HPHS Media http://hpbagpipe.com Wed, 08 Apr 2020 18:47:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4 Review: Netflix’s “The Circle” Is Reality Show Gem http://hpbagpipe.com/7486/entertainment-and-lifestyle/reviews/review-netflixs-the-circle-is-reality-show-gem/ http://hpbagpipe.com/7486/entertainment-and-lifestyle/reviews/review-netflixs-the-circle-is-reality-show-gem/#respond Wed, 08 Apr 2020 17:03:40 +0000 http://hpbagpipe.com/?p=7486 Mild spoilers ahead for minor details, but no reveals of winners, losers or twists.

I didn’t expect much of “The Circle,” considering the volume of terrible originals Netflix pumped out over the last few years, but I was pleasantly surprised by the show. 

The premise was intriguing, so I clicked on the first episode expecting an hour of mediocre television, after which I would never return.

I was absolutely wrong. I was so wrong that it’s difficult to state in words just how wrong I was. I was hooked. When the credits started rolling on the first episode, you better believe I smashed that “next episode” button. 

“The Circle” is a social media-based reality TV show that Netflix released at the beginning of this year. It  is an American remake of a successful show from the United Kingdom of the same name, and Netflix is also making versions in France and Brazil. 

The show starts with eight contestants living in an apartment building. But instead of shows like “Big Brother,” where cameras watch them cohabitate, the contestants are locked in their rooms and are only able to interact through a voice-activated social media platform called “The Circle.” Through the Circle, participants update their profiles, communicate with their fellow players and play mini games. 

There’s something about “The Circle” that makes it addictive. In fact, several things. First of all, the characters. Obviously, they’re real people, so it might seem strange to call them characters, but just as scripted shows are character-driven, so is “The Circle.”

There’s something about “The Circle” that makes it addictive.”

Each person has their own beliefs and philosophy about social media and their own strategy to win. They each evoke feelings from the watcher, causing them to dislike a particular strategy or love someone’s personality. With eight different players, there is more than enough personality to go around. 

The eight beginning players are Antonio, Chris, Mercedeze, Shubham, Joey, Alana, Sammie and Rebecca. I was annoyed by Alana, who claimed she was being judged for being a model and not her personality. I found her personality could use some judgment, too. I rooted for Chris because of his Dallas roots. I loved Shubham, who was a big ball of sunshine in general. My investment in their characters kept me watching. 

However, at that moment at the end of episode one, I think the biggest factor was where it cut off. “The Circle” has mastered the art of the cliffhanger.

Every so often, players are required to rate each other by putting each of their competitors in numerical order from most to least favorite. Their ratings are averaged to create a leaderboard. The two most popular players are dubbed the “influencers,” who decide which player must leave the show. To win, players have to be voted most popular in the final rankings.

At the end of the first episode, influencers had been voted in, and they had just decided who to block from the show. Most of the time, the blocked player then gets to meet a player face-to-face. Right when the blocked player had to choose who to visit face-to-face, the episode cut off.

“The Circle” had me hooked. The show’s commitment to keeping the game fresh and interesting was what kept me watching until the end. By introducing new players, new games and new twists to the ranking process, the show never got boring. 

Though the introduction of new players kept “The Circle” fresh, the way they were introduced was problematic. Contestants who were in the game from the start were able to solidify relationships early, and therefore, had an unfair advantage. Influencers faced with a tough decision ultimately opted to block the people they didn’t know: the newest players.

There seemed to be two main strategies. One was aggressive authenticity and relationship building, and the other was catfishing and building a perfect persona. To catfish is to use someone else’s pictures to fool people online, and it’s a term used often on the show.  

Joey, Shubham and Chris played the authenticity angle and put a lot of stock into their relationships. They put their strategy into consideration, of course, but the bulk of their decisions came from the heart. This raises an interesting question: is authenticity for the sake of social media true authenticity? 

The name of the game is to perform your personality enough to get people to not block you, so even if you’re displaying a true personality, it’s a distortion of real life. This carries over to real social media, too. People are never as fun or effusive as they seem online.

People are never as fun or effusive as they seem online.”

On this same note, I found the relationship building a little overdone. Two people would private message for maybe five minutes over superficial things, and they would both think that they knew each other better. I don’t think that any of the friendships on the show were fake per se, just that they were a lot more strategic than they’ll admit. 

Bill, who was a new player introduced apart from the starting eight, made this observation in the show by calling everyone “fake.” He caught some deserved flak for this, but he had a little bit of a point. None of them really knew or loved each other. They just pretended they did to seem like nice people and get ahead strategically.

