We Blog; Therefore, We Are

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From passion, to business, to hobby, to news and information, to arts, to fashion or just mere expression—the blogosphere is growing exponentially in every split second.

In fact, in 2012, the world-renowned Nielsen (Nielsen/McKinsey Co.) reported that there were already 181million blogs” worldwide. It was “up by 36 million five years earlier in 2006” (Nielsen 2012). However, according to Wikipedia, our numbers were nearing billions as of this writing. (Wikipedia)

As a blogger myself, I am very happy to hear this news knowing the amount of heart we are investing into this, especially in the cases of most of you. As admittedly, I barely have time to write, because of school and work; and apologetically, I have been missing your posts as well because of those too (my sincerest apologies).

Nevertheless, I am delighted with this encouraging information, because I have so much faith in what we are doing. Moreover, I am looking far ahead, when it comes to our results. That although I barely have readers, unlike most of you (who are counting hundreds and thousands of followers and friends too), but I am honestly, not bothered at all. Coz I am sure, the Internet is not going anywhere. Which means we should not limit gauging readership in today’s numbers; and that we should never feel discourage at all if we do not see likes, and/or comments each time we post. For what is most important, is the quality what of we are posting and sharing, along with the bonds we are blessed to share and keep as an online community.

In regards to the latter, I actually realized that when a closest friend (a fellow news writer back home) told me that some or one of my poems about writing, were or was used in academics (in my native country, Philippines).

Regardless, I am really looking far ahead, because I see things as a mother. And speaking of mothers, Nielsen and Technorati both reported: We, women–mostly mothers, represent the largest group among us, bloggers. Now, isn’t that is another good news? ‘Cause with mothers, we can expect manners–for we also have to self-regulate ourselves. Because what comes with this privilege to speak before the world, is our responsibilty to our successors; and that is to set benchmarks on the things we do-regardless if we are blogging for profit or not.

No matter, it is crystal clear, we are in the process of bringing down the “grand walls” that set men and women apart. That whether knowing or unknowingly, we are now dealing with one another not based on genders nor sexual orientations. Rather, in our world, in the blogosphere, we regard one another as fellow highly educated, passionate and creative human beings. We, women are getting more confident in expressing ourselves. And you, men are also getting confident in sharing the soft side of you. And with that, we can say, we are getting close in healing our fears in being true to ourselves, just as we are healing the wounds of prejudices, religions, cultures, and all those that enslaved humankind for ages. Although, we only exist and interact virtually, but we collaborate and support one another in ways that not even the United Nations have done in the past. We are making a difference.

Without further ado, below are the links to the good news. I am proud of you all! You should be proud of us too.

To God be all the Glory! Happy blogging everybody!















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GOODREADS:
Nielsen reports: Buzz in the Blogosphere. . .
http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2012/buzz-in-the-blogosphere-millions-more-bloggers-and-blog-readers.html
Technorati reports: Growth of the Blogosphere
http://technorati.com/state-of-the-blogosphere-2010/

Brilliant Blunders, a Book Review

Brilliant Blunders

Five science “luminaries” are seemingly put in a petri dish by astrophysicist, Mario Livio. Published in May 2013, in Brilliant Blunders “colossal” errors by the greatest scientists of all times are exposed by the operator of Hubble Space Telescope, as allegedly, they all “. . .could have potentially jeopardize our understanding of life, earth, and the universe; and, they could have potentially hold back the progress of science.” (Livio 2013) Indeed, science is such a complicated subject that even gigantic figures are vulnerable to mistakes. Hence, it is important to understand its meaning, methods, mechanisms, and to set a unifying thread; to establish limitations in order to understand how the natural and/or physical phenomena work.

On a personal note, being a non-science major student, reviewing this book is so challenging for me. In fact, I have to read two books to come up with this review. In addition, I have to go back to the very beginning of our class, in January of spring 2014 and read ten chapters of our Biology textbook, Campbell Essential Biology with Physiology (Custom Edition), to establish my unequivocal stand on the underlying issues of Livio’s arguments. In addition, I also read two versions (both digital and print) of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, published in November 24, 1859. (Livio 2013) For it is my utmost priority, to come up with a fair and fact-based evaluation. However, because I know I cannot delve deeply about everything in that book, this review is only covering what I learned from this semester, of spring 2014, and in my biology class, evolution and inheritance.

Nevertheless, Brilliant Blunders is composed of eleven main chapters, and five additional all others (e.g. Preface, Coda, and etcetera), written in three-hundred and forty-one pages.

In the first chapter, Mistakes and Blunders, Livio talks about the five “protagonists,” “luminaries” as he addressed them, but all with the anti-hero characters—caused by their apparent “colossal” mistakes or blunders in the very profound world of science. The scientists are as follow:
1. Charles Darwin
2. Lord Kelvin
3. Linus Pauling
4. Fred Hoyle, and
5. Albert Einstein
In this take-off chapter, Livio also informs his readers that the world evolution is the “unifying thread” that connects all chapters. Each “luminary” is assigned two chapters. Every beginning chapter (for any luminary), he talks in a positive note by citing their contributions to science, and how they affect the world and the universe as a whole. In the succeeding chapter he sights the blunders of the “luminaries” and the repercussions, or possible repercussions of their apparent “errors” in their respective fields of science, along with the possible causes of either psychological or neuroscientific factors surrounding their “brilliant blunders.”

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In regards to the Origin of Species however, there are fourteen chapters, five-hundred-and two pages, and a single figure of a tree, which looks like a simple phylogeny tree, personally drawn by Darwin. According to Livio, that Darwin’s book “. . . changes our understanding of life on earth.” It talks about four pillars of biology, namely:
1. Evolution
2. Gradualism
3. Descent with Modification
4. Speciation

Furthermore, Livio acknowledges that natural selection is correct. Moreover, natural selection is the mechanism behind those four mentioned processes. Livio specifically stresses that he is not taking it against Darwin, that the latter does not know about genetics, nor what the acceptable theories of inheritance in the nineteenth-century (or Darwin’s day). 61ylbx7vBZL

In science though, it was a given fact—one that was well-embraced that Darwin was once a mediocre student. Although science was in his genes (from his grandfather, to his father, and his siblings most of them went to medical school), he did not have the instant intelligence for science. Worse, he struggled with it; and, he did not have a stomach for it (witnessing surgeries without the anesthesia, of course, it was such gruesome sight). He even dropped pursuing science, and switched to theology instead, just to earn his undergraduate degree. All facts were in most books, articles, videos, and other academic resources, and in all mediums (or forms) about Darwin (and just as how we covered all these in class as well).

I first learned about him in my anthropology class, Emerging Humanity (or Anthropology 151). Wherein, at the beginning of this semester, my classmates and I watched a NOVA PBS documentary, What Darwin Never Knew. In that film, amid knowing the “blunder” of Darwin (as Livio castigated) that indeed posed challenge to natural selection–which was DNA (Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid)–from the biologists, to paleontologists, anthropologists, and paleoanthropologists, they all spoke highly and with so much regards and enthusiasm about Darwin. To the point, the film seemed like a celebration of his life, when they could have featured the man behind our understanding of inheritance, Gregor Mendel (the Augustinian monk from Czech Republic, who studied rigorously about genetics, and almost the same time as Darwin published his book in 1859). (Simon Et Al, Pg. 146) 81vaYJkSNUL
Livio knows that the concept of inheritance in the nineteenth-century or in Darwin’s day, is ultimately wrong. Since he knows this fact, why is he talking about something that “Darwin never knew?” Why is his arguments against Darwin is based on the latter’s concept of inheritance?

