November 24, 2008

Eating local

As time goes by, ways of living, and working, and providing for basic needs are modified to adapt to the technological advancements of the day. As technology has advanced, methods of acquiring necessities such as food are revolutionized as well. One such instance in which this is apparent is through the use of food shipping. Prior to the modernization of farming and transportation, food had to be grown, for the most part locally- people were raised eating local food and that is what they grew up to feed their own families as well. It wasn’t until much later did farming begin to be revolutionized to adapt to the demand of the population and improve productivity, and shipping processes were used to transport food from one area of the globe to be sold in markets in another. The modernization of farming has supplied people around the world with exotic foods from faraway places, and has made the economy all the more strong.
However, while the process of growing food in areas that they develop most prominently and shipping it to different regions to be sold was once a revolutionary concept and economic staple, it has recently become the object of conviction by many activists and environmentalists. The gasses and waste products emitted by the vessels of transportation necessary for the process of food transport are seen as a threat to the ozone layer, and thusly contributors to global warming. Although transport by boat or ship is a slower process, more food can be transported by this method and less gasses are emitted into the atmosphere than those coming from air transport. Regardless, activists and environmentalists insist that the answer is localized food consumption. Eating local eliminates the need for food transport entirely.
Although this is the case, eating local does not simply eliminate food transport without a cost. Perhaps there is less pollution emitted by airplanes and ships as they would have come from the mobilization of internationally grown food products, however it will not eliminate waste from such forms of transportation altogether. As long as people need to get from one place to another, at least until an alternate, reliable fuel source is discovered or developed, there will be waste products released into the atmosphere by vehicles. Simply stopping the need for food transportation will not stop the need for transportation of all other sorts, and therefore is not a simple fix for global warming. Perhaps it is a step in the right direction from the point of view of environmental activists, but much more would need to follow in step for this to be a truly effective movement.
Not only are there other drives for transportation that would need to be considered before any real steps can be taken towards preventing global warming beyond that of food transport, but other food development issues arise as well. Producing foods locally often requires specialized processes and equipment that in themselves can emit just as much greenhouse gasses as would have been released during the transfer process. Not to mention that it is much more productive to grow plants in regions that they are most prosperous. Environmentally, the idea of eliminating food transport as means of preventing global warming leaves much to be desired, and its de-modernization of farming and transportation would pose as a technological step backwards.


The N-word has been used for decades, and always brings some controversy or discussion with it. Using the N-word usually comes with a price, and depending on what race you are, the price you pay is very different. Raquel Cepeda discusses the rising use of the N-word among Latinos of the hip hop generation.

Hip hop artists, members of a league traditionally and mostly inhabited by black people, have been using the N-word in their recordings since the beginning. Latinos have been gaining ground in the hip hop industry, with artists like Fat Joe, Immortal Technique, and Big Pun all using the N-word. Now the word can be heard on any street in the Latin areas of New York City. Questions arise about who is allowed to use the word, who is black, white, Latino? What does the word mean: insult, joke, or as Fat Joe would call it, term of endearment?

Continue reading "N-word." »

So I be Written in the Book of Love

During the November election proposition eight, rescinding the vote on same sex marriage, was passed. In the special edition by Keith Olbermann he adamantly explains why the passage of this proposition is “horrible, just horrible.? Furthermore, he states that this is not “a question of right or wrong, gay or straight, it is a question of love.? This is not a position defending whether same sex marriage should be allowed or not, but more a position on whether a person wants to take away another’s right to love unconditionally.

The special edition news feed by Olbermann was well put together. Olbermann conveyed a realistic message with real statistics. His discussion overall intrigued me because this was the first time I had heard the discussion about same sex marriage put on a pedestal about love, not right or wrong. My thoughts on same sex marriage have always been in favor. The thought of discrimination against a certain group of people by taking their rights away, to me, is uncalled for. By posing this as a question of love, I am even more steadfast in my feeling that same sex marriage should be legalized across the United States.

It is unfair that a person can have a view of something, like same sex marriage, to the point where they will vote against the rights of that person to show their expression of love for another. Olbermann stated it best when he said “all you need to do now is stand and let the little ember of love meet it’s own fate, you don’t have to help it, you don’t have to applaud it, you don’t have to fight for it, just don’t put it out.? Because some people don’t feel that same sex marriage is appropriate, or the fact that it is against how they feel, they have no right to say that others should not be granted the same right to marriage as they themselves. Love is the same wherever a person goes. Whoever love is between, it is still the same love that a man and woman share, the same love a man and man share, the same love two women share, love of a couple.

