Final Fantasy X-2 will for me always go down as the worst sequel in video game history, but for many adoring Final Fantasy fans found it refreshing and remarkable. Today I am here to stomp on all of those people’s hopes and dreams.
Gamespot reviewed this game and gave it 4 out of 5 stars. They begin the article with some very confusing statements. “…it’s(Final Fantasy X-2) a sequel to a sequel “. Now this statement is maybe three quarters of the way true. This game is a direct sequel to Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X is the 10th game in a run of Final Fantasy games but as Gamespot points out previously in their review “every game in the series stands alone as a self-contained story with a unique setting, plot, and cast of characters” So Final Fantasy X is as much of a sequel to Final Fantasy IX as Deadpool is to Spiderman.
Next the author talks about the tone shift from the “subtle and a little melancholy story that focused on love and loss as much as saving the world” to X-2’s upbeat and overly cheerful game. This is atrocious, to give you perspective there has only been 1 time that I have cried in my life and it was at the end of Final Fantasy X. And everyone that played that game was hoping for a continuation of that story instead we were given a glimpse of what we wanted only to have it flushed down the toilet with pop song concerts and dress up parties.
As for the actual battle mechanics I had no problems with them. They fit the theme that the developers chose for this game. In the end though you will find the difficulty pretty low. As far as minigames go I only really enjoyed one of these which is the run and gun mini game and part of me wishes they would have made the entire game with that style.
Final Fantasy X-2’s best features are its settings and characters all which were already established by the original what players were looking for was closure and FFX-2 provided none making the entire game almost completely unrelated to the original when it was supposed to be a sequel it felt more like a spin off.
Back in March of 2018 CTS-Labs disclosed a vulnerability that they found inside of AMD’s chipset line up. Now this is a normal thing that companies do in order to make sure that we are safe they try and break into electronics to find their vulnerabilities so that they can be updated. But what was odd about this disclosure was that they only gave AMD 24 hours of notice before they made the vulnerability public. To put this into perspective when Google release their security disclosure for Spectre and Meltdown they notified Intel 6 months before releasing it to the public. Now CTS-Labs reports “It doesn’t have any investment (long or short) in Intel or AMD.”, but it seemed a little fishy to me so I did some digging. While one site reports that they have a legal disclaimer stating “you are advised that we may have , either directly or indirectly, an economic interest in the performance of the securities of the companies whose products are the subject of our reports.” Which to most people just sounds like a red flag but I can give them the benefit of the doubt on that one Lawyers need to make sure to cover all bases whether it is currently happening or not.
Next I wanted to look into the actual company. The company of CTS-Labs was created in 2017 and is based in Israel. They are a security company that focuses on hardware security so their report could be that they needed to get their name out to garner business and that is why the report was rushed but it could also be that Intel would have received the briefing about Spectre and Meltdown security flaws just around the time that CTS-Labs was created and Intel would have seen on the report that AMD was not affected by either of these issues. They would have know that when this gets out that is going to cause their stock to drop and AMD’s stock to jump up. So the logical thing to do is to find a security flaw in AMD’s chipset, but if they reported it that would look childish but if someone else reports it than it is fine. Supporting new business is something that many companies do and so they found a new business that couldn’t be traced to them offered them support and asked them to focus their efforts on finding security flaws in AMD’s chips hoping that they will find one by the time the public finds out about the security issues within their own chips.
Now all of this of course is conjecture as CTS-Labs has absolutely refused to give up any information about its funding for their investigation into the security flaws but this event has definitely created tension between security groups and manufacturers.
It was just this year when my smart phone broke and so I switched over to a flip phone and I admit that I did not last very long. After about a month of having to go to my desktop every couple of minutes to see what emails had come through I finally had enough and found a cheap smartphone on craigslist, but my time spent outside the screen made me realize how much time we do spend on our phones. I can’t count how many times I would sit down with my family and watch on as everyone else scrolled through some app on their phones, so if you think you can make it I encourage you to make a shout out to #NoPhoneForAYear and let them know how it is going to improve your life.
Some tips are useful; Live in the Academic Moment, suggests that you focus on the intrinsic benefits of your assignments rather than the end grade—I agree with this.
