All posts by Bobby

Science and Religion in our society

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Over the past few decades our culture has started to tend to be more based on science and less so on religion. This trend started in the early 18th century with Deism. This was a religious philosophy shared by many of the founding fathers of the United States, as well as enlightenment thinkers. Deists believed in a creator who was not active in the present world, and that instead natural laws governed the world. Since then we have seen a gradual decline in the use of the word religion, other than a peak during the second great awakening. This has not because insinuating that people are 1/5 as religious now as they were 300 years ago, instead people no longer study religion the same way they did in the past, now learning has focused on science as shown by the blue line.

This interest in science was started around the turn of the 18th century by works such as Newton’s Principia. Newton’s and other scientists of his time set the foundation for scientific learning that we all see today. The use of the words “science, engineering, physics, and chemistry” really took off in the mid-19th century as more people began looking into new scientific fields, such as Charles Darwin and evolution.

As time went on people began to write more and more about science and less and less about religion. This shift in word usage has signaled a change in society, in the 1700’s much of a common persons education had to do with religion, and many people learned to read so that they would be able to read the bible, whereas now almost none of our formal education has anything to do with religion, and in large part consist of science, physics, chemistry, and engineering, especially here at Tech.

This change in education has changed the way that our culture thinks, no longer is religion a main topic of discussion. It is far more likely that you will witness a debate or discussion on the newest iPhone, then on the Bible. This is not to say that religious discussion is gone -the four words together barely account for more than religion when unadjusted- but instead take place in different settings. These setting are less public, although not less academic, and because of this less public nature influence culture, and therefore religion shows up in writing less. In the last hundred years religious studies have taken a back seat culturally, and because of this our culture is much more based on science than it was a few hundred years ago.

 

Big Data in Baseball

Abstract 

As Major League Baseball starts to implement player tracking it will become a big data league. Once this system is implemented, next year, alot of things will change in baseball. Teams will be able to better evaluate defensive talent, but at what cost? This shift will cost the fan’s excitement as teams limit hits by putting better defences on the field.

Continue reading Big Data in Baseball

Why to Have a Large Mass Transit System

 

When this project was assigned I immediately thought of two things I am passionate about, sports, and civil engineering. I decided that it would be interesting to look at my home town as well, so I was left with two options talk about the Cubs or the ‘L’ (which is ironically the way I get to cubs games). I choose the ‘L’ and to compare it to Marta. I noticed right when I arrived at Tech the huge differences between these two systems, and was interested in how they affect the cities they are in.

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This slide allowed me to show a lot of information about how these two systems impact their respective cities without having to show a whole page of numbers. The only numbers on here are minute values that are also represented visually. This slide allowed me to show the impacts larger mass transit has on ridership, pollution, and commute time, some of the big parts of my claim, all on one slide.

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This slide is not as integral to the argument that I am making, but I think it is worth including because of it’s shock factor. We consider ourselves to be living in a big fairly crowed city, and we think of Chicago much the same way. However, as this graph shows us, neither of these cities are very dense at all, it should get the viewer thinking that if mass transit works in a city as spread out as Chicago, imagine how effective it could be in  Mumbai, the densest city.

One thing I was not able to address during the presentation, although I able to answer a question afterwards in class, is how Atlanta could improve their mass transit. This is something I wish I could have gone into more, as I find this problem much more interesting. However, their is really no one good solution as any I would present would cost more money than most tax payers would be willing to spend. Nevertheless, I would start by creating a commuter rail service that would allow commuters in the suburbs to take the train to work. This would look something like the Metra in Chicago, which many professionals, my dad included, take into the city every day. Atlanta is already a freight rail hub, and could use this to their advantage by expanding already existing infrastructure.

I tried to choose a topic that was able to incorporate my interests with the themes of this class, and I believe I was able to do this by researching and presenting information on a topic that has the potential to change our everyday lives.

Whose Side is Congress on?

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In this Edward Snowden interview James Bamford spends two weeks in Moscow to get the chance to interview Snowden. James Bamford asks Snowden about his life and work for NSA. Snowden talks about how he came to work for the CIA and then eventually the NSA. He talks about the doubts and troubles he had when first being exposed to larger and larger breaches of privacy. He tells Bamford about the first time he copied NSA information to be released later, while he was in Hawai’i in early 2012, and how as he moved up the ranks he became more and more disturbed, gathering more files all the while. Finally when Snowden got wind of MonsterMind, an NSA computer capable of starting cyber attacks autonomously, and the NSA director blatantly lying to the public he broke. That is when, on March 13, 2013, he decided to act.

 

Greenwald and Bamford have very similar views on Ed Snowden. They both agree with what he did, and that the NSA has gone too far. They both support him coming back home and receiving a fair trial, in short they both think Snowden was right and justified in what he did. Where they differ in opinion is much more interesting. While Greenwald denounces Congress, the President, and pretty much any other government body you care to name, Bamford is not so quick to hand out judgments.

Bamford very prominently displays that, “the US House of Representatives moves to put the brakes on the NSA. By a lopsided 293-to-123 tally, members vote to halt the agency’s practice of conducting warrantless searches of a vast database that contains millions of Americans’ emails and phone calls.” Bamford believes that Congress is against the NSA’s surveillance while Greenwald criticizes the way that Congress and the government act at every turn.

Greenwald condemns the whole US government, implying that they have taken away rights given in the Constitution (4th amendment) and the Declaration of Independence (pursuit of happiness, and to revolt). Giving the impression that nothing short of a complete overhaul can fix this problem. Bamford on the other hand believes in all three branches of the government, Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court, to help fix this issue. He believes that the NSA is one lone rouge branch that can and will be contained. While Bamford and Greenwald agree on Snowden, they cannot seem to agree on how we should fix this problem that has been exposed.