The catfish often justified their crime as trying to make a lofty point about social media or society in general, but it’s not convincing to me. All of them catfished first and foremost to win.

The only one who made a point about judgment based on physical appearance from the beginning was Sean, who was introduced about half-way through. Sean admitted she catfished to win, but her secondary purpose was to make a point.

Seaburn claimed after the competition ended that he catfished the other players to call attention to the stigmatization of emotion in men. Rebecca, the name he catfished under, was criticized in the show for being too emotional, and he saw the opportunity to send a message and ran with it. He also tried to stem backlash by saying that he was expressing his real personality with fake pictures, but I think he’s flat-out lying by saying this. 

Rebecca’s sensitive nature is a core part of her personality on the show, and both of his claims rely on that sensitivity being genuine. However, the moments where Rebecca was emotional were completely fabricated. Seaburn used those fake feelings to try to garner sympathy and manipulate other players. He wasn’t making any point about masculinity, and he wasn’t being genuine whatsoever personality-wise.

The most honest catfish besides Sean was Alex, because even though his attempts to flirt as Adam were laughably ineffective and crude, he didn’t claim to be doing something that he wasn’t. He chose to catfish as a “hot” person because he thought it would get him ahead, and he freely admitted it.

Overall, I highly recommend “The Circle.” It’s a sometimes cringy, sometimes funny and always engaging show. It’s still reality TV. If you loathe the format, it’s not for you, but it’s a fun watch. It didn’t leave me with the feeling that I had just wasted hours watching garbage, which is what usually happens when I watch reality TV. 

“The Circle” lets the viewers make their own judgments about its cast of characters, and it provokes some interesting thoughts about how we use social media without sounding preachy. No matter how you feel, you’ll feel something, and that’s the beauty of “The Circle.”

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Scotlight: Junior’s Local Jewelry Supports Environment http://hpbagpipe.com/7450/uncategorized/scotlight-juniors-local-jewelry-supports-environment/ http://hpbagpipe.com/7450/uncategorized/scotlight-juniors-local-jewelry-supports-environment/#respond Wed, 08 Apr 2020 16:30:41 +0000 http://hpbagpipe.com/?p=7450 Wanting to give back to the environment, junior Nrithi Subramanian started Mantra, a jewelry company where all the money from sales goes to environmentally-based organizations.
After hearing about the devastating effects of the Australian bush fires on Instagram and other social media platforms, Subramanian realized there was an opportunity to make a difference and raise money for the environment.
“Instead of posting and just being vocal about it, I wanted to take action,” Subramanian said. “I wanted to manifest my thoughts into physical actions.”
The first thing Subramanian had to do was come up with how she was going to make the money.
“I knew I wanted to do a start-up, but I had to decide what would cater to people my age and what would be something that people are interested in,” Subramanian said. “Then I came up with jewelry.”
While she knew she wanted to create a company, she needed a name for it. One day while she and her mom were in the car, they had the idea to call it “Mantra”. This Sanskrit word means positive vibrations and the resonance of the universe.
“I thought that was really suitable because the company is environmentally driven,” Subramanian said. “The whole point is to create positive waves, or vibrations, in society.”
In order to start Mantra, she needed a team of other like-minded individuals to help her who were just as passionate about the cause. She gathered a group of 11 other junior girls who each have different talents to add to the team. Charlotte Lassarat is one of these girls.
“I was drawn to Mantra because of Nrithi’s obvious passion for giving back,” Lassarat said. “I chose to join the Mantra team because it’s supporting an amazing cause and I saw an opportunity for me to help deliver on the goals on Mantra.”
To start the company, Subramanian needed money. With the help of Lassarat’s mom, she had to prepare a business plan and present her ideas to a panel of local Dallas investors.
“That process was really hard,” Subramanian said. “Initially I had to invest my own money that I had so I could make a profit, and I believed I could.”
The team eventually decided to work with Southern Wealth, an investment advisory firm.
“We chose them because they were local and had an interest in our charitable outreach,” Lassarat said. “Also, one of the investors is actually an alum of Highland Park.”
Once Subramanian had the money, she and the Vice President of Mantra, Mary Mccue Bell had to narrow down the design and pricing for their jewelry.
“We cross-referenced other popular brands to see what they were doing and how we could make ours different but also have trendy styles,” Bell said.
An important part of Mantra is making the jewelry sustainable by using little to no plastic. All of their packaging is biodegradable and reusable, and much is sourced locally instead of an online website.
“Nrithi actually makes almost all of the jewelry by hand and it’s really impressive,” Vice President of Mantra, Mary-Mccue Bell, said. “We have had some failed designs, but we were able to fix those really quickly during photoshoots. Eventually, she is going to teach me how to do it and then we will have a lot more products.”
Subramanian hopes to expand the company and possibly make it her future. Her biggest goal is to continue to help the environment through her jewelry sales.
“I want to show people beauty doesn’t have to be so wasteful,” Subramanian said.

