Education is a big problem in the United States, but one of the major issues tends to fall short of receiving the attention it deserves. This problem is the teaching of foreign languages in K-12 education. As our businesses go global, gaining multinational business partners, Americans need to be able to communicate in order to be competitive in this market. Following 9/11, foreign language education also became important for our nation’s national defense. It is now more important than ever to learn the less-taught languages of Chinese and Arabic in order to protect our country and also maintain our competitive position in the global marketplace. These problems will be solved if we enforce more strict standards of education requirements of foreign languages in the early stages of education. Studies have shown that younger children are able to learn new languages faster and develop a more native accent than adults, and it is therefore going to be a crucial move by the individual state departments of education to enforce these standards in order to improve the future of our country.
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!
Yes, I’m obsessed with The Hunger Games, just like everyone else. I do not get hooked on books very easily, and I can honestly say that I was hooked after about ten pages of the first book. I read the first one on my flight out to Utah, bought the second one when I got into the airport, and read the second book on the ride back. Since then I have seen the movie twice and I am not ashamed to say that it has taken over much of my life.
The book I found relates The Hunger Games to many different philosophical theories. It is an example of how philosophy can be applied to the pop culture of today. As I flipped through a few of the pages, I saw that the author had made connections between specific scenes of the series with particular theories. The characters’ attitudes are related to certain philosophers because the authors believed that their actions were exemplary of these theories. For example, it says that Peeta’s attitude closely resembles the views of Kant, who believed that morality imposes obligations and duties on us that will guide us in our conduct. If you read the
If anyone has not read The Hunger Games, I simply cannot say enough that it is amazing. You will be hooked, instantly! And for anyone that is interested in philosophy I definitely recommend taking a look at this book because it is really interesting how the authors are able to make so many detailed connections between several philosophers and this specific book.
Stem Cells: The Basics
Stem cells form part of a class of cells that are able to differentiate into specialized cell types. There are three main sources for obtaining stem cells- adult cells, cord cells, and embryonic cells. Adult stem cells can be extracted from bone marrow, which is a rich source of stem cells, or from the peripheral system. Extraction from bone marrow may cause certain amounts of damage to the bone marrow. On the other hand, extraction from peripheral stem cells does not cause as much damage to the bones, but this process is much lengthier than bone marrow extraction. These stem cells can also be found in the brain, blood, skeletal muscles, skin, and liver, and they are able to self-renew indefinitely. These cells are seen as more useful than both umbilical cord and embryonic stem cells because there is always an exact DNA match (Medical News Today).
Stem cells extracted from the umbilical cord provide a very rich source of cells. These cells are extracted during pregnancy and are then stored in cryogenic cell banks as a type of insurance policy for future use for the newborn. These cells may also be used by the mother or father, and therefore can be very useful if the family has planned ahead. In comparison with adult cells and embryonic cells, the umbilical cord produces by far the richest source of stem cells, and they can be stored so that they are available in the future. Umbilical cord blood stem cell transplants are less prone to rejection than both bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cells because the cord cells have not yet developed the features that can be recognized and attacked by the recipient’s immune system (American Cancer Society). Scientists have also developed methods to increase the transferability and reduce the risk of providing the cells to a recipient who does not have an exact DNA match with the donor. Another benefit of the lack of developed immune cells contained in the umbilical cord blood reduces the risk that the transplanted cells will attack the recipient’s body (Genetic Science Learning Center). For all of these reasons, umbilical cord blood stem cells are a very potent resource for transplant therapies.
The last type of stem cells are the embryonic stem cells, which are extracted from a four or five day-old human embryo in the blastocyst phase of development. These embryos usually are extras from in vitro fertilization clinics where only one is actually implanted into the female. After the male’s sperm fertilizes a female’s egg to form the single zygote cell, a series of divisions occur. Before these cells are implanted in the uterus this bunch of cells is called the blastocyst. This mass consists of an inner cell mass and an outer cell mass. The outer cell mass will become a part of the placenta; whereas the inner cell mass will continue to differentiate to become the different structures of the adult organism. It is these inner cell masses, called totipotent cells, which are the source of embryonic stem cells because they are able to develop into any cell in the body. In the normal pregnancy the blastocyst stage continues and eventually implants the embryo in the uterus, which therefore becomes a fetus (See figure 1). When extracting embryonic stem cells, the blastocyst stage signals when to isolate the stem cells by placing the inner cell mass portion of the blastocyst into a culture dish. This controlled culture prohibits them from further differentiating but allows them to divide and replicate, continuing to double in number every two to three days (“Pros and Cons…”). Eventually these undifferentiated cells can be stimulated to create specialized cells.
