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18 MAR 2018

American Music

Whitney Houston

By Jeff Mitchell   Nov 2017

 Image of Whitney Houston Source: Wikimedia Commons

Few American singers have accrued quite the widespread appeal that Whitney Houston was able to amass during her lifetime.

Whitney's miraculous vocal abilities and charming appearance earned her a spot in everyone's hearts halfway through the 80's. A series of achievements and accolades ensued soon after her debut, culminating in the early nineties. Unfortunately, her life took a drastic turn for the worse after her marriage to singer Bobby Brown. Although she was able to make a small comeback in 2009, the height of her fame was never fully regained.

Whitney's Early Career

Whitney Houston was born on the 9th of August in the year 1963.

New Jersey was her birthplace and where she initially got her start in music. Her gifted singing ability seems to have run in her family; her cousin, mother and godmother were incredibly influential figures in music. Her cousin was actually Dionne Warwick and her godmother the one and only Aretha Franklin. Her mother, Cissy Houston, was minister of the church choir in which a young Whitney first began to wow and woo audiences. Congregations reputedly found her incredible to watch and listen to. Soon the entire world would follow suit.

It was around the time she turned 15 that Whitney began modeling successfully. Her natural beauty landed her on the cover of Seventeen Magazine. She was one of the first black women to do so. Houston continued on with music though - seeking out an opportunity at a record deal and big success in the industry. At 19, she got her big break as a newly-signed artist under Arista Records, thanks to Clive Davis who had signed her immediately after seeing her perform. After debuting on the Merv Griffin Show with a cover of "Home" from Oz-based musical remake, "The Wiz," Whitney and Davis worked closely together on her first album. In 1985, her debut album was released and Whitney's life changed forever.

Houston's Liftoff to Fame

Whitney was quickly catapulted to immense success and notoriety upon the release of her self-titled first album.

Over 14 non-consecutive weeks, Whitney's sensational first album topped the charts and dominated the airwaves. Iconic songs such as "How Will I Know" and "Saving All My Love for You" earned her critical acclaim, unparalleled fame and prestigious awards. "Saving All My Love for You" actually won Whitney a Grammy in 1986! With a huge mass of fans to please, Whitney released her second album in 1987. This album, titled "Whitney," did just as phenomenally as her first - earning her another Grammy for the smash hit, "I Wanna Dance with Somebody." This time around, she completed a tour of the world to great success.

At this time, Houston historically appeared and performed at Nelson Mandela's birthday!

Whitney's Move to Movies

After two incredibly successful albums, Whitney found her way onto the big screen - first appearing in "The Bodyguard" with Co-star Kevin Costner in 1992. The movie did tremendously well, but the accompanying soundtrack stole the show, due in no small part to her cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You." The song rose to the top of the charts and stuck there for 14 solid weeks, while the soundtrack earned her 3 Grammys. She went on to release hit albums for and star in two more movies (Waiting to Exhale and The Preacher's Wife), but began to experience serious difficulties in her personal life shortly thereafter.

Whitney's Downfall

Whitney's marriage to singer, Bobby Brown back in 1992 had gone from good to terrible in short time - devolving into a torrid fit of drug abuse and alleged domestic violence.

She and Bobby had entered into very rocky terrain in their relationship and, unfortunately, things did not progress in a positive direction. A series of public incidents began to erode her stature in the public eye and give rise to serious concerns over her health. It was a 2005 reality show with Bobby Brown as the focus that greatly defiled Houston's reputation - showing all of the worst moments the couple went through in 2004.

Their ailing relationship did not benefit from the massive publicity of the reality show and their many personal problems earned Whitney very little sympathy from viewers. Her 1998 album, "My Love is Your Love" and collaboration with Mariah Carey in "The Prince of Egypt" garnered awards but her 2002-release, "Just Whitney..." did pretty poorly. Once the reality show hit, her public image was tarnished almost irreparably. Soon, she was being recognized as coiner of the phrase "Hell to the No" rather than the incredible singer she had previously won the world over as. It was hard to imagine her coming out such a serious funk in her career, but more importantly in her own personal life and health.

Her Comeback and Passing

Houston's life had been severely derailed, but she somehow found the strength to pull herself together after a messy split with Bobby Brown and a slew of familial issues. She'd succeeded in obtaining custody of her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown, and managed to put together a successful new album entitled "I Look to You." However, her live performances were no longer what they used to be and her voice was reputedly less impressive after years of substance abuse.

Despite the difficulties with her voice, Whitney appeared to be coming back strong. She was set to star as a judge on "The X Factor" and sing alongside Jordin Sparks in upcoming movie musical, "Sparkle," but unfortunately passed away tragically before these plans could fully mature.

