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February 26, 2009

Beer, it’s no longer for dinner.

Beer sale have dropped 14 percent! That is something that I did not know was possible. Everyone knows that us Americans like our alcohol, and beer is the best kind (not that I would know). But it is a drop that is four times greater than the overall fall in consumer spending. According to Bloomberg.com, “Take-out sales of alcoholic beverages tumbled 9.3 percent in the fourth quarter, the steepest drop [in] the U.S. [in half a century]”. the record before was in 1991 with a 3.7 percent drop just as the U.S. was finding it’s way out of a recession.

So, why the drop in beer sales? The answer lies in the fact that we just entered what is probably the second worse recession in seventy years. People don’t want to spend the money anymore. Who would want to with “Retail prices for beer at supermarkets and other stores up 3% in May from a year earlier” (USA Today)? The sales of jewelry and watches are also down 3.5 percent. So it seems that product that are not a necessity to us, we wont waste our money to buy. Those twenty-five dollars for a case of beer could buy a meal or two, or get you a half a tank of gas, the amount of gas you use to get to the liquor store or to the movie theater seeing as how their sales have actually seen a 10.9 increase in revenue.

But, now we have a new question. If Americans are not spending their money on frivolous products, why is the movie industry seeing an increase? FiveThirtyEight.com says that “You don't feel guilty after purchasing a movie ticket; you feel kind of wholesome”. Beer has always had an ethical and moral issue with many people and religion. It is one of our many guilty pleasures that we have. So we feel even more guilty that we spent our well earned (or not) money on something that may not be so moral and “wholesome”.

Personally, I think that it also has to do with the problematic celebrities that are always in the spot light, drunk off their butts and always high off of some unknown substance, nobody want to be like that and made into a fool. So they just stay away from those products. I mean, who really wants to be like Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears? Not me.

So beer is dropping in sales, so what! To me, that means less people making complete fools of themselves out in public, being admitted to the

Beer on the Run

According to a small article by Nate Silver, the market for beer has gone down dramatically. During the fourth quarter of last year, sales of the delicious alcohol plummeted by nearly ten percent. Although percentage wise it does not seem like much, the fact that this statistic is so confounding is that since 1959, the worst percentage the beer industry has dropped is 3.7 percent. Although sales of wines and spirits went down during the last quarter as well, both only decreased by a much smaller margin, no bigger than two percent.

On top of alcohol sales, other valuable goods have decreased over the previous quarter. Jewelry and watches dropped over seven percent, the third largest drop ever recorded. Casino receipts have tumbled down eight and a half percent from last year, the biggest four quarter decrease ever. However, if one industry prevailed during the lavish fourth quarter, it would be the movie industry with a sales increase of almost 11 percent.
Of course the question still remains: Why does anyone care? So what if people aren’t spending their money getting drunk or bowing off their paycheck getting the big bucks. For beer at least, there has been a noticeable shortage of hops since 2007 which raises the price of beer in an era where the economy has gone belly up. Other people, like Silvers, think that drinkers have switched to imported beers like Alpha King or Dogfish Head, maybe as a result of being unpatriotic as Silvers argues. Imported beers such as these are known as microbrews which is a very cheap kind of beer. Basically, when the economy goes down like it has for the past few months, luxury items like beer or jewelry and watches become less desirable and cheap stuff like the microbrews have increases in sales. One could suppose that movies continue to rise is that it’s still a cheap way to get entertainment. People can go to new movies that cost as much as two dollars.
Many believe that this has to do with the weakening economy. This reason makes sense because almost every possible good has diminished in sales. Since the economy has pretty much gone down the toilet, everyone has become more careful with their money. Within being careful with their money, they are forced to make sacrifices such drinking water instead of beer or perhaps spending a girlfriend’s birthday at the movies instead of buying some jewelry. In my experience, my parents have been forced to shop at places like Costco where they can buy a lot for very little. I myself have gone to great lengths to reduce my costs whether it be not going out to eat and eating at the dorm hall to wearing the same shoes for the past three years.
Nevertheless, there’s still the reason of why movies have still profited from this abysmal time? Silver says that “movies are not typically seen as extravagant. You don’t feel guilty after purchasing a movie ticket, you feel kind of wholesome”. The fact that drinking beer or gambling may be a sin to some, those same people consider movies to be sort of family event. At the end of the article, Silver suggests that this incident could be classified as weberian. That term refers to a book written by economist and sociologist Max Weber who wrote many essays saying that capitalism was developed by Protestants who got many people to work in their companies and create enterprises and take part in trade to gain wealth.
Even in other places like the United Kingdom, people have noticed significant decreases in beer sales. Although they too are being affected by the economic problems in the United States, they also have a big beer tax of nine percent that was added last year. Thanks to this new tax, beer sales in pubs went down over eight percent and also went down six percent in the supermarkets during the third quarter. According to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) president Rob Hayward there have been averaging about five pubs shutting down each day. Another reason for this problem in the U.K. is the market for alcoholic beverages. They have more kinds of beer, wines and even cider being sold in pubs and clubs. Unlike the U.S., however, the U.K. has had a drop of beer sales since 2005 and even a pretty good variation of sales since 1997.
As the economy gets worse, it seems that this problem may continue to escalade unless Obama can think of a good plan to go with. But for now, the world can use a bit of soberness right now.

Born Believers: Is Religion really an adaption?

Religion is a big part of many peoples life. In 2001, eighty-one percent of the adult population identified with one or another religion group. In the United States, seventy nine percent of the Americans who is a part of religion are some kind of Christian who worships the same God. Anthropologist Scott Atran of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor says “I don't think the idea makes much sense, given the kinds of things you find in religion,” I feel the same way with what the bible reads. I am not a Christian, I have read parts of the Bible and while other Christians believe in the bible, I think the book is just a fairytale. The Bible talks about events that would happen in a fairytales.

I am Hmong and most Hmong people holds a strong belief in Shamanism, but I have Hmong friends who are Christians and many Hmongs who is still holding to the original religion thinks that the Hmong Christians are traitors to the Hmongs but that is usually what the parents of first generations would think. My parents believe in Shamanism, but that doesn’t make me one, I consider myself an Atheist. Shaminism is the belief in communicating with the spirits from the Spirit World. So when a family member is sick, we don’t pray for that person to become well, we believe that a bad spirit has taken that person’s soul with the spirit. The family will then hire a Shaman who can enter the Spiritual World and communicate with the dead to bring that soul back. Like I said, I do have Hmong friends who are Christians, but I do not care what religion they live for. Whenever my Hmong Christian friends talk God to me, I find it hard to believe in what they believe in and I just keep that feeling inside. I am the type of person who needs facts before I can believe in it. For example, the evolution theory has a lot of scientific facts behind it to prove how animals are related to each other through evolution. With the Christian religion belief, they believe that the Creation of Earth, Humanity, etc. is all due to God. So far with this belief not many can prove this theory using scientific reasoning.

I agree strongly agree with Michael Brooks’ article “Born believers: How your brain creates God.” He uses scientific reasonings through psychology on how people created God and not the other way around. It all starts with a psychologist at Yale University, Paul Bloom who observed different age groups from pre-school students to adults and record results on how they use their minds. In the studies shows that part of our brain are capable to create supernatural thoughts and beliefs proving that the thoughts of God could be just created through the mind.
If you ask the Christians who are strong believer of God, they will have a testimony about how God has touched them. Most of the testimonies are about how they were in trouble and God saved them. That gives the reason why during the leanest of times, the strictest, most authoritarian churches saw a surge in attendance. When people are stressed, sad, or when they feel like no one is there for them anymore, they turn to the one they hear as the “Almighty God,” this Almighty God will save you from your misery and bring you happiness. What's going on, Jennifer Whitson of the University of Texas in Austin suggests that when we feel a lack of control we fall back on superstitious ways of thinking. Having a religion, for example church, makes people feel like they belong to a group. When they go to church, it is not just a building to them; it is a sanctuary that hides them from the corrupted world filled with crimes, poverty, selfishness, greediness, hatred, etc.

Robin Dunbar of the University of Oxford strongly identified with the religion-as-adaptation argument. With Robin Dunbar argument, I think what he is trying to say is that religion is part of survival method to humans and Darwin Theory clearly states “Survival of the Fittest.” That means that believing in God is not going against the theory of evolution, it is part of the evolution. Religion is a part of the evolution of humanity.

http://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/research_briefs/aris/key_findings.htm

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html

Facebook and Bebo risk 'infantilising' the human mind

Social networks like facebook, bebo, twitter, and many others are causing disorders to the future generations. A professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln College, Oxford, and director of the Royal Institution, Lady Greenfield has diagnosed many students with a disorder caused by social network behaviors. The disorders that are becoming from the social networks are hyperactivity disorder, attention-deficit order, compulsive eating, and compulsive gambling. Also along with social networks many people using these networks are losing communication skills.

Social networks are not the only thing that is given people today communication problems it is also texting and any use of computer chat. It is losing the face-to-face conversations, real life conversations, emotions in the voice, and body language. How will the world end up if everything is done by the network of computers and robots?
The social network does not only cause the disorders I mentioned earlier but biologist have also completed reach that show how social networks can also increase your susceptibility to cancer, dementia, heart disease, diabetes, influenza, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and even the common cold. The world is coming so reliable on social networks that they have become the only way people communicate. This can be very inefficient because it is common for the network to crash daily.

A personal story with having the network as one of my main sources of communication and having difficulties with it there has to be another way to get around to communicate. I have had times that the network crashes and you do not know what to do. All you can do is wait until it is back up and running. While being a student at the University of Minnesota teacher are using web vista to given test, quizzes, and other class work but web vista is also known to crash and not work for hours on end. Also along with communication at school email is a big way to communicate between organizations, faculty, and classes but that also cashes sometime too. But really there is no way to get around the social network.

While there are many downsides to the emergence of social networks, they have allowed a greater free flow of information and have enhanced, for example, the political process. Politicians have increasingly become more technologically connected with their constituents throughout the year but especially during campaigning. Part of Barack Obama’s campaign website was modeled after facebook, and Chris Hughes, a co-founder of the company, left facebook to work on his “new-media campaign” personally. (The Facebooker Who Friended Obama, New York Times, July 7, 2008) This allowed voters to feel more connected to the campaign, attracted young voters, and may have contributed to Obama’s win in 2008. Congresspeople have even started using Twitter to update their colleagues and constituents as to what they are doing; sixty-five members of congress are currently using Twitter as a communication tool. (Congress’s New Love Affair with Twitter, TIME, February 11, 2009) So, while some may say it decreases the communication skills of our youth, social networks have increased the ability of one of our country’s most important, communicative body: Congress.

However, while some see this new version of politics as transparency, others see it as the increased immaturity of congress. Many congress members twittered through Obama’s address on Tuesday, which caused a Washington Post article to quip, “it seemed as if Obama were presiding over a support group for adults with attention deficit disorder.” (Politicians twitter throughout address to Congress like bored school children, The Washington Post, January 26, 2009) So, as congress people are gaining ability to network from afar, they may be losing their credibility, etiquette, and attention spans.

The social network is a part of everyday life and people have gotten used to having it apart of their daily routine. Social networks, cell phones, and any other electronically device have put many people’s attention spans in jeopardy. While some see this increase in social networks as an increase in transparency, others see it as a move towards impatient and rude members of our society who feel the need to update their status even during the most inappropriate of times. This is why everyone in society should take control of their actions and cut back on the social networking, cell phone texting, and using other electronic devices.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/20/social_networking_heath_threats/

Should you be on Facebook?

If you were asked the question “Do you use Facebook,” the answer might be obvious. Perhaps a more valid question would be the number of times you are on Facebook during the course of a day. Current technology enables us to utilize the internet as a means for communication (or networking) with friends. This action may seem second-nature to many, but some are arguing that social network websites are leading future generations down a path that should not be traveled. A path that is characterized by “short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity.” Does this belief have validity? Although terms such as “Facebook addict” are often coined, this belief has no backbone to be realistic.

Lady Greenfield, from the article ”Facebook and Bebo risk 'infantilising' the human mind,” emphasizes that using social networking sites alter the minds of children, creating a short attention span and making them in some sense an introvert. However, it should be mentioned that most users on these sites are not children, but teenagers at the youngest. It is known that one’s mind is mainly shaped during an adolescent age. According to an online education agency (Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency), “brain research tells us that the first three years of life are a critical period in a child's development. Early experiences help determine the child's brain structure - shaping the way he or she learns, thinks and behaves for the rest of his or her life.” According to this, if any person exhibits short attention span or has an anti-socialistic personality, then more than likely these were developed during the first few years of their childhood or they were born with attention deficit disorder.

Greenfield also makes the point that Facebook often lead people to confining themselves from the “outside world” and therefore become less interactive. However, many use these or similar sites just as a means for communicating to friends that they otherwise cannot (due to distance or lack of time to communicate on the phone). In some aspect, they are actually closer to people in comparison to if they had not used a networking site.
She also notes that as a result of networking sites, current minds will be “different from those of previous generations.” This may be true, but it is due rather to changes in culture and society, not just technology. Today’s society is much more fast-paced than 40-50 years ago. For example, the 1950s were a time when many were “socially conservative,” in which many believed that the government played a big factor in maintaining a civilized world. This period was also marked as “the decade with the least musical innovation.” These are two aspects that seem to contradict current society. Today, people are less conservative, often even blaming the government for the state of the country. Also, current music plays a major role in culture. It would be nearly impossible to spend a day on a college campus and not see numerous people listening to their mp3 players. As a result, the demeanor and minds of the current generation don’t parallel past ones, but technology is not the number one contributor.

Greenfield believes that due to the ease of communicating on networking sites, “real conversation in real time may eventually give way to these sanitised and easier screen dialogues.” Although communicating online may be easier in some ways than its counterpart, personal communication skills will not become obsolete. For example, the process of interviewing for jobs will most likely remain a requirement. Therefore, teachers will continue to teach interpersonal skills to their students.

