Sunday, December 12, 2004

My Overall View On This Years English Class

This semester I learned a TON about politics and both main candidates who were running for President. I came into this year with no intention on staying into the class, but I realized that it was the only one that fit my schedule, so I might as well try to stick it through, and that is EXACTLY what I did. Truthfully, I did not enjoy going into that class every day, because every day we talked about things that I didn’t understand and, in the beginning of the year, didn’t want to learn about. Although it was not an easy class for me to sit through, since I had basically no opinion on most topics in class, I am very glad that I stayed in it. I think that I got more out of that class by sitting back and listening to everyone else’s views than I would have if I had tried to voice an opinion on every topic because had a tried to say things every day I would have hated going to the class because every time you say something in that class someone argues with your opinion. I don’t have problems at all with people voicing their opinion or arguing with mine, but when I voiced my opinion in that class it was more because I felt left out and just wanted to be a part of the conversation and when I said things everyone would turn at me and make good points that I couldn’t argue against. If I enjoyed and had a passion for politics I think I would have loved being in this class because I love having group conversations and being in an open class as that was. Also, even though I didn’t necessarily like going to that class every day and sitting through it, I really liked how the class was taught and organized. If we were blogging about a topic that I had a strong opinion on, I would have been writing a blog every day, because I love putting down on paper my views on different subjects, and I think that blogging is a GREAT way for students to voice their opinions. I also really enjoyed how it wasn’t just student conversations; I liked how the teacher was voicing his opinions as well. Overall I truthfully am glad that I took that class, as it opened me to a new subject that I had, prior to this year, been afraid to touch.

My Decision Not to Vote

On November 2nd, I chose not to vote in the Presidential Election, and as I expected, people criticized me for it. The fact that they did that even strengthened my feelings that not voting was the right idea for me. I am not politically smart, in fact, when this school year began, I barely knew which candidate was a Democrat and which was a Republican; basically all I knew about politics was that George W. Bush was our president and the John Kerry was running against him. Because of my lack of political knowledge, I have never been tempted to learn about politics because I knew if I tried to openly voice my opinions about topics they would just be shot down by other people who knew everything there was to know about the election. In fact, sometimes when I hear political arguments I just cover my ears. I HATE how people get into full out heated arguments and almost fight about their political OPINIONS. The key word here is “opinion,” as every person is entitled to their own and I feel that no person should be mad about another person’s views on the election. I am not saying at all that I don’t think that people should openly share their views, as that is a right that was meant to be used when our country was founded, but I am saying that nobody should hold a grudge or yell at someone just because they feel differently about whom they should vote for. I did not vote in the election because if I had I would have considered myself an uninformed voter and when someone would ask me who I voted for, I would tell them but not be able to give them a good reason for me voting for that candidate. Instead, when people ask me I say that I didn’t vote and they STILL insist on trying to get into argument about the topic. I am not and never will be very excited by politics, even though I am much more informed from this semester of it, because I completely disagree with people insisting on arguing about every topic of the election.

Life After Juilliard

Juilliard is one of the top music conservatories in the world, probably the best, but it’s not the right place for most people. This article tells the stories of graduates of Juilliard and where they ended up and reading about these stories brings me to relate it almost directly to college and professional sports. The article describes that when you graduate from a school like Juilliard, one so specialized as it is, you have one aspiring career: Music. When you graduate from Juilliard, you don’t ever receive a college degree, you get a certificate of graduation and achievement, which is one of the most amazing things you can be given in the music industry, but outside of that field, it will do you no good. You always hear athletes say, “There is life after [their sport],” and I think it goes the same when talking about Juilliard, that students should realize that not every person who attends the school will be successful in music and to quote my favorite movie, “Rounders”, “Always leave yourself outs.” I believe that nobody can go through life without chasing dreams, but I also know that you cannot let a dream take over your life, that a person must also plan for the possibility that they will never reach their dream, because, contrary to popular belief, not every dream is possible, whether we would like to think that or not. Going to Juilliard straight out of high school is even more risky than the often-criticized act of athletes skipping college and going straight to the pros. It is worse because when an athlete goes straight to the pros they have already signed a contract, whereas a Juilliard student still has to graduate their school and then audition for symphonies all over the country. The big difference though is that almost every high school athlete that goes straight to the pros is going to be paid and is the one of the best players in the country whereas not every Juilliard student is the best there is. If every Juilliard student was one of the best in the country then the school would be perfect for everyone there, but for those who will never be the best, it’s not the right choice for their lives.

Couple Laid Off With No Explanation

This article from the New York Times is about a mother and father of three children who went to work as normal one morning and were suddenly fired with no explanation other than failing of a background check. These two parents were told when fired that they could not be given details of how they failed the background check but that they failed it and would also not be given the opportunity to appeal the decision. Fired but not being told the reason? That just doesn’t make any sense. This family, who traveled here from Iran 18 years ago to study and then decided to stay and build careers and a family, was now out of work and could not get any other jobs because they were fired from their past job for a failed background check. A person should know why they are fired, they should be told what they did wrong, so they can back their side, so that they can at least know that they actually did do something wrong. This family is being very unfairly treated, because of their Iranian nationality. On top of this, the reason given that they were given the last background check in the first place was because they were from a “threat” country, Iran. I have no problem with increased background checks due to the terrorist threats in the past 3 years, but I DO have a problem with them only doing the special checks to people from “threat” countries. A white man from Alpharetta, GA can be just as much of a threat as a couple from Iran, so he would need to be given the special background checks also. I do realize though, that people of middle-eastern decent are going to be treated differently, but this family at least needs to be told why they were fired, and it better not just be because they are from Iran.