It was at a Beverly Hilton hotel in LA that Whitney allegedly drowned accidentally.

Clive Davis had been holding a Grammy party there and Houston had spent her last days at the pre-Grammy parties in the area. Official autopsies revealed traces of cocaine in her system as well as the telltale signs of a debilitating heart condition. Houston's substance use had finally taken its toll it would seem, but many are unsure of the true details of her death.

Although her life was cut short, her incredible singing legacy lives on to this day - inspiring millions worldwide to value, appreciate and even take up music themselves.

American Music

Elvis Presley

By Jeff Mitchell   Nov 2017

 Image of Elvis Presley Source: Wikimedia Commons

Elvis Aron Presley was a performing artist of monumental import to the development of rock and roll.

The crowned king of his genre, he managed to build a lasting legacy as a musician and entertainer within his 47 years of life. The worldwide phenom from the small town of Tupelo, Mississippi endured a rapid rise to fame and stardom after starting his musical career in Memphis, Tennessee. At just 19, he recorded his first song at Sun Records, but a mere two years later (in 1956), he was hot on the charts at number one with "Heartbreak Hotel."

Elvis's music spanned genres and ethnic backgrounds - pulling significant influence from the black-dominated genre “rhythm and blues,” of which his eponymous debut album featured three songs covered in his own unique style. He sang Little Richard's, Ray Charles's and the Drifters' songs in a manner that white listeners hadn't heard from a country-born performer. His take on this music would prove, ultimately, to serve as a major driving force for his meteoric ascent in notoriety. Coupled with his lively, overtly sexual stage presence, it's little wonder his fans caused such a stir at his concerts. At the height of his fame, most all of his concerts were riotous affairs.

Elvis's stardom crossed musical-visual boundaries as well when he first stepped into film in 1956. His film debut saw him playing to his sexual appeal in "Love Me Tender." A slew of films would follow this first one, most created during his 7-year recording hiatus in the 60's and all of them moving along similar love-based narratives. Before his extensive body of films would be produced, though, he was drafted into the U.S. Army.

1958 marked the year in which Elvis joined the Army. He served first as a private in Arkansas - having been convinced to serve as a regular soldier instead of joining Special Services. He took advantage of his brief, 2-week leave to record songs which were carefully released during his stay in the military to help maintain interest in his music. This proved a successful plan - sustaining his notoriety in the public eye with a number of well-received hits during his absence.

Elvis scored a total of 10 top 40 hits while he was still in the military - including songs like "Hard Headed Woman" and "A Big Hunk o' Love." On top of that, his compilation album, "Elvis' Golden Records," reached 3rd on the LP chart in 1958.

Coming into the 60's, Elvis' courtship with the young Priscilla Ann Wagner had already begun. The two had met on September 13, 1959 - when she was just 14 years old. Elvis himself was 24 and still serving in the Army at that time. It was in Germany that they first met. A long and somewhat scandalous courtship would follow over the course of 7 years, fraught with myriad allegations of affairs on Elvis' behalf with the leading ladies of the movies he would film throughout the early 60's. Despite the difficulties, they would eventually marry in Vegas on the 1st of May, 1967. The ceremony itself would last but 8 minutes - lending large notoriety to the iconic Vegas-styled, impulsive wedding concept. Nine months later, their only daughter, Lisa Marie, was born.

Their marriage officially ended in 1973, when Elvis filed for divorce.

Although Elvis' life had taken many interesting turns throughout the 60's his appeal had dwindled.

By the end of the 60's, Elvis found himself in a rut. Having spent the better portion of the decade building up a collection of film appearances, his musical output had seen a dip in positive reception. Most of his songs weren't causing much of a commotion and only two of his eight releases between January 1967 and May 1968 managed to chart at all. He needed a revival and, luckily, he got one.

It was the December 1968 Elvis special airing on NBC that would later come to be known as the Elvis comeback special. It positively reignited his fame and ramped up his standing in the public eye to new heights. The special proved to be the first chance Elvis had of performing live since 1961 - charming a small studio audience with his energetic playthroughs of his own classic songs. The show itself became NBC's highest rated production of the season and the launchpad Elvis needed to put his career back on track. This was also the singer's first shift in fashion towards his iconic, high-collar look; this time in black leather.

Throughout the 5 years following his 1968 special, he built up his image and success substantially with a solid body of well-received releases. His "From Elvis in Memphis" album of 1969 garnered positive reviews all-around and reached the number one slot in the UK's chart. This success was followed by a long-lasting series of successful Vegas performances. It was at this time that Elvis set about having his classic jumpsuit stage uniform designed; a look he derived from his fascination with karate.

