Monday, June 1, 2015

Women & Their Place in the Upper Class

I have found our study of the "class system" in the United States to be a very interesting one. It really caught my attention when I started realizing how difficult it is to move from one class to another despite the idea of the "American Dream". I also realized it isn's always the best to be at the top.

One of my good friends recently brought to my attention an opinion piece about the very upper class on the Upper East Side of Manhattan where the median income is $125,362 per year compared to the median for all of New York which is $58,023 per year. "Poor Little Rich Women" by Wednesday Martin follows a number of women around their lives in one of the wealthiest parts of the country and shines a negative light on the high society women for some of the crazy things they do. 

One of the strangest things the article mentioned was what many women on the Upper East Side call a "wife bonus". According to Wednesday Martin it "might be hammered out in a pre-nup or post-nup, and distributed on the basis of not only how well her husband’s fund had done but her own performance — how well she managed the home budget, whether the kids got into a 'good' school — the same way their husbands were rewarded at investment banks”. I am still shocked by this and cannot fully wrap my mind around the fact that it really happens. Is it good because it puts value on work women do in the home or is it negative because it gives the husband complete control over the money the woman has access to?

Just last night I was speaking with an family friend and they said, "For crying out loud, you are so lucky to be white"(Gale). While our conversation had nothing to do with the color of people's skin, this struck me as a weird and perhaps telling comment that relates to class in America. After all, the Upper East Side is more than 75% white. What do you think about skin color and how it helps or hinders class movement?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Corruption Charges Against FIFA Oficials

The slogan almost seems ironic now that the secrets of
the sports giant are exposed.
Fans of the most watched sport in the world, soccer (or football depending on where you're from), recently received news that top officials of FIFA (the governing body of worldwide soccer) have been charged and arrested with corruption charges. The officials were all meeting at the Baur au Lac Hotel, in Switzerland for their annual meetings.

The officials were charged with taking bribes and corruption of bids for World Cups. The United States Department of Justice "indictment names 14 people on charges including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy". Some higher officials have also been accused of "taking bribes totaling more than $150 million and in return providing 'lucrative media and marketing rights'" to tournaments over the past 24 years. The charges come after a long investigation by the FBI and the Swiss government so there is no short of researched information.

Why is this such a big deal to the US and why are the officials being arrested and charged under the United States government? It turns out the "these crimes were agreed and prepared in the U.S., and the payments were carries out via U.S. banks". That is why, despite the Swiss headquarters of FIFA, the United States has control of the officials and their punishments.

How do you think the officials should be punished?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Water & The California Drought

Many of us have heard on the news or by word of mouth that the state of California is experiencing a severe drought. Recently, the drought has gotten a lot of attention from the entire country, but it  has actually been going on for four years. This is a huge problem because California produces over "a third of the nation's vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts", according to The New York Times. Because of the drought, the state has been loosing much of their land, for farming, to dry, lifeless dirt. For instance, "rice acreage in California in 2014 declined more than 23 percent from a year earlier". This is because now, not only is the land being wasted but the United States is needing to buy more products from other countries. The little amounts of rice California is producing has, in recent years, been sold to Asia because of its low price.

California's Decline of Rice Production
This drought does not just have an impact on food production, though. Governor Jerry Brown created a "mandate to cut urban water use by 25 percent". This is effecting many American's wallets as well. In Fresno, California, the city has "imposed a long-delayed, modest rate increase" in water prices which many residents are not thrilled about. With food production low and water prices high, it will be very interesting to see if the government does anything to subsidize the water, keeping farmers and citizens happy.

When researching this topic, I also came across a New York Times article by Larry Buchanan, Josh Keller, and Haeyoun Park which depicts the average amounts of food Americans eat each day and the amount of water it takes to produce the items. Some of the images are fantastic and help to gage perspective of how much H20 is really necessary. I highly recommend you check out the full page!

This puts into perspective the amount of water it truly takes to get such a small quantity of food.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Draft Deadline Approaching

So far, obesity in America has been a fascinating topic to research. From the causes to the results, I have learned so much about the disease and am excited to put all of my knowledge into one big paper answering the question: Why are more than one third of adult America obese —  a percentage that has doubled in the past 35 years — despite programs meant to reduce the prevalence of the epidemic? I hope it turns out well!

