Saturday, March 27, 2010

The New, Dangerous Science of Food

In a recent article by Andrew Schneider, AOL News Senior Public Health Correspondent, a potentially dangerous trend of food science is explained and discussed.

Nano-particles are apparently being widely used by many food manufacturers and shippers to “extend shelf-life” as well as “protect the color and flavor” of all kinds of food.

These nano-particles may be protecting the foods, but “hundreds of peer-reviewed studies have shown that nano-particles pose potential risks to human health -- and, more specifically, that when ingested can cause DNA damage that can prefigure cancer and heart and brain disease.”

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mass. Schools Use Love of Sports to Teach Kids

Now that the Olympics are over and the Big, Bad boys in Black and Gold are heading back to Causeway Street, I'd like to take a minute to shine some light on a positive community outreach the Boston Bruins are involved in.

The B's have started a program called the “Bruins I.C.E. (I Can Excel) School," and it was featured in an article written for the Marblehead Reporter.

Follow the link below to read the article and learn more about how local Mass. schools are using the Bruins and hockey to teach children important lessons in the classroom.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Start Eating Right, Join the Revolution!

The Food Revolution has begun here in the U.S. and it is being sparked by the same world renowned chef that inspired change in his home country England.

Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution chronicles the title chef’s endeavors as he attempts to bring healthy eating and living to Huntington, West Virginia. Oliver chose Huntington as the focus for this revolution because the city has recently been called the ‘unhealthiest city in America.’ The show debuted with a sneak peek, that aired on March 21, and continues with a 2-hour season premier on Friday, March 26 at 8 p.m. EST.

The idea for Food Revolution is a combination of Oliver’s U.K. series, Jaime’s Ministry of Food and Jaime’s School Dinners; Dinners saw Oliver’s grass-roots efforts to improve school lunches in communities in England and the impact from these shows resulted in a total overhaul of the school dinner program in the U.K. Food Revolution hopes to bring this great change to the U.S.

In 2002, Oliver created the Fifteen Foundation which annually chooses 15 young adults who have a disadvantaged background, criminal record, or history of drug abuse and trains them in the restaurant business. Fifteen restaurants have opened in London, Newquay, Amsterdam, and Melbourne.

Oliver hopes that Food Revolution will help bring a necessary change to the United States as a whole, even though his work starts at the school level.

“There’s an incredible community in Huntington, and I want this experience to be a celebration of what we can achieve when people come together,” says Oliver on “Wonderful stories will unfold in Huntington, and hopefully this will inspire the rest of the States.”

To pledge your support of Jaime's Food Revolution, follow this link to sign the petition.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Disputed pronunciations

Dәsputәd Pron^nsiejʃn


DIsputәd Pronaunsiejʃn

In the English language there are many dialects. These dialects have created some wide spread discussions on the pronunciation of many common words. The topic was even famously satirized by Fred Astaire, in the Ira Gershwin work; Let’s call the whole thing off! The words recited in this quirky song are only a few of the well known words that have disputed pronunciations. Upon further examination of the disputed words, it becomes clear that many of the arguments lie in the pronunciation of a specific vowel sound within the word. These distinctions can be attributed to many things, not least of which being geographic location.

The words /disputed/ and /pronunciation/ themselves have quite ambiguous pronunciations. The first syllable in /disputed/ is often pronounced [dIs-], but is also commonly pronounced [dәs-]. Here, the speaker is choosing either the high-front vowel [I] or the middle [ә]. This distinction between [I] and [ә] is also present in the pronunciation of /vanilla/. Many speakers will pronounce the word [vanәla], while others will choose to say [vanIla]. The word /pronunciation/ is said both [pron^nsiejʃn] and [pronaunsiejʃn]. Slight distinctions can also be made between the use of the suffux [-ʃn] or [-ʃun]; this variation in speech is also evident in the pronunciation of the word /portion/.

