Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Dec 18, 2015 in Stuff You Should Know

The Trump Effect

Earlier this month, btw brought you news that Donald Trump had seen a recent dip in his polling numbers. But with the Iowa Caucuses less then two months away, the media spotlight on the real estate mogul/reality star burns bright as ever. The outspoken Republican candidate has a history of making statements that both enrage his opponents and empower his supporters. Political analysts, journalist and others have been looking closely at Trump’s impact on the 2016 election. Here are some considerations:

  • Confidence. Donald Trump believes in himself. Even when faced with ample evidence to suggest he’s wrong, he sticks to his guns, defends his position, and even seems fueled by his harshest critics. Some crowds respond positively to someone they perceive as a powerful authority figure.
  • Clear, Simple Answers. For those fed-up with politicians who seem afraid to alienate voters or give broad answers to specific questions, Trump provides solutions. For example, his solution to fixing immigration is to build a wall or create a database. Despite the reality that many political issues are incredibly dense and complex, it is easy to respond positively to a specific position.
What Do You Think? How likely do think Trump is to ultimately secure the Republican nomination? Use Opinion articles in the nation’s major newspapers to support your answer.

Popular Christmas Gifts This Year

With the economy in an upswing, folks are flocking their local malls (or favorite websites) in search of that special token for all the special someones in their lives. Here are some of the hottest this year:

  • Gadgets. Whenever there is a new iPhone, it is bound to appear on many lists. Which means all kinds of accessories for these can be found. Beats headphones (create by Dr. Dre and now owned by Apple) are also still hot, as are “wearable” electronics, such as FitBits and Apple watches.
  • Books, Music, Movies. The Lunar Chronicles, made up of five books, is a popular fantasy series by Marissa Meyer that offers a new take on classic fairy tales. In case you’ve been under a rock, Adele has a new release, and you (and everyone you know) needs it. And all of the shows you loved in the theater this summer—Inside Out, Ant Man, Minions—are now on DVD.
  • Clothing. Apparel of all kinds for sports fans continues to be a home run gift (or equivalent metaphor depending on your game or choice). Boots are still popular. Oh, and ugly Christmas sweaters are still really big.
  • Star Wars. This gets its own category because of its vast influence on all of the other categories. Can’t think of what to give someone? Something emblazoned with Yoda, Darth Vadar, Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia seems to be a safe bet.
What Do You Think? What’s at the top of your Christmas list? Why? How likely are you to receive it this year? What have you bought for someone else that you’re most likely will please him or her? Why?

Hoverboards Face Safety Concerns

Speaking of hot gifts, the very popular electric personal assistive mobility device (more commonly known as a hoverboard, despite the fact that it is a two-wheeled scooter), has recently been dogged with safety concerns. Concerns range from falls to the lithium-ion battery catching fire. While they were once number one best sellers among’s Sports and Outdoors department, the online mega-retailer has removed some hoverboards from their site.

Some major cities, like New York City and Hong Kong, have made it illegal to ride the devices on sidewalks because they are motorized vehicles that cannot be registered. All of the major airlines in the US—American, Delta, Southwest and United—have also banned the devices from all flights because of the risk of fire and explosion. Some industry advocates say that the problems seem to arise most frequently in inexpensive brands with insufficient certification.

Dig Deeper The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (which sets regulations on more than 15,000 items) has opened an investigation into this issue. Continue to follow its progress and note its findings.

New Flag for New Zealand?

The debate over changing New Zealand’s national flag has been a recurring issue since 1834, when a ship traveling from NZ to Australia was detained for not displaying one. A flag was created, which flew for six years, until New Zealand became part of the British Commonwealth and adopted England’s Union Jack. It was later redesigned (like all Commonwealth countries) with the Union Jack used as an “ensign” (a small version, usually placed in the upper-left of the flag). In 1973, an official proposal to change the flag was presented at the annual conference of the New Zealand Labour Party, but was rejected.

This Aug. 11, 2015, image released by the New Zealand Flag Consideration Project shows 40 designs being considered as the new flag for New Zealand in Wellington, New Zealand. New Zealand is considering changing its flag. The public was encouraged to come up with ideas, and submitted over 10,000 designs. A government-appointed panel has winnowed those down to 40 finalists. (New Zealand Flag Consideration Project via AP)New Zealand Flag Consideration Project/AP Images.

The New Zealand Flag Consideration Project shows 40 designs being considered as the new flag for New Zealand. Credit: N6ew Zealand Flag Consideration Project/AP Images.

Most recently (in 2014), Prime Minister John Key outlined a plan to recommend a referenda process to choose a new design, which included input from New Zealanders. In the first referendum, five proposals were considered, four of them featuring the symbol of the silver fern, a plant native to the country. The next referendum, to take place in March, will determine if the winning design will replace the existing flag. Voter turnout on this issue has not been very high, with less than 50% of the country’s registered voters weighing in.

Dig Deeper Do some research and find at least one country that has changed its flag within the past ten years. Write at least three sentences on the process and outcome.