It Started With A Clock

Time almost came to a halt for 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed Monday morning when he went to school with a clock he had made on his own within 20 minutes and was subsequently arrested. A Muslim living in Irving, Texas with an aspiration to become an engineer, he was ecstatic to show the clock off to his teacher. He was proud of it. But his teacher thought it was a threat against her, and immediately alerted the Principal.

According to CNN, Ahmed told reporters a couple days later that “it was really sad that she took the wrong impression of it.” It left him confused and upset. He was escorted away from the school in handcuffs. “They arrested me and they told me that I committed the crime of a hoax bomb, a fake bomb,” he said, shortly after his release on Wednesday. No charges had been made.

 Soon, the hashtag (#IStandWithAhmed) started to trend all over Twitter as the world voiced their frustrations over the treatment of the boy who never even received an apology from Police or the high school. President Obama, among other big names, showed his support towards Ahmed and invited him to the White House. The White House holds an anuual Astronomy Night for scientists, and Ahmed had confirmed that he would be in attendance.

This all goes back to the stereotype that all Muslims are terrorists. Ahmed’s father said that his son had never been in trouble, and that all he wants is to be an inventor. He went on to mention that this was a case of Islamophobia. “My son’s name is Mohamed — people just think Muslims are terrorists but we are peaceful, we are not that way,” he added.

 Ahmed had also been suspended for three days, and doesn’t plan on returning to the school. He and his siblings are to be homeschooled. However, he is still yet to get back his clock from the Irving Police Department, which was being held for investigation, and his family has since hired two attorneys.

 Ahmed appeared on “Good Morning America” Thursday morning to talk about his recent ordeal. He is not discouraged by the incident and will continue to invent, for it is his passion. “That clock was a part of my future,” he said.

 He is excited for what the future could bring, and it all started with a clock.

“Humans of New York” influences WCSU student to create “Humans of WestConn”

Over the summer, student Clarence Pacete was moved to start a “Humans of WestConn” after a friend started one up at his college with a lot of success. This drove Pacete to start an Instagram account, @humansofwcsu, to begin his vision of “Humans of Westconn”.

Pacete’s goal of “Humans of Westconn” is to bring new unity into the student body.
​​
“Hopefully when people see this account, people will want to find some new friends around campus, and also want to stay after classes and become more involved,” says Pacete. He envisions that more students will branch out and become more excited about going to Westconn.

Pacete’s style to interview for @humansofwcsu is simple and straightforward. At first, he strikes up a conversation with a person and begins to talk about his or her interests. Subtly, he will pin-point something that they are passionate about, then ask a simple question for them to answer. This ends up on the account with the person’s permission. As of right now, Pacete wants to keep the questions lighthearted and “not too deep and not too general.”

Recently, Pacete expanded his network to Facebook, where he created its page “Humans of Westconn”.

In the future, Pacete plans to expand “Humans of Westconn” by “making people more aware that the account exists and conduct more interviews around campus.”

Pacete’s goals are to expand his target population by interviewing faculty and to gain popularity on social media.

Pacete anticipates that as the semester goes, there will be an increased awareness and popularity about “Humans of Westconn”.

A Tribute to Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra, one of baseball’s greatest old time catchers, managers, and one of the famed quotemen of baseball, died on September 23rd at the age of 90. Berra, whose career was spent entirely in New York playing and managing for both the Yankees and Mets, as well as coaching the Houston Astros, was considered one of baseball’s legends.

Yankees fans remember Berra as the great offensive catcher and manager who was one of the major cornerstones of the Yankees’ era of dominance from the 1940’s to the 70’s. Mets fans remember Berra as the man who took over at manager after Gil Hodges died of a heart attack and took them to the 1973 World Series. But everyone remembers Yogi for his otherworldly sense of logic, which came in the form of ridiculous quotes.

Such gems included, “You can observe a lot by watching”, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over” and my personal favorite. “A lot of guys go, ‘Hey, Yog, say a Yogi-ism.’ I tell ’em, ‘I don’t know any.’ They want me to make one up. I don’t make ’em up. I don’t even know when I say it. T​​hey’re the truth. And it is the truth. I don’t know.”

