Our Future Starts Now

“You are what you eat.” We have all heard this phrase one too many times in our lives and it actually stands to be true. Childhood obesity in America has become a true problem. It has more than tripled in the last 30 years. The children are our future and instead of building a healthy group of individuals, we are feeding them vast amounts of fast food due to convenience and potentially harming their future.

To be as straight forward as possible, this is unacceptable. The sad part is that these children are going to be the professionals of our future, but by allowing them to get to the obesity levels that America has reached, we may in turn be shortening their life expectancies. As a young adult, witnessing this shift in diet and a less active lifestyle in children is heartbreaking and intolerable. As children, running around in a park, playing hide-and-go-seek with friends and riding a bicycle should be examples of having a good time, but thanks to the technological world we live in, every child is now given an I-phone to spend time on.

It is in our hands as the adults to put a stop to this unhealthy lifestyle. As children, they only know what they see or are taught and used to. If the convenience of fast food restaurants is what is desirable, going to a market and purchasing some vegetables and a piece of roasted chicken can be just as convenient. A few extra minutes in a market can be spared if it means the health and wellbeing of your child. It is a selfish act if, as a parent, you are not able to make a single meal for your child.

Childhood obesity was never as big a problem as it is today. What caused a shift in the diet and health of children? What shifted the parents’ focus away from their children’s health? Education is a main factor and may be the place to start in finding a solution to this problem. What makes this a selfish act is that we all know what leads to obesity; unhealthy food choices and a lack of exercise. There is no hiding the fact that America as a whole has become less active and more dependent on technology. Young boys, nowadays, are inseparable from their video games. When I was a child, outdoor activities were my form of passing time and I did not know a single boy who didn’t play basketball or soccer. Today, it is impossible to separate a boy from their handheld device or take away their video game controller without them throwing a fit. Instead of playing basketball games through a PlayStation or Xbox, we should take them to a park and get them to play with their friends. Obesity aside, this will also aid in their social health. Sitting in front of a television playing a game is not socially healthy. It is important to mingle with other children and learn to coexist with others.

The facts are simple and evident, but it is putting them into practice that become difficult for many parents. With a worsening economy, many parents are forced to take on multiple jobs and barely have time to spend with their children. For these parents, picking up fast food is efficient both monetarily and with time. No matter what, the health of our children, our future, is most important. The parents work many hours a week to support their children, but by putting little focus on their diets and their health, the monetary support will be pointless. Health is the most important aspect of one’s life. The only wish for every individual is health and a healthy lifestyle starts from a young age.

It seems difficult for parents to wrap their heads around the fact that change is necessary to keep the children healthy and away from trouble in the future. Implementing a changed diet should be number one followed by an increase in outdoor exercise. Mingling with friends, running around and having fun should be the itinerary of every child’s day. It is our responsibility to build a healthy future for our children, and that healthy future starts with an active and healthy start. Before it is too late, we must do all that we can do teach our children the right from the wrong. This will take time and a community-wide effort, but children are our investments and no investment in the children of now and the professionals of the future could be too large.

 

Gentrification in Los Angeles

 

Real Estate Development is a field of study that is constantly evolving based on market conditions. These changes take place dominantly in big cities such as New York and Los Angeles, where constant modifications are to be made to keep up with the changing times. Living in LA is a blessing to those interested in development due to the continuous revival of older foundations. Transforming the slums into mixed-use projects that will attract visitors is a main trend, taking place in the Downtown Area. Many aspects go into the decision of what to develop and where to do so. What are these factors one may ask? A main one would be the population inhabiting the area along with what the city and government see for that site. Living in LA, specifically the area surrounding USC, gives an individual a true taste of wealth and poverty coinciding. In Downtown LA, you may drive one block and be by Staples Center and turn into a neighborhood one block down and enter the slums. In the process of decreasing the slums there are two actors in competition; one the real estate developer and the other the policemen and government officials that patrol the slums. Is urban renewal a byproduct of the developers’ efforts or the policing of the government officials? This question is one that holds much weight.

Urban renewal is a highly talked about and recurring theme throughout Los Angeles and other well-known cities, such as New York. The causes of urban renewal efforts are unclear however. It is hard to defer between the policing of the government officials and the doings of the real estate developers. Taking LA as an example and examining the reasons for urban renewal would result in a laundry list of bullet-pointed reasons. When looking for an area to inhabit, one, first and foremost, takes into consideration the safety measures being taken within the area. Places saturated with crime will have less interest from families, due to the fact that parents would want to keep their children safe and away from crime. Crimes such as burglary are acted out because of poverty and poverty is highly seen in the area surrounding USC, better known as the slums. Before reviving these slums, there are many steps that take place and many people involved in the process.

