Blake’s Book Bag: e-Readers can be good for you

By: Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor



(Many authors are publishing their work on e-readers like the Kindle.  Picture taken by Blake Bouza.)


We’ve all been there. The daily struggle with the guilt of eating right and exercising. And you do really well – push-ups in the morning, protein shake for breakfast, and a cold glass of cucumber water to wash it all down.

Then someone brings leftover cheese danishes to class from their job at the local Starbucks. And you can’t just, you know, refuse, because you’re healthy but you’re not an animal.

So you devour that danish from hell and you think, oh, I’ll burn it off later. I’ll eat raw kale for dinner with some mulch on the side.

Or I just won’t eat for the next week. Who needs food? The calories in that danish are enough to last a hibernating bear all winter.

If this all sounds weirdly specific – it’s because I’ve been there. I’m still there. And science teaches us that for all calories consumed, to maintain weight or to lose it the calories burned in each day must be equal to or greater than to that which is consumed.

So you go to the gym. You pay for the membership so you might as well go, right? Well, goodness, look at all of these attractive, fit people here. Why are they still here? Didn’t they win? Aren’t they done? Here I am, a hulking Quasimodo waddling my way between the workout equipment.

Why are the weights in the middle of the room where everyone can see just how much of a weakling you are?

Why are those people grunting and screaming?

Is that an escalator?

The gym is a scary place, okay? But it’s there for your supposed benefit, like Congress or the NSA. And no one loves going to the gym – yes, yes, save for the modern day Greek gods walking among us. But we need to be healthy and we need to take care of ourselves, so we might as well make the system work for us.

Allow me to propose reading as a viable option to take your mind off the willful torture you’re imposing on yourself. No, not paperbacks or hardcovers.

You don’t want to look like more of an idiot than you already feel like by playing a precarious game of turn-the-page while trying to maintain pace and balance on the elliptical.

Here’s where the e-reader comes in.

Kindles, Nooks, Kobos (we’re all-inclusive here at The Settler, no e-reader bias). These often tiny, six-inch screens fit perfectly in the little nook built for phones and other devices on various cardio equipment.

Rather than having to awkwardly manage turning a page around the little lip that keeps your book against the equipment and effectively taking you out of the story, one quick swipe takes you to the next page. You remain effectively entertained and immersed and you may even prolong your workout because of it. And instead of losing your place with every jerky motion, you can adjust the text size to be large enough that you can keep your eyes focused on your place.

Some good work-out novels to read:

“Red Rising” and its sequel, “Golden Son,” by Pierce Brown. This series is a pure thrill ride – trust me, you’ll WANT to be running right alongside Darrow on Mars as he fights against the Society.

“Mistborn” by Brandon Sanderson. This book will have you so immersed in its world and magic system you’ll forget the punishment you’re giving your body.

“Ice Cold” by Tess Gerritsen. This novel is apart of the excellent Rizzoli & Isles series – but no previous knowledge of the books or characters is required to enjoy this chilly thriller that’ll make you grateful for the sweat pouring down your face.

Thanks for reading and happy sweating!


Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter

By Gayla Collier, Staff Writer


The debate between “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” has made headlines in the media.

Black Lives Matters is a movement that originated in the African American community where activists campaign against violence toward African American people.

There has always been a race issue in America since before slavery in the 1800’s.

However, the “Black Lives Matters” movement did not begin until 2013 when the verdict of the Trayvon Martin trial was revealed.

People on social media started using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, when George Zimmerman was acquitted for the shooting and death of Trayvon Martin during that trial.

As time has progressed from the Trayvon Martin trial, the media has put a focus on several other cases where inequality and injustice has occurred in the African American community.

Some people think that the “Black Lives Matters” movement is unfair and creates more racism because it is singling out one group of people and that it should be called “All Lives Matters.”

“All Lives Matters” is a phrase that was created in response to the “Black Lives Matters” campaign.

Activists that support the “All Lives Matters” campaign believe that you should not focus on one group of people to solve problems of inequality and injustice in America.

 By doing so, it makes those problems bigger issues.

 On the Volunteer State Community College Campus, a couple of students were asked what they felt about “Black Lives Matter” versus “All Lives Matter.”