Yogi’s spontaneity and his ability to turn a routine phrase into a laugh made him one of the more endearing and beloved characters in the game. And the fact that he found humor in all walks of life made him that much more fun as a personality. When his wife asked him where he wanted to be buried if he died before she did, (she ended up passing the previous year) he quipped, “Surprise me”. It’s the fact that Yogi has found humor even in death that makes him almost immortal, even in death.

Yogi Berra will be missed. The baseball world has lost a great individual. RIP.

GOP Presidential Debate: Highlight on Marco Rubio

Shiny S. Patel
General Sections Editor

I thought that Marco Rubio was well-spoken during his performance during the Republican Presidential debate.
During the brief introductory part of the debate, he tried making a joke about the drought in California, however, that I didn’t find very humorous. He said that since California was experiencing a drought, he brought his own water. He made an awkward chuckle and I don’t remember the audience laughing.
During the early part of the debate, Rubio wasn’t too involved but he slowly eased his way in as the debate progressed. Trump began to talk about how he is a business man, so he could get along with any leader of any nation in the world, including Putin. The question asked had to do with how we could stop Putin from propping up Syria. Rubio’s response was that he wanted to make sure that Egypt and Saudi Arabia remain on good/civil terms with America and he wouldn’t want to do anything that would hinder that relationship.
Moving on, illegal immigration and border control were brought up. While the other candidates on stage were talking about harsh punishments to deal with and prevent illegal immigration, Rubio instead gave a surprisingly relatable and brief but powerful anecdote that had to do with his beliefs. He talked about his grandfather who escaped Cuba and how he watched the news in Spanish and still became a conservative. He discussed how he grew up with the “right American principles,” though he came from a family that had a background from a different nation. He discussed how he understands that people escape different lives but there is a “right way” and a “wrong way” of coming into the country. Sharing this anecdote was a good way of connecting with the immigrants of America that are directly affected by the issue of immigration. It took him one moment to prove he had the best experience to deal with immigration; more than any other candidate on stage. He explained a plan in which he outlined his exact thoughts on the problems and how to solve it.
Video from the August GOP debate
He said that there are three problems with illegal immigration:
1. People come illegally into America,
2. Immigration into America is too easy, and
3. People overstay their welcome, as in staying past when their visa would allow.
The plan that he came up with had two points. The first was to secure the border and then see what each immigrant could provide economically for the country. Directly stating the issue and coming up with solutions made it seem that he knew what he was talking about, and I could see how the American people could be swayed by his way of speaking.
I think one of the strongest points Rubio made during the debate occurred when Trump’s knowledge on the global conflicts in the world were brought into question. He never directly attacked Trump, but instead he brought up that even though Trump plans on having a “team” who will be able to guide him in making choices, he needs to be ready to begin his presidency on the first day, and not wait six months into the first year of his term to start making changes.
He almost gave a brief current events lesson about what was going on in the world, talking about issues ranging from the nuclear capabilities of North Korea to how to deal with “Putin the gangster.” He urged that all the candidates be interrogated in detail about issues like this to see whether or not they had the proper knowledge to be president. He didn’t directly make stabs at Trump, but I feel as though he got his point across that a president can’t just be anyone without a good understanding of the issues that are occurring all over the world. Although I may personally not align with many of the stances Senator Marco Rubio has, I feel as though he made a strong case to why he would be the strongest candidate to run for presidency from the Republican side.
He was assertive, used specific examples to make points, and related to the American people. For the next debate, I think he should continue this strategy.

Fall TV Preview

Now there are a thousand shows that are debuting or returning in the fall, but the one that I’m looking forward to most is season 2 of “How to Get Away with Murder!” Please don’t ask me what’s better: that or “Scandal,” because really I have no idea. Both shows are residents of “Shondaland” as creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes likes to call it. Rhimes dominates the ABC channel Thursday nights, and it wouldn’t feel right to talk about television and not mention her at all.

 “Grey’s Anatomy” premieres its 12th season on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 8pm. For those of you still fawning over “McDreamy,” hopefully you all could cope with the fact that he’s been dead since last season.