Smoking Addictions Tied to Genetics

Quitting smoking is all about willpower right? Well, somewhat right. Will is a large part of getting over a nicotine addiction, but one researcher has proven that it depends on much more than that. Dr. Jacqueline Vink has proven that addiction to smoking is very strongly genetically affected. That explains why some people can easily quit smoking and some can’t seem to do it no matter what. Dr. Vink developed this idea with the use of the Netherlands Twin Register, a database of everything about 7,000 adult pairs of twins and 28,000 children. Dr. Vink concentrated on the information given by the adult fraternal twins (non-identical), because they share many genes while also having some different ones as well. Through her research, which she based on their answers about their smoking habits, she found 4 chromosomes in which there were some ties to effecting a smoking addiction. If this is positively true, it could be amazing for the future of our world. Think if, in the future, people can be “cured” of smoking addictions. That would truly make the world a better and cleaner place, and ultimately save millions of peoples lives as well. Smoking is a clear problem all over the world that kills an amazing amount of people every year, in addition to ruining the environment in which we live, so if this really could be possible in the future, it would be monumental for the future of planet Earth.

Stress Really Does Cause Aging

I feel that in the season of final exams, this article is a perfect read for all of us last-minute crammers. This article explains that chronic stress really does cause you to age faster. In the past, people wondered why some people who stressed often were looking older than those who didn’t, and now after these studies the reason is clear. Stress affects many different parts of your body and when a person is stressed all the time, it takes a toll on their body and effects many different aspects of how they age. This brings me to a stronger question: What is the benefit stressing out? To me, the answer is clear: NOTHING. When a person stresses out it does absolutely nothing especially good for them and at the same time takes a toll on their body. In the Georgia Tech theme, students stress out because they are afraid of what their grades are going to be and what their parents are going to do when they see them and it seems even more often than the other two, students are ALWAYS stressing about whether or not they are going to be able to keep a 3.0 and their Hope Scholarship. Seriously though, when you think about it, the fact that these students stress doesn’t help them at all. Stressing isn’t going to change your grades for the better, and can even make them worse. When a student is stressing they are not in the best of moods, and this may negatively affect their schoolwork. I know that when I’m not in a good mood it shows through the quality of my work, so the best thing that a student can do for their body is not stress, as there is no reason to do harm to your body that is not benefiting you in any other way.

Powell's Final Visit to the Mideast

In what was probably Colin Powell’s final visit to the Mideast as secretary of state, he met to talk about a conflict that he had been trying to deal with for the past four years that he had been in office. The Israeli-Palestinian has not been changed in the past four years, and they other Mideast leaders believe that is because Powell had always been biased when trying to deal with the situation. This article explains that the other world leaders said that when trying to deal with the conflict, all of Powell’s guarantees translate into backing of “unrestrained Israeli polices.” Another point brought up was that many people do not believe that other reforms can be talked about and progress without, first, a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is certainly at least somewhat true, as this conflict has much effect on the entire Midwest, not only the two countries directly involved. This problem needs to be solved, or at least some progress needs to be made soon because it seems that not many other things will happen until this is dealt with. The reform that was suggested by Powell was not taken well by many others, as they believed that it could not be worked on until the conflict was over, but Powell believed differently. Powell told them that he thinks the reform is way to important and too-badly needed for it to be delayed by long-standing regional conflicts. Either way, something needs to be done and it appears that in the past 4 years there has not been much progress made.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

What Are You, On Drugs?

Prescription drugs are now a permanent part of life in our country. Currently, 44% of all Americans take prescription drugs, while one out of every six take 3 or more. That is REDICULOUS. One in every four teenagers takes drugs, and thats not talking about pot and other drugs like that, its prescription drugs, which are much more addictive and much worse for your system. Sure, prescripton drugs are made for a reason, they are VERY helpful to the people who need them, without these drugs many would die sooner, or not be as successful in life, but our country is now reliant on these PILLS. After seeing the facts in this article, I started to imagine our country as that in the book Brave New World. In that book there is a drug called Soma which takes over their country, and it seems like prescription drugs are taking over the lives of people all around our country today. If suddenly prescription drugs were unavailable like they were years ago, this country would be a mess, we now live around these drugs, and they guide many peoples lives. The problem with this problem, though, is that it seems there is no way to solve it, because our country has already changed to revolve around these, and it would be impossible to take them away now. This is just one of the many ways that technology is quickly advancing to develop a completely new world in which we live in.

Monday, December 06, 2004

My Blogging Experience

While trying to come up with my final blog, I realized that many of the topics that are in today’s news have been touched on in previous blogs by others, or I have somehow, somewhere blogged on these topics myself. I would now like to make my final blog my final understanding of what a blog is, what blogging has done for me, and where the future of blogging is going. This all may sound a little weird, but I don’t think it gets much weirder than referring to an online journal portfolio as a BLOG!

When first starting on this project, I thought the “blog” was more of a uniformed short essay about particular topics and articles. After reading blogs from other classmates and searching the web myself, I found how untrue this was. Many people did not punctuate or even care at the least how their misspelled words and jumbled thoughts looked from a web-surfer’s viewpoint; the point was that these thoughts and ideas made it to the screen for you and me to ponder about that individual’s views. I also found that the blog reflects the individual. I may have started off very uniform, but as I progressed I found that I became much more relaxed, but kept it uniform. I’m a pretty standardized person.

As far as what the blog has done for, it’s opened my eyes, ears, and mouth. Being in a class where the web log was part of the syllabus, I can now say I was glad that I took the course. I was such a quiet person before; blogging has opened up this loud, vocal part of me and has taught me to be critical and to take a stand when necessary. Being a dormant individual will only get you run over by society. I’ve also learned to listen and be open to other’s ideas. I feel that where I stand today politically is a product of my classmate’s viewpoints. I like myself better this way.

In the future, blogging will only grow. I mean, where else can you publicly bitch about the government, or school, or about how bad the pizza you ate for lunch was?

Military Recruiters: Kicked off campus

Last week it was decided that federally funded campuses could choose to allow military recruiters to come on campus or keep them out. I see this as another move towards completely isolating the military from particular classes of people. Already there is little contact between the upper-middle class and military recruiters, and by not allowing recruiters on campuses, I do not believe there will ever be a point when the people of that class will ever be able to be informed about the benefits the military has to offer. By keeping the recruiters off campuses, America is losing potential foot-soldiers that may have the capability of improving our defenses by having a technical diploma or possessing leadership qualities.