With the rapid development of technology, the world has seen a boom in the use of online social networking sites such as Facebook. Although seemingly harmless, Lady Greenfield (professor at Lincoln College in Oxford) has proposed that these websites are ultimately detrimental because they will cause children to have short attention spans and make them less interactive than they should be. However, most users are not children, and their ways of thinking are usually shaped during the first three years of their childhood. Also, teachers will always instruct their students on communication skills, so in turn they will not be less interactive. It should also be noted that since these websites are relatively new, there is no evidence of these claims.

Works Cited
http://www.aea8.k12.ia.us/en/programs_and_services/early_childhood/early_access/the_first_years_last_forever.cfm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1950s

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/feb/24/social-networking-site-changing-childrens-brains

How Your Brain creates god

In Michael Brook’s article Born Believers: How your brain creates God, Brooks discusses the idea how human beings have a natural tendency to create religion, and the idea of god. He says “It turns out that human beings have a natural inclination for religious belief especially during hard times.” This is obviously relevant to us in the state of our economy, the war in Iraq, environmental issues all leading up to our new mega churches and Jesus camps.

Brooks talks about different theories as to why our brain is programmed to think supernaturally, and create this idea of religion. He says that the one leading idea is that “religion is an evolutionary adaptation that makes us more likely to survive and pass their genes onto the next generation.” This seems to be a bit absurd, seeing as I’m sure we could reproduce and pass our genes on to the next generation without thinking of someone in the sky. The idea was that religion formed these tight knit societies that got together and out competed each other, something to do with Darwinism. I agree with Scott Atran on this one, that this explanation for why we develop supernatural ideas just does not make much sense.

Another theory behind this idea of our natural inclination comes from Atran, he believes that religion is a product of the way our mind works. He says we are not necessarily programmed to create a God but that as a species we have a tendency for supernatural thinking. To further explain this, Atran discusses that our brains have separate systems for dealing with living things and inanimate objects. He brings up the example such as when we’re babies we believe that objects obey the laws of physics and move in predictable ways, while people have their own minds and can move however they want.

The article then goes on to further touch on the idea of the mind having two separate systems. “The body is for physical processes, like eating and moving, while the mind carries our consciousness in a separate – and separable- package.” It is written in our childhood that we are to think supernaturally, we form relationships with imaginary friends and even adults form relationships with dead relatives or fantasy partners. It’s kind of what Berger said, how when we look at a picture of someone dead who was close to us, we feel as if they are present with a flood of emotion.

Another philosophy is that our overdeveloped sense of cause and effect makes us look for purpose and design in everything. And with every purpose and design there is a creator or designer, which is present in every ontological argument out there. Olivera Petrovich (University of Oxford) did a survey with pre-school students, asking them about the origins of things such as plants and animals, and found that children were seven times as likely to answer that they were created by God. This may be a bias survey, Petrovich could have easily surveyed a group of students from a religious pre-school where they are taught this. The article itself seems to be lacking in that information actually, Brooks never touches on where these child surveys are being taken place, or where these facts are coming from. We may think supernaturally, but not necessarily in a religious way. I don’t quite understand why he assumes the two are automatically linked.

Brooks then says that trauma is a huge responsibility for Adults to divulge into religion. Adults look for a cop out, a way to blame things on other people or a way to hope that things won’t go wrong. Brooks quotes Atran, “When natural brain processes give us a get-out-of-jail card, we take it.” He’s pretty much saying here that religion is our crutch, our way of saying that hey we screwed up but if we keep on praying we’ll get out of it with good faith.
The article then continues on to keep debating between religion coming from adaptation, the will to survive, which makes no sense and the cognitive systems between the physical and the mental. He talks about how victims who have lost control look back on superstitious ways of thinking, and that’s why religions “enjoy a revival during hard times” which can only really make me think of AA meetings. Brooks ends the article with saying that discovering the true origins of religion is going to be really difficult and complex, as if we had not already known this.

Beer No Longer Recession-Proof

Comparing alcohol purchased from home and the economies quarterly change with real gross domestic product (GDP) isn’t something that should attention. I think the amount of alcohol Americans consumes is their own personal business. Is the decrease in alcohol sales really affecting the nation's total output of goods and services? I believe that they could have compared the real domestic product with something more important such as increase or decrease the amount of oil the united states uses or the how some of Obama’s plans will help the economy.
Even though the “sales of alcohol for off-premises consumption were down by 9.3 percent from the previous quarter” people who are alcoholics are going to continue to buy the alcohol. In the article it also says “This is absolutely unprecedented: the largest previous drop had been just 3.7 percent, between the third and fourth quarters of 1991.” As many problems that alcohol in general causes this can be a positive thing for the economy. Alcohol can harm the human body and causes diseases and have a person’s body in bad shape in the future if that person consumes alcohol for so long. Alcohol is also one of the main reasons why teenagers get into car crashes and die, because they drink and drive. Alcohol is increasing the death rates of teens who drink and drive and have there friends in the car with them.
I don’t think that “Perhaps people are substituting Michelob and Coors for more expensive microbrews like Alpha King and Dogfish Head”, because of the condition the economy is in. We are in a recession and prices are increasing on everything and not just beer and alcohol. “This is unpatriotic, by the way, since all the macro brews are now owned by foreign-based multinational conglomerates“. This would be unpatriotic, but I don’t think that Americans care about being patriotic when they purchase alcohol and beer and when they are drinking, I think they just buy the beer because it either taste better to them or they just don’t care about what kind of beer they drink and just want to get drunk. “Perhaps retailers are discounting their prices, or brewers are passing along cost savings to their consumers”, I don’t think this make sense because if prices of alcohol and beer were decreasing wouldn’t consumers be buying more? Instead of prices decreasing and dropping shouldn’t they be increasing?
“Nevertheless, it's absolutely startling to see a major consumer staple experience a sales decline like this“, I don’t agree with these because to me even though alcohol is a major consumer and the sales are declining the affect of alcohol matters more.
At the end of this article it mentions that the movie theaters are doing terrifically well and motion pictures are increasing their revenues and I think this is because people can learn from movies and when a movie comes out that seem interesting to a person they usually go see it either with a significant other, friends, or family. Movies can also be a reason for people to get out the house and enjoy themselves outside of school or work. I think the movies is just a place you can relax.




Facebook and Bebo risk 'infantilising' the human mind

Facebook and social networking sites are now being blamed for infantilising the human mind. This means that social networking sites are making our minds childish and immature. Social networking is being added to the list of technologies that are corrupting the children of the world. People are using these sites to stay incontact with people and to meet new people. I do agree with Greenfield when she says, "This was coupled with a distancing from the stress of face-to-face, real-life conversation, which were "far more perilous … occur in real time, with no opportunity to think up clever or witty responses" and "require a sensitivity to voice tone, body language and perhaps even to pheromones, those sneaky molecules that we release and which others smell subconsciously". If people get lost in there virtual world and rarely have an important conversation face-to-face. This will effect the future geneations ability to have intelligent conversations.Just like reading the only way to become a stronger speaker is to practice it. The number of books being read is decreasing not solely because of social networking there are many reasons the this is happening. If the popularity of blogging and social networking continues to raise then the future generations will be effected.
ADHD is attention-deficite hyperactivity disorder. Greenfield says that, "If the young brain is exposed from the outset to a world of fast action and reaction, of instant new screen images flashing up with the press of a key, such rapid interchange might accustom the brain to operate over such timescales. Perhaps when in the real world such responses are not immediately forthcoming, we will see such behaviours and call them attention-deficit disorder." I have grown up with a family member being clinically diagnosed with ADHD and i do not believe that being on social networks or playing video games has cause him to have ADHD. The man I know infact never had the opertunity to be on the internet, to gain access to these sites, or to play video games. This man's family didnt even own a game console or a computer until after he was diagnosed with ADHD. To a certain extent I believe that some kids that are put on medication for ADHD do not even have the medical condition. The parents just think that their child is abnormally hyper and they cannot control them. Never-the-less they are put on the medication and it helps them concentrate and control themselves better. Part of ADHD is not being able to stay concentrated on a certain task for an extended period of time. Unless the child is greatly interested in the task and/or topic. Then it is hard to distract them from that task and/or topic until it is completed to the fullest of that individuals extent. So social networks effecting the concentration levels of people with or without ADHD is a gray area to investigate seeing that people with ADHD already have a hard time concentrating.
Greenfield is very right that the up raising popularity social networks is effecting and going to effect the newer generations. I do not believe that it will effect it to the extent she is suspecting. There will be an effect on the abilities for people to interact and carrying on a conversation face-to-face with another person. This is one of the undeniable effects of social networking but text messaging is also going to influence this effect. I just have a hard time believing that social networking is going to increase the effect on our attention spans. Which then is going to increase the number of people diagnosed with ADHD.

Facebook and Bebo risk 'infantilising' the human mind

At first, after reading Lady Greenfield’s article titled ”Facebook and Bebo risk ‘infantilizing’ the human mind” I was a bit set back but eventually came to the conclusion that she is basically saying that Facebook, as well as Bebo and Twitter, are bad for your brain and may cause symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder. She claims that the rapid flashes of the screen constantly changing may change the brain and cause these effects. Greenfield is obviously a very established scientist at Lincoln College and who am I to even begin to criticize her, but it seems as though she is claiming a lot. Nowhere in this article does she refer to articles or specifics. All she does is claim and believe that these websites are producing negative effects on the brain. However I do agree that she raises a good point and it needs to be looked into. After all she has caught the government’s attention with the subject. I believe there is much more to the problem other than what she claims and has attempted to identify.

In the audio clip that is provided in the article she specifically says that no research has been done on this issue and it is her belief that this exists. Personally, I feel that this is very comparable to the introduction of the television. Facebook is a fairly new concept and of course there is going to be opposition to the idea of online relationships as well as time spent in front of the computer screen. Is a computer really all that different that a television screen? The two seem to be, in general, basically the same. The only difference is that the user is more involved with what they are doing on the screen. According to an article I read on Prevention.com it is possible to increase your concentration skills while watching television. Why is this any different than the computer? The article is titled “TV-Brain Workout” and explains that if you are willing to lower the volume of your TV you can actually increase your concentration skills. This seems as though it is very similar to the computer. Many people do not have any sounds on while they are on the computer or if they do, it’s usually music or something similar. It seems as if the music would improve your concentration skills requiring that you tune it out in order to focus your attention to the computer. You are also concentrating on what you are doing as well as doing multiple things at one time. This requires the use of more parts of your brain rather than focusing on one single piece of work at a given time.

I also saw an article on CBS just this morning and it reminded me of this idea that the computer can decrease brain function. I looked into the article further and was able to pull up the entire story online. CBS claims that according to the Journal of American Epidemiology, long hours on the job may weaken your mental abilities and could put you at risk of developing dementia. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary the term dementia means “a progressive condition (as Alzheimer’s disease) marked by deteriorated cognitive functioning often with emotional apathy.” I believe that there is definitely some type of connection between brain function and exposure to two dimensional images for a long period of time. There is a connection between the CBS story and the work of Lady Greenfield in that the brain reacts to long periods of work. Lady Greenfield’s article may be hinting at the actual number of hours we spend in front of the computer and the effects that that time has on our brain. Many people go to work or school for up to eight hours, or more, in a day. When they arrive home what do they do? They go directly to their television sets or computer. Anyone that has ever attended work or a class knows that you just don’t sit and do nothing the entire time. You are expected to be there mentally and in turn your brain is working hard most of the time. If you add all of this time that you are at work or school up with the time that a person spends in front of the television it is most certainly greater than fifty-five hours in a week, which is the amount that is explained to be too much in the CBS article. To top it off most of the population is sleep deprived. According to a study at the UCSD School of Medicine in San Diego brain function is altered when we are sleep deprived. The electrical and chemical reactions that occur during sleep are interrupted.

I believe that it is not just these new online sites such as Facebook and Bebo, but it is the lifestyle that we live that may be causing the increase in cases of Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD). We often spend many hours at a job or class and many hours in front of a computer or television screen. There simply is not enough time for our brain to get the required rest it needs which is causing the increase in symptoms. To try and blame the increase in ADD cases on people spending too much time on the computer seems to be irrational to me. Although it may be part of the cause, it is not the only one. We live very busy lives and try to be as efficient as possible and in a society that is becoming more and more technologically based we must rely on computers in order to be as efficient as possible.