The most memorable, and most quoted, piece of Gershwin’s work is the distinctions between the pronunciations of the words /tomato/ and /potato/. Both undergo the same transformation. The speaker chooses between the front-high [ej] or the low-back [a]. The pronunciations [towmejtow/powtejtow] are more commonly found within the United States; while [towmatow/powtatow] tend to be favored more in England.

Another common vowel transformation is seen in the words /either/ and /neither/. Here the /-ei-/ is pronounced with the front-high [i] or the low-middle [aj]. Variation seems to be congruent within these two words; that is to say, a speaker is not likely to say [iθɹ̩] and [najθɹ̩]. One of the vowel sounds is more likely to be attributed to both words.

The vowel /a/ also sees variations in its pronunciation; similarly in words like /data/, /gala/, and /patronize/, and also in the words /aunt/. The /a/ is either pronounced [ej] or [æ]. Hence, [dejta], [gejla], and [pejtrәnajz] become [dæta], [gæla], and [pætrәnajz]. The [æ] pronunciation has been attributed more to the United Kingdom, while the [ej] pronunciations are more common in the United States. Interestingly, the United States tends to say [ænt] more often than the United Kingdom pronunciation [a:nt]. There are two separate distinctions that are made in the pronunciation of the word /comparable/. The first pronunciation is [kәmpærәbәl]. This drops the [æ] when the pronunciation is [kɔmprәbәl].

The dispute in pronunciation does not always fall on the vowels. In the word /arctic/ there is a strong disagreement in the pronunciation, or lack there of, of the central /c/. The spelling of the word would suggest the pronunciation [arktIk]. There is an argument, though, that two /k/ sounds should not be voiced so close together; this belief brings on the pronunciation [artIk]. Pronunciation of this consonant would probably remain congruent in /Antarctica/ and when referring to /the arctic/. Another consonant dispute also involves an [i] to [ә] transformation. The words /diabetes/ is often pronounced [dajәbitiz], but has also been known to take the form [dajәbitәs]. Some speakers are also apt to eliminate the nasal [ŋ] from the words /length/ and /strength/. Hence, the pronunciations would alter from [lεŋkθ] and [strεŋkθ], to [lεnθ] and [strεnθ].

Some disputes are caused when sounds are inserted into words where they do not belong. This is evident in the words /athlete/ and /athletic/. Instead of the common pronunciations, [aθlit] and [aθlεtIk], the speaker pronounces the words [aθәlit] and [әlεtIk].

It is clear that people develop different methods of speech, and this difference causes disputes in the pronunciation of particular words. These words mentioned here are only selections of the ambiguous pronunciations in the English language. As colloquial dialects, and slang such as Ebonics, permeate deeper into speech there are sure to be many more disputed pronunciations.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Quiz Show? "Fifty million people watched, but no one saw a thing"