Another statistic that struck me as interesting is the fact that only fifty percent of all marriages will survive no matter how hard they try. The excitement that those who cannot get married get from the thought of having a fifty percent marriage compared to that of those who are just excited to know that they can get married strikes me as an excellent example. Why strip someone of their undeniable right to love who they want to, and express that love just like we have the right to do. Even if there is only a fifty percent chance that a gay persons relationship may survive, I’m sure they would snatch that up. Furthermore, I’m sure if they had a marriage that had a twenty percent chance of lasting, it would excite them just the same.

The love that God has for his children is considered an agápe. Agápe means unconditional love. Without conditions God will always love us. Love is something that without asking for forgiveness God will give to each and every one of us. So why must we stop others from loving who they want. We are going against our own book by saying that same sex marriage is wrong because of what a book says, because no matter what book from what God you read, I am sure that it states that “your neighbor shall be treated like yourself,? and that you should “love one another.? Do not take away these undeniable rights that God has set forth for us. These are not rights that are in our constitution or rights that are stated somewhere, they are rights that each and every living person has due to life.

Same sex marriage should be allowed. Not because I believe that it is unlawful by our constitution, but because this goes against all that every person on this earth stands for. Clarence Darrow defended young men in a murder case, pledging for their life because of the unconditional love we shall have for people. He didn’t necessarily agree with what the boys did; yet he didn’t think that their lives should end because of it. The boys had the right to love, as do every one of us. In an old parable by Omar Khayyam he states the following: “So I be written in the book of love, I don’t care about that book above, erase my name or write it as you will, so I be written in the book of love.? Simply, love overrides anything, including thoughts of right or wrong.

The "N" Word Controvery

The “N? word controversy is one that has no easy answer to it, to sound cliché and for lack of a better way to state the difficult of this discussion. The word started as a derogatory term to beat down the morale and mental health of those of African American who were enslaved in the Americas and other places in the world. Since then it has evolved through time into a word that is used to refer to a person that you are close to or have a well developed relationship with in African American culture. The controversy arose when it was introduced into pop culture and other ethnicities started finding the word okay to use without any knowledge of the repercussions.
For me this is a controversy that I can relate to and I have experienced as I am sure there are many other people who can. For seven years of my life I lived in almost exclusively black neighborhoods and most of my friends were African American. Can you guess how I felt about that as a kid? I didn’t care for me it was no different than any other place I had lived, there was people, there was houses, and there was nothing different from any place to another except the dialects changed from region to region. In this case the “N? word was used on occasion by people I knew and it was even directed at me by some friends that I had because that was just the way it was. Men used to talk to me like I was any other kid, but when that word came out one time they had a talk with me about how I should be discrete about whom I say it too, when, and where. They told me that it wasn’t a word I should use in any instance, but could get away with it with those that I knew were my best friends and saw it as a, well a form of endearment I guess.
I think the word should be eliminated from all languages in time, but right now no one can take that away from African American culture but those that belong to that culture because the pain from indecencies suffered and still suffered are still fresh and festering. This discussion isn’t going to end until there is a balance to be reached like there was talk of on the video clip and the pendulum will continue to swing, but it’s hard to say how these things really should be handled. For now as all I can say is that it truly does need to be removed from the media and pop culture or at the least an understanding driven into the hearts of those that would considering using that word without knowing how the word would be received by those that would hear it from certain lips. The word has no place in the public eyes or ears it is a word that is used by a culture to remind themselves of what they have been through together and to hopefully unify to struggle through till a balance of living is reached. The word though still is used in ways that it should not be in all cultures be it black or another. Because when it is used in anger there is only way for it to be received and that usage can only tear open old wounds to bleed anew. This is a challenge, a demographic and a linguistic challenge that society has never really had to come to grips with on such a scale, but it does need to be handled. The problem doesn’t end with outside cultures cease of using the word as that can clearly be seen. For the problem to finally come to a resolution it would seem that hate would have to be stricken from the hearts that fight to separate races. This discussion could go on forever and the things I have talked about don’t even scratch the surface, but are about as far as I can delve without embarrassing myself to a degree of shame.

November 23, 2008

Shipping Costs

New focus has been given, in England on the environmental aspects of growing food. Many environmental activists have begun a campaign to reduce the distance the food at supermarkets travel before sale. My studies have refuted the causes for the local foods movement. With new theories about greenhouse gas production from the farm industry being developed, programs are developed to reduce the environmental effects.