Sources:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/02/26/earlyshow/health/main4830822.shtm
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dementia...
http://www.prevention.com/cda/article/tv-brain-workout/...
http://health.ucsd.edu/news/2000_02_09_Sleep.html

Facebook and Bebo risk 'infantilising' the human mind

Facebook is a social network site new to the 21st century that millions of users log on to every day to virtually interact with their family and friends. Lady Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln college at Oxford University, believes that such social networking sites are putting attention spans in peril. Baroness Greenfield thinks these sites risk infantilizing the mid-21st century, meaning we will become sensationalists with a powerlessness to empathize or recognize our true identity. She has caused members of the government to acknowledge their effort on internet regulation hasn’t stretched to more generalized issues, being matters such as the psychological impact on children.
The first concern Greenfield states is that “if the young brain is exposed from the outset to a world of fast action and reaction, of instant new screen images flashing up with the press of a key, such rapid interchange might accustom the brain to operate over such timescales. Perhaps when in the real world such responses are not immediately forthcoming, we will see such behaviors and call them attention-deficit disorder.” She makes several compelling points while taking this stand - - - times are changing rapidly, and the pace of our lifestyles are quickening along with them. I think that our brains, whether we like it or not, are in fact becoming accustomed to our ever-so-rapidly changing lifestyles. Nevertheless, I would become quite concerned if our brains weren’t altering to fit the way we live our mid-21st century lives. A person who lived in the 20th century would be eaten alive if they attempted to live a recent day in the life of, for example, a New York City businessperson. Going out on a limb here, I might even take it as far as saying in order to live in today’s world, you need to have a slight case of attention-deficit disorder to keep up with everybody else. Change is unavoidable, as we must succumb to it in one way or another. Now, I’m not saying that a kid should be able to spend 4 hours of the day on Facebook. At that point, there are other issues that need to be evaluated. But, according to Greenfield, there’s something that happened in that past that can be compared to what may be to come.
It all started out when “killing, skinning, and butchering an animal to eat” was replaced with “the convenience of packages of meat on the supermarket shelf.” Greenfield thinks that “real conversation in real time may eventually give way to these sanitized and easier screen dialogues” referring to, say, a conversation between two people over Facebook rather than in person. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather go to the supermarket and purchase my meat in the convenience of a package, whereas it seems Greenfield would just as soon rather go out back and shoot ‘ol Bessy instead. In this weird and unjustifiable way, she tries to compare the horrifying slaughtering of a farm animal to a conversation with your grandparents, and the “three-dimensional, real-time interaction” environment with the meat section at your local grocery store. Greenfield tries to make it seem as if these children will be somehow without any social interactions, when surely they will be interacting with their family and friends at home, in person, for a larger portion of the day than could be spent on the computer.
The last piece idea that Greenfield threw out in the open which caught my attention was this statement: “After all, whenever you play a computer game, you can always just play it again; everything you do is reversible.” As far as I’m concerned, the point I feel she’s trying to make is that there happens to be nothing else in life that is reversible. It’s not as if when you finish a book, it will disappear the moment you read the final page. Or when you’re in an argument with another and say something you might regret in the heat of the moment, an apology is not an option. My point is, there are in fact real interactive situations in REAL life that are reversible.
Lady Greenfield makes some referable points on and unsubstantiated stand that is most definitely going to be unnerving more apprehensive parents worldwide. She’s SUGGESTING the government they need to pay more attention to this. She SAYS that Facebook will infantilize us. The problem here lies within the fact that she has no facts to back up what she believes. At this point, it’s all simply her opinion. Extensive research needs to be done to convince anyone whether this is a serious issue that needs immediate attention, or if it’s absolute drivel from the ever-growing technological dissenters.

Photoshopped

Errol Morris’ blog post about the Photoshopped images of an Iranian missile launch attests to not only the changing ways of altered images, but also how experts are constantly administering one of two titles to photos: True or Fake. Recently two images were discovered taken in Iran, and distributed in Iran. The confusing thing is, why were they both posted? The first image (though relative date of posting is unknown) shows four missiles being launched from an Iranian test missile site, while the second image shows only three missiles being launched. So why were both images posted by an Iranian source? Why would someone Photoshop an image just to show one more missile launching? Who can we trust?

These photos represent, as John Malkovich would put it, “the idiocy of today.” It seems that society has become lackadaisical when it comes to information that is posted by those whom we believe are authorities. Errol Morris talks to Charles Johnson in his article, Johnson states “They all came from Iran, I know that much. If I check it out, I think it was Sepah. The L.A. Times on their front page actually credit it to the Revolutionary Guard. I thought that was pretty ironic.” The Revolutionary Guard. Upon research, I found out that the Revolutionary Guard was “originally created as a ‘people’s army’ similar to the U.S. National Guard.” (www.cfr.org) Charles Johnson claims “it’s just very odd to see a photo on the cover of a major American newspaper that’s credited to one of our sworn mortal enemies.” Perhaps any journalist would jump at the opportunity to write about conflict, especially conflict with a country like Iran, as relationships with the Middle East never cease to boil.

In order to justify why both pictures were distributed, we must try to understand why both photos came from Iran. So what is the exact story of what happened at the Iranian missile test site? A senior U.S. military source states that “Iran launched only one missile on Thursday, [which is] not a new full round of tests.” (CNN.com) Iranian media, however, claims that Thursday was the second day of long range missile testing; where a total of seven missiles were fired. The picture comes from a test where four of those seven missiles were activated and triggered, but one missile failed to launch. U.S. Intelligence claims that the missile was fired the next day. The story has changed. Upon reading the article the first time, I was lead on to believe that someone in Iran came out with a picture of four missiles being launched; and that this picture was later determined to be entirely Photoshopped. However, upon reading the article and researching the situation a little more in depth, it is to be believed that all four missiles, plus three more, were in fact launched. Now we may look at why someone would Photoshop a picture of four missiles firing instead of just posting the information that in fact seven missiles were fired. That answer is quite simple. It is connected to the neurological processes of our brain, where “30 to 50 percent of our brain is doing visual processing.” (Henry Farid) Morris talks with Farid in his article about the power of images about why people trust images. Farid claims that our brain processes tons and tons of information, comparing sight with sound is like comparing the information stored on a video camera to that stored on a voice recorder. Being that a good portion of our brain is devoted to this visual processing, it’s no wonder that images have such a toll on our emotions. When people see an image, they remember the image, and often forget what the setting is that’s associated with that image. Farid says that “For example, when you put out a fake, like the Kerry/Fonda one.[2] And even like this missile one. You start putting it out there and saying, “Oh look, this picture? It’s a fake. This picture? It’s a fake.” But you know what people remember? They don’t remember, “It’s a fake.” They remember the picture.

So it is now understandable why someone may take the time to go through and Photoshop a picture like this one. Say an Iranian nationalist, perhaps educated in digital modification just like Farid, is aware of the fact that the brain is a visual processor; that we prefer to use video cameras rather than voice recorders. Say this person wants to instill fear on the American people. He took the correct route. Instead of seeing three missiles streaking heavenward and one missile pronounced dud defying the other missiles and the image that a photographer taking this picture may be trying to put across, we see four deadly missiles streaking high into the blue in a direction that may as well be west. It all comes back to how we perceive fear: something we see is far more likely to cause fear than something we hear. The creator of this Photoshopped image has improved his country’s reputation as a frightful source. People will soon relate the picture with fraud, but in the long run it is very likely that we will forget circumstances, and will look back on the frightful image of four Iranian missiles being launched as a threat.

Works Cited
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. 25 October 2007. CFR. 24 Feb 2009
.
Morris, Errol. “Photography as a Weapon.” New York Times 11 August 2008.
U.S. source disputes Iran missile tests. 10 July 2008. CNN. 24 Feb 2009
< http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/07/10/missile.iran/index.html>.

Old Economics in the New Media: Is the Google Books Settlement Enough?

The main issue in Robert Darnton's article is the struggle between publishers and the public for money and control over information. Publishers want to make as much money as possible off of their business, while consumers generally want to spend as little as possible on the information they want. Writers seem to be caught somewhere in the middle of this battle, as the first priority for any dedicated writer is for people to read, understand, and appreciate his or her work. However, to keep writing, they obviously need money, and they certainly deserve to be paid for their work (as publishers do). Google recently sneaked in as the middle man in this situation. By digitizing books and making them free on the Internet, they sparked the debate over control of information in a time when information is no longer scarce. Whereas books take physical resources and time to print, digital copies of any book can be made relatively quickly and cheaply, and can be copied an infinite number of times and displayed online.
The effort to control this new infinitely copyable form of knowledge is seen in the new legislation. Google's database can only be accessible from one terminal and cannot be printed without a fee. To me, this seems like putting an electronic bookstore (one that can only be “visited” by one person at a time) inside a library- a place where we expect to borrow books for free. This inherently betrays the idea of information for the public good- Google's books are not free to the public; they have to be bought or read entirely from one computer in a public building. This is not what a library is for, but as long as the books are copyrighted, we don't have an alternative. If the Google database was freely accessible from home computers, there would be no need to buy the information (you'd just be buying the right to print). So to ensure that people pay for the information, Google has the “consumer license”. The library terminals and consumer licenses will allow much greater access to these books, and the digital copies will be much cheaper than a printed and bound book. But even when we gain this vast scope of access to books, we lose the basics of the library. With this lawsuit, Google's books are not free of cost, simply because a digital copy can never be borrowed without the option to copy it. It's a great step forward to have this easy access to what Danton calls the largest library in the world, and I certainly don't want to belittle that. But when it comes to truly free information, we're back to square one. Old library books can be borrowed, but Google's trove of ebooks can only be viewed with a purchased license or individually bought.
So then, how can we preserve the enlightenment ideals of free access to information while still ensuring that writers and publishers are paid their fair share? The only answer I can see is sweeping copyright reform. Writers and publishers deserve to be paid for their work without a doubt, but when a writer dies, he has gotten all the payment he ever will out of his work. Buying a book from a dead person is just illogical- which is why we buy old books from publishers (not writers). But in my opinion, 70+ years is just too long for information to remain in the possession of publishers. Copyright once protected the public interest and the livelihood of writers as it should, before it was usurped by publishers to simply elongate the amount of time they have to cash in on a given book. 28 years is enough for a good writer to get much more than a return on his investment, though elongating the period in light of longer life expectancy would make sense too.
Thankfully, there are people throughout the world pushing to reform copyright law for the good of the public without sacrificing the well-being of artists or publishers. One such group is the Piratpartiet, or “Pirate Party”. Originating in Sweden due to disputes about internet piracy, a group of young people shifted their efforts from filesharing to reforming copyright law by forming a political party. Though it may seem at first that they just want more lax laws to allow more filesharing, the Pirate Party is a registered political party with a thoroughly researched, logical, and lawful agenda advocating copyright reform, the right to individual privacy (online and off), and transparency in the government. There are already active Pirate Parties in several other countries, with officially registered parties in Spain, Austria, Germany and Poland. The U.S. Pirate Party (active but not registered) focuses on the very same ideas of 1700s-era copyright law as Darnton. By simply reducing the time that copyrights last for, vast amounts of information would be free to citizens without taking money from the writers and artists who originally recorded the info. So, while I share some of Darnton's enthusiasm for Google's new database, I don't believe that it's quite enough to make our economy compatible with the digital age or to give both consumers and artists what they deserve- reasonable access to information, and copyrights that serve everyone, not just publishers.

February 24, 2009

Char Broiled Burger

Burger King has just released a new line of ads, in which they search the globe to find a “Whopper virgin.” In other words they are looking for people who have never tried Burger King’s specialty hamburger, something I can easily say most Americans have had once or twice in their lifetime. Along with that, their goal is to show that people like the Whopper better that McDonald’s version, the BigMac, on taste alone. They find people who have never tasted either, and are then blind to the Brand name of each of the Burgers. These people have never experienced all of the Advertizing that might otherwise sway their opinion on which burger is better. They are essentially taking a page from the “Pepsi Challenge” taste test and adding a new twist that includes a little touch of cross culture empathy.

All I have to say is what heck? Burger king is spending billions of dollars searching the globe for someone in rural parts of the world, who has truly been lucky enough to not have been exposed to this American phenomenon, and seeing what they think? According to SHARYN ALFONSI, JIM BUNN and IMAEYEN IBANGA from ABC news, the commercial fails to show the truth behind the places that they visited. Apparently the places where Burger King finds its infamous “Whopper Virgins,” are so poverty stricken that hunger exists in some of the very areas that they decided to film. So my question is what are we doing as a society spending all this money visiting these hunger filled parts of the world just to get a good laugh. Couldn’t that money be used to do something slightly more productive? Like help the very people who are going hungry instead of just laughing at their unfamiliarity towards a hamburger. According to the World Bank, there are over 500 million people around the globe living in absolute poverty, and these are the very people that Burger King decides to film. Sharon Akabas from the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University who said, “It’s outrageous. What’s next? Are we going to start taking guns out to some of these remote places and ask them which one they like better?”

You might ask what Burger King thinks of people’s unhappy response to the locations that the ad campaign was filmed in. According to ABC news, they really don’t see a problem with it. They don’t really have anything to be worried about, because since the ad began to air Burger King has seen a 20 percent sales boost. Apparently the current recession that this company is facing, is in no way going to impact our extreme love and addiction to fast food.

Along with the moral problem of spending this money frivolously, all I can think of is the terrible effects of fast food like the Whopper. It can pretty much be summed up in one word that us as Americans, are just as familiar with as the Whopper, obesity. That’s right, the Department of Health estimates that over 65 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese. We can happily thank obesity for a wide range of diseases including heart disease and diabetes. Good job America, we are officially the fattest country in the world, yet we are the ones with the access to the best health care in the world, and the best resources to battle obesity. Yet we are the inventors of fast food, and that right there is our big problem. So I have to think, what in the world are we brining this food to these people who are doing just fine without all the effects of fast food. In addition to that, their usual diets are not used to our fat filled foods, and this could also have bad effects. Well Burger King is once again the culprit, and I can bet I can tell you their main motive, it’s that 20 percent increase in sales that they are looking at.

So where do we as Americans draw the line? We are spending billions to bring people fatty foods who are living in areas with little food at all, and introducing them to an American phenomenon that has done us more harm than it has good. On top of everything we are doing this in a manner that is supposed to be humorous, I find it appalling. I guess that selling a couple more hamburgers is most important to our society. That 20 percent profit increase is truly the bottom line in this scenario.
Sources:
http://library.thinkquest.org/C002291/high/present/stats.htm
http://www.miamiherald.com/business/international/story/801768.html
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Story?id=6423256&page=1
http://thefutureofads.com/2008/12/05/controversy-makes-whopper-virgins-a-success-for-burger-king/

February 23, 2009

Going Postal

On November 8, 1991, Thomas McIlvane, a discharged USPS mail carrier, received a telephone call informing him that after over a year of proceedings, his termination had been upheld. On November 14, armed with a sawed-off .22-caliber rifle, Thomas entered the main post office in Royal Oak, Michigan, from an unsecured rear loading dock. He strode purposefully through the building, climbing the stairs to the management offices on the second floor. Seeking out supervisors who had been responsible for his termination, McIlvane fired more than 100 rounds, hitting multiple people before taking his own life. Several of his victims died.

Watching Errol Morris’ “Stalker“, you hear the story from the eyes of a man who had been one of Thomas Mcllvane’s managers. Bill Kinsley tells us that he has been used as a scapegoat for why such a tragedy took place. He has been blamed for being “autocratic” and “paramilitary”, he says. He’s even been depicted as a literal Nazi by those whom he used to supervise. Bill Kinsley claims that he did the best he could, and it wasn’t enough. He blames the system for dropping the ball. He had attempted to get Thomas help through the court he says, after the man allegedly began threatening his life. However, the court failed, the police failed, and Thomas McIlvane eventually did let loose in a bloody and fatal rampage.

