Tagged: @beammeupkyra

Social project shines light on homelessness

By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer

Have you ever walked by homeless people without actually looking at them? It’s okay to admit to it, I definitely have. Now, what if those people you were passing were actually your beloved relatives?

Well, this video is going to shock you.

People’s brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and even wives volunteered to pose as homeless people, and were positioned so that their loved one would pass them. You would think that they would notice their own flesh and blood — but they didn’t. Every single person who walked by a family member did not recognize them and kept walking.

This video was created to advertise the Make Them Visible Project, hosted by the New York City Rescue Mission (NYCRM).

The NYCRM is a nonprofit organization created to provide help to the “people in crisis in New York City.” The organization gives people the food, shelter and clothes that they need in order to survive. Even for long term residents, it makes sure to provide help to develop careers to help people get back on their feet.

This social experiment shows just how unnoticed the homeless are in urban areas. Every day, hundreds of people walk past the homeless and don’t even acknowledge their existence. This video illuminates that phenomena by bringing awareness to the way our culture and society affects people. After all, if we cannot recognize our own family members dressed up as homeless people, what does that say about our actual perception of homeless people? If they are that invisible to everyone around them, how can we see them as actually being there?

Craig Mayes, executive director of the NYCRM told the Huffington Post, “The experiment is a powerful reminder that the homeless are people, just like us, with one exception, they are in trouble and in pain. And they are someone’s uncle or cousin or wife.”

Watch the video and be struck by the feels. I’m serious. I have a new outlook on this issue, and it’s because of this video. Check it out:


New app makes sure you get home safe

By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer

“Text me when you get home,” is a phrase that we often give and receive when we part with friends and family at the end of a night.  I’ve used it, you’ve used it, everyone’s used it.  But most people forget to follow up once they do actually get home safely.

With the SMS app Kitestring, this will no longer be a problem.  Kitestring is a free web-based “safecall service” that allows its user to send automated text messages to themselves and their emergency contacts.

When Kitestring is used, it allows the user to punch in their destination and how long their trip will take (30 minutes, 2 hours, etc.).  If the user does not return home by the time previously estimated, they can ask for extra time.  If the user does not respond to the checkup text within a few minutes, Kitestring sends out a custom-made text to your assigned emergency contacts to let them know that something might have happened.

The user can set up their own personal check-in-word, so that if an attacker has struck, they cannot check-in for the user.  There is also a duress code, which is used in case the user is actually in trouble. If the duress code is sent as a reply to the check-in text, the app pretends like the user checked in, but actually alerts the emergency contacts that they might be in danger.

As beautiful as this app sounds, it’s not perfect. If the user’s phone dies, and they miss the check-in text, the distress text will be sent to their emergency contacts. Also, there will obviously be times the user does not remember to reply to the check-in text, or ask for more time, which will result in another text sent to their emergency contacts (followed by unnecessary panic).

Depending on the situation, I get very frustrated when my friends don’t text me that they got home safely. For all I know, something could have happened and I would be devastated to learn that something did happen and I thought it to be forgetfulness.

Even so, it’s a really practical app.  It could save someone’s life, and it is worth investing in. Kitestring is a free app, so, as far as I can tell, there isn’t really any reason not to give it a try.

Gender-bending portrayal of Disney characters offers a new point of view

By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer

You're sure to look at these gender-bent Disney characters in a different light./ PHOTO VIA Wikimedia Commons

You’re sure to look at these gender-bent Disney characters in a different light./ PHOTO VIA Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever wondered what your favorite Disney characters would look like as the opposite sex? Well, look no further!

Sakimi Chan is a Canadian digital artist who “loves to draw fantasy, sci-fi and gender bending.” Her works include characters from Disney, anime and original content. She also does commissions for avatars from the popular forum and social network Gaia Online.

In case you didn’t know, “gender-bending” is when an artist switches a character’s gender. A bad example would be if Spongebob were made to have more feminine qualities. A better example would be to portray Nintendo’s Mario and Luigi as females and Princess Daisy and Peach as males. Most genderbent characters are very attractive and reflect the original almost spot on, but it’s weird to think how characters would act or be treated if they were the opposite gender.

Some people have attempted to gender-bend Disney characters using screenshots and Photoshopping the characters’ physical features to look more masculine or feminine, but Chan drew her pieces with the original personalities in mind, creating something more true to character.

Chan doesn’t always gender-bend in her art. Her other works include portrayals of characters like Jack Frost, Wonder Woman, Princess Mononoke and Link, as well as characters from the animated television show “Adventure Time.”

Personally, I love looking at gender-bent characters. It transforms my interpretation of the character and lets my imagination wander to what they would be like as the other gender. My favorite character out of the entire Disney set was gender-bent Hades. She is beautifully crafted and is on point with the original Hades. She is, in my eyes, perfect.