It is a common correlation that falling crime rates lead to increased property values for houses in the area. It has been proven, however, that there is simply more to this correlation than the simple facts at hand. The focus on real estate values itself, do not even nearly scratch the surface on the process of redeveloping a neighborhood. More than focusing on development and crime, we must focus on the deeper problem of real estate redevelopment and crime. Crime, of course, is a major factor in deciding where to develop, but in the redevelopment process we must go beneath the surface and focus on the steps taken in the redevelopment process. These steps include investments by the developers, initiatives taken by the city planners and the competing forces of the homeless agencies that work to protect their clients living arrangements. Crime is of course a main factor in this process, but the real problem lies in the conflict over real property, which in turn results in an economic restructuring of these underdeveloped and unsystematic neighborhoods.

Skid Row is known as containing one of the largest stable populations of homeless people in the United States. Driving through the area, many people may feel a sense of fear overcome them. Fear results from the belief that someone or something is dangerous and that they are likely a threat and going to cause pain. This fear instilled in us in relation to Skid Row is a result of the idea we have of Skid Row. The streets of Skid Row are filled with mentally ill and drug dependent individuals. Rather than feeling fear, however, we should feel sympathy for these individuals. They are humans just like any of us and we should not judge them because we don’t know their reasons for being on the sidewalk of that street. It is a surreal experience however, having Skid Row situated amongst some of the most luxurious, profitable and successful business buildings in Downtown LA. Skid Row is often compared to disorder as stated by the broken windows theory. The broken windows theory was proposed in 1982 by James Wilson and George Kelling and used the term broken windows to describe an area of much disorder and crime. The introduction of this broken windows theory brought about changes to the way policing was carried out in these areas. The theory Wilson and Kelling went off was that serious crime was the end result of a chain of smaller crimes. The reason for crime in their eyes was disorder, and with the deletion of disorder, crime would find an end. The aggressive panhandling, street prostitution, drunkenness and public drinking, vandalism, public urination and graffiti are a few amongst the many markers that qualify Skid Row as an area of disorder under the broken windows theory.

Although Skid Row is still in its disorderly stages, there has been plenty of development taking place around it. Downtown LA itself is experiencing a facelift. There has been much development of lofts and apartment buildings, plenty of which are taking place in neighborhoods adjacent to Skid Row. The main conflict in LA is brewing between the developers of these lofts and apartments and those people that are advocates for the homeless and their rights to live comfortably in the disorderly circumstances they have to deal with.

Crime rates are a main determinant in the make up of a city. Looking back at history, Los Angeles has gone through many instances of discord where the LAPD’s attention was highly necessitated. Some examples are the Rodney King beating in 1991 and the Rampart scandal in 1998. During these historic events in LA’s history, crime rates in the greater Los Angeles area actually decreased. This did not hold true for Skid Row and its surrounding areas however. Surprisingly, during these times, there was an increase in crime in this area. With these high crime rates, Downtown LA is still seeing high-end real estate development. Some say however, that new developments in the area are the causes for street crime. With the new fancy and luxurious lofts and apartments, those occupying these spaces are becoming easy targets for street crime. These facts are yet another signifier that crime and policing efforts may not be factors in the process of urban renewal.

Like I mentioned a little earlier, living in LA with Skid Row merely blocks away makes everything surreal. Living amongst millions of dollars of new and prospective real estate on one side and then having Skid Row situated in the middle of it all gives us a real-time view of the gentrification taking place in Downtown LA. Skid Row has, in a sense, built a name for itself. Not a reputable one or somewhere one wants to go; rather it is one that someone would want to stay away from, but nevertheless, it is apart of Downtown LA. The conflict with Skid Row is that the homeless advocates and surprisingly, the high-end developers as well, want to preserve the effect Skid Row brings to Downtown LA. Developers see Skid Row as more than just a street that poses a threat to those around. They view it as providing edginess to the neighborhood, bringing the feel of Manhattan with the high-end lofts mixed with the homeless beggars on the streets. It adds flavor to the city, one that is naturally there, and disrupting that flavor to the point where the historical context will be lost is not the intention of the advocates as well as the developers. Being a dweller in Downtown LA, I have had first hand exposure to Skid Row through volunteering and simply taking a drive through the area. Tagging the area as an area full of crime and one to stay away from is heartbreaking. My first time volunteering to go feed the homeless on Skid Row was an empowering experience. They are humans just like all of us, but having fallen into different life circumstances, they are now left on the streets. By simply taking an hour or so of my day giving them food and small necessities like sweaters and socks really left an impact on me. I must agree that taking away Skid Row or developing to the point of disrupting the effect of it would take away more than the edgy flavor it provides to Downtown LA. It would take away what the homeless call their homes, and that to me would be worse than taking away the flavor it provides the city.