 Following is “Scandal,” which premieres its 5th season. I used to feel odd about dreaming about President Fitz, played by Tony Goldwyn, because he’s about my father’s age, but then I realized that it was practically normal as long as everyone else was doing it too! Ladies, prepare for steamy sex scenes between him and Kerry Washington, who plays the lovely and determined Olivia Pope.

 Then to round it all off is “How to Get Away with Murder” in its 2nd season. Viola Davis’ Annalise Keating is not your typical defense law professor, and based on the season finale, she’s hard to trust, but likable regardless! And that’s due to Davis’ spectacular performance, for which she recently made history at the Emmys by becoming the first African-American woman to win “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama.”

 So do yourselves a favor and understand why Thursday should be everyone’s favorite day of the week, hence the hashtag “tgit” (Thank God it’s Thursday), by checking out these shows!

So do yourselves a favor and understand why Thursday should be everyone’s favorite day of the week, hence the hashtag “tgit” (Thank God it’s Thursday), by checking out these shows!

 I can’t forget about “Empire,” which its first season was catapulted into success. Two of its leading stars are acclaimed: Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, playing, respectively, Lucious and Cookie Lyon. Its themes focus on music, family, and power, and it returns tonight at 9!

 I should mention that all of these shows celebrate diversity. It’s hard not to applaud when there’s a scene with two guys making out in “How to Get Away with Murder” because it’s such a rare thing to see on tv. Not to mention African-American actors and actresses are taking on leading, powerful roles.

 If you’re a fan of television, then you won’t be disappointed this time around!

Happy Fall!

“Why Aren’t You Printing Anymore?”: An Open Letter About The Echo’s Move into the Digital Age

Since deciding to go digital last semester, a lot of people asked me why we did it. Maybe they were asking out of pure curiosity or maybe it was because they think it was the dumbest decision that the staff could have made for the student voice. Either way, here’s my explanation to The Echo’s move into the digital age. 

Infographic from economistgroup.com. A study from PEW Research Center & The Economist Group SMXLL

 

I started submitting pieces to The Echo sometime in 2013. I was so excited to see my writing in print. In one of the issues, I found several typos in my article that weren’t there in the original copy. I contacted the Editor-in-Chief and told him that my piece had added typos (where California became Californai), which, as any writer would feel, left me a little furious. He suggested that I come to the next meeting and run for the position as Arts and Entertainment Editor. So I did. And I got it. About a month later, in May of 2014, the Managing Editor resigned and recommended me to fill her position. I ran for Managing Editor during the next meeting and was voted in. Fall of 2014 was my first official semester and I really liked it.

Our staff met every other Sunday for layout, where we went on the computers and played with InDesign to format our pages for print. We got ads in almost every issue. Everybody on staff took a stack of newspapers to their classes and handed them out each time we printed. 

MXLLSFall 2014 - Spring 2015 issues

 

When the issues would arrive, we would distribute them around both campuses — but somehow, even after putting out the issue, people would still ask me, “Did The Echo print this week?” Well…yes. They’re right outside in the newsstands, didn’t you see them? 

But people weren’t seeing them; they seemed to blend in with the walls. We figured that the problem was reader interest, that the paper didn’t catch the people’s eye anymore. So we redesigned the front page. We got rid of the blocks of text for News and turned it into a graphic cover, much like a book or magazine. Some newspapers do this too, where the front page is mostly taken up by an image, though it’s not as popular. Now, this got people’s attention. We got a lot of good feedback for our issues once they looked more appealing. 

But we still had a problem: there wasn’t enough content.

Our pages were half blank and could barely get completed during layout. The staff worked hard to put together stories and recruit writers by speaking in front of their classmates about the paper, but to no avail. Whether we want to blame it on this generation’s motivation, or lack of incentive to be a part of a print product, there was little interest from the student body to contribute to The Echo. We would spend hours laying out pages, but the paper itself began deteriorating without enough content. And I think the work stopped becoming worth it: what were we doing this for if only a few people were picking up our issues?

SLXLM

We had already tried everything we could think of to keep people picking up copies. It irked me when faculty and teachers would tell me how The Echo used to be so popular, how everybody on campus would read it and submit content. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the ‘90s anymore. So, at the end of the semester in Spring of 2015, I pitched the idea of turning The Echo into an online-only publication. Everybody thought it was a good idea, so we began transitioning.