 “I feel like ‘All Lives Matter’ is just a way to justify the inequality. ‘Black Lives Matter’ is not to make those lives seem more important, but to find that equality,” said Caleb Jones, a student at Vol State.

“What ‘Black Lives Matter’ means to me is people are trying to overcome what they have dealt with through the years,” said Leandrew Hayes, a student at Volstate.
After speaking with several different students, there were several different viewpoints on the issues concerning “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter.”

What it means to be a role model

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief


The term “role model” is frequently used in the media lately.  Between the superhero movies, sport players, rock stars, and astounding doctors on television, the options are far from few for children.

That being said, you do not have to be a superhero, rock star or anything huge to be a good role model.  You only need to be a positive influence for others.

Someone can look up to you for small things that you do not even realize you do.  For example, someone who is responsible could be a role model for someone who has trouble maintaining his or her own responsibilities.  

A role model, to a large degree, is acting like the change you want to see in the world.  It is making a difference, big or small, to push the world into a better place.

If you wish the world were a kinder place, spread kindness through the small acts mentioned above.  This could be as simple as a smile or asking how someone is.  It does not take too much to brighten another person’s day.

If you wish people talked about issues that our relevant to our time, broach the subjects with others.  This can help you understand other viewpoints for the topic and broaden your own views on the subject.

Being a role model means embracing what makes you human, including your faults. Let these things strengthen you, let friends know you are dealing with these weaknesses, but they are not to your detriment.   Show others that you are able to accept your own mistakes.  A role model should be able to take all problems in stride, as a lesson rather than a failure.

Being a role model is not about being perfect. It is about not letting your perceived shortcomings get the better of your attitude and the image you put forth to people.

It is important to remember that someone you perceive to be your role model is human, too, that they have probably cried themselves to sleep some nights the same way you have.

No human being is perfect. No human being can be all that you need him or her to be – it’s not a fair burden to put on someone else.

However, a human being can be kind, compassionate and brave in his or her own ways.  That is enough to make someone a role model to many.  


Blake’s Book Bag: The Books that Shape Us

By: Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor


My grandparents recently told me they read in the “New York Times” that reading the newspaper to a child at a young age can ensure that they will be good readers in the years to follow.

When I was about three or four, my grandfather made a habit of having me sit on his knee while he read the paper.

He’d read certain articles aloud to me while we both sipped at glasses of orange juice like a couple of Old West barflies.

I would gleefully jab my finger at any picture I could find on the black-and-gray canvas and would get particularly excited at any picture involving an airplane.

While my fascination with airplanes may have faded away, a curiosity with the written word did not.

This spark was stoked into a fire with my first encounter with fiction.

The first series of books that I really remember getting into was given to me in third grade by my school librarian, Mrs. Daughtry, a kind, willowy woman who fit the description of a librarian right down to the horn-rimmed glasses.

I was having issues being away from home and making friends and she told me that while she couldn’t sit in class with me, she could give me some books until I saw her again. (Psst, you know how people always say librarians are great people? It’s true.)

These were not just any books. These were books that didn’t have check-out/return stamps in the front covers and said she trusted me to return the books when I was done reading them.

I, eight, accepted that solemn duty.

To this day I still feel guilty about never getting “Vacation Under the Volcano” back to her.

I think she knew exactly what she was doing by introducing me to those books. Namely, this was “The Magic Treehouse” series by Mary Pope Osborne.

The main plot of the series follows the adventures and of the brother-sister duo Jack and Annie as a, well, magic treehouse transports them through space/time into whatever book they happen to be holding.

These books were able to transport me right along with Jack and Annie into histories long past and make them seem relevant and interesting to my eight year-old brain.

I still remember laughing at the scene in The Knight at Dawn when Annie uses her “magic” flashlight to ward off superstitious knights that were bent on capturing the adventurers.

I did end up making good friends that I stuck with through fifth grade before leaving that school, but something was sparked in me and though the loneliness had faded away, I still craved the adventure the stories brought.

Soon after, my mother began reading the “Boxcar Children” mysteries out loud to my sister and me, followed by “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”

The rest is pretty much history.