Prior to visiting the homeless on Skid Row, I had never gotten a chance to drive through it or get a feel for the area. The image I had in my head was one of a slum with barely any development and tons of homeless lining the streets. To my relief, once I did get a chance to visit the known street, I saw that more than just homeless lined up on the street, there were hotels and apartment complexes specifically for those who cant afford the expensive housing offered in Downtown LA. After some research, I came to the understanding that there are many organizations advocating for the livelihood of the homeless and also the lower income individuals and families that revive old structures and transform them into livable quarters for lower income families. Although there are these advancements in the area, it is still horrific witnessing the pain in the eyes of the homeless living on the streets. I almost feel wrong driving through the street, considering that these people don’t have a single change of clothes while I have a car. These homeless people are in need of major medical attention, many of them with diseases but no means of treating those diseases. It has been found that the rate of drug related deaths on Skid Row are 10 percent higher than our country as a whole. That is what irritates me. The city has so much money to renew older structures, yet they don’t put in enough effort to aid the homeless that are suffering merely streets down from us.

Downtown LA has come a long way in renewal of the city largely due to USC and its efforts at making the city a safer place for everyone. At the end of the day, when a city’s streets look clean and the buildings and structures are kept up-to-date, it becomes more inviting for foot traffic. Since USC is situated amongst what used to be an area full of crime, they are buying out most of the properties around the campus to keep the surrounding area free of crime as well. At the end of the day, it is about real estate and the perception people will get of the city. Real estate developers aim to bring proximity amongst individuals in the city through developing properties that will foster interaction. Preserving the city and its historical roots are important but if there is a chance to renew what is already there and bring in more foot traffic, they will do so.

The job of real estate developers is to study the market and learn about the demographics of the people living in the area. The description of those inhabiting Downtown LA nowadays is the more young and hip individuals, out there for school or work. For this reason, Downtown LA has been seeing a lot of mixed-use development, which is the idea of putting apartments or living spaces on top and having retail and restaurants on the lower level. This type of development fosters relationships and promotes mingling with the inclusion of café type outdoor places and retail shops. Networking amongst young adults is popular and this type of set-up allows for networking to take place in a relaxed and casual setting. While this is the job of the developer, when it comes to Skid Row the topic becomes sticky because development in this area ruins the encampments that are homes for those people. Skid Row has a name and a reputation for itself. There is no way of eliminating it completely. Development does take place around the vicinity, but if developers try to renew what is inside the bounds of Skid Row, this is where the problems arise. It is a controversial topic and one that is usually misinterpreted when discussed. In an article I found about reviving Skid Row due to the increase in need for housing in Downtown LA, there was an interview between a woman who lives on the row selling cigarettes and an interviewer. This woman, her name Leah, said that “the cops are starting to crack down more, I guess ’cause they want to clean up down here to make it better for people to live, but this is Skid Row; it’s always going to be Skid Row.” When people think of Downtown LA, a specific image of Skid Row, whether one has physically been or not, comes to mind. That is an image that, no matter how gentrified and renewed Downtown LA becomes, will never leave the mind of a person when talking about the city. As bad and horrible a sight it is, Skid Row is a home for the homeless people, and changing the look of this area would be like taking away the only home they know. With all that these individuals must worry about, the last thing on their minds should be the thought of being displaced from the only place they know and being forced to find a new place of shelter. For this reason, the topic of development on Skid Row has always been and will always be a topic of much emotion and controversy.

As I did some research on the topic of bringing housing to the areas surrounding Skid Row, I came across the name Tom Gilmore and after further research I found this developer to be the main actor in the development of these properties surrounding the area. His background was what surprised me the most. Developers, for some reason, have the title of cocky and solely after the money, but Mr. Gilmore was way more than after the money. Before becoming a developer, he was a commissioner for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. This organization handles all the needs of the homeless in Los Angeles. He was on the housing authority commission within this organization. After deciding to pursue development, his main goal was to intertwine his love and passion for the homeless and aiming to aid them with his passion for development. With his heavy involvement in homeless advocacy and now his great involvement in the development coming to the area, he is at the center of the conversations that take place and the many meetings that are held discussing this topic of development surrounding Skid Row. The main issue with other homeless advocates is that the development is taking away from the homeless peoples’ living spaces and making room for the young professionals inhabiting the area. The structures that Gilmore redevelops are those that are deemed empty for multiple years. There is no displacement of homeless individuals in the process, rather a revival of structures that are left abandoned and empty for years. Mr. Gilmore also employs the homeless in the building of his visions and his developments are for the homeless to enjoy. He aims at building mixed income housing which are good for the working poor as well. In an interview, when asked why mixed income housing is the way to go, Gilmore answered, “the working poor are the most extraordinarily important group of people, because they are either the foundation of the new community or they are the foundation of the soon-to-be-homeless and that’s a group you have to deal with radically.” There is so much to be said about Gilmore’s answer. The vast amount of homeless is already over what it should be and it is tragic to see the streets filled with them, and so adding onto that number would be an even more tragic step. If we are able to prevent the working poor from going into poverty and being forced into the streets, we should take every measure possible to do so.