With Thursday creeping up rather quickly, I am in complete stress mode. I feel I am up to date with a well-structured outline and a few body paragraphs in the works. However, I am having trouble analyzing whether any of the things I am putting down on paper would be easy for the audience to understand clearly. I have tried my best to eliminate the fluff and am working hard to pull out words in quotes, which was made simpler by our discussion in class today. I also had my interview this afternoon. It went very well and I think I got a few perfect quotes that will work very well as evidence in my paragraph blocks. I hope to get a few more great lines I can incorporate from my peer interview at some point this week. Stay tuned for more!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Grocery Store Strategy

After you take your first step through the grocery store’s door, you are automatically the customer every brand is fighting to lure. According to Michael Moss of the New York Times, “a battle is underway: A battle for your attention, your appetite, your money, and ultimately your repeat business”. The better they can make the food look, the more likely you are to buy it. When you run out of the product, you will return for more. The process is constant and is exactly what the brand wants. 
In this image the boxes are all very colorful and the
cereals marketed to kids are lower than the ones meant for adults.

The bright lights and the glossy floors are there to make every piece of fruit or box of cereal look beautiful and delicious. The location of the product, contrary to my assumptions, is strategically placed. In the cereal isle, “top shelves target adults, while the bottom are generally filled with colorful boxes of sugary cereals beckoning children” according to Michael Bowman of USA Today. This makes perfect sense. Kids are short and the companies want the cereal boxes to be at the perfect eye height so children cannot walk down the isle without noticing the fun characters like Tony the Tiger, Snap, Crackle, or Pop. It is absolutely genius!

This is a basic set-up of a grocery store.

Taking a step back from the cereal isle, the store itself is designed specifically. The fresh food lines the perimeter of the store where the shelf-stable, generally unhealthy food is in the center. The Mayo Clinic recommends people stay to the outer edges of the grocery store when shopping to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Next time you walk into a grocery store take note of the locations of different foods and ask yourself what is being marketed to people like you.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Obesity's Existance

With the start of Junior Theme I had my heart set on researching a feminist issue because I feel very strongly than women should have the same rights as men. Though I still feel this way, I decided to do a 180 and focus on researching obesity in America and why it exists. 

The numbers are shocking. Over 35% of Americans are overweight or obese and it is only getting worse. I have been wracking my brain and looking all over the internet, and in books, to find out why Americans are truly so fat. I have compiled a list of reasons and I am still looking for more. From the location and socioeconomic status of United States citizens to the size of the average American portion, there are many reasons America is having trouble fighting obesity.

From my research, I have found that often obesity is most common in impoverished areas where there are few grocery stores and many fast food restaurants. The customers must make a decision. They can go to the fast food restaurant and pay very little for a large amount of food or they can pay for a bus ride to the grocery store where they will pay more for the fresh fruits and vegetables. Generally the fast food is the most convenient option and therefore is what the customer goes for. 

Another reason obesity is on the rise, in America, is because the american portion size has grown substantially. As shown in the image above, food is being made larger and therefore contains more calories than it used to. American grain consumption grew 45% since 1970 and the consumption of added fats grew by two thirds since the 1950's. With such an increase, it is understandable that we, the American people, grew too. 

I will continue to look for reasons for the extreme obesity in America and will also explore other questions to ask.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Obesity & Its Relationship with Cancer

Cancer is the second highest cause of death in the
United States and obesity may make it the leading cause.

Yesterday I found out that one of my friend's parents has been diagnosed with breast cancer. After thinking about her lifestyle I decided to find out whether there was any connection between weight and cancer or whether the sickness was simply up to genetics. There is, in fact, a strong correlation between obesity and cancer.

According to The National Cancer Institute, a study, done in 2007, found that in the United States, there were about "50,500 [new cancer cases per year] in women" where 7 percent were a direct result of obesity and "34,000 new cases of cancer", in men, where 4 percent were directly related to obesity. Though both percentages sound low, in the grand scheme of things, that means that thousands of people are at risk for a deadly disease. These individuals can most likely change a few of their daily habits to reduce the chance of their obesity resulting in  cancer. 

The proof behind the correlation is in hormone production. Fat tissue "produces hormones called adipokines, which can stimulate or inhibit cell growth". This is generally how the cancer starts. A weird mutation is caused by the improper cells and then a few cells multiply into a tumor. With a projection that obesity will "lead to about 500,000 additional cases of cancer in the United States by 2030", scientists and doctors are looking for the best way to eliminate the effects of obesity on this type of enzyme production but research has shown that weight loss and a healthy diet are the best ways to lower chances.

Some argue that obesity is only linked to some cancers so there is no real reason to change because there is still a risk no matter what. They are correct in saying that there is only proof of enzyme tissues creating some types of cancer but a healthier diet and exercise can help to prevent other cancers and diseases as well. According to The American Cancer Society, ”[being] physically active on a regular basis” and “[making] healthy food choices with a focus on plant-based foods” are the “most important things you can do to help reduce your cancer risk”. So many people are at risk of cancer from their obesity but a few changes can cut down their chances of getting sick.