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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

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.

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.

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.

You have such a dirty mind…


Okay, how many of you were a little freaked out when you first read the title of my blog? Don’t worry, this is a PG rated post.  After walking into the library (apparently it’s National Library week?) I found a bunch of books on the shelf having to do with libraries.  The first one I picked up was called “How Green Is My Library” —  and while this seemed like an interesting read, I wanted to find something a little more exciting.  I kept looking through the books on display in the front of the library and found one called “Dirty Minds: How our brains influence love, sex, and relationships” by Kayt Sukel.  This should be entertaining…

After flipping through the book a little more, I was right: it was entertaining. Sukel writes, in the inside cover of the book, “philosophers, theologians, artists, and boy bands have waxed poetic about the nature of love for centuries.  But what does the brain have to say about the way we carry our hearts?” This particular quote caught my attention because everyone once in a while I wonder why I, or other people, act a particular way in certain situations.  Especially ones that have to do with love.  The truth is, there is a lot more going on in our head than what we think.  In sixteen powerful chapters in the book, Sukel examines the “intricate dance between the brain and our environment” and attemps to explain why love can torture us one day and transform us the next.

Some of the chapters in “Dirty Minds” include: The Neuroscience of Love, The Chemicals Between Us, His and Her Brains, The Neurobiology of Attraction, Making Love Last, and The Greatest Love of All.  While those are only a few of the chapters included in the book, Sukel claims that after reading the entirety of the book, we will “never look at romance the same way again.” For a more in depth summary of the book, check out the video below of Sukel discussing the chemical effects love and sex have on our brains:

Kayte Sukel, “Dirty Minds”

I realize this book probably won’t be at the top of the reading list for guys, but after skimming some of the chapters, it definitely looks like a fun read.  Although my free time seems incredibily limited these days, I am nevertheless going to check out this book and hopefully read some of it this weekend.

Monday Mornings… And Other Alliterations


Voracious. That’s how I would describe my reading style. From the very beginnings of my lovely life, I have always loved to read. In fact, that’s how I skipped a grade – I was reading chapter books in kindergarten (a little ahead of the curve much?), and I began to split my time between kindergarten and first grade. Two years later, it was decided that I was precocious and apparently socially skilled enough (who knows where on earth they got that idea) and next thing you know, I missed out on the experience that was third grade.

To this day, reading is still one of my favorite activities. That’s all that I do when I’m home! One of my biggest regrets about school is how little time I have for non-academic readings. What a nerd, I know. But if I sat down with a book, I promise you I would get nothing done until I finished that sucker. So this week’s blog post was simultaneously exciting and annoying…. I got to look at fiction books! But…. I got to look at books I wanted to but knew I couldn’t read because otherwise I’d not do my work, fail my classes, and not graduate. Great.

So, this afternoon found me reluctantly heading towards the fiction section on the first floor. The first book to catch my eye was Monday Morning, written by Sanjay Gupta, MD. The cover is mostly black with a large white font, which made it stand out from the rest of the books with picturesque scenes of trees or lakes or other romantic sappy things. When I looked closer, I almost left it; I saw that it was written by a real doctor, who apparently is also the Chief Medical Correspondent to CNN. I’ll be honest, I want nothing to do with dry medical reports, especially if it’s all gonna be bad news. But then I saw the “a novel” line and I was instantly intrigued. A real doctor who is also a reporter who wrote fiction? Wait… what?

I glanced at the inside cover to find a synopsis which goes a little something like this: “Every time surgeons operate, they’re betting their skills are better than the brain tumor, the faulty heart valve, the fractured femur. Sometimes, they’re wrong. At Chelsea General, surgeons answer for bad outcomes at the Morbidity and Mortality conference, known as M & M. This extraordinary peek behind the curtain into what is considered the most secretive meeting in all of medicine is the back drop for the entire book. Continue reading

The Architecture of Happiness


It’s a nice book title isn’t it? The Architecture of Happiness is a book written by Alain de Botton. I decided to get a little creative with the blog prompt, and randomly picked a stack in the library to choose a book from. I made a few circles around different parts of the library, and eventually ended up on Lower Level 1 amongst the books on art.

