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When Pigs Fly

Posted by: Mark Putney | December 10, 2013 | No Comment |


Wild pigs, boars, federal hogs – whatever you call them – they are becoming a major world problem. Within the last couple of years the wild pig populations have sky rocketed dramatically. It is a fact that wild pigs have taken over the planet. It is now just a matter of lowering their population before it gets so out of control that it is too late to do anything about it.

Wild boars are not native to the U.S and they were introduced in the 1500s when colonists came to the Americas.  The boars were released in the wild and were hunted by the colonists for food. Hundreds of years have gone by and now imagine these creatures located all around the globe, imagine the destruction that these beasts can cause worldwide. With the fact that’s these wild animals are located everywhere including 47 of the 50 United States and all over Europe it is no wonder why the populations are so high.  With the population nearing over a million in Florida state alone and  “The German Hunting  Federation” stated that the populations of wild boars before 2008 quadrupled and  thereafter through 2009 have since quintupled over the last couple of years is just horrifying to think about what the wild boar populations would be in the future to come. Jager Pro Hog Systems part of the U.S Department of Agriculture say that one female boar or “sow” can reproduce on 8 to 10 months out of the year and can produce 12 or more piglets in that one year, this is crazy.

Boars are very dangerous and destructive causing over 1.5 billion dollars in damage to crops and property each year just in the United States. There was a case where these destructive hogs had caused an f-16 fighter jet plane to crash. The incident occur on an army base in Florida when an f-16 fighter jet was trying to land on the runway and a wild hog appeared out of nowhere and was hit by the jet causing a 16$ million dollar accident.

But destruction is not the only thing these pigs are good at there has been a ton of incidents with these boars harassing and attacking the people of Germany.  There are an estimated 3000 boars that room the streets of Germany. With that many wild animals loose someone is bound to get hurt. In late October of 2012 four people were attack by a 256 pound porker in the town Charlotottenburg of these four people attack a policeman was attacked by this beast and injured. Soon after police arrived and shot the boar down.  As I have said before these animals are dangerous and destructive, and with their population every growing and expanding who knows how bad it could get before it is too late.

under: Features


Posted by: Mark Putney | November 22, 2013 | No Comment |

Movember (Mustache- November) is here yet again! Handlebar, fu Manchu, toothbrush, walrus,- whatever the style, millions across the globe have one month to produce the finest mustache the world will ever see. The goal? Other than looking fly, Movember’s true goal is to raise prostate and testicular cancer awareness, along with raising funds for treatment and research. Movember itself isn’t just a fancy portmanteau, it’s an actual organization based out of Australia. Founded in 2003, Movember has grown from 30 participants (Mo Bros) to more than a million today. Last year, in the US alone, Movember raised $21 million for the cause. For more information on Movember, visit their website at Movember


Photos By: Nahoa Jette and Sam Draves

These are the Homer High School teachers and a student showing their ‘staches. (*Note not all teachers are participating in Movember.) Students prepare yourselves because you will get the opportunity to not only vote for your favorite mustache, but also support the Movember organization. On Nov. 26, students will have the opportunity to vote for the best mustache shown at Homer high. The teacher in first, second and third place will earn money to donate in his name. A spirit day will be held on the same day where students can wear their mustache. Guys better start now! Girls can participate by making a fake mustache. Here is the fun part, any student that brings their mustache to school to show off will automatically be giving money to the Movember organization. A real mustache will give one dollar to Movember, and a fake mustache adds fifty cents to the total count. Good luck and happy Movember.

under: News

If It Bleeds, It Leads

Posted by: Mark Putney | November 20, 2013 | No Comment |


There is a saying in journalism that says “If it bleeds, it leads.” But last Friday I found new meaning in this phrase. While arms were sterilized and foam balls were squeezed, 32 students gave their blood for the annual Blood Bank of Alaska, blood drive.

As put in their mission statement: “Blood Bank of Alaska and its donors are dedicated to serving the Alaskan community by providing high quality blood products and related laboratory services while meeting changing healthcare needs.”

Any healthy person who is 16 years or older and is more than 113 pounds can donate blood.

The blood that is donated by students is used for blood transfusions. “The blood that is given is used for things like cancer treatments, or after a heart attack, or a car crash,” said School Nurse Sharon Gorman.

But is giving blood safe?

