Thursday, June 21, 2012

Armageddon Science-- Response and Discussion Question

I thought this week's presentation was done very well. The Prezi was spot on, although Big Blue Button was not. It was a great class and a good way to end our time together (not the discussion topic, but how it went). Although, I guess it is funny how the last discussion of our last class of our program was about Armageddon. The ending of our Masters and our re-birth as teachers...we hope...

One of the questions asked in this discussion was how we think the world is actually going to end. I mentioned zombies and the presenters seemed a little irritated by that comment, but in fact as it later played out, that is a valid argument. It is relevant to pop culture and science because it is based off of a virus we cannot correct.

I personally do not believe that the world is going to end by virus or nuclear attack or even an alien invasion. WE are killing this planet everyday. This post relates to the discussion question on climate change. I think that we are going to kill this planet by killing its oceans. 70% of this planet is ocean, and we are destroying it. At the rate we are going the ocean's fisheries will be eliminated by something like 2040. People look at fish as if they are not a big deal just because they are fish. Fish are what keep our oceans alive. Fish are what enable the oceans to supply us with oxygen and control the climate in order to sustain life on this planet. Without fish, algae and plants take over the sea, suffocating it. Even our over zealous use of water is starting to show its effects as we speak. Just this week, the residents of Cedar Key no longer have fresh water. The wells that supply the area fresh water have filled with salt water. Our aquifers do not stand a chance at the rate we are going. Over fishing, greed, and pollution are going to be the cause of our armageddon if we don't do something to stop it.  So much pressure is put on the oceans, from fishing, to the illegal whaling and shark fin industry, to pollution. Millions of tons of plastics are dumped into our oceans every year. Plastics that do not disintegrate in the sun, and end up in fish and other species. People feel that there is nothing they can do to help prevent this type of devastation, but there is. We need to educate ourselves and educate those around us. Eat sustainable seafood, recycle, limit our fresh water usage, and try to decrease your dependency on plastics.

There are several documentaries that are very informative as to how real these issues are. Some include SharkwaterThe Cove, and End of The Line. There is countless research that has been conducted that proves the fish population is decline, the amount of fresh water is decreasing, and pollution is a continuing problem. I heard multiple people say during the discussion "well I don't see this happening in my life time, so..." This is a common belief among people so they do nothing to help reverse the destructive way of life we live. This mindset is completely selfish and shows how inconsiderate we can be. Please be smart and protect this planet for future generations. Educate yourselves, educate others, and act. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Starstruck- Discussion Question

I am choosing to respond to question 6 of this week's discussion. This question refers to the changes that have occurred to society's belief on what fame is and how it is achieved. It references a quote by historian, Leo Braudy, which states that fame was once related to honor and achievement, but now it is separated from both so far that it has become its own category. In terms of Hollywood celebrities I agree with Braudy. Other celebrities, however, such as Tim Tebow I feel disprove this statement. I may be a little biased on Tebow being a Gator and all but seriously, this guy deserves every bit of fame he has earned. He has achieved things in football that no one else has and done it in the most honorable of ways. When related to Hollywood celebs, Braudy is one hundred percent correct. Take Snooki for example. She has become stupid famous by being a hot mess all the time. She is famous because she is entertaining to watch. Going back to my response post, this is the way she markets herself and it works. People love to hear about Snooki's pregnancy and what crazy stuff she is doing and how hard she parties or doesn't party. I think Braudy makes a good point, a majority of our celebraties and famous individuals have in no way gained this status based on their honorable deeds and hard earned achievement. There are exceptions and the media does love a good samaritan story, but those stories are rarely front page and never last for more than a week.

Starstruck- Response

One thing that I found extremely interesting about this week's reading is how the author described a celebrity's branding and how they "sell" themselves. They are essentially a product that they must sell to the consumers, who are us. If we do not like the product, we do not buy it. Therefore, it is important for the celebrity to be someone the people either really like, i.e. Reese Witherspoon, or someone who the people really hate, but love hearing about, i.e. Charlie Sheen. They must choose what role they want to play, then sell themselves accordingly. I am noticing in the music industry, women usually sell themselves into the overly sexual types, then once they acquire enough fame, show more of their true character and use their celebrity status to re-brand themselves into someone they want to be. Being married to an advertiser, I understand the importance of brands. They are the driving force of capitalism. I knew that this was a must in order to be successful in the business world, but I did not realize how it applied to Hollywood. When you think about it, every celebrity in movies and music has a brand that they sell with their movies, style, and appearances in public. Hollywood celebrities often fall victim to type casting based on their brand. You can tell a truly good actor when they can play a variety of different roles and characters extremely well. The less a person cares about their status of fame and their "celebrity residual," as Currid-Halkett refers to, the more likely they are to not fall into a certain category or their brand will be less defined. Next time you see celebrities on t.v. or in the news, see if you can pin point exactly how they are trying to brand themselves. There is a good chance you will see reassuring patterns with their behavior and decisions.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

You Are Not a Gadget-- Discussion Question

-Question 1: Seeing students in the classroom today, do you think that technology has a negative effect on their creativity, critical thinking skills, etc, as opposed to previous generations?