Please allow me to reiterate, I am not a science-major student. From arts, I switch to business. Although science is not my field, I really appreciate Darwin for his courage in writing and publishing the Origin of Species. Because most people at that time only believed in our biblical creation. Moreover, I admire him for spending nearly all his life, trying to grasp how the natural world works. Therefore, it’s not fair (for anyone) to question his contributions to science, and to this world. For in reality, the science communities know so well that Darwin’s natural selection has been the golden gate to our understanding of how evolution works.

In our Biology 101 class, we learn science is “Any method of learning about the natural world that follows a scientific method” (Simon Et al 2013). Moreover, our biology professor, Wendy Kuntz, Ph.D., even stresses that science is a “discipline . . . limited to the study of the Physical Universe.” Likewise our textbook defines natural selection as the “. . . process in which organisms with certain inherited characteristics more likely to survive and reproduce than are organisms with other characteristics; unequal reproductive success” (Simon Et Al). Most importantly, our textbook is clear in differentiating hypothesis (is an idea) from theory (a set of ideas). (Simon Et al 2013) Moreover, on inheritance, we learn how to use Reginald Punnett’s Punnett Square that helps us predict the possibilities of transferring inheritable diseases. However, there is nowhere in our book that states for a hypothesis to be accepted as a theory, theorist like Darwin must use a mathematical expression to prove his arguments. 382px-Golden_Ratio_cover

Because what is clear to me, after completely reading his book, Livio demands math especially from Darwin. Livio look at those five great scientists and their apparent brilliant blunders in the mathematician’s eyes—as he is really more of a math expert than a scientist. In fact, most of Livio’s previously published works feature more of math than science. Moreover, if science highlights his study, there is always a strong and convincing math computation, or expression behind. No doubt, he’s a math genius. But are we talking of math? Or are we talking of science? Maybe, we can say, kudos to him. However, let this be a challenge: He should make an invention of his own. He should make his due contribution to science, and prove his intelligence. Rather, than talking about others’ mistakes, he should prove the world that he can make viable contribution than can make our lives better, or at least something than can improve science. Rather than intriguing predecessors, who are way farther than six feet down under. For those great scientists have already given their fair share to the evolution of knowledge, and of science. They deserve respect; they deserve to rest in peace.

Honestly, two months ago, in my last evaluation essay on the first three chapters of this book, I supported Livio. Admittedly, I was one great critic too. I agreed with him that those “luminaries” should have exercise diligence, patience, and perseverance in proving their hypotheses, more so in publishing their works. However, after thorough reading and synthesizing what we learned from class, and have realized the remarkable contributions of Darwin to biology (and the rest of natural science), sad to say, I cannot agree with Livio anymore. For even though, he did not say anything wrong about science, and how it worked, or at least not about biology and evolution, nor about inheritance. However, he missed one writing and researching essential, and that was to synthesize. It’s a basic concept of gathering ideas to come up with a non-bias unequivocal stand. A very basic concept that is greatly taught in higher education in United States of America, in Great Britain, Canada, and Australia, or in most English native speaking country, learning how to synthesize may not be available in Israel, where Livio earned both his graduate and undergraduate studies. So maybe it’s fair not to judge Livio on this blunder, just as Darwin is deprived of how genetics works in the nineteenth-century.

Sadly, Livio miss to synthesize the works of these great scientists in a greater and broader concept. He picks their weakest links, and labels his harsh critiques as blunders. He further says that the common denominator for all the chapters of his book is the word of evolution: “evolution of life on earth, evolution of earth itself, and evolution of the universe.” (Livio 2013) He even emphasizes “. . . blunders of evolution, and evolution of blunders.” But what about knowledge? Did he even realize that knowledge is very much evolving too?

Indeed, knowledge or its nature is very much evolving–and therefore, Livio should have considered. Because science indeed, is about knowledge. It’s about exploring, gaining, and/or advancing knowledge in its most profound and verifiable form. In fact, one definition of science (that we learn in class) is its Latin meaning “to know.” (Simon Et al 2013)

Another blunder of Livio, is the dragging use of the word “luminaries.” If he is a scientist, and that he respect his profession, he should have just address them as scientists. Because I am sure, they would rather hear that they are recognized in their chosen fields. Moreover, luminary means popularity; the effect in using such term is the malicious use of the user in seemingly riding on the established popularity of those great scientists.

Finally, “what if Darwin knew” about genetics? What if he knew how to use Punnett Square? What if the title of his book was the Genetic Origin of Species? What if he merged his works with Mendel? What if Darwin had the tools and technology that Livio have these days? Can you imagine?

Regardless, I believe that there is righteousness in committing errors. And that is the wisdom we gain after we accepted we err. In science, the way the field accepts mistakes, is inherent to science itself. For studies in all branches of science are continuously ongoing and evolving. Everything is subject to advancement. Moreover, the way experts in this field synthesize their works, is they use the past as a foundation to establish modern definitions and to incorporate recent theories and discoveries. Most importantly, it is the “job” of the scientists of today, to improve the works of Darwin, Kelvin, Pauling, Hoyle, and Einstein. The scientists of today need not to point fingers who did wrong nor who did best. They should just get to work and embrace the challenge. Livio should have known better; he should have written better. I guess, there goes another “brilliant blunder.” But is Livio a luminary? Is he a scientist or a mathematician? I let his books speak for him.
Works Cited

Darwin, Charles Robert. The Origin of Species. Vol. XI. The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909–14; Bartleby.com, 2001. Web. 30 Apr 2014.

Livio, Mario. “Brilliant Blunders, From Darwin to Einstein – Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe.” Simonandschuster. Print. 14 May 2013.
Simon, Eric J., Jean L. Dickey and Jane B. Reece. Campbell, Essential Biology with Physiology, Custom Edition. 2013. Print. 1 May 2013.
charles darwin quotes

BEWARE: The Horrors of Genetically Engineered Foods

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The author does not own copyright of the image above, nor of the video below; usage of both is non-commercial.

A Film Review

Genetics is a very young branch of science. Its wonders range from biology and evolution, forensics, cultural and anthropological advances. Scientists these days are now even eager to use it in medicine for pharmaceutical development and cure. It is admirable to hear scientists are eager to use genetics to relieve people of current terminal diseases such as cancer. However, it is very horrifying to hear that genetics is now being used, or misused by scientists paid by big corporations, agribusinesses like the infamous Monsanto, to generate mass production of foods we buy from fast-food chains, and even the ones we buy from the supermarkets and serve to our families.

In the 2010 documentary film, Food Inc., horrors of genetically engineered foods supplied to McDonalds and supermarkets around the nation are exposed. Products like corn used in the production of not just in wide array of foods, but in many commodities including medicines, are no longer going through the natural processes of agriculture and farming. That harvesting is happening all-year-round, as agribusinesses are able to find ways through GMO, or through the use and misuse of genetics, to boost productions leading to lucrative profits.

Personally, as a mother of three, I think the most horrifying part of this film, is to learn that a two-year old boy died from an ecoli in a genetically modified made hamburger patties. His mother and grandmother even nearly beg to a Republican senator from the mainland (U.S.) in search for justice. And yet just the recall of those hamburger patties alone seemed next thing to impossible. Neither did they hear an apology from responsible parties.

