Month: October 2017

Challenges Posed By Pregnant Women In A Disaster Or Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) Situation

Challenges posed by pregnant patients in a disaster or Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) situation

Disasters can take many forms; hurricanes, tornados, tropical storms, wildfires, cyber attacks, chemical threats, drought and civil unrest. Pregnant women who find themselves in these snares present unique challenges for those involved in disaster medicine management due to the nature of their present condition. During such a period, medical practitioners keen on managing these situations proceed with caution to ensure that both mother and child are safe. The purpose of this research paper is to discuss the various challenges that pregnant patients pose during Disaster and Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) situation

The care required by pregnant patients during disasters differs greatly from that of others due to the physiological and anatomic changes that can affect fetal welfare. During disasters, pregnant patients further away from their health care providers, but close to their due date, may experience anxiety or panic attacks leading to pregnancy complications. Such a patient might be caught up in a far flung locality, cut-off from access to health care relief assistance, making it extremely difficult for those managing this disaster to reach them (Rodrg̕uez, Quarantelli, & Dynes, 2009, p. 602). A case in point is during flooding as access to these patients becomes virtually impossible, especially when the health care providers are ill-equipped.

During disasters the most common means of communication cease to be operational, a phenomenon attributed to destroyed power grids. For pregnant patients whose option was to stay at home and only get the pre-natal care when necessary, a communication barrier emerges immediately(“Caring for your family in a disaster | March of Dimes,” n.d.). Medical practitioners thus find it challenging to check up on their patients in order to ascertain their prevailing conditions. Patients that lack extensive knowledge on how to handle a high-stress situation might miss out on the much-needed pieces of advice from their health care providers that might prove useful in saving both lives.

Preterm labor is a challenge that most disaster medical management practitioners brace themselves for during calamities. It occurs before the completion of the first 37 weeks of pregnancy and can be further execrated by disaster (“Caring for your family in a disaster | March of Dimes,” n.d.). Trauma is one of the main culprits here due to the rise in serotonin levels (stress hormone) in the patient’s blood. I such individuals do are not given immediate health care or are in a hospital that lacks Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) plan, the patient is likely to lose the newborn.

The nutrition of pregnant patients is of utmost importance to the healthcare providers as it ensures that both  mother and fetus are in top shape. During disasters, a power surge might lead to the spoilage of the much-needed food that had been refrigerated. Cooking also becomes a difficult task due to the disruptions that have been experienced. Moreover, drinking water directly from a faucet can be detrimental to the health of a pregnant patient as it might be contaminated (Ewing, Buchholtz, & Rotanz, 2008, p. 99). During such situations, medical practitioners have to ensure that they take care of their pregnant patients by proving treated water by any means possible in the face of difficult circumstances.

Disasters may also create a state of total pandemonium and confusion. Mothers might be separated from their newborn children and doctors from their patients. Such was the case during Hurricane Katrina that struck the state of Louisiana. Medical practitioners found it challenging to deal with the influx of patients to their facilities without medical records. Furthermore, these patients could end up in facilities that lacked gynecologists, obstetricians or midwives exposing them to the risk of infant deaths, premature births, and low-birth-weight among the newborn babies (“Group Urges Disaster Planning for Pregnant Women, Babies,” n.d.). Healthcare providers also lacked the specific medication necessary for treating pregnant patients and vitamin supplements required to ensure that both mother and infant are healthy.

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The Chainsmokers Music Group Review Paper

During certain periods in the development and evolution of music into various specific genres, there often emerges a musician or musical group(s) that end up creating a whole new style of music or enforce existing nascent ones. More often than not, these genres happen to come from popular works of music such as the Free Jazz sub-genre that originated from the artistry of Ornette Coleman and his 1960 album going by the same name. Similarly, the Rocksteady genre got its name from after Alton Ellis’ 1966 single going by the same name and in essence strengthened this new musical form. For this research paper, the analysis will be on The Chainsmokers, an American producer/ Disk Jockey(DJ)  group made up of Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart. The duo is one of the pioneers of the Electronic Dance Music(EDM) movement and first gained popularity after their 2014 single #Selfie became a top twenty song in a number of countries. The Chainsmokers have experienced relative success in their musical endeavours; their single “Roses” off their debut Extended Play(EP) dubbed Bouquet was able to secure a spot at the United States Billboard Hot 100, won a Grammy Award in the “ Best Dance Recording” category courtesy of the track “Closer” during the 59th edition of the awards, with an American Music Award(AMA) under their name and finally being awarded the iHeart Radio Music Award on five different occasions (DE 5). Furthermore, this paper will offer an in-depth evaluation of this EDM-pop duo, from their origin, their musical instruments used in their works, with a profile of their April 2017 album by the name Memories…Do Not Open to demonstrate their musical strengths.

The Chainsmokers profile and Musical Style

Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart make up The Chainsmokers and are the epitome of self-taught musicians who made in the music industry. For their music production, they use gear such as M-Audio Axiom Adanced-61Key(a US made MIDI Controller), plugin software(such as Spectrasonics Omnisphere, reFx Nexus 2, Nick Romero Kickstart or Lennar Digital Synthesizer), Ableton lives 9 and the V-MODA Crossfade off the M-100 edition as studio monitors.  They produce all their hits themselves be it on a plane, studio or at home, perhaps the main reason why their music has an air of an independence in artistry. The fist time they decide to delve into the EDM scene, they first bought software. (BLO0MBERG-RISSMAN 2929) The surprising bit is that they did not know how to use it and learned everything that they know now about using the software from Youtube tutorials. From there the group perfected their art of music production to a point where they could release records that became instant hits in many musical circles.

The Chainsmokers duo made their first appearance to the world of music on American Idol where they were slated to have a guest performance.During this time, the group the DJ duo only had one hit single to their name, #Selfie, but still saw it fit to appear in this singing competition, donning leather jackets before displaying their new eccentric style to the audience(Metcalf 184). Many would later term this as a cringeworthy performance, with fellow musicians lambasting them as a depiction of what was wrong with the budding Electronic Dance Music(EDM) industry (Mash Up Mix Edm). It was from this first mishap and the controversy that followed that the group decided to build their career by correcting those mistakes that they had made during their formative years as rookie musicians in this complex industry. Most of what they have learned from their experience in music is that it is a universal art that should not be divided through classifying music into genres.  Moreover, a majority of the first experimental tracks that they did were covers or remixes of indie bands in their quest to bring these two genres together. Both individuals are convinced that their music is capable of changing the lives of those they come into contact with due to their unique style composition. They make use of digital composition, no longer being relegated to only use linear notes and is now firmly ensconced at the center of pop music. It is important to note that they have benefitted most from this cross-pollination of genres with a wide array of collaborations that feature crooners, rappers, and dance-pop artists enriching their music.

The Chainsmokers describe their musical style as one that seeks to blur the lines between pop music, indie, hip hop and dance music. One of their greatest influence is Pharrell Williams who they say inspired them to follow their dreams and in particular this new style of music that many were not familiar. It is also important to acknowledge that in 2016, the duo became the subject of a new genre, future bass which they now try to popularize through the songs that they write.The first future bass song that they released was “Roses” which became successful worldwide. As a first in this young genre they were nurturing, “Roses” became very popular, even with the simplicity that the musicians used to compose it(BLO0MBERG-RISSMAN 2929). The song consists of an open arrangement that makes use of the synthesizers in a clever fashion. It is written in the key of E major and has a tempo of 100bpm, typical of pop songs. The artists have made good use alternating chords with the song revolving around Esus2 and E(E, F sharp, B)  with the vocals ranging from B3 and B4. The future bass genre features only a kick, clap and snares with high hats permeating in the song, as is the case in “Roses”, which for a moment makes the song similar to the trap sound ( a Hip-hop sub-genre). Another important point to underscore is that in this song the recordings of the clap and finger sound were done using a microphone. The result of this musical experiment was the production of a natural sounding reverb, bringing a new dimension to the song and complements the electronic drums. The very distinct kick drum sounds are evidence that they this genre has borrowed a lot from others as shown by the of the 808 drum sound. During production, all oscillators are independent as one of them is a sin standard 50hz wave and the other a sin 95Hz wave.

In “Roses”, The Chainsmokers similarly make use of a new technique that lets the bass appear below all the other sounds making it extremely full and fat. The boosting of the low frequencies also creates a unique merger with the saw wave creating harmonics that make for a catchy tune. The bass also has a warm tone parallel with the sonic temperature as a result of the fast attack then fast release technique that they utilize ensuring that the bass sits perfectly at the back, coming forward only when the male vocals are featured. As a result, at no point is it overpowering or overbearing, and in effect enabling the vocal glitches to become prominent, which according to me, is the highlight of this meticulously produced song. All through, the song commences rather eerily with the Riff synthesizer that features high reverberations in the synthesizers which sound very low. The tone of the song is set by the synthesizers due to its hollow sound with an abrasive tonal quality. Vibrato also features highly in this synthesizer which ensures that it brings out the unique quality of the song as it only begins with a riff. Later on in the song, the riff slowly disappears to give way to other “interesting” sounds. In doing so, there is the creation of a perfect sound stage that seems to have its place without negating the other frequencies. The overall sound of the song is digital, but it is the reverb and vibrato that do a superb job ant maintaining its warmth.

The main synthesizer that accompanies the chorus contains waves with an aggressive nature and many harmonics as it often plays in the key of E major,  A major and G sharp major. It is also detuned, a factor responsible for giving the song the unusual hum. It has also been a process of widening it as the songs spread throughout the mix. Roze’s voice sits in the center of the mix and extends all through. The track is given more width when Andrew Taggart joins in, singing an octave lower and being accompanied by the bass sound and essentially making the sound full. The reverb that can be heard in the song perhaps suggests that the song was recorded live in a room that had wooden floors. Traces of top artists and producers are seen with the warm sounds that always suggest that the spaces that were available during recording were utilized to reduce mids and in effect extenuate the highs. Two contrasting glitches can be heard in the song complimenting Rozes’ voice that is very large and dynamic. The sound becomes very metallic and quite high in pitch indicating a period of modulation. It is also noteworthy that Rozes voice sounds airy, even ethereal, evidence that chances are the song was recorded up close using a pop filter. In describing the song during an interview with Breathe Heavy Taggart was very vocal in stating that this song was a representation of the inherent change that people experience urging them to head towards the right direction and the end of a period of transition. The song hence represents the fact that they were successful in coming full-circle, a reflection of their personalities and a reflection of their current state musically.

Memories… Do Not Open

As a debut  12 track album, Memories… Do Not Open is a collecting poignant emotional tales from the duo. It is a somber departure by the duo from those days when they would play the EDM sound and now that they have matured musically. With this anodyne pop record, the artists basically wallow in feelings or regret, nostalgia, and narcissism. Commercial EDM has been known to thrive on the sheer triumph of the artists found in this new genre and the success of this high-quality album was bent in changing the musical landscape. It is their emotional and stylistic maturation that seems to be the main topic of conversation in almost all the songs on the album. A suspicious sounding Taggart opens in the first track with an apology that makes him sound less like a superstar  DJ and more like an emo singer (Merrill 3). The brooding tone of the opening song sets the mood for the for an emotional album filled with tales about breakups and betrayals. Well processed vocals and a slower tempo for most of the songs in the album. Furthermore, the album features a vast array of slinky melodies, controlled tempos, and emotional songs about those with bruised feelings. The album does not feature any concussive drops, big-room banger or those shared vuvuzela synthesizer riffs that were common in their previous songs. A few exceptions of a peppy pop-rock song such as “Break Up Every Night” or “Last Day Alive” that also features Florida Georgia Line.

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Back To Broadway Again Field Study Report

On the June 6th, 2017 at the Fred Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks California, I was fortunate enough to attend a dance concert that I had been looking forward to for two weeks. My enthusiasm was due to the fact that I would now have a live experience of all that that I have been learning in class, while at the same time applying the knowledge that I acquired. The concert was dubbed Back To Broadway, Again organized and presented by the Carousel Dance Studio better known for their eccentric and exhilarating routines. The tickets cost $36 which was quite pricey for most students, but I was certain that I was going to get my money’s worth. By seven o’clock in the evening, I was already in seated inside the grand auditorium that was now filled to the brim. Dance enthusiast from far and beyond had made it a point to attend this event and have an evening filled with an exciting theme-based dance routine that was bound to be phenomenal.

The event coordinator was dressed in a black tuxedo and soon grabbed the microphone to address the audience. Those in attendance, almost immediately, stopped chatting away and were now focusing intently on what he had to say. After the brief preview of what was to be presented that evening, the troupe sauntered across the injury preventive smooth dance floor, as the lights gradually dimmed in the audience’s area.  Almost immediately, smooth instrumental music blared from the speakers heralding the beginning of the first routine. It was expertly choreographed with all the dancers moving at the time as a unit. The perfect synchrony and rhythm that I observed from the performance were evidence enough that they group spent countless hours polishing up on their dancing skills. Additionally, the audience was also in agreement with the fact that this group was good at what they did through the round of applause that they got after their first performance.

Without taking a break, the second routine soon started with a hearty lively tune that raised the spirits of the audience. The dancers were professionals at incorporating facial expressions into their routine, involving the audience in all ways possible. At one point, I was so engrossed I the routine that I sprung from my seat in jubilation to the surprise of many. The consistent flow of organization was a clear indicator that the grouped knew how to use the technical and theatrical elements of dance effectively to influence the emotions of the audience. All the dancers were dressed in black, but in contrast to this theme, appeared bright under the flood lights as they let the music and dance routine carry them away. I also noted that each routine had different dancers, perhaps to ensure that the dancers were not overwhelmed with the many routines, and therefore being able to carve out their own niche.

Every routine featured different types of music that varied in rhythm and tempo. It was the music that supplemented the dance routines in bringing out the various emotional components that the dance was capable of triggering. It is also noteworthy to acknowledge that the dancers consisted of both professionals and students. I was very much impressed with the effort that the students had made in their routines as it was virtually impossible for me to tell them and the experts apart. My evening was well spent as I was able to experience social themes and new dance perspectives that were present in the concert. My interaction with the audience was fruitful as I was now able to gain new points of view from attending a dance concert. After the concert, I also had a chance to a tete a tete with one of the dancers who informed me that dancing was “her life” and she was happy with the fact that she was able to influence people’s lives through art.