Due to the changed demographics in Downtown LA with the heavy influx of young professionals, the living conditions necessitated have changed. Apartments and lofts are in higher demand than single-family homes, and in order to feed this demand stimulus there must be a supply response.   Many garment factories are closing down with the jobs being exported and they are being converted into apartment or loft-style residential spaces. With Skid Row spanning 50 blocks, this development is taking place around the vicinity. Some believe extra housing will help the homeless on Skid Row, but Mr. Gilmore, in another interview, tackles this dilemma. He goes on to say that the homeless found in this area are chronically homeless, have diseases and drug addictions, and these are problems that with or without housing, will not go away. More than housing, these people need medical care and attention, and nothing is being done in that aspect to help these people. Mr. Gilmore is knowledgeable on the topic of housing but when confronted with the question about creating housing as a remedy to the homeless peoples’ issues he fires back by saying, “housing stock is about creating the steps for affordable and moderate and market rate housing. Special needs housing, shelter plus care, all that, that’s a different animal.”

Back to the topic of the relationship between criminality and homelessness, Mr. Gilmore made a remarkable distinction in saying that “many cities criminalize homelessness in an effort to stem criminal behavior amongst the homeless.” It is wrong to consider homelessness a crime. Yes, there are heavy amounts of crime that take place on Skid Row and other homeless environments, but passing those crimes as being carried out by the homeless and therefore not paying attention or putting in the effort to stop the frequent crimes is wrong. The problem with crimes on Skid Row are that they are rarely reported due to the fact that most everyone living on the street are homeless, and if they are reported it is by a homeless person and it is hard to tell whether they are in the right state of mind or not. The areas surrounding Skid Row are busy during the working hours, but when businesses close down the only inhabitants in the area are the homeless. For this reason, Skid Row is unique. Policing in the area is a whole different story. There have been many stories leaked about how corrupt police stations across the nation are. When it comes to Skid Row, they police based on a quality-of-life metric. There are times when the police would come and randomly arrest whoever they felt like arresting for that day. There are times when the police will stop wrongful manhandling acted out by security guards patrolling the area, but most of the time when cops come around Skid Row it is to make arrests.

As important as policing and patrolling the area are, it is not performed in an ethical and efficient way. The advancement of urban renewal on Skid Row, then is not a factor of policing or crime trends but is a product of real estate development as mentioned earlier. At the end of the day, real estate is what keeps a city constantly working. Real estate brings in tax for the city and keeps the people inhabiting an area involved with their neighborhood. Due to the increase in young professionals, the development of apartment and loft-style housing will not subside. Bringing housing to areas surrounding Skid Row pose a slight problem in that they bring with them higher prices, and a main worry is that if prices sky rocket to an extent where lower income individuals will not be able to afford housing, then they will be pushed out and be left homeless as well. In a city like Los Angeles, it is important to always be conscious of the people living within the bounds of the city. We have the higher-end professionals but also have the lower-end working poor and homeless. In developing and renewing the city, it is important to have everyone in mind and work to preserve what already exists and develop in places that can use a facelift, all the while maintaining the culture and historic feel.

An underrepresentation of foreign news in America

A few years ago my family and I had made a trip to France, during the times where the news broke of the American whistleblower, Edward Snowden.  Watching the news in France, we saw every detail of the case, but when we were talking to family members back here in LA, they didn’t know the information we knew.  Today, there is a major war in Armenia and sadly with everything else going on in the world, the news of this war is going unnoticed

This war that broke out about a week ago is between Armenians and Azerbaijani forces.  50 people were killed in 4 days, and we haven’t heard anything about this on the news.  Being Armenian, it breaks my heart to see young boys and their fathers go to war to protect the country.  Those are real-world problems and yet they aren’t put onto our news channels.  It is heartbreaking to read the Armenian newspapers and find out information about my homeland that I hadn’t heard about on the news.  Instead, we hear about irrelevant news.

It is very important to know what is going on around us.  To understand the current state of America, it is important to take in consideration the state of other countries and know about the conflicts to understand where we stand.

Taking selfies to make online transactions?

It is no lie that security in today’s world is diminishing and frightening to some extents.  With the advancement of technology, we are forced to be a lot more aware of our surroundings.  Online shopping has become the main form of shopping for many Americans.  I along with many others have had credit card scares through online transactions, where someone steals my card number and uses it to make other purchases.

As I was surfing the internet, I came across an article talking about the use of selfies to authenticate online transactions.  We do live in the selfie age, that is no lie.  Whether you are in a market shopping or in you car driving, you will see people around you taking selfies on apps such as Snapchat.  Using selfies to prove your identity and make purchases, however, is something I had never thought of.  MasterCard is the first to get this plan moving and they are referring to it as the “selfie pay.”  To assure that the person is presently taking the photo, the process will have the person blink in front of the camera.

This plan shows a shift in our century.  It is crazy to think that with a photo of oneself, you will be able to validate your identity.  The technology will make sure the individual is not lying based on the eyes and the elongation of the face.  There will be many people who will not adjust to this new technology due to worries of sending pictures of themselves to a system, but overall it is crazy to think that instead of using a password to verify your identity, you will be able to send a live picture of yourself.  The world of technology is definitely advancing at a rapid speed.  It is crazy to see the changes take place right in front of our eyes.