Furthermore, it is frustrating to learn, that Monsanto even has the nerve to patent GMO made soya beans. First of all, I am totally not in favor of using GMO on foods at all. As a writer, just in the usage of words alone: “Foods engineered?” It doesn’t sound right to me. And to use GMO in agriculture, it means just one thing: GREED. Second, no one should own or patent something that nature owns. Anyone can claim ownership of a land (if one owns the land). But to limit the farming of any crops (just like that soya bean Monsanto just got patent for) simply, because nature owns their creation. And if those agribusinesses concern, is their evil formulation of genes and chemicals (for the heck of earning profits), then by all means: remove those evils out of the products they are providing us, consumers. We don’t need them! And they should spare the animals of some respect as well.

Nonetheless, another horrifying fact of GMO, is how they (the irresponsible scientists, chemists, and agribusinesses) come with their evil innovations and  ideas of using it on crops: They use GMO first on rodents, and then among pigs (to make them heavier and for fast breeding), beefs (to make them more meaty), chickens (to make the breast bigger, for that is the most in demand part ), and fishes (larger). And though they see massive growth, but there are also physical deformities among their “guinea pigs” that are too obvious to ignore. And yet they disregard and continue using GMO in agriculture and aquaculture, and animal raising. So, now it’s everywhere, and in almost every food product we buy from the supermarkets and fast food chains.

On a more personal note, seeing this film though, makes me proud and relieved that I am in Hawaii. For in here, in our state, our kama’ainas (Hawaii locals) are strongly fighting head-on with Monsanto. In our state, as far as I know, Monsanto could not operate their kind of farming here (or at least not, the way Monsanto want it)

Monsanto to me, and the likes of it, are evils with horns and tails, holding their pitchforks; dragging us to the hell of health destruction–beware!

Finally, Food Inc. is not just a review of diabolic processes that Monsanto and all other irresponsible big agribusinesses are doing behind our backs. Because this film is educating us, by telling us, consumers: Sustainable farming is not far-fetch. Therefore, we should not settle to alternatives that are not even tested. Sustainable farming is indeed very doable, but only to those who are willing to comply with the law and be ethical in doing business. That sustainable farming is truly doable, but only to those who are willing to do the hard works and be satisfied with just enough money, or at least not to earn money at the expense of people who are patronizing them.

Moreover, I do know (and understand) business is business. In fact, I am a business major student. But shouldn’t business come with responsibilities as well? For as consumers, we are very much entitled to fair and equitable business. And that every time we buy something, let us keep in mind that what comes with the money we are paying producers like Monsanto (and from the manufacturers as well); what comes with our trust, is their responsibility to ensure whatever they are trading to us is not harmful to us in any ways.

For the horrors of genetically engineered foods are as follow:

1. They are chemically produced.

2. Chemicals and improvised genes are never tested in humans.

3. The guinea pigs (poor animals mentioned above) use for testing exhibit severe deformities internally and externally.They deserve dignity too.

4. GMO foods heighten obesity rates.

5. Small farmers are losing their rights to farm crops belonging to nature.

6. Mass production leads to mishandling of foods.

7.Mass production and agriculture contribute 51% to our growing predicament on climate change.

In an article, written by Nicolas Gryson, DNA (which is of course, the main ingredient of any GMO made foods) handling should be as follows:
Important food-processing conditions, for example temperature and pH, may lead to degradation of the DNA, rendering PCR analysis impossible or GMO quantification unreliable. . . Food processes involving mechanical stress, high temperature, pH variations, enzymatic activities, and fermentation affect the primary structure of DNA and cause, for example, hydrolysis, oxidation, and deamination of the DNA.

What this study means, careful and thorough evaluations are must prior to even contemplating use of GMO (which obviously Monsanto and the rest never get into).

To conclude, this is one of the best documentary films I ever watch in my life. This does not incriminate agribusinesses like Monsanto in a blunt and careless manner, rather this unravels the truth that we, food consumers are entitled to know. Moreover, this film covers processes, and interviews witnesses (both farmers and consumers, and experts) from different parts of the world, to bring awareness and encourage sustainability. Likewise, the film aims to introduce us to healthy lifestyles that our bodies and Mother Earth are long seeking from us. Let us be responsible to ourselves,  and to our families. Let us be critical of the foods we eat by reading labels and nutritional facts at all times; likewise, by considering the health ramifications of nutritional and economic choices we make. And if we have a place in our homes to plant organic foods, please, let us do so–for that’s even better. Because organic farming is one the best long-range solution (and not to mention, it’s very healthy too).

Lastly, we should really appreciate this film. Because this documentary encourages awareness on how foods are being handled these days. We have the rights to be educated consumers after all. Let us keep in mind: WE EAT TO NOURISH OUR BODIES. However, with the plague of genetically modified and engineered foods, we can no longer confidently say such foods are nutritious still. Health is wealth. We should never bargain for less.

This version of YouTube is not complete:

The film is available via NetFlix.

For Dish subscribers, it’s available OnDemand for free.

Or you may check FoodInc.com

Unearthing Our Journey to Humanity

Birth of Humanity

(Copyrights of the image above belongs to NOVA PBS)

Unearthing Our Journey to Humanity: Becoming Human, Second of a Three-Part Series, a Film Review

If the Part I of Nova PBS documentary film, Becoming Human had caused us the daunting reality of our ape origin, the Birth of Humanity was an inspiring one. For in this second part of the film, the journey of our ancestors to humanity was featured in such a meaningful way. As nearly one-and-a-half-million years ago, a very intelligent species called Homo erectus evolved, lived and left the “great rift valleys of Africa,” and begun colonizing different parts of the world.

In 1984, a fossil discovered by well-known African anthropologists Richard and Meave Leakey, Turkana Boy—was found to have a bigger brain, bigger jaws, and very much taller compared to any Homo habilis or Lucy and Selam (Australopithecus afarensis) who highlighted the Part I.

Named after the Lake Turkana of Kenya, the species of Turkana BoyHomo erectus was branded as the pioneer in so many human traits and behaviors; and, was also tagged as the “fire tamer,” tool maker, innovator, the great “originator of human society,” fierce-hunter, and one of the most successful species in the Homo genus.

What was truly remarkable in Part II, was the chain of compelling stories told by scientists about human evolution that existed roughly 1,300,000 years ago by merely fossil discoveries alone. And it was through Turkana Boy and the completeness of his skeleton, that scientists learned thoroughly about the physique, height, and face structure of Homo erectus. In addition, his age and even the medical condition he suffered were likewise traced through the genetic dating process called molecular clock.

But one big difference of Turkana Boy to Lucy and Selam was his ability to run persistently.  Although the latter have pioneered bipedalism (walking upright on two feet), they weren’t capable of long distance running at all. This was because, through the nearly hairless bodies (having the ability to sweat and diffuse heat) of Homo erectus, that they became so agile and adept to persistent hunting.

On a lighter note, scientists believed Homo erectus can cook too. And though primitive, that cooking led to the transformation and development of their physical features. It made them sociable as well.

Experts likewise attributed their success, to their apparent exodus to Africa. Labeled as great travelers and colonizers, they started building the human societies in Indonesia and China.