“There’s no risk of infection.” said Nurse Sharon. While some people do faint after losing so much blood, this is extremely unlikely, and only a minor concern when compared to the lives that you could save.

According to the American Red Cross, more than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day. And even though an estimated 38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate, less than 10% actually do each year. Blood Bank of Alaska statistics say that 25% of Alaska’s blood supply is obtained from high school blood drives.




under: News

iPhone Apps for Babies

Posted by: Mark Putney | November 20, 2013 | No Comment |


In 2013 when technology is such a routine part of the American life, one almost doesn’t even question the thought of babies playing with iPhone apps. They keep kids with busy parents quiet, they’re portable, and hey, they’re labeled “educational,” so they must be good for kids. It’s the way of the future; it’s time to start embracing technology as a common learning tool for kids that can’t even walk yet, right? Wrong.

Most old enough to read this article probably grew up without the aid of any technological implements. When I was two I definitely wasn’t occupying my time on my mother’s iPhone- for one, she still had one of those indestructible bricks from Nokia. Instead of swiping my finger across a screen to learn my letters and numbers, I was using my senses to explore the real world around me. I was interacting with other kids; I was making mistakes and learning from trial and error. Eventually, I started going to preschool, which still didn’t need to use an extensive amount of technology to ensure I was learning anything. I mean, at this point email was still a fairly new and exciting idea to most people.

Times have of course changed since I was in preschool however, and with the rise in technology there has been an increase in its use amongst a group of people that just seems to be getting younger and younger as the years go on. When I was a little kid, I’m not sure I even knew what the internet was. Now first graders are whipping out their iPhones to update their twitters in the middle of naptime. What’s wrong with using a phone as a regular toy for a baby?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children can get hooked on virtual-world play at a young age. Everyone knows how addicting the internet and media in general can be, and subjecting a two year old baby to it on a routine basis can cause some problems. For one, kids can lose interest in other non-virtual activities, they can acquire attention problems, and they will lack the correct skills to engage in real world play and interaction.

A child’s social skills can be hindered by the extensive use of technology at a young age, says Mayo Clinic. If a kid becomes too involved in virtual-world play and isolation, social interaction and real world play will be more difficult, for the child hasn’t had the opportunity to develop those skills. For example, when you were a kid and didn’t have the technology there was today, did it seem like it was easier to keep yourself entertained? I know I can relate.

While the use of technology can be beneficial and fun, it shouldn’t be used too extensively, and shouldn’t be used for little babies that haven’t had a chance to explore the world and develop the necessary social skills to function in the world. Apps for babies are really targeted towards the parents that pay for them.

under: Opinion

The SAT and College Apps

Posted by: Mark Putney | November 20, 2013 | 1 Comment |


It’s worshiped and feared at the same time, but nevertheless, the SAT is a staple component in college applications. It’s a process where students flock to their testing centers, usually early on a Saturday morning, and spend the next five hours of their life filling in circles with a #2 pencil. The majority of students will repeat these steps multiple times, while on the hunt for the perfect score that will admit them to their dream school. But is the SAT really necessary?

I took the SAT. It’s not absolutely terrible, but it’s not an enjoyable experience either. Recently I just sent off my scores to colleges, and ironically just a short time afterwards, I stumbled upon The Case Against the SAT.

The article argues that the SAT isn’t a reasonable factor in determining the success of a student at a specific school. Before reading it I already thought that this was true, and that College Board just wanted to drain the wallets of suffering of students. As it turns out, there are many arguments out there that further validate the opinions of not only me, but thousands of other aggravated students.

The author, Thomas Rochon, has “lived the experience from both sides.” He was once a student who was victimized by the SAT, but later in life he would become a proponent of standardized testing.

As the president of Ithaca College, and familiar with the flaws of the SAT, Rochon eliminated the requirement of the SAT from the school’s application.

What was the outcome?

More students applied and enrolled, creating a larger cash flow into the school, while also making it a more diverse community of students.

College applications are daunting enough, but when schools demand submitting the SAT or ACT, many students with less that stellar scores find themselves intimidated, and thus are more likely to refrain from applying to that school at all. In reality, there’s a strong chance that those students would find successful at that school, but because the SAT says otherwise, they will go through life with that “what if?” looming in the back of their mind.

The Debate on Ending SAT Gains Ground reinforces the idea that the SAT is an unbalanced system by arguing that the test is geared towards aiding only the wealthy students.