But there are other tips that rub me the wrong way. Don’t Study In Your Room, suggests you find a quiet place out of your dorm room and somewhere quiet within one of the (presumably) many libraries on your tree-lined, sprawling, campus. My issue with this is that it comes from a very traditional, white, elitist viewpoint when it comes to the college experience.
To me the takeaway from the Dale and Kureger study is clear. Being driven, having a strong work ethic, and studying for the SATs are more valuable qualities than attending a top-tier school.
You can succeed anywhere if you put in the time and effort.
David Brooks, who I introduced you to in my last post, explains what years of research has substantiated. “People who succeed tend to find one goal in the distant future and then chase it through thick and thin. People who flit from one interest to another are much, much less likely to excel at any of them. School asks students to be good at a range of subjects, but life asks people to find one passion that they will follow forever.”
I hope you all have found something to be passionate about, and will go out and pursue it! Congratulations on completing another semester here at Metropolitan State.
You might might not know this, but when it comes to food, my favorite dish in the whole world is fufu and palm butter. In Liberia every good meal is supposed to be a soup. It’s true Liberians say that “if you haven’t eaten rice with your meal, then you haven’t eaten.” But for me fufu is what I enjoy. Although you cannot eat fufu with every Liberian soup. Fufu is not meant to me chewed, the way to eat it is to swallow it, so soups like okra sauce, palava sauce, pepper soup or palm butter is ideal for the dish. Although swallowing your food without chewing it first may be a stretch for some people. I enjoy most Liberian dishes, but palm butter is my tribe’s (Grebo tribe) traditional soup, and it’s also the most popular soup throughout Liberia. The name palm butter comes from the buttery texture of the soup once it is prepared. Everyone loves palm butter and it can be eaten on any occasion. The soup is prepared with seafood, chicken, beef, shrimp, and other proteins. The soup is also prepared with hot peppers and seasoning, the palm butter leaf, bitter balls and kitteley.
Here is a tested and true recipe for authentic Liberian Palm Butter Soup:
1 handful hot peppers
1 clove garlic
1 C rice
4 handfuls palm nuts
1 medium size fish
Steps to make it
Boil palm nuts in pot of water for approx. 15 min until semi-soft.
Mash hot peppers, garlic, & onions in mortar, or blender. Set aside.
Parboil chopped fish with pepper/garlic/onion mash in water.
Mash softened palm nuts with mortar. Place into a bowl.
Rinse mortar with water and pour the now orange water into bowl of Palm mash. Press mash into a strainer to squeeze out any juice. Your bowl now has dark orange palm butter. Discard dried mash of fibers.
Add palm butter to parboiled fish and pepper mash. Boil until soup reduces to desired.
Palm butter is made from palm nuts which is a fruit of the palm tree. It is harvested to make the paste used in palm butter or used to make palm oil. The dish is not only delicious but it is very healthy. It Improves energy levels, Beta-carotene is one of the prime components of palm oil, which is very good for improving energy levels and boosting hormonal balance in the body. Prevents cardiovascular issues and reduces risk of cancer. Palm oil has high levels of tocopherols, a form of vitamin E, which are natural antioxidants that can help prevent cancer by neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals cause healthy cells to mutate into cancerous cells. Vitamin E is also good for the skin. Fufu is a starch eaten throughout West Africa. It is made by mixing and pounding cassava, green plantain, edo or yam flour with water. The consistency is similar to dumplings, but it is soft and easy to swallow.
Here is a tested and true recipe for authentic Liberian fufu:
2 pounds fresh cassava, plantain or yam or Fufu flour (of choice)
Salt (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1 teaspoon olive oil
Steps to Make It
Fill a pot halfway with cold water. 1. Peel the yams, being very careful with the knife or peeler, as yams can be slippery. 2. Cut the peeled yams into chunks. Place the chunks in the water in the pot. 3. Bring the water and the yams to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil until the yams are soft – about 25 minutes. 4. Remove the yams and reserve about a cup of the water. Allow the yams to cool. 5. Place the cooled yams in a large bowl along with the salt, pepper, and olive oil. 6. Mash the ingredients using a potato masher. Don’t worry if the mixture doesn’t look like dough just yet.
