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The Antitechnology Movement


In my first blog post in this class, I had to screen Ray Kurzweil to see if he would be a viable candidate to speak about technology at Bucknell.  Ray Kurzweil is a technology futurist, which means he predicts where technology will be at certain point of time.  While reading his predictions, I became fascinated with the speeding up of our technological advancement.  This explosion of technology is a wonderful thing in many ways.  Our life expectancy and standard of living has gone up as a result, but where is technology going to take us in 20 or 50 or 500 years?  Currently, our world revolves around the advancement of technology.  Therefore, I believe that The Antitechnology Movement will soon be the idea that changes the world the most.

Before really think about this dilemma, I would have said there is no way that we should stop advancing technologically.  Here are a couple of predictions that Kurzweil has made that made me second guess myself…

1. 2030: Mind uploading becomes possible

2.  2045: The “technological singularity” occurs, which means that artificial intelligence surpasses humans as the smartest life forms on earth.  This means that artificial intelligence will take over the advancement of technology from humans, and start self improving at an increasing rate.

3. Post-2045:  Artificial intelligence will convert most of Earth’s matter into computer like material, with very few natural resources remaining for the humans that choose to not mechanically engineer their bodies.

4. 2099:  A.I. will have the ability to make planet sized computers.

Sounds a little crazy and conspiracy theory-esque huh?  I agree.  I really don’t think that these will happen in the time frames or to the extent that Kurzweil suggests, partly due to The Antitechnology Movement.  One does have to think about the implications of technological advancement because it is a fact that we are advancing at an increasing rate.  Modern homo sapiens have been on this planet for over 200,000 years.  We happen to have been born in a critical part of our history where things are changing at an almost incomprehensible rate.  I think that as we move forward technologically, we need to temper our actions with reflection about what is best for man-kind.  Despite some adverse effects such as pollution, In my opinion, rapid technological advancement has been good so far.  I just don’t know if this same mentality is best going forward.

Standing On Our Own Two Feet


I have noticed that our generation has been deemed “spoiled” by more and more older generations and this is very alarming. If I can pinpoint one value that has led me to the success I have had in life thus far it is that of independence. I believe that all of us can truly benefit from taking greater strides of independence and better applying a “do it yourself” attitude. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should completely break free of our parents as this would not be beneficial. However, I am saying that we, our generation in particular, would absolutely benefit from fending for ourselves. I am a firm believer that this type of attitude leads to overall success in life as well as teaching life lessons. I have made it a habit since the closing years of high school to not relay on my parents for simple amenities such as cash but also scheduling housing, contacting administration, acquiring jobs/internships, etc. 

Overall, I would like our generation to have a serious makeover in terms of trying to break free from our parentals or authority figure and take the initiative to do things on our own. This sort of attitude will work to benefit our generation and generations to come as a work hard attitude of the 1950’s can be reinstated and erase the notions of a spoiled generation. 

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Unreasonable At Sea!


Hi all,

Not related to a blog assignment, but I just wanted to share: my abroad alma mater, Semester at Sea (which I think I’ve managed to talk about in 95% of my blog posts and comments), is teaming up with a project called the Unreasonable Institute to further global learning and entrepreneurs.

The Unreasonable Institute is a ridiculously cool program which I just found out about a few hours ago, when someone from my SAS voyage posted this video on their pairing on our Facebook voyage wall. From their website:

“We are solving the world’s biggest problems by arming the entrepreneurs who can take them on with the mentorship, capital, and network to make it happen.

Each year, we unite 25 entrepreneurs from every corner of the globe to live under the same roof for six weeks in Boulder, Colorado. These entrepreneurs receive training and build long-term relationships with 50 world-class mentors, ranging from the former Managing Director of Investments at Google.org, to the CTO of HP, to an entrepreneur who’s enabled over 19 million farmers to move out of poverty. In the process, they also form relationships and build their businesses with 20 investment funds, receive legal advice & design consulting, and pitch to hundreds of potential investors and partners.”

