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The “tragedy of the commons” has become a metaphor for the overuse and degradation of our planet’s resources. The example starts with a common plot of grazing land for domesticated animals. As everyone leads their livestock to graze there (since everyone shares the grazing land in common), the result is the depletion of the grass due to overgrazing. This story creates a microcosmic and easily digestible illustration of what we are doing on the planet with our collective resources. “Ultimately, overgrazing will cause the pasture’s food production to collapse” (Withgott & Brennan, 2009, p. 5). If we continue to use resources in our world without restraint, our global society could also collapse. The research that shows that the inhabitants of Easter Island degraded their resources by chopping down all of the trees in their ecosystem, beginning a downward spiral and effectively destroying biodiversity, demonstrates on a small-scale what we are in the process of doing globally. Will global society society face a similar demise?

One thing that I do, that causes environmental degradation in two different ways, is that I use electricity to heat my home, run my computers & technology, stove, water heater, and lights. The electricity itself is produced by Xcel energy and they have a coal-burning power plant downtown, near the Mississippi River. This plant pollutes the air and water as it burns fossil fuels to produce electricity. If this type of air pollution continues without restraint, then we may run out of good, clean air to breath and respiratory illness could become a pandemic. Also, the circuit boards and other components that make up the technology that I use with electricity are made up of petroleum-based plastics and other materials that are being depleted rapidly, not to mention gallons of water that are used in the production of these devices and computers. If we use up all of the oil in the ground, it can’t be replaced for millennia and damage could be done to our planet’s structure by draining all of the oil out from under the surface. If we drain the aquifers, we may also endanger our survival since water is essential for life. There already are the beginnings of water wars in some areas of the globe.

This is linked to the tragedy of the commons since water is a common resource, as is the air. If we deplete our potable water and poison our air, we have degraded our resources. Regarding the shared resources that are at risk, Miller & Spoolman (2010) wrote that “we are environmentally degrading many openly shared renewable resources” (p. 9). Oil is another resource that the globe has in common, and if we use it all up, we will be left with none for the foreseeable future. Such circumstances would reduce the quality of life for our children.

One way to lessen the impact of my use of electricity is to use less electricity by only turning on a light if necessary, turning the water heater temperature down to less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and turning down the heat while wearing a sweater in the house. I could also install solar panels and tie them in to my electric system so that I could offset some of the coal emissions from Xcel energy. For every kilowatt hour that solar panels produce, one less kilowatt hour is being purchased from a dirty, coal-fired power plant. One more small solution would be to purchase LED light bulbs for all of my fixtures.

Another thing that I do that causes degradation is use paper products. I use paper on a daily basis, some of my food comes in cardboard packaging, and I use wood for repairs and enhancements to my home. This is related to the tragedy of the commons, since trees are scattered across the globe and we all share and benefit from the existence of an abundance of trees. Trees enhance aesthetics, air quality, and provide habitat for wildlife and us. If all of the trees were cut down, our future would be in peril.

I could use less paper by doing more communication and note-taking on a computer (but then would use more electricity). I could buy more fresh food from farmers markets, which would have little or no packaging and would reduce the carbon footprint since it would be grown locally and not shipped in from far away. I could also buy in bulk from the local co-op since that sort of purchasing would use less cardboard. The bulk food section usually has corn-based plastic to fill with food. I could even use composite wood products in household projects, instead of wood, in order to reduce the amount of trees that are cut down in the forests. There are even brands of sustainably grown timber that can be purchased as Miller & Spoolman (2010) mention, “certification of sustainably grown timber and of sustainably grown forest products can help consumers play their part” (p. 188). Recycling and using recycled paper products can be another part of reducing my impact on our planet’s resources.

We all share this world and its rich, diverse flora and fauna. If we all use whatever we want as much as we want, we will have nothing left. We must practice sustainability in all of our practices and choices in order to leave the planet better than we found it. “If we cannot forge sustainable solutions to our problems, then the resulting societal collapse will be global” (Withgott & Brennan, 2009, p. 7).

References

Miller, G., & Spoolman, S. (2010). Environmental Science. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.

Withgott, J., & Brennan, S. (2009). Essential Environment: The Science Behind the Stories. (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pearson Benjamin Cummings.

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Gender Roles in Television

Prime time television influences a broad spectrum of people in the United States. Some people even seem to perceive television characters as if they really exist as portrayed on a particular series. In interviews actors sometimes comment on their being approached by fans who address them as if they are the character that they portray. Since the medium of television holds such a strong influence on people, it is only relevant that we take a look at a couple of prime time television shows and examine what types of values and roles that they portray. I do not really watch TV so I had to step out of my normal sphere to write this synopsis. I chose two shows that seem to break the mold of the classic sitcom and also seem to have more progressive values.