Calligraphy and Inscriptions on Chinese Paintings

Etymologically, the word “calligraphy” is derived from the Greek language to refer to “beautiful writing”. Works that feature calligraphy and inscriptions are often associated with neat legible handwritings and good penmanship. In the Peoples Republic of China, however, it is closely associated with art and in most cases even seen as an art form in its own right. It is often displayed side by side with paintings in the museums, an indication of the equal status it shares with paintings in this culture (Gardner & Kleiner, 2017, p. 1064). Additionally, calligraphy in the form of inscriptions is utilized in decorating everyday items such as vases and dishes to beautify them and improve their aesthetic value. The art was develop in the formative years of Imperial China consisting of inscribe characters made by a succession of single brushstrokes. Traditionally, every literate person in the empire was require to learn this at by copying the Chinese ideographs that were offered as they require standard form.  Innovations by Wang Xizhi during the 4th Century soon made the coveted practice of calligraphy in the Imperial China a high art.

As a requirement for appointment into the highest offices in the empire, one had to be well-versed in calligraphy and inscriptions. A system of meritocracy was used to make sure that those who ascended to these top positions were able to uphold all the aesthetic standards that had been established earlier by the cultural and political paragons in the past. In Chinese culture, the only sure way to influence current events was to by having as strong command in both the precedents and the history (Chen, 2011, p. 34).  Painters also incorporated the use of inscriptions in their works to pass messages or simply mark them with their names as the owners. They often worked on paper using ink while choosing their subjects from rocks, bamboo or even old trees. These paintings could be done using the same impeccable brush skills they had in calligraphy. It was from the calligraphy and inscriptions that these paintings emerged.

The development of paintings that were drawn from calligraphy developed in the imperial court with these officials-cum-artists distinguishing their works of art from ordinary calligraphy by using an illusionistic style of brush painting that was colorful and preferred by professionals. A new class of scholar-amateur painters now came into being with their personal style of painting prominently featuring calligraphic brush lines that were very expressive. Zhao Mengfu, a brilliant calligrapher, and scholar was among the first wave of influential individuals to embrace this new artistic paradigm (Khoo & Penrose, 2003, p. 11). He used his skill as a calligrapher to now paint and was intent on making a stark distinction between scholar paintings and the works of professional craftsmen. He used the verb “to write” to refer to his form of art as opposed to “to paint” as did most of the craftsmen that were responsible for the prolific production of paintings during this particular time in history.  As a scholar-artist, this new approach was further underscored in is painting Twin Pines, Level Distance as painting to him was not only about representation but the beauty that it also projected. He emphasized this point by making an inscription that was directly over his landscape painting.

The use of calligraphy and inscriptions by scholar-artists was further bolstered by their accurate application of style and symbolism to express their innermost feelings while leaving the rather complicated art of formal portraiture to the empire’s professional artists. It was not long until pottery; calligraphy and poetry were all integrated into a single work with these paintings presenting pictorial and poetic imagery with calligraphic lines that were in tandem, meant to express the emotions and the mind of the artist. An instance of this technique is in Guan Daosheng’s painting Bamboo Grooves in Mist and Rain that also features a segment with inscriptions by the artist on its extreme right.

“By Blue Ontario Shore” by Walt Whitman

In choosing a poem for this project, It was my wish to settle on “By Blue Ontario Shore”. The poem is one among 400 others written by Walt Whitman and compiled under the title, “Leaves of Grass”. The poems would first appear in bookstores in the year 1855. Moreover, the poems are particularly intriguing owing to the fact that they were written by a poet focusing on American democracy. A man who had made his mind up to write hymns of praise to America.  Whitman was an enigmatic fellow who did not fear to openly challenge European traditions and would often speak with a lot of exultant emphasis on Americans superiority to all other nations. He once suggested that freedom most likely has an American accent! Another of Whitman’s primary concern was the exploration, discussion and celebration of who he was, his personality and his individuality. Experts believe that he was on a quest to eulogize democracy together with achievements and potential of the American nation.

I chose the poem “By Blue Ontario Shore” due to its richness in poetic elements essential in assisting me to create my own distinct work of art. Whitman had made it his life’s work to give his thoughts poetic expressions in order to paint pictures with his thoughts. It is some sort of declamatory expression that creates a poem that is full of innovativeness and with the burden of sensations. His poetry seems to grow organically, more like a sprouting tree and does not follow any regular pattern. There is a sense of artistic freedom in his work as it lacks proper planning, abortive and disorganized but at the same time distinct. Whitman was of the opinion that poetry was not to be spoken but written. It was this criterion that would guide the form used in all his works. Additionally, Whitman was a lover of rhythm. A typical line in his verse, if subjected to the routine scanning process, would reveal prose-like sentences. The composition of his work is not in sentences but in lines (LeMaster & Kummings, 1998, p.358 ). Whitman uses the lines as his unit of sense.  Whitman a lot in common with the symbolists but would try his level best to interpret the vast universe through his sensory perceptions, thus allowing him to break from traditional methods and forms. Below is my own creatiuon that mirrors the stylistic elements that Whitman uses in “By Blue Ontario Shore”.

                                Sitting at the edge of a skyscraper

As the warm wind blows across my torso, I can’t help but wonder,

As I gasp for breathing air in this draughty rooftop, the forces of nature seem stronger,

Could the universe and mother nature be conspiring to ensure my life doesn’t end today?

Is there a God out there finally taking notice of me from his shiny golden throne and sent his angels in the form of this invisible force that seems stronger than sugar mill horses?


Oh Life, why have you been so cruel to me?

Why do I have to be that husband with childless, loveless marriage with a wife whose words sting sharper than a nettle?

Life is short, but during my short voyage across life, I have learned a lot about human beings and their nature,

I work and toil like a cotton-picking slave in Mississippi, but she never appreciates my effort, and that is why I hate her,

God, I hate her! An ungrateful woman is a curse to any man who happens to parley with her and her ilk,


She asks you to find another job, a man who works more than two jobs is a real man, she says,

What she doesn’t mention, I see through the veil of deceit that she covers herself,

You simply want me to get a second job so that you can have more money to spend,

My money!


What do you do, when your only mistake in life is loving someone with every ounce of energy in your body?

Now all that is going to remain will be my pictures, and the memories you might have forgotten to delete from you minds recycle bin,

I am sitting here, watching my credit card float mid-air, spiraling as gravity tries its level wrestle it down to the hard concrete that awaits it,

I am sure it was similarly tired of all your “wants” as opposed to our “needs”,

When the credit card tries its best to save money to buy us a house, you would prefer to empty the family kitty and go on a shopping spree in the United Arab Emirates,

Well, the credit card is tired of you and your outlandish behavior!


My workplace doesn’t feel like it used to, the main reason being you,

A grumpy husband is a terrible employee! My boss has always told me that,

You don’t cook, yet you expect me to leave money on the dresser for your miscellaneous needs!

You must be mad! For how long had I been blind to your lies?

It is your beauty that blinded me, enough is enough!

Today, I drink my whiskey in Valhalla!

                                Interpretation of the poem

                The poem relates a story of a young husband whose wife is pushing him to edge. He is on the brink of madness. He works very hard for his family, but his wife does not any of his efforts. He compares his toil to that of an African slave, pre-emancipation, in a Mississippi plantation working all day for his rich Master and overseer; but all he gets are all forms of verbal abuse. In particular, this man is emotionally abused by his wife, who taunts him whenever she gets an opportunity, and spends all his money on her dressing (she leaves regularly to the United Arab Emirates for her shopping holidays).

The persona is about to commit suicide and seems to wait for a sign that supersedes human understanding to save him from utter ruin. He seems to acknowledge the cosmic consciousness and appeals to a higher power to rescue him during his time of need. A strong wind that pushes against him seems to give him the thought of redemption, but this happens only momentarily. His suicidal tendencies return as soon as he remembers all the time and money that he has put to waste in his loveless relationship. Such is a man at the periphery of life, dogged by depression and ready to take his life and move to a spirit world devoid of suffering.

Book Review: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel is a book in its own league. Nothing confirms this more than the fact that it is a winner of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for non-fictional books and became a best seller in 1998. Diamond does a superb job at catching the attention of the reader by providing them with a fascinating and detailed account of about 13,000 years of societal development and human evolution. Although there have been a few points of controversy that the book has raised among scientists, the book has tasked itself with answering very many complex questions that had largely remained unanswered for decades. In its preface, Diamond first begins by recounting how he was initially intrigued when Yali, his New Guinean friend once asked him once; “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had a little cargo of our own?”(Diamond 14). The “cargo” mentioned so fondly by Yali is technology, and in particular simple tools such as axes, other accessories like umbrellas together with complex inventions such as cell phones, computers, and the Internet. Diamond notes that two centuries before his meeting with Yali, the communities native to New Guinea had already been using their own form of stone tools. It is this sudden realization that makes him interrogate the main factors that led to this stark gap in development between these two cultures.

At first, many would wrongly assume that Diamond could be writing the book to celebrate European conquest over other nations. Conversely, Diamond is not on a mission to glorify anything or anyone but simply tries his level best to describe what happened in history, and why events took the course that they did. He also clarifies that his is just a descriptive work of literature and does not, in any way, judge anyone. However, there are several occasions in the book where he voices his own opinion and in particular, his utter disgust for the racism that European colonialists harbored. For the most part of this meticulously written book, his tone is dispassionate and scientific. He searches for a conclusive answer to his question by first examining history over the millions of years that have passed, mapping out those first migrations of hominids from Africa to their destination in Eurasia and later from the Eastern Asia region towards the Pacific Ocean Islands, Siberia to the Americas. He follows the biological evolution of human beings and later focuses on certain representative societies which he uses to illustrate the truth that is there in his findings. While emphasizing the difference that exists between the developing cultures, he emphasizes on the writing, food production, government, technology, and religion. Using his opinions, he then demonstrates the reason why a difference among the cultures occurred.

From the onset, it is easy for one to misinterpret the rhetoric of the book as Diamond’s simple argument that the hunter-gatherer culture such as that of the aborigines and Native Americans as being inferior to that of the industrialized civilizations. In truth,  he doesn’t argue that one society is better than the other but surprisingly mentions that before contact, these hunter-gatherers were better off without the “development” that was brought. He shows how human beings learned how to effectively replace these practices with the onset of industrial and agricultural practices. He is also not saying that hunting and gathering are inferior to agriculture but simply stating that farming was more efficient in extracting food for certain areas. It is also important to note that throughout the book, Diamond seems to have written the book to refute persistent unscientific claims that Westerners were superior in comparison to people from other regions in the world. He makes specific mention to the racist’s attempts to twist science as seen in their use of Darwin’s theory of the evolution of species to justify their subjugation of these people and their brutality towards them during the conquest. (Guns, Germs, & Steel by Jared Diamond | Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review: The Fates of Human Societies 25). He is insistent on there is no scientific link between culture/race and the intelligence of a people. To bolster this point, he describes his personal experience working as an anthropologist in New Guinea. It was in this island nation that he met some of the most brilliant people. He even seems convinced that these people could be smarter than the Westerners. In this society, survival was determined by luck and health meaning that individuals did not die from infectious diseases such as smallpox and the plague. Survival was more of a product of intelligence and talent such as being able to avoid accidents and their ability to hunt food successfully(Diamond 21). Additionally, Diamond points out that the average New Guinean spent more time out exploring the world around them than the average Westerner who would spend more time watching TV.

In conclusion, the main argument in Diamond’s book is that that the differences that exist between different peoples and societies around the world are large as a result of the geographical differences present around the world. There are certain parts of the world where human beings decided to pursue agriculture due to the temperate climate and fertile soils while making good use of the time and resources available. These agricultural societies would, in turn, gain tremendous advantages over the other non-agricultural semi-sedentary societies as there was a subsequent increase in free leisure time to conquer other nations. The sheer depth of Diamonds argument makes for a smooth exposition that is used in combination with a didactic style during his narrations. Guns, Germs, and Steel is an impressive milestone of imagination that manages to succinctly describe the interaction between ‘primitive’ peoples and ‘civilized’ minds.

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Book Review : Disaster Ministry Handbook by David Boan and Jasmie Aten

Among most communities, it is the churches that people turn to as centers for assistance and response during times of disaster. Whenever tornados or floods destroy property and devastate an area, or when a community is shaken by shocking acts of violence knowing what to do in such a situation can be the ultimate difference between life and death, calm and chaos or courage and fear 1. Few churches take the time to plan in advance for such eventualities and are more often than not being caught off guard when the storms of disaster hit. Disaster Ministry by David Boan and Jasmie Aten is a practical guide for churches in disaster preparedness. The book is critically important to the church in preparing for the unthinkable and providing relief to victims of such a catastrophic event. Both authors are co-directors at the Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HID) 2 which bolsters the book’s credibility in providing a resource with information regarding planning for local congregations in a community. Stephen Bauman, the Chief Executive Officer and president of World Relief puts, while giving a commentary about the book underscored its importance by describing it as a handbook for the church and will help all those who follow Jesus to march to the front line that disaster creates, whether it is natural or man-made 3. The primary goal is to assist those most in need during periods of crisis. Below is an in-depth review of Disaster Ministry Handbook by David Boan and Jasmie Aten and its perspective on how best the Church can deal with disasters.

There are various critical roles that the church can play in disaster response and resilience. The handbook provides the reader with valuable lessons and answers especially to the question of what type of assistance local churches can provide, especially in regions that are regarded as high-risk. It is common knowledge that there are churches that have members living in disaster prone areas and there are also those who sincerely want to go the extra mile and provide help for these individuals3. It seems the sole aim of the authors is to prepare those individuals with servant hearts to these two perspectives and in doing so introduce them to the importance of disaster assistance. They suggest the reasons why churches should participate in such initiatives and propose ways in which the local church can assist the community specifically due to the trust that the community has in them and their structure. They are in essence, the first line of help for the community that they come from and should thus make is a point to increase their engagement level and participate wholly in this noble quest.

David Boan and Jasmie Aten’s opinions on the role of the church during periods of disasters

Disaster can come in various forms which are perhaps the reason why the authors had to break them down into four distinct categories: terrorist hazards, natural disasters, public health emergencies, technological and accidental hazards. Additionally, the authors go on to elaborate the various phases of disaster response after its initial identification4. In most cases, local churches are ill-prepared to implement a meticulously planned response to combat disasters that require urgent attention. The layout of the book is a buildup of crucial information designed to help local churches plan on how to best deal with it and how it can support its congregation and the community at large. If and when disaster strikes, the church first dedicates itself to the community in response to the matter at hand as seen in the case of the Salvation Army in the United States5. They often act as first responders whenever there is a crisis as they are aware that it is their Christian duty to assist those struck by tragedy.  Furthermore, this handbook is also designed to prepare the church leadership (the pastor being at the top) to make a local response whenever they are called upon to do so.  The first responders, for example, will me individuals in the health profession and mental health providers who also happen to be members of the church’s congregation 6. Such a group becomes the target audience for this book to assist them to formulate an orderly response policy.