These 25 chosen entrepreneurs are deemed the “Unreasonable Fellows” and are picked through an intense selection process; each entrepreneur must be nominated by one of UI’s 140 partners, and go through a 3 stage selection process. And – get ready! – next year, the Unreasonable Fellows will be joining the spring voyage of Semester at Sea to sail around the world and spread their knowledge all over! Their program is named Unreasonable At Sea; they call it transnational entrepreneurship. The Fellows will sail to 14 countries to meet with top government officials, pitch their ideas in front of hundreds of investors, and meet with each country’s top entrepreneurs as well. And I can personally attest that the 600 students who will be joining them on that voyage are all intelligent, driven, and wildly creative; the chances that someone’s idea will not grow, improve, or spread is likely extremely low. This is a truly remarkable spread of global technology and knowledge.

If this does not somehow manage to integrate everything we’ve been talking about in the past few weeks AND the most life-changing, amazing experience ever, I just don’t know what else would fit that list of superlatives. (Excuse me for being sappy, yesterday was my 1 year anniversary of my return to the States after SAS, and I’ve been sad about it all day.) Watch the video here:

Enjoy!

Increase Funding for Public Education


The public education system in America is underfunded and this is bound to cause repercussions for future generations and the future of America.   Continue reading

Library Exploration Awards


Here are the blog council’s awards for the posts on a book you found in the library:

Best Post: Beth O’Brien

Most Timely: Derek Craig

Protestant Work Ethic (Research Driven): Lauren McGuiggan and Joey Martin

 

Congratulations to the above bloggers!

-Blog Council

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude


“The pursuit of happiness” is a saying that is ingrained in Americans as one of the unalienable rights of man. Stemming from the United States Declaration of Independence, this term has been around our country for quite some time. What is this happiness that we are inclined to pursue and how do we generate it? Well, throughout this semester, I have been studying those questions, among many more, while completing my psychology independent study on Positive Psychology. This subject topic stems from the belief that psychology, which essentially studies human mind and its functions, place too much emphasis on the negative workings of the mind. Therefore, this new area of psychology was born to focus on how to model those who lead happy, successful lives. Thus, positive psychology seeks to make normal life more fulfilling.

Based on much of the research that I came into contact with over the semester, cultivating an attitude of gratitude is one of the easiest ways to become a happier individual. Gratitude is an interesting emotion, as it is not neurologically hardwired into our brain, yet the comparisons we innately make when cultivating gratitude help us be thankful for and satisfied with our position in life. The process of experiencing gratitude must intentionally be sought after, and, just like any learned skill, practicing gratitude allows one to experience the feeling easier.

(start at 3:30)

Continue reading

One Word: Stand


Obesity is a major concern for the United States as well many countries around the globe.

I believe this problem can be fixed by one word: STAND.

Lack of exercise, a sedentary lifestyle and junk food are a few reasons for obesity. It is no longer a condition affecting only adults. Childhood and teen obesity are becoming grave concerns today, and technology has increased our sedentary lifestyle since you can talk to whoever you want with the push of a button.

All of these elements have contributed to the main issue at hand here: obesity. Unhealthy weight gain due to poor diet and lack of exercise is responsible for over 300,000 deaths each year.  Also, the annual cost to society for obesity is estimated at nearly $100 billion.  Overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults, so it is important to develop healthy eating and exercise behaviors within the family.

 

Exercise can not only prevent health concerns and awful diseases, but it has been proven to better a person’s mood, increase energy, aid in better sleeping habits, and help with self-esteem issues. Plus, it’s fun! So stand up, go for a run or just take a walk- it may just save your life!

The Power of Smiling


“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring — all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo F. Buscaglia.

How often have you had one of those days where everything just seems to not be going your way?  You’re walking down the street, feeling kinda sad…but then someone smiles at you and you start to feel a little bit better. It’s amazing how that works.  That’s right — my 60 second idea to improve the world is as simple as this: SMILE!

