England-2011-bill

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Bill's Journal

First question.

1.Racism/prejudice: Born from ignorance and fear, false constructs of identity based around skin color, nationality and gender have perpetuated violence and oppression over the past three hundred years. This issue is by no means absent from our present lives, seeping in though advertisement, culture, and almost every imaginable facet of social media. I would argue that Education, science and technology being vital to its success, is the only means by which prejudice and racism can be dispelled from our lives.

In the past, science has been a double edged sword. We have seen that when placed in the hands of those who would propagate injustice, “scientific findings” have been used to justify some of the most violent and horrific events yet known to man. However, as scientist have moved away from bias, the false claims utilized by Nazi, and eugenic scientist have been dispelled. The clarity we have attained through studies of human DNA prove conclusively that there is no justification for judgments of value between different phenotypes.

Technology offers us a chance to spread these findings, and in fact, to further examine the positive qualities shared by all peoples. Not only does technology offer us a chance to refine our study of DNA, but further gives us the ability to disperse information and improve education. Computers, as they become cheaper and portable, offers a comparable proliferation of knowledge last seen after the invention of movable type in tandem with the printing press. Of course, both science and technology must be kept in check so that their findings and creations are not interpreted for the sake of the privileged and malicious.

2.Labor: Of the many arguments facing those who advocate communism is how to find a way to insure the freedom to pursue greater callings while at the same time assuring the supply of food and goods are maintained. I would argue that although one could not be more alienated from Labor then by the replacement of the man by machine, technology offers up the possibility of reducing labor requirements in sectors such as agriculture and production allowing for the discovery of humanity's greater potential.

Thanks to technology, namely Global positioning satellites and artificial intelligence, tractors can plant, water, and harvest without a farmer. Assembly plants likewise can be automated and left almost unmanned. If we can execute a metal shift that stresses that our strength is not found in the excess we can produce, but simply in our capacity to insure our survival, technology can offer us freedom from consumerism.

We cannot make man into a machine, as capitalist have attempted to do, but instead we must simply free him from labor that generates the alienation brought about by the need for mass agriculture and industrial production . Hence, though technology we may finally free humanity in order to bring out those products that only humanity can offer; scientific, political, artistic and philosophical thought.

3.Drug addiction: Addiction is, of course, nothing new to humanity seeing as narcissism was born along with identity. New designer drugs however, bring to the fore a nemesis to health and wellbeing never before conceived. Meth is just one of the long line of drugs who’s origin rests comfortably with, ironically enough, medical science and technology. Although we can blame science and technology for the proliferation of drugs in recent years, we must admit that science and technology are amongst the few human endeavors which can indeed, dig themselves out of their own shit. The study of the human body gives us insight into how and why a drug works. By studying the process by which the brain and body become addicted we can come to a better understanding of how to counter it. Drugs, (although methadone and cocaine are in fact, the result of such a process) can embody our scientific understanding of addiction. We can develop new methods of treatment in order to counteract the effect of various hard drugs. Technology's shortcoming is that it can never overcome the stupidity inherent within man.


Atmosphere 1: 1.Which specific aspects of climate change did the designers of atmosphere choose to focus on? Our exploration of the "Atmosphere" exhibit at the Science museum had a total of five major areas. The first area was a semi-comprehensive explanation of how climate works. They provided and interactive model of the earth that demonstrated how the earth's rotation and sunlight were affects involved in the generation of various climate zones. They also offered various geological segments demonstrating the effects of varying climates. Sequentially, the designers presented what this meant and how we could bare witness to it in our immediate environment. next they gave a review of the scientist who noticed the effects of industry and pollution, and offered a slight review of the consequences. the final two sections focused on how the world, people, and life in general would be affected by climate change and the overconsumption of fossil fuels. then they demonstrated various methods via various means of as to how we would counter and reform our modern tenancies. 2.How well sourced was the science and technology discussed in the kiosks? For some displays, we were offered little to no recourse to who or when information was formulated and accepted. Although, for each kiosk, a computer was provided that offered observers a chance to explore further, let me just say that MLA format was not employed. Only the section focusing on contributers to the scientific revelations, which predicted the risks at hand, were in any way provided for. 3.What was the most surprising thing you learned? One can measure temperature, carbon levels in the atmosphere, and major events by examining ice core samples taken from the Antarctic. Which of the interactive kiosks did you find most engaging? Why? The games, which were prevalent and associated with almost every section of the display, offered the surreal opportunity to participate in every level of climate change and atmospheric science. Being able build a successful climate and at the same time rain destruction upon it, and then correct it in an simulation of the political world brought a feeling of investment and interest. When i was made to care for my own investment, i was also inspired to care for the science behind what i was fighting or propagating. 4.Which of the interactive kiosks did you find least engaging? Why? Unfortunately there were two kiosks that were typically disengaging. At every kiosk, one could explore the encyclopedia of information that supported the section. Although you could see a tree of data, the display failed to engage the user for there was no reason to look deeper. the display was too passive. In a way, displays which merely fed information without asking from the viewer failed to gain attention. Waving my hand does not ask that my intelligence or understanding be applied. Clicking on various characters and choosing the simulation that foretold their doom does not entice me, for what is at stake? Games, on the other hand, gave me something to care about.