Along with potentially passing up qualified men and women, a federally funded school should not get to make the decision whether or not a recruiter is allowed on its campus. That should be for the government to decide. Though, if you would like to look at it from an optimistic standpoint, this is a good example of keeping the government’s power to a minimum. I just wish this could have been proved in some other instance instead of the military; something that has kept us safe and free. There are so many young adults who rely on the military to get them through school; I don’t understand why having a military recruiter around at school is such a bad thing. No recruiter is pressuring anyone to join the military. People can make their own decisions.

Now forever engaged in a blank stare at the monitor

link

This is actually the type of article I have been looking for. It's about how attached our generation is to our computers and the internet. It is very true that our generation has been permanently fused to a high-speed internet connection. It seems like I wouldn't be able to do anything without it. Especially going to GT, it seems that i spend more time doing work on my computer over the lan than i do in or out of class. Sometimes I get really sick of it and want to destroy the internet and set the world free. Just kidding. But when i think about all the important thing i have to do in my life, my computer makes everything so much easier and faster. I send e-mail, book my flights to Texas on my computer, i use online yellow pages for phone numbers, map quest, weblogs, webCT, research, typing papers, instant messenger, playing video games and all sorts of stuff that make up my life as a college student. I wonder how people survived before the Pentium4? Not to mention cell phones. It just seems like our technology is no longer a tool for us; it is what we depend on. Wheather this is a good thing or a bad thing I don't really know, but I see it more and more every day.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/05/jobs/05jmar.html?pagewanted=2

This was a very long interesting article about the pressures of choosing a major in college; something i think all of us are interested in. The article covers a wide variety of factors that should play into our decision of what to spend thousands of dollars getting an education for. Some of which include money, and some do not. However, a person simply cannot pay the bills with happiness or satisfaction. It is important to get a good idea of what kind of average salary someone makes with whatever major you're interested in. In some cases, people might not have even heard of the major that is right for them. Of course the most important factor is the individual. Your personality, interests, likes, dislikes, and general goal in life is what need to be considered. I know for sure that I picked my current major AE with about a 65-35% split between the money and what i enjoy doing respectively. At the end of the article, the Director of Career Services at New York Universty, Trudy Steinfeld, gave some great advice. She says, "College should be about stretching yourself and discovering who you are and want. Schools should not become factories. There are hundreds of majors out there, and its almost always a mistake to base the decision on money alone."

Just Cheat off Her

I was somewhat shocked to find an article that told of how horrible boys do academically compared to girls. It seems that in recent surveys females tend to beat males in every aspect of academics. They are the ones to "dominate honor rolls, hold more student government spots and rake in most of the academic awards" at graduation. What was even more surprising was to hear the author say that women are enrolling for college at a much higher rate than men, and an estimated three out of every four colleges have to secretly make affirmative action decisions benefitting male applicants. (Obviously the author hasn't visited the Georgia Institute of Technology; a place where males outnumber females by a screaming seven to three ratio.) I agree with the author that about most girls having more academic discipline than boys that allow them to do better in school, but I do not think this is because the male race lacks the capability.

Typically, a boy is brought up at a disadvantage in the first place. He is raised to play outside, throw a football or baseball, and encouraged to be active. There are the exceptions though. In gradeschool, most of the teachers are female and are therefore less likely to be able to relate to the male learning style. So, the boy is setback from the start, and once the ball starts rolling, there's no stopping it. All of a sudden he's in high school and finds himself learning for the short-term memory rather than learning things for the long term. Quick acronyms and "studying the night before" allow him to pass but not necessarily learn the material. This is not to say that there are not plenty of boys capable of beating a girl academically fair and square--I'm surrounded by hundreds daily. I'm just saying that this all can be traced back to the childhood years and how each individual is raised. Influences and experiences make and break a person. But if things continue like this, pretty soon the husband will be doing the cooking.

Anyone ever heard of freedom of speech?

link

This article is about a New York school bus driver who was fired over a discussion she had with a pupil about stem cell research. At the end of the article is where I found it unnerving. Superintendant Ramming, the person who fired the driver, made a statement; he said, "You can say anything you want as a private citizen when you are off duty."

If i was the bus driver, i would sue for wrongful termination. Yes i will concede the position that maybe it is not the best idea for a bus driver to talk about politics, but stem cell research is more than that. During my high-school career, there have been many, many teachers and faculty members whom I have had multiple discussions about their beliefs on issues, and all sorts of stuff. I feel that I became just a little more enlightened about the world every time i had one of these conversations. They are healthy for a person to grow, even if what the person is saying is complete bull honkey (people eventually learn not to be gullible).

By the way, is the school system militarized? That's right! I didn't think so! So why the hell is this man telling his employee's that some of their constitutional rights are being revoked while at work? I have always stood behind a very old saying about American liberty. That saying is, "Well, although I may not agree with what you say, I will defend to the death your right to say it." It says in the article that parents complained, and that is why she got in trouble in the first place. The parents should sit down and watch some of the material presented on national television, or the radio that could influence the child on the same level as talking about it with a bus driver. Political propaganda is everywhere, and weather parents like it or not their children will be exposed to it for the rest of their life.

However, the article was not too specific. If there were other circumstances of behavior with this discussion that warranted dismissal then she should by all means be fired. Although I have ridden my share of school buses, and i know for a fact that they dont get fired for swearing or yelling at students. So why cant they have a casual conversation about an issue in the world we live in. If the student is intelligent enough to engage in a conversation about stem cell research, then you would think the student is intelligent enough to know that the person he/she is talking to may have very strong moral and ethical opinions about that issue. What do you think about this? If anyone could find a more detailed article about this and link it in the comments section i would appreciate it. Still, a person should be able to say whatever they want, regardless if they are "on duty" driving a school bus.

