Death Note

The movie begins with a sky view of rain over Tokyo City at night. There are many quick shots from different view tops of the buildings, before the camera settles on a final location. It pans in to an alley where a black notebook falls lightly to the street. There is this still shot of the notebook in a perfect circle of dry asphalt whilst the surrounding road is drenched in rain. This image shows the unnatural presence the notebook has in the human world. The next few minutes show compilations of a hand writing in the notebook before jumping to the death of a person. As a movie adaptation of a book series, I find this as an interesting angle to show first on the society’s views on the plot device, before introducing any characters. It seems this might have been the easiest way to shorten a book series, which has been adapted almost word for word earlier as a 37-episode animation, to fit into a 126-minute film.

At the 9-minute mark, the writer in the notebook is finally revealed. The music brings tense feelings and a sense of anxiety of who the person who is causing these deaths is. There are a couple of scenes introducing this character as Light and shows through his interactions with people at school and around his girlfriend on what kind of person he is on the surface. Through some clues from the female lead, Shiori, and the background characters, it is easy to determine the both of them are in law school. The next minutes have a few flashbacks show how Light had lost some faith in the justice system before discovering a notebook in an alley. This is where the plot device is explained. Light learns that the notebook belongs to a Shinigami, or God of Death in Japanese. With it he is able to kill anyone whose name he has written down while thinking of his or her face. With his strong sense of justice, Light commits to using this item to rid the world of crime.

After these explanations, the scene changes to a police station where detectives are trying to figure out why so many criminals around the world are suddenly turning up dead from heart attacks. It introduces the main antagonist, in part, known as L who is a mysterious private investigator. This slowly leads to one of my favorite scenes in which L broadcasts a worldwide live news broadcast where he challenges the mystery killer dubbed Kira. Light feels insulted and tries to kill L only to shortly realize he had fallen into a trap and killed an impersonator instead. This scene is adapted in sync with the book and show word for word and is most likely done so because of how well it show L’s genius at gaining clues as well as his cunning ways on how to obtain them. With the scenes the movie goes from a singular story of the morality involved in choosing whether or not it is right to kill the most vicious of criminals to a game of cat and mouse between two intelligent individuals trying to find one another. The rest of the movie includes thrilling scenes on how closer both are to finding the other and the many obstacles in the way.

When adapting from an already existing source, many directors try to focus on story arches differently.  In this case, a character from the series called Naomi is given a larger role in the movie from being a minor obstacle to a major threat against Light. In the movie, Shiori is also given a large role considering she was only in one chapter of the book as a girl who had a crush on Light in high school to his love interest. This gives a more soft side to Light when they are shown together. With the inclusion and expansion of these two characters, the ending of the movie was a shock to both crowds that have and haven’t seen the series. If there were anything I would change in this movie, I would give more emphasis on the lengths Light goes through in the beginning on rationalizing about the rights and wrongs of having such a power as well as the fear he first experienced with that knowledge and how he tries to hide the Death Note before L’s investigation.

 

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Five Typologies

According to Merton, there are five typologies in which a person may have a cultural goal and a means to attain them. There are many ways to describe this, but using recent events may be my favorite. In terms of this past election and how people may have voted, a conformist may have gone to the voting booth with no doubts that his vote will determine the outcome. An innovator wants their vote to count, but may feel the process won’t work, so will try to commit some form of fraud. A ritualist has given up hope that their party will win, but still votes because they feel like it is what they are supposed to do. A retreatist believe that their vote won’t matter, as well, and refuses to take part in the election. They will skip voting. Finally a Rebel does not like the current two-party system and will choose to vote for a third party candidate that has different view to the societal beliefs of the current.

 

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Roots of Sociology

In the Industrial Society in which Karl Marx saw developing from the Feudal Society he began to notice two distinct classes that names changed depending on the type of society. The first is the Bourgeoisies whom turned from land owners to those who had the means of production. With these means of production (property) they were able to establish the creation of jobs, wages for those jobs, and type of living allowed to their workers, which he called Proletariat. To Marx you either owned the means of production or were a worker in this two-class system. Any who saw themselves as the other, he would say to have a false class consciousness. Max Weber saw Marx theory and agreed with him but added two determinants stating a person’s class status was determined by their power, property and prestige and usually needed only two.

 

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Hawaii

In Hawaii, there is a chain of 132 islands that extend for more than 1500 miles. Out of these many islands, there are eight main island called: Hawaii; Maui; Oahu; Kauai; Molokai; Lanai; Nihau; and Kahoolawe. Inhabiting these islands are the native Polynesian people whom came from early on as well as people from Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean and Portuguese ancestry and those from the United States after becoming one with the Union.

