Is Light Pollution Eating Up Our Night?

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What is light pollution? Evidently, I am not as well informed about different types of light and the overall luminescence impact it has on the environment so my first question was to why they are talking about it in the article in the first place? I’d assumed that whatever light pollution was, it was inevitable because we needed lights on at all times. Shockingly, I learned that light pollution is all artificial excessive light and it has adverse side effects on ecosystems and overall health. Evidently, people care a lot about the status of humanity so light pollution appears to be a topic after this study was published regarding the earth’s overall outdoor lighting. The study observes different areas of the planet using an earth-observant satellite that picks up on the reflection. This extreme, concentrated, amount of artificial light creates harmful residue that lingers and obstructs us from seeing the stars at night.

This article mentions that ultimately earth’s nights will slowly deteriorate as people continue to use high voltage bulbs and LED lights. LED lights aren’t as harmful, but it also brings into question the harmfulness of ‘blue light’–blue light has also been a hot topic recently because of studies done regarding its connection to sleep patterns. Although LED lights are meant to reduce the light pollution, if people are not properly informed of the proper voltage to use, they can almost do more harm with them as they are stronger than regular light bulbs.

The graphic bellow shows the increase of light in populated areas from 2012 to 2016.screen-shot-2017-11-22-at-10-53-49-am

“In the near term, it appears that artificial light emission into the environment will continue to increase, further eroding Earth’s remaining land area that experiences natural day-night light cycles,” the paper concludes.

Based on the visual above, there appears to be an increase of lighting in several areas of the world which means that it is not correlated with location but rather population. More populated areas are experiencing a greater light change because of the sheer amount of lights that people have in their home.

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Does Hip-Hop Have Its Own Language?

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What is hip-hop? Is hip-hop defined by the artists who create music labeled Hip Hop or is it defined by the language associated with it? Well, in a recent article, it is arguable that there are certain words specifically correlated with hip-hop as well as connects the artists within the genre itself.

The data set itself is made up of 26 million words of the top 500 artists on the Billboard rap charts. The analysts began by searching for the most common words and then ranking their frequency within Hip Hop. After this, they started looking for unique words that are specifically pertinent to the genre and they constructed a chart that lists chopper as the most common word for the genre compared to other genres. Interestingly enough, a good portion of the chart is made up of slang words that aren’t a part of the English language such as gap, rep and trill. This brings up an interesting question that the article doesn’t necessarily pursue which is whether or not these words would have existed without the hip-hop culture surrounding them.

Philosophically speaking, hip-hop is like no other genre in the sense that it is highly centralized around the words it is made up of which is different compared to pop which is centralized around the catchiness of its rhythms. From the beginning, hip-hop has been an outlet for troubled teens across the nations as well as people in general who came up from a culture that was or is oppressive. In an article published in 2007 claims that hip-hop is changing the word as well as the world.

In this region, hip-hop language mixing simultaneously threatens the myopic plans of language policy-makers as it operates, at least for the present generation, as a positive and cohesive social force by taking a stand against racial inequalities and other forms of socioeconomic oppression.

Not only is hip-hop an emotional outlet, but this article talks about hip-hop as a tool for taking a stand against racial inequalities––that is to say that it is a form of using words as a weapon. Going back to my original question, what is hip-hop? I feel like hip-hop is defined by the words within it but it is also ever-changing in the same way that language is also ever-changing but hip-hop changes a long with it which could be an explanation as to why many common hip-hop words aren’t necessarily articulate vocabulary words but the slang is a linguistically representation of the growth of hip-hop.

Societally speaking, there are many hip-hop songs that are not meant to grow society as whole or take a stand on political issues, but in their own way they are questioning the status quo by saying whatever they’d like. Yes, they may be rapping about making money and sleeping with women, but they are pushing against societal standards and making people question those standards in the process which is in essence the original goal of hip-hop from the start. Therefore, the language of hip-hop could very well be the struggle  against the society we live in today.

Should you be a Philosophy Major?

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Many of my blog posts are centered around personal interests as they should be, but this one is probably the most personal of all. This blog post is pursing a question that I have personally been struggling with, and I figured that I would utilize my blog post to help me make a decision. Ultimately, my question is should I major in philosophy? But really, the larger question is should anyone major in philosophy? In this blog post, I will be pursuing the societal implications as well as the personal implications the decision to become a philosophy major has on a student.

First and foremost, there is a stigma surrounding philosophy majors because there is this misconception that one will never be able to do anything with a philosophy degree versus someone who earns a physics degree. A huge part of this is because people tend to quantify degrees. The reality of society today is that people equate a college degree with a higher paying job which is more than understandable, however, an assumption surrounding philosophy is that there is no money attached to this type of degree because there is no “skill” gained.

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In an article published by The Atlantic, philosophy is actually listed as one of the more profitable humanities degrees. However, this is also to say that most philosophy majors are not making a lot of money straight off the bat compared to someone who majored in computer science. Evidently, the “skill” surrounding philosophy is the critical thinking aspect and although that may not be quantifiable right off the bat, it is projected to eventually set you apart from the rest.