There is a real power associated with smiles, and it’s something I think we take for granted too often.  Smiling is one of the easiest and quickest things someone can do to not only make themselves feel better, but to also make others feel better.  That’s right: it has actually been proven that smiling can make you and others around you happier.  According to an article about smiling, even when we fake a smile, our body releases the “happy” hormones serotonin and dopamine, which instantly lift our mood. Another one of the greatest things about smiles is that they are contagious, meaning it’s likely that if you smile at someone, they’re more likely to smile at another person.  In addition to being infectious, smiling also makes any person seem more attractive, approachable, and friendly. Studies even show that people who smile are more likely to be remembered than a person who doesn’t smile.

So go ahead, start smiling — you will not only feel better, but you will look better. Smiling costs nothing, but it can be worth a million bucks to someone who is having an off day.  Make that difference in someone’s life.

I Know Your Mom Told You Not To…


“Don’t talk to strangers.” It’s one of the oldest lessons in the book. It’s right up there with looking both ways before crossing the street. When you’re a kid, the lesson is valid. But when you’re an adult, I say throw it out the window. Sorry, Mom.

Say hi to strangers. That’s my 60-second idea to improve the world. It may sound creepy, but hear me out. I walk around Bucknell’s campus every day and without fail, when two people who don’t know one another pass each other, they look in opposite directions, they stare blankly ahead, or they whip out their cell phones and pretend to be texting. It’s ridiculous. We’re all part of a community here and we don’t even feel comfortable enough to look at each other, to smile at each other, and god forbid, to say hi to one another? This has got to be fixed. Continue reading

Vote Today, Shape Tomorrow


Voting is one of the most empowering components of living in a democracy. It provides you the opportunity to share your opinions and impact the future of our country.  Unfortunately, many take this privilege for granted. It seems as though many in our country believe their vote is futile and doesn’t mean much. Anyone who watched the 2000 Presidential Election results in Florida or the 2012 Republican Iowa caucus would likely disagree.  Despite the elements of our government that frustrate us, the fact is that voter absenteeism only furthers corruption. Voters must take action to change the culture of Washington. Little change will occur when disgruntled voters aren’t making their voices heard. The overwhelmingly lopsided victory of President Barack Obama in 2008 proves the power that voters have when they are frustrated and desire change. Hold your leaders accountable for their promises.

The blog prompt this week asked that we develop a way to improve the world in 60 seconds. In my opinion, a careful selection of who leads the United States can have a profound impact not only domestically but also internationally. That is why it is important to engage in the political process and understand who you are voting for.  Politicians can ultimately determine laws that protect or restrict personal freedoms and civil liberties. The President selects judges and justices who determine the legality of critical issues like civil rights, religion, and abortion. A President you vote for today may choose a judge that will determine social policy in the US for decades.

That being said, US politicians also impact other countries around the globe. These individuals make vital decisions with regards to foreign aid, defense, and trade. They determine who we will engage violently but also who we will support in peaceful operations. US foreign policy towards other countries can impact populations for years. This fact is evident in regions like Latin America. (See Guatemala)

So, learn about the candidates. Find a candidate, regardless of party, that falls in line with your personal beliefs. Then, go out and tell others about the election. Vote in every election (local, state or federal) to honor those who fought for this right. Don’t stop there. Start a campaign or movement knowing that the impacts of your efforts are limitless.

Laugh More, Trust More.


Laughter is good for the soul. It’s certainly a cliche, but it’s true. (And here… and here… and here too.) Laughter relaxes muscles, releases endorphins, boosts your immune system, improves blood flow, reduces blood pressure, and helps bond you to others. Think about the last time you really, truly laughed – for me, it was ten minutes ago, joking around with my roommates, who have been my best friends since freshman year. Didn’t you feel great afterwards?

Life is far too serious these days. We spend years trying so desperately to find “the right thing” to do, afraid of failing, trying so hard to succeed. We get caught up in this path that we think will ensure us success: work hard in high school, work harder in college, have the most impressive resume, get a job right away. And yet, statistically speaking, that will leave many of us unfulfilled. This list of the most common regrets on the deathbed says most of us will regret not living a life true to what we really wanted, will regret working so hard, will regret not being happier.

The most beautiful ship in the whole world... The pot of gold at the end of my rainbow!