So who is to blame? Should we blame Bill Kinsley, the allegedly “autocratic“ or “Nazi” boss? Did his managing style push Thomas McIlvane to commit such an atrocious crime? Could he have done something within the workplace to prevent that deranged man from doing exactly what he did? No, I very much doubt that Bill Kinsley himself deserves any significant blame for what happened that day in 1991. Perhaps Bill wasn’t the greatest boss around, let’s say he was autocratic, paramilitary, maybe even an intolerant individual, but then why was McIlvane the one that employees were really afraid of?

McIlvane displayed a history of violence long before the post office tragedy. He had been dishonorably discharged from the Marines for running over a commanding officer’s car with a tank. I want to know if anyone sought help for him then. Perhaps that instance in and of itself was not enough to know what horror he could commit, but the warning signs did not stop there. At the post office he allegedly assaulted a customer on at least one occasion. Coworkers claimed to be afraid of him, he also allegedly threatened postal inspectors, and he was eventually fired for threatening a supervisor. All of those things combined paint the picture of an individual who at best, needs intensive anger management, and at worst, could be extremely dangerous.

Perhaps if the tragic incident involving the Royal Oak post office had been an isolated incident it would be easy, maybe even logical, to blame Bill Kinsley and his alleged tyrannical method of management. That terrible incident, however, was far from the only one of it’s kind. There have been thousands of real-life incidents in which supervisors and co-workers have been shot by disgruntled employees, domestic quarrels have spilled over into the workplace, or other incidents of gun violence have taken place on business premises. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, homicide in the workplace is the fourth leading cause of death in the workplace. As recently as November 14th, 2008, a 47 year old man who had recently been laid off, opened fire inside the office where he used to work, killing three people, including the CEO. Just one month prior to that, in San Antonio, Texas, a librarian shot and killed a fellow librarian at the community college where they both worked. Still another shooting took place during June in Henderson, Kentucky. A 25 year old man shot six co-workers, killing five, before shooting and killing himself at Atlantis Plastics Company. These are just a few examples which show that workplace shootings happen far more often than you might think. Should we place sole blame on the management in each of these scenarios? Or should we consider other factors that could have contributed to these dreadful events?

Thomas McIlvane was obviously a very sick and violent man. Perhaps Bill Kinsley’s management style was upsetting, but only Thomas McIlvane reacted to such an extreme. If Bill Kinsley was responsible for what happened, why did McIlvane run over a commanding officer’s car with an army tank years before ever working for Royal Oak? Why was he reported for harassing both customers and post office personnel, if Bill Kinsley was his real problem?

When it comes to workplace shootings, it seems that we have the case of an already mentally disturbed, probably violent individual, who has just been pushed past the boiling point. (Even Mcllvane’s coworkers described him as “like a time bomb”.) When someone like that gets pushed over the edge, however, I don’t think that we can simply sit back and blame their bosses or fellow employees for someone’s murderous actions. The police are often notified of suspicious behavior, and need to act to make sure that a potential murderer is brought into custody. I also think it’s imperative that those individuals receive the psychological help and counseling that they need. I can’t say for sure, but I do think that the Royal Oak shooting could very possibly have been prevented. McIlvane went into a police station and TOLD them that he was going to kill Kinsley. Even if they had ignored his incident in the Marines, even if they ignored his harassing of postal customers, even if there was nothing they could do after Kinsley took him to court for threatening his life, I find it very hard to believe that they could do nothing but sit back after McIlvane essentially confessed to a murder in advance. The tragedy of the Royal Oak shooting is not so much the story of an evil boss pushing one worker to insanity, but of an already disturbed man who, perhaps after being pushed past the point of no return, was allowed to do what he did through the in-action of the authorities.


Sources:

http://web.me.com/thispublicaddress/WRIT_1301_02/The_Stalker.html

http://www.bradycampaign.org/action/workplace/pdf/workplace-shootings.pdf

http://www.ca-safety.com/public/1818.cfm

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE3D6163BF936A25752C1A967958260&sec=health&spon=&pagewanted

http://www.detmius.com/

February 21, 2009

Born Believers?

Born Believers

According to an article by Michael Brooks, there is scientific evidence which supports the idea that we have a natural inclination for religious belief, especially during challenging times. I found the article interesting, especially for it’s taboo nature. Though the researchers cited in this article apparently stress that “none of this says anything about the existence or otherwise of gods” I think that really, once you’re claiming that our “minds are finely tuned to believe in gods” and you begin laying out a religion-as-adaptation-theory, you’ve already more-or-less ditched any serious consideration of the existence of God (or gods). This article even likens children’s belief in their imaginary friends and adult’s relationships with their fantasy partners to believing in God. While I understand and appreciate the ability to think outside of yourself as an evolutionary tool, it’s clear that Barrett is implying that one’s relationship with God could be no more real than my childhood “invisible” brother, Sam.

While I am not a particularly religious person, myself, I do feel quite a bit of disappointment thinking that everything people believe and have faith in could be no more than a product of their own minds. I agree with the author in that we perhaps need the security of god or the supernatural, at least at some point in each of our lives, and the idea that something people have longed for for so long does not exist seems very sad to me. Though I found the article interesting and very credible, I will attempt to play devil’s advocate (no pun intended) for those of us who aren’t ready to dispel all of our beliefs quite yet; no matter how “superstitious” they may seem.

A study conducted by Jennifer Whitson and Adam Galinsky late last year came to the conclusion that the less control their participants felt, the more likely they were to see patterns in material where there were none. This supports the idea that as people go through difficult times, and begin feeling less in control of their lives, they are more likely to turn to belief in god or other “superstitious thinking”.
These results may actually not be that applicable to religion at all, however. If participants in the study were made to feel insecure, it’s highly likely that they would search harder for patterns just because they perceived that it was what the experimenters wanted them to do. What I’m referring to is called Social Desirability Bias, and it concerns behaviors people exhibit in order to seem more socially desirable to others. I believe that in a setting where you have a researcher and a participant, the participant is likely to want to look good in the researcher’s eyes, and if that same researcher was making them feel insecure and out of control, it’s likely that the participant would work harder to gain the researcher’s approval and to feel better about himself. Also, the feelings that were elicited from the participants can be very threatening feelings for some. Anyone who was feeling threatened or even in a mild state of panic, could easily have perceived patterns just because their senses were heightened and more aware. I also think it’s very possible that simply after staring at a monotonous series of dots or listings of stock market information, most anyone could find a pattern of some sort. Does that mean they’d be making it up? Not necessarily. Maybe a participant could perceive of a pattern, however the researchers couldn’t; does that necessarily mean it’s not there? Again, not necessarily. Patterns can be very subjective, just because each of our minds perceives stimulation in different ways. I feel like it’s a bit of a stretch to say that the participants who were more likely to find patterns when they felt out of control relates directly to the way people tend to search for God when they feel out of control in their lives. Just because you can draw a link between two things, doesn’t mean that a link is necessarily there.

I doubt that the issue of whether or not God exists is going to be resolved any time soon. I think that absolutely disproving God and the supernatural is likely impossible, especially because there are many people who wouldn’t be willing to let go of their faith. I realize, too, that proving the absolute existence of God without a doubt is likely impossible as well, for the same reason. I think if anything, it’s for the best that believers have their faith they can fall back on, and non-believers have their theories and beliefs as well. Whether or not God exists, I think we can all agree that it’s crucial for people to have a sense of security within their lives, and if that security comes from physical and chemical features of our brains, fine; if it comes from something much larger than ourselves, perhaps that’s even better.


*Work Cited*
Brooks, Michael Born Believers: How your brain creates God Feb. 04, 2009
Passer, Smith Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behavior, Fourth edition, McGraw-Hill, 2009


February 20, 2009

The End Of White America

I agree and disagree with some of the remarks that Hua Hsu mentioned in his article "The End of White America". I agree with "were approaching a profound demographic tipping point" and what he mentioned about the U.S Census Bureau and a "post racial age" that Blacks, Hispanics, East Asian and South Asian will acount for a majority of the U.S. population because I also read in the "Minnesota Population Projections by race and Hispanic Origin" article "white alone population will have slowest growth", "black alone population will grow rapidly", " asians alone and hawaiian and other pacific islander alone population will show strong increase", " american indian population will grow less than other non white population", " latino population projected to almost triple over thirty years". I think this article proved Hsu's point, but it showes how diversity is changing in a specific state instead of America as a whole nation. America is going to be even more diverse that what it was before. I think this change will have a postive affect and impact on the way in which americans live there life in the future. Being African American, I'm glad that "whiteness is no longer , a precondition for entry into the highest level of public office" and the nation has changed drastically since slavery when African Americans didn't have that many rights. It seems as though most americans citizens and people who become american citizens are getting more respect and treated more like human beings.
. With Barack Obama being the first African American president, he had some people thinking that they'll never see a day like that in history. Barack Obama is a Democratic and his whole presdiency had me thinking about when Jesse Jackson, an African American who is also a Democratic ran for president twice in 1984 and 1988 and lost both times. In 1984 he lost against Walter Mondale and in 1988 he lost against Michaek Dukakis. Racism were more predominate back then and Jackson was so pro- black and not trying to help everyone in America as a nation. Jacksons and Obamas plans were so different, Obama is trying to help America the best we he can and trying to keep the economy from getting worse.
I think it's very important to have a man like Sean Combs to look up to. There are some people who would've never thought an African American Sean Combs could become as successful as he is and can mount up to what Tom Buchanan did in the Great Gatsby. " Combs is both a product and a hero of the new cultural mainstream."
I disagree with Bill Imada when he said " I think white people feel like they're under siege right now- like it's not okay to be white right now, especially if you're a white male" and when a sixty year old white man said " I really feel like the hunted. It's a hard time to be a white man in America right now because I feel like I'm being lumped in with all white males in America, and I've tried to do stuff, but it's a tough time", because life isn't easy at all. When theres an increase in different races sometimes you just how to learn to deal with them by accepting them or not accepting them. Stereotype is also apart of life and a lot of people are stereotyped and they can't do anything about it. But no matter what changes that America goes through you can always try to be yourself in your own certain ways. I don't think that no amount of change should have you questioning who you are as a person.
Matt Wray observed some white students in his class and when he asked them who they are, they replied " I don't have a culture", I don't think that these students should feel disadvantaged and marginalized or that there culture is not cool or oppositional. I think society have a great impact in the way in which these students feel. When it comes to the stereotypes, news, radios, television, media, and other people's actions and reactions these are the things that make these students confused or feel different about the things they believe in or knew. These students face racial identity problems that I think can be solved or dealt with even though it might be complicated.
I think the power of racial hiearchies and racial identity will always be talked about in varies ways by Americans, because not all americans have the same views and beliefs as other Americans. An increase in ethnicity in America in the near future may have some americans thinkning they don't like it and other americans might like it, but when it comes to Americans there are to many of us and everyone can't be pleased and they just have to deal with the rules that the we come up with as a nation. I don't think " being post-racial mean that we are past race completely" but I do agree with "merely that race is no longer essentaial to how we identify ourselves. " I think it is important and benefical to Americans to dicuss lifestyles, culture, and race or ethnicity. Hsu did an good job of crossing a bridge and he is right about "this moment was not the end of white america; it was not the end of anything." There will be many more articles to come about this same topic and the might be about different issues.

February 19, 2009

Are you on Facebook right now?

Facebook is a communication website that young teens to older adults use to connect with friends and family. But is that all we use it for, do we only use it to keep in contact with old and new friends; or do people use it to look cool, and to look popular by having over 600 friends. The article that Matthew Hutson wrote was true; he knew so much about Facebook that I think that he is also mind controlled by Facebook. I saw differences and similarities on his thoughts. Anyone that is anyone who has a Facebook is addicted to it. Why do I have so much information? Because I am a victim of Facebook.
When a person meets another person at a party and they talk for the slightest second. Right when one of the other get back home, they go on Facebook and search them on the friend search and asks them to be friends with them; anticipating for their friend approval not to talk to them, but to just have an extra number on their friends list. People only ask other people just to look cool, to reach a goal of having the most friends out of their friends, and to not look like a loser. After reading this information on Hutson’s article, there are a lot of differences to this. I have a Facebook account and I have over 600 friends, but that does not necessarily mean that I have that many friends to look cool, or to show off that I am popular; I have that many friends because that is the amount of people I know and met in my life, that I would want to know more about; and those people are some people that I would want to stay in touch with in present time and in the future.
Like I said, I am a part of this traumatic effect of meeting a person somewhere then the instant I get home I get on my laptop and Facebook is the first site I visit. Since I am attending the University of Minnesota, I always meet new people; so every time I log on I always have a friend request waiting for me or I look onto other friends pictures and If I ever met the person my friends are with, I always ask them to be my friend. As “stalkerish” as that sounded, Hutson was right. People get on their Facebook and scroll through their friends picture albums and go through every single picture, they know where their friends are by checking out their status on what they’re doing; and people scroll up and down their friend’s wall postings and read who their friends are talking to and what their friends are doing when, where, and at what times. It is a phase that everyone is going through and that is all people look at while they are on Facebook.
“They hypothesize that Individuals with too many friends may appear to be focusing too much on Facebook, friending out of desperation rather than popularity, spending a great deal of time on their computers.” I wish I could say that this is a fact but this hypothesis is what every teenager does. People check their Facebook on a daily basis, and sometimes stay on it all day. Facebook is like those swirled circles that hypnotizers have, telling us to stay on Facebook instead of studying, telling us to waste our time on going through everyone’s pages and writing comments; and as intriguing as that sounds everyone falls for it. I have written papers, studied, and read academic work while talking to friends, looking through pictures of friends, and checking it every five minutes for the anticipating wait of a new notification; it is horrible how people can waste their time on it. All of my friends are always online, and I know their online because they message me every single time I log on. Most of my friend’s statuses are “I need to start studying, I am not in school mode right now, I am not ready for tomorrows test.” I am guessing a big cause for all my friend’s troubles are from Facebook, why would they waste their time telling people their problems over a status and comment bar while they can be studying. You be the judge.
Facebook is great way of entertainment when people are bored and a great way to communicate with others, but Facebook brings out a lot of non understandable problems how people cannot study, waste two hours on Facebook when it seemed like ten minutes, and make people look like stalkers. I do not really believe in the hypothesis that people having 600 friends is a way to make them look cool; it is just a way to show how much time Facebook sponges out of you to make you have the time to find 600 friends when you could be doing something better for yourself. From moving from MySpace to Facebook; Facebook is a type of electric drug, everyone is addicted to it until something better comes out that is more convenient to communicate with friends.