Global warming has brought focus onto all areas of countries' economies. With the food prices fluctuating in all western countries, attention has been diverted to the affects farming has had not global warming. One of the areas under attack it the shipping of foods from other countries. The shipping of foods from thousands of miles away causes significant greenhouse gases to be emitted, especially from air transport. A new food rating scale was invented to address the number of miles the food had traveled before reaching the store. In this was many local activists could choose to buy only local foods which created less gas from transport than other foods. Local foods also support many people in the local economies and make England less dependent on others for certain types of food. The new rating system led to a new craze of growing locally to minimize outside transportation of foods.

This trend of local foods has prompted many studies to be conducted on the environmental benefits of growing locally. However, the resulting information from the studies contradicts theory of environmental benefit from growing locally. One such study showed that food transportation only accounted for one percent of the greenhouse gas emissions of the country. This was far less gas production than if England grew all the foods locally due to the necessity of greenhouses to grow the foods year round. Other ways that make it advantageous to grow certain foods in other areas of the world are that plants grow more easily in certain areas due to soil and climate differences. An example of this advantageous growth is that it would cost nearly four times as much energy to grow bananas in England as it would be in Costa Rica, which makes the much smaller shipping cost more logical. Food miles do not include the increases gas production from growing the food in an unyielding climate.

Another critical aspect in food production is the economic repercussions of growing food locally. One of the rules of economics is that whatever a country can produce most efficiently is what they should produce. The best example for this relationship is the production possibilities cure which demonstrates the best ways for each country to produce goods. This makes sure that the maximum output is reached and laborers and wasted in producing less efficient goods. Without maximum efficiency capital is lost in the economy.

Global warming is one of the most threatening situations of the twenty-first century. This makes our reduction of greenhouse gases very important in order to secure the future of the next generation. However, flight miles of food cause much more greenhouse gases to be releases due to farming in harsh environments for certain plants. The drastic differences in energy costs to produce the food make it logical to ship food in and not to grow the food locally. The monetary benefits also support the practice of shipping food from other countries. Due to the principals of economics the only way we can maximize our resources is by making the crops that grow favorably in our country and other countries growing the crops the grow well in their climate. Therefore the stickers indicating the number of travel miles is a very poor estimate on the amount of greenhouse gases that were used to produce the food and should be removed in order to eliminate confusion by the consumer.

Instead of using stickers a consumer could reduce greenhouse gas production by buying foods that are in season. During a crops season is the time in which energy costs to produce it are at the lowest. Another way to reduce gases would be to preserve your own food to reduce refrigeration costs for your food.

The new information on global warming has lead to a focus on the contributions each industry gives to the output of greenhouse gases. The food industries shipping costs have lead to a buy local policy in England. This new view on foods has lead to an increase in greenhouse input due to the energy required to grow certain foods locally. The stickers should be removed on the grounds that the information they provide is an inexact estimate on the gas actually used to produce the food.

Local Food Production and Environmentalism

“The Food Miles Mistake? by Ronald Bailey is an enlightening look into the world of organic and local food production. There were many ideas that were brought to my mind; predominantly those of food production in greenhouses (in unsuitable climates), as well as facts regarding the environmental impact of different types of local food production. However, this report is extremely biased on some points. It fails to uncover points in this debate about the economic impact of local and non-local food production, and remains focused on the environmental aspect.

Bailey attempts to emphasize the importance of growing agricultural commodities in appropriate climates, “Kenyan cut rose growers emit 6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per 12,000 roses compared to the 35 tons of carbon dioxide emitted by their Dutch competitors. Kenyan roses grow in sunny fields whereas Dutch roses grow in heated greenhouses.? At the same time, Bailey does not recognize the possibility that although those rose fields in Kenya are more environmentally productive than the Dutch fields, they may be less economically productive. The Kenyan rose farms may be on land that could be arable for more locally relevant food crops, in order to help combat the food shortages in areas of Africa. The production of the roses in Kenya for export, may directly impact the ensuing food crises in that area.

Continue reading "Local Food Production and Environmentalism" »

November 20, 2008

What is up my homiee, my boy, my skiddly dee....

The N-word has been around for a long time. I even saw the word used a bunch in the You Have Seen Their Faces book that we read in class. At first it was used to name African-Americans. Now it has all types of uses from nicknames, pronouns, and words of endearment. The point is people use it way to frequently and way out of context. It is almost like a contest to see how many times they can say the N-word in a sentence to one another. The people that have been labeled as using it the most were the gangsters. Now according to Raquel Cepeda, who wrote an article on the N-word, that hip-hop Latinos are using it. She asks the question, do they have the right to say this word to each other?