You know, deep down, what will make you happy. Regardless of what my classmates are doing, I’m taking a few months to goof off, live in Australia for a year, and then run around Asia some more. I do this because I know that even if it’s not what the CDC recommends, it’s what I want. I know I’ll be truly, deeply happy. We have to trust ourselves more. The only way to be happy is to do what you really want, not necessarily what your parents want, not necessarily what your friends are doing. So lighten up. Laugh some more. Laugh a lot more. Get some perspective in your life! Know what really matters, and pursue that. You’ll be a lot happier, and the world will be a better place.

Finding Motivation to Sleep


Personal health needs to be at the forefront of what is important in life. Often people carry so much on their shoulders, trying to juggle what seems like a million things at once. There is barely enough time in the day to get things accomplished – let alone think of spending quality time on one’s self. This needs to change.

One thing we don’t get enough of is sleep. Sleep should not be considered just another thing on the “to do” list. It’s more than just having the dark circles under the eyes and the annoyance of constant yawning. You feel better when sleeping close to 8 hours a night because the benefits of getting adequate sleep are immense! A good night’s sleep affects your overall lifestyle: more stamina, ability to focus, increased life expectancy, decreased anxiety and increased memory. As the brain rejuvenates itself while it sleeps (busy reorganizing thoughts and memories, allowing you to dream in the REM cycle), it may result in more creativity as well. Sleep deprivation has been linked to fatigue, weight gain, inflammation, stress, slower reaction times, lower performance, poorer decision making, cancer and other diseases. Plus, who likes a cranky person?

Sleep isn’t something you can try to make up during weekends; sleep is essential for life. This choice to ensure your body gets the rest it needs will enable you to wake up well-rested and ready to seize the day – to learn, to serve your community, to change the world!

Sain Jordi’s Day (Diada de San Jordi)


As you may know, my father emigrated from Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain.  I was named for the patron saint of Catalunya, San Jordi (Saint George).

Today is one of my favorite celebrations from my second home- Barcelona.  April 23rd is “la diada de San Jordi.”  Traditionally, women receive a rose, and men a book.  But you can mix it up how you like these days.  Of course, this is especially apt as you have done your book posts!  The city is covered with street book stalls.  A whole city celebrating the love of the book!  Nothing could make me happier! Flowers, meh.

Here is a short (2 min) video from BCN.CAT, a public broadcaster, checking in with average folks.  You can hear mostly Catalan, a different language.  For example, you will hear “roses”= roses, “llibres”=books (the “ll” in Catalan has no English equivalent.  It is somewhere between “l” and “e”), “sempre”=always, “vermell”= red, “carrers”= streets.

Bon San Jordi!

It’s Simple.. VOLUNTEER!


Since I was little, I have always seen my mother volunteer for various organizations, whether it be running the book fair at my elementary, middle or high school, or stuffing envelops or chairing family nights at Gilda’s Club of Westchester. No matter how much she had on her plate, she always had the time to help others in need. Her dedication, selflessness and ability to enrich the lives of others are characteristics I truly admire, and if everyone could have a little bit of those qualities in them, the world would be a better place. Continue reading

What Can Travel Do For You?


In my opinion, the movie Motorcycle Diaries offers an important message to live by: “Deja que el mundo te cambie y podrás cambiar el mundo” (“Let the world change you, and you can change the world”).  Before we can create positive change for ourselves and for others, we first need to discover the world around us and be changed by our experience.  Continue reading

Childhood Obesity Epidemic


Childhood obesity is at an all-time high as about one-third of the United States children are considered obese. This growing rate is alarming as more and more children are having health problems such as diabetes, liver disease, and cardiovascular problems. These children are learning bad health habits at a young age that will carry over into their adulthood where they further increase the risk of health problems. In order to fix this epidemic, there has been involvement by the government, health institutions, and campaigns. While the government can create laws that regulate what children are exposed to at school, they cannot control their eating habits at home. Thus, the most productive way to change childhood obesity is to have good role models, especially the parents or guardians. Parents can control what they purchase at the store and what they prepare for their children. By constantly supplying children with healthy options, they keep obesity down and teach healthy eating habits for the future. It is also important for parents and guardians to encourage children to play outside and not sit around and watch TV or play video games all day. Technology has provided non-active entertainment for children, making it more difficult for children to be motivated to be active outside. Parents and guardians can also change this by not supplying children with lots of video games and by encouraging children to participate in activities with them.