I most certainly do not agree with this question. I feel that technology increases students abilities to problem solve, think critically, and create things. Technology now offers so many ways for students to express their creativity and share it with the world. Programs such as Adobe Creative Suite, allow for making websites, design, digital art, photo manipulation and countless other ways for artistic expression. Blogs and other online sites allow for students to create written works as well, and publish them to the world. Programs like iMovie and Windows Movie maker give children the ability to produce high quality film. All of these are available to almost anyone with a computer. That makes it inexpensive and accessible to far more people than ever before. Art supplies are expensive, so are art classes, but online you can create art for free, and search for tutorials for free on YouTube on how to use the programs. I think it is great.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

You Are Not a Gadget-- Response

I want to start by saying how well the group did this week and congratulate them on such a successful presentation. In this post, I am going to reflect, not on something particular to this text, but on a common discourse about the uses/dependency of technology and where it is going in the future. I have heard countless numbers of individuals, who I think Lanier would agree, that argue that technology is ruining the minds of youth by making them weaker writers, lazy researchers, and unable to use an academic book. They feel that with the capabilities of the internet and this sense of hyper-connectivity, students are becoming dumber. I do not see how this can be possible. Students are not dumber, they are changing. They are not the same as 40-50 years ago no, but they are most definitely not dumber. If anything they are smarter. Students function on much higher levels now. Their abilities to multitask are phenomenal, in fact, I believe that if students are not multitasking they become bored and lose interest. They need continuous stimulation. Yes, technology is probably the sole factor for this, but that does not mean it is of the devil. If a kid doesn't know how to use the Dewey Decimal System to find a book in a library, big deal. Chances are he can find that book in multiple locations online, so what is wrong with that? If the resources are available to our students via a digital means, then why is that so much worse than a printed hard copy? I do agree that physical writing (on paper) is an important skill to master, but it does not serve much of a purpose in the world outside of the classroom. Most professions communicate through email, write documents using word processors, and type anything that is a formal copy. Very few people actually need to physically write down anything, it can all be typed. So isn't it more important for our students to be masters of the keyboard if our goal as Social Studies teachers is to prepare them for their life after graduation? I apologize for my rant, but I do not agree with Lanier that our dependency on technology is a complete terror. I think that we should learn it, master it, and embrace it. The amount of knowledge available to us is endless, we just need to educate ourselves on how to obtain it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Peculiar Institution -- Discussion Question

#9: As stated on pg 24, "Why is it that at the very last moment, when the much proclaimed sentence is about to be carried, the official strategy suddenly shifts to one of concealment and containment?"

We left off our discussion on this question because it makes an important point on the evolution of the death penalty and how America still uses it. Garland mentions how the American government does everything within it's power to hide the actual act of carrying out the death penalty from the view of the public. Not only do they hide it, but they have completely reversed all aspects of what one thinks of historically as capital punishment. Most people when you think of capital punishment through a historic lens think of hangings, the guillotine, or even the electric chair. Beginning in the 1970's the United States, being the last Western country to use the death penalty, started developing the most "humane" way of killing someone. What it has evolved into is the lethal injection. The lethal injection is everything that the former death penalty is not. It is done in the most private of settings with very minimal observers, medical staff has taken the place of the executioner, and the people who do observe the event are prevented from seeing the actual injection. I find this practice to be a contradiction to the whole concept of the death penalty. I feel that if the government is so ashamed of it why do they continue to use it?
Garland makes a great argument that the reason they conduct the penalty in this manner is to distance themselves from any relation to the history of lynchings in the American South. However there is still several similarities and deep connections to lynchings within the modern use of capital punishment. I will not divulge into those here. Overall, I believe that America continues to carry out capital punishment because it is the will of the people. No matter how ashamed the government may be about it, they act on how the people vote (in regards to capital punishment at least). Not to do so would go against the founding principles of this country, therefore, capital punishment will continue to be used so long as the people support it and the government will do its part to keep it as humane as possible.