7. Place the fufu mixture in a food processor or blender. Pulse briefly to remove any lumps. Do not puree. Use a low speed/setting. 8. Place the yam mixture back in the bowl and beat it with a wooden spoon until it becomes smooth. The mixture should become sticky and slightly elastic. It’s OK to use your hands to get it to this point. 9. Shape the fufu into balls of equal size.
For an easier but way to enjoy this dish, you can purchase palm butter instead of making it fresh. There’s a number of Liberian restaurants in the twin cities, but if you want to try palm butter visit Mama Ti’s African Kitchen in Brooklyn Park and don’t just stop at palm butter try some of the other delicious Liberian dishes, they serve most of them and it’s 100% authentic.
This is a topic on my mind most days. It crosses all aspects of my life; work, college, family and recreational. I often wonder if people know what it means to be punctual or not. Is punctuality a thing of the past?
As far back as I can remember, I have always been someone who is early. I would sit at the end of the driveway waiting for the bus; while my siblings ran down the driveway just as he bus driver started to leave. I have always arrived at work twenty minutes early. If I tell you we are leaving at noon, you better be ready by 11:45.
I had a friend who’s family was always late. They would try to trick themselves into being on time. They would set their clocks early. They had so many clocks in that house and not a single clock was the correct time. I look back and wonder how they thought this would work? They had no concept of the actual time. It never worked, they were always late.
I have always felt that being punctual shows your respect for others. Being late is a selfish act, for it puts your needs above another’s. You want an extra minute to do what you’d like, but in gaining that minute for yourself, you take a minute from another.
For example, showing up late for work. Depending on your job someone else may have to stay late to cover until you get there. Why is your time more important than theirs? At my work there are several co-workers who feel it is acceptable to be 3-15 minutes late every day, yet they are the first ones out the door. Several times they will all be late and we will have someone waiting at the door. To me that shows no respect for their clients time, who arrived when the office was supposed to be open. Showing up late for an appointment puts everyone else’s appointment off schedule.
The importance of Punctuality is something I feel strongly about (even if the blog is “The art of being a MAN” title could be taken as sexist.. punctuality knows no gender). Maybe I am wasting my time always waiting for others. I could be sleeping in, getting coffee and filling my own needs instead of waiting on others.
“The habit of being prompt once formed extends to everything — meeting friends, paying debts, going to church, reaching and leaving place of business, keeping promises, retiring at night and rising in the morning, going to the lecture and town-meeting, and, indeed, to every relation and act, however trivial it may seem to observers.” –William Makepeace Thayer, Tact and Grit, 1882
I personally have anxiety and the thought of walking into a room late gives me anxiety just thinking of it. I couldn’t imagine showing up late for work regularly and trying to explain to my supervisor why. I realize not everyone has this same issue and that sometimes things happen outside of our control. But this is exactly why I would never be late just because I couldn’t find my shoes, had to stop for gas or needed a breakfast sandwich. All of those things should have been planned and figured into the morning routine.
I thought I would ask people about their time habits. I received a series of responses which I found interesting. Some said it depends on the activity. If they pay for the activity, such as class they do not feel obligated to show up on time; however if they are getting paid to be there, such as work, they will be on time. If it is a family obligation it depends on the relationship they have with the person. Many said they just struggle with getting up in the morning. I followed up with a question regarding evening activities and their punctuality. They generally said they were late to those as well. So, that clearly has nothing to do with waking up late.
I found this blog on point with my time struggles with my husbands family. His family is always late and after 20 years, I have not figured out what time to show up for their events. Once we arrived before they even got there. We literally were in their driveway at the exact time they said to arrive and they were not home. We waited another thirty minutes for the host to showed up. WHAT!! We were not even early, just on time.
Each culture has their own norms toward time. It is not the same in each culture. Many cultures value the human connection over time. In those cultures it is more rude to end a conversation to get somewhere on time than to be late. They value time with people higher than punctuality. Read more about other cultures and their view of time here.