During the early 1700s, the Hawaiian Islands were ruled by four chiefs until the late 1780s when Kamehameha I became the sole ruler and united all islands. With this Hawaii became a Kingdom that had established trade with other counties and prospered as it grew. It was until 1893 when Queen Liliuokalani was removed from the throne by U.S. and European landowners that the monarchy ended.

Early Polynesian natives brought in foods such as taro, breadfruit, coconuts, sweet potatoes, sugarcane pineapples and bananas to the islands. They also introduced small pigs that grew very widely along the islands. It is with these ingredients that Hawaii food became distinct. Pork, pineapples and bananas can be incorporated into any cuisine and are used in abundance in traditional meals such as Grilled Ono with Pinapple Chutney and Saimin with Teriaki Meat Sticks. Other popular dishes come from the local fishing industry that catching a vast majority of wild fish to make meals including: Deep Fried Calamari Salad, Ahi Tuna, and Caramelized Salmon.

 

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Belarussian Hospitality

The Republic of Belarus is located west of Russia, above Ukraine and below the Baltic nations of Lithuania and Latvia as well as the neighbor to Poland. Agriculturally, they are very well at growing grain, potato, vegetables, sugar beet, flax and their meat and dairy industry is in the high. Currently the people of this nation can be described as kind, friendly and good humored. They can claim their patience comes from a darkened history of endless wars in which they were in the crossfire of and had to participate in.

Settlements can be traced far back in the beginnings of Belarus, but it wasn’t until the 13th century that wars began to divide the people amongst its neighbors. An especially damaging time in their life was during 1569-1795 in which the region was known as Rcecz Pospolita. During these times the citizens were forced to participate in a war with Russia during 1600s followed by the North war in 1700. This led to a weakening that made it easy to loose provinces to other nations such as Russia, Austria and Prussia.

In line with the Russian Empire, the parts of Belarus that were under this influence were intirated to take up Russian culture and traditions. Many conflicts followed suit including: revolt under Tadeusz Kostushko’s leadership, Napoleonic invasion of Russia, Polish revolt, and a great rebellion headed by Kastus Kalinovski. After many more hardships, the nation of Belarus was formed when it’s people declared independence in March 1918.

It wasn’t until the beginning of the New Year in 1919 that the country renamed itself as the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic and fell in line with the USSR during the following years like many other eastern European countries. In the 1930s, famine brought about from soviet economic policy lead to a collective farming known as Kolkhoz which resembled America’s Great Depression in the use of over farming. The nation was bitter about the suffering of its people caused by the Great Purge, but attitudes changed at the start of the Second World War. It was during these times that Belarus became the battlegrounds between the red army and the German Nazi party. The capital of Minsk was turned into a large ghetto known as Tuchinki where many of its native Jews, as well as German and Czech Jews, were executed in masses. By the End of July in 1944 a movement known as Operation Bagration saw the liberation of the Belarusian SSR by the Red Army from German occupation.

Joining the United Nations in 1945, Belarus took part in bringing cultural understanding throughout the world, dispirit being a member of the Soviet Party. Horror occurred when the neighboring Chernobyl suffered a nuclear reactor disaster which lead to the pollution of large areas of Belarusian territories. This made farming harder on the citizens, but they were able to overcome it. By 1991, the official namesake of the country became the Republic of Belarus with the dissolution of the Soviet Union soon to follow months later. It wasn’t until policies were put in place that the country entered a democratic form of government and its first president Alexander Lukashenko whom was inaugurated on June 20, 1994. The day of independence was shortly moved to July 3 in which was the day Belarus was liberated from Nazi invaders during the Great Patriotic War.

After going through so much, it is great to see culture bloom in the country. With wildlife such as elks, deer, wild boar, beavers and wolves to roam about, it is easy to understand how traditions are able to keep up. Belarusian national cuisine has evolved over the centuries. A mix of simple recipes used by commoners and sophisticated cuisine of nobility, extensive use of local ingredients and unusual way of cooking makes up the culinary taste. Old recipes have managed to survive to present day and is a local treat for visitors. Restaurants serve food ranging from “peasant cuisine of the countryside” to “elaborate dishes for Belarusian magnates” to give a full experience to any unsuspecting traveler. Traditional dishes are served at farmsteads that use only fresh farm produce to make the dishes which are often common only for a particular area. Here they bake bread to old recipes and technologies, cook homemade meat delicacies, cheese from cow or goat’s milk, and sweets made of honey, apples and cranberries.

As previously implied, the two main factors that lead to the way food is served today come from both active farming and extensive use of local produce, as well as influences from neighboring countries and migrant settlers. Since the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania the national culinary traditions have been a mix of Baltic, Slavic, Jewish and partly German cuisines. Therefore, the Belarusian cuisine is one of the most diverse in the continent. It is similar to the Russian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Polish, Jewish, but is unique in its own way, is hearty and delicious. In the old days, each social class had its own gastronomic traditions. Therefore the Belarusian cuisine was divided into peasants and high nobility cuisines.