Check out Chan’s set of Disney characters here. Or if you’re interested in seeing more of her work or want to buy a print, see her DeviantArt page.

Golf Digest cover sparks controversy

By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer

Paulina Gretzky, fiancée to Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) tour winner Dustin Johnson and daughter of a hockey superstar, has landed a solo spot on the cover of this month’s Golf Digest. The American model and pop singer surely fits the criteria for the cover, right?


May’s cover of Golf Digest portrays Paulina Gretzky in tight capris and a revealing sports bra holding an iron. In the article, Gretzky recounts how she once missed a ball in front of 30 people while playing in her dad’s tournament. It also features different exercises to improve one’s golf game.

Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) golfers have only appeared solo on Golf Digest’s covers 11 times since 1969. The most recent LPGA player to land the cover was Lorena Ochoa in August 2008.

“If a magazine called Golf Digest is interested in showcasing females in the game, yet consistently steers away from the true superstars who’ve made history over the last few years, something is clearly wrong,” said Mike Whan, the LPGA Tour Commissioner. “’Growing the game’ means a need for more role models and in these exciting times for women’s golf, the LPGA is overflowing with them.”

It’s time to give credit where credit is due. Yet the last issue featuring an LPGA Tour winner was six years ago, and in total the LPGA has only had 11 covers in the past 45 years.

“It’s frustrating for female golfers,” third-ranked player Stacy Lewis said in an interview with the New York Times. “It’s kind of the state of where we’ve always been. We don’t get respect for being the golfers that we are. Obviously, Golf Digest is trying to sell magazines. But at the same time you’d like to see a little respect for the women’s game.”

Last time I checked, the Waspy stereotype that golf still holds would never allow someone in Gretzky’s outfit anywhere near the clubhouse, let alone the course. There is no reason for this to be the face of Golf Digest if the figure isn’t wearing something that would be deemed appropriate, not to mention she has nothing to do with the game.

Juli Inkster, a seven-time winner and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, as well as one of the 11 women to appear alone on Golf Digest’s covers, doesn’t appreciate the magazine’s choice in Gretzky either.

“What do you have to do to get a little respect? I’m guaranteeing you right now, it was not a woman editor who chose that cover,” said Inkster in an interview with the New York Times.

She’s probably right. Golf Digest’s editor in chief, Jerry Tarde, released a statement to the commotion surrounding this month’s cover.

“Sports figures, celebrities and models have appeared on Golf Digest covers since the magazine’s beginning,” said Tarde. “Paulina ranks at the high end of the golf celebrity scene today, and she has a compelling story to tell. She also might get some new people interested in the game.”

As a golfer, this cover is a slap in the face. I went to the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship, and I remember getting my hat signed by almost every player I could find. These women pride themselves on integrity, honor, dignity and respect. All of which are not portrayed on this month’s cover. The women of the LPGA are my role models, on and off the course. We faced struggles left and right to gain our “equality” in this sport. And now that we have it, we’re still faced with the same prejudice as before. I can name 15 people off the top of my head that would be better suited in that cover spot, and they’re all members of the LPGA.

Wil Wheton makes little kid’s day by being a nerd

By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer

When we were little, we could name all 151 original Pokemon without fail, and cast a plethora of spells (for those who aren’t muggles). Today, we gawk excitedly about “Doctor Who,” anime and comics, among other things. That’s right. We are nerds.

At Denver Comic Con last year, Wil Wheaton, best known for his role of Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation, was asked by 7-year-old Mia how to deal with being called a nerd.

It’s unfortunate that it has taken a full year for this video to go viral, but it’s a good thing that it did, because Wheaton’s response is absolutely wonderful.

“When a person makes fun of you, when a person is cruel to you, it has nothing to do with you. It’s not about what you said. It’s not about what you did. It’s not about what you love. It’s about them feeling bad about themselves.” Wheaton said.

He continued the analogy by comparing the way another person loves tether-ball is the same intense way  that nerds love “Doctor Who”.

A few days ago Mia’s mother told Reddit that her daughter took Wheaton’s message to heart, and has made amends with the bully and has gone so far as to protect other children who are bullied.

John Green, a famous author and YouTube personality made a few videos on nerds back in the day, and he makes the clear distinction that being called a nerd isn’t a bad thing.

“Nerds are allowed to love stuff. Like jump-up-and-down-in-your-chair love it. When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is, ‘You like stuff,’ which is just not a good insult at all,” concludes Green.

Nerds come in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. Two people can nerd out about the football game last night, and two people could also nerd out about the “Sherlock” season finale. In fact, being a nerd is so great that there is a show about being the biggest nerd.