February 18, 2009

What's the Optimal Number of Facebook Friends?

Who ever thought you could have too many friends on Facebook? A study by the Departments of Communication and Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media at Michigan State University shows that a surplus of friend connections increases doubts about Facebook users’ popularity and desirability. Another study by Psychology Today Magazine showed that not having enough friends or having too many dramatically diminishes your social attractiveness. It showed that 300 was viewed the optimal number. Any more than that and you begin to look desperate.
Of course not everyone with too many friends is popular. Some people with “too many” friends may be concentrating too much on Facebook, friending people because they are desperate. They spend too much time on their computers trying to make connections where they feel more comfortable in a computer mediated setting than face-to-face interaction, stated by Matthew Hutson. But is it really that important how many friends you have on Facebook? Also most people would say, and my personal experience, is that only a fraction of those people are your actual friends and that the rest are acquaintances. Bottom line is that the number that you may have isn’t what is important it’s the reasoning behind why most people’s Facebook friend numbers come out the way they do. So what about the people that are popular? Do they really have control over this?
The number of friends you have on Facebook is not entirely up to you. It has been tested that how popular you are is based on your genetics. That’s why I don’t agree that people with “too many” friends are social sluts and people with “too few” friends on Facebook are losers. This is an issue that you don’t have that much control over. The study from Psychology Today looked at the genetics of social networks. It showed that the number of times an individual was named as a friend and the chances that those friends knew each other were both largely hereditable. However the number of people named as a friend by an individual did not appear to be inherited. Location within a network was also found to be genetic, whether people were in the center of a group or on the edges.
A different study by Psychologist Alexandra Burt also shows similar evidence. She tested the DNA of 200 male college students and the ones voted the most likeable or popular in the group were carrying a variation of a serotonin receptor gene. This gene is linked with impulsive and rule-breaking behavior. This proves that the “trouble makers” tend to be the most liked people in the group. Burt said that “What’s happening is that your genes are to some extent driving your social experiences.” This shows that if a lot of people in a social network like you and recognize you as a friend, making you popular, it’s because that’s the way you were born. This has also been backed by national data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescence Health on twins. 1,110 twins from a sample of 90,115 adolescents in 142 separate school friendship networks were analyzed. The results showed that genetic factors account for 46% of the variation in in-degree, which is the number of times a person is named as a friend. On the other hand heritability of out- degree is not significant, that is the number of friends a person names. This particular test measured the heritability of a behavioral trait by comparing trait similarity in same-sex identical twins that share 100% of their segregating genes to trait similarity in same-sex fraternal twins that only share 50% of their genes on average. It showed more similarity between identical twins’ social network structure than fraternal twins’ networks.
The research presented shows that this isn’t just a theory it has been tested it has been proven in different scenarios that the relation between how many “friends” people have in a social network like Facebook weighs heavily on their genetics. People that are frequently on Facebook may add people just to add them to make themselves look better while others are just liked more and receive more friend requests and have more friends that way. Then there are always those that have few friends on Facebook that just genetically are made that way and can’t help that they didn’t get certain genes from their parents that other “more popular” people got. Therefore how many friends you have on your Facebook account doesn’t matter and isn’t completely in your control, it’s just your genes talking.


Number of Facebook 'Friends' Does Not Matter

Let’s face it, if you do not have a facebook account, you are practically a loser; either that or you do not live in the twenty-first century. Facebook, as if you do not know, is one of the largest social networking websites in which “members…craft an image of themselves as they would like to be seen” by others (Reardon). You create a profile in which you share your favorite books, movies, music, quotes and any additional information you want with the world, all complete with your personal picture, birthday, relationship status, religious views and political affiliation. After you set up all that jazz, upload some pictures into a virtual photo album, add the very popular bumper sticker application and you are ready to use the search bar to find and connect with friends as well as Facebook “stalk” or “creep” complete strangers. This is why I think Matthew Hutson’s Blog “What’s the Optimal Number of Facebook Friends?” is somewhat unnecessary and inaccurate. The number of friends you do or do not have does not matter. As stated by Patrick T. Reardon, “on Facebook, a ‘friend’ is not necessarily someone you know well.”

By definition, ‘friend’ means “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard” (dictionary.com). In my opinion, the Facebook definition of ‘friend’ can range anywhere from the dictionary-definition to something like “a person you once stood behind at the drinking fountain in the science wing in high school” or “your brother’s girlfriend’s best friend’s older cousin that you saw a picture of and thought was really cute.” Facebook is so impersonal and so creepy in the sense that you do not really even have to know or physically meet someone in real life to be ‘friends’ with them online, and nine times out of ten, that is the case. I personally have 836 Facebook ‘friends’ but I would only consider a fourth of them dictionary-definition friends. The other three-fourths are acquaintances or friends of friends that I have met at one point in time. I am not personally one to request friendship because someone looked cute in their profile picture, but hey, it is not uncommon.

Young Facebookers often think if “they even slightly recognize a name or face, they should be your ‘friend’” (McGinley). People from the older generation, however, are very selective when it comes to who they accept and request as friends. While some people limit their facebook posse to co-workers, neighbors and family friends, others will not even go that far. In an Blog titled “Deciding Whom to Friend on Facebook” by Gina Chen, she says that her husband “refuses to ‘friend’ anyone on Facebook except people he cannot really see frequently in real life… he ‘friends’ his childhood friends, who live in California, but not the people he sees everyday at work.” She goes on to say that her husband would not even add her because he was afraid of the potential friend requests he would receive from others because of it. So, while some ‘friend’ everyone under the sun, others like to stay in the dark and not ‘friend’ anyone.

While I know Matthew Hutson’s Blog “What’s the Optimal Number of Facebook Friends,” links social connectivity to genetics and that is what my position is supposed to be on, I find it far more worth while to argue over the statement “you are either cool and have 600 Facebook friends, or you are worthless and only have 40.” I may now have 837 ‘friends’ -- yes, in the last hour of writing this I became even more of a social slut in Hutson’s terms, but that does not make me any cooler than someone with 37. The idea that people “with too many ‘friends’ may appear to be focusing too much on Facebook, friend requesting out of desperation rather than popularity… trying to make connections in a computer-mediated environment where they feel more comfortable than in face-to-face social interaction” is not necessarily true, either (Hutson). People with ‘too many friends,’ like myself, may have just met a lot of different people over time and have a lot of acquaintances. On the other hand, people with ‘too few friends,’ like Gina Chen’s husband, may only want to connect with certain people and not get caught up in the highly addicting website. There are no specific rules for Facebook regarding how many ‘friends’ you are allowed to have or how well you have to know someone to add them. If you want to have 600+ ‘friends’ and be a social slut, good for you; if you want to have fewer than 40 and be worthless, even better. It is your profile to do with what you want so do just that. No one needs a stranger deciding for all of society what the optimal number of friends needed to be ‘cool’ in cyberspace is.

Works Cited

Chen, Gina. "Deciding Whom to Friend on Facebook." Weblog post. The Post Standard. 16 Feb. 2009. 16 Feb. 2009
.

Dictionary. com An Ask.com Service. 16 Feb. 2009 .

Hutson, Matthew. "What's the Optimal Number of Facebook Friends?" Weblog post. Psychology Today Blogs. 28
Jan. 2009. 16 Feb. 2009 number-facebook-friends>.

McGinley, Mike. "Do You Facebook?" Weblog post. The Weekender. 16 Feb. 2009. 16 Feb. 2009
.

Reardon, Patrick T. "Facebook's "25 Things" are life stories in miniature." Chicago Tribune 16 Feb. 2009. 16 Feb.
2009 .


February 13, 2009

Caught Napping

Each and every day, it is becoming more and more difficult for one to have his or her privacy. It is also becoming more and more difficult for one to DECIDE whether or not what they do is private. Pam and Tommy Lee made their own decision when they asked the question “Should we videotape this?? But as we move into the future of digital photography, we move into an age where even the most amateur photographers can take high-quality snapshots of anyone’s lives.

This issue has been brought to light by the recent inauguration photo in which Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is caught apparently napping during President Barack Obama’s speech (I will come back to why I say “apparently? in a little bit). Technologies like Google Earth are making it possible, even easy, to capture images of anyone, anytime, and during any sort of embarrassing act. This is a clear invasion of privacy. This is the ultimate advancement for “Peeping Toms?, who no longer need to climb trees with their binoculars to sneak a peek at the hot girl next door. Now, I’m not one to speak for others and their life experiences, but I know there have been occasions where I’ve woken up in the morning, needed to get the paper, and not wanted to go through the hard work of trying to pull pants on while still being half asleep. As a result of my early-morning-uncoordination, I’ve gone outside in nothing but my skivvies to retrieve my paper; this is not something I want people to see (the fact that other people don’t want to see it notwithstanding). However, if for some inexplicable reason someone out there wanted to photograph this event, perhaps for blackmail purposes, they could do exactly that!

There is an article posted TODAY by FOXNews.com that tells a story involving Nathan Smith and Google Earth. Smith, a musician from Los Angeles, read a book chronicling the story of a lost treasure ship that sank somewhere north of Corpus Christi, Texas. While looking around on his computer he saw an intriguing pattern close to the town and drove there from his home in LA to find the treasure. The owners of the land weren’t too keen on a stranger digging up their land. Now, this case will go before many courts before being settled, but the principle of Nathan’s use of his computer to find treasure is what is important. Using programs like Google Earth to look anywhere, anytime, and for anything is sickeningly invasive. For each story involving a man innocently looking for lost treasure, I wouldn’t want to even guess how many untold, probably unknown, stories there are of people utilizing this technology for their own perversions.

The other issue I have with this new photographic device is that pictures in no well tell the entire story and situation behind the moment they capture. As mentioned earlier, this entire topic was recently made popular by the photo of Clarence Thomas apparently sleeping during Barack Obama’s speech at his inauguration. The picture shows Clarence with his eyes closed; could he not have just had them closed so that he could better absorb the momentous occasion he was witnessing? Or simply had his eyes closed just for a moment that was unfortunately photographed? Regardless of the reason, sleeping or otherwise, the point needs to be made that nobody aside from Clarence himself knows. One photo does not tell the entire story, or even part of it aside from one instant. When this type of photography is used, it is of utmost importance that one remembers that.

I am not going to suggest that things this method of photography should be outlawed; I know that there are many practical and important uses for it. However, it does need to be used with discretion. I just hope that no pictures of almost-naked me grabbing my newspaper wind up on the internet.

February 12, 2009

Pass the tissues

Dick Cavett hit it right on. Yes, man that cry may be considered “pantywaists?, but if that is the case, then every man at one point or another is a “pantywaist“. I asked a few of my male friends if there was anything that has made them shed a tear. Most of them said no, but I find it hard that in eighteen years of life, nothing has made them cry.
I know exactly what Cavett is saying when he states that “ there are two kinds of tears. . . the kind produced by the death of your dog. . . or by the loss of a loved one.? and the tears that come from being moved beyond words by a piece of music, a painting, a verse from a bible, or a speech. In 9th grade, we had a family tragedy. My grandparents had lost a son, and my dad had lost a brother. I cried for weeks after, I still find it hard to hold the salty water droplets from falling today. But, I had also had the most opposite of tears fall from my eyes. Last year, in band, we played a piece called “Nimrod? from “Enigma Variations?. By the time we had finished playing I found along with myself, that some of my fellow players and my conductor were moved to tears. Even while reading this article I found myself choking bad a few tears when Cavett put in a few stanzas of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic?.
Cavett lost me a little bit when he started to talk about former president Bush. “What does this have to do with the article?? was the main question on my mind. But I could not suppress my roaring laughter that brought tears to my eyes when he asked “Do freshman philosophy classes nowadays debate updated versions of the age-old questions? Like, how could a merciful God allow AIDS, childhood cancers, tsunamis and Dick Cheney??
If you think about all the times that you have cried, most of them are pretty memorable. The time your dog had to be put down, the time that you broke up with your boyfriend/girlfriend, or that time that you played a music piece so well, that you moved the crowd to tears, including yourself. All of these times, you always carry with you. January 20th was one of these times. It was a moment that was “just plain for the country?
I really was amazed when I heard that even with a mob of more than a million, that not a single arrest was made, and that you could here a single pin drop though the whole inauguration. That is just not in the nature of the human race. This really was a historic, moving, emotional day to remember, and that only scratches the surface. It was a day that was worth crying over.

Historic? and “historic moment? and “historic day? were repeated mercilessly, but remained true. Only a zombie could fail to feel the truth of it.?