Let Students Drink…Legally


The video posted above outlines the debate for lowering the drinking age in the US from 21 to 18.  College campuses are rampant with students drinking illegally – and all are at risk.  The number of alcohol related deaths has increased in recent years, and we have seen a crackdown on campuses regarding student safety.    Even on Bucknell, fraternities have been kicked off and put on probation because of drinking violations, among other things.  Stringent guidelines have been put in place at Bucknell to “register” parties, and yet these rules have backfired, as students have destroyed the downtown area known to Lewisburg locals as the “ghetto.”

Lowering the drinking age to 18 would make the act of drinking less of a taboo action for young people and allow them to be more knowledgeable about alcohol and its consequences by the time students left for college.  More experience and more acceptance of it at home would result in an increased knowledge about the dangers of alcohol.  There are certain drawbacks to the law, but the benefits far outweigh the costs as college campuses would be safer with more students understanding how to safely consume alcohol at a younger age.  Money would not be wasted on town/campus police patrolling students’ homes for parties and illegal drinking.  The current law of having to be 21 to drink is not effective, as we see those younger than 21 drink extremely frequently.  College wouldn’t be thought as a place to go to drink because many would be able to legally drink before attending.  A person can vote, sit on a jury, and go to war for their country at the age of 18.  Why can’t they have a beer?

Turning Student Debt Into Opportunity


A college education is expensive.  And necessary for many careers.

Many students, facing faster-than-inflation cost increases and sluggish growth in government loans, take on more and more private debt to finance their education.  The average debt per borrower is now over $25,000 across all types of institutions, up from $19,000 ten years ago.  65% of students who entered Bachelor’s level-granting schools in 2008 graduated with debt.

Those indebted students forgo many of the choices and benefits of a broad education due to an obsession with “will it pay off” thinking.

Meanwhile, too many graduating students focus only on jobs with the highest salary for them to pay off their debts rather than careers that they are passionate about or that we need more of.  For example, there are dire shortages of nurses and teachers.  Many young entrepreneurs are unable to start a business due to debt obligations.

Three problems: 1) excessive debt; 2) obsession with “jobs” while choosing college courses; 3) misallocation of human capital into society’s labor needs.

One solution: student debt repayment should be based on ability to pay instead of absolute amount.

Pay what you can, not what you owe.

How would it work?  All qualified college loans would be repaid using a sliding scale formula.  If you make less than a threshold, depending on your family size, you pay nothing.  Once you are above the threshold (maybe 150% of poverty level), then you pay 10-15% of your income to your debts with a hard cap of around 20%.  Currently, the Obama administration started this for federal grants.  However, the private, for-profit sector still dominates.  Pay what you can plans should cover ALL loans.   Whatever losses it incurs can be absorbed by the federal government.  The upside will be more people finishing college, better educational choices while in college, better job fit after graduation, and all the economic and social benefits of these improvements.

60 Second Idea to Change the World- the Last Post


There is a lot wrong with the world.  But there is nothing wrong with the world that cannot be fixed by what is right with the world (thanks Bill Clinton for idea).  I think the same mix is inside each of us.  Hopefully, your education and this class have given you the means and tools to find what is fixable and how to start fixing.

In that spirit, your last post is to think of a “60 second idea to improve the world.”  This is shamelessly borrowed form a BBC podcast I heard.

Please read your post and time it to sixty seconds!  These should be short, powerful, and convincing.

There will be a small prize for the winning idea as determined by the post’s rating with my opinion being the final tie-breaker.  You can see my last semester’s ideas on their blog.

Lewsiburg Terrorized


You may not have seen the paper…

BLOG INSTRUCTIONS

Blog 5 before session 6 What (interest) or Who (person) Inspires You? For this week’s prompt, the Blog Council wants you to examine how this class relates to your own interests. So, please write about how this class relates to some of your own intellectual or other learning interests. We are NOT interested in how it relates to a specific career goal. Plan B: same idea, but based on a person. See whole post for details.

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