When I originally applied to Bucknell it was through the biology program. I grew up with a mom that worked as a nurse and a dad that worked with pharmaceutical companies, so I always heard a lot about healthcare. One of the studies that my dad frequently talked about was stem cell research. He would always say how amazing it was, and how many lives it could save, but I did not know the extent of this or about the ethical dilemmas behind it until recently.
For anyone that does not know, stem cells are cells found in organisms that divide and differentiate into specialized cell types. They can self-renew to produce more stem cells as well. These stem cells can be extracted from bone marrow, lipid cells, or blood. By extracting these cells from the donor and inserting them into another person, scientists have found that they can act as a repair system for the body and fight diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Sounds great, right?
Stem cell research has raised ethical, legal, religious, and policy questions. The main reason is the derivation of embryonic stem cells from early human embryos and embryonic germ cells from aborted fetal tissues. Furthermore, the general concept of the potential of generating human organs is another debate.
The following video tells a true success story of stem cells:
On the ABI/INFORM search engine I found a report produced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Institute for Civil Society that performed a study to contribute to the public discussion related to stem cell research and its applications. The document, which is 51 pages long, is their study in which they propose recommendations for conducting stem cell research. This report was from 1999, but I figure the history of the debate will be important to take a look at.
One of the recommendations provided by the report was,
“Embryonic stem cells should be obtained from embryos remaining from infertility procedures after the embryo’s progenitors have made a decision that they do not wish to preserve them. This decision should be explicitly renewed prior to securing the progenitors’ consent to use the embryos in ES cell research.”
I thought this recommendation clearly added to the ethical debate surrounding stem cell research, because much of what is up for discussion is the actual process of gaining consent from the donors. This recommendation provides a basis for the process by which a couple should be addressed that is considering embryo donation, consent for research donation, or consent for destruction of the embryos. The report made it clear that only after the couple has definitely decided not to have the child that they should be approached a second time to discuss the use of embryos in ES cell research.
Obviously this is a huge ethical issue today, and there are many more details that I still do not know about stem cell research. I do think, however, that this report gave me the perfect understanding and potential solutions to the dilemma that I would need to write about this ethical dilemma.
There are two things you may not know about me: First, I would rather be outdoors than anywhere in the world. When I was sixteen I went on Outward Bound in Colorado, which is a program where you live in the mountains for three weeks and backpack. Now, that was REAL camping! Before doing this program I had no idea how much I truly loved being outside in the fresh air. Second, I prefer cold weather over warm weather. In fact, I kept my window fan in all winter long here at Bucknell. This is probably because I grew up going on summer vacations to Maine and winter vacations skiing in Vermont. Case in point, I love the cold.
These are only two reasons why I have always wanted to go to Alaska. Other reasons are that my grandparents made a tradition out of going on Alaskan cruises, and their pictures always looked amazing. Another is that I feel like I have seen so many amazing sites outside of the U.S., but I still have not traveled our country as much as I want to. I honestly do not know what could be cooler than boating alongside glaciers, which is one of the main tourist attractions. On these charters the tourists usually see bears, sea-lions, and probably the one thing I have always been mesmerized by- whales. I remember when my parents first tried to describe to me how big a whale was and I simply could not believe that those animals on the television screen could be that enormous. Anyways, it has become my dream to go to Alaska on a cruise through the glaciers.
The Think Tank I found to be most relevant and useful is the Harvard Kennedy School Library, which I found through On Think Tanks. On this Think Tank I found a document from 1993 titled “Box 1-G Climate Change in Alaska: A Special Case”. I started reading through it and it provided some statistics that I found to be interesting, and even added to my reasoning for wanting to visit Alaska. According to the document, “68 percent of Alaska’s land base is protected in wilderness areas, National Wildlife Refuges, National Forests…” I found this surprising, but at the same time in looking back at what I picture being in Alaska, it really is just amazing views and endless mountain ranges.