Continue reading "What is up my homiee, my boy, my skiddly dee...." »

Pet Cloning

One new thing that is become a topic of debate is the use of cloning to allow people to have the same pet over and over again. The article talks about a man who is walking dogs and is talking to a woman and he tells her they are clones. She thinks the man I joking. The three puppies were created in a commercial animal laboratory in Korea. They were created from tissue that was collected in the 1990’s. These dogs were the end result of a 10 year project costing around $25 million. This makes them the most expensive pets in the world. Hawthorne is offering the opportunity for five pet owners to get their pets cloned. The pet owners who wished to do so had to by their way into the cloning. The opening bid started at $100,000 and they went for $140,000 to $170,000.
The idea of changing pets or forming them to the way we want is not a new idea. This has been going on for the last 15,000 years. The reason why dogs are so loved and easily changed is because of their malleability. If it was not so easy to change them they would still be running around in the wild as wolves. Cloning is the next step in a process that is going on since the late Paleolithic era. This allows pet owners new possibilities. If you have a pet and you really like it you can go to a breeder and get very similar genetics but if you neutered your dog this is not possible. This is where cloning steps in and offers a new option to those pet owners.
One reason people are looking into this idea is the varieties of mixed breeds. There are so many variations of breeds and if someone finds a combination that they like and they want to keep it cloning is an option for them to be able to keep having dog of that variation. I know many people where they had bought a mixed mutt and they wish they could get a dog just like it again and they tried finding that variation again but just couldn’t find one.
Hawthorne says that cloning is not reincarnation, but its more than just similar markings. He thought that his first clone would just be all about looks and maybe someday behavioral similarities. Hawthorne said that “it’s a much more visceral experience than that-the feel, the smell. When they first handed me Mira in Korea, you could see the look of genuine astonishment on my face.?(1). Cloning is one way to make people happy and increase their happiness in their life.
I currently have mixed feelings about this new technology. I feel that it is a good thing for people to be able to be happy. If people are willing to pay the big price tag to be happy that is their choice. The only thing that worries is the number of dogs it takes to make just one clone. They have to use multiple dogs for each step in the process. This is causing a lot of debate amongst the people are who are really worried about animal rights. I feel that if they allow cloning to continue they should put strong regulations on what they can and cannot do. Also they should regulate how the dogs are treated.
On the other hand I feel that we do not need to breed more cats and dogs. The U.S. is currently over populated with pets. Everyday there are more than 50,000 puppies and kittens born each day. For every pet that has a home there are four companion animals that are homeless, neglected, or abused. Animal shelters are over flooded with pets and are having to put them down to make room. 30 to 60 percent of America’s animal shelters have to put animals down each year; this is roughly 4 to 6 million animals (2). I know that this service will make many people happy, but it will only be the rich people who can afford it. The average Joe blow will not be able to afford to clone his dog fluffy. Unless they get they get new technology to lower the cost of doing this cloning. Eventually there will be common practices all over the United States and the world offering this service to the average person but until then it will be for only those who have the money to spend on a clone. The only issue that I feel will be the biggest topic of debate over this is the ethical rights to do this and the amount of animals it takes to make one clone.

November 19, 2008

The N-Word

I thought that this was a very interesting discussion about the use of the word nigger in today’s society. The reason why the discussion is so interesting, is because the subject is difficult and makes many people uncomfortable. Even in writing this position statement, I feel uncomfortable putting the word on the paper, because of that feeling that I might be offending some body. What I really liked about this discussion on The View was that both sides of the discussion really tried to dig to the core of the problem. I thought that both Whoopi Goldberg and Elizabeth Hassleback made good points, however I thought that they both missed some key elements of the discussion.
Elizabeth Hassleback was the lady who argued that nigger should not be used by anyone, even black people themselves. Her point was that the use of this word brings back bad memories and thoughts, and that it obstructs the goal of having a more equal society. I think that this is a great point she is getting to, but her presentation and view are a little naïve. It is probably very easy for Elizabeth Hassleback not to use the word nigger. She even said her self that she grew up in a traditional Polish and Italian family. This word was probably never used in her family and she has probably always seen it as a word that cannot be said. That is why she has such a one sided in her approach to the word.
I think that many white people grow up with the same understanding of the word nigger as Elizabeth Hassleback. We learn at a fairly early age that this is a bad word and should never be used, period. That is why sometimes, we become confused when we hear it used when black people are talking with or about each other. I think that we have to understand that for the most part we have grown up differently then many people of color. Even if we are on the same economic level, they still will have different experiences then us, as all families of any do. My philosophy from a white person’s perspective is that I will never use the word publically or privately. When I hear it used amongst African Americans, it does not bother me in any way. I understand that it comes from a totally different context, and it is not my responsibility or right to tell them what they can or cannot say.