Continue reading

Profit at the Bottom of the Ladder


For my white paper, I plan to focus on poverty in America with a specific lens on the working poor. Through examining statistics about the working poor and poverty in America in general, I hope to get a better understanding of what causes poverty. I want to examine the socioeconomic, demographic, and educational components that together are consistent among individuals who comprise the working poor. While I don’t necessarily expect to fully explain what causes poverty, I hope to gain a better understanding of the wide variety of factors which come into play.

This week we were asked to take a trip to the library to identify sources which would help us in our research for the White Paper. I found a book that was particular helpful with regards to my focus on the working poor.  Profit at the Bottom of the Ladder by Jody Heymann is a book which discusses the stories of businesses which have taken and alternative approach to business and employee treatment. Heymann examines twelve companies from nine countries with workforces which range from as small as 27 to over 100,000. These businesses are very different from one another and serve a diverse range of customers. Despite the significant differences between the businesses, each company has proven to do well financially, successfully implement a strategy that places emphasis on high quality working conditions for low-level employees, and has developed a wide range of other employee centered policies which have made them desirable places to work. Their financial successes have balanced the needs of various parties including owners, shareholders, and all employees of the firm. Some of the firms included are Costco, American Apparel, and Xerox.

Heymann thoroughly examines each example and makes the clear argument that it is beneficial for companies to invest in all employees at all levels. She also draws clear links to data to prove that this practice can be profitable for the companies, despite the investment. She utilizes specific references to prove that the rewards gained from the additional workforce investment outweigh the costs.  The section of the book which I read discussed the companies of American Apparel and Jenkins Brick. In this chapter, the values of incentive policies and appealing salary scales were noted. The explicit link between these types of policies and increases in employee motivation and productivity are made. Furthermore, the heightened lower-level salaries results in recruitment of the most dependable employees. This section of the book also described the case studies of Autoliv Australia and Isola. In these examples, policies involving flexible scheduling of time off and extended leave created a greater sense of loyalty amongst employees along with increased job satisfaction. Both companies determined that more generous policies surrounding sick leave and time to care for family was very important to their respective staffs. After the policies were implemented, the companies experienced lower turnover rates, fewer missed days of work, lower costs, and wrongful use of sick days. The conclusion was that such policies lead to greater employee loyalty and connection to the firm.

Now, you might be wondering how this book applies to my topic of poverty amongst the working poor. This topic is largely “Society” focused. In order to bring in “Government” and “Business” into the picture, I need to offer valuable suggestions to policy makers at the federal level in addition to upper level executives in business. This book directly addresses the “Business” piece. It offers effective solutions to companies which will result in more productivity. Meanwhile, the policies mentioned lead to a better quality of life for ALL employees, even those at the “bottom of the ladder.” Many of those individuals comprise the working poor in America. All in all it was a successful trip to the library!

A little digging


After searching the library database with key words such as “Japanese Whaling”, “Eco-terrorism” and “Sea Shepherd”, I found two hits for books.  The first book was “Sea Shepherd: My Fight for Whales and Seal” by Paul Watson (President of the Sea Shepherd Conservation group).  I found this book first and flipped through it, but it failed to provide much more than a narrative of his early experiences as a conservationist.  Although the information is interesting, I do not think it will be much use for my white paper.

Continue reading

Research is Invaluable


Having chosen childhood obesity as the topic for my white paper, I have had no trouble finding information as there is a wide variety of research and literature on the subject.  In the library, I was pressed for time, but I uncovered several books in the sciences and medicine stacks within a matter of minutes.  The title that I found most interesting was “Generation Extra Large: Rescuing Our Children from the Epidemic of Obesity”.  Given last week’s discussion regarding Generation We, I found the labeling of our same generation as “Extra Large” was worthy of comment. 

Nevertheless, the book that I actually chose to look at more in depth for this particular blog post was entitled “Obesity in Youth: Causes, Consequences, and Cures”.  I decided that this book might be the most helpful as it was the most recently published (2009) of the books I discovered in my less-than comprehensive search.  I assumed that this book may have more reliable data and statistics and therefore it would be more helpful than the others in contributing to my white paper. Continue reading

Blog Prompt…a visit to the library (post 10/12)


For the next blog, you will be required to take a trip to the library and pick up a book, flip through it, read some of its pages, ect.  (There is a floor plan of any floor available at the Reference Desk)  There are two options for the blog prompt.  Option one is more fun and option two is more useful for your final white paper.