In 2002 I was a huge fan of the British/BBC original series “The Office” so I decided to first look at the American version since it is a current prime time show and it is produced by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, both of the creators of the original British version. The premise of the show surrounds Michael Scott, a branch manager at the Scranton location of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. Michael holds the manager position in title only. He is an ineffective and incompetent boss who thinks that he is a funny entertainer but really mostly seems to get under the skin of his team. He is more concerned with his popularity at work than being a leader. He diminishes his organizational effectiveness and power by trying to impress everyone instead of doing his job. He is afraid to fire people since he doesn’t want to look like a bad guy. The other two main characters are Pam and Jim. Pam is a receptionist who aspires to be more assertive and is an artist in her spare time. Jim is a worker bee at the office who is sometimes a leader not in title but in the way he interacts with others at the office. As the series progresses Pam becomes more assertive and lands a better position while developing her work as an artist. Pam and Jim seem to be the most effective and leading employees at the office while Michael’s antics seem to further isolate him from his team. Pam and Jim fall in love and Michael eventually leaves Dunder Mifflin. Pam and Jim continue to grow and develop as people and they seem to hold more charisma and social clout than Michael.

The Office seems to send the message that actions define us more than gender. “Jo” who is played by guest star Kathy Bates is a high level manager who is a Type A personality and wields power over the employees of Dunder Mifflin. She calls the shots when she appears at the office and everyone listens. The roles of the rest of the employees are two-fold. Their titles do not always match their respective power. The show is also progressive and has a cast of homosexual and multiracial characters who are respected and treated equally which is a great for prime time audiences. The only problem that I have is that they do not have any homosexuals or races other than Europeans in positions of power. It seems unrealistic since I have had bosses at different jobs that were a variety of ethnicities. I am not sure how intentional the casting was in that regard but I didn’t think that it represented reality.

Parks and Recreation is a series that is filmed in the same “Mockumentary” style that The Office is. This series has a female main character named Lesley Snopes. Lesley is the manager of the Parks and Recreation Department of the fictional city of Pawnee. I found it to be progressive that they casted a female as the manager since parks, maintenance departments, etc. have traditionally been seen as male dominated. Lesley is a strong and respected manager who is also charismatic. The characters all seem to respect her authority as boss and listen to what she says. Chris Traeger is the City Manager who holds the purse strings. His character is vain, overly health conscious, and sort of pokes fun at the male archetype. He is afraid of aging, wants to live to be 150 years old, and freaks out on one episode about getting tendonitis. He acts child-like in thinking that he is going to die as a result of the tendonitis, and comments on the fact that he will have to do 5,000 push-ups a day instead of 10,000 in order to cut back. Lesley displays leadership qualities and does what is best for the Parks Department and proves the need for more funding while Chris portrays a more dumbed down role.

Much like The Office, Parks and Recreation has some disconnect between titles and actions, except regarding Lesley, she is the boss and she acts like one. Lesley is a good example for the younger people who watch the show. Chris on the other hand delineates from his title as City Manager. He seems somewhat foolish at times and does not display leadership qualities. That being said the show does offer a mixed view of the moving parts that make up a bureaucracy.

The lessons that I took away from turning on my TV and actually watching prime time shows is that the sitcoms that are on today offer a more balanced view of our society. There still are remnants of the old power structures and privilege in place, but it is not as simplistic as it was even a few years back. The messages these shows send seem to show the culmination of characteristics that define the social and economic status of characters are diverse. You can be a boss but still be unable to get respect or be taken seriously. You can be charismatic and still be in the process of climbing the ladder towards success. The main problem that I observe with prime time television is the lack of minorities portrayed in some of the high level positions of power on the series. As things progress and people continue to grow and learn, TV shows should evolve to include a more realistic sampling of people being portrayed as bosses and leaders.

The reason that I am blogging about this unofficial study is because we, as a nation, allow our perception to be shaped by media. Television is a one way media that most people partake in. If we allow ourselves to be influenced in our perception of gender by media then we will never rid ourselves of homophobia, bigotry, and stereotypes. It pays to take the bus, interact with more folks outside of your circle, and think critically in order to give more people a chance. I hear a lot of bloggers and other folks say some things that sound ignorant, judgmental, and at times just plain shocking. If we only watch prime time as we shape our worldview then we are not getting the full picture.