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Surgeon General Sounds Alarm As US Cases Top 300,000 http://hpbagpipe.com/7499/uncategorized/surgeon-general-sounds-alarm-as-us-cases-top-300000/ http://hpbagpipe.com/7499/uncategorized/surgeon-general-sounds-alarm-as-us-cases-top-300000/#respond Tue, 07 Apr 2020 20:20:51 +0000 http://hpbagpipe.com/?p=7499 Coronavirus cases and deaths are expected to accelerate this week, according to Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who compared the situation to Sept. 11, 2001 and Pearl Harbor.

“This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives,” Adams said on Fox News.

“This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives.””

— Jerome Adam

He urged Americans to “do their part” by social distancing. 

“It’s not going to be localized, it’s going to be happening all over the country,” Adams said. “And I want America to understand that.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious diseases expert, backed up Adams’ claims.

“This next week is going to look bad because we’re still not at that apex,” Dr. Fauci said on CBS.

He also warned the governors of the states that have not yet placed a statewide stay-at-home order that they are putting themselves at risk.

Currently North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Arkansas are the only states that have not enacted any sort of stay-at-home order. Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma and South Carolina only have stay-at-home orders in certain cities and counties.

Dr. Fauci said it’s important for Americans to understand this is an important week, and people need to be following social distancing and shelter-in-place guidelines to prevent the rest of April from being as devastating as the next week. 

“It is going to be shocking to some. It certainly is really disturbing to see that,” he said. “But that’s what’s going to happen before it turns around.”

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Nancy Pelosi Set On Creating Another Coronavirus Relief Package http://hpbagpipe.com/7502/news/nancy-pelosi-set-on-creating-another-coronavirus-relief-package/ http://hpbagpipe.com/7502/news/nancy-pelosi-set-on-creating-another-coronavirus-relief-package/#respond Tue, 07 Apr 2020 19:42:55 +0000 http://hpbagpipe.com/?p=7502 More direct payments and increased unemployment benefits could come to Americans if Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s plans for another coronavirus relief package come to fruition.

In a letter addressed to house members, Pelosi said she wants to craft legislation and present it to the House floor later this month for a vote.

“Our communities cannot afford to wait, and we must move quickly,” she said.

Pelosi said the legislation will expand assistance to small businesses, including farmers, and she wants to “double down” on payment for relieving weaker communities. She also plans to provide more aid to hospitals, community health centers, health care workers and first responders.

House Democrats’ focus has majorly shifted this past week from drafting legislation centralized on infrastructure to relief and aid to American workers. 

This shift in focus is likely due to the record breaking 6.6 million Americans who filed for unemployment last week.

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Puff Bar Vapes Replacing JUUL http://hpbagpipe.com/7452/features/puff-bar-vapes-replacing-juul/ http://hpbagpipe.com/7452/features/puff-bar-vapes-replacing-juul/#respond Tue, 07 Apr 2020 12:00:09 +0000 http://hpbagpipe.com/?p=7452 Puff Bars are the newest phenomenon of e-cigarettes to take over the market. 

Efforts to stop teen vaping have fallen behind due to the fast increase in the variety of vapes offered in the market. Since the introduction of the Juul, teenagers have started to vape a lot more and with the introduction of new brands of e-cigarettes, the number of teen vapers is not going down. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-thirds of e-cigarette users between the ages of 15-24 did not know vapes contain nicotine. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug that can prevent adolescents’ brains from developing. 

Nicotine is only one of the multiple harmful products found in vape products. Diacetyl is another chemical found in flavored vapes. This chemical provides the vape with its flavor. It also comes with the risk of lung disease.

Puff Bars share a lot of similarities with the brand Juul, but the colorful new vapes have really caught the attention of teenagers, most of which are under the legal age to vape. 

Juul, in their early years, advertised primarily to minors using younger looking actors in their advertisements. They also used social media to connect with teens and spread their products. The company faced major protests for blatantly advertising to younger generations and Juul pulled most of their flavored pods. 

