Saturday, November 27, 2010

They Went Too Far

I’m all for safety and securing major public transportation, but there is a line between security and invading every last bit of privacy that you have left.

The TSA has hit the news again with privacy invading images of boarding airplane passengers. This time instead of taking embarrassingly detailed photographs of people and sharing them to the public, some members of the TSA has been caught undressing little kids in the middle of the airport.

Have they crossed the line yet? Because if they didn’t, I really don’t want to see what their definition of crossing the line is. And I hate to say it, but Ron Paul is right on this issue. “Enough is enough” when it comes to the issue that the American people have with the TSA.

I don’t want to be groped, stripped down to my undies and photographed just so I can go home for the holidays. Something should be done about this in Congress. Regulations should be put in place to deter this situation, others like it, from happening again.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

In The Really New World

I was reading an interesting article the other day about the Catholic Church and its encouragement of Roman Catholic bishops in the United States to go forth and blog, tweet and preach on the “new digital continent” of social media. It really got me thinking the other day about technology and its effect on our lives. Has our world really changed so much in the past few decades that the Church feels the need to start a twitter account?

The truth is that we have. The world has changed culturally more in the last 40 years than it ever has before. Advances in technology before the last 40 years were only steadily groundbreaking. Older generations had the time to adjust to the new and innovative things being tossed at them. But now, in the digital age, the 40 and over crowd is struggling to stay afloat among the clutter.

Take a look back at what we have done in the last 40 years. The computer was born in the 1970’s. Then, the magical data-storing agent was accessed only by Bill Gates and super geniuses of the like. But by the time the 90’s rolled around, the World Wide Web gave birth to an infinite number of possibilities in the realms of communication and connectivity.

Fast forward 20 years to the present and you get whiplash moving from Web pages accessible through a graphical user interface and basic email, to the current use of over 92 million websites and counting online. And in an instant, the Internet condensed our huge world of billions of people and made it flat creating a connection, accessed by our fingertips, across the span of our planet.

Want to know what that guy, you met at that one party ten years ago, is doing right now at this moment? Why not stalk him on Facebook. Do you want to know every thought that Brittney Spears is thinking throughout the day? Why not follow her account on Twitter. Would you like to know how to make quiche at this very second? Just whip out your Smartphone and Google the recipe in your kitchen. Heck, watch someone prepare it step by step right in front of you on YouTube.

We can find the answer to any question that we might (or might not) have thought of by simply typing it in the search bar. The internet is so ingrained in our lives that we would all fall apart if it ever disappeared (or seemed as though it has disappeared). Y2K scare anyone?

The digital age has morphed the world into something so unrecognizable. It’s even apparent when we see people locked up for 20 years, who were recently released from prison after the dot-com boom, so incredibly confused at what the heck happened during the time that they went away.

We've even changed the way in which we react to things. We rather tweet about someone passing out in public than running to that person's aid. We document everything that we do, every second of the day, and display it on the inter-web for the entire world to see. Are we narcissistic, or has technology changed human behavior permanently?

Our livelihoods have been flipped upside down as we accommodate are swiftly evolving technology. Fifty years ago, a college level communications class would have never dreamed of electronically interacting with their fellow students outside of the classroom in a personal, yet public, blog. Technology has, and will always, drastically change the way we live our lives. And maybe a few years from now, I’ll be texting my confession to my priest instead of heading for the confessional. You just never know with this new world in the digital age.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Home of the Fast Food Junkies

Americans are obsessed with their fast food. It’s quick, easy and convenient. It’s so much more enticing to just drive through a drive through and grab a cheap meal for you and your whole family instead of sending that extra time after work cooking something at home. And it also just tastes good even though we really over do it on the Big Macs.

Last week was just another testament to our fixation with fast food. The McRib sandwich returned to the McDonalds restaurant, and I heard about it all over the news as much as I heard about the midterm elections. Web searches on the artery clogging sandwich went well over 600% during the week that everyone should have been wondering who was in charge of leading our nation.

Our deadly worship of drive through eateries has even gotten to the point where we had to stop enticing burgers to kids by slipping in a shiny toy. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors lit up headlines and probably angered some kids when they had to approve a prelimary ban on toys in McDonald's Happy Meals. They probably assumed that it’s bad enough that all of the adults are incredibly obsessed over junk food.

According to the Healthy Eating Guide, It’s already estimated that Americans are now spending over $140 billion on fast food each year. And now there are over 25,000 fast food chains in the country, which is an increase of more than 1,000% since the year 1970.

And when two thirds of Americans are now either overweight or obese and one-third of U.S. adults may have diabetes by 2050, our unhealthy over indulgence of juicy burgers and salty fries needs to be knocked down a bit.