Robert Redford's 1994 hit Quiz Show is a movie about morals. Dick Goodwin, a young government worker discovers that the hit TV show "Twenty-One" has been fixed due to the attention that former contestant Herbert Stempel has brought about. Dan Enright, producer of "Twenty-One", had asked the man that couldn't be stumped Herbert Stempel to intentionally loose. Stempel unwillingly does what he is asked, throwing possibly the simplest question he had faced to date. Charles Van Doren is then able to answer a question which he had already known the answer to and take Stempel off of the show. Now the moral question here is, should Van Doren have answered the question knowing the show was fixed and was it right that he did? What's right and what's wrong? These are moral questions that we ask ourselves all the time and questions that we might even give a different answer to under certain circumstances.
Charles Van Doren is faced with this very brain teaser, is it OK for him to cheat on the show even if no one is hurt in the process? Many of us were brought up taught that cheating is wrong and shouldn't be accepted in culture. Van Doren was merely a pawn in the game of television, brought on only to spike ratings for the station. Van Doren had told Enright that he didn't want to cheat at first and he wanted to beat Stempel in a fair game. This of course wasn't the case, as Enright asked Van Doren a question which he knew he would get right. What they did was morally wrong but technically not illegal at the time. Congress quickly made rigging a quiz show a federal crime.
The cheating was done for the sake of entertainment, to draw in a crowd using Van Doren. They were able to exploit him, by using his families fame and his look. He was the perfect face for the show and quickly became a hit, and had almost instant fame. I believe the sudden burst of popularity somewhat blinded him to what he was actually doing, cheating. He went from caring that he was cheating and not wanting to cheat, to going along with it and not caring because he believed no one was actually getting hurt in this process. No one was actually physically being hurt by this, but the "50 million" viewers watching the show were not being told the truth and being lead to believe something that was nothing more than an act. Things like this still happen to this day. Children are being lied to about things such as Santa Claus or the Easter bunny, and people still watch shows that appear to be real but aren't such as wrestling. The only difference between these lies and the quiz show lies is the huge sum of money being given away to the "winner".
Hundreds of thousands of dollars were being given to these people for "winning" the quiz show for the multiple weeks they are on the show. This technically doesn't hurt anyone other than the station providing the show to the general public. I believe that if the station had no idea that there was cheating going on during these shows that it should be legally wrong. Other than that it's just people being human, believing what they are told is real. actually is real. In my eyes it comes down to human stupidity, you can't possibly believe that everything you see on TV and if you do it's really your own fault for being "hurt" by it. It comes to a point where you have look at things for more than what they seem to be. In the situation of the quiz show scandal you have to think, one person can only be full of so many useless facts and there has to be a point where they are cheating to some degree.
Cheating happens, no one is going to be able to completely stop what most believe is cheating. If there was no sort of cheating in a quiz type show, which could be as small as informing a contestant what categories will be on the show, than contestants would constantly bomb questions leaving no entertainment value to the show. No one want to watch a show where people are constantly getting answers wrong and no one is winning anything. All of these small "cheats" are done for the entertainment purpose and to bring in ratings for the station. So 50 million people may have watched, but at least one should have been smart enough to realize something was wrong.

-A. Snow

Monday, June 16, 2008

Is IM/text speak destroying the English language, or can it serve to educate?

In this era of the Internet and digital communication (c. 1990) there has been a continuing trend of instant communication technologies referred to as Instant Messaging (IM), which "is a form of real-time communication between two or more people based on typed text... conveyed via computers connected over a network such as the Internet" (Wikipedia) and Text Messaging, which is the “sending of 'short' (160 characters or fewer, including spaces) text messages from mobile phones using the Short Message Service (SMS)" (Wikipedia). These forms of instant communication have become a part of the average person’s daily life as the technology has become more efficient. American youths have been referred to as "... generally intense users of instant messaging technology..." (Lenhart, A., Rainie, L., & Lewis, O., 2001), but how does this mode of communication affect a youth's command of the English language, whether it be written or spoken? In addition, how does it affect a youth's ability to create and build healthy relationships? Research has been done to determine "how student's use of text messaging technology, specifically IM, affects their writing skills" (O'Connor, 2005), and this research has revealed mixed views on the topic. The technology's affect on youth's socialization has become a constant topic of debate.

A 2001 Pew report assessed that "about 17 million youth ages 12 through 17 use the internet" (Lenhart, et al., 2001), which represents "73% of those in this age bracket" (2001). Of those online teens, 74% were found to be using instant messaging; also, 69% of teen instant message users were found to use IM at least several times a week (2001). It has been claimed "instant messaging stands to actually strengthen many existing relationships one has by reducing the problems caused by distance, time and money" (Payne, 2007), but the Internet, and its place in the home, also creates tension between parents and children (Lenhart, et al., 2001). This tension is focused on a report that "57% of parents worry that strangers will contact their children online. These worries are well grounded. Close to 60% of teens have received an Instant Message or an email from a stranger and 50% report emailing or instant messaging someone they have not met before" (Lenhart, et al., 2001).