The book also builds a solid case on why churches should be in direct involvement in efforts of disaster recovery and the provision of practical tools that can be put to use to create a fitting reaction plan. In responding to disasters, churches also need to learn how to integrate their response so that other partners, be it government or Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), can lend a helping hand and lighten their load. The authors of this book also present the notion that the church’s involvement during periods of crisis also creates an opportunity for the local churches to interact and minister within the community that surrounds them5. They can serve these individuals with Christ’s love during the dark times and give them the hope that they need to soldier on. Moreover, the book advises local churches to try starting small and then joining with other partners as the main goal of their efforts is to create resilience to disaster in the local population. An observation brought up in the book is that disasters have been on a steady rise, but the resources that are made available to respond to these calamities have been decreasing. In a time where the frequency of the disasters has been increasing and government resources decreasing, a unique opportunity for the church presents itself where it is able to reach out to the people during their time of need.

Throughout the book, these two authors bring the audience to the realization that vulnerable individuals in the society often suffer disproportionately. An example that they provide is that of persons with disabilities as their likelihood of survival is two to four times lesser. The needs of those regarded as vulnerable in the society are unique whenever there is a disaster7. Those in this group include the young or very old, fragile individuals, the poor and those with few resources and the necessary connections to enable the, face these difficult experiences. It is important for the churches to understand fully how these disasters affect vulnerable people to ensure that they are not overlooked during rescue efforts.  Of importance to these efforts is the fact that vulnerable put family first and thus the need to keep them together at all times. Those that face severe crisis are mainly those who lose contact with their caregivers and those people that they depend upon. Some of these individuals do not have complete comprehension of their condition, posing a danger to them when they are separated from those who understand their condition. It has been noted by experts in palliative care that the surge in flu outbreaks can have deadly consequences for vulnerable people more so if they find themselves in a catastrophe8.  The authors also issue a challenge for persons with intentions to start a disaster that in light of the plight of the vulnerable, they should be included in the disaster management policy.

Congregational response to disaster through planning

It is also crucial to remember that response to a disaster is a communal effort with disaster relief groups being advised to liaise with specialists in planning for and managing such crisis, for instance, the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA). Churches are also encouraged to urge members of their congregation not to visit sites of these disasters with no organizational affiliation.  When individuals participate with organizations, chances are that their expertise will be put to good use as compared to if they were to go at it autonomously.  Relief efforts that are already on-going can then be integrated with that of the disaster ministry. The reasoning behind this strategy is to leverage one’s experience, adding a creative variety to increase the interest of those already in the ministries, avoid the duplication of leadership and ministry together with better planning9. The handbook is practical and clearly written and most importantly is that it provides the local church with effective tools that it can utilize in the planning, execution, and implementation of their strategies. Churches can now get an insight into how they can take good care of their congregation in a more sustainable and smarter way.

Underscored in the book is the importance of preparedness which is the surest way of reducing the impact of the disaster. A church that is already prepared has the local congregation as its number one asset, the reason being that those in this demographic are in a unique position to provide help to their communities as far as disaster vigilance, response and recovery are concerned. Congregational leaders that support the disaster ministry claim that the congregations that they minister to are able to provide the community with a broad-based prevention scheme and holistic care for those affected physically, spiritually and emotionally by the disaster10. It was also an important point to note is that the congregations in these local churches can reach those individuals that other groups and agencies were unable to come to contact with help reaching all those requiring it.  To add to this, congregations can also act as a source for drastic action on the community due to their connection with them, assisting them in assessing their risks and needs while trying to identify all possible appropriate actions. The congregation has been put in a position that gives them the opportunity to act as advocates for the vulnerable and all marginalized people in a population. If this notion is implemented, the church can expect the fair distribution of food and health care by determining who requires help urgently. Provision of resources by the congregation is also listed as an advantage of the church’s involvement during these trying times. Some may provide evacuation centers, meeting spaces, facilities to store food, equipment, water and all resources relevant to the work that they are pursuing. As a center for communication, the congregation allows messages and meetings to pass on vital information to a significant audience on a timely regular basis. A willing body of committed volunteers is thus found in the congregation as their foundation is built on love and their motivation being compassion.

It is vital to acknowledge that this handbook has had a profound effect on my ideas about urban ministry. It is the Christian duty of all those in a congregation to prepare for disaster and those it may affect as it is what they would require during their time of need. From the handbook, I have come to the apprehension that using the three-stage approach to deal with a disaster can be one of the many practical ways that members of a church and the congregational leaders can use as a starting point. The approach revolves around people coming up with pragmatic ways of taking action even when in the midst of disaster. To develop high-quality emergency strategies, most Christian organizations and government agencies that are typically involved in emergency response use this approach. The disaster ministry thus has to take into consideration the unique calling, talent and gifts that the congregation possesses. From the manuscript, it is evident that those churches that were successful in developing a disaster ministry first started small and later on made a concerted effort to build on their strengths.

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An Analysis Of “From Civil Rights to Megachurches” By Charles Duhigg’s

One phenomenon that is inevitable in life is change. Change can take a number of shapes and forms that often seeks to create a new way of living that is completely different from that which preceded it. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, attempts to tackle the issue of social change in his detailed essay titled “From Civil Rights to Megachurches”. He seeks to examine all the mechanisms that are in play when fostering community ties and essentially mobilizing social change on a large-scale basis. In his essay, he is categorical in asserting that relationships (strong or distant) which he terms as strong and weak ties have the ability to create a “social habit” which will then be capable of driving goal-oriented, cohesive and sustainable movements. According to Duhigg, “[m]ovements don’t emerge because everyone suddenly decides to face the same direction at once. They rely on social patterns that begin as the habits of friendship, grow through the habits of communities, and are sustained by new habits that change participants’ sense of self (Duhigg 102). For the purpose of this essay, an analysis of both the strong and weak points from his essay will be provided with the investigation with the into a social change, and all those ties that are behind it. The social change aspect will focus on Helen Epstein’s approach to lower the rate of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in South Africa draw from her essay, AIDS, Inc. in The Invisible Cure.

            Part three of The Power Habit by Charles Duhigg delves deep the process of social change by launching the narrative of the birth of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. It was on dreary winter day in Montgomery, Alabama on 1st December 1955 when the social rights movement gained traction when Rosa Parks put up an act of defiance in refusing to give her seat up to a white man as was required by law. Duhigg uses his extensive knowledge in history to help the reader understand why it was this particular action involving Rosa Parks in a public bus that set the Civil Rights Movement in motion. Before this particular incident, there were others that had occurred, for instance, that of Claudette Colvin and Mary Louise Smith, that had led to their arrest but none that had rallied the African American Community in Montgomery, Alabama under one banner as did the Civil Rights Movement, bound to make noticeable changes in United States as far as discriminatory laws were concerned. One of the prominent idea that is apparent from this chapter is that of the existence of weak and strong ties among individuals in a community. “Weak ties” are responsible for the powerful beginnings of a social movement. These ties are seen in Rosa Park’s case through the friends that she had from all social strata and a large range of contact that by far exceeded that of preceding African American rebels(Duhigg 217). It is the peer pressure that originates from these seemingly weak and strong ties, in the long run, brings into effect the societal changes that specific members of the society long for. Another pertinent example provided is that of Rick Warren who was fresh from seminary and with an undying intention to start a church congregation within a community that had a religious base. He utilizes the weak and strong ties in his quest to encourage attendance and participation that later on makes his ministry one of the largest in the United States and the world.

Duhigg’s model can be used in a wide range of scenarios to set in motion the societal changes that are required to create a sustainable world. A epidemic that had ravaged the world,  and mostly in Africa where it was not well understood was HIV/AIDS. In The Invisible Cure, Epstein makes a sensible commentary about an issue that had troubled experts, especially due to its spread all over the African continent in a very short period. She combines her scientific knowledge with a journalistic perspective in providing an impartial view of the social and political landscape in Africa that has seen the spread of this killer disease. She, first of all, takes issue with how the epidemic has been handled, bringing to light the situation in South Africa where the infection rates seemed to be growing by the day. What further exacerbated this current  state of affairs was that the government did not want to look into the provision of anti-retroviral drugs to those infected as it saw this as controversial according to African terms. Although information was there in the public domain as to how one could get infected and the available ways to prevent infection, the number of new cases of the disease that were emerging every day seemed to imply that the message was not quite getting through to the target audience. The Kaiser Family Foundation from the United States stepped into the fray in 1999 with the sole aim of dealing with this menace once and for all, instituting a social change that would lead to greater awareness among those at risk.

LoveLife, an initiative that was started in the country also followed suit in dealing with this menace by first including those who were already infected into their program. These people would work hand in hand with LoveLife in spreading information about HIV/AIDS all over South Africa, and especially to the youth who were very much in risk due to the vulnerability of individuals from their demographic. It was easier for individuals from this group to be coerced or lured into risky sexual behavior, especially by those who were well off and could offer gifts or money in return for the sexual favors that they will provide them with. Duhigg’s model appears to have been used in this case when the supposed weak link was first exploited. It was a widely known fact all over South Africa that HIV/AIDs was a menace in South Africa with the commercials speaking on this issue providing perspectives that seemed depressing to a wide majority of the young people (Invisible Cure : Africa, the West, and the Fight against Aids 67). What Lovelife did, was to transform these dull preventative campaigns into modern persuasive campaigns had the ability to positively impact the lives of the youth in South Africa. These campaigns now included figures and language that they could readily relate wit which made the dissemination of this information easier. The strong link was then exploited when individuals created “lifestyle brand” campaigns that were meant to bring the population that was at risk to making a paradigm shift and viewing positive behavior as being “cool” (Invisible Cure : Africa, the West, and the Fight against Aids 80).. From billboards, television and radio stations that were presenting this information, an air of hip modernity could be gathered from the campaigns that were now all over the country. These organizations were largely successful in their quest because they were able to investigate the social habits and analyze those weak and strong ties that were present in the society. The new self-identities that were create were able bring the community together and in essence propelling them towards the same trajectory of the much needed social change.

An Analysis of “Attacking Student Loans” by Carolyn M. Brown

A pertinent issue that has been widely ignored in the United States is that of the crippling student loans debts and its effects on a generation had banked on the fund bettering their chances of securing a high paying job. Currently, the Federal government owes close to $1.5 trillion in loans that had been provided to students to further their education (“Trump’s Silence on Student Loan Crisis is Deafening” 1). What is even more shocking is that presently student loan debts have skyrocketed to a level that is way past that of revolving consumer and credit card debts combined. About 44million of the population in the United States carries a average debt that is close to $34, 000 with interests alone amounting to $90 billion annually.  Critics of the student loan system have accused the Federal Government of profiteering from a program that leaves young adults in a state of limbo when they are forced to struggle for the rest of their lives to clear the loan (Best and Best 45). The situation is further exacerbated by an absence of statutes of limitation and a lack of bankruptcy protections which means that there is no safety net for those who took them. In her piece, “Attacking Student Loans’’  by Carolyn M. Brown, an editor at Black Enterprise brings this issue to perspective by using Bryan Mitchell, a Business Administration graduate from the University of New Haven (UNH) as an example of how this flawed system can affect the progress of an individual. The purpose of this essay is to provide an in-depth evaluation of “Attacking Student Loans’’ , with special focus on Mitchell’s case, the steps he is taking to free himself of his $120,000 student loan debt.

Student loans are more often than not only confined to a federal source. They can also emanate from private firms and banks that offer lending services to students who prefer to go at it alone and in a lone ranger fashion (Akers 3) .For those who qualify and are awarded these loans, the reality of what they got themselves into dawns on them as soon as they complete their higher education program. For most public employees such as teachers who earn a modest net monthly salary, life becomes challenge especially if intends to make immediate headway in life. It is not a hyperbole that most students who are “fortunate” enough to get these loans will be virtually unable to clear it in their lifetime. In Carolyn M. Brown’s piece, she does a superb job in bringing this issue to light by using Mitchell as an example of how unsuspecting young ambitious Americans fall into the student loan trap. In the four years that he spent in the University of New Haven (UNH) studying for an undergraduate degree in Business Administration (B.A), he was left with a $ 120,000 in student loan debt (“Attacking Student Loan Debt” 1). The debt accrued from his fees and tuition that cost an estimated $15,000 every semester together with two Federal loans that were subsidized at a rate of 6.5% and eight other bank loans that were unsubsidized with interest rates that between 2.5%  to 9.75%(“Attacking Student Loan Debt” 1).  The sad part is that is required to pay an upwards of $700 monthly which is close to one-third of his meager monthly income, towards servicing the interest. Brown relates Mitchell’s predicament in great detail, showing the darker side of student loans.

According to Brown, Mitchell’s is not an isolated case. A majority of Americans are facing the same challenge, albeit suffering in silence with student loans preventing them from buying their dream homes or even starting a family. From a financial expert’s point of view, student loans are viewed as a “good” debt as it essentially improves their potential for higher earnings in future. However, the reality on the ground is not always so with college graduates having to seek second jobs to pay off their loans as their income is more often than not less than what they are expected to pay back. Brown’s opinion centers on the burden that student loans bring upon the lives of young adults that can take 20 years or even more to pay off.  She gives a staggering statistic; most undergraduate students leave the institutions with an average of $ 20,000 in student loan debts while graduate students have to grapple with a debt that can range from $30,000 to $120,000 (“Attacking Student Loan Debt” 1).   Brown acknowledges this problem and tries to bring forth feasible solutions on how to avoid being swallowed by the student loan Leviathan and how those who already took it can manage their money in better ways that will ensure timely servicing of these debts so as to focus on other important things in life.

Brown’s subject, Mitchell, got into the debacle that he is currently in due to his “do it yourself” approach in life that led him to take independent choices such as financing his own college education. In retrospect, he regrets filling that Free Application For Student Aid application as he admits that he was, in all honesty, naïve about the reality. (“Attacking Student Loan Debt” 1). Now that he is older and most definitely wiser, he opines that seeking assistance from his collage’s Financial Aid Department would have been the best choice for him as he would have sought the advice of counselors (“Attacking Student Loan Debt” 1). These individuals would have been of great help in assisting him investigate any grants, loans or special programs that were on offer and specifically those for which he was eligible. His biggest mistake was to borrow money directly from an assortment of banks whose interest on college loans for students, as he later came to find out, were relatively high. These loans often attract students as they are easy to secure, but in the long run end up become too expensive for the students to pay back in time. Because there is no collateral for student loans awarded, the interest charged becomes higher (Collinge 1). Mitchell admits that he was oblivious of this fact which came to haunt him later on in future. It is important to note that Mitchell has learned from the mistakes that he made during his undergraduate years at college with his current employer now paying for his master’s degree.