Nerds are also some of the most passionate people I’ve ever met. All of my friends here at Boston University are nerds. Whether it’s their favorite band, or a TV series, every person has something that they love, and love to express their love for it. This is coming from the woman who received a Star Trek science officer onesie for her birthday this year.

Trust me, it’s not so bad to be a nerd. In fact, it’s pretty cool.

LOLThursday: Singing nun on Italy’s “The Voice”

By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer

Cristina Scuccia, 25, is a member of the Ursuline Sisters of the Holy family and native Sicilian. The nun killed it during the Blind Auditions of the Italian version of “The Voice” last Tuesday.

For those that don’t know how “The Voice” works, the four judges have their backs to the singer so that they can judge solely based on vocal technique, style and talent. If they push their button, the chair turns around signaling to the vocalist that that particular judge chose them to be on their team.

The funny part of this video was the faces of the judges as their chairs swiveled around to face Sister Scuccia. Sure, a woman veiled in religious garb is nowhere close to the stereotypical look of a pop vocalist, yet there she was. I don’t know about you, but I’d definitely be shocked.

With over 30 million hits on YouTube, this super star has taken the place of Susan Boyle, and then some. Sister Scuccia’s performance of Alicia Keys’ “No One” got all four judges to turn around, which is an uncommon feat.

She hopes that this performance will get Pope Francis to call her. But she didn’t just do it for the praise from the Pope.

“I came here because I have a gift and I want to share that gift. I am here to evangelize,” she said after her performance.

Sister Scuccia ended up choosing Italian rapper, J-Ax, saying, “I told myself that if they turned around, I would choose the first one.” In the competition, each contestant chooses to be on a judges’ team after getting their approval.

But seriously, check out the judges’ faces. It’s priceless to see their reaction to someone so unexpected from the social “norm” for a vocalist. Sit back, relax, and get ready to get your socks blown off.

9-year-old blamed for getting bullied over his My Little Pony lunch box

By Kyra Louie, Staff Wrtier

Monday, Grayson Bruce, 9, was advised to keep his My Little Pony lunch box at home because his school deemed it a “trigger for bullying.”

Many children at school had started calling the North Carolinian horrible names, even telling him to “go home and kill himself” because of his infatuation with the popular TV show. Instead of the school actually doing something about the bullies, Grayson is no longer allowed to bring his favorite lunch box to school.

“Saying a lunchbox is a trigger for bullying is like saying a short skirt is a trigger for rape. It’s flawed logic; it doesn’t make any sense,” Grayson’s mom, Noreen, stated in an interview with WLOS-TV.

And it’s true. It makes no sense to blame the victim and tell them to change their behavior in order to stop the bullying, instead of changing the bullies.

Cases like Grayson’s are common. In January, an 11-year-old boy, also from North Carolina, tried to commit suicide after being bullied for liking My Little Pony.

Bullying for any reason is not okay. There’s a reason why the 2011 movie “Bully” was made. This is a large problem in the United States, and there are many campaigns trying to change this.

How schools deal with bullying problems show what behavior is acceptable and which kind of behavior is unacceptable. Telling Grayson that he cannot bring his bag to school to express himself because people will bully him teaches the bullies that they can get away with their behavior because the school administration would back them up.

Eugene Volokh, a writer for the Washington Post, agrees, stating in his column: “And if the school teaches kids that, if they push others around, the school will make those others conform, then the high school students of the future will learn that lesson, too.”

But Grayson has gotten a lot of attention for his cause. His family and friends have made a Facebook Support page for him, and it has received over 28,000 likes, and even Glenn Beck supported Grayson by putting plush toys from “My Little Pony” on his desk.

Grayson is a part of the My Little Pony fandom, and if he still likes My Little Pony when he is older, he will be classified as a “brony.” Unfortunately, bronies are just as misunderstood as Grayson, but they are rapidly growing in number.

These Bronies have been making a scene in the My Little Pony fandom, so much so that there is a documentary about them. Check out the trailer:

Throwback Thursday: Dear Freshman Year

By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer

College goes by faster than you'd think, BU freshmen./ PHOTO BY Kyra Louie

College goes by faster than you’d think, BU freshmen./ PHOTO BY Kyra Louie

I’ve interviewed 11 Boston University students and alumni and asked them, “What would you say to your freshman self?” Some people were funny about it, some people were serious, but all answers were straight up honest. Freshmen, I hope you take these quotes into consideration as you spend the rest of your semester growing into your own skin. These students have some great advice.