Editorial: The art of a successful argument

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief


We have all had that experience online, when someone decides they want to argue over a topic that we are well prepared for in comparison.  Sometimes the arguments can turn into nightmares, other times the arguments are over within minutes.  It just depends on the subject, and possibly more importantly, the person.  

Some arguments are, as some would say, a waste of breath.  One side refuses to lose or compromise while the other side is just tired of trying to argue.  The best advice I can give for these is to simply let the argument die.

It can be hard to leave an argument for both sides, but sometimes it hits a point that you just want to stop.  It is also perfectly okay to stop, even if you do not want to feel defeated.  Defeat happens to everyone, just look at Ash Ketchum from Pokémon, he’s always being defeated in some way.

A prime example of a waste-of-breath argument is any argument over a moral issue.  Anyone who has taken English Composition 1020 has probably heard the professor list a number of topics, such as abortion or assisted suicide, that they refuse to take papers on.

The reason for this is because morals vary from person-to-person and are not easily changed through an argument.  Typically, a person’s moral argument is based on their own opinions more so than facts.  There is no right or wrong answer in the end because the argument is already based on individual views.

If you ever find yourself stuck in an argument that you are not prepared for, you can always back out.  There is no shame in accepting that you were not right in an argument, and it makes you look better than struggling to respond.

If the issue is more from a lack of knowledge, then use Google.  Seriously, I have never understood why people say “you just Googled that,” when you respond with information or a link.  If you Google it, at least you are making an attempt to learn and understand the subject you are arguing about.

To think that everyone has prior knowledge to a subject is ridiculous.  There is no way of knowing absolutely everything in the world.  Our minds are not able to do that yet.  So do not feel bad if you have to Google something in the middle of an argument so that you avoid making a fool of yourself.

There are some fights that you simply do not have time for.  Yes, you have done your research and you have learned all that you can about the subject, but that does not mean that you have to spend hours arguing with a person.

In instances like that, I find it easier to hang on to a few links in the note section of my phone so that I can just post them.  If the topic means that much to the person, then they will read them.  In the likelihood that it does not, you have completely avoided a terrible argument.

Social media has sparked numerous arguments and debates in the past few years.  It is best to be ready for one on a topic that you are passionate about, especially if you are a vocal person on Facebook.


Letter to the Editor – “Critical” Success

By Jeremy Stevens


This morning, I read a review of a hit Country Music song performed by an immensely popular artist. This critic wrote that the song made him want to “barf in [his] mouth.” I know, the artistic expression is strong with this one.

But, this one line that I originally saw on the song’s Wikipedia page made me think, although not just about what the critic said, but rather about what it means to be successful and what it means to be someone who criticizes success.

I know that in the game of the Internet, I’m losing because I’m reacting to critical Internet messages. So I must be mad. Bro. But, to paraphrase Dr. Phil McGraw, words are a powerful thing, and they mean something when we use them. Furthermore, it cheapens words when we exaggerate to this degree. Eventually “barf in [his] mouth” becomes “Eh, I could take it or leave it” in the mind of the writer as well as the reader.

Shouldn’t we question the taste of a critic who goes around barfing at a product that millions of people like?

Wouldn’t this be particularly true when music is something that the critic is supposed to know quite a bit about?

Within the scope of this article, let’s talk about success within the parameters of commercial success. Let’s quantify success and say that in today’s market, if a million people like what you’re doing enough to go out and buy it, you’re a wild success by commercial standards. Of earth’s 7 billion residents, 6,999,000,000 of those can hate your guts and say terrible things about you, but if the remaining million subscribe to your YouTube Channel, you’re quitting that job at Starbucks, waking up at noon every day and making prank videos all night. If you can sell a $5 newspaper, music album, or website subscription to that tiny fraction of people, it’s the same story.

This is the secret to the Kardashians’ success, just on a different scale. Do you think it bothers them that six billion people are put off by them? No, they probably secretly revel in it. They know that the remaining billion are willing to buy every, single thing they’re selling.

Obviously this particular “review” that I referred to employs a wild exaggeration meant to express displeasure. So was he really going to barf in his mouth as his words stated? Or was he simply trying to garner attention for himself and his website?