Brown’s article intends to depict the adverse effects that student loans can have on individuals but at the same time giving them solutions on how best to clear them while embracing new spending habits. Mitchell, for instance, now works full time at the prestigious Goodwin College located in East Hartford, Connecticut working full-time an officer in the admission department earning about $40, 000 annually(“Attacking Student Loan Debt” 2). In order to take on this arduous financial challenge, he is fully committed to making changes in his lifestyle. For a start, he has taken a part-time job to boost his income, reducing his living expenses and also going to the extent of making an application for tax credits on his college loan due to the interest on his amount. Additionally, he intends to seek the services of a tax adviser to know whether he currently qualifies for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (“Attacking Student Loan Debt” 2). Brown is instrumental in providing help for individuals who find themselves in financial ruts such as the one Mitchell was in. Through the Black Enterprise, she pens down a seven-year plan blueprint that is meant to assist Mitchell and individuals of his ilk to annihilate their outstanding student loan debt.

Trimming living expenses is the first step suggested by Brown. Mitchell, for instance currently rents an apartment that costs $600 monthly. According to Brown’s assessment, Mitchell can start by moving in with a roommate in an apartment that cost $800 a month, saving $200. If he does this continually, he will have $2, 400 annually to contribute to his loan settlement. Another practical option is boosting one’s discretionary income. According to the piece, Mitchell is making the necessary arrangements to earn an extra figure of about $200 weekly as a personal trainer in his local gym as a personal trainer (“Attacking Student Loan Debt” 2). A recent promotion also guarantees him an increase of $5,000 annually that comes in handy in his attempts to settle his debt. Paying down all existing loan principles comes in third as a feasible way to settle one’s student loan arrears. For a start, Mitchell should apply extra payments aimed at the principal of the student loan taken with the highest interest rate. He should apply this strategy until his clears the whole amount.  Building a savings reserve is important, not only as a contingency measure but also in having money ready to settle the student loan debt. A suggestion in the article is that Mitchell set aside monthly savings that amount to $100.  His goal is to ultimately clear his debt but it is important to remember that emergencies always seem to come when one least expects them, making it vital to always be prepared.  Staying ready with a 401(k) payment is also an important way to offset student loans (“Attacking Student Loan Debt” 2). Mitchell should not worry about other investments at the moment, which means that it would be advisable for him to stick to his 5% contribution regimen. Brown ends by giving a crucial piece of advice; attending state university or college can go a long way in reducing ones costs in fees and tuition as residents more often than not offer lower rates. It is thus paramount for students to put all this into consideration to avoid regretting their decision in future.

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American Culture and the American Identity

The United States of America has always been somewhat of an enigma to many. Rising from a British colony, it successfully fought the War of Independence and gained its sovereignty in 1776, starting with its initial 13 states and eventually progressing to 54 which currently make up the union. With its involvement in the two World Wars, its influence and power internationally increased as it added the much needed financial, industrial and military might necessary for Allied victory. As it came hurtling to the international stage, many would now go on to accept the fact that It was now a formidable force to be reckoned with and soon gained the Superpower status. With this new found status, it was important for this country to now define itself, what it stood for, its ideals and the spirit of its people (Gannon 28). From it lengthy history and it being the melting pot of cultures and ideas, it was not long until notable figures in this society went ahead to depict these  ideas; be it on canvas, film, newspapers and even comics. The purpose of these individual’s unrelenting attitudes was to affirm to the rest of the world that the United States of America was a force to be reckoned with, especially in the post-World War period. The new threat was the “Iron Curtain”, as Winston Churchill put it during his Fulton address, that later saw the United States engage in conflict in the Korean peninsula and Vietnam fighting Communist proxies. There was a need during this period for the United States to also present its ideals to the world and especially to its people to avert the “red threat” from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R) and most importantly to fully entrench its popular culture in its citizenry.  An example of one of the pioneers who was hell-bent on presenting popular American culture to the rest of the world was the artist Norman Rockwell. For the purpose of this essay, the analysis will solely focus on his Saying Grace  1951 painting and what message it communicate about American popular culture.

In terms of the most influential artists to ever come out of the United States of America, Rockwell definitely tops the list. He is remembered for his poignant, touching and nostalgic paintings that more often than not gave depictions of simple everyday scenes from the typical American life. Steven Spielberg, one of the most celebrated Hollywood movies directors, also hails Rockwell as one of the American greats as he ostensibly painted the American dream on canvas (Halpern and Rockwell 179). American popular culture had gone ahead to coin the popular phrase, “The American Dream” , to elucidate their country as one that was full of opportunities where every citizen, regardless of race could pursue their dreams and watch them come to fruition (Rockwell and Marker 40). It was once believed that if all Americans came together in unity, no force was able to defeat them. Such sentiments were the backdrop of Rockwell’s painting career as the spirit of the American people was at an all-time high after their victory of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Emperor Hirohito’s Imperial Army in the Pacific War (Holsinger 40). With these decisive victories came responsibility, especially to influential individuals in the country (Rockwell included) to depict the ideals of this great nation and to ensure that they are firmly entrenched in every American.  Rockwell was exceptional in telling unique American experiences of values and culture using print media as his means of disseminating his profound message. It was these timeless scenes that were eventually distribute around the nation and became treasured collections. He was showing the America he knew to those who did not know it.

One of his most popular paintings is Saying Grace, painted in 1951. It is a painting that often evokes a string of emotions among many Americans. The painting depicts a young boy and a woman (most probably his mother) saying grace at their table in a crowded diner. It was the vivid imagery with which he painted this picture that often moves many (Stoltz 105). The theme of the painting from the picture is that of reverence. The boy and his mother are pictured deep in prayer with reverence also exuding from all the other members of the public that had gathered in the diner during this day. It was a direct depiction of an American family, one which is always thankful for what it has while acknowledging that this providence is by the grace of a higher power, God. In all the hustle and bustle that a 1950s typical American family would go through, giving thanks was also part of the regimen in this part of the world and could never be forgotten. It is true that the first people to settle in the Northern America from Europe wee Puritans seeking a safe haven where they could be free to practice their pure form of Christianity as they saw fit (Crothers 56). The persecution that they had experienced in Britain had forced them to travel across the high sea to this new land where they where they were now able to have the freedom of worship as they wished. It was from these first pilgrims that the Christian tradition was entrenched in the American culture together with Thanks Giving, as did the first pilgrims when they had their first bountiful harvest in the New World wrought with many seen and unforeseen dangers. All those present in the diner have their focus on the pair deep in prayer, depicting popular American culture and the ideals that were at the core of every single American.

In Saying Grace, Rockwell was successful in giving an elaborate insight into the perfect idyllic American family. Respect for authority was prevalent, especially in close-knit family units. Rockwell’s painting thus captures the image of the intricacies that exist within family life that was well-functioning and pronounced.  A central theme in the picture is the adoration of family and religion as the two most important things in the life of every American. The picture can be contrasted with the situation that was presently being experienced in the Soviet Union where the ideology present then was geared towards the elimination of religion while spreading atheistic propaganda that in most cases ridiculed the Orthodox Christians that were present in the country and also going to the extent of confiscating church property as a means to harass believers. Most notable of them all was the Marxist- Leninist policy of teaching atheistic principals in schools while consistently suppressing, controlling and outlawing all religions that were popular at the time (Luehrmann 47).  These religions were seen as “backward” by the state and were to be eliminated with immediate effect using all means possible. The Communist Party, in particular, was notorious for supporting these activities which create a controlled society where the hearts and minds of the citizens were controlled.  Rockwell’s painting was an accurate depiction of life in the United States. All the ideals depicted by the subjects in the picture mirror those of an ideal American family in its purest form and not stereotypical in any sense. Rockwell was simply depicting life as he knew it in this intriguing country that had come a long way to establish itself in the global high table.

Advertisements Drawing on Elements of Subcultures to Appropriate The Cool Factor


Consumerism has emerged as one of the most dominant forces in the 21st-century market. A strong urge to conform is largely to blame for its steady rise as individuals who find themselves in various subcultures strive to be accepted fully as authentic members. In an industrialized world of alpha consumers, “cool kids” and pseudo-cool persons paying attention to the elements that make up a subculture can determine the brands success or failure in the market. A widely accepted fact is that these alpha consumers more often than not band together in a cooperative gesture to fully embrace consumerism through the brands that they identify with. “Cool” becomes an aspect that can now be purchased for those loyal enough to follow the trendsetters (Parsons & Maclaran, 2011, p. 91). Over the years, the mainstream has made concerted efforts to co-opt this “cool” factor in their marketing and advertisement campaigns while presenting their brands and in time creating a following that equates “coolness” with being fashionable. Companies that were in tune with what was in vogue amongst many of the subcultures that exist in society became aware of the fact that the “cool” factor was the greatest advertising goldmine.

If utilized in the right way, tapping into the full potential of what is considered “cool” by subcultures could possibly catapult these firms to greatness. Moreover, a subculture such as that of the hipsters that presents an anti-establishment image has also been the focus of mass media advertisements as it represents the figure of a modern day cultural rebel. These individuals seem to resist the mandates of civilization with enterprising firms taking advantage of this perceived “coolness” to facilitate the subcultures rebellion by producing consumer goods specific to them. The purpose of this argumentative essay is thus to provide an elaborate depiction of the relationship that exists between advertising and the “cool” factor. To aid this elucidation, three advertisements will be analyzed; Beyonce and Tina Knowles appearance in the “Got Milk?” campaign, Harley-Davidson print advertisement and the 2008 Converse Connectivity campaign.

Example1 : Beyonce and Tina Knowles in the “Got Milk?” campaign

The image above would catch the eye of anyone familiar with pop culture. Beyonce is a popular celebrity who since 1997 has been prolific in churning out hit singles and albums for her loyal fans. In the advertisement, a young radiant Beyonce has one knee on the couch while her other leg crosses that of her mother Tina who is seated next to her holding her by the waist. Tina is holding a tall glass of milk while they both stare directly at the viewer with a stripe of milk residue on their upper lips. “Got Milk?”Campaign began in 1993 as a pilot project of Goodby Silverstein &Partners advertising agency for the then California Milk Processor Board to encourage the consumption of cow’s milk among Americans. From a marketing perspective, the aim of the advertisements was to increase milk sales through the strategic use influential campaigns and commodity brands (Arenofsky, 2009, p. 57). The signature “Milk Moustache” became its logo with many celebrities coming on board to bolster these efforts (Keller, 2013). Beyonce and Tina Knowles were among the many celebrities who graced this print advertisement, faces that were very familiar the viewers. These two celebrities are well known and their appearance in the campaign reassures those viewing it as most people know them and as a result, find it easy to trust them.

Furthermore, by featuring Beyonce’s mother, the advertisement introduces a new twist; family values. The advertisements emotional appeal is strengthened by Beyonce’s reminiscing on how she always wanted to grow into a woman similar to her own mother. These sentiments are made clear by the advertisement as they are pictured together side by side. Facts about the nutritional value of milk are also featured in the advertisement including little-known facts about weight loss. To aficionados of pop culture who idolize Beyonce, such a campaign would go a long way in encouraging them to increase their consumption of milk. In addition to this, the catch phrase in the advertisement gives a factual slogan that drinking milk regularly can actually help one lose weight. Young girls and women seem to be the target audience of the campaign with Beyonce being the epitome of the person they would want to become.

Example 2: Harley-Davidson print advertisement

The image above is that of a Harley-Davison motorcycle advertisement intended to depict what the company stands for; freedom.  Gentleman dressed casually in his biker jacket, blue jeans and boots rides his motorcycle while the lady sitting behind holds on to him. They seem to be riding in a freeway devoid of traffic enhancing their sense of new freedom. It is through such advertisements that Harley-Davidson has been able to command loyalty in its consumers. The freedom that it represents is mostly aimed at individuals who identified as hippies in the 1960’s and the modern day hipster (Rollin, Pineo & Mommer, 2012, p.23). The common denominator in these two groups of people is their desire to live life to the fullest in freedom and without any restrictions. To them, experiencing freedom is best done behind the wheel of an 800-pound Harley-Davison motorcycle that ultimately creates a primal connection with its rider. It is for this reason that both men and women have coveted this brand of motorcycle for over 110 years with a brand loyalty that is second to none. The Harley- Davidson motorcycle company views life as a journey contrary to views held by those who suggest that life is a destination.

Consumers who view this advertisement would be of the opinion that riding on a Harley-Davison motorcycle would make them feel like “rebels”. To them, this is a new an alien concept, especially if they are the typical soccer mom, office-bound Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or lawyer. It doesn’t matter who the person is or what background they come from. As soon as they are on a Harley-Davison, they feel like defiant hipster rebels ready to live life to the fullest and experience all that it has to offer them (Noel, 2009, p. 48). The brand thus creates a personal identity in those who choose to embrace it, allowing them to be their truest self by giving them the much-needed freedom. The brand also encourages those who intending to ride them to escape the monotony of routine and live life like the legends that they are. The Harley-Davidson motorcycle company has also enjoyed the loyalty of its customers as a result of “Harley lifestyle” that they offer to their target market ( Schultz, 2009, p. 107). Harley Owners Group (HOG), as it is fondly referred to, is a group of hard-core target owners instrumental in fostering camaraderie among all the members creating a deep emotional connection with this consumer product.

Example 3: The 2008 Converse “Connectivity” campaign

The image above depicts a Converse sneaker billboard in Berlin, Germany that was part of the 2008 “Connectivity” advertisement campaign. In the image presented to the audience, celebrities ranging from Joan Jett, Greenday. Sid Vicious to James Dean are all standing in a horizontal line with their legs apart. The only thing that they seem to have in common is the Converse sneakers that they are all sporting as their feet overlap. The Converse sneaker logo is placed at the periphery of the black and white images. In 2008, Converse launched this campaign during the celebration of their hundredth anniversary to celebrate the rich legacy that the brand represented while the shoes design remained relatively the same. The print advertisement is in black and white while being presented outdoors to reach a younger demographic. In the image, influential artists from the past and those that a reign presently appear in the advertisement and were use to emphasize Converse as a conduit for connectedness (Ries & Trout, 2001). All campaigns have a mission that they intend to achieve. That of the 2008 “Connectivity” campaign was to encourage the younger generation of teens to leave the mainstream behind and do their utmost to be unique in all ways possible.