To end, the Part Two of Becoming Human was indeed very inspiring. For through fossil discoveries, and the painstaking works of scientists, and amid earth’s primitive age—it was clear, that our ancestors evolved and survived the wilds, and found their road to humanity by exhibiting the simplest, yet  greatest and most humane behaviors. For it is during the Prehistoric time of Homo erectus, our ancestors started caring for one another. It was then, that they started to think analytically and creatively.  As they made enhanced tools out of stones, to outwit animals, and to feed themselves and take care of one another.  Therefore, it wasn’t just about physical differences that truly set distinctions between earlier species and Homo erectus. Rather, it was during the Prehistoric existence of the latter, that our ancestors earned the universal legacy of exhibiting emotional, analytical, and social characteristics. For those humane behaviors have ultimately led Homo erectus to the path of humanity–and this is something we should always keep in mind. For those traits, even on these very modern days, should be inherent to all of us. For those traits set us apart and above everyone and everything in the animal kingdom–we should really be mindful of  them all the time.

Resources:

BecomingHuman.org

NOVA PBS Becoming Human

What’s in the News:

Neanderthal DNA Shows that Man’s Family Tree is Decidedly Gnarled

Precious in the godless World of Nietzsche and Sartre

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(All copyrights of the image above belongs to Richard Crouse (subject to fair use.)

In the godless world of Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre, we are completely on our own. And because morality does not exist, life is brutal all the time. But amid its brutality, we always have a choice. We can resist evil (anything harmful to us) or walk away safe, sane and sound—and take the call–just as how Precious in the 2009 movie should have long done for herself.

In brief: Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is a fictional character of the protagonist in the novel Push by Sapphire. (Natividad, 2010, p. 339) She is a sixteen-years-old, African-American descent, who is born and raised in Harlem, New York. She is overweight and quite vulgar for her age.  Almost illiterate, she has been behaving badly at school as influenced by domestic violence ongoing at home.  She is pregnant with her second child through incest by her father; while she is verbally, physically, and emotionally abused by her mother (Mo’Nique). Worse, her dad caused her HIV; and her mom is capitalizing her and Mongol (her eldest daughter) to finance her bum ways of living (on welfare). It’s disturbing to see Precious has endured it all.

Nonetheless, this film is telling us, how a bad call can take a toll to one’s being (such as how Precious and Mary endured abuse); how dysfunctional concerns could lead to moral catastrophes (letting Mary collect welfare at the expense of Precious and her daughter instead of working). Likewise, the movie tells us home is not always as sweet as we’d like it to be. That our domestic life can either make or break us; but it doesn’t mean we have to embrace and endure evil all our lives. Besides, we can treat our friends, classmates, or others as our extended families, if we are seeking a sense of belonging.

Thus, if Precious is trying to find essence in her life, in Page 319, Sartre argues that “existence precedes essence” (2000). What it means to me, is that we’re born into this meaningless world—and it’s all up to us to find the meaning as we’d like them to be. That if we do aim for it, we have to work for it or create it ourselves. But regardless how we should never let anyone define our lives (like how Mary humiliates her daughter). Neither, let our tribulations (like the incest Precious has endured) limit us to who we can become. Because if we do, Sartre (2000) says we’re engaging into “self-deception” (also known as bad faith). Apparently, people who engage into such, are scared to define themselves as they are as supposed to; so they let others define them.

Finally, it’s relieving to see Precious fight Mary and walk away with her two children in her arms. I feel a sense of joy in seeing her overcome bad faith. Although she is placed only in eight-grade, what matters, is that she’s now safe and free, and she has a good chance to be happy. On the other hand, I’m disappointed to watch the evil character of a mother in Mary. I find her so pathetic to talk about her insecurities and her irrational love for a worthless man. Imagine if all women are like her, perhaps it’s impossible to win our war against the misogynistic world. Thank goodness, there other characters in the film such as Ms. Blue Rain (Paula Patton) and Ms. Weiss (Mariah Carey) who are educated and sensible that they made a difference in Precious’ life and those of others.

Last, but not least, no matter how damaging the injuries Precious has sustained from her parents, change for the better is never too late. Walking away from Mary is the best thing she has done for herself. Although it doesn’t mean that her struggles are over, for she still has to raise her kids, she also needs to deal with the HIV, and she does not have a job and no home to stay–but still, it’s okay. Because she’s heading towards a better life. Also, if she remains in that house with Mary, she’s not only punishing herself, but she’s tolerating Mary’s evilness. In the first place, she has to consider her kids for they need her protection, care, and love. It’s impossible to provide those and raise them well if she stays there. As for Mary, I can’t say that she’s too old to change. However, I doubt if she has the guts to face her verdicts in life. If she doesn’t face imprisonment for what she has caused her daughter: She needs a therapist. But more than the therapist, she needs a job.

To end, in the godless world of Nietzsche and Sartre, we are the gods to ourselves. We are empowered by our knowledge, by our judgment, by our tenacity to create a meaningful life. Indeed, we are the products of the choices we make. That if we are dealing with any demons on earth, our responsibility to ourselves, is either to fight them, or we can walk away in peace; but never to endure. For enduring evil is not resilience; it’s insanity. We need to have a good grip of our self-worth– because we are all Precious and worthy of all the best things in life. To fellow women, gone are the days that we are a minority to men. We must say “No” if we do mean no. We must be relentless in pushing ourselves to greatness, by achieving education, by building a meaningful career, by enriching our passion,  or by fulfilling our roles to our respective homes to the best of our abilities and sound judgment.

References

Daniels, L., & Fletcher F. S. (2008). Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire [Motion Picture]. United States: Lions Gate Studio.

Natividad, A. (2010). Movie Review: Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 5(3), 339-342.

Sterba, James P. (2000). Ethics: Classical Western Texts in Feminists and Cultural Perspectives: Oxford University Press.

What Living Together With Animals Means

Animals have long endured cruelty from us, humans. In fact, the most diabolical genocide in the history is not of humanity; but by humanity to animals. But the most morally horrifying part isn’t about the beatings nor violence they endure; Rather, those who consume and inflict them with pain are justifying their inhumane acts by their crooked reasoning that animals are ineligible of any legal entitlement. Thus, such devious belief can make animals forever vulnerable to human injustices. For example, the stance of the University of Michigan Philosophy Professor Carl Cohen, who in Page 420 of Contemporary Moral Issues: Diversity and Consensus 4th Edition contends that rights are only for humans. Apparently, Cohen is talking about the statutory definition of rights, which of course, will automatically disqualify animals in most situations. However, in utilitarian ethics, we learn that there is a kind of right that leads us to common good. And that’s the kind of entitlement animals deserve.

Hence, I believe there’s a rationale behind naming state funded animal rights advocates as Humane Societies versus Commission on Animal Rights. Because with the first, it’s clear: We should regard animals with care as we co-exist with them. In fact, we domesticated some of them; and we even give our pets names. Having said this, it means we consider them part of our households, which makes them entitled to rights against violence.

On animal farming and agriculture, I agree with Tom Regan (p. 414) “what’s fundamentally wrong, is the entire system,” (p. 414) which views “animals as our resources” (p. 414). Regan has been out all over the world for his advocacy against animal abuse and exploitation. (Hinman, 1996, p. 413) He’s not attacking anyone, but he hopes to correct the system. I agree with most of his arguments; because animal farming is indeed unhealthy for the environment and our body. Although they are the best sources of protein, they are main contributors of major diseases (e.g. consumption of their fats increases our cholesterol levels, which could lead to heart attack, high blood pressure, athritis, thyroidism and etcetera).