In 1973, Elvis performed in the now legendary "Aloha from Hawaii" television special wearing his stage uniform adorned with a cape and eagle motif. The special was the world's first global satellite concert broadcast. The performance's resultant double-album went on to sell five million copies and reach number one on the charts that year.

After 1973, Elvis began to suffer the consequences of a difficult, demanding lifestyle and routine prescription drug abuse, according to popular reports. His health waned quickly in the wake of his failed marriage and increased touring requirements. On August 16, 1977, he died - suffering a heart attack in his own home on the Graceland property. The Graceland estate is now listed as a historic place (since 1991) and a full-fledged national landmark (since 2006) - serving as the second most-visited house in the country, just behind the White House.

Elvis' life and career over, his legacy lives on in the hearts of many faithful fans around the world. Though he publicly refused the title of "King of Rock and Roll" - attributing it rightly to the likes of rhythm and blues predecessors such as "Fats Domino," his legacy in the genre and in music as a whole is difficult to exaggerate.

American Music

Cyndi Lauper

By Jeff Mitchell   Nov 2017

 Image of Cyndi Lauper Source: Wikimedia Commons

Singer, Cyndi Lauper is widely regarded as one of the first female recording artists to embrace being different and unique while building a massive following.

Her musical success came as a result of not only her memorable songs and unique style, but her enduring dedication to honoring uniqueness in all its forms.

She has had a long and illustrious career in the music industry and is still working on new projects to this day; however, things were not always easy for her and her life actually got off to a pretty rocky start.

Childhood and Inspirations

Born Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper to parents who divorced when she was only 5, Cyndi spent the bulk of her youth growing up in Ozone Park, a small neighborhood in Queens, New York City. Her birth took place in Brooklyn and her earliest years were spent there before moving to Ozone Park at 4.

Cyndi's mother took charge of her and her two siblings (Fred and Ellen) following her divorce - raising them to share in her own love of art by frequenting events and museums in Manhattan. Lauper's time in school was reputedly riddled with hardships, but her interest in music steadily grew and blossomed.

At age 12, she was already writing songs of her own.

Cyndi’s Early Career

Cyndi fled home at 17 in an effort to leave her stepfather's abuse behind and set about joining the work force.

In a flash, she found herself in Canada. Anguished, she spent two weeks soul-searching in the woods with her dog before finally venturing all the way to Vermont.

She bounced between multiple odd jobs and took art classes at Johnson State College at the time to satisfy her thirst for creative expression.

The 70's saw Lauper performing with multiple cover bands such as "Doc West" and "Flyer." Nearing the decade's end, in '77, she suffered a vocal cord injury that threatened to keep her from ever singing again, but recovered with the help of a vocal coach.

It was her stint as lead vocalist of "Blue Angel" that gave her a taste of success. She and the band were signed by Polydor Records thanks to Steve Massarsky, their manager at the time. However, when their self-titled album tanked commercially (despite being acclaimed by critics), the band fell apart - firing Massarsky, who then sued them for $80,000.

Cyndi spent the difficult period that followed bankrupt and working in various retail stores as well as waitressing. It was the time she spent working in thrift stores that allegedly sparked her fashion transition to "thrift-store chic" that would later serve to seriously set her apart from other artists at the time.

Cyndi's Rapid Rise to Fame

Cyndi went back to singing and finally caught her chance at success in a bar in New York. Her singing had caught the ear of David Wolff, who then got her signed by Portrait Records.

Cue the gestation and release of her debut album, "She's So Unusual."

"She's So Unusual" took the world by surprise. Cyndi's unique style and sound catapulted her to international icon status in a flash and her album went on to be the first female debut album with 4 top-five hits on Billboard's "Hot 100."

Songs like "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and "Time After Time" were veritable pop sensations at release and have since become truly legendary offerings of the genre.

Awards poured in from all directions with nominations for Record of the Year and Album of the Year in the mix. It actually won a Grammy for Best Album Package!

Her fame grew even larger as she began making appearances in WWF events alongside Hulk Hogan, a move that fit perfectly with her raw and unrestrained image.

Continued Success and Achievement

In 1986, Cyndi put out her album "True Colors" which was massively successful, though to a lesser degree than her first. It tackled tough subjects tastefully - championing the struggles of the LGBT community and setting the philosophical tone for her many musical efforts to come.

The titular track charted at #1 on Billboard's "Hot 100" and ended up being licensed to Kodak for the company's commercials.

This period saw Lauper debuting in film, though her first movie appearance did very poorly. The movie itself, "Vibes," was a flop in all respects, but the song Cyndi released for it ("Hole in My Heart (All the Way to China)") did quite well in Australia.

Her third album, "A Night to Remember" had only 1 hit; Roy Orbison's "I Drove All Night," a number 6 single.