In the 1960’s the footwear was associated with grunge and punk subculture. Musicians were the ambassadors of this new way of life often wearing the Converse sneaker as their symbol. Bands such as Nirvana and The Ramones had their members dressing in this brand to further push agenda of their subculture. The brand later took advantage of this opportunity to use these idols of music in advertising it and showing how it connected them all to each other. A sense of community is created by the advertisement which seems to transcend time as the musicians come from different eras (Lantos, 2015, p. 23). It is the Converse sneaker brand that links these eras figuratively and literally while presenting a personalized format of advertisements. All individuals depicted in the billboard represent the type of person that would most likely purchase Converse sneakers. The role of the artists is to provide a link between the merchandise in question and its subsequent recommendation. In the Converse sneaker “Connectivity” campaign the consumer is likely to be attracted “cool” factor as the footwear seems to be endorsed by influential musicians.


Advertisements take up the task of cultural intermediaries when marketing strategist use subcultures and the elements found in them to appropriate a sense of coolness that most consumers are drawn to. Whether it is Beyonce and Tina Knowles in the “Got Milk?” campaign, Harley-Davidson Advertisements or Converse sneakers “Connectivity” campaign, subcultures are studied and their elements use to create a sense of “coolness” if one decides to switch to the brand. The high sign value that celebrities, feminist sensibilities, nostalgia and fringe music genres have been used in advertisements as it these groups that are most likely to depict a “cool” factor from a subculture.

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The Child by Tiger by Thomas Wolfe Vs The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell

A Comparison of “The Child by Tiger” by Thomas Wolfe and “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell

Although written by two starkly different authors, Thomas Wolfe’s “The Child by Tiger” and Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” are two works of literature from the short story genre that can be put side by side in comparison. Both writers lived nearly during the same epoch but led contrasting lives.  Thomas Wolfe (1900 -38) was a native of Asheville in North Carolina, a locality in which he spent the entirety of his life before succumbing to miliary tuberculosis. Richard Connell (1893- 1949) was an “urban folk”, born and bred in New York. He was an alumnus of Harvard University and a veteran of The Great War (1914-18) fighting for the United States Army in France. Both men lived lives that were poles apart and culturally dissimilar; a fact that accounts for their different literary approaches.  The purpose of this essay is to provide a clear comparison of the two short stories, analyzing their similarities and differences.

To start with, both novels have male protagonists who lead lives that are contradictory to what they claim to stand for. Take, for example, General Zaroff in Connells “The Most Dangerous Game”. As a Cossack who claims descent from an aristocratic Russian family, he strictly adheres to a cultured life full of civility. His life is littered with modern conveniences in addition to living in a chateau where meals served to him, in the same manner, as they would have back at home or in the Czar’s court. He even remarks to Sanger Rainsford, “we do our best to preserve the amenities of civilization here, please forgive any lapses. We are well of the beaten track you know” (Connell 13).It is thus ironic that a man who admits that he hunts fellow human beings for sport would be so concerned with every ounce of civility. Similarly, Dick Prosser, the protagonist in Wolfe’s “The Child by Tiger” lives a life converse to the principles that his religion has firmly etched in him. Throughout the story, he is constantly in prayer while reading his Bible (Wolfe, et al. 332). Incongruity sets in when he goes on a killing spree, committing grave acts of brutality when it is clear that the Sixth Commandment from the same Bible that he draws his piety from, strictly forbids murder. He is in an active state of cognitive dissonance.

The differences that exist between the two short stories can trace their roots in the literary approach used to mold them. Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game”  in literary circles, is what many refer to as escape literature. In using this approach, the author writes their work for the sheer pleasure of it to make their reader aware of their surroundings. Sanger Rainsford succinctly describes his environment; from the raging high sea to the lush jungle that he has to cut through to reach the General Zaroff’s house. Additionally, the General is a well traveled and read gentleman who describes all his hunting excursions together with his quarry in great detail (Gale 65).The story leaves its readers with an ending that is rather playful and in suspense when they now have grapple with whether Sanger Rainsford decided to finally kill the man who was hunting him, or he simply left. Wolfe’s “The Child by Tiger” is a prime example of interpretive literature, whose sole goal is push the reader to ponder about life and educate them on aspects that they would normally want to evade (Mauldin 19). Wolfe presents an educative story that seeks to help the reader understand that every man has his own demons and darkness is a common denominator amongst them all. Dick Prosser act of mass murder was premeditated. He had indicated this in the Bible that he was so fond off and was aware that he would soon be on his way “walking through the valley of death” (Johnson 200). In true interpretive literature fashion, Dick Prosser’s death is not how the story ends. The readers are suddenly reverberations when new characters are introduced who relished taking part in the hunt and even brag about it.

In conclusion, The Child by Tiger” by Thomas Wolfe and “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell are two short stories that were masterfully crafted by two skillful authors. In them, we find both similarities and differences in the approach use to present the story and how the plot builds. What is common, however, is the creativity that both authors use to provide the reader with a true masterpiece of literature.


Paul McCarteny’s “Penny Lane” Vs Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill”

A Comparison of Paul McCarteny’s “Penny Lane” (1967) and Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill” (2017).

Today, if one turns on the popular radio stations chances are that you are likely to listen to today’s “mainstream” music. Most of these songs are likable, with catchy lyrics and a great beat making them great hits among teenagers in this new generation. In some instances, one would come across a song from a different era but quite similar to the popular songs that have been ruled the airwaves and topped charts. Conversely, it also possible to come across stark differences in the manner in which the songs were written back then and in the worst case scenario one might sample music from artists who may have forgotten the most crucial components of songwriting, the mark of a truly talented artist. A few decades back, during the 60s, 70s or even 80s lots of talented bands, for instance, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and Nirvana became international hits with their songs becoming classics. Most of these bands wrote their own music with real depth. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to stumble upon musicians who use auto-tune and synthesizers, something that would be considered an insult in these formative years. For the purpose of this essay, I will compare and contrast two songs from two different eras; Paul McCarteny’s “Penny Lane” (1967) and Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill” (2017).

In comparing Paul McCarteny’s “Penny Lane”(1967) and Ed Sheeran’s “Castle Hill”(2017), one thing certainly stands out; the fact that both songs, even though from different eras, but with visions of childhood reminisce.  Penny lane was a song born out of McCarteny’s urge to his own vision of nostalgia. For him, it is a trip down memory lane and most specifically through his hometown of Liverpool. In the song, he recollects the various places that he would go to during his youth mentioning Bioletti, a barbershop that had an assortment haircut designs and, most importantly, St. Barnabas Church, the site he started singing as a choirboy. He sings with a feeling of great delight throughout this “baroque pop” while his visionary spirit battles to counter pain and remorse. The song’s video ends with John Lennon, who had been waltzing through the busy streets of London, reuniting with the band at a picnic park. Similarly, Ed Sheeran also reminisces about his teenage years in his hometown of Framlingham, in England. In particular, the song’s video features a younger looking Ed Sheraaan who seen acting out the song’s lyrics; his first kiss, smoking cigarettes that were hand-rolled and sharing beers. The song also ends with Ed meeting up with some of his childhood friends and sharing a beer in the present.

The two songs differ in the manner and quality of production. Paul McCarteny’s “Penny Lane” was first released in 1967 at a time when the production houses such as Abbey Road Studio where new equipment was being tried for the first time in the field of music recording. It is important to note that in this particular single, the recording was most likely done by a live band inside the Abbey Road Studio. The evidence of this can be seen at the chorus where the other band members are forced to join in to provide harmonies for the melody. Additionally, whenever McCarteny mentions the fireman in his lyrics, a hand bell is heard in the background and chances are that it was done manually during a live recording session. Conversely, Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill” (2017) features a more modern approach to recording, pitch shifting. Benny Blanco, Ed’s co-writer and producer for this song, adds a vocal track on the melody at the chorus to harmonize it add depth to it. Traditionally, this was not an option for many songwriters but is now done by many lead vocalists, Ed Sheraan included, to save on time and cost of recording. Improvements in the field of digital audio technology now enable musicians to take a simple shortcut when they want to add a harmony to the track.

Visions Of Childhood Reminiscence In The Song “Penny Lane” By Paul Mccarteney Vs In “Strawberry Fields Forever” By John Lennon

A Comparison of  visions of childhood reminiscence  in the songs, “Penny Lane” by Paul McCarteney and “Strawberry Fields Forever” by  John Lennon

In an anthology solely in dedication to the Beatles, George Martin did lament that one of the biggest mistakes of his life was not putting the “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields” records together in the Sgt. Pepper LP. These two songs were responsible for providing two visions of childhood reminisce that were in contrast to each other, but striking a chord with all those who heard them. Paul McCarteny and John Lennon were in the same musical outfit but with different perspectives, outlooks, and styles of writing music. Talent seems to ooze out of these musical icons, as is evident in the cult following that they now enjoy across the globe from an array of loyal fans. The purpose of this essay is to comment on the difference in tone, influence, and vision that these songs had and how artists from the same band could exhibit such compositional disparity.

                        “Strawberry Fields Forever” by  John Lennon

Strawberry  Fields Forever was written in 1966 by John Lennon when filming How I Won The War in Almeria, Spain. Paul would later describe this song as his “secret garden”, alluding to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe fantasy children’s novel. Apart from the tangible detail given away by the title, the remainder of the song is an interior monolog where Lennon is, in a way, drifting in and out of thoughts surgically. Its recording was done in Abbey Road Studio and became one of the most elaborate recordings ever done by The Beatles. The song consists of a relay of several cellos, backward cymbals, trumpets, mellotron and a svarmandal (an Indian zither with descending raga scales during the end of choruses).

John Lennon’s song is a nostalgic childhood memory. Strawberry Field was a Salvation  Army orphanage located in Woolton, about five minutes from his childhood home. During his holidays, he would be enthused by the Salvation Army brass band would play and later came to realize that it was made up of children from the orphanage. In some way, he now knew that those children, little girls in white and blue dresses, straw boaters draped with red ribbons were orphans just like him. It is important to acknowledge that this song is not simply a playground for Lennon but also serves as his spiritual home.Additionally, the song seems was his ultimate Heartbreak Hotel. During the early stages of John Lennon’s compositions, his songs were an attempt at forging a beautiful dream out of the grim nightmare of having to grow up in a post-war Liverpool(Lennon and Davies ). He has to also endure the tragic loss of his mother and in the song happens to find a nightmare hidden within the dreamy nature that characterizes it. “Strawberry Fields Forever” is thus a clash that occurs between one ineffable dream and an apparent countervailing nightmare. It is life as it presently is versus life in a dream. Lennon also takes one to a forlorn past that is anxiety and search for relief and his true self.

After a soft opening by a mellotron, Lennon mournfully states that he would want to take the listener “down to a place”. The place doesn’t sound like it is necessarily in his mind and in a way sounds like a mystical void. Lennon has his full attention set on what he is saying. He was able to declare the paradox of his true nature and burdened with the fact that he was alone as a boy and also as a man of great creativity (Mäkelä 34). Many agree with the calim that during this period of his life, Lennon felt like he was entering a new world. The world  that he was now entering, would correspond closely with that inside him, and as an adult, he often associated such moments of utter bliss with the childhood that he lost together with a feeling of psychadelia that was surprisingly drug free. The song evolves and subsequently takes the blues song in to a new dreamy and elliptical ballad. Furthermore, is eerily evocative and memorable, able to plunge one into a descent in the maelstrom of an unconscious mind. Lennon’s voice reveals a performer doing his level best to sing to the world with a hungry desire to be freed from a pain that seems inescapable (Whiteley ). His determination is that of an individual who wants to let others to take a trip with him to the past where he lived a life of uncertainity and how this woukd later shape the character he had. Lennon’s intent was to appeal to the listeners compassion  while at the same time telling his own personal story,as raw as it was.


“Penny Lane” by Paul McCarteney

            It was Paul McCarteny’s wish to also contribute a heavier personal nostalgic view after Lennon had written a whole labyrinthine cram of his childhood. Penny Lane was thus born out of McCarteney’s urge to have his own version of nostalgia. McCarteny’s song is a cheerful trip down memory lane through Liverpool. David Mason, a trumpeter and piccolo player, with the London Philharmonia was also featured in the song and gives this jaunty song a flourishing finish. In the song, McCarney recollects all the places he went to during his youth but in an ironic twist, none of the things that he happens list can be found in Penny Lane where he spent his childhood. Curiously, it was John Lennon and his parents who once lived on the streets (Lennon, et al. ). The street in the song got its name from John Penny who was a slave-ship owner from the eighteenth-century. Furthermore, McCarteny mentions a barbershop by the name Bioletti’s  that always had a collection of various haircuts and St. Barnabus Church, an area where he was a choir boy.

McCartreny also revisits the past in his song, just like John Lennon did in “Strawberry Fields Forever”, only that he is less opaque. To him, childhood is a comfort zone that offers happy memories, contrary to Lennon’s picture of sorrow and confusion. Lennon’s song represents a riveting dirge, but McCarteny’s is a form of baroque pop that is, needless to say, quite bright. David Mason also provides a trumpet solo in the song’s bridge. Many say that Paul’s approach was due to the fact that he was “born” an entertainer. Such was the case when he decided to look back into the past with the sole intention of presenting the past according to his own unique style, the way he would have wanted it to be. McCarteny sings with an aura of great delight throughout the song, whether he is remembering the banker who had a motorcar or while making out with a girl. In addition, this song brings McCarteny’s visionary spirit to the forefront during his effortless quest to counter his pain and remorse (Poirier 24). He is aching to experience the beauty that is life. The video of this song is similarly simple where John Lennon is seen waltzing through east London’s busy streets, then eventually reuniting with the rest of the group for a picnic and horse-riding at the park.

Modern day Hipsters Vs Their Previous Incarnations

In the complicated world of subcultures, none has permeated the present day culture like the hipsters. From young people walking in the busy streets of major cities, movie actors to popular musicians, the traces of this subculture are quite evident, perhaps signifying the dominance that it intends to enjoy. As a subculture, the hipster movement comprises mainly of youth who hail from gentrifying neighborhoods. Most notably, it is associated primarily with alternative lifestyles, organic foods, political views that are progressive, a fashion sensibility that is not mainstream, vintage clothing and alternative or indie music. A large demographic of those who subscribe to this subculture are mostly White Caucasian individuals who have made a home for themselves in urban environments. To many who are disciples of this movement, the mutating aspect of the assortment of tastes, styles, and behavior make is what makes the subculture what it is today. The term was derived from other movements that were present in the 1940s, most notably, the hippies but gained prominence in the United States and around the world in the late 2000s(Kellogg  380). To the core members of this subculture, the hipster term is pejorative as it is mainly used to describe a pretentious individual and thus they avoid self-identifying as such. It is, however, important to note that many scholars well versed in subcultures have noted with sheer fascination that lately, the modern hipster has become more of a “marketplace myth’’. Such is the case as a two-way relationship has emerged with a value system and worldview that mostly seeks consumers that are indie-oriented.