By my estimation, there is no difference between this statement and a twelve-year old going to Twitter and insulting Adele’s appearance.

Neither is a critique, it’s just simply the new critical normal that we are becoming accustomed to in the age of the Internet. But, it’s not just the insult and the lack of decency in an alleged “critique” like the one in question, what about the lack of journalism/professionalism going on while using words such as those?

I ask myself who I would rather be, the person winning awards and selling records/books (whatever), or the guy writing that it makes him want to barf in his mouth.

The answer is pretty clear; I’d rather produce than try to eek out a professional existence trying to climb up the backs of the producers of the world.

At the time of writing this, the song in question is number 3 on the Billboard Country Music charts, and has sold hundreds of thousands of downloads. Meanwhile, a quick Google search reveals that there are “13 people talking” about the critic’s associated Facebook page and website.

So, I guess Taylor was right after all when she sang that the “Haters Gonna Hate.” But don’t think that because people are critical, you can’t achieve success.

Even if almost all of the people are critical, there’s still a whole world of people out there to sell yourself and/or your product to.

Finally, remember to choose your words carefully, because they do mean something.

Life Forces You to Procrastinate

By Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor

It’s February. Your speech teacher informs you that you have a group project due at the beginning of April, aka an eternity away, aka put it off for the last week.

In the meantime, you have the rest of the work to do in that class and your four other classes. Commitments you made months ago suddenly rear their ugly head.

By the way, your aunt just got diagnosed with breast cancer, your dog just died, and you just broke up with your girlfriend. By the way, be sure to eat right and exercise to maintain healthy weight but all you want to do is drown yourself in melted peanut butter and nacho cheese. By the way, you’ve gotta be sure to show up for your part time job and keep up with other schoolwork of course.

BY THE WAY. That GROUP PROJECT is due NEXT WEEK. So you and your group mates get together after class to talk about delegating what research to do. And your group mates, two people so unmotivated you’re certain they can halt the earth’s rotation with their collective negative force of backward movement, come up with – in a project that is supposed to denote the cultural differences between two diverse cultures – creating a Minecraft civilization showing as much.

Your features fall and you ask, doubtfully, “Well, how long would that take?” As if you’re actually entertaining this absolutely insane idea that you want no part of because A) the project must be delivered in PowerPoint format and B) what the hell is Minecraft, but you must be polite because dear God, what are you if not polite.

Your group mate looks at you pointedly with his hawkish features and shrugs, muttering, “Could take me a couple of months.” And you ask him to please repeat himself and he returns with, “It would take me a couple of months to do that.”

And suddenly the lights are flickering – but no, they aren’t, you are just blinking so quickly because your brain has frantically instructed your eyelids to try and make the rest of your body take flight and escape.

“But the project is due next Thursday,” you tell your group mate in a profound state of shock, and a little bit of awe.

And your group mate shrugs and goes back to looking at his phonesatisfied in the knowledge that he has helped the group in all ways in which he is capable and it is up to the rest of us to come up with something.

You nearly get whiplash with how quickly your head swivels on your neck as you meet your other group mate’s eye, desperate for a mirror that will reflect your thoughts on that idea. But your other group mate, who looks vaguely like a lion with his mane of red hair and red whiskers, widens his eyes at you and tells you, “That sounds like a good idea.”

And suddenly you find yourself trapped before the Lion as the Hawk circles overhead, and you are nothing more than a meerkat trying to find his hole to crawl into.

“We could all log onto a server,” the Hawk begins, brightening as his idea is suddenly taken up and you’re fractionally in the minority of those who oppose it.

“The project has to be on PowerPoint,” you reply firmly before the Lion and Hawk can pounce on you and drag your from your hole into some twisted Mexican-esque Minecraft civilization.

“We can take screencaps,” the Hawk squawks.

“Maybe if we had thought of this at the beginning of the semester,” you reason with him, because your other responsibilities are tapping you on the shoulder reminding you that you have no time to play computer games for your final project.

While an assignment that is due three months from now can seem like an eternity away, please never forget that life will happily help you fill that waiting period. Nibble at the problem.