many years, these beautiful blossoms have been a universal symbol of love, and have been known as the most romantic gift ever. Everybody gives their loved ones flowers during holidays to show their affection and bolster their relationship, and nobody puts any thought into a more unique present that comes from the heart. Because of this, flowers have become hands down the most unoriginal gift ever. Cliché and romance come in a package, yet in this case, one of those elements overrides the other. Neither the recipient nor the gift-giver would be proud of such an unoriginal gift. To illustrate this, according to ProFlowers, around 110 million roses are sold in the US during Valentine’s Day. This means that around 30% of the population buys flowers for the holiday. Presents that symbolize love should be unique to each individual person. Flowers are from a store that anyone could go to, so anybody could buy the exact same flower. Moreover, people are more proud of giving a gift that they put a lot of time and effort into. Everyone can agree that driving to the grocery store does not show much time and effort. I would definitely say that even though cliché and romance come hand in hand, it seems as if the bad side of flowers shows through more than the good side does.

Another reason that flowers are not the best gift is that they die and are forgotten quickly, yet they cause havoc to the environment. For instance, regular roses live for an average of only a week. But from personal experience, I know that flowers become a decoration on display and tend to be forgotten after a couple hours. Another similar example is from my friend, Ashley, who remembers one time when she received a bouquet of flowers. Ashley told me that she instantly put them in a vase and forgot about them. They died two days later, but they weren’t really missed. Ashley’s flower experience shows that I’m not the only who thinks this way. It is clear that giving flowers to someone is not an action that resonates in their heart. Nobody seems to really love these bouquets as a gift. So, why is there such a demanding threat on Mother Nature for these ephemeral blossoms? According to Jennifer Grayson, an environmental journalist for the Washington Post, “up to 80 percent of the 5.6 billion stems of flowers sold in the United States each year are imported. Of those, 93 percent are grown thousands of miles away in production greenhouses in Colombia or Ecuador. And it takes an awful lot of energy and artificial tinkering to keep those flowers fresh.” Flowers are originally soaked in toxic chemicals, thus making them not only harmful towards the environment, but the people working around there too. Afterwards, to preserve the blossoms while they are shipped, they are kept in high energy-wasting refrigerated warehouses and displays(Grayson). The environment already faces enough struggles. Producing a plethora amount of flowers that will soon end up dying and getting forgotten is not something that should be a problem.
Finally, everybody assumes that a girl likes flowers; a common stereotype is that girls treasure these bouquets. This causes many people to believe flowers are the perfect gift for girls. For example, nobody would ever think of giving my brother flowers. As for me, I always receive bouquets for occasions, although nobody asked me if that was what I wanted. Why? I’m a girl who should adore these beautiful blossoms. After all, everybody quotes, “flowers are a girl’s best friend.” But after polling my friends on their prefered gift, it turns out that only one person prefered the floral arrangement. So, what was a more favorable present? Many respondents seemed to find cookies and chocolate more impressive. Teachers all tell us to try to get rid of stereotypes. Presenting a girl an unsolicited bouquet is basically a hidden way of saying, “you are a girl so you have to like flowers.” If someone did say something along those lines to your face, you would be pretty offended. Everyone has their own unique personality, and nobody should assume they would enjoy a certain gift because of a stereotype. A bouquet of flowers might come with a smile, but with no feeling behind it, the blossoms are just based on a stereotypical assumption.

Flowers are everybody’s go to gift, but with a deeper analysis, these bouquets may not seem as pleasant as we thought they were. If you veer away from the flower aisle the next time you go to the grocery store to get your loved one a gift, you may find new discoveries that you wouldn’t have made if you stuck with the standard. Perhaps you’ll make her a very nice card with a beautiful necklace. Maybe you’ll bake her cookies with a special recipe that you invented yourself. When you give the gift to her, no matter what it is, you’ll be satisfied with the wide grin that spreads across her face and lights up the room. Even if it’s not perfect, your loved one will still treasure the gift because you put the time and effort to show that you care about her. Flowers may be a charming superficial decoration, but a gift that someone truly appreciates is one that touches the heart.

The Door by Nadia Calder

Every thought, every bone, every cell in my body told me not to open that door, yet my overpowering curiosity was already winning, as it did every time, as it would this time.

Goose bumps appeared on my arms, even though it was a warm summer evening. The moon’s glowing beam of light shied away from the doorway, fizzling out. Nothing could be seen through the crack above the dark oak door. The door was warped and up close I could see long, thick scratches, as if someone, no something, had tried to claw their way in. Snarling and growling filled my ears in an uneven rhythm. And yet, my hand still inched forward until I grasped the door knob. All sounds stopped and a frozen chill filled the room, starting at the door and clawing its way through my body, a chill that my robe and slippers did nothing to help. Along with the slight rust, my hand clung to the knob as my palm grew sweaty.

I opened the door, and I woke up. I was panting, and sweat gleamed on my hands, just like in the dream. Normally, I would dismiss it as any nightmare, except that I had had that same recurring dream for the past week. And the door in my dream was the same as the one in my basement. As I did the past seven nights, I untangled myself from my twisted sheets, pulled on a satin bathrobe, and shoved slippers on my feet.

I padded to the basement and jerked the creaky door open. The stairs were worn beneath my slippers as I crept down them. Spiders crouched in their homes, made in the crevices and cracks of my basement ceiling. On both sides of me, a blanket of dust covered the clutter filled basement. No sounds were omitted through the door. I turned with a sigh and trudged back up the stairs. But then I heard a noise. Again I heard it– definitely a growl. I took a tentative step. The noise grew, shaping into a feeling; fear. I let out a small sound, maybe a gasp or a quiet yelp, I don’t know. Whatever it was, was greeted by sudden silence– a pulsing, awful silence. I shrunk back.

There was something behind that door, some thing, and it couldn’t be good.

A Walk Through The Ocean by Aydan McGah

Ice cold water
splashes across
the ongoing ocean floor.

My bare feet push deeper
into the grainy sand
while I shut my eyes
and listen to the waves crash.

The bright sun, shines down
as the seagulls
glide in the air.

Calico crabs hide
under barnacle covered rocks
and between slippery seaweed.

I dance across the beach,
skipping rocks into the mysterious
dark water.

The cool Maine breeze
rushes across my face
as I relax and watch
streaks of orange and pink
disappear as the sun sets.

Manchester Breeze by Anna Walsh

I descend
knee deep
into chilly refreshing water.

Feet sink
into wet rocky sand.

Water splashes
droplets fall lightly on my face.

I walk deeper.
A tide so low
you could walk for miles still keeping your head above.

I wave my cousin on
urging her to descend deeper into the salty waters.
Water rises up my legs
reaching up
to touch my shorts.

Boats chug past.
The engines play a soft melody in my ear.
New adventures await
the content sailors.

Eyes stay focused ahead,
hands stay fastened to the wheel,
waiting for whatever the ocean brings.
Navigating the cold
wavy waters
breezy ocean winds.

I look back down
to water’s sandy surface,
to creatures below.

It’s not there.

I continue on until I see
small sand dollars.

My hand plunges into the crisp water.

Found one!

My sister and cousin come splashing over
to admire the small treasure
I have found.
They lightly hold the precious creature,
as if their lives depended on it.

I smile and hand them the sand dollar,
to add to the collection
and continue looking
in cool, salty water,
on this breezy day,
in Manchester.