Marriage, Albums and More

Although Lauper's wide scale fame is still confined to her early two albums, she has yet to stop fervently producing thoughtful music.

After marrying actor David Thornton in 1991, Cyndi went on releasing albums, one after another to significantly less commercial success than her first 3. In fact, both her albums "Sisters of Avalon" and "Shine" were released exclusively in Japan.

She jumped back into acting as well - starring in "Life with Mikey" and "Mad About You," the latter of which won her an Emmy. A slew of cameos and accomplishments followed as well as the birth of her son Declyn W. Thornton.

Her albums "Bring Ya to the Brink" and "Memphis Blues" were very well received and featured charting hits. In the case of "Memphis Blues," the entire album held the #1 spot on Billboard's Blues Albums chart for 14 weeks straight!

Cyndi's Musical, Most Recent Album and Legacy

In 2012, a musical entitled "Kinky Boots" opened in Chicago. It was hugely successful, with 13 nominations and 6 wins at the Tony Awards. Best of all, Cyndi had composed the music and lyrics herself - landing a Tony Award for Best Original Score in the process.

She released her most recent album, "Detour" in 2016; a country album she'd been working on with top producers.

Lauper continues inspiring others to this day and will forever be admired as the world's first big female star to take a strange sense of style mainstream. A true icon in the world's eyes, Cyndi Lauper's impact on music, art and even fashion won't likely be forgotten any time soon.

American Music

Chuck Berry

By Jeff Mitchell   Aug 2017
 Image of Chuck_Berry_(1958)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Chuck Berry had a long and illustrious career as a pioneering rock and roll musician. His influence on rock and roll's future and a worldwide audience of listeners is hard to ignore and, although he has recently passed, he will be fondly remembered. A huge part of his influence on the genre came from his incredible showmanship and guitar solos. He was known to bounce around the stage as he played and even did splits during his solos. This impressed quite a lot of concert-goers at the time of his initial surge in popularity - helping bring attention to his distinctive performances and the music itself. He was one of the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when it first came into existence in 1986. His achievements were rivaled by the topsy-turvy direction of his life. The ups and downs that made him who he was likely helped shape the course of musical history as well.

Born Charles Edward Anderson Berry in Missouri on the 18th of October in 1926, Chuck Berry came to be known as a preeminent American guitarist, singer and songwriter of his time. His musical work helped to shape rhythm and blues into the entirely new genre of rock and roll. Berry's interest in music took shape early on in his life, while he was in high school. Unfortunately, he got into trouble and was accused of armed robbery as a teenager. He spent 3 years in the Intermediate Reformatory for Young Men near Jefferson City, Missouri. During these 3 years, he formed a singing quartet that became impressive enough to be allowed to perform in public. He kept up with this until his release at the age of 21.

Just a year later, Berry found himself married to Themetta "Toddy" Suggs with a child by the name of Darlin Ingrid Berry. He'd taken a series of jobs in St. Louis as a means of supporting his family - going from automobile factory worker to janitor and then to beautician, an occupation he studied for at the Poro College of Cosmetology. By 1950, his family had a small house of their own which is now considered a historic place on the National Register.

It was in the 50's that Berry delved deeper into music, playing locally in his free time. He was told by Muddy Waters to get the attention of Chess Records in order to make it big with his music and, to do this, he figured his blues music would be the best route. However, it was his version of an old country song for fiddle that prompted Leonard Chess of Chess Records to take notice. Berry was signed to the label in the hopes he could produce music unique enough to stand apart from the oversaturated rhythm and blues market at the time.

He recorded the old country tune, originally named "Ida Red," with a small ensemble - this time titling it Maybellene. The track was a runaway success - selling over 1 million copies and topping the rhythm and blues Billboard chart in 1955. The very next year, he was touring as one of the "Top Acts of '56'" - seeing phenomenal success with his hit song "Roll Over Beethoven." The year after, he toured the U.S. in the "Biggest Show of Stars for 1957" with the likes of Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers.

From 1957 to 1959, he managed to net more than a dozen hit singles including iconic songs such as "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Johnny B. Goode." He even appeared in films - playing himself in "Go, Johnny, Go!" and performing 3 of his hits. The 50's had been a decade of tremendous success for the musician, but hard times soon befell him at the decade's end. "Berry's Club Bandstand," the nightclub he had opened in St. Louis, became a source of great turmoil in his life when he was arrested for having allegedly had sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old waitress of Apache descent whom he'd brought in as an employee in his club. After a lengthy trial with an initial verdict that Berry successfully appealed on the grounds of racism, he was sentenced to 3 years in prison, of which he ultimately served 1 and a half.