It was also interesting to learn about the melting of sea ice in Alaska. Global warming is a huge issue and I can’t help but get upset when I see those commercials of the polar bears trying to grab on to the ice that breaks- such a tear jerker! Reading about the issue occurring in a place where not only is the environment important, but such a large portion of their inhabitants’ work life is dependent upon it (23 percent employed by seafood industry) makes the issue seem even more severe. The article then goes into the potential losers of this global effect and potential winners. One particular winner I found intriguing was that the oil and gas industry may benefit from global warming because if the sea ice is reduced, less expensive offshore structures could be used and the costs of marine transportation would decrease as well. I also found it interesting that it said some species, in particular, polar bears, may benefit because of increased productivity in vegetation. I would have thought they would be the species that would only be negatively affected, especially because of all of the media made surrounding polar bears.
This Think Tank seemed to have very thorough information, and the articles I looked at were well-written and organized in such a way that it was not necessary to read every sentence. For this reason I think this Think Tank could be very useful since many of the articles are in outline form, which makes it easier to find what you are looking for. There were many options to choose from when I searched “Alaska”, so it was nice to have a very large selection. The information did seem comprehensive, and I learned some new things about my ideal destination!
If you’ve never seen the show Curb Your Enthusiasm before, you are missing out. This show stars Larry David, creator of Seinfeld, who plays himself in the most ridiculous situations. Larry always seems to find himself in some sort of predicament and attempts to talk his way out of it. I chose what I think is one of the funniest episodes out of all of the nine seasons, “The Weatherman” to talk about for the blog; Some issues that pop up are Larry’s plaque, the idea of rolling up a sleeve and ruining the elasticity of a shirt, and peeing sitting down and falling in the toilet (this is why he walks with a cane in the video clip). Of all the episodes, one of the most ridiculous theories he comes up with is that the weatherman predicts rain to get everyone off the golf course, in order to clear it for himself. You can watch a short clip of the episode here:
The issue at hand is that Larry and his friend Jeff planned on going golfing, but Jeff cancels because of the weatherman’s report about thunderstorms. When Larry wakes up he sees that it is actually a beautiful day outside, and concludes that the weatherman predicted rain on purpose. Larry goes to the golf course and finds the weatherman playing golf, where Larry claims, “There is a jet stream of bullshit coming out of your mouth!”
While I realize that this is a very particular scenario in a comedic TV show, I think the general issue can be related to our class. This is a question of whether the weatherman’s report was honest, or if he deceived the public by giving a false report in order to gain something for himself. Is it ethical either way? I believe this raises the issue the rarity of honest business practices today.
The best way that I have been able to contextualize the issues of identity and race in America is to relate them to the problems other countries have. For my blog, I am going to share a few personal experiences from studying abroad and then describe how they made me think about American society and the problems we have here. The first experiences are the conversations I participated in with my Spanish family about race, and the second experience is an identity/crime issue.
If you read my last blog post, you know that I lived with a host family while living in Granada. My family was very curious about everything, from my religion to my thoughts about gay marriage and politics. Before this experience I had no idea about the problems other countries had about race. I can tell you now that America is certainly not the only country with issues. I remember watching TV with my Senora one day and there was a story on about an interracial couple facing some sort of legal issue. My Senora became enraged, and started telling me about these two people she knew that used to date, and one was “so white” and the other was “so black”. She made it seem like the whole city knew about this scandal, and that it was seen in such an awful way. The way she expressed herself with no filter made me think that this was typical chit-chat in Spain, and talking to her about this issue really made me realize how much America has grown since slavery. I believe concepts like interracial relationships will become more and more accepted as time goes by. I told her that in America there are undoubtedly people against interracial relationships, but that there has been progress in its acceptance among society. It didn’t seem like there had been much progress in Spain.