From the age of 11 I’ve always been into performing, rapping, and doing anything music related. I recording recording music in high school, and rapping at parties, and performing at any open mic or talent show i could enter. But I didn’t take recording music as a career seriously until 2003, when i finally decided to start recording music in a professional studio. I then began to read any and everything I could concerning the music business, to learn all I could about the music business and the more I learned the more i wanted to be in that world. Shorty after recording my my first few records, one of my songs got a placement in a Lionsgate film called Bloody Streets. That was the first huge for my confidence, and a encourage me to keep recording.
After I recorded about five songs, I began to perform locally, and started promoting my music heavy throughout the city. While performing at a fashion show, I was approached by a producer after my performance, and he asked me to perform a feature rap on a song he was working on for an r&b artist. I agreed and we recorded that some, and while they were pushing the song to to several major labels, one of the a&r’s at Universal Republic Records, liked the songs and offered them a production deal. They wanted to know if I were an artist signed to the production company because they liked the rap I performed on the song. To make a long story short, that lead to me getting a record deal, a dream of mine since I wrote my first rap.
I recorded a full album with the production company, but they decided to put my project on the back burner while they focused on the r&b artist project first. Although they had given me money, a new BMW, and paid my rent at a high priced high rise apartment downtown Minneapolis, I wasn’t satisfied because my dream was to be a success, famous rapper and all I was doing was recording music in the studio. I released a mix-tapes locally on my own, but none of my music was being released through the label. It seem like they had no interest in pushing my album. So after two years of being signed, i decided to get a lawyer, leave the label and become independent.
Fast Forward to 2018, I’ve been in the studio recording a new project for sometime and a good friend of mine who is producing a reality show here in the twin cities asked my to join the cast of the show. The show features seven other cast mates and we’re all from Liberia. The show is called Brooklyn Park Heat. Brooklyn Park hosts the largest population of Liberians in the U.S. The premise of the show is to chronicle our lives and tell our story as Liberians living in America but more specifically Minnesota. The cameras have been following me around since last summer chronicling my life in the entertainment business and my return to the music scene with this new project. It’s been very interesting to say the least, because I’ve never had cameras follow me around before. I’m happy I get to share insight with younger up and coming artist on the industry. How it really is and what it takes to release a project, from recording to promotion and everything that comes with it.
It’s that time of year again! Stores are filled with fake trees and baubles and candy. There’s ad after ad of children playing with the newest toys and men having a blast with the newest tool accessory. Nothing says man like a new tool set! There are ads for jewelry and clothes; because that is all women want to receive from their loved ones. There are traditions to keep alive like Elf on the Shelf, cookie baking, and Christmas carols. This is a time for family and happiness. You know, holiday cheer?
Then why do I, every year with out fail, feel something entirely different? I don’t know what it is, I have a great family that I love spending time with. I am usually pretty happy on the actual day of Christmas, but I am always Eeyore on the lead up to it.
I don’t know if it’s that I spend too much money on frivolous things or if it’s a weird thing about my lack of parents. I do have parents, but they are just not around. I have plenty of sisters though, five in total, so I don’t feel alone. Maybe it’s that Christmas is so exclusive. People who are not Christian have to suffer through these weeks of Christmas being pushed into their faces. I have Jewish friends who shop in Target and have half of a shelf to shop from; then you look around and the rest of the store is filled with Christmas stuff. Yes, I know. America has more Christians than any other religion. I get that. I do. It doesn’t take away from people feeling left out.
My friend is an immigrant from Somalia and her child is now 4. She has no idea what Santa Clause is or why he would visit our houses in the night, but it is talked about every day at school. She goes home every night and cries, because she doesn’t get to do any of the things the other kids do. My friend feels terrible and would like her daughter to feel included, but she can’t. Many other kids like Shaima feel the same way.
My aunt lost her son in a tragic car accident a few years ago. Christmas and Thanksgiving are terrible for her and my cousin. It’s a reminder of the person they lost and a bitter remembrance of traditions of the past. There are many families that deal with loss during the holidays. There are families that are dealing with disease and sickness and their loved one being stuck at a hospital. There are military families who are missing their child, their sister, their father.