Out of all the previous subcultures that came before the hipsters, it is from the hippie movement that it was thought to have specifically evolved from. The hippie subculture began in the mid-1960s by youth who were opposed to the United State’s war in Vietnam. It then spread from the United States rapidly to other countries, especially those in Europe. Hippies would don ubiquitous psychedelic colors and clothes with peace signs. Those in this movement would resort to creating their own communities listening to psychedelic music and would in some instances use psychotropic substances such as “magic mushrooms”. To the hippies, the main purpose of living was to first know the purpose of life on earth. It is only then that one would get to know their purpose and fulfill their purpose devoid of the Western culture that had invaded every single facet of life as they knew it. Societal restrictions were ignored by hippies, basing their argument on the belief that human beings deserved to live life a life of freedom. One distinguishing characteristic of hippies in the society was their communal living arrangement, the practice of holistic music and vegetarian diets.

Out of all the previous incarnations of hipsters, it was the hippies that formed the largest nonpolitical subgroup that was hell-bent on initiating a counterculture in the society. The counterculture movement of the 1950s through to the 1960s advocated for social change and harshly criticized visible developments in the society.  For instance, the New Left group was made up of individuals who believed that the United States government was not interested in looking into the needs of the common man and urged young people to join their efforts of political action. Later on, the group focused on non-violent anti-Vietnam War campaign that was meant to dissuade the President Nixon administration from waging any form of conflict. Other groups that were precursors of the hipster movement focused on pressuring the government to ensure that there are equal Civil Rights for Native Americans, Hispanics, and African Americans(Moretta 12). The Civil Rights movement was the visible expression of this movement and was inclusive of individuals from all races, sexual orientations, and sex. Moreover, other groups would later take on the role of supporting women’ rights by using dissenting political means such as calling for new legislation, protest and other direct means that did not shy away from facing the issues head on. The purpose of this research paper is to analyze the modern hipster movements, how it is influenced, produced and presently while comparing it to other incarnations that came before it.

The modern hipster movement; its influences, production, and presentation in comparison to earlier incarnations

Presently, the world that we live in is connected thanks to globalization, exchange of goods and the development of new media technologies. Structural changes that have taken place over the last two decades. The evolution of subcultures often occurs through dominant symbols and meanings. Subcultures are also affected by the dynamics in a society that is constantly changing as they have to respond to the greater mass population. Hipsters fit in this category as a subset with members that follow the latest fashion and trends, especially cultures that are not in the mainstream. Apart from their dress code, individuals in this group embrace independent thinking, a progressive brand of politics and an open mind when dealing with controversial issues that present themselves in this modern society. Gone are the days when hippies would be ostracized from mainstream society due to their outright rebellion as the millennial hipster presently makes a conscious effort to be different just for the sake of it. In actual sense, hipsters have now come to the mainstream which is a different approach from that used by those subcultures that came before it. Instead of following a policy of isolation from the rest of society and leading their seemingly “cool” way of life, modern hipsters have become consumers of the “cool” factor instead of creating it as did their sub-cultural ancestors. It is also important to remember that the sister movement is of a relatively modern design which mostly depends on the availability of new social and media technology in order to share their opinions and way of living with the rest of the world.

Hipsters can be identified by their unique clothing style. To any hipster, the clothes they wear and how they appear in public is quite important to them. They use their attire as an indication of their creativity and the individualism that they possess in style. Keeping up with hipsters and their dress code can be a difficult undertaking as trends always seem to change by the day and vary from one region to another. It is also worth acknowledging that there are certain clothing brands that have fully established themselves in the mainstream arena and are now embraced by hipsters. Similarly, there are brands that are developed and directly aimed at the hipsters as the target market. Such is the case with Apple products            (MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads) which have a mass following among members of this subculture. However, such a phenomenon poses controversial questions on whether the modern hipster has simply died and been absorbed by the mainstream. Additionally, there have been numerous occasions when hipsters have been used as advertisement tools by brands such as American Apparel that was made popular by these individuals.

In terms of cultural preference, hipsters have been known to hold the aspect of their cultural capital dear. A unique cultural taste is typical of hipsters as they more often than not, look down upon most of those items liked by the mainstream. Conversely, during the hippie movement in the 60s, subculture was dominated by a large population of creative people many of whom were either poets, authors, artists or musicians. A major difference is that during the formative days of these earlier movements, there were idols that would be looked up to, but contemporary hipsters do less in terms of creating their own style.

(Aiello and Shultz 19) They make it a primary goal to discover and adopt new art while enjoying paintings, sculptures, and books. Furthermore, to hipsters an individual’s cultural preference represents their preference, making them quite specific when making a selection. Hipsters often chose music that mirrors their personality and overall taste. As a cultural symbol, music is prominent in their lives, shaping their eccentric wardrobe and personalities to match it. This is in line with their way of living as the use their preferences without paying much attention to their personalities. They also distance themselves from popular movies as they take pride in their act of showing utter disdain four Holywood movies that might feature stars such as Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, Robin Williams and Tom Hanks.

In terms they the political affiliations, hipsters have by large been considered as anti-political. The lack of active political participation by hipsters may have been caused by their failed actions during the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in 1999 and a similar confrontation when they opposed the incursion into Iraq in 2003. In essence, this might be the reason why hipsters often embrace a rebellious tone as they might have realized that it is quite difficult for them to effect political change as did their contemporaries from former generations(Sreenivasan 168). Presently, most hipsters avoid topics that have politics as their subject matter as they are fully aware that they wield very little influence over those in power. Another item that is dear to the modern hipsters is their connotations and self-representation that they present to the rest of the world by means of signs. The image becomes key in such a setting as it defines a particular individual. The focus on the attention that they can get from people with no concern as to whether it is negative or positive. What is important to them is how people perceive them when in public or in social media spaces where they interact with other individuals. They would see it fit, to use the internet to create blogs where discussions would entail reviews of anything from music, fashion to food. A faster and simpler way is the use of Twitter and Facebook and people can view these pictures in real time. Most of these photos are usually edited, most notably on Instagram. These images act as advertisements that may be designed to send linguistic symbolic or literal messages.

Commercialization of the Hipster Aesthetic

There are numerous occasions presently which depict the attack surveillance and appropriation by usurpers that hipsters experience. To many, they are a fringe movement that simply does not fit into proper society. They are also criticized and given tags such as “nonconformist posers” facing accusations of judging the general public while they themselves try their own form of in-group conformity. It is true the visibility and identification of a hipster are mainly through their performative consumption as their expressions depict their taste in activities, clothing, and music. In order for a subculture to exist and persist globally, mechanisms must be followed to develop the behavioral, material and aesthetic aspect that end up defining the group(Magill 34). These standards include the norms, meanings, and negotiations that bring forth participation of this shared enterprise to a larger audience. It is the collaboration of hipsters that ensures the survival of their outfit and avoidance of infiltration by posers. Commercial actors play a big role in promoting the hipster movement in the forms of cultural magazines, indie bands, blogs, retail stores, music festivals and email subscription lists. These intricate networks also include consumers who are buying these products and also end up promoting these very organizations. One such actor is Vice which has been a major actor during the formative years of this movement. Presently, the magazine has more than 1million print readers in about thirteen countries and often features stories about the pop culture and independent arts that are often written with an uncanny air of irreverence and sarcasm.

Vice magazine has one sole aim in as far as the hipster movement is concerned; to create more readership in as many countries as possible in order to ensure that people understand what the hipster culture is all about. Their website also features American Apparel ads that have been posted on their homepage with other sets of affiliate mini-sites dealing with information about music, fashion, and current events. A controversial and yet popular part of this site contains a page named “Dos and Don’ts”. Basically, it contains photos of everyday individuals that have been captured during random encounters in the streets and uploaded. The controversial bit involves the spectators labeling them on whether they failed or succeeded in “looking cool”. A comments section thus allows all members who associate with this culture to give their two cents about an individual’s fashion sense and in so doing participate in the process of establishing rules and norms. It is this type of participation that users are able to negotiate boundaries in the subculture and thus generating standards that will be used as a guide to consumption choices. It is vital to note that these same standards can lead to the cropping up of new communities as standards are the building blocks of all societies. Standards in a society constitute agreed upon scripts, meanings and rules used in governing relationships and guiding behavior. They are successful in greatly simplifying the very environment they find themselves in by embodying highly abbreviated or compressed information. Adopted standards also constrain choices y signaling opportunities as it allows for the cooperation that will occur between it and the coordinated behavior.

Even more interesting is the fact that the “Dos and Don’ts” section in the magazine serves as a display of negotiation between hipsters on an online space on what normative behavior they should follow in order strengthen the position of their subculture. Additionally, the post found on this site together with the out-group and in-group spectators of the status. Those who benefit are those individuals that have been isolated geographically from the urban neighborhoods and all their trappings where most of these photos are captured. It is this form of commercial coordination that keeps the standard of the trend current as they have to negotiate with developing coalitions, negotiating with one’s competitor and in other occasions, adding new members(Leidner 45). The norms, standards, and rules that are created through collaboration are vital in combating the ever-present threat of diffusion which always threatens to smother an existent trend. During the hippie days, there was no social media for those individuals who lived during this epoch. They did not want to conform or be accepted into the mainstream society and would rather have their own enclave and live the life that they desired. Their opinions differed greatly from those of individuals in the mainstream and the only way they could voice their opinions was through holding protests. Although considered an archaic of presenting one’s view, it got their point across but in a slower fashion and to a smaller population. Messages posted online via that internet using usually reach a wider target market with the global level links serving as the vital links needed to seal geographical structural holes.

Over the years, a consumption oriented subcultures have developed into an analytical category that helps corporations understand their consumers and how they organize their lives. Recognizing the product categories, consumption activities and brands may serve as a basis for social cohesion and interaction between individuals. The ascribed social categories found in society can be easily solved by using this consumer culture. An example is that of the ethnographic study carried out by James H. McAlexander and John W. Schouten into the inner workings of the hipster subculture and the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The uniqueness of the study is in the fact that both researchers first became members of an outfit thus giving them an insider’s view of this subculture and the consumerism that brought it into being. Subcultures have developed symbiotic relationships with marketing institutions that depict their dominant values, revealing symbolic behavior and social structure(“SUBCULTURES OF CONSUMPTION – AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF THE NEW BIKERS”). The most profound organizing forces in contemporary life are all those activities directly related to the interpersonal relationships that people share in order to give meaning to their lives. It the consumption choices made by individuals that also end up connecting individuals from many different backgrounds and in so doing creating a subculture of consumption. It is the Harley-Davidson brand, for instance, that has brought bikers together into one cohesive group as they all share this brand. They have a shared commitment to the brand that in turn allows them to create a hierarchical social structure that cannot de defy by its members.

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Painting Analysis : Wanderer above the Sea of fog by Casper David Friedrich and Inwangjesakdo by Jeong Seon


For the longest time, nature drawings have been one of the popular as an observational form that appeals to Eastern and Western artists. From Nature drawings, both sides of artists depicted not only the realistic and magnificent view but also the expression of their minds and emotions. However, there was a significant difference between Eastern and Western artist. They approached nature with a different point of view. Take for example Wanderer above the Sea of Fog from Casper David Friedrich. Its depiction of plentiful air and fog gives depth to this art piece and a wanderer is positioned at the center. This kind of composition leads our eyes to focus more to a wanderer than nature.Western art, most humans are in the middle of nature. Additionally, their arts express the perception of subjective emotion as well. In contrast, Inwangjesakdo from Jeong Seon depicts only nature and it seems like nature embraces human. Moreover, it describes the magnificent detail with unique brush skills. Western nature drawings show human beings can go beyond nature and Eastern drawings show nature as a great existence that can’t be overcome.

Description of Wanderer above the Sea of Fog painting by Casper David Friedrich

The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog is a German Romantic art oil painting that was completed in 1818.  The medium of the painting is oil on canvas, with its dimension measuring 98.4 cm by 74.8 cm. The painting features a foreground where a young man is seen standing on a rocky crag. His back faces the viewer and is dressed in a dark green overcoat while gripping a walking cane in his right hand. The Wind catches his hair as he gazes out into the landscape before him. The middle ground that is before him also comprises of several other ridges, but different from the one he is standing on. Wreaths of fog cover the forest of trees before him and can be perceived from the top of the escarpment. In the distant horizon, faded mountains can be seen rising from the left side and gently leveling into the lowlands on the eastern side.

The painting’s composition contains elements derived from Elbe Sandstone Mountains that are found in Bohemia and Saxony. The mountain on the left side of the painting could most probably be Kaltenberg or Rosenberg. The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog stuck closely to the Romantic style, similar to other works by Friedrich such as The Sea of Ice and Chalk Cliffs on Rugen. It is important to acknowledge that painting represents a form of Kantian self-reflection, evident in the wanderer’s gaze into the murky sea of fog that is before him. It seems to represent a metaphor for the wanderer’s unknown future. The Romantic perspective of the world is first and foremost inspired by imagination’s emotive power. In doing so, an artist would be able to reach an understanding of nature and themselves. A painter thus paints not only what he sees before him but also that which is inside him. The Kantian idealism used in the Wanderer above the Sea of Fog painting seeks to express the artist’s receptiveness and looks beyond the interiors of royal palaces and into the wild landscapes. It creates a world of scale, space, and motion in the painter’s artistic imagination.

                                    Description of the Inwangjesakdo painting by Jeong Seon

The Inwangjesakdo painting by Jeong Seon is an ink on paper painting painted in 1751 during the sway of Joseon Dynasty King Yeongjo. The title of the painting translates literally to “After Rain at Mt. Inwang” which was the artist’s portrayal of the of the mountain after the mountain had cleared (Young). The artist is clearly in touch with the environment that surrounds him and makes an attempt to give a depiction of the beauty present in the Korean Peninsula. The genuine paintings of where Jeong Seon lived was responsible for the creation of a genuine Korean Style of painting. Landscapes feature prominently in East Asian art as they are greatly revered by these people. The landscape represents painters codified illustration of a human perspective of nature.

The painting style in Inwangjesakdo features a prominent mountain looming in the backdrop of an idyllic scene of numerous trees. It is important to that painting of the Korean landscape and native sites were non-existent before Seon’s work. He poignantly presents an accurate depiction of Mount Inwang in Seoul with a cropped composition. The bold and sweeping brushwork used has been vital in capturing that moment when the said moment emerges from the mist. In a way, this painting also a sign of hope that there is always an end to tumultuous times and that there is a silver lining to every cloud. Additionally, Korean Confucianism is present in Seon’s work, through the presentation of an art for that appreciates all the aspects of the universe, living or non-living. Seon is clearly marveled by the beauty of the landscape around him. His own perception of the beauty that lies before him is brought into being by his paintings as an acknowledgment its uniqueness.