Now, onto identity issues. I do not know much about law, but I was shocked at the lack of legal importance in Spain. One night when I was out in Granada, I was walking home through the Albaicin (which is the old quarters of the town) and a man went after my friend and tried to rob her. I went back to help and was pushed over in the man’s attempt to grab my purse. We got away fine because a group of guys came down the hill and yelled at him to get away, but the memory still frightens me. I think this can be related to an identity/gender issue, because if it were men that were walking along, they would not have been attacked (according to my host family). When I told them about this experience they said that there really was nothing that could be done, and that filing a police report would be pointless. From this experience, I began thinking about the differences between Spain and America. This event really surprised me, because I believe that in America it would not be taken so lightly. I know that there are differing ideas about identity between countries, but the complete what seemed like lack of respect for women was appalling to me because everyone talked about it like it was just something that usually happens. In fact, when I told my host family (all women), they fed me numerous stories of their own about getting robbed, and practically blamed it on themselves. I think in the America there is still a problem of women being seen as prey and not as respected as men, but I do believe that our legal system is helping to combat this issue. I am certain that identity and gender roles have evolved to different extents in different countries, and that our country is one of the most developed. But has it developed enough? Should we be proud of our development in relation to many European countries, or is this not an accurate way of measuring right and wrong?
One thing you may not know about me is my passion for the Spanish language. I have taken Spanish courses since I was in eighth grade, and it is my second major here at Bucknell. Last spring I studied abroad in Granada, Spain, one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. One of the things that attracted me to the Spanish language was how widely used it is, especially in the United States. In fact, Spanish is the second most used language in the U.S, and there are more Spanish speakers in the U.S. then there are speakers of Chinese, French, German, and Italian combined. I always thought that knowing a second language would be helpful, and I even considered learning Chinese (I’m pretty sure manicurists talk about me the whole time I get my nails done- how cool would it be to know what they are saying?)
(This picture shows the percentage of people in each of the states that speak Spanish)
Going abroad was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I have never felt so insignificant as I did when going to all of those amazing cities of cultural and historical importance. It is crazy to think about all of the different cultures there are in the world and how they are so drastically different from one another. Take Granada, for example. My host sister went to work at 9 am every morning and returned at 3 pm for lunch (the biggest meal of the day) and a siesta (nap) right afterwards. This is not to say that every working person has this same luxury, but I found it fascinating how slow the pace was in relation to the morning “rush hour” here in the U.S. It often bothered me how slow everything was there, but I learned that it is this way because Spanish people actually take the time to appreciate every encounter they have much more so than we do in the U.S.
(La hermosa Alhambra de Granada)
Phillips Van Heusen Corporation, originally formed in 1881, has undergone recent expansion and many changes in the past couple of years. It purchased Calvin Klein in 2003 and Tommy Hilfiger in 2010 for approximately $3 billion. Among the brands under the PVH umbrella are Izod, Van Heusen, Bass, and Arrow. Needless to say, the company is doing very well.
In 2009, one of PVH’s top bread winners, Calvin Klein, was heavily scrutinized because of a billboard marketing campaign that some believed promoted foursomes, and was too risqué to be shown for all people living in SOHO, NYC. One onlooker commented, “It’s just not age appropriate for kids who haven’t even kissed a boy to be introduced to sophisticated, mature behavior,” an observer told ABCNews.com. “They are not emotionally ready to deal with that yet.” The poster children for the brand are Mark Wahlberg, who modeled male underwear, and Brooke Shields. Therefore, it should not be surprising that CRK advertisers would put out a campaign like this, as the brand has always been about being modern lifestyle and self expression. Calvin Klein representatives have responded in saying its “intention was to create a very sexy campaign that speaks to our targeted demographic.”
After complaints made by neighbors of the NYC area, Klein was forced to remove the billboard, and replaced it with one of a woman in a string bikini. The company is living proof that “sex sells”. PVH is far from being the only company that produces scandalous advertisements, and the pages of magazines we flip through are a constant reminder of modern sentiment towards sexuality. PVH is such a huge company, with $5.6 billion revenue in the second quarter of 2011, and the company has had to publicly document its code of ethics, discrimination practices, and corporate governance procedures. I interned at Calvin Klein this past summer, and learned about all of the codes of ethics and standards that PVH sets for the employees. I was pretty surprised when I saw the advertisement they had created in 2009, but I believe many of the elements pictured in that billboard remain crucial to their marketing campaign. You can see the lengthy amount of documents detailing the responsibilities of the corporation and individuals on their website!