Nonetheless, I am truly with Regan in his war against animal abuse and exploitation. However, I am also realistic that the horrors of animal farming are too ingrained in our ways of living. That I hear the task to correct, is larger than life. But it doesn’t mean that we cannot do anything. We can if we will. For there’s a tiny step that we can do as consumers, that is to ensure that animal farming and agriculture leading to food production are processed or handled with care, which is for our own safety too. 

Thus, if we are to synthesize the lessons of deontology (ethics based on duty) and utilitarian perspectives (ethics based on common good), and if we apply them in our ways of living with animals, it will lead us to the just understanding and conviction: We should treat animals like how we wanted to be treated. We do this for our happiness and peace of mind; so we treat them with dignity.

Therefore, in the case of domestic ones, having them as part of our household; they’re but entitled to our affection and care. Perhaps that’s how we show them our emotional ways.  What’s even better, given time: They can reciprocate endearment:

In regards to livestock, although they’re safe for human consumption, it’s for our own sake as consumers, to ensure sound and sanitary food production. Sadly, that’s not the case most of the time, for many agricultural farmers have even resorted to GMO (genetically modified organism) for artificial and asexual reproduction, and for profit. As a result of genetic engineering, animal offsprings are born inflicted of deformities.

Bottom line, if it’s okay for animals to attack us, bite us, inflict us of rabies, perhaps we are warranted to deprive them of rights. But in reality, we do not condone their jungle ways. We even sue their handlers for their predatory behaviors. We expect them to learn our human ways, and yet we treat them inhumane–why?

Finally, it’s implausible to legislate The Jellyfishes Bill of Rights, and Crime Against Arachnids, and to grant crabs of their Freedom of Speech–but we’re humans. We’re capable of intellect, morals and compassion.Hence, it’s but common sense, to live in accordance to normative human behaviors. It requires us to think and put ethics into action for that will always lead us to the common good. That even in the midst of complicated societal dilemmas, our moral compasses built from our understanding of virtue, duty, and care, we will arrive in a just destination that is fair and equitable be among humans and animals, and be on living or non-living things. Because living together with animals means, we live with them our human ways.

Reference

Hinman, Lawrence M. Contemporary Moral Issues: Diversity and Consensus. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996. Print.

Warranted Death

Warranted Death

Is capital punishment warranted? Or is “the death penalty overdoing it” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151)? Are murderers entitled to compassion? Those who argue for commutation (or for life), would usually appeal to our emotions without realizing their hindering justice. For as Yale computer science professor, David Gelernter stresses “In executing murderers, we should be declaring [as a society] that deliberate murder is evil and intolerable,” (Hinman, 2013, p. 154). For indeed, it is. Worse, such crimes are humiliation to God-fearing communities and an insult to a “civilized society” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151).

Thus, those who critique Gelernter, as being once a victim of a heinous crime that he’s just bitter–(Hinman, 2013, p. 147) are wrong. In fact, Gelernter even emphasizes that “If our goal were [solely] vengeance, we would allow the grieving parties to decide,” (Hinman, 2013, p. 152). Sadly, if that happens, “We would call the whole thing off,” (Hinman, 2013, p. 152). From this statement alone we can infer, despite all the injuries (of his soul and body) that he sustained, to this day, Gelernter remains constructive and not vindictive.

For the truth is, “Our big cities are full murders at large” (Hinman, 2013, p. 152).  What’s more alarming, “political scientist John J. Dilulio, Jr.” (Hinman, 2013, p. 152) claims approximately half-a-million murders are happening in the United States. (Hinman, 2013, p. 152) And again, Gelernter could be right that we are to blame. One best justification is the case of “Theodore Kaczynski” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151). Amid “pleading guilty (in three murder cases) and striking anew;” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151) he continue to cast his horrors and terrors in the society; but he “will not be executed,” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151) why? Undoubtedly, emotion is such a good criminal attorney.

In regards to Jeffrey Reiman’s opposition to death penalty, as Gelernter strongly argues, it’s not about vengeance. Hence, I disagree with his commentary in Page 156. That to justify capital punishment, we have to apply the adage: “An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth . . . ” (Hinman, 2013. For as a society, we need not justify ourselves in asserting our rights.

Finally, capital punishment is a strong consensual statement; and there’s no turning back. For the death penalty aims not just to give justice to a loss of life, but to ensure the safety of many. Now, with commutations here and there, perhaps we should reflect: Are we truly being human? Because it seems the other way around. For what could be more cruel and inhumane than to put others at risk? Just because we sympathize with one, we can disregard what happened and the likelihood of its recurrence? Perhaps when in doubt: We need to think deeper and feel broader, to find murder as a crime against all of us. For indeed, in executing capital punishment–we have the moral obligation to declare: “Deliberate murder is evil and intolerable” (Hinman, 2013, p. 154). And we don’t have room for such.

 

 

References

Hinman, Lawrence M. (2013). Contemporary Moral Issues Diversity and Consensus, 146-151.

Seeing Through the Lense: The Deepwater Horizon Spill

Slide1

Introduction

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (a.k.a. BP Oil Spill) is America’s largest environmental disaster ever recorded in the history (The Ocean Portal Team, 2015). A purely man-made chain of catastrophes that led to deaths of eleven of its workers, the spill resulted to billions of dollars and pounds in losses. Worse, six-years after, its grimmest impacts are still seen on the habitants (dead and alive) of the seventy affected coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico and in five states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and the least affected Texas.

On fatalities, the bodies of the eleven missing rig workers are not recovered (Papp, 2011). Perhaps their cadavers are scorched; and their ashes are amalgamated with the mud and oil contaminating the vast ocean. Their bereaved families have struggled with their losses, as apparently many of them have called home minutes before its explosion. While those who survived may not be lucky to have been spared their lives—for they continue to endure the injuries and traumas of the disaster.

On wildlife, the poorest and most helpless victims of the spill, are the aquatic and avian animals of the 617,800 mi² Gulf of Mexico and those populating the 1.063 million mi² of the Caribbean Sea (The Ocean Portal Team, 2015). Dead fishes (big and small), lifeless crustaceans (including, but not limited to shrimps and crabs) and cetaceans (dolphins, and whales) float the ocean and swamp to coastal areas of the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico during the 87-days duration of the spill—and until the wellhead is capped on July 15, 2010 (The Ocean Portal Team, 2015). The brown pelicans nesting in and around Queen Bess Island at Grand Isle, La. are starved to death as remnants of oil killed the vegetation up and below the Gulf (Smithsonian, 2015). The death counts of those in wildlife are mere rough estimations; because no one can tell how many aquatic animals are engulfed during the 36-hour fire and series of explosions.

Regardless, recovery in any disaster means concerted efforts of the responsible party (or parties), the federal, state and local governments, and the communities. Although it may take years of continuous efforts, but the uppermost concern is to ensure recovery and that lessons learned are applied–so that history will not repeat itself.

When the Well Becomes Hell

On the evening of April 20, 2010, roughly pass 10:00 (Central Time), the fire broke in the facilities of the Deepwater Horizon. On board, were 126 of its live-in workers—worse, most of them were asleep (Bazeley, 2010). Those who were awake were disoriented and in shock (Bazeley, 2010). They were inexplicably lost on responding to such life-threatening emergency. Some claimed that although they were trained, but it wasn’t about what was happening (New York Times, 2010).