The Day the Newspaper Died

I think we can all agree that due to the rise in the computer age as well as the usefulness of the internet, the newspaper is dying. Nonetheless, according to many advocates of e-journalism, the newspaper of today “hardly merits a moment’s mourning, since it is not a death at all but, rather, a rebirth?. In the article “Back Issues?, Jill Lepore argues that the situation that the newspaper is in today resembles very much the threats against the newspaper during the 18th and early 19th centuries.
The newspaper business started in Europe around the mid 17th century as a means to tell their respective country about politics or trade. However, like most readings on the web, they were said to be unreliable and or if anything they bent the truth. The famous Boston Massacre, for instance, was an event in which case only five civilians were shot. However, writers Samuel Adams and Paul Revere made the incident more catastrophic. When Benjamin Franklin published his autobiography, he painted his brother/apprentice James as a brute for his inspiration in writing during his later years. It was said to be used for “a metaphor for the colonists’ growing irritation with parliamentary rule?.
As popularity of the newspaper grew, it became more of a means to attack people in power like kings or the church. Especially in the colonies, the newspaper was used to spread opinions or announce certain events that were happening that week. Benjamin Franklin, the editor for New-England Courant, had an editorial policy that said, “I hereby invite all Men, who have Leisure, Inclination and Ability, to speak their Minds with Freedom, Sense and Moderation, and their Pieces shall be welcome to a place in my paper?. Papers like these represent the bloggers of today, speaking about anything that’s on their mind.
Of course, as most opinions are, and the majority of those opinions being directed at the British, they were fought with. It all started with the infamous Stamp Act of 1765 which taxed all printers by a halfpenny for every half sheet they used for their paper (essentially one penny per issue distributed). Papers such as the Maryland Gazette, Pennsylvania Journal and the New-Hampshire Gazette were already saying their good byes weeks before the act was set to go in effect. Franklin constantly typed essay after essay about freedom of the press saying, “To anathematize a Printer for publishing the different Opinions of Men is as injudicious as it is wicked?. In response to these essays, Franklin was thrown in jail twice for doing so. Another example of this is John Peter Zenger, a printer for the New-York Weekly Journal. He printed many essays that showed the governor of New York, William Cosby, that he was “an avaricious scoundrel?. Even though Zenger never wrote an essay against Cosby, he was given the blame. However, Zenger was acquitted for the charges for proving that Cosby was the “avaricious scoundrel? that he printed.
By the time of the revolution era, the Boston Gazette, ran by Benjamin Edes and John Gill, became a great opposition against the British, “flinging mud? at anyone who opposed them. On top of that, more and more papers in the colonies saw the Boston Gazette as a role model for patriotism and freedom of the press. Soon, the British would end up reading constant insults that drove the revolution to the brink of fighting.
Even after the revolutionary war, the paper still attacked anyone that was in power. This time it was the president of the United Sates. The first to be seriously attacked was John Adams, one of Ede’s friends from the gazette. Even though he was mainly attacked for his administration and not himself, Adams was forced to act and so he created the Sedition Act. It made it a federal crime to insult Adam’s and/or his administration. After Adams was Jefferson, who too understood the true power of the press, but unlike Adams, Jefferson failed at accomplishing anything to stop them. For the first term of his presidency, Jefferson just argued with the press, making threats that he would prosecute them for any wrong doing. Of course the press knew he was bluffing and continued to “fling mud? at him. Even during his second term, the closest Jefferson did to stop the press was suggesting that each paper should be categorized by how truthful they were. Obviously this was against the first amendment and never came to pass.
The newspaper of old faced a similar task of fighting against the rulers of the time whereas the paper today is fighting the power of technology.

Born Believers: How your brain creates god

During the very hard times Great Depression the churches had a large increase in the attendance numbers. This is just one extreme example of this very common trend for the mankind. This does not mean that they are talking only the people that go to a church but could be a temple or a tea garden. Brooks specifically says churches saw an increase in attendance because he is referring to the great depression. This is true for any place of worship and prayer. The word church could easily mean the place of worship and prayer. Just like on the United States currency the phrase one nation under god, it means the figure that you as a person choose to believe in or the lack of a figure to believe in. All places of worship and prayer will see an increase in attendance during hard times in individual lives or like the Great Depression hard times for an entire country. This is due to the natural need for comforting and counseling that naturally people desire. Another example when people turn to the church for answers is during marriage when things are going downhill and the future is looking like divorce. The couples that do not want to end in divorce and loose each other often turn to church and prayer to keep them together as well as counseling. This does not ride on the reason that the divorce is failing it could be money issues, sex, or whatever that is not important. What is important is that many families turn to the church.
This is what they are trying to prove is related to science. This is strongly questionable. This would mean that somehow religion is programmed into your DNA. This also means that when times get hard that more people are more likely to attend their worship and prayer complex. Atran says that “religion emerges as a natural by-product of the way the human mind works.? This seems way more realistic. Can your DNA be programmed that you are Christian, Lutheran, or Jewish? The ways you are raised as a child and the religious beliefs of your parents have a strong in pact on your beliefs. This is just like things like personality and maturity level. The link behind people attending their worship and prayer complex when times get hard is the same idea. It is traits that you learn from example and your examples being the people around you. There is no science behind people going to their worship and prayer complex when times get hard. It is the natural process of the human mind. People looking for comforting and counseling naturally and many people turn to their worship complex for this. It is a reliable place to go and a very comforting place that you are always accepted into.

The Day the Newspaper Died

The article written by Jill Lepore is titled “Back Issues. The Day the Newspaper Died.? After reading through this article several times and trying to understand exactly what kind of point she was trying to make by telling us the entire history of the newspaper, I came to the simple conclusion that the newspaper is simply something that allows for news as well as opinions to be published in a way so that the public can read it and develop their own opinions. It seemed as though she was not trying to tell us if the newspaper is dying or not, but inform us that the newspaper has and always will be changing. In her article she showed that often opinions can be very controversial. She explained how James Franklin tried turning the newspaper into an opinion based paper. Part of the problem in the early stages of the newspaper was that many people were offended by the opinions of the writers, especially the rulers of the country at the time. I searched online to find just what exactly the definition of a newspaper is. I found out that according to answers.com, a newspaper is simply a publication, usually issued daily or weekly, containing current news, editorials, feature articles, and usually advertising. In this definition there is not anything that suggests the newspaper must be a printed copy that must be distributed to the consumer. I have come to a conclusion that the newspaper will, someday, cease to exist in its hard copy form. However, I believe that it should and will be referred to as a “newspaper? because it still contains the same principles as a printed newspaper. It seems as though the major newspaper companies realize this and are starting to focus more on web based formats.

According one article titled “Out of Print?, written by Eric Alterman, until just recently newspaper industries were classified as high-margin monopolies. To have or own a newspaper industry in a midsized American city was comparable to being able to print money. However, that is no longer the case. Since the year 1990, a quarter of newspaper jobs have disappeared. This is due to the fact that the internet has taken a lot of the work out of creating a newspaper as well as the time involved in printing it.

According to Lepore’s article the newspaper has been evolving since its start in the sixteenth century. Newspapers were only distributed on a weekly basis because it took sixteen hours to set the type. She also said that at that time they were not even called newspapers. The term newspaper was not given to them until later. She also said that once they started they became more and more popular as well as more and more controversial. This shows that they have been changing and taking new forms as well as taking on new ideas.

Newspapers are realizing that their printed forms are no longer as popular as they once were and are changing as a result of it. Once again, referring back to Alterman’s article, “the average age of the American newspaper reader is fifty-five and rising.? This shows that less and less younger generations are relying on the newspaper as a source for their news. What will happen in fifty years when those fifty-five year olds are most likely no longer around? Will there be anyone left to read the newspaper? I know that I certainly intend not to get my news from a newspaper. The answer is that newspaper companies must face the internet and do all that they can to try and keep up with the trend shift. I currently live in White Bear Lake and my family gets the paper titled the “White Bear Press?. I occasionally glance through it to see if I recognize anyone in the sports section but I do not rely on it for my news in any way. About a week or so ago I was glancing through it looking for possible research paper topics when I noticed something very interesting on the very first page. At the very top of the paper in bold letters was the phrase “…Comment on stories, browse photos and read blogs.? Next to this there was a web address written. This demonstrates that these newspaper companies are realizing that they must turn to the internet in order to gain readers. It also shows that they are using this as a tool to currently make their newspaper better. They are trying to get the public interested and talking about their stories with each other. It seems as though they are possibly attempting to turn the newspaper into more of a consumer based discussion where they spark the conversations by writing an article and then rely on the public to create the conversation.

Whether or not the newspaper will cease to exist within the next few years or the next one hundred years I cannot say. What I can say is that the way trends are going now and with the decrease of young readers going the way it is, the newspaper will no longer be in print form in the future. This is not to say that it will not exist because it will in online document form. It is something that we must keep an eye on in the future as well as take advantage of in getting our voices heard via newspaper web blogs and websites.

Does Our Brain Create God?

Religion has always been a staple of society, often linking people of various backgrounds together that share a common belief. Much of the religious ideas that are currently upheld most likely have stemmed from past generations. However, unlike in the early centuries, science is now being used to affirm the existence of God. Although it is still not possible to factually prove or disprove God, scientists have introduced the brain as possibly being a tool that forms the ideas associated to religion. Science aids the idea that a person’s brain plays a factor in creating the idea of God.

Michael Brooks’ argument in the article “Born Believers,? that the current state of the person influences their level of belief, is valid. Whenever someone is in a position of adversity, for example, when an athlete suffers a potential career ending injury, that athlete might resort to prayer in hopes that the situation will be alleviated. “When we feel a lack of control we fall back on superstitious ways of thinking. That would explain why religions enjoy a revival during hard time,? notes Jennifer Whitson of The University of Texas at Austin. To reinforce this notion, Brooks mentions that during the Great Depression, “the strictest, most authoritarian churches saw a surge in attendance.? Experiencing a time of fear and uncertainty on the future stability of their lives, people turned to faith in God for assistance. According to Matthew Alper (who was referenced by Iona Miller in her article “How the Brain ‘Creates’ God), “The brain is hard-wired for mystical experiences to modify the threat of our hostile existential reality.?

Common-Sense Dualism is a term coined by Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University. This refers to the idea that our body carries out our physical processes while our mind carries out our conscience processes, or in other words the idea of matter and mind. Therefore it is natural for our mind to think about things that are not visibly apparent. For example, Brooks notes how children often create an imaginary friend that bares resemblance to an actual being but in reality does not exist. Even adults tend to create similar situations, such as when they imagine a significant other that they have yet to meet. As a result, our minds naturally tend to help us create images of things we cannot physically recognize with our own eyes. This relates to religion and God because the notion of matter and mind “appears to prime the brain for supernatural concepts such as life after death.? (Brooks). The afterlife (commonly deemed heaven and hell) is a major component of many religions.

It is a natural tendency to attempt to understand the causes of the world around us. According to Brooks, “the mind has another attribute: an overdeveloped sense of cause and effect.? People tend to refer to God as a cause or answer to the complexities of life. Basic questions such as why does the wind blow, or why does the Earth revolve the way it does is often answered by the belief God made it to be that way. We understand the basic scientific principles of nature but the question of why still tends to be ambiguosus. People will always try to answer questions, both complex and miniscule, because of their animosity towards uncertainty.

Although uncommon, some people encounter a condition known as Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE). This condition often provokes seizures originating from the medial or lateral temporal lobe. According to an online blogger who has this case, it is known that seismic activity stimulates the lobe and “can induce visions of Christ, angels, demons, etc.? If a scientific condition can induce these hallucinations, one of her ideas is that people developed religion to put this TLE into context and make it more realistic to interpret. The Middle East centers on the three religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Historically, that area has been an active seismic area. It is plausible to conclude that perhaps some of those who had religious visions or visions of God were actually affected by TLE, especially for those who encountered it before it was defined in 1985.

In recent years, science has been the main tool used to determine the significance of the role that the brain plays in formulating ideas dealing with God and religion. Brooks explains the idea of personal situation playing a role in how one perceives God. If a person is in a situation of uncertainty or doubt, they will tend to find an answer with religion. It is also customary for people to try and explain the world, in many cases, with God. Although a finite answer may not be readily available, science is being used to formulate an answer to the ambiguous question of “why do we believe in God??

Works Cited

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126941.700-born-believers-how-your-brain-creates-god.html?full=true

http://www.nwbotanicals.org/oak/magick/createsgod.htm

http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=120688

Caught Napping: I don't know where any of this is going, and don't try to know

It started out with photographers of only the highest skill level and most advanced technology being able to take pictures that one could barely determine who or what it was that was being photographed. It didn’t take long before more advanced, cheaper, and “easily available to the everyday consumer? cameras were brought out into the market, and people could take decent photographs without needing any experience in photography what-so-ever. Nowadays, technology is available that is so advanced and out of this world (literally) one might consider the ability that this equipment has gone too far, or is what one might classify as an invasion of privacy. What people have been unable to logically know and visually see have always been the things that they’ve wanted to know most deeply. However, with GigaPan images and technology used in programs such as Google Earth, anyone and everyone is able to see and know things that no one ever even dreamed of being possible.

Take the GigaPan image of President Barack Obama’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., for example. Using a GigaPan robot, there were a total of 220 snapshots taken and pieced together to create a giant perspective of freakishly high resolution. This image, created by photographer David Bergan, has created a boatload of controversy…more than anyone could have expected. The main debate lies in the fact that with such advanced technology, you are able to see anyone’s face with such detail it’s considered eerie and a clear invasion of privacy. Many people are beginning to fear and speculate that their identity may become publicly known. On a more serious note, it raises the possibility of their identity being stolen, just from this one excruciatingly detailed picture.

Of course, with the GigaPan image, it is quite simple to be able to see someone’s identity. Zooming in to a crowd of inauguration attendees, one is able to make out each and every mug shot. However, I do not think that the possibility of one’s identity being stolen is something that needs fretting over. I don’t believe that anyone would waste their time trying to pick out a face from a GigaPan image so they can merely “steal their identity.? On top of that, I’m not aware that it is even possible to steal a person’s identity just by seeing their face. In that case, it’s possible for anyone you come across walking down the street is able to take a quick snapshot and steal your identity. The point I’m trying to make, I suppose, is that the availability of your identity to be stolen is already obtainable for anyone in just as simple a manner.

Now, another controversy brought up over David Bergan’s Inauguration GigaPan image can be observed when you zoom in just to the northwest of Obama speaking at his podium. In the stands, you are able to see Clarence Thomas conspicuously nodding off. So, what you have here is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court caught red-handed supposedly falling asleep during Barack Obama’s moment of glory. Here’s the problem I have with such an accusation. Could it not be that the Associate Justice just so happened to be unobtrusively closing his eyes for the exact few seconds that the GigaPan robot was snapping a photograph of the area? GigaPan images are not a complete invasion of privacy. Instead, I believe that the quandary is in the fact that such an image can provide a complete façade of one’s actions. Such things being known could explode somebody’s reputation into something glorious, but on the other hand, it could completely and utterly ruin it, merely because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Another program, with somewhat of the same concept, is dealing with a lot of heat lately. Google Earth allows you to zoom in and view basically and major city of the world with a crisp and clear point of view as if you were standing on a city itself. This deals with the same concept, and in turn I feel the same way about it.