Are Body Image challenges harming society?

As I was browsing the Internet this past week, I came across a trending challenge called the “A4 waist challenge.” To succeed, a girl must be able to fully cover and obscure her waist.  I found this to be relevant to two of my previous posts, one about culture and one about fashion and the effect it has on perceptions of the body.  This ridiculous trend began in China, where their people are known to be thinner than average and in the article I came across on BBC, two Chinese women were interviewed praising the challenge and saying that it promotes health.  For their culture, it is socially acceptable to have a stick figure, because that body is achievable.

_88935385_azura.jpg

It is important to note that along with any craze like this, it is always right to look at the cultural background of those accepting challenge and those ridiculing it.  Having a waist that will be obscured entirely by a standard size paper may be attainable for Asians considering their thin physique but many not be possible for Middle Easterners with a more curvy physique.  Promoting trends like these may only discourage those women that are not able to fit into the parameters of the challenge.

 

_88879778_0ae9ebf9-655a-4079-92de-73d69be0d55a.jpg

This challenge has gained a considerable amount of backlash for this reason.  Instead of trying to make every girl fit into the bounds of that paper, it is important to make every girl out there realize that having a different body is what makes us each unique and stand apart from each other.  Succeeding in a nonsensical challenge such as this only makes our society look narrow-minded.  Social media has already received a bad rap for the many other negative body image statements it has attracted, and adding this to the mix only weakens its argument.  There lies beauty in being different from one another; it is always important to remember that and not fall for challenges and trends such as these that take away from our unique identity and bring into our minds a negative image of our own bodies.

Uber drivers as traditional employees?

 


With birth of the ride-sharing app known as Uber, we have been introduced to a new era of driving that has nearly replaced the age of the taxi.  With Uber, we have the ability and freedom to call a driver at our fingertips – literally.  But with the birth of Uber, the lines as to who qualifies as a worker are a bit blurred.  Some have stated that Uber drivers are contained within a new employee class while others refute that statement are workers just like everyone else. 

uber-germany_injunction.jpg

This debate has people wondering who is right and who isn’t. Uber drivers are technically independent contractors for Uber and are therefore not exactly employees of Uber.  This means that Uber is not entitled to pay payroll taxes, unemployment insurance or other high costs that many other jobs require.  Uber compensates for these expenses they don’t cover by stating that drivers have total flexibility in determining when they want to drive and aren’t entitled to the company in any way.

Economist Alan Krueger and Labor Department Official, Seth Harris, proposed a new way to define these workers.  They argue that the workers aren’t employees because they set their own schedules but also aren’t independent contractors because Uber sets their wages, so they proposed a third category to define the Uber workers- independent workers. In this category, workers would be entitled to some protection rights such as discrimination laws, but not others including minimum wage and overtime laws. The on-demand and internet sector of the business world is quickly becoming the way of life, with Uber and competitors as well as with Amazon Prime and its 2-hours-or-less-delivery window.

Krueger and Harris had some disagreements from others on their findings.  Economist Larry Mishel and lawyer Ross Eisenbrey were argued that apps such as Uber and Lyft are not so different from other work.  The main determinant in calling Uber drivers “independent workers” by Krueger and Harris was that their hours cannot be accurately documented because many people drive for more than one rider-sharing app and so it is difficult to accurately .  Mishel and Eisenbrey countered this by saying that if this was the case then why do these apps track their drivers house and cite them in public works?

It is clear that these new apps are going to be the way of the future, and so it is going to be important to come to an understanding as to how we must address these workers.  In my opinion, since these jobs offer more freedom to its workers in the sense of creating their own hours and working when they please, we cannot refer to them as employees.  I believe they are more independent contractors than they are employees, but regarding the wages set by Uber, that takes away from the independent contractor title.  Although Mishel and Eisenbrey refute the writings of Krueger and Harris, I agree more with the latter because these workers are a new type of worker.  They are not the traditional employee that works in an office with a set 9-5 schedule and a set hourly wage.  I feel like as this sector in the business world grows, there will be a defined title for them.

Is it fashion’s responsibility to change body ideals?

With the award show season that just passed us by, the number one thing most commonly anticipated are the outfits the women and men will bring to the carpet.  There is no hiding the fact we look up to celebrities and mimic outfits that they put together.  In a sense, they do set the trends that we bring to our closets.  Zac Posen is a well – known designer and he put out a statement saying that fashion in a sense must take some responsibility for altering the perceptions of what constitutes a perfect figure.  His dresses display and maximize the wearer’s curves rather than hiding them.