Societally, we already discussed the implication of money, but personally it is the stigma surrounding the path of choosing a major that is not in the STEM field. It can compared to someone who is pursing communications or psychology, fields that are just as useful but are looked down on because people don’t look into them enough to understand. Philosophy is more than just reading texts and asking abstract questions, but that’s all students bother to see, so it discourages other student from pursing something they truly enjoy. Overall, philosophy may not be the most profitable, but it is a foundation for a profound and thoughtful lifestyle.

What is a Democrat?

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In this day and age, we seem to be trying to establish labels as much as we are trying to deconstruct them. In this case, I am talking about the infamous “Democrat or Republican” label. Yes, there are other political affiliations aside from these two, but they are the most well known as well as the ones most fought for. Recently, I read an article on npr that was talking about Bernie Sanders and how he is campaigning for Omaha, Neb., mayoral candidate Heath Mello who is anti-abortion. The reason this is a shocking––if it’s not clear right off the bat––is because Democrats aren’t usually pro-life but pro-choice so it is controversial that Bernie is campaigning for someones who ideologies do not completely align with the general population of the Democratic Party. However, this raises the question of what is a Democrat? Does being a Democrat imply that you’re completely aligned with their ideologies? Or, can you be mostly aligned and still consider yourself a Democrat?

To begin my investigation, I literally googled “What is a Democrat?” and of course Wikipedia was the first to answer my question.

“The party’s philosophy of modern liberalism advocates social and economic equality, along with the welfare state.[16] It seeks to provide government intervention and regulation in the economy.[17] These interventions, such as the introduction of social programs, support for labor unions, affordable college tuitions, moves toward universal health care and equal opportunity, consumer protection and environmental protection form the core of the party’s economic policy.”

Evidently, I did not find a clear cut answer even from Wikipedia or any of the other google links I clicked on, but rather a description of what they stand for. This leads me to think that it is what the party stands for that defines who they are as a party––which makes sense. If this is the case, then the party should be able to outline exactly what they stand for. So, I then went to the source: democrats.org. Under their “platform” section, they explicitly talk about their position on an array of topics and one of them is “women an girls” which is the umbrella section that contains women right to abortion and contraceptives. If their website and other sources such as wikipedia express their solid stance on anti-abortion laws, how is it that a candidate can identify with the Democratic Party and not align with this ideology?

Going back to the article, Bernie Sanders argues:

“If we are going to protect a woman’s right to choose, at the end of the day we’re going to need Democratic control over the House and the Senate, and state governments all over this nation,” he said. “And we have got to appreciate where people come from, and do our best to fight for the pro-choice agenda. But I think you just can’t exclude people who disagree with us on one issue.”

For one, this statement seems problematic. How are we going to protect a women right to choose if we elect people who do not agree with this belief? Yes, the House and Senate would be under “Democratic control” but to what end? Yes, pro-choice is only “one issue” and Bernie stated above, but it appears as though it is one of the main issues which is also something the article argues for. Looking at this from a decision-making lens, how is Bernie’s decision going to affect us societally?

Because there is no solid evidence of the future, I can only speculate. If Mello does get elected, I don’t think it would impact the entire society but I think it may impact the Democratic Party going forward in the sense that it makes their ideals less solid. Before, they were clear not where they stood as well as the people were clear on where they stood, but now, the people would begin to question if they are able to overlook such a vital disagreement what will they overlook next? This may come off like an over-extrapolation, but it only takes one decision to impact everything like the invention of CDO’s which caused the 2008 recession.

Ultimately, reverting back to my initial question, what is a democrat? I think I’ve found my answer. A democrat is someone who stands with the Democratic Party on all of their core issues, so I would deem Heath Mellow not a democrat but maybe something else?

 

Is This Study’s Results Valid?

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Whilst I was writing my Digipo article, I came across a research study that I wanted to further pursue in my blog post this week. Although, I decided to use it as evidence in my article, I feel like there are some problematic results that I would like to further delve into.

The first step on validating any study is finding out where it came from. This particular study was published by the American Sociological Review and can be found in our schools online library which also adds to its legitimacy. Utilitizing lateral reading, I searched their name on Google and found a wiki article that explained the ASR is a peer-reviewed academic journal which sounds pretty legitimate to me.

The study itself consisted of an experiment that was intended to replicate a situation where someone would be misgendered, which then would invoke a better understanding for the people involved about the importance of pronouns. The exercise involved a pair asking one another general questions, which then formed a larger group of four people where those pairs introduced one another and used the opposite pronoun that their partner told them. The second part of the exercise–which is how they gathered their data–directed them to an online discussion board where they were to share how the exercise made them feel as well as their take away from the exercise.

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The researchers then coded nine different themes and assigned a student a 0 or a 1 depending on if their post contained the themes encoded which were found by looking for most common themes. Based on analysis, reflexivity and empathy were the most common themes represented throughout the posts which the researchers took as an indication that the exercise helped the students reflect on their own situation as well as others regarding pronouns better.