College Board profits around $500 million each year on testing; though this “non-profit” organization pays multiple executive individuals well into the six digit range.

I always thought these tests were supposed to aid the student- not add to their stress by financially binding them. Ultimately it’s money that makes the world go round. The SAT and ACT are each $50 a pop.

For many, including me, there’s no ignoring the realization that to pay $50 to take a test is robbery at its finest. There are families in the world that struggle to put food on the table each night, and when they try use education to break out their depression, they are only pushed back down by the costs of these tests. It doesn’t end there, though. There’s also studying for the test, which the SAT itself recommends, that can cost northward of $150.

As far as I’m concerned, standardized testing is the world’s greatest con. It’s as if a group of capitalist crooks developed a test, made it critical to the future of millions, and took advantage of the innocent student in order to build their monetary empire.

Like everything, nothing is perfect. College applications strive to give each student an equal chance of being admitted, but they do fall short with the SAT. At the end of the day, the world will keep spinning, and tests will still be taken. Change is calling, though, and it’s time to shed light on the inefficiencies that plague our educational system.

under: Opinion

Technology Taking Over Babies

Posted by: Mark Putney | November 20, 2013 | No Comment |


These days one year old kids know how to use technology. This is wrong; babies shouldn’t know how to use an iPhone or how to work an iPad.

Many adults have smartphones and tablets, and their kids of course would be very interested in a touch screen device. Kids get engaged in games, videogames, videos etc. The total of active apps that are available to download is 930,417. 5,268 of those were downloaded just for this month that is 188 per day. We all know of a child or children that are under 5 that know how to work a smartphone or someone that is hooked to playing games. These two ladies were interviewed for an article from The New York Times. “The little one loves to go through the pictures and name who’s in them, see her grandma and her nanny,” said Tina Deutsch, a mother of two and four year old girls. If you think about that, why doesn’t she look through printed out pictures or an album? And then, there these type of parents, “I know if I need Zoe to be quiet for an hour, I can hand her the iPad and I won’t hear from her,” said Dr. Laurel Glaser, a Philadelphia physician with two daughters, Zoe, 5, and Maya, 1.

Now, there are parents that download apps for education that are very useful for a child. But a kid that is under five shouldn’t know how to use smartphone, it’s a way of getting them started, they get so into it, then years later they want one themselves. Younger kids should spend more time in reading books, learning how to draw by hand and many more activities that don’t involve technology. Kids learn and understand more when someone reads to them or shows pictures. See the thing with technology for kids who play games, is that they get so much of it in their head and get addicted, it builds up more imagination. For example, if a kid is playing a game that involves violence, then the kid acts just like in the game, imagining that he/she are fighting someone.  When looking at printed material, the brain and eyes understand exactly what distance at which to focus. When looking at a video screen, the eyes are constantly changing focus, making the eyes very tired.

I believe kids can learn faster and better from books, and writing by hand, communicating in person, and being more active in life. Even though it may be too late to change that for the kids who are growing now, it may be a thought for the young ones that will have kids later in life.


under: Opinion

Do Video Games Cause Violence?

Posted by: Mark Putney | November 20, 2013 | No Comment |


Fantasy gore seems to be more and more popular as the graphics are refined and technical kinks are straightened out. They have become increasingly popular amongst the teen to young adult population, especially boys. What is it that makes them so fascinating—the repulsive graphics, the brutal deaths? And, is there something more sinister about these games’ effects on teen and young adult behavior?

Graphic designers for video games have cracked down on the nitty-gritty details in the last three years, perfecting realistic blood spatters, human-like reflexes in opposing characters, and jaw-dropping architecture. Especially now, with such a wide array of technology at our fingertips, the demand for perfection drives designers to push the limits. The violence is beginning to seem more realistic, the deaths more satisfying. Many people, parents especially, are worried that the hyper-realistic games will cause children to lash out, or even cause severe harm to other people. Even school shootings have been blamed on violent video games, but scientists disagree on this assumption.

Most scientists who have studied the matter agree that the “violent” effects of video games on any given player are short term—like heightened rudeness for maybe an hour or two—and agree that they help by keeping the violence in our imagination and off the streets. They say that even violent TV or news stories can have the same effect. Neuroscientist Daphne Bevelier’s studies found that video games, specifically first-person shooters, improve reaction time and hand/eye coordination. Results found that avid players can find small details more accurately in clutter, and differentiate shades of gray better, which could mean the difference between life and a fatal car accident when driving in dark, foggy weather. One study even suggested that playing video games can, for people who have less than perfect eyesight, retrain the player’s brain to see better after a longer period of time. And still, despite evidence of being beneficial, video games are accused of causing violence.