These dangers aside, this trend in communication has both benefits and detractions to the mental growth of youths. It has been said that "while [IM/text] allows us to quickly and easily communicate with those that we want to communicate with, it also tends to take the personal level of communication out of the situation a bit" (Payne, 2007). This lack of personal, face-to-face, interaction could ultimately hinder American youth's growth and development of natural socialization skills that past generations acquired simply through their day-to-day communications. Payne went on to say, "Even if one was to consider the video and voice features available, this kind of communication is still void of face-to-face contact that is key to our social interactions overall" (2007).

A report from New Horizons for Learning stated that "while there is supporting evidence to suggest that these technologies have a large influence on the social development of adolescents, and even more pertinent issue for classroom teachers is what effect these technologies have on the academic development of young people" (O'Connor, 2005). On the topic of instant messaging affect on student's academics two points-of-view have been determined; they are "those who see 'Internet English' as a breakdown of the English language" and "those who regard this same 'Internet English' not only as an example of how language is constantly developing and changing, but also as a type of literacy in and of itself, which can be capitalized on to engage students in more traditional learning" (2005).

Several articles indicate that students who use messaging on a frequent basis often use bad grammar, poor punctuation, and improper abbreviations in academic writing (2005). One such report claims that "teachers say that papers are being written with shortened words, improper capitalization and punctuation, and characters like &, $ and @" (Lee, 2002). It was also said, "some teachers see the creeping abbreviations as part of a continuing assault of technology on formal written English" (2002). Cindy Glover, a teacher of undergraduate freshman composition in 2002 claims to have "spent a lot of time unteaching Internet-speak.’ My students were trying to communicate academic, scholarly thoughts, but some of them didn't seem to know it's 'y-o-u' not 'u'" (Friess, 2003). In the same report, Friess describes a 15 year-old's summer job application that read, "i want 2 b a counselor because i love 2 work with kids" (2003). Another 2003 report found that "students have trouble seeing the distinction between formal and informal writing, and consequently use informal IM abbreviations and lingo in more formal writing situations" (Brown-Owens, Eason, & Lader, 2003, p.6). Robyn Jackson, a high-school English teacher explained, "we expect kids to get it instinctively, and they don't. It's something that has to be explicitly conveyed to children" (Helderman, 2003). Robert Schrag, a communications professor, echoed this same view when he stated, "We have always implicitly taught our children different language structures and how they function in different arenas... We use (a different) language structure watching a basketball game than in our place of worship. Most children will understand the difference" (Friess, 2003). Montana Hodgen, a 16 year-old high school student "was so accustomed to instant messaging abbreviations that she often read right past them. She said that she 'was so used to reading what my friends wrote to me on Instant message that I didn't even realize that there was something wrong.' She said her ability to separate formal and informal English declined the more she used instant messages" (Lee, 2002). Leila Christenberry, former president of the National Council of Teachers of English and a university English professor, offers the analogy, "It's not that there's never a place for this sort of thing, but it's the difference between how you would dress to go out on a Saturday night versus how you would dress when you do yard work" (Friess, 2003).

Though many educators feel this form of communication is for the worse, some feel that it may aim to improve student’s grasp of the written and spoken English language. Professor Barbars Bell believes that "anytime [students] are reading or writing, it's going to help" (Associated Press, 2003, p.1). There is also a "strong agreement among parents and teens that use of the internet helps youths at school" (Lenhart, et al., 2001). In a Washington Post article, Helderman took the stance that "Instant messaging and email are creating a new generation of teenage writers, accustomed to translating their every thought and feeling into words. They write more than any generation has since the days when telephone calls were rare and the mailman rounded more than once a day" (Helderman, 2003). In her research, Gloria Jacobs has found that not only are students writing more than they have in years, but they are also revising and editing as well (O'Connor, 2005). “Jacobs said that too many adults dismiss online writing because they assume kids jot off anything that pops into their heads. While that is sometimes true, she said, she also saw teenagers read over messages before sending them, editing to clear up mistakes or imprecision... Liz [Charlton, a 13 year-old seventh grader] and her classmates said they will sometimes sit in front of a computer screen for up to 10 minutes, planning a sensitive message- wording and rewording" (Helderman, 2003). This process is also being shuffled off by technology, with AOL's recent advent of an email spell-check program.