I know that print isn’t completely dead. There’s something about holding a physical copy in hand and flipping through the soft-gray pages with that freshly-printed smell. Seeing your work in print is more exciting than seeing it online, that I know because I’ve felt it. 

But here’s the thing: since we’ve gone online completely this semester, our numbers have skyrocketed. Actually, let me correct myself: I couldn’t even measure The Echo’s numbers through print because we barely received feedback.

Even if 500 people read each issue, we wouldn’t know because nobody went out of their way to contact The Echo and say, “Hey, really great issue! I liked the article on page 7.”

But when you’re online, and you’re using tracking, analytical, and statistical tools, you can see what kind of responses you’re getting. 

And they’re good. We’ve only got 362 “likes” on Facebook, yet our weekly reach is nearly 2,000 people, with hundreds of views and interactions per post.

Besides the fact that The Echo seems to be doing better than it has in years, going digital is a smart decision to make in general, maybe one day the best decision for most publications. By going online, publications can interact more with their readers and maintain an online presence in a world where seemingly everybody is on the Internet. Thanks to the unlimited amount of space online (whereas you are limited in print), publications are able to post as much as they’d like. Perhaps just as importantly, it eliminates the need for strict deadlines and guidelines, because publishing an article is as easy as clicking the “Publish” button. We can consistently update with new content instead of having one print with few articles because our contributers didn’t make a deadline.

LXLMS

The digital space utlimately gives us more options in ways that we can deliver. We still have the choice of traditional text pieces, but now, videos are created, shared, and watched. People want to watch video interviews of their friends. They want to see video highlights of their roommates playing sports. Articles that your kid, best friend, or roommate wrote can be shared to friends and family on Facebook. Because you can share virtually everything, the community as a whole is expanded. The readership grows and remains stable because you dedicate yourself to a medium that works. Most importantly, people become interested again. People start talking.

Sure, print might be dying, but news, stories, entertainment? — that will never die. 

Have you wondered why BuzzFeed is so popular? Why mom-and-pop shops are suddenly promoting their websites? Why food and drink companies like Doritos, Taco Bell, or Smirnoff  are telling you to follow them on social media? You don’t need to follow a bag of chips on Twitter, but you can if you want to. Like Bill Gates said, “The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” People are doing this because it’s smart. 

While most news publications are both online and printing, The Echo made the decision to dedicate itself to the one medium where its audience will appreciate its presence the most. That’s why. 

 

 

New Milford cemetery to kill woodchucks in organized hunt

Jordan A. Sprogis
Editor-in-Chief
Due to the recent damage by woodchucks in Center Cemetery, New Milford is conducting an unusual organized hunt to control its population. 
The Center Cemetery is privately owned and has stones dating to 1719. The woodchucks’ population has raised concern after they began to dig under the foundation of the headstones, causing them to topple over.
“There are several locations where woodchucks have dug under the foundations of headstones,” said Mike Sennello, cemetery superintendent. “The older stones don’t have the cement base under them, and they are being toppled. One stone that dates back 100 years has been reset several times.”
The cemetery was closed Tuesday, Sept. 22, and will be closed Wednesday the 23rd, Thursday the 24th, and Friday the 25th at 4:00 p.m to continue the hunt. 
 
A professonal hunter will be on grounds at these times with a .22-caliber rifle and crossbow. 

 
Christopher Vann, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, says that somebody would have to have a lot of skill to target the animal and doubts the method. 
“You’d have to be very skilled and have a very accurate crossbow and be patient,” Vann said. “They’re very intelligent animals, and if they see a movement, they’ll go into their burrows and stay there for three hours.”

Is Johnny Back? I Think So!

Johnny Depp is far from Willy Wonka in “Black Mass”, a gangster film based on the real life James “Whitey” Bulger and his criminal activities. The movie was released by Warner Brothers on Sept. 18.

 Whitey Bulger (Depp), prior to becoming a fugitive and one of FBI’s Most Wanted, was involved in organized crime occupying South Boston. In 1975, he became an informant for the FBI and got away with at least 19 murders.