This type of technology is going to keep advancing and being utilized whether we like it or not. But I do believe that some of the images one might find may be blown out of proportion and misinterpreted by anyone who sees something out of the ordinary. Lastly, I do think that these pictures only keep people hidden behind their computer screens even more so than ever now. Adding upon the fact that 60 books of information is added to the internet every second, the ability of recording these things give everyone the chance to see things with such detail that has been nigh impossible for so many decades. Lots of things these days are now accessible on the internet that a person used to have to go out and explore with their own eyes, in person, and in real time. In some sense, it’s kind of a shame, but we are living in the 21st century, and technology is a mainstream part of life that everyone must be aware of and encompass.

What's the optimal amount of facebook friends?

The optimal number of Facebook friends has been researched by Matthew Hutson. It is amazing how the Facebook network has grown in the past few years. One of the most popular features that Facebook offers is the “Add as a Friend? option. Many Facebook users desire to have as many friends as possible, so they add everyone in sight. There are, however, still users that will only add a person if they know who they are. Once someone adds a friend, the person who was “friended? must either accept or deny the friend request. More often than not, even if they aren’t familiar with the person, users will accept friend requests without delay. Many users believe that you are a loser by not having many friends. It is also considered to be a “social slut? if a user has too many friends on Facebook. Some research has shown that Facebook friends have ranged from 12 to around 902 friends, but there are many accounts that have many more friends than that. The average user has around 302 friends.
I can relate to this article because I have a Facebook account. I have an average of 500 friends, but most of them seem to be adding new friends every day. In reality, I only speak with about a fourth of the friends that I have on my account.
It is very hard to stay focused when Facebook is around. They say in the article that students and adults spend more time on Facebook not just socializing but also looking at profiles and what we call “stalking? each other. Facebook has even outnumbered the amount of users than what MySpace had.
Facebook was created in 2004, and in the year 2007 Facebook reported to have more than 21 million registered members. 1.2 billion pages are viewed each day. Facebook was first created for college students but then expanded to the high school network and other networks in 2005. After research, it is shown that a typical user spends 20 minutes on Facebook and two-thirds’ users check Facebook at least once a day. Facebook is also reported as being one of the largest websites used on the internet.
Facebook is a big distraction to many students these days because of all the things you are able to do on it. Students lose track of time and sit on Facebook to just look at their friends’ profiles. Facebook has also become a distraction in class because it is said students that bring their computer to class are either on Facebook, emails, or chat. With these distractions, it is very difficult for a student to absorb any material from class.
Facebook has extended past the normal confines of a user’s computer—it is now available to anyone who has internet access on any mobile or otherwise immobile device. Today about 13 percent of Facebook users can access their Facebook accounts through their phones. There is also a phonebook feature in which it is extremely simple to just look up a person’s phone number on your account. This can and does make Facebook very dangerous, because it is then entirely possible that someone you do not know now knows your phone number, along with your address, email address, work and educational history, etc. It is not completely a joke when people use the term “Facebook stalking?, since actually being stalked is not a laughing matter. Since Facebook has trickled down many networks, a lot of children have created accounts. Imagine a young elementary school child adding an account because it is the “cool thing to do?. This child does not know what can happen if they display too much information on their page. This child also probably does not know about child predators and molesters that would love to get a hold on any information they can to feed their sickening habits.
Facebook also allows users to add applications in which you can only view results if you send applications to your friends. Applications are just another way to add more things to your facebook and waste time. With the Facebook chat, it is also possible to view when other people are online. Both of these resources can be extremely problematic, mostly because of the stalking risks I mentioned earlier.
Over time I think Facebook will die down because a new website will take over just like how Facebook took over Myspace. But as of right now, Facebook is one of the number one websites for keeping in contact with your friends.

http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol12/issue4/ellison.html


February 11, 2009

If you have no friends, blame your parents

An Article from Psychology today entitled “What’s the Optimal Number of Facebook Friends?? attempts to try and figure out what is the perfect number of Facebook friends, after all according to them having too many or too little can be a bad thing. What struck me most from the article was the idea that you might not even have any control of how many friends you have. It could all be genetic.

At first I was a little skeptical. I currently, as of February 11th have 492 Facebook friends, and my younger brother by only two years has only 165, and of those we only had 42 mutual friends. On average siblings’ genetic makeup is about 50 percent the same. So am I missing something here?

A study done at Harvard and the University of California in November of 2008 proved me wrong. They looked at the fact that some people had a lot of friends and others had very few, and at the same time, some people were in smaller groups of friends where everyone knew each other, and other people belonged to groups of friend where there was very little overlap between friendships. They found using a twin study that the likeliness of someone to be named a friend, and the likeliness that the friends know each other are related. But the amount of people that someone named as a friend were not related. They also found that the centrality within a group was also genetic.

One possible reason for this was explained by the “Attract and introduce model.? Basically they stated that some people are naturally more attractive than others, whether it be physical attraction or other qualities. This is something that has been long proved to be genetic. The second half of this model is the fact that some people are more inclined to introduce their friends to each other. So basically our genetics can be to blame for both our direct and indirect relationships.

There is also the idea that our behavior is what influences the amount of friends that we have. I always thought this Idea to be more plausible. After all how you act influences how many people are drawn to you. Unfortunately, other studies have been done that state that your behavior is also genetic. Alexandra Burt at Michigan State University said that “your genes are to some extent driving your social behavior.? They looked into the correlation between a gene and particular behaviors and social experiences. Burt collected DNA samples from over 200 male college students. After interacting in a lab setting for an hour the most popular students ended up being the ones with a serotonin gene associated with rule breaking behavior. So basically the people who were the rule breakers were found to be more popular.

According to research done in Computer-Mediated Communication after asking students to rate the attractiveness of someone’s Facebook profile, the most attractive profiles had an average of 300 friends. But does that really answer the question, what is the optimal number of friends? After analyzing all of the studies and research done, I have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter, because there is nothing we can do to control the amount of friends that we have. We are either genetically blessed with the ability to make friends and introduce them, or we are born with the gifts to attract friends with our looks or behavior. In the end, there is nothing we can do to control the amount of friends we have. All we can do is trust our genes. Maybe my brother is adopted.

February 10, 2009

We May Be Crossing a Bridge, But We're Not There Yet

At the end of Hua Hsu's article, “The End of White America?, he says that the current generation has crossed a bridge beyond the issue of race. He states that racial identity may already be outdated. I believe that it is outdated, but that doesn't mean that it will be phased out easily. Personally, as a white male, I don't see the end of the white majority in America as a negative thing at all. I'm half Italian by descent, and my Great Grandparents weren't considered white when they got here- but today, my 100% Italian mother is always considered a white woman. So, racial categorization has changed before without incident, and it will change again. Mixed ethnicity or “beige? Americans may be considered white, but eventually whiteness will lose much of its meaning as minority ethnicities steadily rise in numbers and achieve greater representation in business and political spheres. Still, while we may be leaving the idea of “White America? behind, I believe that race as a societal issue may very well persist for years even after the majority of Americans are no longer described as “white?. Simply put, it will take much more work to erase a societal issue as deeply rooted as race.

Still, the demographics of America are undeniably shifting toward non-white groups. As the term “White? loses its societal meaning, ideas like “New Abolitionism? gain better holds in the minds of Americans. The demographic shift may even do the work of the New Abolitionists for them, by reducing the meaning of whiteness until it is very rarely used. I found the ideas of the New Abolitionist Society very interesting, and I completely agree that the “white race? is an artificial construct that both fails to categorize people adequately and has been used purely to separate and subjugate people (most notably slaves and immigrants). I do want to point out, however, that the discrimination faced by European immigrants such as the Irish hardly compares with over two centuries of slavery followed by years of de facto and de jure segregation. I don't mean to belittle the struggle of European immigrants, but every time I hear someone say they're “the Rosa Parks of _____? or compare their situation to slavery, I cringe a little. If a group of people were considered human and not property when they arrived in America, then their situation is not comparable to that of American slaves- frankly, the New Abolitionists aren't even trying to abolish a legal practice.
That being said, the changing definition of race will be a very important factor in America's future. If a new majority group cannot be easily defined, we may even see ethnicity no longer being used as a socio-economic descriptor or tool. If we're lucky, changing demographics will force the issue of race to become a non-issue for the vast majority of Americans (assuming that there will always be people with racist or nationalist tendencies). However, I don't believe that will happen by 2042. Race has been artificial from the start, with no biological bearing on a person's ability to achieve anything, and yet it is still a strong issue in our society today. Even the word “race? has no scientific meaning- each race is a loose, ever-changing grouping of ethnicities and nationalities that is used purely as a part of a person's social class or standing. If the idea of race has survived for so long without any real, measurable support, then I believe it will be able to survive for years to come. Just as they have in the past, new groupings, names, and stereotypes will appear. If “white? is no longer the descriptor of the relatively wealthy majority, then we may simply see the rise of another grouping or hierarchy. Even within each race, skin color is contested, with many whites trying to be artificially tan (with “pale? being a negative term) and many blacks using darkness as an insult. Again, there is no rational bearing for these intra-racial hierarchies, and they've even been reversed in the past (pale skin was considered very attractive in medieval and renaissance Europe) but they've persisted for years nonetheless.
The article presents a great deal of evidence that race is becoming less of an issue with each passing year, and I do not deny that at all. But unfortunately, based on patterns in the past, I believe the bridge to a “post-racial? age is a long one. It will be easy to cross for many Americans, but a few would rather die than cross it, and getting all of America across it may prove to be very difficult. This simply means that we cannot just say “race is gone? and assume it to be true. It will take genuine work to change something so fundamental to our society, no matter how artificial or arbitrary it truly is.

February 5, 2009

Not the End of White America, Just the Dawn of Post-Racial Age

The America today is much different from the America in the 1950’s and 60’s from the change in technology, views on change, what’s on the media, etc. After reading “The End of White America?? by Hua Hsu, the article talks about a change that really differentiate the America today from the America in the 1950’s and 60’s. A change that gradually affects the Americans today, that change is call “the post-racial age or the end of white America.? It is a change that I do see but never think about, but believe that it is a post racial age and that it is normal.

I am Hmong, an Asian ethnic group from the mountainous regions of southeast Asia. Hmong people were granted a life of freedom in America in the mid 1970’s for helping America fight communism in the Vietnam War. I do not feel that it’s the end of white America, but I am not white, I do not understand the meaning of being the majority of America even though I grew up going to school and being the only Asian family in a suburban neighborhood in Minnesota. In that suburban neighborhood there were no African Americans that went to my school too. About five years later, the high school in that same suburban neighborhood that I went to became very diverse, I would say that two of every five students were of a colored race.

In the article “The End of White America??, Hua Hsu tried to prove that the end of white America is coming by using famous African American hip-hop mogul, Sean Diddy Combs. He was part of the rise with hip hop in the 90’s and now is one of the wealthiest in America. One thing that really surprises me with the change in America that really shows the “ending? of white America is soon to be coming is sports in America. I am talking about the number one sport organization in America, The NFL. The NFL is a very popular sport in America. Comparing the NFL in the 60’s when the Green Bay Packers were unstoppable, African Americans were rarely seen in the NFL. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, today white non Hispanic represents 66% of America, but when watching the NFL today, I see about 60% of the NFL players are African American and/or colored minorities. Also take a look at the NBA, I see about 75% of the NBA players are African Americans and/or colored minorities.

On the night of November 4th, 2008 America found out that the next President of America is Barack Obama, a half Kenyan and a half American. That moment proved not just to the country that struggled with segregation between blacks and whites in the 60’s but also to the world to see that that was the dawning of a post-racial age in America. According to an August 2008 report by the U.S. Census Bureau, those groups currently categorized as racial minorities like blacks and Hispanics, East Asians and South Asians will account for a majority of the U.S. population by the year 2042. This proves that the “White Supremacy? is slowly decaying as the years roll by.

I see no negative affect on being a more diverse country and I still wonder why some white Americans are so against it. The white Americans who sees it that way is holding on to too much pride of what America was use to be. They don’t realize that change is good and it happens. Like what Hua Hsu put in his article, white Americans have no culture of there own. They came to America and pretty much threw their original culture away when they arrived in America. Today most minorities are still holding on to there culture and language that they carried to America from their original country.

America has changed a lot from the 1950’s and 60’s to the present day. It is a change that I do see but never think about, but I believe that it is a post-racial age that we will go through with the next generation and that it is just a change that we as humans live through and like Karl Carter, of Atlanta’s youth-oriented GTM Inc. (Guerrilla Tactics Media) said, “We came along in a generation that didn’t have to follow that path of race,? he goes on. “We saw something different.? This moment was not the end of white America; it was not the end of anything. It was a bridge, and we crossed it.?

Google and the Future of Books

The Internet is an information highway with Google as it’s leading man. Google has started to digitize books and has recently ended up in some copyright issues with major research libraries. Robert Darnton, the author of this article, brings up the issue of readily available online libraries and how to get them readily available while still giving the libraries the credit they need. Darnton, to find this solution, decides to go back in time to try and figure out this dilemma he says, “The only workable tactic may be vigilance: see as far ahead as you can; and while you keep your eye on the road, remember to look in the rearview mirror.?

Darnton divulges into the 18th century Enlightenment period and goes on to speak about the Republic of Letters. He goes on and on in the dense voice about Jefferson and Madison and a rift between Rousseau and Voltaire. His main point being, “The founding Fathers acknowledged authors’ rights to a fair return on their intellectual labor, but they put public welfare before profit.? To sum that up Robert is saying that the system has been cheating the artists since day one, that authors have always gotten the shtick when it comes to credibility and salary.