The New York Times reported, “the chief mechanic and three workers knew that there was gas on the rig; but they did not activate the emergency shutdown—because they were waiting for instructions and or a signal from the bridge” (New York Times, 2010). The rig workers claimed that it was a strict protocol they had to abide. They had no choice, but to wait for the warning (New York Times, 2010). Unfortunately, their waiting quickly ended–for the next thing they witnessed were explosions one after the other.

The first responder was a team from United States Cost Guard led by Lt. Nathen Houck, followed by two sets of highly skilled firefighters imported from Holland (Bazeley, 2010). All of them attested witnessing “a fire so raging and violent—something (they) never seen before (Bazeley, 2010). One pilot claimed looking at the burning rig, “it was like seeing the Devil’s eyes,” (Bazeley, 2010). One firefighter tried to articulate the incomprehensible sight of a steel-made structure—something created to be strong and immovable—yet crumpled to crumble by a raging fire unabated for thirty-six-hours (Bazeley, 2010). The burning rig was showing no sign of retreat; no chance for survivor—as the fire was fueled by uncapped wellhead beneath the ocean floor (Bazeley, 2010).

Slide3

The Rig

Situated “forty-five miles off the coast of Louisiana” (ISPR Final Report, 2011), the rig was 396-feet tall and 256-feet wide (Smithsonian,). It was operating in waters of up to 8,000 feet and drilling oil in the depth of 30,000 feet (The Ocean Portal Team, 2015). Owned by Transocean, it was a mobile offshore drilling unit that was submersible (New York Times, 2010) made by Hyundai.

Structure wise, below its derrick were the main and second deck (New York Times, 2010). A true-state-of-the art facility, there were six engine rooms, a movie theater, helipad, mess hall/ galley, and living quarters for its workers (New York Times, 2010).

However, amid its sophistication, the rig had limitations. One, its positioning required perfection that demanded 24-hours monitoring from the 126 workers on board, who were divided in two shifts (actually a set of four, as onboard personnel were alternating every 21 days). It was completely reliant to electric power. And the fact that it was operating offshore, and its wellhead was located in a very dark environment, it was so vulnerable to high risks.

What Went Wrong

In sincere attempts of various academic communities to mitigate the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, research studies and conventions were conducted nationwide immediately after the spill and up to the present day. One that caught my attention, was conducted by the School of Earth Sciences of Stanford University.

On the first day of a two-day convention, Thomas Davis Barrow Professor Roland Horne (an energy and petroleum expert) explained what went wrong on Deepwater Horizon on that catastrophic night of April 20, 2010:

A very gassy kind of methane oil went onboard the rig. It entered into the engine room that led to electric overload and subsequently, ignition. The disaster was triggered by four major causes as follows: The cement job that was supposed to seal off the producing oil reservoir failed. Hydrocarbons entered the riser and went onboard. The gas ignited on the rig causing fire and power failure. The spill continued unabated until July 15, 2010 due to the malfunctioning of the BOP (blowout preventer) in sealing the well head (Horne, 2010).

Horne stressed that if only one of those major causes did not happen, the disaster could have been avoided (Horne, 2010). He emphasized that although the Negative Pressure Test (a standard procedure; a preventive measure in offshore drilling that should have been publicized to benchmark the practice) was constantly monitored, yet misunderstood by the alleged inexperienced crew on board (Horne, 2010).

Immediate Response

The first responder was a team from U.S. Coast Guard, who received a call from Rigs and Boats situated few miles away from the rig (Bazeley, 2010). This team was deployed in four (4) helicopters. In several interviews, the rescuers narrated they abruptly left their post of command bearing in mind to save 126 lives, and the injured were their utmost priority (Bazeley, 2010).

Approaching the rig, they saw the fire raging in all angles of Deepwater Horizon. The pilots can’t get close due to extreme heat and violent combustions ongoing (Bazeley, 2010). Some of the rescuers were even worried they might not be able to save everyone on board–because their helicopters can only carry 3 to 4 of the victims (Bazeley, 2010). When the Coast Guard rescuers finally got hold of 115 survivors, the seventeen injured were rushed to the closest medical facilities (Bazeley, 2010); while those unharmed had to stay with the rescuers who weren’t giving up searching for the missing 11 (Bazeley, 2010).

Meanwhile, Salvage team manager Ray Lord, who was featured in several documentary films, spoke of how their team struggle to identify what equipment to bring; what tools do they need; who to call to salvage the burning rig (Bazeley, 2010). In matters of disaster recovery though, someone in Lord’s position must have plans (at least one) in hand. Because the first hours of the disasters were so critical not just to the rescue operations and disaster recovery process, but to lives.

Independent Review of the Response

On the Final Report of the Incident Specific Prepared Review signed by the 24th Commandant of United States Coast Guard, Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr., it stated that “Due to the severity of the spill, the complexity of response efforts, and the potential impact on public health and the environment, this incident required extraordinary coordination among Federal and State agencies, tribal organizations, local governments, and BP, the responsible party,” (ISPR Final Report, 2011).

The ISPR Final Report recommended a “thorough review of the standards to determine the adequacy of the private sector oil spill response capability,” (ISPR Final Report, 2011). Likewise, it recommended the need for better technologies on and offshore to address catastrophic blowouts and improved response protocols (ISPR Final Report, 2011). In its Executive Summary, it denounced any reports of disagreements between Coast Guard and BP (ISPR Final Report, 2011). The Final Report proudly attested that both parties collaborated effectively. And their good working relationship “benefitted the ability of the government to rapidly assess and adapt to new or unusual contingencies and develop innovative solutions for problems not previously experienced,” (Deepwater Horizon ISPR Final Report, 2011).

Lastly, the Final Report of the ISPR was highlighted by a bulleted of many revelations of lessons learned, which on top were deficiencies in planning and inadequate competencies. The report also attributed the indirect cause of the disaster to lack of full coordination by the responsible party (BP) and the government in drilling offshore. It was distributed on March 18, 2011.

Analysis of the Immediate Response and the ISPR Final Report

As a scholar of Disaster Recovery and Business Continuance, I am taught that “Today, security and the ability of an organization—regardless of size—to recover from a disaster situation is becoming uppermost in the minds of management for organizations” (Wells et al, 2007, pg. xvii). Furthermore, I am aware that the risks and or likelihood of “hurricanes, tsunamis, terrorism, and power outages,” (Wells et al, 2007, pg. xvii) are becoming more “apparent that organizations need to think the unthinkable,” (Wells et al, 2007, pg. xvii). Sadly, that’s not the case in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

The truth was, multi-billion dollar British Petroleum was not prepared at all. Although the Coast Guard attested that there was a contingency plan; and that it was merely deficient (Papp, 2011)–such assessment was questionable for three valid reasons: One, the ISPR Final Report was distributed March 18, 2011. That was too soon, in fact not even a year had pass after the disaster. To label the report as “final” was premature. Two, recovery efforts normally take years. It could have been acceptable, if the review was labeled “updated” instead of final, for risk assessment should have been ongoing, or at least until all facts were gathered; and or the case was closed. Three, the Coast Guard wasn’t so prepared either. In fact, the limitation of the rescue helicopters to three or four were evident that whatever they have be a tool or the knowledge, weren’t enough to fully respond to such disaster of colossal nature.

On assessing the readiness of the crew, all of the 126 employees should have known that evacuation is paramount to save lives, their respective lives. The Chief Mechanic on board should have taken the “call” to promptly initiate manual emergency warning—to give everyone on board a chance to survive.