Whoopi Goldberg was the woman who made the best points on the side, that African Americans should be able to use the word nigger as they like. Her point behind this being that it was once a word of hate that African Americans now use almost as a term of endearment. Now obviously I am not African American, so I have only limited personal knowledge on the subject, but for the most part I agree with Whoopi Goldberg’s reasons for using the word. However I did think that Elizabeth Hassleback made a good point at the end of the discussion about how the word slows down the goal of reaching an equal society. I watched the tape twice, and I don’t’ think that Whoopi really had a legitimate answer to this question. She kept on making the point about the story of her family and how and how Mrs. Hassleback couldn’t understand the experience. Now, I totally agree that Elizabeth Hassleback can’t understand that experience, but I think she was right when she said we should all move on from our ugly past, and start a new trend in the future.
I think that as the American people move farther and farther away from the foolish and terrible events of our early history in dealing when minorities, it will become time to drop all the racial slurs. I am not saying that we should forget what has happened in history. In fact it is something that we need to remember, because it helps us see how far we have come, and it gives us hope for an even better America in the future. This is why, when talking about this subject on the word nigger, we need to use the ideas of both Mrs. Hassleback and Mrs. Goldberg. On Whoopi’s side, we as white Americans could do a better job trying to have a broader view on world issues. However, I think that all Americans of every color need to start thinking in way where color is not an issue in any way.

November 16, 2008

Politics and Advertising

In an article published in the New York Times, documentary filmmaker Errol Morris discusses the various ways that political campaigns have used real people ads over the course of the last half-century. Morris begins with discussing the campaign of Dwight D. Eisenhower and his opponent Adlai Stevenson. In the Eisenhower the commercial a young female asks supposedly spontaneous questions to Eisenhower and then he responds. In the Stevenson commercial a very well poised woman gives a testimonial of why she is voting for Stevenson. These commercials are very well rehearsed and it shows. But Morris argues that in its day the commercials were effective. Morris then moves to the 1960 election and an ad for John F. Kennedy. The commercial shows Kennedy stopping over to an average American family home, the Stills family, and off the cuff discusses the financial problems that the family is facing. The ad is supposed to seem candid but comes off very rehearsed and cold. He continues with the 1972 election and describes a commercial for Gerald Ford. The commercial is a man on the street commercial. A man on the street commercial being where people are stopped on the street and asked whom they are voting for and why. But this commercial is slightly different; the people that are being interviewed are democrats who are going to vote for republican Gerald Ford. The commercial also shows a diverse range of people, a businessman, a black female, and an average working man. The commercial is effective because the people are not coached and the environment is not staged. Morris then moves to the 1980 election and a commercial for Jimmy Carter. The commercial shows a woman from rural Oklahoma stating how Jimmy Carter is a peacemaker. The commercial is very good because the woman is real and her feelings and emotions are real and that shows up in the commercial. The next commercial is from the 1984 election, and shows Reagan on his famous cross-country train tour. The commercial shows average American towns people stopping their daily life to go and see Reagan on the train. The commercial is somewhat convincing but could be more effective if we heard from the people instead of the narrator. Morris then moves to more recent history and the 2004 election and discusses the swift boat campaign of John Kerry. These commercials showed the men that served with John Kerry in Vietnam disproving what Kerry had said about his service in Vietnam. These commercials are very effective because they provide first person testimony, which translates to having voters automatically believe the veterans being interviewed. Morris concludes with the last election and reviews the self-ads and some ads he created. The self-ads are people creating their own ads for a candidate with a web cam or video camera. He states that these ads are not very effective. The ads that Morris created are of different people stating why they are voting for Obama. In all the article is very insightful of the types of political advertising and how they are used and the history of political advertising. In my opinion political advertising is very misguiding. Ideally the voter could find non-bias information on the candidate and make and educated decision before voting, but sadly this is not the case. The ads discussed in the article are in some way deceiving and bias. This political advertising is in no way the best way to communicate information to the voters. But not heavily mentioned in the article is attack advertising. Attack advertising in the lowest and ugliest form of political advertising and in my opinion totally unnecessary. If a candidate cannot convince and inspire voters with their knowledge, skills, and experience then the candidate does not deserve the votes.