Demi-Moore-Zac-Posen-Emmy-Awards-2015-Vogue-16March16-Rex_b.jpg   -Amy Schumer, dressed by Zac Posen-

It is important to note that ideals change and the perception of the perfect figure is only a mirror of what is deemed acceptable in the fashion world.  What we see on celebrities and what they make of the platform they have been giving greatly influence our perceptions.  It is important to note though, that not all women are capable of having the same ideal body type.  Depending on race and age, that “skinny is better” look is not attainable for all, and it is important to never forget that. Zac Posen also mentions that the media world can do a lot with their platform, to include all body types and not exclude those that are deemed plus size by society’s bounds. Posen mentions, “The editorial message can change and evolve – and if you create that ‘it’ moment, that can change a whole culture.”

ashley_graham-sports_illustrated.jpg    -Ashley Graham,plus-size model-

Today we are seeing a shift towards accepting the curvier woman and coming to an understanding that skinny is not the only beautiful and sometimes is not even beautiful.  Everyone possesses beauty no matter what shape or size.  Looks are only skin deep as the saying goes and once we get past our consumption with losing weight and fitting into societies norm for the “ideal body type”, that is when happiness can be found.  It is important to realize the type of body the woman has when designing her, as Posen says, and dress their body type.  It is wrongful to dress them with the trend if it does not fit their body type.  There are ways to make every woman feel beautiful in their skin and I believe that is a movement that is coming along, with the face of Ashley Graham, a plus-size model, making it acceptable to feel comfortable in your own skin and to embrace your curves.  We are given the bodies we have for a reason and instead of trying to fit others’ ideals, we need to feel at peace within the vessel we have been given and when that is done, happiness and contentment can be achieved.

Eye-opening world of medicine

Keeping up with the medical world is always difficult, because there are constant advancements.  The newest advancement that struck me was that in the world of eye care. Eyes have always been a wonder to me.  It amazes me how they work and the number of nerves that are contained within it.

I came across an article on a new regenerative eye operation that has been successfully treating children with cataracts in China.  Conversation about stem cells has been around for years and is newest and most profound way in the medical world today.  Cataracts are what lead to blindness and the way to turn this around is to use an implanted lens.  This groundbreaking operation, rather than implanting, activates stem cells within the eye to promote the growth of even more cells.  This operation has been named as one of the “finest achievements in regenerative medicine.”

“The study is one of the finest achievements in the field of regenerative medicine until now.”

Conventional medicine with the implant uses an ultrasound to break up the lens and consequently flush it out.  After this happens, a lens is then implanted back into the eye, but the downfall is that this could cause complications namely in children.  This cataract problem is most common with aging, but some children may be born with it, and these children have complications with the conventional process of cataract regeneration.  The new operation focuses on removing the cloudy cataract from the lens through a small incision while leaving the outer surface completely intact.  This outer surface is full of stem cells that regenerate themselves and repair damage, and so the hopes of the scientists were that by preserving these cells, they would be able to regenerate the lens without the input of an implant.  After trial on rabbits and monkeys, it was tried on children and after 8 months the lens seemed to be back to its normal size.  They were tried on children because their cells are more youthful and therefore more likely to regenerate successfully, but they have also been tried on the elderly, considering they are the ones that deal with cataracts more commonly, and the research has been seen to be successful thus far.  

It amazes me that our medicine has advanced this greatly.  Using cells that we have are replacing the input of implants, a foreign object, into our bodies and especially into our eyes.  Going through our daily lives, we forget that there are so many diseases and problems in the world.  While we are in class or at home enjoying our days, children in China doomed with cataracts from birth are being used as trials for this operation.  It just amazes me that a surgery like this was created using what we already have in our bodies.  It is always important to be grateful for what we have.  Eyes are the window to the world and gratefully they came up with this operation to help both children and the elderly, and that is amazing.

What is missing from your diet?

Being on the go and living fast-paced lives don’t allow us the necessary time to focus on thinking of healthy and nutritious meals.  The society we live in has made us believe that a size 0 is normal and for that to be the ideal weight and look and for that reason, women especially, steer away from eating foods that they actually need.

More than for weight, however, eating a well-balanced diet is necessary to prevent depression and mood disorders and mentioned in an article I found on AOL.  We tend to relate depression and moodiness to other factors such as outside stressors in our daily lives but by eating 10 specific nutritional factors, depression and moodiness can be minimized greatly.  I will list the 10 key factors and why they are important to keep in your daily diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids are the first.  These are essential to have in our diet because they keep out trans fats that would otherwise enter our neural system and lead to mood disorders.  B vitamins are important to reduce stroke risks and moisturize skin but also recently found, to minimize moodiness.  Folates can be found in such foods as cooked beans and were seen to be deficient in people that were otherwise not responding to antidepressant medications. Zinc is necessary for every body part’s well being, but also in the function of  neurotransmitters. Selenium can be found in such foods as seeds and whole wheat breads and is important in making antioxidants to detoxify in the liver. Magnesium can be found in soybeans and lentils and is the most common nutrient to be missing from a person’s diet.  This is because of our consumption of alcohol and sugars. Nonetheless, it is necessary in helping us relax and is known as the “stress antidote.” Vitamin D is absorbed through sunlight and especially in the winter, we are lacking sunlight and so people tend to be more depressed and moody during this time of the year. Iodine, like Selenium, is necessary in the functioning of the thyroid and is necessary for boosting our immune system and brain performance.  Iron deficiency is common in older women and is a cause for anemia and , fatigue and brain fog.  Iron can be found in nuts, clams and seeds to name a few.  Lastly, amino acids are important in balancing out the neurotransmitters in our brains and aid in reducing fear, anxiety and stress.  Good sources of amino acids are eggs, lean meats and dairy.