Korean art ,traditionally borrows a lot of its aesthetics from Chinesse and and Japanesse art through the use of similar motifs,forms, techniques and concepts. All these elements were blended I with Korean Confucianiusm to create art that was very distinct. The uniqueness of Seons Korean art lies in his understated simplicity, sponeinity and harmony with nature. His art is one that centres mainly on naturalism, which is noticeable through thre period of theThree Kingdoms (c.57 BCE-668). The simple practice of accepting ones nature as sit is, leads Seon to create a work of art that people can develop an appreciation for the arts and their surroundings. There is evidence of a detailed monochromatic art as per Korean Confucianiusm. A class-based distinction was often made, where one was only allowed to see colour in succinct momochromatic paintings. Authors of  in the Korean society were of the opinion that Confucian art was to be viewed within certain gradations because, according to them, the use of color woukd coarsen the paintings and restrict ones imagination.

                        A comparison of the paintings

Both the Wanderer above the Sea of Fog and Inwangjesakdo paintings are works skillfully crafted to appreciate the landscape. Both painters have taken it upon themselves to paint physical structures that many take for granted in their localities. A depiction of the mountains in this sense is a reminder to people of the beauty that is found in nature and thus should avoid at all cost to take them for granted (Hwan, 11). The artists long for a connection with the natural world that would be represented by the moving paintings that would evoke feelings of admiration from those viewing it. A new age had come in Western Romanticism and Eastern Confucianism where individuals would shift their focus from indoor settings and venture beyond this limiting environment to embrace nature.

Both painting, however, differ in the manner in which the artists intend to tell nature’s story. Apart from containing physical features, Friedrich’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog also contains a human angle to the tale. A young individual stands with his back facing the viewer perhaps in awe of finally coming to terms with the beauty that surrounds him. A human angle presents an all round theme of nature, where human beings are also included as part of the equation. Seon’s Inwangjesakdo painting on the other hand only contains the physical aspect of nature. Structures appear, but there are no human beings shown in the paintings. It is widely thought that his intention in this painting was to help people to appreciate the beauty that is found in the physical environment. He does a perfect job when he uses his ink brush on a handmade paper to depict what some ignore on a day to day basis.


            Paintings offer a window into the human perspective in an assortment matters. The nature theme permeates Wanderer above the Sea of fog by Casper David Friedrich and Inwangjesakdo by Jeong Seon, illustrating a longing by these individuals to connect with their environment. Both paintings attempt to open the eyes of the viewer to a world they the world they had taken for granted and its beauty not appreciatd. It is surprising that the study of Korean art is at its formative stages in the West even with it’s detail and authenticity. In the West, this is the situation that often stems from Koreas position.

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Economic Advisor Paper

This paper discusses the current state the following economic factors: unemployment, expectations, consumer income, and interest rates and analyses their effects on the aggregate supply and demand. For a long time the economic strength of the United States has underwritten its principal role in the affairs of the entire world. The basis of the nation’s global hard power has been buoyant tax proceeds that have greatly been influenced by massive economic growth. However, currently the United States requires countering the effects of much worse economic challenges than it has ever experienced in the past. Some of these economic issues include the blowback effects arising from the European debit crisis, effects of the Great Depression, and the likely unsustainable public debt due to lack of modification of fiscal course (Thomas & Carson, 2011). However, in order to understand the current state of the U.S. economy, it is significant to consider economic factors like unemployment, expectations, consumer income, and interest rates including their effects on the aggregate supply and demand.

It is significant to note that unemployment happens when and individual engages in an active search for employment but becomes unsuccessful at finding work. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015), the current rate of unemployment in the U.S. stands at 5.3 percent thereby giving the figure of unemployed people as 8.3 million. The rates of unemployment differ significantly among the most essential worker groups. For instance, the rate of unemployment for adult women stands at 4.8 percent, adult men at 4.8 percent, teenagers at 18.1 percent, Hispanics at 6.6 percent, Asians at 3.8 percent, and whites at 4.6 percent. This statistics comprise a clear indication that the rate of unemployment is still high. An increased rate of unemployment implies that people do not have enough money and this usually leads to decreased demand in the economy. Unemployment decreases labor supply in the economy influencing a slowdown in economic growth. In such a situation many employers may capitalize on the threat of high unemployment rate to reduce the wages (Thomas & Carson, 2011). This means that a lot of people will be disparate for work. Therefore, unemployment increases aggregate supply and decreases aggregate demand. This is because unemployment causes most households lack lack wages meaning that there will be reduced production of goods and services due to the reduced purchasing power.

Expectations comprise a significant factor of economy. With respect to consumers, expectations consider three essential areas namely consumers prospects regarding their financial situation, their view of the economic prospects in the medium term, and their perception of the general economic prospects in the long run (International Monetary Fund, 2015). Currently, consumer expectations in the U.S. economy stand at 84.1 percent. Most Americans expect that the rate of inflation will hit 2.8 percent in the next one year (International Monetary Fund, 2015). They, also, expect that consumer prices will increase to 2.8 percent over the next years. Consumers continue conducting a favorable assessment of the current condition even though their expectations in the short-term continue deteriorating. Since consumers are usually sensitive and always have particular expectations regarding the future of the nation’s economy, they will have to make adjustments in their spending in order to match their expectations. In a situation where they expect the economy to underperform in the future, the culture of saving will increase thereby influencing a reduction in the overall expenditures. This will, in turn, lead to an increase in aggregate demand due to increased price levels. However, expectations that the economy would perform well in the future influence consumers to save little money because there is no fear of increase in price levels. There will be a reduction in consumption expenditures thereby leading to an increase in aggregate supply and a reduction in aggregate demand.

Consumer income equally is a significant economic factor that is worth consideration. It is the amount of income that remains after living expenses and taxes have been deducted. It is actually the money that an individual saves, invests or spends. Generally, consumer income has increased significantly over the past two decades. Currently, the median consumer or household income has remained at an average of $55,627 (International Monetary Fund, 2015). An increase in consumer income leads to an increase in aggregate demand. This is because there will be an increase in average tendency to spend. The availability of money to spend implies the ability to afford goods and services, which then leads to an increase in aggregate demand.

Interest rates comprise a significant element of aggregate supply and demand. An interest represents an annual percentage of the outstanding loan. The U.S. central bank is the Federal Reserve System. There are several banks in the U.S. that charge significantly different interest rates ranging from 0.05% to 0.25% per annum (Beyer, 2014). Lower interest rates can trigger the aggregate demand to increase shifting it to the right side of the curve. This is because a decrease in interests encourages players in the business sector to increase their investment expenditures. On the other hand, higher interest rates can influence a reduction in aggregate demand shifting it to the left side of the curve. It will cause reduced investment expenditures in the business sector. There will also be a reduction in household expenditure on durable goods.

In order to improve the economic standard of the U.S., the administration requires considering a number of recommendations as highlighted in this document. Unemployment benefits should be renewable. Although unemployment insurance has been of great assistance to households that obtain it, its significance to the economy should not be overlooked because people who receive it end spending the money on various things (Beyer, 2014). The second consideration is the current administration should consider extending the Bush taxation cuts in order to help increase consumer income. This extension will prevent any occurrence of a devastating tax increase in the near future. The federal government should, also, cut its spending by assigning certain duties to the private sector. The federal government should overhaul its immigration law to ensure that an increased number of skilled immigrants are given priority during admission into the U.S. every year.

In conclusion, this paper discussed the current state the following economic factors: unemployment, expectations, consumer income, and interest rates and analyses their effects on the aggregate supply and demand. For a long time the economic strength of the United States has underwritten its principal role in the affairs of the entire world. Unemployment decreases labor supply in the economy influencing a slowdown in economic growth. Expectations consider three essential areas namely consumers prospects regarding their financial situation, their view of the economic prospects in the medium term, and their perception of the general economic prospects in the long run

Climate change and air quality are two very important and prominent environmental issues. These two environmental challenges have local, regional, national, and global implications and affect

Climate change and air quality are two very important and prominent environmental issues. These two environmental challenges have local, regional, national, and global implications and affect almost every person on the planet in different ways. Policies have already been created to address some of the negative consequences of climate change and poor air quality. This week you will analyze four of these policies and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of integrating and coordinating these policies. In addition, you will be tasked to provide recommendations for or against integrating/coordinating these policies. The complexity, efficacy, and challenges of policymaking should become apparent as you complete this assignment.

Address each of the following issues:

  • Discuss two recent policy responses to climate change and two recent policy responses to poor air quality.
  • Explain the advantages and disadvantages of integrating and coordinating policy responses to climate change and poor air quality.
  • Provide recommendations for or against integrating/coordinating climate change and air quality policy responses.

The paper should include five main sections:

  1. Introductory paragraph that provides a brief background regarding the issue and introduces the main thesis.
  2. In-depth discussion of two recent policy responses to climate change and two recent policy responses to poor air quality.
  3. In-depth discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of integrating and coordinating climate change and air quality policy responses.
  4. In-depth discussion of the recommendations for or against integrating/coordinating climate change and air quality policy responses.
  5. Concluding paragraph that summarizes the main findings and restates the thesis.

The paper must be four to five pages in length (excluding title and reference pages) and formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center. You must use at least four scholarly sources (at least two of which can be found in the Ashford University Library) in addition to the textbook to support your claims and subclaims. Cite your sources in-text and on the reference page. For information regarding APA samples and tutorials, visit the Ashford Writing Center, within the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar.

The Interest of the State in Promoting Marriage

What interests do you believe the state should have in promoting marriage? Why?

The state should have several interests in promoting marriage. First, the state has an interest in supporting male and female unions. Incidentally, the outlined relationship propagates and ensures the continued development of human species within a conducive environment to their health as well as well-being. The interest of the state in marriage, in this case, includes protecting the rights of the children. As it is, Himmefarb (1996) suggests that individualistic ideology requires the government to play a role in political correctness whereby the state utilizes its power to ensure the society functions in an ethical manner. Incidentally, every child has a right to be conceived and brought up within a loving union established by a man and his wife. Studies have shown that having a mother and father is the best that a child can have when growing up. In addition, studies have also revealed that children brought up by same-sex couples have a tendency of suffering emotional damage at some point in their life. Similar to cases of single parenting, the government is required to oppose strongly and actively avoid for the benefit of the children. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is regarded as a technique that treats children as a commodity in that they are artificially conceived through scientific manipulation and given to same-sex couples as a gift.

In addition, the government has an interest in protecting the general health of the people. As it is, a heterosexual relationship is characterized by a high level of potential harm when it comes to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Besides, psychological and emotional trauma is also a potential harm commonly associated with the outlined form of relationship. In support of this, literature reveals that cases of anal cancer have continually dominated the gay community with a similar case of breast cancer being reported for the lesbians. Laws have the capacity to influence the society.  Evidently, Coontz (2007) shows that the European states saw the need to taking part in marriage by proving that marriages should be carried out as required by legal auspices. The attempt was mainly driven by the fact that state considered it its obligation to control the young adults in the society who opted to marry despite their parents opposition. Russel Hatch (2001) supports this viewpoint by indicating that adolescence is a difficult stage of life where every choice made has an implication on a person’s future life. Despite this, it is still rampant that most personages in the identified phase of life may make unrealistic decisions such as going into a marriage union as a way of rapidly transitioning to adulthood because of their substantial dissatisfaction with their adolescence. However, with the government’s interest in marriage, laws can be put into place to protect the interests of the adolescents hence protecting them from future regrets.

Looking at the fact that laws influence the society from the perspective of gay marriages, it is a commonality that governments are discouraged from giving its stamps of approval that may result in potential harm to the people by encouraging same-sex marriages. Through the promotion of dangerous sexual activities, the government will be playing a part in creating double damage. For instance, the government will be directly involved in encouraging harm to take place and at the same time depriving the treasury of the funds required to treat various health conditions arising from the dangerous act.

Activity-Based Costing System

Activity-based costing (ABC) is a costing method that recognizes doings in a business and allocates the cost of every doings with capital to the entire products and services in accordance to the real expenditure by every product and service (Kaplan & Bruns, 1987). ABC allocates extra indirect expenses into direct overheads.

A company that needs to switch to the Activity-Based Costing System methodology should centers on the cost distribution in operational administration in order to help them separate overhead cost, variable cost and fixed cost. When separation of cost gets attained it assists the company to recognize cost drives (Drucker, 1999). Direct distribution of indirect costs to products is more difficult compared to allocation of direct labor and material. As a result, for the management to recognize cost drives where products utilizes similar resources in a different way, some kind of weighting gets required in the cost distribution procedure. The cost drives therefore, can get defined as an aspect that makes or drives the price of the activity (Drucker, 1999). For instance, if company consists of activities of running machinery, the drive is probable the machine operating hours. It is clear that, in such a company, the machine operating hours drive power, labor, and preservation cost for the duration of the running machinery activity.

The company needs cost of needed data capture for the Activity-based costing system (ABC) to be applicable. However, if ABC gets well applied, it gets utilized by organization as a tool for comprehending customer and product cost and their productivity depending on the production procedure. Once implemented, ABC will get utilized to hold up tactical verdicts like pricing, outsourcing, classification and evaluation of procedure development initiatives.

Strategies For Increasing The Level Of Participation In Clinical Trials

Randomized controlled trials characterize the highest standard employed in the evaluation of the efficiency and the safety of any medical interventions.This is mainly because unlike other trials, randomized controlled trials are not prone to selection bias(Watson&Torgerson, 2006).Even so, the process of recruiting participants to take part in these studies can be particularlychallenging. While there are a number of probableoutcomes resulting from poor participant recruitment, the fundamental one is the probability that the trial will be underpowered. In such instances, the results reported may have differences that may be statistically non-significant but clinically significant. This kind of discrepancies in the findings may result in abandonment or delay in the implementation of an effective intervention oradoption of a less effective intervention(Watson&Torgerson, 2006).

This paper will discuss strategies that researchers may employ to increase recruitment for their studies. After careful analysis of the recruitment strategies discussed in this paper, I will build my own strategy for increasing the likelihood that I would have a high recruitment rate. Finally, I will explain why I believe my strategy would be effective.

Strategies for increasing the level of participation in clinical trials

Contacting Potential Perticipants

There has always been dissatisfaction among participants over the quantity, length and burden that are associated with clinical trials’information packs. This brings about the need for the researchers to choose an ideal method of communication. Employing technology potentially providesthe researcher with flexible and participant-centered methods to pass on relevant information in the suitable depth.

