Category Archives: Society

Police dog released on mother with baby stroller at Anaheim

Anaheim, California: the place where a police attack dog was released on a mother and her baby stroller (see 1:25 for the scene followed by a short comment from the mother).

So this happened, and I am beyond appalled. The families were reportedly having a community picnic to discuss a future rally in support of  Manuel Diaz who was shot by police. According to Sgt. Bob Dunn, the department’s spokesman, the crowd advanced on officers and threw bottles as the officers investigated the scene of a second shooting that killed Joel Acevedo. The police officers then fired bean bags and pepper balls at the crowd.  According to Anaheim Sgt. Bob Dunn, Diaz  was  “one of three men who ran away from officers who approached them in an alley,” which lead to the fatal shooting.

Oh, and that police dog? Dunn said the dog somehow got out of a patrol car and was “deployed accidentally.”

Of course, the situation must  be looked at from all sides. According to a few sources, police say Diaz was a known gang member. This would give reason for him to run from the police perhaps in fear of being caught for being involved in gang-related crimes. I still cannot understand how this would justify the murder of Diaz. According to the news report, Diaz was approached in an alley and shot while he ran away, but a video of the incident shows that Diaz’s head was covered in blood, raising doubts about whether the police’s actions were justified.

Though if you’re looking for justification, you might find a few questionable theories if you read the comments on the Yahoo news article, where “illegal immigrant” is used in many of them. What basis is there to support this claim that Diaz was an illegal immigrant? Ah, yes, we have this undoubtedly valid piece of evidence : his Latino name. (/sarcasm)

I may not live in the USA, but where I am from we call this discrimination. I am very well aware many view illegal immigration as a prime issue in the US and there are valid reasons for which I will not argue with, but to instantly assume that Manuel Diaz was an illegal immigrant is absolutely ignorant and unforgivable.  No matter the situation of Manuel’s criminal history or legal status in the US, police opened fire on children and “accidentally” unleashed a police dog. You cannot argue against these facts. It is absolutely absurd for a police officer to wield a weapon he/she cannot control, what makes it any different if that ‘tool’ was a dog?

All in all, I’m really not sure what to think of this whole situation. I still cannot wipe the grime off the idea that a child was shot because police knowingly fired into that crowd.

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Oh, you got sick during your vacation leave? Have another.

by Willem van de Kerkhof

The Court of Justice of the European Union made a decision this week that if you get sick during your guaranteed, annual, four to six weeks of paid vacation leave, you should get to have another. After all,

…the purpose of entitlement to paid annual leave is to enable the worker to rest and enjoy a period of relaxation and leisure. The purpose of entitlement to
sick leave is different, since it enables a worker to recover from an illness that has caused him to be unfit for work.

I thought this was a great ruling on the side of the European Union, particularly during a time when Europe is ” mired in recession, governments struggling to reduce budget deficits and officials trying to combat high unemployment.” In light of the economy, I’m sure this was a difficult decision to make. People are still people, and they deserve to live their lives well without working themselves to the bone. After reading about this ruling in the NY Times, I decided to research other countries’ vacation policies.

In doing so, I have learned that Canadian workers are entitled to two weeks of vacation leave per year, paid a minimum of 4% their regular wage.

In China, the number of days granted for paid leave increases with the time length of consecutive employment (this is not uncommon among countries). That is to say if you have worked under an employer for one to ten years, you are entitled 5 days of vacation leave with full pay; 10 to 20 grants you ten days; 20 and above grants you 15 days.

On the other hand,  Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of the USA “does not require payment for time not worked, such as vacations, sick leave or holidays (federal or otherwise).” Although there is no legislated minimum, it has been estimated that average employers grant their employees 15 days of vacation. The USA is the only advanced country without a national vacation policy.

This information really made me think about the extent to which full-time employees (in the most generic sense) spend working. I can’t help but be reminded of the feelings I had when I wrote my previous blog post: What can I do with my life such that I will feel satisfied spending 8 hours a day doing my work? Will I really be able to find a career for which I will happily wake up at 7am every weekday? I’m not sure about my future, but for now I will concentrate on gaining experience and information about careers I can potentially pursue as I finish up my undergraduate degree.

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“I’m smart. You’re not.” — What’s wrong with our educational system?

Children learn very early in their schooling how to determine intelligence: grades. But is intelligence really this black and white?

This post is inspired by a conversation I had with three good friends from my highschool. As we were having dinner, we started to talk about the relationship between the general beliefs society, how the media affects those beliefs, and the crucial lesson that is almost completely lost in the educational system: how to think critically.

Society’s beliefs are made up of so many factors, but the general consensus is apparent to everyone in the population: bad grades = stupid

With regards to schooling, this consensus has driven us to severely undermine the potential of students based on their performance in school. We are told at a young age that if we work hard, we will get a good education, which will then lead us to a good job. This is something many youth don’t believe, and they have reason not to. Post-secondary degrees no longer guarantee jobs, but students aren’t being presented with appealing alternatives. This is to say that young adults that don’t get a post-secondary education, be it by choice or because of poor grades, are being viewed as “failures” by society.