 Directed by Scott Cooper and starring an ensemble cast, “Black Mass” is a typical crime movie with some grotesque scenes (you know when a murder is underway) and a looming investigation. Some say not to compare this to the classic “Goodfellas” or even “The Departed”.

 There’s not much excitement to the movie until, of course, Depp shoots someone from afar or chokes someone to death. And there’s little humor; the scene in which the audience is introduced to Bulger is an example of maybe a few giggle-worthy moments.

 It is an intense movie, for sure. The trailers made sure to let us know that. Johnny Depp gives an enthralling performance. He glares at you through the screen with those icy blue eyes (courtesy of eye contacts), and sports sleeked back hair and shades. He’s rather intimidating, and you could forgive him for all the crappy movies that he’s put out in the past. But quite honestly, it’s impossible to look past the obvious makeup. I tried but it was all I saw. I couldn’t help but think about Tom Cruise in “Collateral.” Yes, really.

 Another performance that I thought was amazing was that of Joel Edgerton as former FBI agent John Connolly, who was childhood friends with Whitey Bulger. Conflict of interest much? Oh yeah.

 And I can’t forget about our favorite naked white girl, Dakota Johnson (“Fifty Shades of Grey”), who’s only in the movie briefly as Bulger’s girlfriend. She doesn’t get naked in this, by the way.

 Could “Black Mass” be nominated for “Best Picture” at the Oscars? I’d say no. It’s good, but not great. It’s quite forgettable except for a few key scenes, including the dinner table scene that we see in the first trailer. Depp could indeed be nominated for “Best Actor” and/or Edgerton for “Best Supporting Actor”. I wouldn’t be surprised whichever way it goes.

 And even though we’re used to seeing Depp in lots of makeup (“The Lone Ranger”, “Mortdecai”), this time around he’s actually playing a human being… just doing inhuman things.

 Watch the official trailer below and find movie times near you here.

The Problem With The Phrase “Netflix and Chill”

 1d7358_cf57aa59f05241a983730c37c9c572a9
 There are memes all over the Internet about it. You’ll find the phrase on Tinder and Yik Yak. Step onto a college campus during the weekend, and you’ll hear it in over-abundance: “Netflix and chill.”
 It usually goes like this: two people, who are most likely interested in each other, will begin talking. They may discuss things that’ll be going on later that night. One of them will say that they aren’t doing anything, except maybe hanging out in their dorm. The other, who is trying to downplay how much they’d just like to see the other one alone, will smile and suggest that they hang out together. Someone will suggest watching a movie or something on Netflix. A plan will be set.

 Flash forward several hours, and the lights will be out, clothes on the floor, with Netflix playing somewhere in the background.

 Boom. That’s “Netflix and chill”. Or, you know, just two college kids having a little fun.

 Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing with this scenario; college is some of the best years we’ll have. A lot of things that are said and done outside the 1d7358_6b264225e8c6445a93cdfc0ca0841dcfclassroom are dismissed because “it’s college.” We’re at a point in our lives where we act childish and immature, but branded with the label of being an ‘adult’ because almost all of us are over eighteen, with the small percentage of those who are over twenty-one. We spend Thursday nights partying late into the night, and wake up just a few hours later to go to work. It’s this back-and-forth behavior that causes most people attach the stigma to “college kids.”

 Now, where does “Netflix and chill” tie into all of this? It all has to do with the phrase itself. Everyone knows that “let’s hang out together and watch Netflix” is code for “come over to my dorm tonight so that we can have sex.”

 So why not just be up-front with whoever you want to sleep with and actually ask for it? Hiding your true intentions behind something that others might interpret as innocent seems a little deceitful. When asking someone if they want to hang out and watch Netflix, the other person could sincerely believe that that’s all that will be happening later that night: they could be thrown completely off guard when the person who issued the invitation makes a move; they could have legitimately thought that it would be a night of two friends hanging out together, or even a stay-at-home movie date.

 Sex might have been something that never even crossed their minds. Things could get awkward.

 It’s because of this that there’s a problem with the phrase “Netflix and chill”: it might not be universally understood by everyone. The phrase is misleading and is something dirty disguised as something innocent.

 We should all just be clear about what we want with who we want it from. It eliminates any confusion, and makes the night that much better. And isn’t that what everyone wants?