Challenges and Limitations

The study had its own section that addressed the challenges and limitations of the exercise. First, they talked about how some students found the idea of referencing the wrong pronoun as funny or as silly which causes them to not take the exercise completely seriously. Secondly, students found it difficult to use a different pronoun then the one they saw because it contradicted what they were seeing and lastly a few students felt negative reactions in the sense that they felt like they couldn’t be themselves. Aside from these more personal challenges, the study as a whole recognized that they were limited by the lack of randomization of their study. The researchers acknowledged that their results could be influenced that they had students only from sociology as well as the variable differences between the classes could be due to content.

The exercise itself seems to be structured well, but I question the validity of the results because the students are forced to post on a public forum. I feel like that introduces bias. Students are not going to be completely honest when they post, because everyone can read them which forces them to be less honest or potentially appeal to the professors since they are being graded on the activity. Had the exercise happened and then the students had to anonymously report their experiences, I feel like that would have produced more authentic results.

Our teaching goals with this assignment are (1) to recognize the social importance of gendered pronouns and (2) through the simulated experience of being conversationally misgendered, get students to empathize with people who are misgendered.

Going back to the original goals of the study, I feel like this study has in fact done what it set out to do. Initially, I was hung up on the results of the study based on the fact that students could be dishonest but even if they were, there is still some sort of reflection that can not denied. This study did not seek to answer a question, but more so raise awareness in students which is why the results are valid regardless of whether or not the platform was public where they expressed their experiences.

Cycle of Incivility: Hate Breeds More Hate

I recently read this article that made me think about decision-making on a larger scale. The article isn’t heavily based on data, but it definitely calls into question individual as well as societal decisions and their consequences. Simply put, the article is talking about how we combat problems and how those methods can often lead to the exact same thing we were trying to prevent. It also talks about a “cycle of incivility” which is basically a vicious cycle of violence that we, ourselves, sometimes partake in without really acknowledging the consequences. All that aside, my main question would be how does this affect us on a societal level? Does this “cycle of incivility” provide an explanation for problems we see in society today?

One of the most historical moments that comes to mind is slavery. Initially, I would say anyways, that slavery did not begin because of a cycle of anything, but I think it eventually gave birth to a cycle of hate/mistrust that continues on to this day. There are more than one example of black men and women dying at the hands of policemen as well as examples of black men and women lashing back in various forms of violence. These types of discourse lead to further acts of violence which is what the article was trying to get at: violence combatted with violence only leads to more violence. However, how does one decide not to be angry and combat things with peace? Not falling into that uncivil cycle would be hard, I wish the article expanded on ways to break the cycle or even prevent it. From personally thinking about it, I feel like one would have to acknowledge that it is happening first of all. This is similar to how we learned about priming recently, and how the first step to combatting it is to realize it is happening. Although this may not completely fix the problem, it definitely can make one think about the consequences coming from that decision.

Using this articles “cycle of incivility”, I was wondering if it could illuminate why the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas took place. As a side note, I tried to literally look up why it happened as in what were his motives and the article was inconclusive. I suppose my answer will be too, but a little speculation and its impact on society never hurt anybody. In all honesty, anything could have set the shooter off, but the idea that the facts that have been found so far indicate that he was preparing to shoot up the place probably means that his reasons behind doing it are more deeply imbedded than the musician’s bus accidentally cutting his car off on the freeway. Potentially, he felt wronged by something or someone and his first reaction was to respond with violence. Not saying what he did was justified, but if we are to think about this in a cyclic manner, he responded with what was already spawned. Again, this is all just speculation in hopes of solidifying my point.

Ultimately, I believe that we could embark on the project of peace by acting peacefully. We can not hope to fix our society’s discourses if we are constantly reacting hatefully or violently, because if the article is right, we will only perpetuate all the things we are trying to be rid of.

Improvement: Statistically significant or not

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In the article, “Drinking: 18 vs. 21“, the age-old question resurfaces: should the drinking age be 18,21, or even higher? What’s even more interesting about the article is that it has a string of questions that are answered by someone who advocates for either side so you, as a reader, have the opportunity to get both sides. In conjunction, the article seemed very focused on drunk driving and its relation to the legal drinking age. Many organization such as MADD(mothers against drink driving) argue that having a legal drinking age of 21 has improved the statistics so my question is if this is true or not?

Evidently, I searched the internet for statistics that would help me clarify the claim MADD was making and it was a little hard to find, but it appears that maybe the answer is not that clean cut. According to an article I found regarding teens and DUIs, underage drinkers are still responsible for 17% of all fatal accidents involving alcohol. This would suggest that it is still a problem even if the age is 21. However, in another article, it says that once the legal drinking age was established, alcohol consumption decreased by approximately 15% which is pretty dramatic when you’re thinking about it nationally.

Originally, I wanted my blog post to be able to argue one side more than the other with hopes that my findings would illuminate one side being the solution. In the end, I just became more confused on where I stood. I would conclude that by setting a legal drinking age has in fact improved our statistics as a whole, so at least my question has been resolved even if the larger argument has yet to be.