Leave it to the French

I like the French, I think they have class, sophistication, and culture. But they sure do have shit for brains. Why on earth would the police try and train their bomb sniffing dog like this. This article tells about how the French Police decided it was a good idea to plant 5 ounces of explosives in a real passenger's baggage to train their bomb sniffing dogs in the airport. What kind of genius police force tries to train their dog in a real airport with real explosives planted in someone's bags? According to the police, the bag was lost when it went on a conveyor belt to restricted areas between check-in and the planes, and is suspected to have left the airport on board one of 90 planes departing. Sure doesn't say much for their bomb sniffing dog if they knew it was there and still couldn't find it. Luckily French officials have put an immediate stop to that practice. They still don't know what happened to the baggage. No one has contacted French officials to report finding a bag with a large amount of plastic explosives in their luggage. What is really wrong about all of this though, is that it could have potentially triggered a terrible international incident. If the plane was bound for the U.S., and security had found it before the French notified the airlines, the person who that baggage belonged to would be labeled a terrorist, immediately arrested, and it would have just created a huge political mess. We already have to worry about extremists bringing bombs to the U.S., but we shouldn't have to worry about the French "losing" their bombs on an outbound plane. French officials say the officers responsible will face disciplinary action.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

"Wounds that don't bleed"

This is an article i found at Time.com, but i think you have to be a regular magazine subscriber to view it. Or you could pay the 5$ or whatever.

The point is that this article gives very good insight on what our troops are having to go through. Apparently, according to this, 1 in 5 soldiers has what the military calls "stress injury." This is a serious psycological effect that the war is having on our troops. The soldiers who are doing all of the frontline fighting and have to witness all of the horrors of death and war, are not older battle hardened warriors. They are 18-20 year old kids fresh out of high school or college. It is no wonder that they have problems with seeing their friends blown to shreds right next to them. It is unfair to ask any young man to be able to just go and and forget it. I know from personal experience that when a person goes through a traumatic event, you get this flashes of images in your head everytime you are reminded of that event. These soldiers are told to go out into the field every day, sometimes right down the road from where their best friend was killed and continue to do their job. The Army and Marines are not leaving the Troops to deal with it all on their own. They have mobilized mental health units of psychiatrists, psycologists, occupational therapists, social-workers, chaplains and nurses right behind the front lines. They say the point is to let the Troops know that they are not going crazy because they have emotional, physical and psycological aftereffects from the traumatic experiences they are having to deal with. I know that i would need lots of help in dealing with watching my friends die, always being ready for attack, and especially when to turn it off.

Oil spill near NJ, cause remains a mystery

On November 26th, a Greek oil tanker, The Athos, apparently struck an unknown hazard a few hundred feet from the shore of the Delaware River spilling 470,000 gallons of crude oil into the enviroment. Officials are now investigating what could have caused the 6 foot gash in the tanker's hull. As of right now the cause of the spill remains a mystery, but the damage has already been done. According to the article, a full cleanup will take months, and cost millions of dollars. A Coast Guard spokesman emphasized the peculiarity of the spill saying,"The people on board didn't hear anything, the vessel didn't list, and they saw no leakage" until it was too late and already on its way to spread around a 70 mile section of the waterway. One of the most interesting questions addressed in this article, is why no other ships on the heavily traveled route hit an object that could cause so much damage to a full size tanker.

Bonds: Just another user

Players Union Moves Steroids Up on Its Agenda

With the recent steroid scandals, I have to say it’s a sad story when fans have to find out their favorite athletes are none other than cheaters. I’ll say it outright. It was a huge disappointment for me to hear about Barry Bond’s drug use this past week, but who was he kidding? As much as I knew that he must have been using some sort of power drug, I did not want to believe it. It angers me even more to hear him say that he “had no idea” he was using a steroid. Barry, c’mon man. Just because you weren’t shooting it directly into your buttocks doesn’t mean it wasn’t illegal. Besides, the stuff he was using came from a laboratory that was previously indicted for the Marion Jones scandal. I know one thing’s for sure: if I was a star like Barry Bonds, I acquaint myself with a lab that had made public news for all the wrong reasons.

The problem is the message that the athletes that use illegal performance-enhancing drugs send to their fans. What does it tell a high school baseball player that is trying to move on to the next level? It’s saying that in order to hit homerun after homerun you’re going to need some lagniappe, a little something extra—like steroids. What a message to send. Someone who should be doing what they can to lead young people in the right direction has become egotistical, and though only about how they can improve their game. There’s no doubt Bonds would have made the big bucks whether or not he used the drugs, but why jeopardize a career? The truth is that I don’t care what happens to Bonds or anyone else for that fact that is found using drugs. I would just like the Major League Baseball Players Association and associations of the like in other sports to open their eyes and adopt testing policies that would prevent this. By letting things like this slide is not necessarily letting Bonds hurt himself, but it’s hurting his posterity. It’s hurting the high school dreamer.

Pot and Federal Power Article

First of all, I'll just come out and say I don't think that allowing sick people who use it for medicinal purposes, is "obnoxious". I've researched this topic before, and I found it's a highly safe drug when using it in a controlled environment. According to this article, Congress is trying to pass a clause that will alow them control interstate commerce. If this clause pushes into a bill, I suppose that could mean the end of marijuana in the states. Since Congress is now almost completely controlled by the Republican party, say goodbye to Mary Jane. The court however stated that certain authorites are not regulated by the commerce clause. For example, gun control can't be regulated by Congress. If this was so, then Congress would practically have the power to make any law they wanted, which we, as citizens, would have to comply with. That is basically throwing our country into a socialist state by giving most of the law-making power to Congress. From what I have read, marijuana can create a huge economic boost if more widely used throught the states. I don't see how the drug can be bad to patients who say it helps them. That's the point of the drug; it alleviates pain. If there is no other drug that can help these patients like marijuana can, then I don't see a problem with it. The main purpose of the article is just to explain the checks and balances between the judiciary and executive branches. The court is allowed to make the laws but the court has the ultimate decisionary power to turn down the law. This I believe is what makes our country great; there is not just one government power.

Pyongyang

North Korea refuses to continue stalled talks with the United States and U.N. about its nuclear program until the new Bush Administration clarifies and makes official its policy on this issue. As of right now Bush want N. Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program altogether. The article says that there N. Korea refused to attend a fourth multinational six-party talks about this. Analysts think that N. Korea was stalling in hopes of a new American President being elected. Since that didn't happen, they are now stalling until the new administration sets is policy. Isn't it odd how U.S. policy affects so much of the world?

The article says that N. Korea blames the deadlock on Bush's "hostile" position on North Korea. But to make matters worse, experts say that they have already extracted enough plutonium for six or seven atomic bombs and now N. Korea has refused to submit to inspections by the U.N.