In 1963, he was released - resuming his career in music under Mercury Records. He released a total of 5 albums under this label and toured the U.K. successfully. 1964 and 1965 saw the release of a number of hit singles by the seasoned artist, thanks in part to his earlier works being reworked and covered by a number of high-profile British and American bands. The major Beach Boys hit "Surfin' U.S.A.," for example, made use of "Sweet Little Sixteen's" melody. In 1970, Berry switched back to Chess Records and released yet another album to lukewarm reception. He saw chart-topping success in '72, though, with his light-hearted single, "My Ding-A-Ling."

In the 80's he got along well - performing numerous times with a variety of unrehearsed backing bands. Unfortunately, he once more ran into legal trouble in the 90's when he was sued by various women for having installed a video camera in the bathroom of the restaurant he’d purchased, the "Southern Air. " He was ultimately forced to opt for a costly class action settlement of over 1 million dollars. In the same decade, his home was raided by police and he was convicted on child-abuse and drug possession charges. Though the child-abuse charges were dropped, he pleaded guilty on the charge of marijuana possession and served 6 months jail time as well as 2 years of probation.

The last of his legal woes occurred in 2000 when his former pianist, Johnnie Johnson claimed he'd co-written a large number of Berry's songs. The case, however, was dismissed. Chuck announced the release of what would be his final album when he reached the age of ninety, but passed away before seeing it released. The album is titled "Chuck" and was dedicated to his wife "Toddy." Chuck Berry passed away this year in March as a rock and roll legend. The influence he had not only in bringing true rock and roll music into the spotlight in its infancy, but uniting the disparate black and white cultures of the time cannot be understated.

He said it best himself when asked about the music's sudden surge in popularity: "Well, actually they begin to listen to it, you see, because certain stations played certain music. The music that we, the blacks, played, the cultures were so far apart, we would have to have a play station in order to play it. The cultures begin to come together, and you begin to see one another's vein of life, then the music came together."


Tesla Gigafactory

Marcelina Hardy   Aug 2017

 Image of The Tesla Gigafactory
Source: tesla.com

The Tesla Gigafactory, after its grand opening in July of 2016, is on track to meet all its incredible goals and to create an as-yet-unseen amount of lithium ion batteries for its own purposes and the world’s. It is also likely to set a new standard when it comes to lithium battery creation, and if we’re being honest, it already has.

What Is the Tesla Gigafactory?

The Tesla Gigafactory was built to produce lithium batteries for the new Tesla cars. Located in Sparks, Nevada, construction began in June 2014, and full-scale battery production is set to begin at the end of the year. The factory was created because Tesla would have required the entire supply of lithium ion batteries in order to fulfill its production rate of 500,000 cars per year.

Because Tesla’s mission is to to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy,” according to their website, they decided to build the Gigafactory, which is meant to supply Tesla with their needed batteries and then some.

What Does Gigafactory Mean?

The name comes from the factory’s plan to create an annual battery production capacity of 35 gigawatt-hours. Giga means billions, so one gigawatt-hour is the same as generating one billion watts per hour. The factory itself means to generate 35 of these, and the name suggests the important feat of doing so.

Because the Gigafactory isn’t just meant to create the batteries necessary for Tesla. According to their website, Tesla predicts that the Gigafactory will be able to reach its full capacity in 2018, and this will mean it will produce more lithium batteries annually than there were produced all over the world in the year 2013. And the craziest fact? It’s already producing more than any other factory in the world, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Additional Facts About the Gigafactory

The news about the Gigafactory keeps getting better and better. While it will produce more lithium ion batteries than any other factory (as well as than in any other year once it is up to its full capacity), the Gigafactory will also do so more efficiently than any other factory. Tesla has worked with companies like Panasonic in order to ensure a lower cost and a higher efficiency for their battery production.

The amount of waste created will be reduced, manufacturing will be more innovative, and the necessary items for production will all exist under the sphere of the Gigafactory. This will make producing batteries much less expensive and more energy efficient. Economies of scale will also be utilized in order to ensure that production is at its height, keeping cost at a minimum. In addition, Nevada itself enjoyed a serious economic benefit during the years of production and will continue to do so over the next two decades while Tesla operates the factory.

What’s more, the Gigafactory itself is now known as Gigafactory 1, according to Musk, who plans to build more factories in the future. As announced in May 2017, 3 of 4 new sites for future Gigafactories have already been chosen.

Auto Review

Review of Tesla Model 3

Marcelina Hardy   July 2017

_Image of_Candy_Red_Tesla_Model_3_trimmed_2.jpg
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hyped as the Tesla for the People, the long-awaited Model 3 seems to be exactly what it promises: a version of the groundbreaking electric car that most people can actually afford.

