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Current Issue: Volume 33, Issue No. 4, Week of June 15, 2008
Previous Issue: Volume 33, Issue No. 3, Week of June 8, 2008


Where Do We Find History in the Making?

Commentators and their role in guiding us as we shape history - jeanne

Commentators and Their Role in Guiding Us as We Shape History


California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: June 15, 2008
Latest Update: June 16, 2008

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Topic of the Week:

How Commentators Serve as Guides to Thinking

Notes from jeanne to jeanne:

Reason for this essay - to illustrate the availability of guides to understanding current events, as we learn of them from Television News or newspapers, or the Internet. I want to give some quick measures of how to judge what values and beliefs go into the comments that jouranlists and "experts" provide in analyzing the news. Will include William A. Scott's Values and Organizations as a good reference.

Every commentator has values and an agenda. We need to consider that by choosing a commentator that fits our own beliefs and agenda. We usually do that in current events by choosing the source we pay attention to. Fox News offers a conservative perspective and agenda. The traditional CBS, NBC, and ABC offer a fairly middle of the road agenda. As a progressive, I don't believe that any of our present TV channels, without cable or dish, offer a solid liberal perspective, though some of them offer investigative reporting that moves in the direction of "critical perspective" or the position that we need to look objectively at how our world is working for all of us, and work to improve the parts of our system that aren't working for some of us. That means we don't look at poverty as simply something that will always be with us and accept it, but seek solutions that will alleviate poverty and make the system better for those who are trapped in it.

Every commentator has a perspective. It's important to know what that perspective is, so that you can know how well your own choices match that of the commentator. The advantage of having a commentator you trust to come close to your own perspecive is that the commentator has the time and skills to analyze far more factual information than we do. The commentator also has the means to check out rumor and fact far more effectively than we can with everyday conflicting demands on our time and energy. The disadvantage is that we're taking someone else's word for what we haven't the time to check ourselves. That's why it's important to be sure we agree with the value and belief context in which he/she will analyze and draw conclusions.

Paul Krugman is one of the liberal commentators to whom I turn for analysis and comment on current events. In addition to being an op-ed columnist for the NY Times, he is professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University. In the New York Times (a newspaper I chose for the general perspective it presents) on Friday, June 13, 2008, he wrote on current problems with food safety. In doing so, he gave a brief summary of the history of U.S. protective moves with food and drugs. I'll look for a conservative perspective on this. Might be that Senator McCain's comments will lead me to that perspective or one of you will recommend someone of your choice. We'll compare the different contexts in which the issue is reported to us. You'll find the article with my highlights and comments at Food Protection and Changing Agency Policy Over Time. jeanne

David Brooks is one of the conservative columnists, a former op-ed editor with the Wall Street Journal and senior editor at the Weekly Standard, a conservative newspaper. His report today on Obama and our educational system can be found at Education Reform. I know I'm likely to disagree with David Brooks, because our ideologies are different. That doesn't mean I can't learn from him. love and peace, jeanne




  • Communication and Persuasion

  • Health: Body Piercings

    • The Complications of Body Piercing
      June 13, 2008, 12:48 pm
      "The Complications of Body Piercing"
      INSERT DESCRIPTIONEyebrow piercing. (Rich Abrahamson/Associated Press)

      "Body piercing in places other than the ear often leads to complications like infections, swelling and bleeding, a new study shows.

      "The data, compiled in Britain by the Health Protection Agency and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, show that 25 percent of piercings in body areas other than the earlobe lead to complications, with one in 100 piercings resulting in a hospital admission. More than 10,000 people ages 16 and older took part in the survey, which was published online today by the British Medical Journal. A 2002 study of American college students also reported a high rate of complications, with 17 percent of students complaining of problems, including bleeding and infection. Nipple piercing appeared to be the most risky, with a 21 percent rate of bleeding or injury.

      "About 10 percent of the adult population in Britain has a non-earlobe body piercing. Prevalence estimates in the United States are harder to come by, but the 2002 report, published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that 51 percent of the college students surveyed had some sort of piercing, not counting pierced earlobes among the women.

      "In that study, 38 percent of male students had pierced ears, either in the lobe or elsewhere, whereas 4 percent had pierced tongues and 3 percent had pierced nipples. Among female students, pierced earlobes weren’t counted, but 29 percent had piercings elsewhere on their ears. Another 16 percent had pierced tongues, 6 percent had pierced nipples and 32 percent had pierced navels.