Then there are families who feel the stress and burden of the holidays, because they don’t make enough money to buy their kids toys, a Christmas tree, a fancy Christmas dinner and any other holiday “tradition”. They worry that their kids will go to school and say, “Santa Clause brought me this coloring book and new crayons!” Then some other kids will say, “Santa Clause brought me a new iPad!” What might the kid with the coloring book feel about that? I can tell you from experience: that kid will not feel good. That kid will feel like they did something wrong. Maybe they were somehow on the naughty list. Maybe Santa hates that kid. Later that kid will learn; Nope, we are just poor.
I feel like a terrible wretch feeling this way when I am non-religious and can spend this time celebrating a religious holiday any way I want. I have a huge, loving family and here I am complaining about my feelings when there are people out there who have it way worse. I guess that’s my point; people have it way worse and I can’t stop thinking about it around this time every year.
A couple years ago, I started donating to local food shelf services for families to have a nice dinner and to places like We Can for families to have more support. I try to donate to Toys For Tots and I donate winter clothes like mittens and hats for children. I will admit; I do this for selfish reasons. I don’t feel as bad when I sit down with my sisters for dinner and exchange gifts. I feel better knowing I did at least something to help those with less feel more.
I’m not trying to make you feel bad for enjoying your holidays. I just wanted to write something personal for my last blog and this is always on my mind this time of year. If you want to donate to any charities this year, that would be cool. If you want to ignore all of the world’s problems and engulf yourself in holiday cheer, that’s cool as well.
I hope you guys have a great winter break. To those of you graduating; Congratulations! To the rest of you, maybe I’ll see you around!
Over the past few years, farmers have been in trouble. They’ve been filing for bankruptcy and closing their doors – and this is still on the rise. Tariffs and poor harvest are greatly impacting the profit and future of the farmer.
This has started to take an emotional toll on farmers and their families. Farmers are developing depression and some have even committed suicide. With the continuing discussions on tariffs and poor harvest, this could get worse.
In central Minnesota, farmers have been learning how to embrace self-care and learn the symptoms of depression. Farm advocacy groups and the University of Minnesota Extension are reaching out to farmers to talk to them and teach them about mental health. An important component they are urging them to consider is to talk to someone instead of holding in how they are feeling and that friends and family should lend a listening ear. Talking can be the first step to feeling better.
“A lot of us — particularly in agriculture — when times get tough, we withdraw, don’t talk as much to our family members, to our potential partners or … whoever it might be that you tend to communicate with about some of this stuff.”
The University of Minnesota Extension office has been offering farmers free resources, but farm advocacy groups will be asking the Minnesota legislature for more help in funding and providing farmers financial and mental health resources.
A farmer’s whole life and income are based on what they produce, and if they can’t produce their product or sell it – their future is rocky. Having grown up in a farming community, I know how farmers are and how they don’t like to talk about their problems. I’m hoping that the Minnesota legislature agrees to fund more financial and mental health resources for farmers so they can get through this rough patch. Providing financial and mental health services will greatly help the farmer, their family, and their future.
Overall, I believe that mental health services are important for everyone. It would be ideal for every person to have access to mental health resources when they are in need and struggling. If we can erase the stigma around depression and suicide in all occupations and in every conversation we have, the better the world could be, especially if the government is willing to fund mental health resources for everyone.
A few years ago I was listening to the radio talk show about the state of minorities in Minnesota particularly the African American community here in Minnesota. The person on the radio said some disturbing statistics about the income and job inequality for African Americans here in Minnesota. She said that Minnesota was rated one of the worst places to live in America for African Americans, and that a white person with a jail record could get a job faster than an African american person with a college degree. I decided to look into the matter to see if this was still an issue in Minnesota. To my dismay, this is still the trend in Minnesota in 2018.
But there’s a little light at the end of the tunnel. Compared with 2011 when unemployment among African American in Minnesota was at 23.5% which was the highest rate in Minnesota history, unemployment is now at 7.5%. But there are still huge disparities, unemployment rate for blacks is higher than what white Minnesota workers experienced in 2009 at the height of the Great Recession.