The new Puff Bars were able to fill this hole in the market. Using their flavorful vapes, Puff Bars are able to easily attract minors to their products. The brand has a variety of fruity flavors, such as Blueberry Ice, Banana Ice, Lush Ice, Blue Razz and O.M.G (Orange, Mango, and Guava). 

The new vapes come with a price tag of around $10 since they are not very durable products. The price tag makes it easier for underage children to afford. The Puff Bars have around 200 puffs in them, and each bar has around 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine in them. 

Even though the Food and Drug Administration enforced the limitation of flavored cartridges created by vape companies, Puff Bars were able to find a loophole in the enforcement guidelines. 

President Trump has also passed a partial ban on flavored e-cigarettes on Feb. 5 to decrease the number of teenagers using e-cigarettes, but despite this, the vape companies are still flourishing. 

Three years ago, only about one in 10 high schoolers reported using a vape recently. Although in the past year, the ratio has grown to one in four, according to National Public Radio. 

In a 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey, researchers from the FDA concluded teen vaping has become so prevalent that the FDA has classified it as an epidemic. According to the study, an estimated 5.3 million use e-cigarettes in America. 

One of the most dangerous factors of how e-cigarettes affect teenagers is that scientists still don’t know the long term effects of vaping. 

Since vaping is a recent phenomenon, scientists have not been able to study it as much into depth as they’ve studied traditional tobacco products. 

It is illegal for people in every state under the age of 18 to vape, and in some states, the government raised the age limit to 21. Although even with the precautions taken to limit teen vaping, the rate increases. 

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Cruise Ships With Coronavirus-Positive Passengers Allowed To Dock At Florida Coast http://hpbagpipe.com/7463/uncategorized/cruise-ships-with-coronavirus-positive-passengers-allowed-to-dock-at-florida-coast/ http://hpbagpipe.com/7463/uncategorized/cruise-ships-with-coronavirus-positive-passengers-allowed-to-dock-at-florida-coast/#respond Mon, 06 Apr 2020 16:16:54 +0000 http://hpbagpipe.com/?p=7463 The Holland America cruise ships Zaandam and Rotterdam were allowed to dock in Florida Thursday after several South American countries closed their ports to cruise ships. 

During the voyage, four guests died of coronavirus complications while at sea, and 250 on the ship reported flu-like symptoms, but at the time of docking, 97 percent of the guests were fit to travel.

President Donald Trump said the U.S. had to help the ships at a White House news briefing Wednesday. 

“They are in big trouble no matter where they are from,” he said “Happens to be … largely Americans, but whether they were or not, they are dying so we have to do something.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis initially expressed reluctance on Monday on Fox News to let the passengers into his state. However, he told Fox News on Thursday that Broward County, where the port was located, was working with the cruise lines and the Coast Guard in order to bring the ships in while keeping Florida residents safe.

Passengers had chartered vans and planes waiting for them over the next few days to bring them home, where they would start a 14-day quarantine.

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Democratic National Convention Pushed To August http://hpbagpipe.com/7467/uncategorized/democratic-national-convention-pushed-to-august/ http://hpbagpipe.com/7467/uncategorized/democratic-national-convention-pushed-to-august/#respond Mon, 06 Apr 2020 16:15:17 +0000 http://hpbagpipe.com/?p=7467 The Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee is now delayed until the week of August 17 due to coronavirus concerns. 

This move came after 15 states and territories have decided to postpone their primaries in the interest of public safety. Some states have also decided to shift to voting by mail system.

Former vice president and democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden welcomed the decision. He said earlier this week that he expected the convention to move into August from its originally scheduled date in July.

Both Biden and his opponent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, have moved their campaign outreach operations online, canceling all in-person events.

Members of both the Republican party, which is also holding its nominating convention in August, and the Democratic party are concerned that if they make their conventions virtual, news networks will have less interest in covering the events.

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Unemployment Jumps Dramatically Due To Coronavirus Pandemic http://hpbagpipe.com/7469/uncategorized/unemployment-jumps-dramatically-due-to-coronavirus-pandemic/ http://hpbagpipe.com/7469/uncategorized/unemployment-jumps-dramatically-due-to-coronavirus-pandemic/#respond Mon, 06 Apr 2020 16:10:56 +0000 http://hpbagpipe.com/?p=7469 A staggering 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last two weeks, as the coronavirus crisis ramps up in the U.S. 

Last week, 6.6 million Americans claimed unemployment insurance, breaking the 3.3 million record from the week before by twice as much. 

In February, the unemployment rate was historically low at 3.5 percent. But on Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted a jobless rate that exceeded 10 percent for the second quarter of the fiscal year, though they warned that these predictions are uncertain. 

