Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Internet, For Better Or For Worse

The Internet has been used as a tool to connect the people all over the world. Every corner of the earth has been tied together, and the world seems just a little bit smaller because of it.

The global system of interconnecting computers has transformed the way we think, learn, and live in our society today. And like with any other advancement in technology, the Internet has both benefited and impaired every person on this planet.

Its origins, which reach back to the 1960’s, up till now has propelled the world into the digital age, and it isn’t disappearing anytime soon.

During President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address to Congress and the American public on Tuesday, Jan. 25, Obama mentioned that we are a nation of Google and Facebook.

"We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook,” said Obama. “In America, innovation doesn't just change our lives. It's how we make a living.

It's about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It's about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.”

The birth of the Internet has created an entirely new category of jobs such as online journalism, professional blogging, web graphic design and development and professional vlogging, or video blogging, which you see on Web sites such as YouTube.

Billions of individuals can upload and download information instantaneously with the push of a button, and it has helped people like those who have participated in the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen that began last week.

The citizen activists there used social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to protest their retrospective governments and countered government disinformation.

But the Internet has also stirred trouble by ruining careers, ending lives and starting debates on whether or not it should be restricted.

Net neutrality, the principle proposed for users' access to networks participating in the Internet, is now the subject of debate. On the one hand, there are advocates who believe that there should be no restrictions by Internet service providers and governments on content, sites, platforms, the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and the modes of communication.

Opponents believe the Internet should be regulated and controlled. They also believe that Internet providers can determine the quality of Internet service you can receive by what the individual pays. The belief that the age of equally accessing whatever Web site you wanted regardless of the Internet provider should be terminated for profitable gain.

Supporters of net neutrality are currently fighting the FCC’s decision that took place on Dec. 21 to approve new broadband regulations covering Web site blocking, traffic discrimination, and network management transparency.

The Internet has also challenged the definition of the First Amendment’s right of the freedom of speech.

Individuals like Simon Singh, who decided to tell the chiropractic community just exactly what he thought of it in an article demoting the entire profession. His comments only add to the disruption in how we can determine what we can say on the Internet.

Singh had targeted chiropractors' claims that their services could help children with asthma or colic, causing the chiropractic community to sue the man for libel and take him to court. When the courts began to investigate Singh they found his accusers didn't have a case. Attention was turned back to the chiropractors and as a result, about 1 in 4 chiropractors in the UK went under investigation by regulators for making backless claims back in March.

Issues such as cyber bullying and anonymous hate speech on forum chats that at times lead to suicide get added to the long list of crimes that could be committed as well.

Arguments about how the Internet has hurt students academically have also come up. The days of searching for information in large encyclopedias located at local libraries have been replaced by Wikipedia and Google.

Plagiarism has plagued the universities as it now has become easier to just copy and paste someone else’s work onto a word document, type your name at the top and just hit print, and yet at the same time people can access information and educate themselves whenever or wherever they wanted to.

The Internet has become an endless frontier of vast capabilities and endless problems. We have changed as species because of it and continue to change along with it. In the social and economic globalization, that primarily took place in the 21st Century, we have “flattened” the world because of the Internet, according to international bestselling author, Thomas Friedman, and for now we will continue to use the Internet for better or for worse.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

U.S. Aims to Make School Lunches Healthier

Sloppy Joe Fridays and tater tot Tuesdays could be a thing of the past as more attention gets drawn toward school lunches. Studies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have revealed that school lunches are leading kids on the path towards obesity. The USDA now wants to chuck 15 years of mystery meat Mondays and start cutting salt and fat and adding more fruits and vegetables to the cafeteria menu.
New guidelines have been proposed recently in the attempt of making school lunches healthier and fight the growing child obesity epidemic.
The new guidelines would give school meals calorie limits and salt would be cut by half over the course of 10 years. Most trans fats would be banned and more fruits and vegetables would be incorporated in each meal. Other guidelines such as only serving low-fat or nonfat milk, and increasing the amount of whole grains in each meal would also be seen in the cafeterias across America.
The USDA study, which was published in the Journal of Human Resources, followed more than 13,500 students and found that participation in the national school lunch program. It found that a there was a significant increase in the probability of a child becoming obese by the third grade.
According to the CDC, obesity in children ages 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008. And obesity is adolescence ages 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0 percent to 18.1 percent.
The guidelines at this point remain a proposal. It could take several years before schools are really required to make changes to the lunches, but there is hope that schools will start making the necessary changes now.
Recently President Barack Obama has signed the child nutrition bill, which will help schools pay for the healthier foods, and while the president helps fight the obesity epidemic through the signing of a bill, First Lady Michelle Obama’s Lets Move initiative, is also attempting to fight the rapid spread of obesity. The campaign advocates eating healthy and being physically active, both of which also help stop the rapid spread of obesity.
Obesity has already been known to cause increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and breathing problems. It is possible to slow down and eventually reverse the trend of childhood obesity.
By changing the eating habits of our nation’s children during school lunch, we are giving the next generation a better chance at a healthier life. It’s not only the children’s future that we are worried about, but ours as well. For the first time in 200 years, the current generation may have shorter life expectancies than their parents, and we can change this. All we have to do is continue to make the small changes like providing healthier school lunches.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The $1.4 Billion Budget Cut For Higher Education

Monday, Jan. 10, Governor Jerry Brown released his proposed budget calling for a $1.4 billion reduction in state funding for California’s higher education system to help combat the $25.4 billion budget gap for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The plan also includes a $1 billion cut for the UC and CSU system as well as $432.5 million in cuts to the state's community college system while increasing the price per unit from $26 to $36.