      "In the British study, 16-year-olds with piercings were also more likely to suffer from complications, with almost a third reporting problems and 15 percent seeking professional help. Although most piercings were performed in specialist piercing shops, the researchers noted that a “worrying” 9 percent of tongue piercings were performed by nonspecialists. In every anatomical site, including the tongue and genital areas, the study authors said they found a number of people who had performed the piercing themselves or had it done by a friend or relative.

      "The most common problems with piercings were swelling, infection and bleeding. Almost half of tongue piercings resulted in complications in the British survey.

      Talk about this, especially with young people. I remember a 16 year-old at Otis Art whose ongoing battle with her parents was over whether she could have a tongue piercing. Sometimes things that seem to be safe in present time become less safe over time. None of us can really tell you that "piercings are dangerous." women have been piercing their ears for a very long time. But parents and more experienced friends have seen or heard of things that can go wrong.

      Long term effects of things we do to our bodies may not show up except in the long term. Talk about it; make the long term effects a part of that talk. There are no "right answers." We won't know for sure until the long term either. But we'd like to know that you considered these effects as part of your decision to engage in piercing. jeanne

      "The growing popularity of body piercings could “place a significant burden on health services for many years,” the researchers said.

      New York Times, "The Complications of Body Piercing", consulted by jeanne on June 18, 2008.

      The media are an integral part of our communication system. They reach most of our kids. We need to get messages about long-term effects of many things out to all of us, so we can make better-informed decisions. One good project for this issue would try out different techniques for getting such messages out in our communities. Conversation café, post card souvenir, bookmark souvenir, a yarn necklace auctioned off as a prize, an endless number of ways to attract community and school audiences.

  • Oil Drilling on West Coast

    Dearth of Ships Delays Drilling of Offshore Oil

    "Demand is so high that shipbuilders, the biggest of whom are in Asia, have raised prices since last year by as much as $100 million a vessel to about half a billion dollars. " 'The crunch on rigs is everywhere,' said Alberto Guimaraes, a senior executive at Petrobras, the Brazilian oil company that has discovered some of the most promising offshore oil but has been unable to get at it.

    “ 'Almost 100 percent of the oil companies are constrained in their investment program because there is no rig available,' he said."

    Consulted by jeanne in the New York Times on June 18, 2008.

    Maybe this means that Governor Schwartzenegger's refusal to accept President Bush's drilling proposal isn't far-fetched at all. Schwarzenegger says drilling ban not to blame for high gas prices. From the Associated Press. Consulted by jeanne inn the Los Angeles Times on June 18, 2008.

    " 'He called California's coastline 'an international treasure' that must be protected by a federal oil-drilling moratorium that has been in place for 27 years.

    " 'We're serious about that, and we're not going to change that,' he told reporters and business executives at BIO International, an annual biotechnology industry conference in San Diego.

    "Schwarzenegger, who has endorsed McCain's presidential bid, said the federal offshore drilling ban was not to blame for soaring gas prices. In a statement issued earlier in the day, the governor said technological innovations and expanded fuel choices for consumers ultimately will lead the way to reduced fuel costs.

    " 'We are in this situation because of our dependence on traditional petroleum-based oil,' Schwarzenegger said in the statement, which referred only to Bush's call for lifting the ban and did not mention McCain."

    Schwarzenegger says drilling ban not to blame for high gas prices. From the Associated Press. Consulted by jeanne inn the Los Angeles Times on June 18, 2008.

  • Site Map and Archives updates.

    • Ordered a new graphics tablet. Back to work on the sitemap as soon as it gets here. It's here but I haven't hooked it up yet. So images are still just graphics. jeanne

    Visual Sociology

    • Card for Commentators Interpreting Current History

      card for commentators and interpretation issue

      Reverse side clear for our printing notes related to the issue, and maybe a link or two. jeanne

    • A Constellation of Ideas

      Seeing ideas a constellation of ideas instead of a single unit with which we all are in perfect agreement. jeanne

      We are unique individuals. We'll never share precisely the same ideas and beliefs, for all our colored by our own experiences and orientation. So what we're looking for in a commentator or leader we trust is someone who seems centered in the universe of ideas in the same galaxy we find ourselves in.

      The difference between a leader and a teacher is that the leader may choose to guide you in a certain direction, whereas the teacher seeks to make you aware of the differences within our own galaxy of ideas, and how those ideas fit into the whole universe (or universes, given today's physics) of ideas, values, and beliefs.


    • Up soon. jeanne

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