The Look

The Model 3 is a four-door sedan that looks similar to the Model S from the side and back. Its general characteristics include a high roof and a smooth bob at the front and backend. It also has a blunt nose, which makes it look a little similar to the Tesla Roadster, at least in the front.

According to Car and Driver, the Model 3 is “genetically linked to all of its ancestors,” which fits well with the assertion of Tesla CEO Elon Musk that this particular model could have only been built with the help and support of those who “bought an S or an X” in the past.

The Benefits

Like Tesla’s other models, the Model 3 is an electric car, and it provides drivers with more than 200 miles of range before the need to recharge. There is room for up to five passengers, and drivers can store items in both the front and rear trunks. The car can also increase in speed very quickly and quietly, as it is said that it can jump from zero to 60 in less than 6 seconds.

The model will also include the Autopilot feature found in other Tesla cars, all-wheel drive, and will be able to use the Tesla Supercharger charging network like the other cars of its kind. Generally, it seems to provide what 115,000 people who were rumored to put down deposits before it was even unveiled were looking for: a sports sedan with electric car capabilities that could be purchased for an affordable $35,000.

The Drawbacks

The Model 3 isn’t slated to begin production until late in 2017, so it is difficult to clearly say whether or not it is worth the hype. Tesla has had dependability issues in the past, and though this new model does sound like everything an energy-conscious family would be looking for, there is still some doubt as to whether or not it will be able to deliver on everything it promises. Soon, though, the world will finally be able to create a clear picture of the Model 3 with any and all idiosyncrasies and characteristics.

The Review

The Model 3 is long awaited by fans of Tesla, whether they have bought vehicles before from the company or are only just now able to afford an electric car. However, if it does not perform well, or if there is an issue causing the car to be recalled, it could potentially break the company. However, if it turns out well, it could be the car that launches the company to a completely new level.

Whatever the case, Tesla seems to have pulled out all the stops when it comes to the Model 3 and created an impressive, enviable vehicle that is actually energy efficient and affordable too.


History of Hawaii

Cynthia Kramer   July 2017

_Image of_Republic_of_Hawaii_2-_Gold_Dollar_banknote_1895 Source: Public Domain
Source: Public Domain

HISTORY OF HAWAII The Hawaiian Islands may have been settled as early as the second century; by 1000, villages near the ocean were farming, and by 1500, populations were spreading to the interiors of the islands. Around 1200, a new social structure had been introduced, separating the people into classes. It also included new laws, including the kapu, a strict code of conduct governing many aspects of Hawaiian life. Religion in Hawaii included a ritual, high priests, four major gods, many lesser deities, and guardians and spirits.

Each island was split up into several subdivisions, with communities usually set up around streams. Important crops included sweet potatoes, bananas, coconuts, and sugarcane. In addition to community crops, Hawaiians also maintained gardens at their homes.

Contact with Europeans started in 1778, when British Captain James Cook traded for supplies with the residents of the island of Kauai. He continued his voyage to the coast of North America and Alaska, then landed on Hawaii Island during his return trip. After Cook’s longboat went missing, he tried to kidnap the king. In defense, the king’s attendant killed him with a knife.

The Kingdom of Hawaii began in 1795 with the unification of the islands. The kingdom’s first king, Kamehameha I, was a great-grandson of Keawe’ikekahiali’iokamoku, a 17th-century king of Hawaii Island. His uncle Kalani’opu’u had encountered Captain Cook, and raised Kamehameha after his father’s death. Supporters of Kamehameha overthrew his cousins, making Kamehameha the king of Hawaii Island, and by 1795, Kamehameha had conquered most of the main islands. Kamehameha then built a palace which became the seat of government for 50 years. The king had many wives, but Ka’ahumanu became the most prominent, ruling alongside her stepson Liholiho (Kamehameha II) and as regent for her stepson Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III).

The reign of Kamehameha II saw the beginning of a system of dual-government involving a co-ruler, along with the decline of the Hawaiian religion. He and his wife died of measles while visiting England. Kamehameha III was still a minor, so Ka’ahumanu ruled in his stead, along with a new co-ruler, Boki. They both converted to Christianity shortly after Kamehameha II’s death.

Sugar had become a major export after Cook’s arrival. By the mid-1800s, there were plantations operating on the main islands. American plantation owners wanted a voice in politics, and in 1843 the U.S. did not interfere with a brief occupation by the British.

The Rebellion of 1887, led by the Hawaiian Patriotic League, resulted in a new constitution, known as the Bayonet Constitution, which they forced Kalakaua to sign. This constitution limited the voting rights of native Hawaiians and Asians, and limited the power of the king. It also granted Americans in the kingdom unprecedented freedoms.