People like to blame video games for aggression in communities, but the truth is there is absolutely no evidence directly linking video games to physical violence. There are too many variables to consider that lead to violent acts, such as bullying in the home or at school, to correlate anything directly to a harmful occurrence. According to ProCon.org, the spikes of youth hostility have not coincided with the increase of violent video games either. The amount of youth offenders dropped by 49.3% between 1994 and 2008, whereas video game sales have doubled since 1996. And, according the studies of Dr. Michael Ward’s, an economics professor at the University of Texas, the times when video game sales are highest are actually when juvenile crime rates are lowest.

The evidence that violent video games are beneficial, and aren’t causing all the violence they’ve been accused of, has been drowned out by reproachful and hateful remarks. The war on video games has gone so far in some states that it is illegal to sell video games rated mature or higher to anyone under 18, despite the court ruling that it’s a violation of free speech, much like the cases in California in 2011.

With fingers itching to play that new Call of Duty or Battlefield, new worries of teen and young adult violence has surfaced. But isn’t it better for violence to stay in our heads or on a screen instead of on the streets? And, with so many benefits to be gained from that new Bioshock, why not spend a little time sharpening your senses and slaughtering a few hundred rebels? Violent video games have not desensitized us to real-life brutality—if anything, they’ve become a healthy release of stress, and many online games promote cooperation with large numbers of players on your own or the opposing teams. So enjoy that new copy of Grand Theft Auto 5 you’re itching to play, and all of its guilt free pleasure.


under: Opinion


Posted by: Mark Putney | November 19, 2013 | No Comment |


When people think of poverty, they often think of the third world countries with an overwhelming number of lower class citizens. Many believe that the United States has little to no lower class citizens in poverty, yet the numbers prove otherwise.

I decided to head out and take a survey to find out what Homer High School students think. When asked what poverty is, most people described a definition similar to the one found in Merriam-Webster online dictionary which states, “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions.”

One respondent replied, “Homeless people,” which I believed to be true until fairly recently.

According to the New York Times, “Poverty in America Is Mainstream,” people victimize those in poverty with stereotypes and misconceptions. On the IRP (Institute for Research on Poverty) website, the average poverty threshold for a family of two is $14,937 and $23,492 for a family of four. I never before considered those with debts, medical bills, food stamps and others to be in poverty. The census bureau has a climbing population of about 317 million and counting with numbers based off of the 2010 national census. The poverty usa website states that over 46 million Americans live in poverty which is approximately 14.5 percent.

The article from the New York Times previously mentioned said 40 percent of the U.S. lives in poverty each year. To put that in numbers, 126.8 million Americans cross the poverty line each year. Although most households do not stay in poverty for very long, still those numbers represents the east coast and a few states in the mid-west. I asked in the survey how many Americans were believed to be in poverty every year, and most said the answer is millions worldwide or about 100,000 Americans. This shocked me how people really do not know what happens in our own economy.

It puzzled me at what makes up those millions of people that go unnoticed in poverty; it prompted me to ask how people move into poverty.

“Everywhere, mainly in developing or less developed countries like most of Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, parts of India and China, etc. but even in developed countries poverty exists. Here in Homer there are currently between 40 and 80 homeless people and over 1,500 homeless in Alaska,” said one of the survey takers who seemed to have the most general knowledge about poverty.

Many of the responses included drugs, alcohol and other bad life decisions. Contrary to the popular belief, statistics show that those working minimum wage, in need of food stamps, in debt account for the majority of those below the poverty line.

In these thoughts came one last question I added to the survey that asked what should people do to reduce the amount of people in poverty in America. The diversity of ideas overwhelmed me. More jobs, no taxes, and wealthy sharing their money were the top responses.

Here is my question to you, the reader: When is America going to stop believing in the stereotypes and false rumors and help the citizens that struggle constantly to get by day to day?


under: Opinion

The World is Ending!