These unprecedented figures don’t include self-employed workers because they are ineligible for unemployment benefits. However, the CARES Act passed by the U.S. government in March will soon extend these benefits to independent contractors. States are waiting on direction from the Department of Labor to implement this program.

In Texas, unemployment claims have risen more than 1,600 percent in the last two weeks. 155,657 filed the week ending on March 21 and 275,597 the week ending on March 28, which dwarf numbers from the worst week of the Great Recession and the week that Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. This high volume has caused the Texas Workforce Commission’s website to crash and phone lines to jam with calls.

“Just know that you’re not going to be denied your claim just because you’re having a hard time getting through,” Governor Greg Abbott said Tuesday.

Texas’ economy is in an especially difficult position because it has taken blows from both the coronavirus pandemic and a drop in oil prices caused by decreased demand and an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

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Coronavirus Fund For First Responders, Health Care Workers Established http://hpbagpipe.com/7465/uncategorized/coronavirus-fund-for-first-responders-health-care-workers-established/ http://hpbagpipe.com/7465/uncategorized/coronavirus-fund-for-first-responders-health-care-workers-established/#respond Mon, 06 Apr 2020 16:08:40 +0000 http://hpbagpipe.com/?p=7465 Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and the Communities Foundation of Texas announced the creation of a fund to aid workers at the frontlines of fighting coronavirus on Thursday morning. 

“The fight against the spread of coronavirus can only be won if we protect our frontline responders including police, fire, EMS and health care workers,” Jenkins said.

The “Dallas County Coronavirus Response Fund” is meant to help these frontline workers with any immediate needs they may have. 

 The trustees for this fund are Lynn McBee, CEO of Young Women’s Prep Network, Dr. Michael Horne, CEO and President of the Parkland Foundation, Debbie Branson, Lawyer at The Law Offices of Frank Branson, and Miguel Solis, a Dallas ISD Trustee. 

The community leaders that serve as the trustees of the fund have already secured $100,000 so far in donations that will support the production of sanitizer. The page for donations can be found here.

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Social Media: Does It Harm Or Help? http://hpbagpipe.com/6996/uncategorized/social-media-does-it-harm-or-help/ http://hpbagpipe.com/6996/uncategorized/social-media-does-it-harm-or-help/#respond Mon, 06 Apr 2020 15:39:20 +0000 http://hpbagpipe.com/?p=6996 The problem is getting worse too. The Cigna study shows Generation Z is the loneliest generation. The obvious factor to blame would be social media, but the study found the same rates of loneliness among heavy social media users and those who don’t use social media.

However, social media still plays a role in the loneliness conversation. Maybe we aren’t lonely because of our phones, but we do turn to our phones when we’re lonely. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t. 

Murthy said on Klein’s podcast that social media can be helpful for those in marginalized or minority groups to find others they can relate to, and as a facilitator of real life interaction, it can be useful. But at the same time, one could feel worse after scrolling through pictures of parties on Instagram on a lonely night.

Klein mentioned during his interview that he views social media as “simulacra,” or imitation of social connection, and Murthy compared it to junk food. I agree. Although social media is acceptable in moderation, it can never be a replacement for people in real life.

Additionally, the constant buzz of looking at your phone during the day is neither as nourishing as connecting with friends or family nor as restorative as a reflective period of solitude. The focus we have on efficiency and aversion to idleness leads to us always looking at something on our phones. Over time, this is exhausting because when we’re always busy and taking in information, we don’t get any rest.

This is something I’ve experienced personally. I spend a lot of time online, probably too much. I’m fascinated with politics, public policy and current events, and it can occupy a lot of my time, especially with the breakneck pace of news these days. That and memes basically take up all my recreational internet usage. Every spare second I have, I look at my phone, checking the news, new posts, my texts, my grades, et cetera, ad infinitum. It’s hard to remember to take a break.

And with all this going on digitally, it’s easy for me to forget sometimes I need to interact with actual humans. I vividly remember one day, late last school year, when I hosted a gathering of my friends. After everyone was gone and I was cleaning up, I remember feeling lighter. It had been some time since I saw my friends and had fun with them in person. I remember thinking, “Oh, humans are social creatures. I forgot.”

Yet, I may have never been friends with those people who came to my house that spring if I hadn’t been added to a group chat in the seventh grade. The majority of communication with my friends is digital, and iMessage group chats have bolstered these relationships.

In fact, before I was added to that group chat, I was lonely. Digital communication was the beginning of ending my loneliness problem and a pathway to a real-life connection.

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