November 15, 2008

The Twitter Vote Report

    With a high expected voter turnout and problematic elections in the past, notably in 2000 and 2004; this year’s voting system was under heavy pressure to compete at its best. In an attempt to help solve many of the problems faced in the Presidential Elections, Nancy Scola and Allison Fine proposed the usage of an online Twitter based system as solution to continually report voting experience data. With the help of many programmers and web designers, the site Twitter Vote Report was created.

Continue reading "The Twitter Vote Report" »

Puppy Cloning: Why Clone When You Can Adopt?

In recent news, a commercial animal laboratory located in Korea developed a procedure that involves using tissue from an adult dog to create cloned puppies. While the article did not go into much detail about the actual process, its main focus was major opposing and supporting sides of the issue.

Lou Hawthorne, head of BioArts International, spent approximately 10 years and $25 million creating clones of his mother’s adored mixed-breed dog. Although the dog died in 2002, a sample of tissue was collected in the ‘90s, and this tissue was then used to make three cloned dogs. These dogs are not only physically similar with the same coloring and markings, but also exhibit similar behavioral characteristics. With this recent technology, Hawthorne is now “auctioning? off the opportunity for five pet owners to clone their beloved dogs, thus creating a sort of elixir of life – at a cost. The bidders ended up paying a price somewhere between $140,000 and $170,000.

Supporters of pet cloning argue that “canine fabrication? is not a new idea. For the last 15,000, humans have shaped dogs to better serve human interests. Dogs evolved from wolves, so it is their ability to be easily domesticated and shaped that makes them dogs. Originally, there weren’t different purebred breeds or popular mixed breeds. These are “modern inventions? that were made by breed standards in order to make dogs more useful, physically attractive, compatible, and enjoyable to be around. Supporters also assure that the dogs are treated well. They say the surgeries are quick and less invasive than common procedures, such as spaying and neutering, and the animals are sedated to avoid pain. Hawthorne’s biotech firm includes a clause in the contract ensuring that the lab either keep and take care of the animal or it must be adopted, so euthanasia is not an occurrence.

However, the opposing side, mainly the Humane Society and the American Anti-Vivisection (AAVS), argues that pet cloning is “cruel, manipulative, and pointless.? They feel it is wrong to reap financial benefit by “exploiting grieving pet widows.? Furthermore, taking an animal and simply duplicating it demoralizes the animal and compares it to an “object that can be manufactured.? Most importantly, the opposing side is concerned with the welfare of the animals, arguing that no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors. Cloning just one animal actually involves many, and, according to the Humane Society and the AAVS, all of these animals are confined and “subjected to painful hormone treatments and invasive surgeries.? In addition, animals also often suffer from birth defects and have high mortality rates. In response the cloning, foes have called upon legislative action to, at the very least, regulate the process.

I have mixed emotions on the morality of cloning pets. First and foremost, I think it is important to uphold strict regulations that ensure the welfare of the animal. If that is taken care of, I do not see anything ethically wrong with allowing pet owners to, in essence, have their dog to live forever. It doesn’t seem to hurt anyone. Using the technology for profit seems like an everyday part of life – everyone has to make money. However, I do feel that animals deserve at least comparable rights to humans. We do not allow human cloning, so why should we allow the cloning of pets?

Despite my mixed emotions on the ethics of pet cloning, I felt the opposition overlooked one glaring fact, and this fact is the basis of my disagreement with pet cloning. America makes the general claim of loving pets – millions of homes have household pets (63%), and billions of dollars are used to care for those pets (2). However, according to the Humane Society of the United States, more than 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters nationwide (1). Often times, they are perfectly healthy, friendly animals that would make adorable pets. Furthermore, the Humane Society estimates that 25% of these animals are purebred. Sadly enough, these animals never get a chance to be the great companions they could be. Instead, they are tossed away like a piece of a trash.

For those who aren’t as heartfelt about the overpopulation crisis’s affect on animals, know that it also affects humans. Each year, 4.5 million people suffer from dog bites (3). These bites are not caused by “bad dogs,? but rather dogs that are simply unfamiliar with and frightened by humans. If they had loveable homes, they would likely not exhibit such behavioral problems. Furthermore, each year cities spend millions of taxpayer (meaning you) dollars to the control population crisis (3).