America is the leader of the modern world, and when other nation watch as the U.S. defies the U.N.'s rule without consequence, America is setting a bad example for the rest of the world. And now we want N. Korea to be good little communists and submit to international pressure. America is a land of hipocracy, when it tries to make another nation yield to an organization that it simply stepped over and around to get to Iraq and start our own war. Things are wrong in this world, and we need good political leadership to set things strait. It probably won't be Bush, and it probably wouldn't have been Kerry either, but hopefully in elections to come America will make better choices.

The Fall of Morals in Society

“What in the hell has happened to our society?” This is the point made by Diana West’s article on the direction in which the ethics of our society are headed. She asks what has happened to the days when se wasn’t publicized and intertwined into television shows that reach the homes of millions a week. She is utterly disturbed by Tom Wolfe’s “I am Charlotte Simmons,” an investigation on the decline of a freshman college girl. Though, what would you expect when America is surrounded by things everyday that seem to say sex is ok such as MTV’s line-up along with “Sex and the City” or “Desperate Housewives.”

We have convinced ourselves that we are doing nothing wrong. As long as there are people willing to publicize sexual conduct, the cycle keeps turning—like a “monkey-see monkey-do” situation. If people were to stand for what is consciously right, then maybe sex wouldn’t be thrown across our televisions daily. It is the actors and actresses job to resist this, but as long as their eyes see green, I can’t see this halting. West too knows it can not be stopped, and her article seems to grieve the loss of a simpler, moralistic society and scolds the society at hand.

Wolf quotes Newsweek’s article on a particular “Housewives” script that called for the actress to announce something vulgar. At first the actress through to herself that she should not and could not say such a thing, but then she does it anyways. Where do we draw the line, and when will television stars stop being people pleasers? Stop thinking anything is acceptable when it’s really not. Standards have to be set somewhere. “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.”

Where's the Reality in Reality TV?

I found a fairly humorous article in the Los Angeles Times about how unreal reality TV is. Joel Stein recently got a hold of a “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” script and was appalled to find that every bit of it the show was planned from “action” to “that’s a wrap.” While reading this article all I could think was “I told you so.” This would have been my words to him if he could hear me. I’ve had a present experience with an MTV reality show, and in much the same way, I was just plain mad when I saw every bit of it being phony. Some scenes were taped over nearly three or four times until the producer achieved the scene with that would give the effect the effect he was looking for to the television audience. I agreed with Stein when he asks how we could fall for something like this anyways. Do we really believe that there are people out there leading lives that are that much crazier than our own? I was relieved to find that those lives were only made possible with a script writer; it was beginning to worry me.
After Joel Stein made his great discovery, he was inspired to check on a particular script that I believe we all wanted to know the truth behind. Do Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie really sleep in trailer parks? Not exactly, Stein found that the girls checked into hotels all except two nights while doing the show. (The crew was busy shooting a night-vision documentary for Hilton both evenings that they didn’t stay in a hotel—I’m kidding.) Though, Stein would just like to point out that once again America was ready to embrace something that seemed to offer some sort of down-to-earth, real-world security. No; not this time. TV’s played us for idiots, again.

Senator Coleman Calls for Resignation of Annan

The U.N. Secretary-General Annan has been caught up in a lot of oil-for-food scandal publicity, and now a prominent U.S. senator is calling for his resignation. Annan does not want to comply, and continues to focus on internal U.N. reform to help make the organization more adapted to the powers of moder day society, and not the post world war 2 society that the U.N. was founded around. This article (link here) goes over what the U.N. has in mind for changes, but the United States is being very cautious as to which nations will gain veto power. The United States has always been the driving force behind anything substantial it has done. Every time the U.N. decides to send in peace keeping troops, it is always either American Troops leading the way, or American Dollars. In fact, according to the article, the United States provides 22% of the U.N.'s budget. How can we expect a governing body such as the U.N. to be effective as a global authority, when the driving force behind it is not global? An interesting question was proposed to me by a friend of mine. She asked me, "If the other nations of the world had seriously threatened to attack us if we invaded Iraq, or even try to use force to keep us from invading, do you think we still would have done it?" This is the question that made me think about how the U.N. could ever be effective when most of it's military and financial power come from a nation who won't even recognize its authoritative power. The U.N. needs to clean up it's act, and start uniting nations to work for peace.

More on Stem Cells

I found a very informative article on stem cell research.

This article not only explains about the different kinds of stem cell research, which ones are objected to, and what the potential benefits of all of this scientific research and debate. The federal government is already funding 22 lines of embryotic stem cells, each line was derived from a single embryo. However, President Bush issued a directive saying that the government will not pay for the research of any human stem cells lines acquired after August 9, 2000. What i found most interesting about this article has to be the topic of a different method to acquiring new stem cells to work with, without killing embryos. Dr. Bianchi's most recent breakthrough finding is that fetal stem cells do not entirely leave a mother's body after the baby is born. She is developing a technique to find these fetal stem cells that occur naturally in a mother's body by using mother's who have had several sons. This helps in the search because Bianchi can search for cells with a Y chromosome in a female's body. If these cell can become a consistent source for stem cell research, i think this field will change the way we view our bodies and we can let science investigate until we think we have nothing further to learn from them. If you don't know a whole lot about what is going on with stem cell research, I highly recommend reading this article.

should arnold be allowed to run?