The California State University system has experienced severe cuts in recent years. Brown believes that these budget cuts to our state’s higher education system will be fully sustained on his plan.

Brown believes higher education, unlike health care services, is an easy place to cut because it's not tied up in federal mandates, but history seems to be repeating itself from Brown’s first governorship, from 1975 to 1983, where he cut funding for California’s Universities before.

The situation makes it difficult for lawmakers to both fix the deficit and keep all of the state’s programs funded without added revenue from increased taxes. Many California citizens want the lawmakers to pull money from where it doesn’t exist and fix the deficit, but we can't keep cutting higher education.

For many decades California was the state envied by others for its three-tiered system of higher education as a model for affordability and academic excellence. The Master Plan for Higher Education opened college to all state residents and helped the state grow both technologically and economically. But the devastating economic downturn has forced California to make harsh cuts to services such as education to resolve a large budget deficit.

I just hope that the people of California can get to the point where we can accept the raising of taxes and leave higher education alone. California's colleges has suffered enough already.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kill The Stress Before It Kills You

You procrastinated and you have a 20 page report on Shakespeare due tomorrow, you just realized that they don’t serve the espresso truffle anymore at Starbucks and you’re pulling out your hair because you think your dog may have the flu. Just calm down and count to three. Hyperventilating over your barfing puppy won’t make the poor thing any better.
Stress usually creeps up on us when the going gets tough. But what no one considers while they’re yelling at the barista behind the counter is what that high level of stress can do to your health.
Stress can cause painful headaches, sleep problems, decreased immunity and even heart problems if you really let the stress get to you. It’s a silent killer and it wrecks havoc on your life which is why it’s best to nip it in the bud before it becomes out-of-hand.
Here are some tips on how to tackle some of the stress that is piling up in your life.
Exercising is probably the best way to relieve stress from a hard day’s work. Walking, biking or taking fun classes such as Yoga and Pilates has been proven to have beneficial effects on a person’s mental and physical state.
Cut down on the caffeine.
I’m notorious for over doing it on the caffeine. No matter how bad you think that you need it, instead of the 3 extra shots of espresso in your mocha, why not cut it down to a regular cup of Joe. It probably won’t make you twitch anymore and your friends and family will thank you.
Just say no.
Don’t say yes to everything. Volunteering at the shelter and hanging out with the cats is a wonderful thing to do when you have time. But when Fluffy comes before sleep it’s probably best to just say no and start cutting your hours.
Try delegating your responsibilities at work, or sharing them if you can. It’s better to have a less stressed worker than one who is slowly becoming neurotic because of all the extra duties that you took on at the office.
Take a breather
Take a deep breath and slow down. Setting aside time for you to relax and catch your breath does wonders in relieving stress. Try picking up a book, reading an article online or something else that’s entertaining. You could even try talking with your friends or colleagues after work just to vent and talk about your day.
Always keep in mind that it is better to take some time out for yourself than to let the evils of stress tear you down. Relieving that stress can only help you in the long run.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Do the Women Of Wal-Mart Stand A Chance In The Sex-Discrimination Based Lawsuit?

The Supreme Court has agreed to consider tackling a sex-discrimination lawsuit filed in 2001 against the retailer, Wal-Mart.

If Wal-Mart gets away with discrimination this time, I really do believe that it will be years down the road before women get another chance to fight for their rights in the workforce again.

The Dukes v. Wal-Mart. lawsuit began when a 54 year old California female Wal-Mart employee decided to sue her employer claiming discrimination. The discrimination, according to the employee, was in terms of pay and promotion on the basis of her gender.

Wal-Mart was accused of preventing the employee, and other females working for the retailer, from getting training that would allow them to get higher paying jobs.

But over the ten years since the lawsuit was filed, the conflict between the single employee and the large retailer grew to include more than 1.5 million women who were working for Wal-Mart across 3,400 stores in the US. 

Today, these women are still being paid less than men for similar jobs and are suffering with the lack of promotions. The allegations against Wal-Mart have yet to be put to a trial but the issues are left to the justices of the Supreme Court to decide whether the hundreds of thousands of female employees working at Wal-Mart can join together as a "class" to be represented by a handful of named plaintiffs.

Class-action suits are pretty much the only way for workers to receive justice. The women of Wal-Mart could never really win the lawsuit if they proceed with the anti-discrimination claims individually.