It seems illogical that, in order to combat the pet overpopulation crisis, we are going to introduce new techniques to clone pets, thus creating even more. I understand that, as of now, cloning plays virtually no role in the population problem - it is too new and way too expensive. However, if this cloning continues, eventually it will become mainstream, and who’s to say that millions of animals will not be produced? This will leave even more unwanted animals that die each year due to lack of a home and food. Rather than allowing pet owners to create replicas of their already adored pets, we should encourage people to save a life and adopt a new, loveable pet.

Pets have proven benefits for humans. Pets teach people of all age virtuous traits, such as responsibility, loyalty, empathy, sharing, and love (4). Development of these traits is especially important in children, who, through the process of caring for a pet, also learn to care for other humans. Pets serve in many animal-assisted therapies, and they also help people who have medical or physical ailments (4). People with dogs are often healthier with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, since they experience increased physical activity by walking their dog (4). Pets can lessen feelings of isolation and loneliness, while reducing stress and depression (4). Happier people are healthier people.

With all of these benefits, I encourage everyone to have a pet. Furthermore, adopting a pet can add new meaning to one’s life, and the experience can be extremely rewarding. It is completely unnecessary, and even somewhat selfish, to clone your dog because you feel it is the only one that give you satisfaction, especially when there are millions of pets waiting to be adopted.

1. “Why You Should Spay and Neuter Your Pet.? 9 Feb 2008. Humane Society of the United States. 13 Nov 2008.
2. “Pet Overpopulation and Ownership Statistics.? 7 Jul 2008. Humane Society of the United States. 13 Nov 2008.
3. “The Crisis of Pet Overpopulation.? 4 May 2007. Humane Society of the United States. 13 Nov 2008.
4. “How Pets Help People.? 11 Apr 2008. Human Society of the United States. 13 Nov 2008.

November 14, 2008

language on public tv

Certain words are not allowed on public television, but is this a cause worth federal regulation? According to Steven Pinker’s “Freedom’s curse? there are a few different stands that a person can take in this particular argument. Some may say that if a word elicits negative emotional response and can be negatively influential on an easily impressionable child then it should be illegal to display on television. However, is this a situation in which the law should become involved? So far, the law has not remained consistent in its judgment of such cases. And is it really necessary to ban words when they are not used within an offensive context?
A word is simply a label, given to an object or an action so that it becomes identifiable through human speech. However, over time and through the development of slang terminology, many such labels have lost their original meaning, or gained alternate definitions. Due to this fact it has become nearly impossible to confidently identify the meaning of any given word without reference to the context surrounding it. This is true for any word, including swear words. When a person uses a swear word in a non-offensive manner, should he or she be penalized in the same way as a person who uses the same word in a suggestive, and therefore offensive manner?
It’s true that there is something to be said for respecting the innocence of children viewers, and this is the reason that it is important to place rating warnings on television programs that may contain inappropriate subjects or language for those under a certain age. Once this is done, the parents become responsible for using their own discretion to regulate what the children view and do not view. Parents should be conscious of the content of the television programs that their children view. If a child is watching a program with a rating on it that is inappropriate for him or her to watch, the parents should be accountable. Words should not be made illegal to say on television simply due to the fact that it may be offensive to viewers- it should just become mandatory that any programs that display such content be rated in a way reflective of these things. Parents are ultimately responsible for what is deemed acceptable for their children to view at any given stage of development. Regardless of whether a word is said on television under the protection of a rating or without a rating, it is likely that nearly the same amount of children will be viewing at the necessary time to witness it. With or without ratings, conscientious parents tend to be aware of what his or her children are viewing, and will not allow them to view questionable material without first viewing it themselves to screen the content. If a parent is not conscientious or available enough to be aware of what his or her child is viewing, the presence of a rating has no effect whatsoever- because they are not there to see it. And, of course, there are times when even the most conscientious of parents are unaware of their children’s actions altogether- it’s impossible to be aware of everything all the time. Whether the parents be conscientious enough to have previous knowledge of the content of a program their child is watching, or they are unavailable to monitor their child’s viewings at all, one could argue that the concept of rating becomes, in a sense, utterly superfluous. Nonetheless, ratings are undoubtedly a good way for the television station to guarantee ample warning to its viewers about upcoming content so as to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Many things, much like a photograph, when taken out of context shed their original meanings. A photograph can mean a million things to a million people, its true meaning lost when the context in which it was taken is known only to its photographer. A photograph of a boat is just a photograph of a boat until it is known by the viewer what boat it was, where it was going, who or what it carried, and what happened on its journey. The emotional responses that a photograph might elicit from its photographer, knowing of its context, will not be induced from a viewer without the same contextual knowledge. The same holds true for words. Words are simply words- a label given to an action, or an object. Over time, many words become slang for other words, and other words still, gain alternate meanings, in addition to their originals. A word in itself cannot be harmful, it is the idea, or principle of which it is representative that can be deemed offensive. But if these same words are placed in a completely different context, with a completely different meaning, are they still offensive? Should they be? This is the question that needs to be answered before any decisions can be made regarding a word inappropriate, simply on the basis of one meaning alone.