In this recent news article, it talks about a proposed 28th amendment that would enable a forign born individual to be able to run for President or Vice President. How does this make most American's feel? Any comments are welcome. Although realistically it probably won't pass. This is an issue that has died in Congrees more than a dozen times since 1870. If Arnold's support continues to rise with Americans, then this will be, as the artice puts it,"a test of American attitudes towards immigrans in the post 9/11 era." I asked some of my friends and one of them said he doesn't think forign born people should be able to run. he said, "It's the highest position in the American government and should not be put into jeopardy of a person who may have a conflict of interest at times." Anyways, regardless if they are able to run, they still have to get everyone to vote for them and get elected before they have any real power. From what i've read, and people i've talked to, I don't think the American people will elect a forign born ruler.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Intelligence Reform Bill

Right now before congress sits a bill that will reform our intelligence policies, and attached to this bill are things also dealing with social security reform and immigration reform. There are many, many supporters of this bill, including many family members of 9/11 victims. The only problems with this bill getting passed are some disagreements withing the Republican Party. Republican Congressman Hunter is one of the key opponents to the bill's passage. He opposes the intelligence reform bill because he is afraid of a confusion in the chain of command for military intelligence. The article then introduces the possibility of Bush, in order to show his leader ship may go against the party, eventhough it could be political suicide. In the article it doesn't really talk about what changes will be made, and i really wish i knew. So if someone comes across a good article explaining what all this bill entails, to changes in intelligence policy, and the other things attached to it that have to do with social security and immigration please let me know. But its good to see Bush make a move like this. It's good for both sides; Bush haters will be glad he alienated himself from his party, and his supporters now will be glad to see him do something to show his leadership.

stem cell JAMZ

the article

Personally I do not know a lot about stem cell research, but this article seems to present two reasonable solutions, as long as they could be accomplished. The two solutions would be good because they do not violate most people’s concerns that stem cells still have potential for growth, because both of these solutions use embryo’s that do not have potential for growth. In the first solution, the embryo is already dead, while in the second solution the embryo was never alive. It seems to me that the first solution is better however because it seems easier to do. For the second solution the guy who came up with the idea would not be able to execute it. Also the first solution would be better because it involves taking cells from an embryo which is already dead. The embryo had a purpose, which was to be used to solve infertility, but since it is dead, the stem cells could be used. That was one of the author’s stronger arguments. The second plan seems a lot more complicated from the first one. It involves tumors, which serve no purpose but sill have cells which could be for stem cells. It seems like the first idea is a lot more straight forward and clearer. Also, the author brings up an opposing view point for the second solution but not the second point. Now, I’m sure there’s plenty of opposition for the first one as well but he only brought it up for the second one so it makes it weird.

More Troops in Iraq

On December 2nd, the Pentagon authorized additional troops to be sent to Iraq, the total number of troops now adds up to 150,000. This war is not showing signs of slowing, or a change toward Iraqi soverign rule. More and more troops have been called up, and more and more troops are suffering extended tours. The casualty rate is more than America was willing and the Iraqi casualties are very high. This war is costing the U.S. Billions of dollars, in a time where the economy is struggling. This war was a mistake. It is doing more harm than good. America was completely behind the war in Afganistan to serve retribution for 9/11, but our invasion of Iraq has to be one of the worst war ideas since vietnam. Senator Jack Reed said that it becoming more and more clear that our efforts in Iraq are not going to come to an end soon. He predicts another 5 to 10 years before all of our forces will be withdrawn. This is not good news. It seem that not only the pace and intensity of the war is changing, but the characher of it as well. There will be more war to come.

article link

Winning "The Last Mile"

"The Last Mile"

“The Last Mile” is an article aimed at America’s failure to invade Iraq with a clear plan to resolve the existing problems there once the government was over thrown. Now, as the war is seeking ends and with the Iraqi people about to vote in a new government, Thomas L. Friedman warns us that the “last mile” will be the deciding factor in who wins this war: The Americans or the Iraqi insurgents. The “last mile” Friedman refers to here is not necessarily a distance but rather a period of time—the final stage of the war.

As much as Friedman expresses his distaste for Bush and the decision to invade Iraq, he seems to offer his own resolution of how America can finish off what it started. Many people have compared the fall of the Berlin Wall to the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue and all the principles it stood for. The article verifies how false this belief is. The Berlin Wall hampered free-market, civil society, and democratic traditions; things that were previously instilled in Germany. It looks like Friedman believes that Iraq never had those attributes in the first place; Saddam Hussein is merely a product of his society. I see the article as Friedman’s denunciation of America trying to play the part of the superhero by trying to save Iraq and return it to something it wasn’t in the first place. The reality is that Iraq isn’t Germany.

America will win this though. It’s already been said that nothing will stop us. Even though Iraq may not have had any order of discipline in the first place, it was America’s duty to protect ourselves and others from a potential danger. It was also our job to introduce a new system to the Iraqi society that would allow the people to live fearlessly and allow them to become an asset to the world instead of a danger. Friedman maybe right about the opposition and threats left to come, but America will win the last mile.

Reforming the UN

Source

In the light of the War on Iraq, it has become clearly apparent that the UN literally has no control over the wills of individual nations. The UN opposed the War on Iraq but it happened anyway, simply because Britain and the US wanted it. Now, Secretary General Kofi Annan is taking steps to reform the UN and transform it into a body that can accurately represent the new world order and to better tackle the new global threat that is terrorism.

One of the initiatives is to expand the Security Council's permanent members. Some of the most important nations, like Japan (which has the second largest economy in the world)and India (the second most populous nation in the world), need to be included and the lack of representatives from Africa, Latin and South America, and the Arab world is very troubling. This issue in particular has been debated for many years but there has been little headway.

Another important issue is the fact that containment and deterrence, policies that were once prominent during the existence of the Soviet Union, now need to be discarded and replaced with policies that tackle terrorism. Annan has set up a council of men and women (all are 70 or older) who are independent of national rivalries to decide how the UN should change it's direction.

Mr. Bush and his administration do not approve of the UN at all; believing that they need to place the security of America in the hands of a ineffective organization. And should the UN fail to reform, then America will have to exert it's power and will as the governing body and contain the world. Mr. Bush will happily use the opportunity to finish his business in North Korea, Iran, and other places.

One major economic effect of the US's huge debt

Source

It is well known that in recent years, America has developed an astronomical debt that could easily drive other nations to bankruptcy. Although America is not bankrupt, the value of the dollar has been consistently declining in relation to the british pound and the euro. According to the Economist, the effects of the sliding dollar are felt mostly outside the United States, where foreign investors and banks have over $11 trillion. The problem is that if they feel the dollar is not worth holding anymore, that maybe it's safer to buy euros or pounds, then they will cash out and the US will have to find $11 trillion (from where?) in cash to give. This will totally destroy the dollar and that will be the end of us. We will no longer be able to use the dollar to import any goods at all as it is not worth much.