These 10 essential nutrients are easy to consume on a daily basis because they can be found in multiple foods that we can carry around with us such as nuts and seeds, while on the go and busy with our daily lives.  As humans, it is hard to say “I don’t care what people think of me,” but it is important to eat the necessary things and keep yourself well-balanced and full of the right nutrients instead of focusing on body weight and the size pant you wear.  We live in a very critical world, but it is important to steer away from the negative eyes and focus on becoming  better you.

Public Intellectual

 

Robert Reich is an exemplary public intellectual who truly uses his or her intellect and fame to help the society. Then I came across Robert Reich, who stresses the importance of education. Although some may argue, education is a key factor in setting the stone for the intellectuals of our future. Nonetheless, there has been a recent notion of American anti-intellectualism as referenced in Stephen Mack’s essay, “The Decline of the Public Intellectual.” Mack states that Richard Hofstadter brought about this phrase and two main points, one that I believe definitely aligns with my thoughts, do justice in bringing light to the wrongful assignment of this phrase. “One, the fact that academic institutions wield enormous financial, technological, and cultural power—and the fact that, more generally, education continues to be the centerpiece of some of our most cherished social myths (i.e., “the “American Dream”)—are both powerful reasons to doubt that Americans suffer from some instinctive hostility to intellectuals.” People come to America for that “American Dream” and to say that there is a sense of anti-intellectualism in America diminishes ,to an extent, the validity of the opportunities found here in the land of opportunity.

            Robert Reich’s credibility as a pubic intellectual comes from his extensive accomplishments. Having served on the Clinton administration as a former Secretary of Labor and his current role as a Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, he has the resume that confirms his stance as a public intellectual. His ideas are voiced through his positions as the contributing editor of The New Republic, The American Prospect, Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Aside from his accomplishments in the political world, I believe Mr. Reich is an example of a great pubic intellectual due to both his writings about policy in the newspapers he edits for and actually making policy as he did in the Clinton administration. He has generated much debate in the books he has written, specifically his first two books Minding America’s Business and The Next American Frontier, in which he made a case for a US industrial policy to rationalize government intervention into the economy. This idea was criticized by many saying that this would cause a further deindustrialization of America. A main concern for Mr. Reich has always been one for human capital policies to ease the ability of the economy and the people comprising it to transition into new and fulfilling work. His book, The Work of Nations, written in 1991 actually framed an integrated economic framework which centered around education, training and other public investments was the framework which President Clinton used to run his first campaign for presidency.

An overarching theme that can be found in Mr. Reich’s ideals and thoughts in his books and other writings is one of creating a sense of intellect in the people that seems to be shifting to one focused on the world of social media and not actually devoting oneself to a greater good, which is his goal. He generally relates intellect to keeping the economy afloat. In his book, The Future of Success, he states that the New Economy values creative workers over all others, for only they can supply the continual innovation the economy and its enterprises demand. He also understands, however, that the new economy places burdens on us that were otherwise not present years ago. Reich says that “we are losing parts of our lives to the new economy- aspects of our family lives, our friendships, our communities and ourselves.” In respect to this, I agree with Mr. Reich. The world we live in today is a dog eat dog world. Competition to get into universities and get jobs are higher than ever, and this competition places an unnecessary stress on everyone today. Instead of enjoying life and the people around us and getting to know ourselves and be a better version of ourselves everyday, our work life gets in the way and blinds us of what is truly important in life.

In an interview with strategy + business Mr. Reich addressed many of his ideals and why he has always been deeply interested in organization and management in the workplace and its connection to the economic world. Reich states that he started out studying the law of economics but it is difficult to fully understand the concept without understanding the social and organizational context of economics. Without understanding the people running the economy, all you have is the theory without any solid groundwork as to how the theory of economics is applied to the real world. Reich has lived through the earlier 70’s when competition wasn’t high within companies and so there was no motivation amongst individuals in the workplace to use their intellect and contribute to the advancement of society. Witnessing the shift in the business world in he late 80’s and early 90’s to a world of more competition and therefore more advancements within the business world compared to what he had seen in the 70’s is what Reich bases most of his ideals on. Healthy competition brings about change, with people trying to one-up each other and therefore using their intellect to bring about new ideas. That is what Reich advocates for ; people utilizing symbolic and analytic thought to make a change and advance in the economic world.