Using Positive Statistics the Wrong Way

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Immediately this picture draws our attention to two things, the words “worth it?” and the price tag on the graduation cap. This simplifies the whole argument of this infographic to the point where it can easily be picked up in a matter of seconds.  by comparing the large amount of debt owed by graduates and the huge increase in for-profit institutions to the relatively small increase in starting salaries, the author gets the audience to start questioning whether going to school is really worth it. This is done by short snippets of facts that are otherwise unsupported. One of the sources listed on the graphic is the College Board. On the College Board’s website they state, “The purpose of the College Board is to develop and coordinate activities related to student academic preparation, admission, financial aid, and success in postsecondary/higher education. In carrying out these activities the College Board is committed to access and equity for all students,” (https://www.collegeboard.org/about/governance/bylaws). This info graphic is using stats published by the College Board with the purpose of showing, “success in postsecondary/higher education,” to try and prove getting a 4-year degree is not worth it. By doing this the author takes the facts and statistics out of contexts and uses them to try and say that by not going to college you are somehow making yourself more unique and marketable. The truth is quite the opposite, when hiring for any job no employer would hire the high school dropout over someone with a BS or BA. That is the reason so many more people are going to college now, because even though you might build up debt by going to school, the investment will pay off with more lucrative job opportunities and better financial prospects. Just by scanning the list of sources, which are placed in very small print in the corner of the page, one can see how ridiculous it is that some would have any negative statistics about the value of getting a degree. Besides the College Board, who not only makes it their purpose to promote secondary education, but whose profit also depends on the interest of students wanting a postsecondary education,  the infographic also sites the Board of Education who states, “ED’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access,” (http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/mission/mission.html). By taking two such out of context sources and using them to prove a point contradictory to both, without using them as a counterargument, destroys the credibility of this infographic and shows how easily facts can be manipulated to try to prove the opposite point.

Think Twice About Plastic

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Reckas, Ted. “The Plastics Breakdown: An Infographic.” One World One Ocean Campaign.  MacGillivray Freeman Films. 13 Sept 2012. Web. 8 Sept 2014.

 

 

Infographics are created to make an argument, and this does not just include the facts and numbers included in graphic. Right away our eyes are drawn to the swordfish cutting through a chunk of text with caught in a plastic bag. This image instantly makes the viewer want to help this poor fish, accomplishing the goal of the infographic before anyone even reads the first word. When you take a closer look at all the animals on the graphic they are almost all given human emotions and expressions, there is even a couple of fish wearing glasses, which allows the viewer to instantly relate to all of the animals depicted. These emotions are brought out even more by the color scheme used, all the blues and greens and cool colors give the graphic a sad look even without any of the context. From the swordfish our eyes are drawn to the right hand panel. The viewers eyes are drawn here for several reasons, first it is distinguished by a box and a different background color, also the information inside looks very organized, and therefore a good place to start reading. All of the facts in this box are accompanied by images we relate to death, bio-hazard signs and skulls, as well as certain words, like toxic and petroleum. These words and phrases are printed much larger than the other text, and therefore have a much larger impact on us. By just looking at these two places on the graphic the average viewer has already been convinced that plastic in the ocean is something bad that we need to stop, and that mean the graphic has done its job. All of the real facts do not need to be read, and in fact nothing is really gained from reading them, all of the reactions that you will likely experience from this picture will come in the first few seconds of viewing it.

 

Too Much Information?

“Before Eisenstein’s work appeared in 1979, no one had attempted a comprehensive study of printing as the communications revolution essential to the transition from medieval times to modernity. Textbooks, as she noted, tended to slot the printing press somewhere between the Black Death and the discovery of America,” (The Information by James Gleick, 399)

 

While I was reading through James Gleick’s The Information this passage jumped out at me. After reading through the excerpt which kept talking about how saturated our culture has become with information over the past five hundred years, I came back  to this passage. It’s hard to believe that after five hundred years of information overload no one had really wrote about how the printing press and communication gave rise to modern times. This seems to contradict what Gleick is saying, because if we were really over saturated with information would not all views on history, including  Eisenstein’s, be available to everyone who is willing to search for it.  In order to reach an over saturation of information we would need to assemble every scrap of knowledge, and every single original idea. Although we have reached an age where it is much easier to find and access information about nearly everything, we have not reached this level of information. There are still a great many subjects on which we do not have any information at all. We are still searching for this information, and therefore have room for more. Only after we discover and create all of this information would our lives be truly over saturated. Until then our abundance of information can always be used to learn and create more.

Just as we are no longer astounded by the amount of information kept in books, a time will come when people will not be impressed with the amount of information the internet has to offer. Even now a generation is growing up to whom the internet is quite ordinary and who know how to navigate its vast collection of information. To this population information overload does not exist, they will be able to access information on the internet with ease. At the same time people who did not grow up with the internet are experiencing a very real information overload. There is more information than they are used to at their fingertips and until they will continue to experience information overload until they are able to navigate the immense quantities of information effectively and efficiently. Once this happens this information overload will pass until the next big information technology brings a new overload upon us.

 

 

Truth of Fact Video Responce

 

When planing my video I decided that because of the short length I felt that I did not have enough time to focus on any one question more than the others. Therefore I tried to evenly distribute my time other the topics I covered. Making a video made this turn out much different than if it were an essay. In a video emotions are made much clearer as it is not just your words that are being heard, but emotions as well through tone and  body language. Body language also  shows how the speaker feels about a certain subject as a whole and not just their views. Also, mise-en-scene, all the other things put into the shot, can give the speaker credibility, or tear the viewers attention away from what is being said.  All of these factors made producing a video much different and pose different challenges than writing a traditional response or essay