It’s really all left in the court’s hands to decide whether they can stand a chance against the retailing giant. And this case is so important because if the conservative Supreme Court dramatically narrows the criteria for determining what a class is, Wal-Mart will succeed and the victims of discrimination in future cases will find it even more difficult to find justice.

Protecting Wal-Mart in this particular case will only hold women back in the fight for women to be treated equally to their male counterparts in the workforce.

As of today, there is still a wage gap between genders in the workplace as a whole and there really shouldn’t be.

Women perform their duties just as well as their male counterparts do in the same positions. They pay the same amount for housing, utilities and food as men do, and women are no less inferior to men.

And while single mothers get screwed over with less pay than single fathers, our “first world” country is completely fine with the fact that women earn only 77 cents for every dollar men make according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The fight for equality should start right now with this case.

Right now there is currently no limit on the size of a class, and I agree that there really shouldn’t be a limit. The case involving the women of Wal-Mart follow Rule 23 stating that there is no conflict of interest among the group and that there is a commonality in their complaints.

It’s not just a feminist idea that there shouldn’t be a wage gap between the genders but a civil rights idea. There needs to be equality in the labor force regardless of gender, religion, race, sexual orientation or creed—and to be honest—I’m disappointed that we haven’t reached equality in 21st Century America.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Five Tips To Kick A Cold

Someone sneezes and three days later you’re trying to stop the fountain on your face that was once your nose. You have to go to work hacking up a lung and you know that you can never remember to take that Dayquil at lunch.
So how do you get over a cold quickly without the use of medications? It’s possible. All you have to do is follow these few tips.
1. Blow your nose.
I know that you’re not five, and I shouldn’t have to say this, but blowing your nose rather than just sniffing that nasty mucus back into head is, not only disgusting, but it’s the easiest way to re-infect your system with the germs that your body was trying to get rid of.
You should make sure that you don’t blow too hard because pressure can cause earaches. The best way to blow your nose is to press a finger over one nostril while you blow gently to clear the other. And remember to wash your hands after blowing your nose. No one wants to shake hands with someone who looked like they just high fived Flubber.
2. Get some sleep.
Want to kick that cold’s butt? Your body’s immune system does a great job on its own to search and destroy the invading cold virus. Just grab a blanket and hit the snooze button because resting is the best way to direct your body’s energy toward fighting that annoying cold.
3. Drink hot liquids.
This is a great excuse to drink some hot green tea. Just add a little honey and you could knock that cold out of the park. Drinking hot liquids relieve nasal congestion, help prevent dehydration, and can soothe the uncomfortably inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat.
4. Take a steamy shower.
Steamy showers moisturize your nasal passages and relax you and they’re a great way to unwind after a day battling that cold. Just remember not to fall asleep in there, because that wouldn’t be as relaxing to deal with when you do wake up hours later.
5. Don’t fly unless necessary.
Flying is not very much fun to have to deal with in the first place, but when your nose is threatening to go over the 3-ounce liquid limit that you’re allowed onto the plane then you should really just think about rescheduling that trip to Acapulco.
Added stress to your respiratory system and the change in air pressure can hurt your eardrums during takeoff and landing. But if you must fly, use a decongestant and carry a nasal spray with you to use just before takeoff and landing. Chewing gum and swallowing (not the gum) frequently can also help relieve pressure.
Just take it easy and give your body what it needs. And that goes the same for the flu as well. There may not be a cure for the common cold, but you don’t have to keep the same cold for a month. And remember that staying healthy is far more beneficial to you than deliriously talking to inanimate objects because you running a high fever. It’s funny for everyone else watching, but sparking a nervous chuckle from a friend shouldn’t substitute your health and well being.

Friday, January 7, 2011

How Do We Fund Higher Education?

If you ask recently appointed chair of the House Higher Education Subcommittee, North Carolina Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx, about how we should fund higher education, she would say that it shouldn’t be publicly funded.

“If it can’t prove the worth of a program, then it needs to examine itself,” Foxx told the Chronicle of Higher Education. “Wherever taxpayer dollars are being spent, there has to be accountability.”

This view on education is actually a surprise for me. How can someone who actual received her education credentials, taught English and sociology before leaving the classroom for a career as a college administrator and then eventually head of a community college suddenly sweep the problems concerning education under the rug?

In 2009, Foxx was known for making other extremely shocking comments. “I don’t think the measure of success of a community college is always graduation. Many times, all people need to learn is a skill and perhaps get certification in an area.” Come on, really Virginia?

Foxx also opposes to student loan reform, which the Obama administration passed last year and is obviously not on board for Obama’s plan for community colleges to produce five million more graduates with degrees or certificates by 2020.

This woman is in love with for-profit colleges, has denied in the past that Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming who was killed in 1998, was the victim of a hate crime, and sometime between years of encouraging students to graduate and become successful individuals and not caring if the generation of tomorrow knows how to read, she apparently lost her mind and only thought about money.

But now that we have entered into a world where a college education is the key for survival, a semi-non-profit view on the way we fund and provide higher education for the masses should be looked into. Educating the future leaders of America will only help in the long run.