Another instance that a responding team failed to exhibit full regards to life, was when the U.S. coast guard made the unharmed rig workers, stayed in the life boats while waiting for the 11 missing others (Bazeley, 2010). Because in making them stay in the life boats during the fire–and with the thought that eleven of their peers were still onboard–it was so traumatic! And in doing so, the rescue team exposed them to injury so punitive of character.

Moreover, importing firefighters from Holland wasn’t reasonable (Bazeley, 2010) if the team’s utmost goal was to save lives first before the rig. The rough estimation of Google was showing 1228 miles and more than 16 hours of air travel (Bazeley, 2010). Given the enormity of the disaster, it didn’t make sense to import rescue teams from another country due to the urgency of the need.

 

Notwithstanding those grave mistakes, one can evaluate the efficiency and effectivity of response through the conditions of the affected communities of the disaster. According to a scholarly written article, “Coastal residents did not experience significant onshore spill-related mortality or severe injury,” neither “shortages of survival needs, disruption of vital services (health care, schools, utilities, communications, and transportation), loss of homes, population displacement, destruction of the built environment, or loss of social supports. Initial acute economic losses were partially offset by large-sum BP payments for cleanup and recovery of the coastal economy,” (Schultz et al, 2015). But the credit also goes to the “Gulf Coast populations,” who displayed “remarkable resilience in the face of daunting challenges,” (Schultz et al, 2015).

Conclusion

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill is the first declared by the White House as Spill of National Significance (SONS). Eleven people died; while seventeen others were injured (ISPR Final Report, 2011). Last year, the District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana found BP guilty of eleven counts of manslaughter and awarded $4.5 billion for compensatory damages (Court Docket, 2015). In some reports, the estimated computation of all the damages and response/ recovery efforts amounted to roughly $100 billion. Thus, the impact could have been mitigated if there was a disaster recovery plan in place; or at least, all lives could have been saved–for the blowout wasn’t instant. The hydrocarbons that went onboard was due to leaks ongoing for a while. Sadly, to their own detriment, those rig workers who knew about the leak and spread of gas, have relied on a defective equipment and malfunctioning facilities for warnings (New York Times, 2010).

On a light note, if you are to compare the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to that of Exxon Valdez, you’d be relieved to know that the qualities of oil in those two infamous spills, are different. Apparently, the latter is more errant and vicious. In fact, in an article entitled the State of Gulf, the carcasses of bird from the two spills are compared:
“. . . during the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill accident, over ten times more oiled bird
carcasses were collected than during the DWH accident. In EVOS, over 35,000
bird carcasses were collected, an estimated 30,000 of which were oiled. In
contrast, the government has reported collecting 6,381 bird carcasses in the
Deepwater Horizon Spill response, of which 2,121 were confirmed as visibly
oiled” (The State of Gulf, 2014).

Personally, although I know BP has “paid” literally the consequences of its negligence; the fact that its name is becoming synonymous to oil spill, I hope that the U.S. government should be cautious in awarding contracts to companies whose name is present in major disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (BP was directly responsible) Exxon Valdez (BP was part of the consortium), and also in a smaller spill (in California) in between the two largest spills. For a reasonable person will never disregard the warnings of bad precedents. Although, in ISPR’s Final Report, the government is seemingly satisfied with the cleanup efforts of BP, many are not. For there are affected communities that are struggling to deal with the effects of the oil-stricken ecology in the Gulf of Mexico. And the totality of its environmental impact—-up and below the earth’s surface—-are still subject to further investigative, scientific works.

Take for example, the livelihood of various communities such as the seafood industry in Louisiana, and the number and quality of their fishing are still at its lowest ever recorded. Some catches are deformed; and who knows, some may not even make it to existence.

Because to date, no one can–and never can–exactly measure the true impacts (in entirety) of oil spills to Mother Earth. From the toxicity of oil to ecology (fishes are born with the weak hearts; shrimps are missing eyes), to the fumes of hydrocarbons spread all over the atmosphere (thinning the Ozone layer that is causing climate change), to the depleted oil reservoirs beneath the Earth’s surface–this planet is in jeopardy. Perhaps we should not wonder why there are earthquakes everywhere, hurricanes and storms are stronger than ever, deadly floods and tsunamis are inundating urban areas, while unprecedented wildfires are driving the neighborhoods in rural zones. For our dire dependency to oil–at the expense of this Earth we call home–comes at a price. We are responsible for the ongoing Armageddon.

Finally, I hope that the apparent “good working relationship” between the Coast Guard and BP, is just mere good working relationship; and not that kind of unholy alliance to cover each other from one blunder to another. Because disaster recovery is not about pointing fingers, nor finding the negligent to crucify on cross. But it’s about finding the truth, regardless if it is deficient, or inadequate, or dysfunctional. For the recovery teams and those who are responsible for their actions along with the communities and all stake holders, can fully and truthfully assess the risks, to create a comprehensive plan that will work against the likelihood of another disaster and or to mitigate the impacts.

 

Bibliography

Bazeley, Mark and Wael Dubbous. (2010). Oil Disaster: The Rig That Blew Up (2010).

Films for the Humanities & Sciences, & Films Media Group. (2010). Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Spill.

Horne, Roland. (2010). The Deepwater Horizon Disaster and Future Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Stanford University.

ISPR Team. (2011), BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Incident Specific Preparedness Review, Final Report.

Kanopy. (2015). Big Oil: In the Wake of Exxon Valdez.

New York Times. (2010). Final Moments on the Deepwater Horizon (An Interactive Feature).

Papp, Jr. Robert J. (2011). Memorandum. United Coast Guard.

Quinn, T., & Kanopy. (2015). Deepwater Disaster; The Untold Story (Horizon).

Shultz, J., Walsh, M., Garfin, L., Wilson, D., & Neria, R. (2015). The 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: The Trauma Signature of an Ecological Disaster. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 42(1), 58-76.

The Ocean Portal Team. (2015). Gulf Oil Spill. Smithsonian.

The State of Gulf. (2014). Comparison Between Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. TheStateofGulf.Com. Retrieved 26 April, 2016, from https://www.thestateofthegulf.com/media/1362/dwh-v-exxon-valdez-white-paper-09-03-2014.pdf.

Wells, April, Timothy Walker, Charlyne Walker and David Abarca. (2007). Security Disaster Recovery Principles and Practices. Pearson Prentice Hall.

Slide2

Beyond Repair

Punitive Damages

If there is a beauty beyond compare; there are damages beyond repair – and they are called punitive damages.

Defined in our textbook, Business Law (Text and Cases, Twelfth Edition) as “. . . money or damages that may be awarded to a plaintiff to punish the defendant and deter future similar conducts,” (Miller & Cross 2013) punitive damages amounting to $185 million are awarded recently by the federal jury to Rosario Juarez, forty-three years old of San Diego, California and on the grounds of discrimination against her former employer, retailer AutoZone.

Facts

Juarez was employed by AutoZone in 2000. She was promoted in 2001 as parts sales manager. Noticing that were only 10 females holding non-store managerial positions in 98 outlets of the defendant–but not as store managers: She alleged that the AutoZone was discriminating and practicing glass ceiling.

Furthermore, Juarez believed that although the company promoted her as store manager in 2004, the discrimination continued–as her district manager repeatedly asked her to resign in 2005. Apparently, the latter stressed the possibility of her being unable to handle the demands of work, as she was pregnant. In 2007, although still employed, she filed discrimination complaints before the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Few months after, AutoZone terminated Juarez.