“Minnesota’s economy had a strong year, with nine of 11 major industrial sectors adding jobs in 2017 and unemployment at a 17-year low,” said Shawntera Hardy, DEED commissioner. “Still, we have more work to do to connect all Minnesotans, specifically people of color, indigenous communities and people with disabilities, to employment and training opportunities to ensure that they succeed in today’s economy.”
Black, Hispanic and Native American families all make less today than they did in the 1970s.
Black families are hardest hit, now earning median annual incomes of about $33,900, compared with about $81,500 for white families.
Today, more than 20 percent of Hispanic and 30 percent of black and Native American families are poor. Those numbers have grown, in some cases significantly.
White poverty has declined, with just 5 percent of white Minnesota families now living in poverty.
Asians are the only minority families who have seen their median incomes grow. With a 2014 median family income of about $71,500, Asian families earn about $10,000 a year less than whites. Hmong families are an exception, however, with many living at or near poverty after coming to Minnesota as refugees.
Minnesota is an outlier nationally. White Minnesota families have higher median incomes, while Minnesotans of color earn less than their peers nationwide.
Figure 1: Persons of Color as a percent of the total population
“The differences in imprisonment might be the most shockingly unequal outcome of ongoing race-related disparities in the United States,” writes Michael Sauter in his analysis for the report.
For every 100,000 Minnesotans, there were 111 white people incarcerated and 1,219 black people, according to the report. Other highlights: • Median household income for black families was $30,306. For whites, it’s $66,979. • White unemployment rate is 3 percent. For black people, it’s almost three times that. • The home ownership for black people is 21.7 percent. For whites, it’s 76 percent. The only state doing worse than us: Wisconsin. Rounding out the top five were Iowa, South Dakota and Illinois.
WHY GAPS NEED TO CLOSE
After the state gained more than 45,000 jobs over the last year, DEED says Minnesota’s growth rate is at 1.5 percent.
Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment rate is at 3.1 percent, well below the national average of 4 percent.
“Overall employment in the state is at a record level and continuing to grow, however, we must continue to invest in communities where job growth is not as strong,” Hardy said.
For black Minnesotans, the unemployment rate has continued to fall.
From May to June, the rate dropped from 6.1 percent to 5.6 percent, reaching the lowest levels seen since 2001.
Still, the black unemployment rate is double that of white Minnesotans, which has remained steady at 2.6 percent.
For Hispanic Minnesotans, the unemployment rate has seen a significant increase in the last month, climbing from 4.4 percent in May to 5.3 percent in June.
From 2010 to 2014, census data show, Minnesota lost 35,000 white residents of working age. During that same time, the number of working-age people of color increased by 72,000.
Susan Brower, the state demographer, says those statistics are a key reason that long-standing racial disparities need to be reduced. “In the past, when populations of people of color were smaller relative to the whole, economic disparities were an issue for moral reasons, for issues of equity,” Brower said. But now, she notes, as racial and ethnic minorities approach 20 percent of the state’s population, all Minnesotans’ economic futures will be influenced by how well those residents succeed. “All of our well-being is wrapped up, more and more, in how populations of color are faring in Minnesota,” Brower said.
Another study measured gaps between black and white residents in areas like unemployment, income and home ownership.
It found that black people in Minnesota are ten times more likely to end up in jail or prison than white people.
It also found the median income for a black household is $30,306, but a white household is more than double that number at $66,979.
Race relations experts feel those two statistics are directly connected.
“If [African Americans living near the poverty line] do have employment, it pays a very low wage. You are a renter at best,” said Keith Mayes, associate professor of African American Studies at the University of Minnesota. “And then if you are thoroughly outside of the labor market and participating in the underground economy [selling drugs, sex] then you may end up in jail.”
The study also found that the unemployment rate for black Minnesotans was 8.8 percent, but white Minnesotans was only 3 percent.
But progress is being made. State employment officials say Minnesota gained 6,600 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate for black Minnesotans dipped to a near two-decade low. The gained 6,600 jobs in June, is helping Minnesota reach a record total job number of 2.96 million jobs the highest seasonally adjusted number recorded in state history.