This era has been termed the Digital Era, but Mr. Reich refers to it as “The Age of the Terrific Deal.” There is no doubt that technology has taken over in all aspects of our lives. Social media has taken over in the sense that even high profile celebrities resort to it to reach out to the people. Twitter has become a platform for individuals to voice their opinions publically and it opens up questions and ideas for criticism, which is not always constructive. Reich believes that the growth of technology has actually been an aid in the economic world. It opened up a world of opportunities that we otherwise did not have before.

To have this higher intellectual in the economic world, it is important to have a strong educational platform within which to strengthen intellect. Education in America has been criticized for many years for the decrease in quality of education and the increase in tuition prices, which are a major factor in students opting out of receiving a higher education due to the debt they will accrue. For these reasons, Reich believes that changes must take place in the educational system. As Reich states on his blog in the post titled The Attack on the American Education, “the only way to raise wages and grow the economy, and improve competitiveness is by investing in our people-especially their educations.” (Reich,2010) He references the facts that American students are scoring lowest on standardized testing and many schools are failing. He also stresses the fact that not enough students who have the capacity to move onto higher education actually don’t have the opportunity to because of high tuition prices. Reich doesn’t believe in throwing money into schools to save the education system, because most of the time rather than using that money towards enhancing the education, it is used on amenities that have no correlation with the quality of education being delivered to the students. It is hard for students to be motivated to continue schooling when there is a roadblock such as the high prices to attend a school and get an education are in the equation. By improving the quality of education in the United States we would eventually encourage and stimulate a successful economy consisting of inventive and intellectual individuals making a change in the world. On the contrary, a plethora of states in the United States have cut education funding. “Seventeen states have cut public school funding and limited spending budgets.” (Reich 2010) “Forty-three states have cut funding for public colleges and universities, and have made up for losses by increasing student tuition.” (Reich 2010) These cuts play a big role in affecting and influencing the quality of individuals that enter the workplace and consequently the work output they show as a result. High tuition prices seem to filter out those who do not have the capacity to pay for schooling, but is it fair to count these students out when they have bright futures and the willingness to continue their education and get the most out of education?

Other than the funding, Reich believes that the teachers need to be better screened and that curriculums across the nation must be re-evaluated to offer more structured and informational lessons to the students. His reason to change the curriculum and gear it more toward real-life situations is because he believes that what is currently in place does not prepare the students for the real world. What is existent today, Reich believes is systematic and does not allow room for individual invention. He compares today’s educational system to an “assembly line protocol.” (Reich, 2015) Just as in an assembly line, where the workers are told what to do and what to create at each step in the line, students are given what to do to get the grades they want, but don’t have any other greater reasoning in learning the information they do. In an assembly line, the workers know that if everyone completes the portion of the product that they are assigned to, at the end the product will be in its full form. They produce for the sole purpose of producing and have no other reasoning behind doing so other than it is what they are told to do and so they must do it. Schooling has become a competition between who received the higher grade, but rarely will students remember the content they were tested on once they are done with it. The focus and importance placed on getting high grades has also greatly skewed students away from wanting to learn, because there is always a fear that if you really try to learn and don’t try to memorize everything, then you may get a lower score. Teachers are partly to blame for this, because it is always emphasized in classrooms what it takes to get an A and what must be done to stir away from getting a B and lower. Once curriculums get stronger across the nation and teacher credentials are interviewed with more caution, students will have more of an interest in learning and less of a focus on memorizing to get the desired grade.

Reich believes strongly in the idea of tuition-free schooling for public higher education. Being that tuition is a determining factor for many in continuing schooling, he believes that by offering tuition-free schooling students will feel more motivated and inspired to continue on and make a change to the world. Education should not be a financial privilege available to only those who could afford it, because after all in order for the world to move forward and create a better economic future for all we need educated intellectuals, and these individuals may be in the group of those who don’t have the financial means to afford education today.

All in all, Reich’s main goal is to aim for a better-educated future and his belief lies in fixing the education system at its core, through curriculum and teachers, to produce educated individuals to lead the future. The education reform proposed by Reich is possible through his power status in the social and political world. His strength to make these changes however, lie in his willingness to engage in processes of critical criticism to actively critique institutions that shape the lives of the average Americans (Mack, 2007). Reich as a public intellectual practices his status in being outspoken on the subjects that he believes need reform, subjects that single-handedly affect the nation and play a pivotal role in the success of our future.

 

Mack, S. (2007, Aug 14). The “Decline” of Public Intellectuals?. [blog]. Retrieved from

http://www.stephenmack.com/blog/archives/2007/08/public_intellec.html

Reich, R. (2010, Dec 15). The Attack on the American School System. [blog].

Retrieved from http://robertreich.org/post/2420649887

“Robert B. Reich: The Thought Leader Interview.” Strategy+business. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.

Retrieved from “Robert B. Reich: The Thought Leader Interview.” Strategy+business. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.