POST IS DUE ASAP (Thursday night, April 12, Friday, April 13 morning).

Option 1:

Look through the books on level one of the library in either the exhibits (new books on display) or in the fiction section near the café seating area.  You can pick any book and read through part of it and tell us about it.  Why did you pick it?  Are there any aspects of it that relate to our class (this could be a stretch, so if not, that’s ok)?  What is the storyline?  …and so on…and maybe you’ll end up actually reading it.  And liking it!

Option 2:

Find the section of books in the stacks that relates to your white paper topic.  Flip through a couple books…maybe check one or two out (at the circulation desk).  Tell us about the information you learned from any book.

Successful Value Chain Management


Onslaught of Green

Consumers are finding it more and more challenging to differentiate goods and services that are advertised as environmentally friendly. According to a 2010 study by TerraChoice, an independent testing and certification organization, there are 73% more green products on the market today than in 2009.1They also revealed that roughly 95% of green products are being greenwashed to some degree (based on their seven sins of greenwashing).1 While this study focused on home and family products, the purchasing power of greenwashing is evident across many industries. Greenwashing can be defined as the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.2 Additionally, Wikipedia defines green washing as a term describing the deceptive use of green PR or green marketing in order to promote the perception that an organization’s policies or products are environmentally friendly.3,4 While most organizations do not outright greenwash, any exaggerated behavior is inappropriate: greenwashing is “an extremely serious matter…it is insidious, eroding consumer trust, contaminating the credibility of all sustainability-related marketing and hence inhibiting progress toward a sustainable economy,” stated in a report by Ogilvy & Mather, a huge advertising firm.5 The Federal Trade Commission does provide guidelines for environmental marketing claims, but these are not enforceable.6,7 It has been the responsibility of corporations to not jump on the green public image bandwagon, spend resources on environmentally sound practices, and inform the public about the truthful environmental impacts of buying and using their products.

Fundamentals

A helpful document for corporations is Ogilvy’s guide on brand management: “From Greenwash to Great: A Practical Guide to Great Green Marketing (without the Greenwash).” The guide presents a framework that speaks to an honest green story starting from inside the company, not from a marketing idea that is created and spun for consumers.8 A company that has started in an honest place is Levi Strauss & Co. The company was founded in San Francisco, California in 1853 and created the very first pair of blue jeans in 1873.9 The Levi’s brand has become one of the most widely recognized brands, positioned as the original and authentic jeans brand. It’s merchandising and marketing seeks to reflect the brand’s core attributes: original, definitive, honest, confident, and youthful. It is obvious the company is proud of its history and heritage: “People have worn our products during the seminal moments of social change over the past 150 years.”10 The company has a long lineage of corporate social responsibility: shorter work weeks were implemented to mitigate the massive lay-offs happening during the Great Depression; factories were racially integrated prior to the Civil Rights Act; was one of the first companies to take action in the fight against HIV/AIDS, as well as remaining committed to the pandemic; established a set of Global Sourcing and Operating Guidelines; and joined the Federal Labor Association (FLA) efforts to improve working conditions around the globe.11,12,13 According to Ogilvy’s brand management guide, environmental improvements and benefits need to be measurable, verified and significant to the product’s real footprint.14 Beyond their corporate social responsibility, Levi’s is considered a pioneer in sustainability, making efforts to minimize their environmental footprint in all levels of their operations. Continue reading

The Cost of Safety: Ethics and the Airline Industry


INTRODUCTION

Today, regional airline carriers account for more than half of all domestic flights in the United States, as major airlines have been outsourcing more of their flights.  According to the U.S. government Accountability Office, the regional airlines are responsible for the last six fatal commercial airline accidents (Dillingham).  Thus, their business operations, especially with respect to safety standards, implicate a variety of ethical dimensions and perspectives.

THE STORY OF THE REGIONAL CARRIERS IN THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY

Over the past thirty years, a major transformation has been occurring in the United States airline industry.  It began in the late 1970s when the U.S. government deregulated the airline industry, which inevitably led to increased competition among the major airlines to offer lower airfares (Cunningham, et al).   In response, the airline companies created the regional industry and developed a new business operating strategy called the hub and spoke model as a way of lowering costs.  Basically, the major airlines created central hubs in large cities or metropolitan areas and began relying on small regional carriers or commuters to feed their domestic network system (Wei & Yanji).  (See Appendix A) Continue reading

Blog Awards-Cited Reference Searches


The blog council met late Friday afternoon to discuss the blog awards for this week’s prompt on cited reference searches.  Although the blogs this week were not the most exciting to write, some did spark debate such as Alyssa’s stem cell post and Ben’s NBA post.