It is a clear conclusion that IM is becoming an important literacy in kids' lives, and consequently one that needs to be recognized by teachers (O'Connor, 2005). A University of South Carolina- Aiken report declared that "the dilemma, then, is how to help educators adopt literacy education to the reality that instant messaging is the dominant mode of written communication in the lives of many American teenagers" (Brown-Owens, et al., 2003, p. 8). Erika Karres, a teacher educator, uses Internet language as an example of today's speech as she "shows students how English has evolved since Shakespeare's time" (Lee, 2002). In addition, Trisha Rogarty, a sixth-grade teacher, explains, "when [her students] are writing first drafts, I don't care how they spell anything, as long as they are writing... If this lingo gets their thoughts and ideas onto paper quicker, the more power to them" (2002). However, the same teacher indicates, "during editing and revising, she expects her students to switch to Standard English" (2002). Ultimately, "students need to understand the importance of using the appropriate language in the appropriate setting, and that who one is writing for affects the way in which one writes" (O'Connor, 2005). This should be the main focus of today's educators, because this trend shows no sign of ending any time soon.

Bibliography/Works Cited

Is Blogging Journalism?

Until recently, people had to rely on the traditional news outlets, print newspapers and television, for information on what was happening in their community, country, or world. The Internet changed the whole landscape of news reporting whether it was how reporters were getting their information or how the papers themselves were reaching the readers. Reporters have become able to uncover background information much more quickly than in times past and newspapers are able to relay that information on to the readers almost instantly. The thing that most traditional outlets fear, though, is that amateurs are stepping in and trying to do their jobs. Some anti-bloggists like Michael Skube, a former Pulitzer Prize-winning author who teaches journalism at Elon University in North Carolina, are strictly opposed to the idea of blogs and will allow them no credit as journalistic material (LA Times). Skube, who admits that he doesn't read blogs, told the Times, "I find myself doing something in my journalism class that gives me considerable unease... discussing that often truculent tribe that calls itself bloggers." I completely disagree with Skube's stance of blogging as journalism. As a child of the technological age, I have been brought up with the internet and primetime 24-hour news outlets; I am older than most of my classmates, though, and also believe that the traditional reporting of newspapers is the correct way to relay the news to the public. In my personal blogs I cover both aspects of news reporting; I track down sources (though I do it online mostly) and back up my observations with substantial facts while also inserting a person touch and my opinions on the topics that I choose to discuss. I may be different than most though, in the sense that I am a journalism student receiving education on the topic while most bloggers are just jumping into it blind, with little to no education or knowledge of writing and reporting the news. This is the freedom that the Internet allows society, though, and I believe it should be embraced, for better or worse.

In the USC Annenburg Online Journalism Review, J.D. Lasica, OJR Senior Editor, said, "a journalist is anyone who is an eyewitness to events or an interpreter of events and who reports it as honestly and accurately as possible. Period. You don't need to have the resources of The New York Times behind you. You can be a lone-wolf weblogger out there in the field with your Apple laptop, and when you blog an event you're reporting. We forget the derivation of the word journalism: someone who keeps a journal (USCA-OJR)." I love this definition. It sums up my feelings on blogging and journalism completely. I feel that if I was present at an event, and I blog it accurately; I was reporting that event, plain and simple. There is no other way to define the action and classic journalists shouldn't fear this new process of reporting, it should be embraced and enlisted by more professionals in the field. Maybe then we will get sincere reporting on events rather than template reports that are kept politically correct and conglomerate biased. I, for one, feel I am doing my part.

Bibliography/Works Cited