Author Archives: wallen14

Drinking Age

Many people in my generation argue that the drinking age should be lowered to 18, but this is a bad idea. The drinking age should remain at 21 because drinking under the age of 21 has serious effects on brain development, leads to alcohol dependency, and causes a higher percentage of alcohol related deaths. The National Minimum Drinking Age Purchase Act had incentives that encouraged states to raise the drinking age to 21 by 1989. The incentives were provided under the Federal Aid Highway Act; the states that had a drinking age below 21 would have a 10% decrease in federal funds for federal highway apportionment. All states now have their own laws that forbids drinking under the age of 21 with some exceptions. Other countries have their own drinking age laws, most of which allow drinking under the age of 21. The United States should not lower the drinking age because American culture is different from other countries.  American culture does not teach our children how to drink in a safe and controlled way, but rather teaches children that if one chooses to drink than they are to drink heavily, and become drunk.  Children in other countries whose drinking age is lower than 21 or nonexistent, grow up learning to drink in moderation and as part of their culture. The United States, on the other hand, has had constant struggles with drinking in the past. In the early 1800s the United State experienced a Temperance Movement, and then Prohibition was added to the Constitution in the form of the 18th amendment in the early 1900s. Today, the media influences peoples view on alcohol. Most American teenagers believe that the only way to drink it to get drunk. Americans tend to drink in excess which for themselves and those around them creates a very unsafe and destructive environment. The United States has more drivers than almost any other country in the world and because of that, underage drinking and driving is a bigger issue in the US and, therefore, causes more fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that minimum drinking age laws have saved 18,220 lives and that the laws caused a decline of 63% of alcohol-related crash fatalities among young drivers.During the time of adolescence brain development is at its most critical stage. The younger people begin to drink, the more likely that they will cause a disruption in this developmental stage of the brain.  According to the  NIAAA, the National institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, these disruptions “can lead to mild cognitive impairment as well as to further escalation of drinking.” Up to 80 percent of alcoholics, however, have a deficiency in thiamine, and some of these people will go on to develop serious brain disorders such as Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome. Wicker-Korsakoff syndrome is a syndrome that affects short term memory because of drinking. The hippo-campus is a part of the brain that is important for learning and memory. The hippo-campus was found to be smaller in alcohol dependent people than in nonalcoholic dependent people. The hippo-campus shows the cause of Wicker-Korsakoff syndrome. In one study, Brown and colleagues evaluated short–term memory skills in alcohol–dependent and non-dependent adolescents ages 15 to 16. The alcohol–dependent youth had greater difficulty remembering words and simple geometric designs after a 10–minute intervals. the hippo-campus—a part of the brain important for learning and memory—was smaller in alcohol–dependent study participants than it was in non-dependent participants.

Drinking at an early age can increase the chances of alcohol dependency. Alcohol dependency is four times more likely to develop in people who start drinking before the age of fifteen compared to those who do not drink until at least 20 or older. Genetics are another important factor that can affect dependency. Children of alcoholics are more likely to attempt drinking at a young age, which would already increase that person’s chance of alcohol dependency. Children of alcoholics that begin to drink at an early age are between 4 and 10 times more likely to become alcoholics themselves in comparisons to children who do not have close relatives who are alcoholics. It is important to keep the drinking age set at 21 because if people begin to excessively drink before the age of 21, then they are more likely to develop and alcohol dependency. The consumption of alcohol releases serotonin, which gives the drinker stimulation and pleasure. Alcohol acts as a depressant, but if alcohol is mixed with other drugs, then it will have additional effects. Alcohol can lead to the use of drugs because, through the bloodstream, alcohol passes through the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe of the brain controls judgment and reasoning. While under the influence of alcohol a person is more likely to use drugs because of alcohols adverse effects on the brain. Alcohol is considered a “gateway drug” because it starts the craving for the release of serotonin. The National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia did a study in 1996 that found:

More than 67% of individuals who started drinking before age 15 went on to use other illicit drugs, compared with less than 4% of those who never drank….An individual who starts who drinking before the age of 15 is 101 times more likely to use cocaine than someone who never drank. (Marr)

People who start drinking under the age of 21 are more likely to develop alcohol dependency. The consumption of alcohol and the abuse of alcohol can lead to drug use. If the drinking age is lowered, then more teenagers will begin to drink and develop alcohol dependency that could lead to drug use.