With prompt in mind, the blog council came up with six awards.

1. Best Use of Sources

2. Best Use of Class Topics

3. Best Use of Media

4. Most tenacious

5. The Luckiest SOB (Most Cited References)

6. Best Post

The winners of Best Use of Sources are Amanda and Derek.

You each found relevant articles and were the most effective at connecting the topics in the articles to topics in your paper.

The winner of Best Use of Class Topics is Jenna.

You looked back through a previous class case, Walmart, and used the case’s references as a starting point to search for more material.

The winner of Best Use of Media is Joey.

We felt you had the most relevant and entertaining media (in your case graph and cartoon)

The winner of Most Tenacious is Lauren M.

We felt you deserved an award for the amount of effort you put into translations.

The winner of The Luckiest SOB (Most Cited References) is Derek.

You found over 10,000 articles…which can be attributed to effective researching and some luck.  Anyhow, we felt you too deserved an award.

The winner of BEST Post is Danielle.

Congratulations Danielle!  We felt your blog on Stakeholder Pressure was well researched, well written and deserved the title of best post.

Why do the FAT CATS keep getting fatter?


One of the subjects that we have briefly touched on during our time in class is CEO compensation and income inequality. We read a brief by AG Lafley who argued that it is time for CEOs to take a stand. He acknowledges in the article that “amounts and forms” of CEO pay are “unacceptable and inappropriate.” He believes that failure to take action will ultimately result in governmental action. Lafley offers several suggestions. His four main points are “reward with equity, restore integrity to equity grants, eliminate post-employment provisions not pegged to performance, and implement more-detailed analyses.” Essentially, Lafley wants to increase CEO incentives to perform well, maintain CEO equity in the firm, remove forms of pay like automatic stock options, and value executive compensation appropriately, including all forms.

I was intrigued by this subject and wanted to research it more because it stands in stark contrast to what I am planning to write about for my final white paper. My first argument draft focused on poverty in America and its impact on children and minorities. I plan to combine this dialogue with a focus on the working poor as well. Eventually, I want to recommend suggestions to federal legislators to assist those who need the most help. Providing information in my paper about the wealthiest Americans would portray the alarming shift of wealth in our country by giving examples of those who are benefitting most.

I conducted some initial research through Google and discovered a Businessweek article which stated that in the 1980s, the CEO of a major corporation made 42 times the average hourly worker in the company. This number has skyrocketed to a remarkable 531 times the average hourly worker in recent years. Many questions have been raised about whether executive compensation is truly connected to the financial performance of their company.  Recent social movements like Occupy Wall Street have shown that the general sentiment is that it is highly unlikely that all or most of the growth of a company is due to just one person. No reputable studies have connected high levels of CEO compensation to company performance. Nevertheless, it continues to increase the gap between CEOs and those front line employees who are heavily relied on to deliver growth. It is predicted that the current pattern will result in less employee motivation.

I conducted a cited reference search and came across an article titled “Exorbitant CEO compensation: just reward or grand theft?” which was written by David O. Friedrichs in October 2008. This article thoroughly discusses CEO compensation and provides a significant volume of data to back up its claims. It makes the  argument that exorbitant CEO compensation should be considered a white collar criminal offense. It even goes so far as to evaluate what changes would be needed legally to criminalize excessive pay. While this article may represent an extreme side of the debate, it provides a good starting point for me as I begin to brainstorm federal legislative changes which need to be made in order to decrease the gap between executives and those who fall below the poverty line.

Whale Wars


I wasn’t really sure what to write about for my first argument for the white paper, but I was browsing the channels and came across the show Whale Wars on Animal Planet.  I’ve watched a couple episodes with my sister so I know the background of the show.  Basically a conservation organization called the Sea Shepherd travels by boat to the Antarctic waters in search of the Japanese whaling fleet.  Their goal is to disrupt the Japanese whaling fleet so that their whaling efforts are hindered to the point where they must return home.

Continue reading

Stem Cells: The Great Debate


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.

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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