The Economist suggests that the solution to this problem is that America remove debt to the extent where foreign investors feel their investments are secure. In addition to reducing the national debt, the Federal Reserve and the Government need to change fiscal policy, interest rates, purchase/sell treasury bonds, or whatever it takes to get the public to start saving. Also, Asia (namely China) and the European Union need to cooperate and help ease the pressure off of the dollar. China needs to allow it's currency to rise and the European Union needs to accept that a temporary weak dollar will allow America to resolve it's problem.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Pot and Federal Power

The Link


This article talks about the government’s power over pot which relates to interstate commerce. I agree with what this article is saying that marijuana is transported between states. So when it comes to marijuana, the government should have absolute control because it is illegal. The article makes a good point that “Without such an understanding(meaning control over certain issues), Congress would have been unable to make federal laws requiring a minimum wage, protecting wetlands and prohibiting racial discrimination in private employment, to name a few examples.” Imagine if congress didn’t control all those things. They would be either non-existent, or they wouldn’t exist at all. There are some things however which congress doesn’t control. That is a good thing because then they would have total control over the country. But the author of the article also makes the point that “But limit the power too much, and Congress will be left without adequate tools to legislate in a modern country.” The author makes really good points. Because of those points he made are reasons why government should have complete and absolute control over the flow of legalized pot. Marijuana is one of those things which have to be monitored closely or else no one would know where it was going to. For all we knew it could be falling into the wrong hands.

Journeys With George

Personally, I really enjoyed the documentary. I never realized how close the candidates get to the media, and how much of a relationship they grow together. I also enjoyed how it showed George W. Bush "behind the suit". It can really show the American public what Presidents are like and what they do in their spare time. When I saw how devoted the media is toward their jobs, like them waiting out in the freezing cold and snow for Bush to make his appearance, it really changes my perspective of them. People, for some reason, like to blame the media for things that go wrong in society. However, after watching this informative documentary, you realize how much work these people put into their jobs, although it may be considered to some as immoral.
As the film progressed, you start to see the bond that is growing between Alexandra and Governer Bush. It's ironic how Pelosi is a born and raised Democrat and how she is forced to do this report on Bush's campaign trail. As well as being a typical Democrat voter, she learned to respect Bush's position and they grew to like eachother as friends. It just goes to show that it is possible to become friends with "the other side".
Aside from the actual information, I think she did a good job in filming the documentary and it was well organized, and put mainly in chronological order. Overall, it's much easier to watch and understand a documentary when it is filmed and presented in chronological order. To answer Dr. Tryon's question of how did she choose which scenes to actually insert into the movie, I think it seemed for the most part she wanted to make Bush look good as a person. Bush's personal character traits were displayed in this movie in much detail.

S.S. Reform

This article was very informative to me. I had no idea that in 15 years our social security system will not be recieving enough income through payroll taxes to pay out all of its promised benefits to retirees. Bush needs to make reform now because every two year election cycle will cost the social security system $320 billion. This article breaks down a very good plan that Bush said he supported during his campaign. This private account system would take much stress off the system in 15 years. The compound interest accumulated from the portion of taxes put into these personal accounts will give each individual a substantal amount of money to go towards their old social security benefits when they need them in the future. If Bush were to take action now, I think it would say a lot for him as a President. It would greately improve his popularity for actually helping the nation domestically. Who knows, it might bring the nation a little bit closer together. Both presidential candidates said that America needs to heal from being so evenly divided on so many issues. Reading this article really explained the plan well and also talked about what Bush should do along with just opening individual accounts. However, the article points out that Bush only wants a 'start small' approach with the funds in the accounts, but then goes on to say that at least half of the payroll takes should go into the accounts. I just thought this was something important that deserved to be posted. The article goes on to stress the urgency of reform and how Ownership is going to be a big part of it. Currently we do not own our benefits; it is entirely up to 535 politicians.

A second term of surprise

Link to article

Personally, I do not like how this article was written. Its title is a “Second Term of Surprises,” but the article never really talks about certain surprises that could happen. I mean I guess it is trying to say that anything could happen during his second term. I totally agree with that cause look at what happened with 9/11. I mean who saw that coming? I think that if I were to write an article like this one I would be more precise and explain things more. For example, he waivers between issues, like in one paragraph he will talk about how Bush was thrown into things and how an intelligence reorganization would be in line and then in the next one, talk about how it’s a legislative test. He just jumps around a lot. Also he focuses too much on Reagan and the race issue he had to deal with. Yeah that makes for good background, but then he puts no focus into Bush. If you read this article with no background you would think it was about Bush. Finally, I understand if Brokaw was his friend or what not, but I do not feel that his column is any place to put a biography of the guy just because he’s retiring. I don’t think the post is paying him to talk about his pals. It has no relevance to the article. If he wanted to show his gratitude to Brokaw, he could have found another way to do it.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

North Korea/Iran

With US forces focusing on Iraq and Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran have been on the backburner for the last few years. This may prove to be a poor choice as both of these countries have become problem spots lately.
Iran has started it's nuclear program up again and basically is playing the world to get what it wants. Russia is being cooperative since Iran has been hiring their companies to help set up its reactors. Iran is using the program to milk the world of deals with promises of shutting down its program.
North Korea is also becoming a problem spot with its own nuclear proliferation. During the presidential debates, North Korean talks were a hot topic as Bush said unilateral talks along with the multilateral ones would lead to disaster while Kerry supported the move. Korea kicked out nuclear inspectors several years ago and Bush did nothing to stop it or accomodate for North Korea's increasing hostility and nuclear proliferation. I think that this decision could easily prove detrementral to stability in the region as North Korea leverages its nuclear capabilities for perks/favorable arangements.
Ignoring these two countries as Bush has not been the best decision; both are now leveraging their developing nuclear capabilities against the world to gain an advantage. Lack of a strong position and attention focused on Iraq is preventing us from effectively dealing with these threats.

