Fourth quarter blog post

Here is my fourth quarter blog post

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ebooks: Do They Live Up to the Traditional Print Book?

As we New Trier students should know with our iPad textbooks, reading books in a digitized format is become increasingly popular in the United States. Although in my opinion, reading books in print is much better for learning as well as enjoyment and even health. 

In a recent study comparing reading comprehension on Kindles versus books in print, "'The Kindle readers performed significantly worse on the plot reconstruction measure, ie, when they were asked to place 14 events in the correct order"'. This means that reading from ebooks impedes readers' ability to remember events in chronological order. A lead researcher of the study, Anne Magnum, suggested that in books in print, one can feel how far they are in a book by the amount of pages on the left side of the book versus the right, whereas on the Kindle one cannot do that, and every page appears the same progress-wise. This would make it more difficult for ebook readers to place events in chronological order. Knowing the correct order of events in a story is extremely important to the comprehension of the book. If one does not know the chronology, they may misunderstand certain causes and effects in the book, and wouldn't even be able to tell an accurate summary of the story.
I have read books in a digital format before, and I do not feel that I have as good of an understanding of them as I do with books in print. This is why I prefer books in print, and I also think that schools should continue using books in print instead of transitioning to all ebooks.

Believe it or not, reading books on a screen with a backlight, which is the case for many forms of ebooks such as those on a computer or iPad, has a negative effect on health, specifically sleep patterns. According to Sara Margolin of the State University of New York, reading ebooks with backlights at night can “'upset our circadian rhythm, making sleep more difficult'” A lot of people, including myself, enjoy reading at night before going to sleep, and with ebooks this is potentially hurtful to health because it could lead to getting less sleep than needed. This is the main other thing that I do not like about ebooks. 

Clearly I do not think that ebooks are such a great thing, and therefore it is upsetting to me that bookstores are losing business due to the new popularity of ebooks, and that many schools are attempting to digitize all of their texts. I hope that further studies will be done to show the negative effects of ebooks and more people will share my opinion on the topic someday.  



Monday, September 22, 2014

The Problem of Domestic Violence in America

            After all the crisis in the NFL with domestic abuse, I wondered how prevalent domestic abuse is in the U.S. It seemed to be something I heard about a lot, but I never knew exactly how much of a problem it is until now. The numbers are shocking and although compared to some countries they may be considered low, they are high nonetheless and I am horrified by this. The U.S. is not supposed to be a country where many people are scared for their lives or wellbeing everyday and are too suppressed to speak up about it. Something needs to be done about this.
            According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women in the U.S. will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. This is 25 percent of all women in the United States. Think about four of your friends who are women. One of them will most likely experience abuse from an intimate partner in her lifetime. I think this statistic is appalling. It is equally as upsetting that these women who are abused are so suppressed and controlled by their partner/abuser that they are afraid to speak up; according again to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, most cases of domestic violence go unreported to the police. To be more specific: “Only approximately one-quarter of all physical assaults, one-fifth of all rapes, and one-half of all stalkings perpetuated against females by intimate partners are reported to the police”.

            The United States is not the country with the highest rate of domestic violence, which is quite sad actually because our rate is very high. But just because we do not have the highest rate in the world, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do something to lower it. Perhaps the government could spend more money (it already is spending some) on raising awareness on domestic violence as well as helping victims and teaching women ways to avoid domestic violence and how to get out of a violent or abusive relationship. This is something that needs to be ended as soon as possible and a little extra money to save the wellbeing and possibly lives of a fourth of all the women in this country is worth it. I really hope that someday the U.S. can get that 25 percent down as much as it possibly could go down, and domestic violence will not be a common thing in this country anymore.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

America's Negative Bias Towards Socialism

What kind of thoughts enter your head when you think of the word socialism? As an American, you probably feel the negativity that the connotation of the word gives off. The fact that socialism has such a negative connotation in the U.S., in my opinion, is very strange and somewhat troubling.

Monday and Tuesday in class, we touched on the topic of a mural in Skokie School in 1934 being whitewashed and covered up because the "School Board deemed it 'communistic in character...sinister and threatening'". I may take it as far as to say that this is against freedom of expression, since a governmental board disallowed a work of art from being displayed because of a political idea it may have given off. While violations of freedom of speech like this may not happen very often today, the scorning upon and negativity of a type of political system; socialism, is still prevalent. People use the term to insult political figures ("he/she is such a socialist"), to describe someone who does not strive for excellence, and it is a term that some conservatives use to negatively describe liberals. 

This is troubling to me because it seems that many of the people who use "socialism" in a negative way do not seem to be very educated about the term. For example, these people claim that socialism is such a bad thing, but they do not seem to realize that having things like government-owned transportation, emergency services, law enforcement, and hospitals (like in the U.S.) is socialist. Surely these people are not against having these things government-owned, because I believe most Americans can reach a general consensus that it would be unsafe and chaotic to have all of these privately-owned. This means that many people are not educated about what they are insulting; most people only dislike parts of socialism, or worse, only dislike other countries that happen to have socialist governments. I believe that many Americans think so negatively about socialism because when they think of the term, they think of oppresive governments like that of the Soviet Union, Cuba,   and Venezuela in the past. 

So next time you hear the word socialism and think negatively about it, consider the true meaning of the word. Also consider all the parts of the U.S. government and economics that are socialist in nature, and if you really are against of all these. Finally, think about the real reason you think negatively about socialism, and other types of government, because it could very well be just because you dislike a country with this type of government. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mistake or Racial Violence?

This weekend I read an article in the Chicago Tribune that shocked me. A man named Jamaal Moore was being chased by the police back in 2012, as he was believed to have just robbed a truck at gunpoint. Moore's SUV crashed during the chase, and he was then shot to his death by an officer. According to the police, Moore attacked an officer and appeared to be carrying a gun, which was later discovered to be merely a flashlight. The police claimed that this is what gave them reason to shoot him, as they "thought Moore might have had a gun" (Byrne).

In my opinion, the key words here are "thought" and "might". Clearly the police did not try very hard to tell if the item in his hand was in fact a gun, since a flashlight and a gun are fairly different looking items. By no means do I think that this shooting was justified. Moore's family believes the same thing, and this is why they have sued Chicago and may reach a settlement of 1.25 million dollars soon.

Already from reading the police's account of what happened that night, I was horrified at their irresponsible and unjust actions, but Moore's family's account is worse. They said in the lawsuit that "police struck him with their patrol vehicle and shot him for no reason. The lawsuit also says officers on the scene used racial epithets to describe Moore and his family members when they came to the scene to find out what happened to him" (Byrne). From Moore's family's description, the attack appears to be a case of racial violence.

It is interesting to see how different the two sides' accounts of what happened are, and this makes me wonder which is the real truth, if either. But no matter which side's story is closer to the truth, the shooting was completely unjustified and horrific, and I can only hope this lawsuit will prevent something like this from happening again.