After the drinking age was changed to 21 nearly every state experienced a 28% decrease in alcohol related deaths. In 1998, 42 percent of 18- to 20-year-old crash fatalities were alcohol-related, compared to 38.4% for the total population. Approximately 5,000 people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking each year. 1,900 of these deaths are a result of driving under the influence. America has more drivers than almost any other country in the world, which means that the United States has more teenage drivers who could possibly be driving under the influence.  If the drinking age is lowered more alcohol related deaths will occur. To keep the roads safe the drinking age needs to remain set at 21.

Teens most often commit suicide while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Alcohol mixed with conditions such as depression and stress can contribute to suicide. This is the third leading cause of death among people between ages 14 and 25. On study showed that 37% of eighth grade females who drank heavily reported attempting suicide, compared with 11% who did not drink.  Under the influence of alcohol judgment is impaired and could cause people to make choices they would not otherwise make. Alcohol reacts differently mixed with different kinds of drugs and can be harmful to a person. Teenagers are especially vulnerable to these effects because their minds are not matured.


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Posted by on April 23, 2013 in Default


Lex Caecillia Didia

In my Latin class my teacher gave us Roman laws to research. While researching my law, Lex Caecilia Didia, I started to relate the Roman laws to the present day United States. Luckily studying American Government has made it easier to see the similarities in the two governments. Looking at human history it is easy to see how many societies have created similar technology, cultures, and government. Ancient Rome and the present United States have similar governments; in fact, the founding fathers based part of the United States government on the government of Ancient Rome.  Lex Caecilia Didia was a roman law that relates to the passage of bills and earmarks in the United States government.

Lex Caecilia Didia was an ancient Roman law that was passed by consuls Q. Caecilius Metellus Nepos and Titus Didius in 98 BC. This law had two main provisions: the first requiring a period of trinundium and the second prohibited leges saturae. Trinundium was the amount of time assigned between the introduction of a law and the vote in assembly. The period of trinundium was either 24 days or on the third market day (17 days). The reason for adding this time between the creation of a law and the vote for the law was so that the citizens of Rome would have time to understand the new law and perhaps be persuaded to vote against it. This provision came about because, in 100BC, a radical law was quickly passed without the support of most of the assembly. This law assigned land in the African province to veterans of Marius. Marius’ law was passed quickly with the use of violence and with the help of tribune Saturninus and the praetor Glaucia. Because the public was outraged by the passage of this law, Marius was forced to condemn Saturninus and Glaucia for the use violence and had to repeal the law. As a result of this incident Lex Caecilia was created and passed.  Although the United States does not have a set time period between the creation of a law and voting on that law in Congress, the government is set up in a way so that bills cannot pass quickly. The creation of laws is a long process that starts with the introduction of the bill. After the bill is introduced it must be considered by a committee and a subcommittee. After the committee the bill goes to the floor of the House for a vote and then to the Senate for a vote. If there are changes that need to be made to the bill then it is done by a conference committee and then voted on by the House and the Senate once again. The President then has the decision to sign the bill, veto the bill, or leave the bill unsigned and let it become law (or a pocket veto). The United States does not need trinundium because the government is set-up in a way that keeps law from passing too quickly and without serious consideration.

The other provision, Leges Saturae, forbade stuffed laws, which were provisions in a law that were unrelated to the actual subject of the law.  Earmarks are similar to stuffed laws. Unlike Rome, America does not prohibit earmarks. Earmarks also have to deal with money while the stuffed laws in Rome could also deal with land. Earmarks are problem in the United States and some Representatives, such as Congressman Cooper, refuse to use earmarks.

Although the United States does not have a provision that requires trinundium, the government is set-up so that there is no need for the period of consideration. While the United States does not have a provision that prohibits earmarks, many consider earmarks to be a problem in the United States. Ancient Rome and the present day United States have similar governments. 

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Posted by on March 17, 2013 in Default



Junior year in my English class a term paper is due at the end of the year. This term paper involves reading multiple books (or plays) by the same English author. I, to put it simply, am not an avid reader. It is not that I do not like reading, it is just that it is hard for me to find a book that captures my interest.

A week ago my class went to the library to learn about the authors we could choose. The librarian explained that I could choose an author who focused on the theme of romance, family, dystopian societies, rebirth, adulthood etc. After the visit to the library, I still had no idea which author I was going to pick.