Regardless, Inside Counsel Breaking News correspondent, Juliana Kenny writes:

A federal court jury ruled that the discrimination, retaliation, and harassment
against Juarez had been “severe and pervasive,” unanimously finding that she
had been discriminated against and fired because of her pregnancy, and the
verdict in favor of Juarez included an award of $250,000 for emotional distress,
as well as a $185 million judgment in punitive damages against AutoZone.



Ruling

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws discrimination on the base of color, gender, race, age, disability (American Disability Act), and religion.

Conclusion

Finally, what I find ludicrous in this case, the defense counsels representing AutoZone are reportedly negotiating for $1 M instead of $185 M of punitive damages and on top the $872,000 compensatory damages. I am not sure what calculators those esquires are using; and where they base their “out-of-the blue” calculations. Shouldn’t it be clear, punitive damages come into two-folds; “to punish the defendant and deter future similar conducts” of willful or reckless wrongdoings? I don’t get it. Wrong! The “low-lows” don’t get it.

References

Kenny, Juliana. (2015). Landmark Sum of Punitive Damages in Gender Discrimination Case to Settle Soon. Inside Counsel Breaking News, Inside Counsel Breaking News, March 17, 2015.

Miller, Roger LeRoy & Frank B. Cross. (2013). Business Law, Alternate Twelfth Edition. Retrieved from https://platformvirdocs.com.pdf

Stoneburner, Christina. (2014, November 19). $185 Million Punitive Damages Against AutoZone: How Did They Get There? Mondaq Business Briefing, p. Mondaq Business Briefing, Nov 19, 2014.

Can Zuckerberg Bring Down the Great Firewalls of China?

logo-facebook-wallpaper

A modified version of an academic essay. . .

Can Zuckerberg Bring Down “the Great Firewalls” of China?

In this very competitive age, when the Internet rules and a handful of technologies are available to the most of us, operating globally—is never an impossible task—especially, for a  successful networking Website like Facebook (herein referred to as “FB”). However, for a communist country like China, those digital possibilities are still challenged by distance,  also by the robust culture embedded to the Chinese people and their “ways” of doing business–and as reflected by their nation’s economy, and as critically and politically imposed by their government. Although it’s truly challenging, multinational companies like FB should never give up innovating ways to penetrate the globe and maximize their potentials.

Currently, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are banned in China. Although there are local social networking Sites, those three including Google, are struggling to get in.

On a personal note, I am not a huge fan of FB, neither of its thirty-one-year-old founder, Mark Zuckerberg. But being away from my families and friends: I could not help using FB to stay in touch with them.  I am not completely into it, because of the many issues of privacy (as too much personal information is collected from us, users) and safety (against identity theft, predatory marketing and selling). Last, but not least, FB is over populated. In fact, according to the author of International Management, Helen Deresky,” . . .if Facebook is a country, it is the third largest nation (first is China; and, second is Russia).”

With the latter being said, and as an aspiring global manager: I understand why Zuckerberg seems relentless in his pursuit to “nail” his success as a Cyber mogul. Because I believe that his business agenda, is to ensure that every citizen of the Earth is truly connected globally, and that FB is accessible anywhere.

Is it bad, or too ambitious? Well, it depends to his critics’ opinions (and as influenced by their culture). But isn’t that’s the most rational business move for any multinational company; “. . .to approach global expansion; and to specifically address such approach,” (Randall 2015) by simply tailoring or customizing FB’s accessibility and overall presentation specifically suited for every nation and in accordance to culture and society?

In regards to tactics, one of Zuckerberg’s approaches is building relationships by making the site available in different languages. He also actively attends events, ceremonies and speaks before the Chinese audience.  Furthermore, he (through FB) has been closely monitoring quality of media shared by anyone in the Site, so as not to offend anybody. And I believe, he’s really doing it right.

Because in reality, we do not know the exact circumstances of any of those disagreements between nations. And many wars and conflicts, are culturally rooted by religion and language. Perhaps if we are able to speak in the same “succinct” and simple language of the World Wide Web; and, at the same time, we can comprehend beyond our fellows’ words, perhaps we have good potentials to be better communicators. For whether we admit or not, many of us are somehow CQ (cultural intelligence) impoverished and/or insensitive–because it’s really not that easy. In fact, I used to be one. Although I learned the hard ways, I am glad I am now enlightened. For corrective steps are doable, and all that is needed, is conviction manifested by a strong will.

Nevertheless, and going back to FB, to improve its chance to penetrate China, Zuckerberg and his business managers should engage to the Five-Steps of the Negotiation Process:

  1. Preparation
  2. Relationship Building
  3. Exchange of Task-Related Information
  4. Persuasion
  5. Concessions and Agreements

Moreover, FB should consider the issues that led to “Cultural Misunderstanding-The Danone-Wahaha Joint Venture in China Splits After Years,” of Legal Dispute,” (Deresky 2014). He should also pay attention to all cross-cultural negotiation variables (listed at page 156 of our textbook).

Indeed,  Zuckerberg is truly ambitious, but as one of his critics, I appreciate his fierce beginning. I wish I have his valiant guts. I think it’s very humbling (not just lucrative) to be able to connect the world–for the culture and the language that enabled us to thrive, are the very same reasons behind most of the misunderstandings among nations and races. And FB are addressing all these burdens by continuously innovating ways in bridging cultural gaps

Finally, according to an academic article, Zuckerberg started “FB when he was 19, but because of his extraordinary beginning, everyone tends to underrate the role he has gone on to play,” says Silicon Valley eminence Peter Thiel, who himself has had an outsize role in the tech revolution. ‘Keeping the company relentlessly focused on the long-term future, he is the opposite of a quarter-to-quarter Wall Street CEO, and that’s why he deserves to be recognized as a great leader.’ We couldn’t have said it better ourselves,” (Colvin). All he has to add (to what he’s already doing), is to thoroughly and continuously create cultural profiles of the United States and China (to make a comprehensive side-by-side comparison) and enhance the likelihood of his success in bringing down the “great” firewalls of the latter. In addition, he should really persevere because Microsoft succeeded in getting in. The multinational company of Bill Gates “won” the Chinese by just customizing Bing.
To end, let’s reflect on the role of culture in the blogosphere. As blogging is not different to any global businesses–for we are speaking here, dealing here, and interacting here with our blogging friends coming from different cultures. But amid all challenges, this is our great chance to live more meaningful lives (and I can’t stress that enough). As this Web, is enabling us to give our views, to share our passions, but just as we have to be welcoming and respectful of those of others. A win-win situation is never far-fetch for anyone who has the will and would dare do it. Most importantly, it’s not so hard to listen or read deeper beyond the person’s words. For isn’t it ideal that we responsibly assess first our surroundings (and be considerate of everyone) by using all of our senses, before we even speak of our interpretation (that could sound more of a bias judgment)? Although we may not be able to touch in this virtual world, we still can talk with and listen to one another with compassion.
References

Colvin, G., & Volcker, P. (2015). Intrepid Guides for a Messy World. Fortune, 171(5), 75-95.

Deresky, Helen. International Management, 8th Edition. 2015

International Business. T, (0004, June). Google, Facebook and YouTube Outshine Others in Web Globalization. International Business Times.

Randall, Linda. Discussion Question 2: Facebook in China. 2015

Social Nets Engage in Global Expansion, Struggle. (Hotlines) (Brief article). (2007). AdWeek 48(36), 4.

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