Upon Kalakaua’s death, his sister, Lili’uokalani, became queen. In 1893, a group of conspirators, known as the Committee of Safety and made up of legislators and government officials who were American and European citizens, gathered about 1500 non-native men across the street from ‘Iolani Palace. They were supported by U.S. Government Minister John L. Stevens. The men placed Queen Lili’uokalani under house arrest at the palace, and the Kingdom of Hawaii became the Republic of Hawaii.

Hawaii remained a republic for about 5 years, then was annexed by the U.S. in 1898, becoming the Territory of Hawaii. A territorial government was set up in 1900, and sugarcane plantations expanded during this period.

On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy, and Hawaii was placed under martial law until 1945. In 1954, a series of non-violent protests led to the ousting of the Hawaii Republican Party, and the election of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. This also led to labor unions and the decline of the sugar plantations.

Hawaii was admitted to the U.S. as a state on August 21, 1959.


Pearl Harbor Attack

Howard Fields   July 2017

_Image of_Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941. Source: Public Domain
Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941. Source: Public Domain

It lasted only about 90 minutes, but in that time the Imperial Japanese Navy managed to kill 2,403 Americans, destroy 18 ships and 188 airplanes, and draw the United States into World War II, all on a day of infamy. More than half the American deaths were caused by a single bomb that hit the USS Arizona, whose remains now lie at the bottom of Pearl Harbor as a memorial to the attack on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

Shortly after 7:30 that Sunday, two Army men manning a new-fangled "radar" at Opana on Oahu's north shore saw more than a hundred blips 136 miles north of the island and notified their superiors at Pearl Harbor. The officer in charge there had confidential information that a dozen stripped-down and unarmed B-17s from the West Coast were due in at about that time on about the same route, so he told the radar men to ignore the blips.

By then, five two-man midget submarines launched from the fleet the previous day had attempted to sneak into the harbor morning. One was spotted and attacked by a pair of U.S. Navy ships cruising offshore. Three others ended up at the bottom of the sea just outside the harbor, but not before they managed to launch several torpedoes. A fifth managed to ground itself twice, and after the second time one of its crewmen swam to shore and became America's first Japanese prisoner of war.

The radar blips were the first wave of the attack, led by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida. His plane led 182 others off the decks of six aircraft carriers stationed about 200 miles north of Oahu. The planes included about equal portions of bombers armed with armor-piercing bombs weighing nearly a ton each, bombers carrying quarter-ton torpedoes, dive bombers and fighters known as Zeros for their rising-sun insignia.

_Image of_Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941. Source: Public Domain
Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941. Source: Public Domain

The planes formed two groups, each circling the island to attack Pearl Harbor from the south and from the north to begin the attack at 7:48 a.m. Most of the U.S. Navy personnel were on shore leave that weekend, many of those still aboard ship still asleep. As the attack began, they scrambled from their bunks to battle stations unprepared for battle, costing precious minutes. Army anti-aircraft batteries onshore similarly were unprepared. A few ships managed to get underway to get out of the harbor, but only one made it. Some of the dive bombers attacked Oahu air fields, among them Bellows Field, Ford Island, Hickam Field and Wheeler Field.

Fuchida's wave was followed by another led by Lt. Commander Shigekazu Shimazaki. His fleet included 171 planes armed with smaller bombs to attack other targets on the island. One group attacked airfields such as Barbers Point, Ford Island, Hickam Field and Kaneohe; the other two concentrated on the entire Pearl Harbor area. The second wave wrapped up its attack at about 9:30 and returned to its fleet, which weighed anchor and was headed back to Japan by 1 p.m.

The main targets of the twin attacks were the eight battleships—Arizona, California, Maryland, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia-- at anchor inside the harbor. The fleet's three aircraft carriers were safely out to sea. The attack managed to hit all of the battleships and the unarmed Utah, a former battleship used only for training. But, it was the attack on the Arizona that was most effective, killing 1, 177.

A 16-inch Japanese shell hit an ammunition magazine on the ship, causing a massive explosion. Burning oil in the water from the explosion and from one on the West Virginia drifted to other ships, including the California, which ordered its men to abandon ship, leaving it to sink. The attack also sank or damaged cruisers, destroyers, a seaplane tender, and a repair vessel that had the misfortune of being moored next to the Arizona.

_Image of_Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941. Source: Public Domain
Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941. Source: Public Domain

Six of the battleships were back in service and nine of other types of ships also returned to service by the end of the war, most within a year of the attack. And, the dozen B-17s? They arrived over Oahu low on fuel early during the first wave and tried to land however and wherever they could, one on a golf course. Most remained intact.