“Just as we have grown morbidly obese on sugar, fat, and flour—so, too, have we become gluttons for texts, instant messages, emails, RSS feeds, downloads, videos, status updates, and tweets.”
-The Information Diet: A Case For Conscious Consumption
Social media, aside from being a globally-used source of entertainment, has evolved into a crucial source of information and knowledge. While some people may think of Facebook and Twitter as merely a connection to friends and family, I think it has become an undeniable and unique source of information. Knowledge is spread over the internet and television across the globe at a speed that is often difficult to comprehend, and its power is indisputable.
But as we know, with power comes responsibility. Critics of this new wave of information believe that it is often challenging to distinguish between quality and inferior information. A case study done by three undergraduate students focused on the scale of trust that internet users found in the information provided by several social media websites. Specific sites included Wikipedia, Social Networking sites, Yahoo! Answers, and YouTube. They surveyed nearly 500 undergraduates to collect data on the level of quality information these websites displayed (on a 4 point scale, 4 being the most trusted information). The most widely trusted information was with user review websites. We would therefore trust the information given by someone who recently tried out a new restaurant (3.28-3.62) more so than we would trust the information given by social networking sites (2.76-2.9). From this article alone it is evident that as receivers of this information we are constantly weeding out unreliable information and that people maintain different views on what information is legitimate and what is not.
The blog that I read included an excerpt from the book, The Information Diet: A Case For Conscious Consumption, by Clay Johnson. The main argument was that we can make the analogy between consuming food and consuming information, as we must consciously decide how much and which types of information we are taking in. The author notes that it is now quite obvious that just as we as a society have a problem with the over-consumption of food, the new speed of information sharing has widely distributed junk information. It is now our social responsibility to create a healthy balance of information in our lives. I found this blog to be really interesting because of the specific analogies made, such as our constant need to be texting, tweeting, and posting perhaps useless information. I think it is pretty crazy that the average human spends 11 of the 24 hours a day consuming information, when much of this information may not be as important as we think it is.
The video below illustrates the books main concepts. Check it out!
The new wave of fast-paced technology has allowed more information to be shared publicly. Blogging, brought on by this new culture of innovation, has become increasingly popular. Bloggers write about many different issues, from politics to fashion, and may allow others to comment on their posts in order to foster a sense of community and the spread of information globally. While some people see blogging as a useful tool, others view it as taking away from the way they were taught to write, and a mere means of providing opinions rather than facts.
Supporters of blogging say that it is a powerful tool to express an idea and receive feedback from many different people with varying backgrounds. At the Institute St. Joseph, the Principal calls blogging “a virtual extension of the classroom”.Blogging has been used for educational purposes, such as teachers posting assignments, receiving assignments, and responding. Also, teachers are able to open the realm of communication further since members of the community can react to current issues that may be discussed in class. Therefore, students are able to learn how to express themselves through writing and can also learn more through their conversations with members of the community.
A quote from the movie Contagion that struck me is, “Blogging is not writing, it’s just graffiti with punctuation.” I remember this from the movie because it made me think about what kind of impact the new wave of blogging may have on the development of writing skills and education. Indeed, critics of blogging believe that it is not real writing, it is teaching kids to write poorly, and it provides little insight. While I believe there are people out there who do not write blogs as eloquently as others, I believe the majority of people who really spend the time blogging are doing it well, and for a good cause.
I learned through my research that many people believe bloggers began receiving recognition only after September 11th occurred. News casters reviewed many blogs during this time to gain more information and have access to video recordings that they otherwise would not have found. Commentator Catherine Seipp recalls, “But after September 11, a slew of new or refocused media junkie/political sites reshaped the entire Internet media landscape. Blog now refers to a Web journal that comments on the news—often by criticizing the media and usually in rudely clever tones—with links to stories that back up the commentary with evidence.” I thought it was really interesting that this tragedy brought so many people together in this way, and was a huge contributor to the development of blogging.