Sending out Reminders

Alerting potential participantsprior to the trials increases participation significantly. Making out calls has been recorded to increase participation over sending mails. However,sendingpotential participants a personalized postcard a week or a few days prior to the trial date has also been noted to have a positive impact on response rate than mailing a recruitment pack or not mailing at all.

Giving Incentives

Incentives are increasingly being used in recruitment to trialsn a given trial. An incentive should not be offered as a payment for participation but like a token of appreciation for the participants’ willingness to take part in the study(Watson, &Torgerson, 2006). Both financial and non-financial incentives are a worthwhile option that can help promote individuals’ participation research trials, especially when the value of the incentive is based on the effort or cost incurred by the participant. Such incentives can improve the rate of enrollment and participation, without gratuitous coercion. The use of incentives may also be used as a means of equalizing study participation.

My Strategy:

Incorporating personal touches to the communications

There are a number of mailing strategies that a resercher may use to contact potential recruits including flyers; personalized mails; cultural specific personalised letter; and postcards among others. Studies show that some mailing methods encourage response more than others. For instance, sending personalized letters tends to get better response rate than sending out flyers alone (Flory & Emanuel, 2004).Cultural specific personalised letters have also been reported to improve perticipants response rates when compared to generic letters.

I believe that this strategy will be effective since people like to feel valued as opposed to being a part of a collective group. Personalized communications will go a long way into achieving this goal thus improving response rates, which will increase the number of participants who could potentially take part in the trial.

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Training and Development in Small Businesses – Sample Paper

Small businesses draw varied advantages from the training and development programs that they implement. For instance, training helps the businesses develop pools of experienced and knowledgeable substitutes for staff members who are promoted or who leave them. As well, training makes certain that the businesses have the requisite personnel to bolster their growth as well as expansion (Casner-Lotto & Work in America Institute, 1988). Besides, training enables the businesses to exploit the strengths presented to them by varied technologies as well as to adapt promptly to speedily evolving competitive environments. Employees who undergo structured training programs are likely to be highly motivated and efficient. They are likely to be satisfied with their jobs and highly productive. This paper examines various facets of the programs.

Key Components of Training and Development Programs

            The programs, which are aimed at enhancing specific small businesses’ performances, are defined by various characteristic elements. With respect to the small businesses being consulted for in the presence case, its training and development program will have five major elements (Wentland, 2007). First, the program will provide for a meeting between the owner of the business and the consultant to establish the business’ strategy as well as mission statement. The owner and the consultant will discuss the business’ objectives along with goals and needs, including personnel needs and staff development needs (Quaddus & Woodside, 2015). The consultant and the owner will appraise the business’ preceding training documentation and files.

Second, the program will allow for the making out of the business’ needs through the comparison of the business’ objectives and its personnel needs. That will help establish the probable gaps between the business’ staff development needs and the business’ objectives. The consultant will develop training goals to address the gaps and formulate particular learning approaches with respect to the gaps as well.

Third, the consultant will develop a training schedule or plan to narrow the identified gaps. He or she will develop learning goals for the specific training program and identify the sessions that every staff member will require to attend (Casner-Lotto & Work in America Institute, 1988).  The training offered in the session will be included in every staff evaluation. Appropriate learning management systems will be established to support the program’s registration, tracking as well as administration.

Fourth, the consultant will seek out for management agreement, as well as support, prior to the plan’s implementation (Hussey, 1988; Korda & Business Expert Press, 2012). The consultant will appraise the plan with the owner and get her buy-in for its implementation. The consultant will answer every attendant question and every issue raised by the owner using his or her training strategy. The consultant will get the requisite materials ready.

The last, fifth, element of the program will be the plan’s scheduling and implementation. The consultant will make out resources for his or her training. He or she will select, as well as train, instructors. He or she will reserve the requisite training facilities. He or she will share out the schedule for the training and appraise it with the owner and any selected staff members (Casner-Lotto & Work in America Institute, 1988). The training strategy will be executed and the related progress will be monitored regularly. The program will help address varied issued relating to the business’ organizational performance. Notably, there are varied possible difficulties which businesses’ owners or managers may face when tackling organizational performance issues.

The Possible Difficulties  

As noted earlier, there are varied possible difficulties which businesses’ owners or managers may face when tackling organizational performance issues. First, the managers or owners may face organizational silo, which means absence of organizational collaboration. The sustained enhancement of organizational performance only happens where there are well-structured exercises combining distinct stages into joint efforts. That is rather challenging to realize if every organizational function acts autonomously without regard to the other functions’ contributions to their enhancement plans (Casner-Lotto & Work in America Institute, 1988). Duplicate efforts are rather common in such cases. Such efforts occasion counterproductive outcomes and confusion.

Second, the managers or owners may lack the requisite management buy-in and commitment. The enhancement of organizational performance requires the support of the managers or owners regarding direction setting and bolstering of the required discipline. When the buy-in and commitment are lacking, different organizational performance functions become misaligned with the corresponding business objectives. To ensure that the performance is enhanced effectively the managers or owners ought to be consistent and clear in their communications to cultivate organizational cultures that are defined by pervasive, aligned, and accountable duty to performance.

Third, the usage of outdated technologies and systems impedes the enhancement of organizational performance. For instance, processes that are hinged on spreadsheet overwhelm business managers or owners easily in monotonous detail and take up much of their time unjustifiably. The managers or owners spend lots of time in efforts to make given systems run effectively, leaving them with limited time for implementing the related information (Hussey, 1988; Korda & Business Expert Press, 2012). To ensure that organizational performances are enhanced smoothly, business should update their technologies to support own objectives best. The updating of the technologies will as well help the businesses free up their resources to utilize more time analyzing and executing information. Notably, many small businesses use specific technologies in identifying own organizational gaps.

Consequences of Identifying Organizational Gaps

In small businesses, organizational gap appraisals entail the determination of the areas with and staff with specific gaps or deficiencies. The appraisals offer foundations for the development of the businesses’ action plans. The appraisals of the gaps helps businesses determine the elements, or aspects, lacking in specific staff members in specific positions. They help businesses develop performance maps, which describe the actions of effective individuals in given business roles.

Proposed Competitive Training Strategy For the Business

  1. Schedule of Experiential Training Activities 
    • Lunchtime yoga
    • Company quiz game
    • Eggs balancing game
  2. Instructional Strategy’ Rationale

The training activities that will be used in the competitive training strategy by the consultant will be experiential. An experiential instructional strategy will be used. The strategy will allow for the immersion of the participants in the specific activities via role-playing, building, and planning. As well, the strategy will support the participants to lower their inhibitions as well as unleash own creativity.

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Employee Relations Specialist’s Job Description

Employee Relations Specialists (ERS) have diverse roles. With respect to customers, Employee Relations Specialists are charged with consulting with, communicating effectively to, as well as influencing, labor unions and internal stakeholders on pertinent changes in staff relations according to Heneman, Judge and Kammeyer-Mueller (2015) and Rothwell and Kazanas (2003). They launch employee and labor relations policies, procedures, and handbooks via timely, as well as effectual, consultations with other organizations, stakeholders, and businesses according to Caruth and Handlogten (1997). They provide commercial solutions to varied commercial requirements via specific training interventions and project management (Heneman, Judge and Kammeyer-Mueller, 2015).

With respect to own colleagues, Employee Relations Specialists are charged with capacity building, supporting, and coaching HR and operational managers to be effective in managing given changes (Heneman, Judge and Kammeyer-Mueller, 2015). The ERS create, as well as update, accessible and simple staff relations procedures, handbooks, and policies via the establishment of the requirement for the staff to execute policy via trend-analysis, benchmarking, and research. With respect to operations, the ERS support operational stakeholders with change-related matters, including business transfers, redundancy, restructuring, and contractual changes. Regarding profits, as well as sales, the ERS are charged with lessening exposure to labor litigation risks and the related financial risks according to Caruth and Handlogten (1997).

Ideally, organizations require that those applying for consideration for appointment as Employee Relations Specialists have strong stakeholder or project management according to Phillips and Gully (2009) and Pynes (2004). They should holders of the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) membership or comparable membership. They should be well-versed with staff relations and the applicable labor laws. In most cases, they are required to have polished Ms Excel competencies (, 2016).

Applying Duty Ethics To The Enron Case

Duty based ethics also known as deontological ethics are highly concerned on what persons do and not the results or significances of their actions. According to duty-based ethics an individual is required to do what is right since it is the right thing to do. Thus, each person guided by duty of ethics is anticipated to avoid wrong things because they are wrong. In this regard, a wrong act should be avoided even if it results to good results or consequences. Deontologists trust that molarity is a matter of duty. Individuals have moral duties to only do the right things and to avoid the wrong things, and this is not founded on the consequences of the action but on the action itself.

Deontological theories acknowledge two classes of duties. They include general duties individuals have towards anyone and duties we have due to our specific social or personal relationships. The main aim of each individual according to deontological theories is to comply with our duties and not to maximize on the good duties outcome. According to duty-based ethics, actions are choices result and choices are normally made for a purpose or a reason. In this regard, an action can only be classified as either good or bad based on the main intention of doing the action. Thus, if a good intended action brings bad consequence that does not make the action wrong. Similarly, if a bad intended action brings good consequences that does not make the action to be morally right.

Ethical Issue Raised by Enron

Enron was involved in a number of activities that raised ethical question during Ken Lay management. The company changed from its ethically based traditional principles to unorganized work environment that was ruled by greed and desire to satisfy personal needs. This paper will focus on two ethical issues raised by Enron. The two selected issues include Enron company reward system and Enron accounting fraud.

Enron Accounting Fraud

The company accounts are required to be very accurate since they play a great part in reflecting the company’s present financial position, comparison of the company’s current financial position with the past and prediction of the future. Accounting therefore assists the company in making possible adjustments to remain healthy. Accountings are also used by investors and creditors to determine the company’s ability to pay debts and the possibility of earning from an investment or losing money placed in an investment in the future (Sims & Brinkmann, 2003). In this regard, accounts are normally audited critically to ensure that they are accurate and that they represent the true picture of the company financial position. Having realized the importance of accounting, Enron considered manipulating their accounts to always look healthy and promising to anyone who care to analyze. The accounts demonstrated that the company was making great profits year after year with a positive growth in its level of profits. This attracted more investors into the company. The healthy displayed financial condition increased the value of the company’s share in the share market and thus, the company was trading highly in the share market. The company created poor accounting reports, accounting loopholes, and entities of special purpose. Using these techniques, the company was able to hide a huge amount of money in debts from failed projects and deals. The company accountant managed to mislead the audit committee and company’s board of directors on high-risk practices of accounting. He also managed to pressure the company’s external auditing firm; Andersen to ignore the matter. Therefore, the company was able to continue with its unethical accounting practices, unquestioned (Madsen & Vance, 2009).

Enron Company Reward System

Initially, Enron was guided by the right compensation and reward system where workers were rewarded based on qualification, operation level, merit or performance. Each employee was well aware of his or her duties and responsibilities and what one would do to get promotion, bonus, salary increment or any other reward in the company. This system was well defined and structured, and thus, it was highly fair to all. Individual got what they deserved. However, everything changed during Ken Lay era. The systematic way of rewarding employees was completely changed. All compensation caps were eliminated and thus, one would earn any amount of money based on how much one could trade. Employees could work late hours to ensure that they get extra income by trading natural gas. The GE employees ranking model introduced by Jeff was eliminated (Madsen & Vance, 2009). Firing and promotion were based on the employee’s loyalty to the management and how effective one was on betraying other workers, or on reporting them to the management. Morally based employees who were against the unethical operations of the management were easily sacked especially if one raised an alarm or they remain stagnant in their career, particularly if one decided to keep a low profile. Individuals would work hard for a short period of time, earn their bonuses and leave the job for a different task without leaping the work result. There was no accountability in the company, and most employment deals seems short-term and profit based. The company promotion and demotion was based on unhealthy internal competition among the employees such that the aspect of idea sharing was completely eliminated. This was quite unethical and it highly contributed to the downfall of the company. The lack of standard reward system increased the company’s wage bill which reduced its level of profitability and thus, it highly contributed to the company’s financial downfall (Sims & Brinkmann, 2003).

Application of Duty of Ethics

Ken Lay had a duty of ethics to manage Enron Company and to enhance its future growth. In addition, the company accountant had a duty of ethics to provide accurate financial report of the company. However, the accountant accepted to be used by Ken Lay to provide false information to the company’s directors, audit committee and the public with intention of hiding the actual company’s position and stealing more from the investors and creditors. The accountant did wrong by providing manipulating the company financial reports and misleading the company’s investors. This resulted to great loss on investors, when the company was declared bankrupt.  He also did wrong by misleading the company’s board of directors, and the audit committee who could have saved the company from the bankruptcy if they were aware of the actual financial situation of the company. Similarly, the company external auditors failed in reporting the actual situation of the company to the right authority including the public. External auditors had a duty of analyzing the financial situation of the company and uncovering any accounting malpractice done in the company that would affect the company’s investors or other stakeholders. However, they concealed this information with intention of protecting the company while endangering the life of other company’s stakeholders. Thus, both the external auditors and the company accountants failed in their duty of ethics by doing wrong things and failing to do what they are required to do, as per their qualifications (Free et al., 2007).

Ken Lay embraced unstructured rewarding system with intention of influencing employees to support his unethical way of doing business. This system enabled him to gain favors from employees that were more concerned about their earnings. By so doing he was able to earn more money but the actual profitability of the company was low. The other main intention was to eliminate employees that were career and ethically based and keep only those who were loyal to him to be able to do his business without being questioned. Thus ken failed in his duty of ethics of enhancing sustainable reward system by employing unsustainable reward system for personal benefits. He also failed in his duty of ethics by eliminating employees who cared of the company’s future while employing and rewarding selfish employees whose goal was to increase their profitability (Free et al., 2007).

Assignment 1: Training and Development in Small Businesses – Answered

Assignment Instructions: Training and Development in Small Businesses

Select a small business with which you are familiar. Imagine that you have been called into that business to provide a consultation on training. Create a comprehensive training proposal for the business.

Write a six page in which you:

  1.  Analyze key elements of training and development geared toward improving the performance of the specific small business for which you are consulting.
  2. Predict three potential challenges that the managers or owner of the business could face in addressing organizational performance.
  3. Justify the effects of detecting organizational gaps in small business, providing examples to explain the rationale.
  4. Propose a competitive strategy that will improve the position of the business in the market. The strategy should include, at a minimum, an agenda of training activities, rationale for instructional strategies used, and the return of investment (ROI) that will be gained from the strategy you have developed.

Must have quality academic resources

Be typed, double spaced using Times New Roman font (size 12) with one-inch margins on all sides; citations and references must follow APA format.

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