“Spend more time with good people and less time in SMG. Also make better decisions.” – Will Dunn, 24 (SMG ’12)

“Everything always ends up being fine in the end. Don’t have any regrets for the hard work you put in.”- Sean Marria-Nelson, 22 (COM ’14)

“Never try to finish an entire dinner portion and cheesecake slice at the Cheesecake Factory. It’s a bad idea. Some people are not going to care about the things that you care about. Some people are inherently rude or mean but there will always be loving people to combat those jerks.” – Kathryn Vaz, 19 (COM ’16)

“Pursue the major that makes you happy from the beginning, rather than trying to stick with the one that you feel like you are expected to pursue.” – Beth Whatley, 22 (CAS ’13)

“Get your ass out of bed and go make some friends. Enjoy your freedom while it lasts.” – Christina Garzillo, 21 (CAS ’14)

“Be a little more social and confident.” – Deanna Garzillo, 21 (CAS ’14)

“Break up with your long distance girlfriend. Don’t let your major mandate what you can and can’t do. Find another way to paint.” – Max Davis, 20 (SMG ’16)

“Being physically close to someone isn’t the same thing as hanging out. Remember that when you room with your best friend and keep growing in friendship.” – Doully Yang, 22 (ENG ’14)

“No matter what grade you get, you are amazing. Put yourself over your studies, your social life and your commitments because after this all that matters is that you did what made you happy.” – Avion Cummings, 19 (SAR ’16)

“Kid, you’ll never have free time like this again. Make the most of it.” – Jason Chan, 27 (CAS ’08)

“Worry less, take more risks, and stop procrastinating. Take advantage of more of what Boston has to offer.” – Isabel da Rosa, 21 (COM ’14)

As for my advice to my freshman self and current/future freshmen, you don’t have time to waste on people that don’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated. People come in and out of your life. Your friends and significant others will change. Let it happen. It’s their loss, not yours.

California Girl Scout Takes Advantage of the Munchies

By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer

A 13-year-old Girl Scout from San Francisco thought outside the proverbial box of cookies and sold over 117 boxes of cookies in two hours last monday. Her genius plan?

Set up in front of a marijuana dispensary.

That is probably the cleverest thing I’ve heard in the past month. It’s pure genius. The Girl Scouts of Northern California must have gotten a pretty penny from those 117 boxes.

Danielle Lei’s mother, who helped execute this plan, said that told the Los Angeles Times that she doesn’t condone consuming marijuana,and had to sensitively explain their setup outside of the dispensary to her daughter. But the cannabis-inspired cookie consumption has stirred up many questions as to where it’s acceptable to sell Girl Scout cookies. Can they be sold on any public property, including adult-oriented establishments, like liquor stores? Or should they only be allowed to sell in front of family-friendly businesses?

Colorado, another state with legalized marijuana, has taken this act of wit and turned it into a lesson. In fact, for years, their girls aren’t allowed to sell cookies outside any adult-oriented business.

Lei’s mother is right in letting her daughter sell in front of the dispensary. If I remember correctly, in each troop, the Girl Scout who sells the most boxes of cookies gets a prize, so why wouldn’t she put her daughter in the best position to do so? It was practical, and there were no laws or rules prohibiting it, so there is no problem with what she did.

In fact, I’m surprised no one jumped on this opportunity before. Sure, things like this might be strange, but in no way are they taboo.

Do you think that this is an acceptable place to sell Girl Scout cookies?

Facebook Adds Gender Options

By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer

It seems like the leading social media network has finally caught on to the fact that gender identity isn’t just about male or female anymore. Facebook added more than 50 new gender options for people who do not strictly identify as male or female Thursday, Feb. 13.

Some of the new options include (but are not exclusive to): transgender, cisgender, gender fluid, gender queer and intersex. Facebook even goes so far as to let users choose whether they want to use female, male or neutral pronouns.

For those who are confused about the difference between sex and gender: sex is a biological term, which refers to anatomy and hormones. Gender, on the other hand, refers to society’s constructs of gender roles and behaviors.

There are many people who are against Facebook’s new feature, like Fox News Contributor Todd Starnes.

In my opinion, it is highly insensitive, disturbing and unacceptable to state that being a trans person is the same as identifying with a “pine cone or a chicken or a weed whacker,” as Starnes claims. It is sickening that there are people in this world who can even think those kinds of thoughts.

In this day and age, Society celebrates the ability to conform to the boxes and roles, but that should not be the case. A human being should be celebrated, no matter who they are or how they identify themselves. Humans are smart. We can change with time and effort.

These new gender options may not apply to some people, but to the ones that it does affect, it makes a difference.

The Daily Beast even has a detailed glossary of most of Facebook’s new gender options.

The bottom line: We should respect all humans, in all forms. People are people, and we are all beautiful. We should all be celebrated and given the same respect as everyone else. If we want to change society, we must first change ourselves. And this is a step in the right direction. Thank you, Facebook.