There are special features that distinguish the Belarusian cuisine from culinary traditions of many other countries. For example, the Belarusian cuisine is characterized by quite complicated and lengthy processing of products. It includes such methods as braising, stewing, baking, cooking, blanching and roasting, with several of them being used in some recipes. Many national dishes require various kinds of flour made of oats, buckwheat, peas, rye and their mixtures. The Belarusian cuisine offers a great variety of dishes made from vegetables. Many of them are unique despite the fact that they are based on traditional Slavonic recipes. The pride of the national cuisine is traditional Belarusian bread baked with the use of rye flour. Instead of yeast Belarusians used a special leaven. Belarusian bread is heavier and is a bit sour. In old recipes different additives were used like caraway seeds, linseeds and sunflower seeds. Bread was sometimes baked on the ‘pillow’ made from birch and oak leaves.

Today’s restaurants offer modern intake on traditional Belarusian dishes which reflect original ideas of chefs and principles of Grande cuisine, which takes into account the diversity of products and seasonal changes. The main changes that the Belarusian cuisine underwent in the 20th century were that wheat flour and dishes from it became very popular and that salads became quite common.

 

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Switzerland

Switzerland is a country that is small in size and lodged in the middle of several larger countries making its culture more blended. The main themes to be established in its cuisine take notes from German, French and Italian rules. In the southern part’s, polenta and risotto are very popular while west of that French dominates leaving the north to German ancestry. These three may be on the main course, but are not the sole participant’s in Switzerland’s dinner table. The country prefers to have a mix of cultures from other neighboring countries and to diverse its pallet. The three dishes created solely by the nation and is a specialty there are Fondue, Chocolate, and Raclette.

The etiquette that must take place varies typically between German, French and Italian, but all come with certain rules before taking place. First the guest is expected to bring a gift such as chocolate or wine from a local place. Since the drinking age is sixteen, alcohol is very common to have at a meal, so be prepared to drink out of curtesy. Dinner is very formal so one must dress nicely and use extremely good table manners. When at the table it is important to remember to greet everyone properly with a firm handshake, including children, before being seated. The middle of the table is reserved for the place of honor when seating instead of at the head or next to the host.

There should be no elbows on the table, yet arms only are fine. It is important that you do not drink until the toast is made, which you should be sure to clink glasses with everyone in reach without getting up from the seat. Because the Swiss have a high approval for trying something new, it is important to try a little bit of everything on the table. Be mindful of the amount you serve yourself because it is very rude to leave any food behind on the plate.

When finished, place knife and fork parallel to each other and pointing to the right while being directly in the middle of the plate. If you wish to ask for seconds set the utensils as an “X” on the plate with fork pointed left. The Swiss tend to be very direct in responses so try not to beat around the bush. Topics to avoid, however, are religion and salary since no one wants anyone to feel uncomfortable in regards to either. When at a restaurant, it is important to not leave any money on the table. One should hand cash over to the sever for the bill with the tip included and to be very clear on how much you are paying for each, so they know how much to bring back in change. It is common for the tip to be at ten percent and is usually included in the bill.

When dining on a German meal it is important to avoid eating with hands as well as keeping arms away from resting on the lap. When presented with a majority French meal, one must include the above, but also remember to wait for host to say when to ear as well as to not chew with mouth open. A napkin is to be on the lap and you must expect second or even third helpings. When given an Italian meal, there is not as many restrictions as the other two but you have to leave your glass half full when you are done and stay at the table until everyone is finished. With either meal eaten, the Swiss enjoy having a wine or other alcohol selection chosen.

 

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Attack on Journalism

Ever since Congress has made it legal for the News to “inform” on stories with little to no facts, I no longer trust a single word that is said on television or newspapers. Its been months and yet no one has said anything about it which makes me think the nation is taking things at face-value and choose to believe everything that is told to them instead of questioning and researching to see if anything is true anymore. I don’t know what the future holds for American Society, but from the little fact that any broadcast could be made to say “Everything is the poor’s fault.” with no proof from Economist, Mathematicians, Historians and people who’ve worked for their credibility but from someone who says it, is just plain wrong. This just says the We The People have grown to dim to take a stand for themselves and are eager to be lead by any agenda. I hate politics so much, but if the government is going to allow other medium’s I cherish (Real Journalism in this case) than I’m not going to accept nor allow it.

 

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Daniel Flores

This week in Art Appreciation, the class toured the gallery next door and actually had a chance to have a Q&A with the artist, Daniel Flores. He had an interesting point of view on privacy and it’s value in today’s society. He brings up the point on how with the rise and advancement of technology the ability to keep things private is becoming harder and harder. It is also interesting that he has the mindset to destroy than rebuild his exhibit at the end of the day, just to prove his point.

 

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