Japan's losses included 64 fatalities and one captured, 29 planes lost, and 64 damaged by fire from antiaircraft batteries that managed to get into operation in time for the second wave. One of the planes was damaged while attacking Wheeler and managed to fly to Niihau, the designated rescue point, where the pilot was captured by the locals.

The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed an emergency joint session of Congress and delivered the speech that called December 7 "a day which will live in infamy." After the speech, Congress voted to declare war.


Spotify Review

Jeff Mitchell   July 2017

_Image of_Spotify Logo. Source: Public Domain

Spotify is a preeminent player in the music streaming industry - delivering loads of music to listeners worldwide from both major and minor artists alike. If music matters to you, then you'd do quite well to give Spotify a go. Don't take our word for it, though! Read on to discover just what makes Spotify such a great platform for musical enjoyment.

Versions and Prices

Use of the platform is fairly straightforward and it is even free, though the free version carries certain limitations. Spotify works through its own proprietary music-playing app, which is offered for computers and mobile devices. Depending on the version you utilize, your in-app song-switching capabilities could be limited, as well as your option to access your favorite songs offline. You will also be subjected to intermittent advertising breaks while using the free version of the Spotify app. However, you are free to create tons of awesome playlists, enjoy those made by other users and access them all at any time.

Free Version:

As was mentioned above, you are limited in how you can use Spotify when you opt for the free version of the app. Aside from advertising messages every so often (much like a standard radio station would employ) and song-skipping limits on mobile, you cannot listen to music offline or enjoy the highest audio quality on offer.

Paid Version:

No ads, no limits and more! The paid version of Spotify is yours to use as you please, without pesky interruptions or song skipping limits to stop you. In addition to being unimpeded in your quest for great music, you can count on the availability of your favorite releases even when the grid goes down, thanks to offline song saving capabilities. Feel free to go crazy with these, you won't max out until you've surpassed 2,000 tracks by far.

The paid version of the Spotify app also boasts of higher sound quality (for music aficionados with quality sound systems)

Cool Features

Spotify is a great resource for music-lovers everywhere to find great music they may never have stumbled upon otherwise. Its suggestion algorithms provide impressive recommendations that you're sure to love and the wealth of tracks hosted on the service makes for nearly limitless possibilities for new discoveries to happen. However, depending on the version of Spotify you have access to, you'll be able to go above and beyond basic music discovery.

Following are some of the most noteworthy features of the app on both mobile and desktop:

On Mobile:

Spotify's mobile features are great and allow for plenty of enjoyment in both the free and paid versions. You can expect to find all the music Spotify artists have to offer in a neat format, albeit in shuffle play mode when free. However, this is merely the tip of the iceberg in comparison to the desktop version.

On Desktop:

The free Spotify app on mobile is fantastic, but its desktop version is an absolute wonderland for music lovers. On a desktop, Spotify does not impose a song skip limit in its free version. Instead, it sticks to scheduled advertising at certain hours of the day and after a certain number of tracks have been played. You're free to do all of the same playlist discovering and listening as you could do on mobile, but you get the added bonus of additional playlist-building functionality. It's easy enough to add songs to your own playlists, but you can take this a step further on desktop by cloning your custom playlist automatically. To do this, Spotify searches for similar songs to those your playlist has and compiles its suggestions into a brand-new playlist for you to listen to. Music discovery on autopilot!

Another great feature the desktop version of Spotify has to offer is its enhanced search bar. Unlike the mobile app, the desktop application's search bar accommodates various enhanced search operators to help you discover awesome music by year (Type "Year:1900-1990"), genre (Type "Genre:Pop"), etc. It's a great option for sleuthing out those tricky, rare releases. Play history is yet another sweet feature of significance to anyone who has experienced the frustration of hearing a great song just before forgetting its name and how it goes. With a history of the songs you’ve recently listened to, you can simply play through them and you'll come across that great lost track in no time!

But wait, there's actually more! Spotify gives you a chance to sing along in its desktop version, with an incorporated lyrics function powered by Musixmatch. So, you can finally stop making up words now.

What are you waiting for? Go crazy with Spotify and discover awesome music, new and old.


Silicon Valley of India

By Scott Douglas   Jul 2017

 Image of Yahoo%21_Building_in_Bangalore_India
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever wondered why Venture Capitalists end up seeing such a low return on their investment in Silicon Valley? There are two reasons.

1) Many times the startups that they invest time and money into end up not panning out in the end. A large percent of startups end up closing down within a year or so. The investors lose a lot of money. Silicon Valley of India used to be seen as the "promised land" for many startups and other business entrepreneurs. Now, it seems that the "promised land" is drowning.

2) The other issue is the competition. With so many other companies that are already profitable and pulling in cash, most VC's tend to feel like it is a waste of time to put money into some of the startups, even when the company can make a profit.