Instead of sliding through taco bell for that steaming pile of Nachos Bell Grande everyday at lunch and munching on an order of 20 piece Chicken McNuggets for dinner after work, you should try limiting your fast food intake to once a week.

And when you are stuck with the option of zipping through a drive through, keeping tips in mind like avoiding items that are deep or pan-fried or covered with heavy creams and sauces. Instead, order dishes with more vegetables and choose leaner meats when it’s possible. Remember to never supersize your portions, add salt to your already high in sodium meals, and resist the temptation of overeating by avoiding buffets.

Avoiding fast food whenever possible will benefit you and your family’s health. And we can ultimately reverse the rate of obesity and the diseases associated with it when we do so. The grim projections of the rise in diseases associated with obesity can be proven wrong as well if we learn to consume fast food in moderation. America is the home of the fast food junkies, but we can change when decide to make healthier choices.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Let's Put Education First

A report reveals the state of our education system in California.

One of the many goals Obama has set to achieve while in office was to substantially boost college completion rates by 2020. But after looking at a statewide report on California’s community colleges, it seems as though our students will fall short.

According to the report, “Something’s Got to Give,” large portions of our students at community colleges enter the system unprepared. The report, commissioned by the state community college chancellor’s office, questions the effectiveness of remedial education in the 112 colleges reviewed.

It’s just a scary fact to know as a college student myself that of the 2.9 million people in the California system in 2008-2009, that only about one in 13 transferred to a four-year institution or earned an associate’s degree or vocational certification that year, according to the report.

All of this doesn’t exactly sound too promising for the state of our education system. Obviously there is something going on in the k-12 education system that is not being done to prepare students for colleges and universities.

It’s important that we take all levels of our education system seriously. Holding higher standards for our students once they have already reached the university level isn’t the best way to prepare our next generation for the future. It’s not just their future that is affected by budget cuts and how we instruct our students in the classroom; it also affects both our state’s future and our nation as a whole.

Monday, November 1, 2010

One-Third of U.S. Adults May Have Diabetes by 2050

As it stands, one in 10 Americans has diabetes, but this could double -- or even triple -- by 2050 if current trends continue. 

Here’s something that caught my attention the recently. According to the CDC, one in three adults will be diagnosed with diabetes by 2050. And with obesity and the rate of consuming processed and fast foods are on the rise, the number doesn’t seem to surprise me.

Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced. This high blood sugar produces the classical symptoms of increased thirst and hunger. There are three main types of diabetes that include Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational diabetes

The number of new diabetes cases a year has been predicted to increase from 8 per 1,000 in 2008 to 15 per 1,000 in 2050 via the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2050, between one-fifth and one-third of all adults could have diabetes -- with virtually all the increase attributed to type 2 diabetes, which is largely preventable.

The projections are due to an aging population, an increase in minority groups at higher risk for diabetes, and the fact that diabetes patients are living longer. But obesity is also plays an important role in the increasing rates of type 2 diabetes as it is a major risk for acquiring it.

The typical American lifestyle also takes a partial of the blame for this awful trend. And although Type 1 diabetes can't be prevented, the same healthy lifestyle choices that help treat prediabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes can help prevent them.

Prevention tips: 

Eating healthy foods is a great way to prevent diabetes. Opt for foods low in fat and calories by focusing on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. A vegetarian diet is a great way to stay healthy and keep diabetes at bay. Strive for variety to prevent boredom and to obtain all of the required vitamins and nutrients.

Another way to beat the statistics is to participate in physical activity. Just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day like a brisk daily walk, riding your bike, or swimming laps can help you stay in shape. If you can't fit in a long workout, break it up into smaller sessions spread throughout the day.

Finally, because research has shown that there is a correlation between obesity and diabetes, losing excess pounds can lower your risk as well. If you're overweight, losing even 5 percent of your body weight can reduce the threat of diabetes. To keep your weight in a healthy range, focus on permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits. Motivate yourself by remembering the benefits of losing weight, such as a healthier heart, more energy and improved self-esteem.

For those who may have diabetes: 

No matter what type of diabetes you have, make a commitment to managing your diabetes by learning all you can about diabetes. Remember to make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Establish a relationship with a diabetes educator, and ask your diabetes treatment team for help when you need it.

Taking care of your teeth is also a big thing to remember. Diabetes may leave you prone to gum infections, so brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day, and if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, schedule dental exams at least twice a year. Consult your dentist right away if your gums bleed or look red or swollen. Diabetes is a serious disease, but following your diabetes treatment plan are worthwhile as careful management of diabetes can reduce your risk of serious — even life-threatening — complications.