Then a ways down in the article, Darnton talks about how the Enlightenment is now at our fingertips with the digitization of books, “Openness is operating everywhere, thanks to "open access" repositories of digitized articles available free of charge, the Open Content Alliance, the Open Knowledge Commons, OpenCourseWare, the Internet Archive, and openly amateur enterprises like Wikipedia. The democratization of knowledge now seems to be at our fingertips. We can make the Enlightenment ideal come to life in reality.? We are finally almost getting what literary minds have always craved for, except in the worst way possible.

Darnton argues that business is taking over our coffee shops, public spheres, and Enlightenment air by big businesses such as Google, and selling research books online. “To digitize collections and sell the product in ways that fail to guarantee wide access would be to repeat the mistake that was made when publishers exploited the market for scholarly journals, but on a much greater scale, for it would turn the Internet into an instrument for privatizing knowledge that belongs in the public sphere.? Darnton feels that we’ve missed out on a good thing, and have let the big businesses take over once again. Businesses are stealing even more money from authors and publishers then ever before and giving them to their shareholders. The 21st century is great, but it is definitely all about getting as much money as possible in popular revenue and targets all audiences. And they have targeted the whole scholarly community by making it easier to pay for a section of a research textbook rather than walking down to the library and reading it for free.

“An enterprise on such a scale is bound to elicit reactions of the two kinds that I have been discussing: on the one hand, utopian enthusiasm; on the other, jeremiads about the danger of concentrating power to control access to information.? Darnton’s first reaction is that of enthusiasm that this information will readily be available and at our fingertips for when needed. That Google has its best intensions at hand, such as libraries can use digital copies of out of print books to restore damaged books or even Google has come up with some system to help engineer texts for readers with disabilities. On the other hand though readers are unable to print off selections without paying a small fee, which is the same at any public library, except that the money goes to the copyrighters rather than the library. The only downfall in this digital book revolution is the effect it will have on libraries.

In the settlement Google made earlier this year, the company said their goal was to provide information access and not to create a monopoly. From this they pay the copyrighters, and most authors and publishers own US copyrights will automatically be covered by the settlement. Google is slowly proving to Darnton that they are making the Enlightenment dream come true. But it is hard not to say that Google has not already started the next big Monopoly, they have already run out smaller websites who were doing the same thing. “No new entrepreneurs will be able to digitize books within that fenced-off territory, even if they could afford it, because they would have to fight the copyright battles all over again. If the settlement is upheld by the court, only Google will be protected from copyright liability.?

Darnton ends the article with superstitions about the future and debates whether Google’s plan will blow up in their faces when they charge too much or will the achieve his dream of Enlightenment? Either way this definitely marks a new stage for the information era.

February 4, 2009

The Death of The Newspaper

“The newspaper is dead, long live the newspaper!? This statement has been seen throughout internet blogs, online postings, and electronic news sources themselves. The death of the newspaper seems to be imminent, Jill Lepore of The New Yorker claims the death of the newspaper may come “Not so soon as weeks or months, but not so far off as decades, either.? This poses many interesting questions about how this event will occur, and how it will affect the daily life of Americans thereafter. Is the newspaper really dying out? What will come in its place? Does anyone really care?

Upon analysis of Jill Lepore’s article in The New Yorker “The Day the Newspaper Died? one can gather assumptions about where exactly the newspaper is going. The answer is reincarnation. The newspaper is going online, hitting the internet to appeal to the new technologically advanced generation. It was really only a matter of time before the newspaper would conform to the internet “fad,? and it really has been a long time coming. Increase in internet newspaper blogging has been seen as early as the year 2000, and has seen 210% increases (2006 Nielson/net ratings) year over year recently. This new trend in news delivery has newspapers claiming the death of hard print as we know it.

As an 18 year old college student who has been forced to become tech savvy in recent years I wonder who wouldn’t want to make the transformation from hard news delivery on paper to easier to process, easier to access websites? It is comparable to how the early automobiles overtook use of the horse and buggy. It is comparable to how Blue-Ray overtook DVD overtook VHS. This world is moving at such a fast pace that by the time the newspaper is printed and delivered it is practically in the trash already. Things change, and I think that we should embrace the technology rather than resist it. Wouldn’t it make sense to save the paper and ink that is used to create the newspapers that ultimately end up in the trash? There is so much talk in the news lately about going green and the move to an ecologically stable system. Perhaps those talking about going green should go green themselves, and take their disputes to the web.

Bernie Hayden, Author of the web article “Recession is the End for U.S. Newspapers as We Know Them,? claims that though “the newspaper was fat with profit through the 1980’s, the industry never fully recovered from the recession of 1990.? It is unreasonable to think that print can recover during the hard economic times today let alone the recession 20 years ago. The recent trend in the massive newspapers is to outsource their workers. Imagine that, someone in India writing headlines for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Newsday from New York, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times have even recently posted for sale signs on some of their buildings. Hayden states in his article “Who is going to be crazy enough to buy those skyscrapers? Foreign investors, of course.?

According to the Washington Post, newspaper subscription has declined 1.9% over the last six months, and continues a twenty year trend of declining newspaper interest as people not only turn to the internet, but also the twenty-four hour cable news networks. These statistics allude to my question at the beginning of this essay: Does anyone care that the newspaper is indeed dying? In 1765, the newspaper was claimed dead in a similar matter, however it was met with a sense of gloom and sympathy. Lepore claims that “you can read all about [the death of the newspaper] online, blog by blog, where the digital gloom over the death of an industry often veils, if thinly, a pallid glee.? It seems as though the sympathy that greeted the claim of doomed print is nowhere to be found in this day and age. This may be because we have an alternative, more efficient, more convenient way to replace print. The people are choosing to retract their subscriptions from their local news source because they find other ways of reading the news superior to hard print.

As more and more subscribers change to the web, it is easy to see that as times are changing, people are adapting. The facts are that for every retired, technology deficient old school senior who refuses to turn to the internet there is an increasing number of young, tech savvy, and possibly even lazy teenagers that will for years to come surf the web for their news. Perhaps the newspaper is dying, perhaps print as we know it will be extinct in a couple of years, but the newspaper isn’t really dying. News is changing, it will forever be changing, and as for me, I will take my news on my seventeen inch laptop screen at a time of my choosing, thank you.

Works Cited
Lepore, Jill. "The day the newspaper died." The New Yorker (2009): 1-2.

End of the daily newspaper. Dec 18 2008.
http://marylandonmymind.wordpress.com/2008/12/18/end-of-the-daily-newspaper-era/

Newspaper Circulation Continues to Decline. 03 May 2005. The Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/02/AR2005050201457.html

The End of White America?


I found Hua Hsu’s article, The End of White America very interesting, and very timely, considering the quite recent inauguration of our nation’s first black president. The ideas he covered such as “flight to whiteness? and conversely, the “flight from whiteness? the change in attitudes about ethnicity and multiculturalism, and especially the idea of Caucasian students feeling “culturally broke? all seem to reflect the ways in which our nation and it’s people have changed so much over time. Overall, I agree with Hua Hsu about the ideas he presents in this article, but for me, The End of White America seemed to raise more important questions then it did bring about conclusions.

The author’s very first sentence in the introduction of his paper, states, “The election of Barrack Obama is just the most startling manifestation of a larger trend; the gradual erosion of “whiteness as the touchstone of what it means to be an American.? Right away, you might ask yourself why was being white ever the acceptable “touchstone? of being an American? Perhaps because those of European decent have held the power and majority status for so long, it’s easy for us to forget that Native Americans and African Americans have been here for longer than many immigrant groups of European decent, (longer than everyone, of course, in the case of Native Americans) and have had enormous and complex histories contributing to our country as a whole. That’s not to mention the Hispanics, South and East Asians who have also been an absolutely crucial part of America’s past and present. Perhaps people of the many different ethnic backgrounds have not always had the overall power or been the majority, (obviously, they have been and still are referred to as “minorities?) but does that excuse the concept that to be American is to be white?

Another question this article makes me ask myself is, just how much has changed over the past several decades? I don’t mean to suggest that overall, the nation hasn’t evolved monumentally, I believe it truly has; however I still think there are some things that might not be so different, and may never be completely changed at all. I noticed in the very beginning of Hua Hsu’s article, he refers to Lothrop Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy, which was written in 1920, regarding the so-called disappearance of the white race. It seems the book supported a type of racial paranoia amongst Caucasian Americans, that over time they would be attacked, taken over and eradicated by the ethnic groups of the world. That paranoia couldn’t possibly exist in today’s world, could it? What’s interesting however, is that just a couple of short pages later, the author quotes two separate sources, saying, “I think white people feel like they’re under siege right now,? “There’s a lot of fear and a lot of resentment,? as well as “I really feel like the hunted.? and lastly, “We used to be in control! We’re losing control!? I don’t mean to suggest in any way that all, or even most Caucasians are running around, fearful of what will happen to them in this “post-racial? era, but instead, I mean to suggest that racial anxiety still does exist. I also think it’s possible that the idea of an America where Caucasians do not hold complete power may indeed make some people uneasy. Take Pat Buchanan’s statement, “Mr. Clinton assured us that it will be a better America when we are all minorities and realize true ‘diversity.’ Well, those students are going to find out, for they will spend their golden years in a Third World America.? Statements like that seem bourn out of fear, insecurity and prejudice, and unfortunately, I doubt Pat Buchanan is the only person in America who believes those words.

One of the most potent points Hua Hsu made in his article, to me, was that even though we may be approaching a post-racial age, “we still live within the structures of privilege, injustice, and racial categorization that we inherited from an older order.? I agree with that statement, and believe that though our country may be diversifying and ethnicity is more often appreciated than shunned, we have not automatically become a land that is equal or even ideal for all shades of people. I feel that no matter how many different ethnic groups you have in one place, or who the majority race is in any given area; racism, prejudice and injustice can and may prevail to some degree.
It is my opinion that the color line in America becomes blurred slightly more all of the time, and though there are some who never may be comfortable with the change, I feel confident that there are countless people who are, and many more still who welcome it. Though all of the complex issues surrounding race are not solved simply by Dora the Explorer’s popularity, P. Diddy’s “white? parties in the Hamptons, or even the historic inauguration of an African American President, I do feel confident that they are signs of progress more than anything else.

The Death of the Newspaper

It is omnipresent; print newspaper is slowly decaying. As stated in the article The Day the Newspaper Died, by Jill Lepore, “in the eighteenth century, the death of the newspaper signaled the death of liberty,? leaving us wondering what the loss of an industry dating back to the 1640’s could mean in today’s society. In 1765, The Stamp Act was put into effect, forcing printers to pay roughly a penny for each copy of every newspaper to tax collectors- something they obviously could not afford at the time, initiating the slow decay of the newspaper. Thankfully, the print newspaper industry was not completely put out of business, however, in today’s technology-based, eco-friendly society, we cannot be so sure that this really is not the print newspaper’s last hurrah.

If the decline in print newspaper production during the eighteenth century was due to the tax on printing, what is the reason today? Though there are no concrete answers, many theories have been questioned including the effects printing in such large masses has on the environment, as well as the convenience of the conflicting WWW editions and newly popular blogs.

According to Internet: Death of the Newspaper? by Jen Lukenbill, in 2006, it was estimated that “four billion trees worldwide are cut down per year for paper alone, representing thirty-five percent of all harvested trees.? As if that is not bad enough, pulp and paper mills are said to be some of the biggest air, water, and land polluters in the country. As the “green? movement gains popularity in today’s world, it is very much possible the environmental effects are attributing to the death of print newspapers.

Another reasonable theory as to why print newspapers today are withering away is the conflict they have with the online editions. We live in a technology-based world where everything we ever wanted to know is at our fingertips. The internet is no longer solely used by elite businessmen and women for work related issues, but is rather readily available to anyone and everyone. Everything that has ever been printed as a hard copy seems to have a supplemental online version of it which can be found in roughly .25 seconds. It is said that online editions of print newspapers and blogs allow for more readership and are often less expensive to view; anyone with access to the internet can read news online for free rather than paying for the print edition at a news stand.

While the death of print newspapers in the near future is inevitable, it does not have to be thought of as a bad thing like in 1765; we, instead, should see it as an opportunity for the journalism industry to be creative and reestablish itself. As stated by Jack Shafer in The Incredible Shrinking Newspaper, “as much as people may have given up the newspaper habit, their appetite for news has become insatiable.? While the print version of the New York Times circulates, on average, one million readers, the WWW edition is viewed by roughly twenty-five million readers in the same amount of time. Old-school black and white print newspapers may be dying, however, news, itself, is thriving.

As stated by Scott Merrill in Is Print Dead?, the real, to-the-point question is this: “Is print — specifically newspapers — really dead? Or are the bloggers too focused on the bright and shiny stuff that puts food on their tables?? After researching, my answer is yes and no. Print is not completely dead- yet; however, it is sadly on its way to the grave. Bloggers, on the other hand, as well as any other person in today’s declining economy, are truly focused on making money no matter what it takes. This does not necessarily mean WWW editions, as well as personal blogs are bad things; they are actually great and give promise for what is to become of journalism.

Sadly, in the near future, the average American’s day will no longer start with a walk outside in a robe and slippers to retrieve the daily newspaper. Instead, all they will have to do is start up their new-fangled touch screen computer or newest generation of the iPhone, type in a simple WWW address, and wa-la: news. Though it may be the end of an era beginning over three hundred years ago, at least the junior high students waiting for the bus will be saved from a sometimes horrifying sight.

Works Cited

Lepore, Jill. "The Day the Newspaper Died." The New Yorker 26 Jan. 2009: 1-6.

Lukenbill, Jen. "Internet: Death of the Newspaper?" Weblog post. Amp Blog Networks. 6 Oct. 2006. 2 Feb. 2009
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Merrill, Scott. "Is Print Dead?" Weblog post. Crunch Gear. 1 Dec. 2008. 2 Feb. 2009
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Shafer, Jack. "The Incredible Shrinking Newspaper." Weblog post. SLATE. 24 June 2006. 2 Feb. 2009
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