students studying in college

From the article on college study habits I believe that since the study covered many colleges and universities that some categories should be broken up based on types of schools. The hours done studying, I agree should be in one big group because no matter what school you go to there’s going to be studying done. However, the fact that they said that 25 hours should be spent studying per week in order to succeed, is not an accurate statement because depending on what university you go to, your either going to have to study more or less. Also, that’s how much professors think you should study, when in reality you might not need to study that much. Another point that could be brought up is that are students really studying when they “study” or are they doing other things. I know that many kids, myself included often do other things while they are studying. College dorms can be distracting. People say that in previous eras, they did more studying, and were smarter, which is shown by the shift in SAT scores. However, this might be true that they did more studying because they did not have the technology that we have now, so they might have had to do things by hand. They might also have been more book smart because they had to read more, and they had to do more work, and work by hand, without calculators, but my generation is smarter with technology and things. While the intelligence of students might be going down, we are smarter in other ways. It’s a tradeoff that we have to deal with the rise of technology. I don’t believe we are not as smart as other generations because we are still coming up with new technologies and improving human life. Finally some other things that should be taken into account when considering intelligence is that a lot more people go through high school now that before so it’s only the smart people going through school.
Going back to the categories, it should be expected that more liberal arts schools are going to have kids who go see more plays and go to more arts museums, while kids who go to tech schools are going to be more inclined to play video games, and play on their computers. Also when asking about having discussions with your teachers outside of school, kids at smaller schools are going to be more likely to talk to their teachers where they have smaller classes than kids at bigger schools.

South Park Voting Episode

I figure I might as well respond to Kevin's blog, since I am searching for things to write about, and I really enjoyed the South Park episode.
What Matt Parker and Trey Stone were trying to satirize is the way this country looks at voting. They believe that most people almost see it as illegal to not vote. The fact is that it is a freedom to vote, as well as a choice. If voting were a law, then that would not be the American way. People should feel inclined to vote since it is an extremely important part of being a U.S. citizen; but people should not pressured or threatened to vote. In the episode, Stan is pressured so much by his classmates and his whole town that he quickly becomes turned off to it. He feels he shouldn't have to vote if he doesn't want to. I think this applies to the real world in that people should not pressure the youth to go out and vote. When someone gets on your back to do something, say cleaning up the kitchen, the more you get egged on about it, the less willing you become to do it. People, especially teenagers, like to think for themselves, and when so many people claim that it is socially unacceptable to not vote, we become confused. Our whole lives we have been taught to not give into peer pressure and do the right thing. Well in some ways, what's happening with voting currently completely argues what peer pressure is all about. Stan resembles the youth in this episode and South Park resembles all of those who force voting on the youth. Of course, in the real world you wouldn't get banished from your town if you didn't vote. But metaphorically, it almost feels that way when you say, "I didn't vote" to someone and they take it out on you too hard. We can all learn a little from South Park if you listen close enough.

Conservatives are from Mars, Liberals are from Venus

It seems so ridiculous when you have to get a well known author to write truths about each party. It's like Politics For Dummies. As I see it, both conservatives undermind liberals too much and liberals just think conservatives are plain out stupid. Just as Waldman said it, conservatives think liberals have no moral standards because they hate Bush. The reality of the matter is that liberals find Bush unmoral because he attacked an unprovoked Iraq and shed innocent blood. On the other hand, liberals find conservatives stupid and dim-witted because they vote based on religion or family tradition. I like Waldman's percentage of people with no high school diploma chose Kerry 50%-49% over Bush. Those stats still run close.
One thing that Waldman help bring to my eyes is why liberals seem to come off as atheists. Conservatives like to classify liberals as "God-haters" when that is not the case at all. I have a cousin who is very spiritual but she voted for Kerry and is highly liberal. The issue of abortion could be a huge factor in what decides all of this. Pro choice lovers tend to lead more left because of the freedoms. Pro life protestors lean right to protect the right to life and the killing of a baby is wrong. But this also leads into religion, where most liberals would be pro choice however the church stands behind pro life. So how could liberals be Christian? Well, it is possible in some circumstances. What I don't appreciate between parties is how hypocritical both sides can be. Conservatives claim to be God and Bible lovers and are supposed to show others to God, but yet they criticize liberals and non-believers for not being religious. That's just one thing I can't stand.

Response to South Park Episode

The South Park episode we watched was really funny but yet also entertaining. I used to watch South Park when I was younger but I didn’t understand the jokes that they made. I still thought it was funny, but I just didn’t get the jokes but I didn’t realize that it was a satire on America’s culture. Now looking back on the show, it really is a lot better because I understand the jokes that they make. I must say that I completely agree with what Stan was saying about how he didn’t know which one to vote for…a turd sandwich or a giant douche. I mean who knows which one would be better. I did not vote in the election, as I’ve said in another blog entry, I didn’t really care because the way I see it I’ll be happy no matter who’s elected. So it kind of follows the same concept of what Stan had to go through. Since I’m in ROTC, it’s supposed to be our duty to vote. However, I feel that I have more important things on my hands than having to worry about the voting process including registering. Now while this might be considered selfish, I felt that if I’m going to be happy either way then why vote? It’s not like I’m going to be cast away from America, like Stan was from South Park if I don’t vote. And it’s not like I’m going to have P. Diddy and his crew chasing after me, to kill me. Also I had people trying to persuade me to vote for a candidate to their liking, just like what happened to Kyle, but I felt that I should make my own decision on who I want to win, not just based on people persuading me.

In response to survey of study habits of college students

I doubt that all universities participate in this survey; there is no way that students study that less. However, according to their website, 850+ universites participate in the survey although over 50% of those universities offer courses only until the master's level. The numbers given in that article are vastly different from what students experience at Georgia Tech, the Ivy League Schools, and schools equivalent to Georgia Tech (Univ. of Texas system, Univ of Cali system, Univ of IL at U-C and Chc, UNC Chapel Hill, and private universities like Rice), all of which offer doctorate degrees and some even professional degrees.

The article points out that the results are given to the schools and the decision to make the results available to the public is given to the schools. It would be very valuable to potential students, especially incoming freshmen, if those results were published. I speak from personal experience as i had no clue we would be doing copious amounts of work at tech, and i also didn't know about all the resources available at tech. I think the public should pressure the schools to publicize the results should the schools choose not to do so on their own accord. The article mentions U.S. News & World Report, and the the information they give in that report is what most students use to choose their choices for college. The NSSE data will supplement the U.S. News report and give potential college students a better idea of what they are getting into. I believe that doing so will lessen the number of transfers and dropouts.