Peculiar Institution-- Review

I really enjoyed reading David Garland's book. I was impressed with his writing and how he remained relatively neutral throughout the book. At the end of the book he noted that about 80% of Americans do not have a strong opinion regarding the death penalty. On a survey asking about capital punishment, they answered "I don't know" in regards to how they felt about the subject. To be completely honest, before reading this book I did not have a strong opinion either for or against capital punishment myself. I never really thought of it as a controversial issue. I knew it existed, but did not realize the extent to its severity and how America is the only "Western" nation who still uses it. I assumed that the whole world still used it. Garland's book did not change my opinions on the death penalty. I still feel it is the right of the state to decide how they punish their criminals. He did, however, open my eyes to several discourses and problems with the current process of putting someone to death. I hate to think that racism still exists in our court system and government, but the evidence is overwhelming. I do not look at it as blatant "in your face racism," but more of a subtle racism. It appears that racial division persisted for so long that it is taking decades to completely eradicate it. The system was geared to support the majority and it has yet to find an equilibrium. Stereotypes over power truth in my opinion. Societal stereotypes and social norms shape the minds of jury's, local politicians, and local communities. If a community is engrained with racist ideologies, or remaining traces of it, they will be more likely to inflict harsher punishments on minority crimes against majority victims. This is a shame and I hope that something will be done to fix it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

All The Devils are Here--Discussion question

#2: “Though a 30-year fixed mortgage may seem simple to a borrower, mortgages come full of complex risks for investors.  30 years, after all, is a long time… part of the answer came from tranching, carving up the bond according to different kinds of risks.  Investors found this appealing because different tranches could be jiggered to meet the particular needs of different investors.”  (p. 8)
            Tranching has obviously changed the nature of the relationship between borrower and lender into a baffling economic reality.  Do you feel that tranching could theoretically possess the redeeming quality of encouraging a greater level of investment in the housing market, or is this merely a ‘quick fix’ scheme and not worth the risk of long-term fallout?

Obviously, this played out to be not worth the long term risk. Anytime someone bundles a bunch of bad things into one, the outcome is not going to be a good thing. In my mind, I see this as taking a bunch of blown up motors and combining them into one motor. It is possible you may be able to make it run, but it is not going to run as long as a brand new motor would. I can see how investors felt comfortable purchasing these tranched mortgages from the banks because it allowed them to get a huge chunk of this booming mortgage market. However, I think they became too confident with themselves and started making poor investments despite the risk. They were making so much money that it was no longer necessary to rate the risk of the investment. This obviously led to a whirlwind of problems and the eventual recession when the real estate bubble burst in 2007-8. 

All The Devils are Here - Response

I would like to start by first congratulating the group on a terrific presentation of this book. I can image how difficult it must have been to deal with this material, but you three did a wonderful job of combining it all into one solid, comprehendible, presentation. It is going to be a tough act to follow!!

The part of this book that really struck me as interesting was how no one saw this coming in time to do something about it. I find that so hard to believe! I said this during the presentation, but looking back at it now, it seems to be such poor decision making on behalf of so many people. From the investors and big bankers all the way down to the home buyer. The concept of a sub-prime loan is one that I feel no one would have felt was safe from the beginning. I can't help but question a person who makes $90,000 a year deciding to buy a house worth over $300,000. I would never consider buying a house worth that much when making so little, despite what the banks told me. To me, I see this as handing the keys to a Ferrari over to a 16 year old boy, something bad is going to come of it. The fact that no one predicted this is hard to believe. I have always thought, and maybe its sheer ignorance, that we had officials within the government and working with the president who are professional economist. Economist that have PhD's and what not, who study nothing but the state of the economy and think of ways to improve it. How could they let something like this build for over 20 years?

My only conclusion is that everyone turned a blind eye to the problem. They swept it under the rug until eventually someone tripped. Unfortunately, it was a huge fall and it took the entire country down with it. Supposedly the country is out of the recession that was caused by this crisis, however, I still have relatives and friends who are foreclosing on their houses. I do not see this ending anytime soon. Now that I am entering the job market, and into the professional world, I hope that we don't make similar mistakes like this again......but we will.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Week1 Reading Response

This week's readings discussed the various positions a teacher can take when presenting his or her viewpoints to a classroom regarding controversial issues. I found Kelly’s argument to be very thought provoking. For the longest time I thought that teachers were supposed to be neutral in every sense when discussing anything political or religious ect. Not necessarily because I believed this idea, but because that is the perspective I came to learn through my educational career. I had teachers in high school and college who were not neutral at all, but more exclusively partial as Kelly would title it. They felt their opinions were correct and that they should become our opinions as well. I did not agree with them on many issues and in turn, I tuned them out. This played a role as to why I always thought neutrality was best. I never considered Kelly’s idea of complete impartiality. This means to state your opinions while presenting and encouraging students to examine the opposite and form their own opinions. It allows the teacher to take a side while encouraging the students to form their own opinions and conduct research to support whichever side they choose. I had never considered this before, but I support it fully. I am going to shape my classroom discussion around this model. I really think it will help build a relationship with the students and foster the higher-level thinking that I will expect from them.