Sunday, April 29, 2012

facebook speech

The Los Angeles times recently discussed a U.S. marine who has been discharged for criticizing President Barack Obama.

Marine Sgt. Gary Stein speaks with reporters in front of the federal court building in San Diego on April 13. (Gregory Bull, Associated Press / April 26, 2012)
"Screw Obama and I will not follow orders from him. [He] is an economic and religious enemy." said Marine Sargent Gary Stein. Stein claims his speech was political, while the army declares it violated military law, and therefore verifying his dismissal.

This recent event shows how public Facebook, as well as other social media outlets, are becoming. These outlets are available to our bosses, coworkers, friends & family - anyone can get access to these accounts. With this in mind, one can almost state that nothing is private anymore.

People must recognize that what they say, through the written word, can have repercussions. I believe that thinking with a Judeo-Christian mindset - treat others the way you wish to be treated - can bring the least repercussions. Cyber words can never be erased; it's important to think about what you are writing online, and how that can be interpreted by all.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Is harmony the goal of those who seek news and report it? Or is harmony the exact opposite goal of journalists?

According to, harmony is: agreement; accord; harmonious relations. Journalists uncover the truth, and expose it to the world. This truth may unravel chaos and/or controversial events; seems as though these journalistic characteristics clash with the definition of harmony.

These opposing characteristics remind me of yin & yang, where polar opposite forces may interconnect, benefitting from each other.

Journalists seek the truth to reach harmony...but harmony can never be reached - it's an ideal. Grouping harmony with journalism is a type of yin & yang. By uncovering truth & conflict, journalists allow an audience to reach harmony. Harmony involves resolving conflict to reach a peace.

Journalism: Conflict
Harmony: Peace

Both feed on each other in order to function.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Communication via Palaver tree

The Palaver Tree is an indigenous democratic institution found in sub-Saharan Africa.

Descriptions of the assembly include the following:
  • Ritualistic
  • Democratic
  • Indigenous
  • Free debate
  • Consensus building
  • "Right to Speak
  • A goal of harmony, rather than "truth"
  • Community
  • No urgency
  • All-inclusiveness
  • Systematic treatment

Such institution that promotes freedom for all its members to communicate and debate important issues seems ideal. Voices are not oppressed, community is strengthened through a ritual in which creates a common bond, and, most interestingly, harmony is valued.

In the United States, we strive to promote a certain "truth" to every dilemma - but is this truth always the best answer? I think that by striving to reach harmony, groups in which hold a debate may strengthen their relationships with one another. Sometimes there is a right & wrong answer; other times, compromise and peace should be the answer. By pushing ourselves to reach harmony, we fully invest in the final outcome.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

defending your dinner

In this article by the New York Times, writer Ariel Kaminer touches on the topic of meat ethics - that is, whether or not eating meat ethical.

Image by Russell Bell
I've never been a crazed meat lover, but vegetarian lifestyle has also never appealed to me since that would mean giving up the beloved Dutch's burger or Buffalo Bros chicken fingers. I guess it's fair to say I've never questioned the ethics of meat eating before reading this article.

Although I have the utmost respect for all those who are vegetarian or vegan, I do believe that the omnivorous lifestyle is the most balanced for humans. I would hope production of these meats would meet ethical standards - that the animals have lived in comfortable conditions & have been fed healthy produce during their growth (unfortunately this is generally not the case).

I believe humans survive best with meats in their diets, but do acknowledge that there are valid substitutes for us omnivores. Perhaps consumption of meat is part of the natural order...that's some food for thought.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

a worm in the apple

Apple has been under much scrutiny, specifically within this past year, with the discovery of its use of sweatshops in China. The workers found in these shops are paid minimal wages & are placed in hazardous working conditions; these harsh working environments would never be condoned within the U.S.

The article In China, Human Costs are built into an iPad describes the inhumane treatment these Chinese workers face in order to produce various Apple products, as well as other brand items. The utilization of sweatshops unfortunately shows how the company values production and income over human rights.

I must admit, I am a big fan of all Apple products - their simple and clean design of products is so attractive - but I feel greatly unsettled that a human life could have possibly been at risk during the production of my iPhone or Macbook.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, is currently visiting China to address the issues listed above -  but a company based on ethical principals should have never had this problem from the beginning.

According to Tim Cook, these are Apple's core values (found here):
  • We believe that we're on the face of the Earth to make great products.
  • We believe in the simple, not the complex.
  • We believe that we need to own & control the primary technologies behind the products we make.
  • We participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.
  • We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.
  • We believe in deep collaboration & cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.
  • We don't settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, & we have self-honesty to admit to when we're wrong & the courage to change.
The values are in line with the recent occurrences in China; it seems as though Apple has minimal focus on the human-interest perspective within its mission statement.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

bullies are rated R

Many children are bullied throughout the course of their education, so what better way to inform the world of this horrible tragedy than by creating a documentary?

Bully aims to raise awareness of the both physical & mental violence millions of children face daily. This documentary targets teenage youth, yet the rating was declared "R" due to the violence it displays.

Katie Butler, a high school student from Michigan, has challenged the Motion Picture Association of America to change the rating of the film so that its target audience can have easier access to the documentary. She has started a campaign on in which holds a petition to change the rating of the movie. Read about her movement on the Washington Post.

Is it fair to censure a potentially enlightening and informative documentary when other films that deem violence as acceptable are found at the PG-13 rating? How many people are aware of the bullying that occurs amongst children when parents & teachers are not looking?

Here is the trailer for "Bully"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

who's kony?

A 30-minute video created by an organization called Invisible Children has gone viral within the past few days, establishing infamous recognition of Joseph Kony nationwide.

Invisible Children leader Jason Russell describes the LRA leader Joseph Kony as a despicable and evil man who must be stopped THIS year. He tells viewers that by increasing awareness of Kony, there is a chance to capture the "villain."

Image of Joseph Kony from the YouTube video

After watching the complete video, I felt inspired and ready to make a change in the world - but I still felt a bit confused about the facts and history behind the message. After searching the web & reading various articles, many conflicting emotions arose.

Does this video oversimplify a complicated situation?
How trustworthy is Invisible Children?
What is this organization doing to help the problem?
Why hasn't the problem been addressed until now?

Today a fellow classmate tweeted this video, released by the Center for Strategic & International Studies, & I feel it best describes the "Kony situation." The video essentially states that global awareness of Kony is stupendous, because the man is indeed a criminal; however, Kony is not the sole criminal behind the mass destruction that has been occurring in regions of Africa. The capture of Kony should be also be a global issue - countries should work together to find a solution (instead of placing the US as the only country able to aid).

Kony 2012 taught me one thing, for certain - social media is a powerful tool that could be potentially destructive or enlightening to any public. The beautifully edited and very convincing video grabs viewers' attention immediately, which both intrigues and scares me a bit.

Other sites worth viewing:
Invisible Children gives the facts
Why you should feel awkward about the 'Kony 2012' video
Visible Children