My English teacher scheduled meetings with everyone in our class to discuss the term paper. I was not looking forward to informing him that I had absolutely no idea which author interested me. It was a long, painful walk over to his desk as I contemplated how I should break the news, because most English teachers do not enjoy hearing that one of their students is not a “fan” of reading. I told my English teacher of my distaste for books and my lack of opinion on the British authors. My teacher explained to me that he would help me choose a book, but, because he did not know me very well he was not sure which books I would enjoy the most. I sat in silence while he sat in thought, considering each author. When he looked up at me he seemed to be glowing with anticipation. My English teacher looked at me and said “if there is a little bit of nut in the Walnut, which I am positive there is, then you should read Equus and Amadeus!”

*Note: Some of my friends call me Walnut, which my English teacher found very amusing and now calls me that as well.

I was concerned, not about the plays. The plays actually sounded interesting in a creepy and disturbing sort of way. No, I did not have anything against the plays he chose for me, but I could not help wondering what he thought of me after that conversation. He could have selected any of the approximately 50 books/plays, but he thought that the author I would enjoy most was the one who wrote about a man with an abnormal obsession with horses. The only thing I could really think of asking my English teacher after he told me I would enjoy Equus and Amadeus was “ok, so what do you think of me exactly?”

I never asked my English teacher for his opinion of me or why he believed I would enjoy the books he had chosen. I am going to start reading the plays soon and I am just hoping that he was right when he said that “there was some nut in the Walnut.”

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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Learning


Procrastination Problem

I have always been a procrastinator. I put my homework off until the last possible minute but somehow I always end up completing it.  During soccer season practice ends at 5:30 and I “promptly” start my homework at eight ‘o’clock. Procrastination is a problem that I have always been able to manage until this year.

            When I decided that I wanted to take an online class I had to go see the head of the upper school to discuss my schedule. Mrs. Hill told me that taking this class would be challenging and recommended that I drop a few classes so that during soccer season I would have a study hall. I took her advice and dropped World Religions, and instead of taking AP Chemistry I dropped down to Physics. I assumed that my new schedule would be easier to manage and would give me plenty of time to complete the work for my online class.

When orientation for OSG began they said to spend five to seven hours on your class each week. I thought the work would be easy to manage because I only needed to put aside an hour a day to complete it. My train of thought seemed reasonable, and I was hopeful that my work would be turned by Saturday night. I forgot one thing; I procrastinate.

The first week of class began and I was prepared to follow the one hour a day schedule. On Monday I had a study hall but I forgot to bring my Wilson book to school. I couldn’t do the Government work at home because after soccer I focused on school work and studying for upcoming tests and quizzes. Then on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I continued to forget the government book.

Friday night I stayed home and began the assigned reading. The first thing I decided was that I was going to take notes on the readings while I read. After five pages took me over thirty minutes to read and to take notes on, I decided that my efforts had been in vain. We were assigned about fifty pages of reading; I could not spend approximately five hours on the reading assignment alone. I tore up my notes and brought out my highlighter instead. Chapter Two took me a long time to read but I pushed through and finished it on Friday night. On Saturday, I went out with friends and didn’t return home until 11:30, but I was determined to read part of the next chapter. I stayed up till 1’o’clock reading the third chapter and thankfully finished. After completing the reading assignments I was very proud of myself, believing that I had turned over a new leaf and would never procrastinate again.

Sunday morning came at around elven ’o’clock.  I woke up exhausted and the idea of work made me feel nauseated. Instead of working right away I watched some T.V. Noon came and went and I knew that I needed  to get down to work. I finished the OSG assignments at around 5:30. I was intimidated when I saw that my paper was the shortest and was afraid that I would look like the slacker of the group, but I ignored those thoughts and posted my paper anyway. I finally thought I was done, but then I saw that there was one assignment I overlooked. The assignment took me another hour to complete and again I had the shortest paper.

With my OSG work finally finished at seven ‘o’clock I was ready to take a break and watch “How I Met Your Mother”, but the realization that I still had homework from all my other classes pulled me away from the TV. The night was long and felt even longer when I learned that I had my first test in APUSH. I finished all my homework late and never got to watch “How I Met Your Mother”.

I used to be able to manage my procrastination but after the first week of OSG I learned that I would need to learn to manage my time. I can say with all honesty that I am a long way away from being able to manage my time wisely, but I and hopeful that OSG will make me learn valuable time management skills. I read an article that tells of how bad procrastination it during college (here is the link). I am hoping my procrastination problem will be fixed before college.


Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Learning