November 13, 2008

Posting Pictures Online

It seems as if Facebook can be both a good and bad thing. After reading the article Say Cheese: 12 Photos That Should Never Have Been Posted Online, I think it’s safe to say that Facebook, MySpace, and other personal online websites, can be what you make of them. This article discusses 12 different instances where pictures posted online have caused them great consequences, mostly job-related. It does a great job in sense that eludes the fact that all consequences could have been avoided if the person posting the picture would have thought about the fact that everyone can have access to the internet, and you could be being watched at any time.

All twelve photographs discussed in the article say all the bad things that have happened to the person who posted the picture, but only one directly states that the person “endured a painful lesson on how to use Facebook’s privacy settings?. This photograph was one of the later ones discussed and up until that point, I felt is if the article was never going to get point I thought it was trying to make across. I believe it was on this instance that that the article switched from discouraging the readers not to use Facebook, to saying that it’s okay, as long as you watch your back. If everyone listen what has been said since online websites such as Facebook came out, we would not run into to problems such as this and personal websites would not be look at as such a bad thing.

On some cases, I do believe that employers have the right to punish their employees, and that is when the employee lies and has gotten caught. I’m not a promoter of the lying however when you are not smart enough to watch your back, and post photographs of your “family emergency? online for everyone to see, you not only to be punished by your employer, you also need to once again “endure a painful lesson on how to use Facebook’s privacy settings?. In cases such as this I think that it comes down to pure stupidity, if the you know that anyone can see what your posting online, you better make sure that you don’t post stuff which could cost you your job, and get you sent to jail.

Some may argue that when they are punished in instances such as this, their rights are being violated and that they are being treated unfairly. I do believe that in some cases this is the truth, however it is like the case where the drive videotaped them self driving at excessive and unsafe speeds, something need to be done, because they’re not only putting themselves in danger but also others as well. Another case in which I had strong opinions on was when teachers have posted inappropriate pictures of themselves online. As a teacher you are expected to a role model and set a good example for your students. It should also be well known as a teacher that students are very prone to have web pages such Facebook, and that they will try to find information about anyone and everyone. I do however believe that is perfectly ok for teacher and more mature generations to have personal web pages like this because they offer great networking possibilities.

As a whole, I believe articles such as; Say Cheese: 12 Photos That Should Never Have Been Posted Online, offered great insight into the dangers of internet. I took away more from the article that you shouldn’t post inappropriate photographs but also just how dangerous the internet can be. Anyone can see anything if you don’t watch your back and use the privacy settings made available to you. I believe that is very important for anyone who chooses to post any person information online to do use the settings and anything that is too serious or personal, do not post it.

In conclusion, after reading the articles pertaining to this subject, I believe that when used in the correct ways and with the correct provisions, Facebook, MySpace, and other personal blogging web pages can be a great way to network. These websites allow the reconnections of former classmates and even family members. As long as they don’t contain inappropriate information or pictures, they can also allow for potential employers to get a feel of who you really are and may lead to the decision of whether or not you get hired by this certain employer.

Continue reading "Posting Pictures Online" »

November 9, 2008

People in the Middle

Political campaigning is a lot like advertising. It is “a form of communication that typically attempts to persuade potential customers to purchase or to consume more of a particular brand of product or service.? (wikipedia) The service: President of the United States of America. The brand: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Ford, Kerry, Carter, Bush, McCain, Obama, etc. The objective, as well as the hurdle, is to connect to American citizens and appeal to them, or make the opposition seem unappealing. Errol Morris has written an article, “People in the Middle,? about the methods used to attract those who haven’t made up their minds yet and how these methods have changed election after election.

Continue reading "People in the Middle" »