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New Soma Synapse Music

Jerusalem by Soma^SynapSe by Subroutine X

Heart to Heart by Soma^SynapSe by The Rhyme Experiment

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They know who they are. The elite gentry who claim to be on a mission to rid north Minneapolis of all of its imagined ills. I find most of these blogs to be entertaining in a Jerry Springer sort of way. First, an inflammatory post appears. Then, the mud-slinging begins and what appears to be racism, even disguised in some cases, rears its ugly head as some folks tout Marshall Law and comment on grammar, while others retort in ways that assume that all European-Americans are as ignorant as many of the hawks appear to be on blogs like The Adventures of Johnny Northside.

First of all, let’s set the record straight about north Minneapolis. This area has some problems with poverty and violence. That is true and I am not in denial. That being stated, many of these problems are a result of institutional racism and other systemic issues. Let’s put things in scope and be honest about one thing: Minnesota does not have a real ghetto. The way I hear some of the newer residents complain about how this area is “ghettofied” and about how there are so many criminals hanging about can be equated to racist fear-mongering. Chicago has a real ghetto and I have been there. It is nothing like north Minneapolis. L.A. and New York have ghettos. Milwaukee even has more of a ghetto than Minneapolis or Minnesota ever will. That is reality.

Some European-Americans will not be happy until they do not have to see any people who are different than them as they drive through the area to get to their garages. Not every group of youths hanging out on a street is a gang. They are not all drug dealers. Any kids claiming to be in a gang are probably not in a real gang since I doubt any real gangs would waste their time creating a set in the Siberia of the United States. Sure, there are small groups of wannabes who claim sets, but they are nothing more than kids who watch too much MTV. As someone who actually takes the bus, bikes, and interacts with people all over north Minneapolis, I have learned that my initial assumptions about the everyday people in this notorious Minneapolis neighborhood were flawed.

To summarize and reiterate, I acknowledge that we have crime in north Minneapolis. In fact, crime exists in all sectors of Minneapolis. North Minneapolis can solve its problems through creating opportunity for all of its people, creating healthy dialogue, and ending stereotyping on all sides. I will continue to give other bloggers hits and visits for their analytics. They are entertaining in a Jerry Springer/trashy tabloid  sort of way. The combination tabloid journalism and people loving a good argument have undoubtedly accounted for the success of such blogs.

 

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NorthMplsCulture.com Conspiracy Posts

In order to focus this site solely on the goals of NorthMplsCulture.com, we are moving all future conspiracy posts to a third-party website: www.fillmanosity.com

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Abe Says:

Abraham Lincoln

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Happy Holidays & Happy Hanukkah

It is time for many of us to gather with family and celebrate the season. Diversity is one of the strengths of our country and our local area. We are blessed to live in a country that has such a rich landscape complete with a variety of people and traditions.

America was founded by intellectuals who had knowledge and a global perspective. They were fallible humans who still had maintained a slave state. Despite their sins, they had knowledge of ancient traditions such as Kabbalah and they envisioned a more perfect union. They laid the groundwork for a secular state that would allow people of all walks of life to coexist, work together, and share ideas with each other.

North Minneapolis was a diverse area from its humble beginnings as a working class refuge for Russian and Eastern European Jewish immigrants and continues to be a diverse neighborhood with all sorts of people: African-Americans, Asian-Americans, European-Americans, and Latinos. These cultures are of many income levels, have their own gender preferences, and beliefs. In this spirit we respect each tradition that invokes a higher state of mind and wish everyone Happy Holidays and Happy Hanukkah!

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Why Accessibility on the Web?

In researching Web 3.0 and the semantic Web, Accessibility is an even broader subject than it may initially seem. First of all, accessibility is the right thing to do, so it should be practiced in Web Development for that reason alone. That being stated, Using mark-up as a way to create semantic tags to describe lists (also for navigation), alt=”–” text or a dummy tag to show that there is a divider on the page, label tags for forms, and so on including the structural tags described in the last unit. Such mark-up makes the entire site outlined in a way that makes it easier to navigate for those who use tools for accessibility or anyone who uses the site.

Another benefit is search engine optimization. Google’s advanced algorithms that are used to rank pages and sites after they are crawled by a bot are friendlier to semantically marked-up pages since the bot is able to recognize the value of the content on the page based on h1, h2 tags, etc., so it finds content that relevant to certain search queries more easily than if the tags are a jumbled mess or are not used semantically. HTML 5 seems to be taking semantic mark-up to the next level with header, section, article, and nav tags that will make it even easier for Googlebots and screen readers alike to zero in on the content hierarchy of the site to find where the information that is ought is at in the layout of the site.

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Direct Democracy

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Plan ObsoletePlan Obsolete is an experimental, avant-garde music group that has produced one of the most unique underground albums of recent history in north Minneapolis. The album is an urban operetta that follows one person’s growth into full consciousness. Based in north Minneapolis, this group is representative of the burgeoning art scene in the area. Check out Amazon.com for more info. Buy the Album Now

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