Posted by: Mark Putney | November 19, 2013 | No Comment |


Want to watch a movie full of gore, violence, and intense zombie horror? Too bad, we’re going to talk about five old men reuniting for an epic pub crawl they failed to do in high school. Director Edward Wright turns a movie full of drunks into a threat towards humanity, testing the bonds of friendship. Gary King, played by Simon Pegg, is portrayed as a beat down alcoholic trapped in his old scandalous ways. His head stuck as a teenager, he tracks down his four estranged friends to complete the “Golden Mile,” a line of 12 pubs in their suburban U.K. hometown, Newton Haven. Skeptical and wary of abandoning their adult responsibilities to try and complete a high school dream, they all join together as friends once again to try and reach the Worlds End, the last pub of the golden mile. Little did they know, stumbling drunk through the streets, that they are the earth’s last hope for survival.

The movie starts out in 40 year old Gary King’s mind, replaying his teenage dream, the first attempt of the Golden Mile proved to be a fail with less and less of their group lurching towards the last pint. As Gary tracks down his old companions, convincing them to put their successful family lives on hold, proved to be a challenge, but overpowering obligation to do so caught all four of them waiting at the bus stop in Newton Haven for flaky Gary to arrive. Former best friend Andy Knightly, refuses to drink with the group until after a bathroom stall quarrel, Andy thinking of himself as superior over the rest of the boys. Fights and testing of friendship continue along the pub line as the characters are forced to trust each other to a new extent.

The town of Newton Haven is a quiet and unusual town after their return. Citizens are not speaking and normal social activities are absent, the town was in dull shades of monotony. Gary and Andy’s friendship is the main theme of the film, as well as “Shaun of the Dead,” Pegg and Frost are the two main characters fighting through the Apocalypse together. The movie “The Worlds End” revolves around the theme of friendship, targeting mostly the two main characters. Gary and Andy are forced apart throughout the movie due to each other’s overruling stubbornness, yet in the end they are side by side defending humanity. Gary drunkenly exclaimed, “We are the human race and we don’t like being told what to do!”

The film uses descriptive backgrounds and visual character emotions to creatively give each one a very specific personality. Pegg”s character is backed with a leather trechcoat and overgrown, ragged black hair, assisted with a sailor’s tongue and classic 80’s metal. Frost’s however was a successful business owner, suit and tie. The movie also blends the personalities well with music and slight personality and wardrobe change as the fight gets more intense. The dark filter mixed with the eerie soundtrack alerts the movie having a hidden plot twist, as the harmless night together turns into a struggle for survival.

Although you’ll be laughing, on the edge of your seat and trying to cope with the ridiculousness, and torn by people’s struggle, you can’t forget about poor Gary and Andy! Even though you see the war being fought by five drunken men, there are the tight bonds of friendship that hold them together… Oh, and stubbornness.

under: Film Reviews

The Mariners Cage the Panthers

Posted by: Mark Putney | October 25, 2013 | No Comment |


On Saturday, Oct. 12 the Homer Mariners battled it out for the first time this season at Skyview High School. What a day, with all of the excitement of the yelling crowds and cheering of the teams in the gymnasium, it was filled with noisy fans. Tragically, this could have been one of the last home meets for the Panthers due to the high school turning into a middle school.

The Mariners did a fantastic job this last weekend scoring 13 wins and only 5 losses over all. With this hope, team members feel this set the tone for the season, telling all other teams that the Mariners are here to win.

Although I was in the tournament myself, I managed to get interviews in with most of the wrestlers.

My first interview was with second year wrestler Wyatt Lewis (freshman) who answered my series of questions with a smile on his face. When I asked Wyatt what it was like to wrestle for his first time high school, he said that he felt that it was going to be a challenge. He then added, “It’s different.” I asked him if he was nervous or scared; he raised his eyebrows, grinned and said, “Yeah, I was nervous.” When asked what it felt like when the referee raised Wyatt’s hand for the win, Wyatt replied, “I felt happiness. I felt a rush of excitement over my body, especially when my dad yelled, ’Yea!’ I felt pride.”

I  asked the team manager how the team did that day. “I think we did pretty good, ” she said. Do you think we were ready? “Maybe if we had two more practices I think we could have won all of our matched. I think we are going to do great.”

With the Mariners on a roll there is no telling what is to come next with this blistering storm of a team. The Mariners will have their first home meet this week on Saturday, Oct. 19. So come and support your Mariners, Homer.


under: Sports

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