I think this view is mostly because of the interpretation of good grades as intelligence. This is so false a notion I cannot even fathom how much I hate this mode of thinking. BLARGH. There are seven types of intelligences:

Your grades do NOT measure your intelligence! The only intelligence that gets measured in the common classroom is logical-mathematical. Every other intelligence gets shunned within classroom walls or is only implicitly acknowledged. Classes that are available to students which focus on the other intelligences tend to be undermined. Our society doesn’t value “skills that aren’t in the standard curriculum” (frenchfirecracker) and this is stunting the potential of many students. As a result, intelligent people are thinking that they are not intelligent because their strength lies in intelligences that aren’t reflected in their school grades.

When I was going through highschool, university was the most realistic option. My parents were (are) both working and I had good grades. I had not even considered any alternatives to a university education. I wasn’t aware there were any alternatives—like apprenticeship and vocational studies—as I completed my application forms to McMaster University and the University of Waterloo. In highschool, there was this constant unspoken pressure that if you wished to pursue a career that wasn’t in science, math, or business, you would have a hard time getting a job.

I knew many students who weren’t getting good grades but were so, so good at things outside of the classroom. These students were often the ones that grew up hating school and learning.

Education is a process of living and not a preparation for future living. – John Dewey

The youth of today are being saturated by so many mediums of knowledge: television, the internet, books, video games, etc. There is just so much access to new things to learn from, be the information vocational (career-related) or not. It’s no wonder students get bored in school. Why would anyone be interested in knowing the various mechanisms a benzene ring can undergo under acidic conditions when they can instead be learning about something that truly interests them from random websites on the internet? Our students are not getting “dumber” nor is ADHD an epidemic  among them. It’s just that the things they are learning in school and the way in which it is presented to them is just so  boring when compared to things they can learn about on their own, that they would choose to learn about.

What can be done about this lack of interest amidst an oversaturated life of knowledge? I’m not really sure. One thing I do know is that encouraging students to think outside of the box is the best way to prepare them for any sort of future. The educational system doesn’t stress critical and creative thinking enough, at least not for my taste.

School shouldn’t be all about getting the right answer. In the bigger picture of life, there isn’t always a correct answer. What should be more emphasized is the process of getting to that answer by thinking creatively and critically.

This post was inspired by this video by the RSA (an enlightenment organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges) on Changing Education Paradigms. Please take a look and let me know what you think! Is the way our schools are structured enough to prepare our youth for the future? What should change? What needs to change?

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Why women are choosey and men are flousy

By Danumurthi Mahendra

Take a look at any society in the world and you will see a trend among genders: when it comes to relationships, women are more likely to be the “picky ones,” whereas men are the ones that must impress. In human culture, the need to impress can go both ways but there is actually a biological root to the way our dating culture is designed.

In the majority of sexually reproducing animal species, the female invests more energy to produce offspring than males do. This is energy going to produce eggs, carrying young in the womb, and/or rearing the young after they’ve been introduced to the world. In the case of producing eggs, females have a limited supply of eggs. The average human female will release about 480 eggs in her lifetime, one per month. For some mammalian species, offspring are dependent on their mothers for years; having children is an expensive investment for a female.

Males, on the other hand, do not invest as much into the conception of offspring. In the mammalian kingdom, male parental care is relatively rare. Their prime investment comes from the deposit of sperm. The average human male will produce 66 million sperm per mL of ejaculate. Sperm is relatively cheap in terms of energy cost of production.

So… where does that leave us?

The fact of life is that every individual is biological driven to survive and reproduce. That is the most prime instinct in living beings: to pass on their genes to the next generation. As such, mating with an individual with good genes (genes that encode resistance to disease, strength, etc.) gives oneself the best odds of having healthy offspring to carry on one’s genes.

Females have more to lose during mating than males do; for females to maximize their reproductive success, they must choose the best mate with the best genes. 

Males don’t invest as much in the production of offspring; for males to maximize their reproductive success, they should mate with as many females as they can.

This raises some questions: if human males don’t invest as much in to offspring and are biologically driven to mate with as many females as possible, why does monogamy exist?

The answer is because of the reproductive advantages of parental care. Monogamy exists in a number of species, such as birds and fish. Dating is a result of the evolution of parental care in humans; if a male helps the female rear its young, the male benefits by having a guarantee that its genes are being passed on as healthy offspring. The female benefits by not having to invest as much energy into rearing offspring alone. Since parental care in mammals was traditionally a female role, the male will aid the female by providing food and protection for both its young and its mate. This is where the notion of men being the bread-winners has a biological root.

What does all this biology mumbo-jumbo say about how our societies should run? Well, nothing. This is because we have something that contradicts biological ‘roles’:  culture. Humans are unique in nature for having a drive to live beyond the scope of survival and reproduction. We have come to desire much more than our animalian relatives: knowledge. Any dolphin can desire pleasure or happiness, but only humans crave knowledge. I feel that this is what truly sets human apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.

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