Greenland Review Our viewing of Greenland was a immersive experience into the world of English political theater. The play focused on the lives of individuals caught up in an environment permeated by Climate Change. From the perspective of a young girl who faces a bleak future at the hands of her oblivious partents, to the metaphysical moral delema placed on a game show participant, the play exhausted the range of narratives within the typical leftist trope of political frustration.

The play, although well written and engaging, fails to account for several major issues surrounding both climate change and the proliferation of discourse on the subject. The most apparent issue, one the writers made clear, was that the audience was of the middle to upper class population who can afford, and are primarily absorbed by the climate change debate. Theater appeals only to a select crowd, namely those who can afford both the cash and timely cost. The play also suffered from appealing only to one political demographic, ie liberal white octogenarians and former hippys, if not the “revolutionaries” predestined by their personal leanings to attend. Due to this phenomenon, the play failed to reach a greater audience. if the play pointed out one thing clearly, its that we are all doomed.

This was another fall back; that no resolution was reached. The only finality came with the passing of a researcher in Alaska who for the length of the play, hallucinated his childhood experience. The viewer was left with the impression of impending doom, and no recourse to fighting global warming. On the national end, nations could not agree to cut emissions. Political activism in the lives of individuals was useless due to a vastness and inconstancy in constituent groups and misunderstood by the generations who did not feel the weight of the situation. The game show contestant ran off stage without revealing any victory or prize money, and only after concluding a speech on the short comings of putting all of ones eggs in one basket. Lacking any outlet, other than despair that is, to fighting climate change comes with either total cooperation or little hope we can place in individuals fighting for a cause. It seemed strange to my peers and I that such an emphasis on science, players stating repeatedly that “science can do anything” , but offer an understanding as to how to counter act the change.

If nothing else, this was the final nail in the coffin. A great amount of scientific information was provided, although without much citation. It was also mixed in with a “simulation” of the worst case scenario. The convoluted presentation of information, regardless of formal theatrical professionalism, damaged the credibility of the play. The Science may be proven and reputable, but they certainly leave room for doubt. As my dad once said to me “Bill, if someone is shouting at you, it means they don’t thing you will believe them. Chances are they don’t believe it themselves.”

Over all the play was entertaining, and cleaver. The political goals however are undermined by the nature of the medium (theater), and an analysis that is typical of a fatalist. I wonder if they sort out and reused the paper dropped from above throughout the play. That way, when the end times come, we will still have something to burn.

Reflections on Climate Change It is not a question, nor has it really ever been a question for me, whether or not the world is changing. From a rather esoteric standpoint the question seems absurd. What does need admitting is this: the Climate is soon to deal a great blow to life of the earth, and humans stand to lose the most(human-centric of me, I know). Many sources can tell you about how and why this has happened, and offer up many alternatives for obstructing the downfall of the climate as we know it. A reaction like this however, is not warranted. Greenland, a play we watched as a class, suggest that all is lost! That is only so if we think of the demise of our civilization as some sort of catastrophe. Yes, I will admit that sleeping without a mattress can really hurt, but that is the cost of making too many beds! We also need to see the world as a greater, organic being who does not deepened on skyscrapers and sliced bread to propagate life. I have come to understand that the future is inevitable, but providing now, what we need to sustain life on a level close the current standard of living is exactly was is required.

I came to this opinion only after a conflagration of mediums were made available to me. Each had a different temporal effect on me. Theater made it an emotional issue, while a museum offered the space to interact with the science involved with understanding climate change. Reading provided the bare bones of scientific fact. IF I had but one, say the interactivity of the museum, the reality would not dawn on me that climate change is more than a mere game, that living beings with emotional value stood to lose something from climate change.

I am optimistic about the wide variety of mediums available to me here in London. There is a real drive to generate awareness on the issue. At Earlham, we cannot get enough of climate change this, and climate change that, and so it feels like home. At Earlham however, it seems that we can be insincere in our investment. Students, more pointedly, are engaged in a process of appearance, i.e. climate change is something that brings you into the social fold. This does not remove Earlham and London from having a positive impact on the worlds awareness of climate change. When Students discussed the Fetishizaion of the Individual they pointed out how capitalism can suggest participation via products that limit the responsibility of the individual to the community. I hear lines such as “oh, I brought my canvas bag with me in the jeep when I went to Jewel down the block, dear” every day in North Suburban Chicago. Free museums with “Atmosphere” displays are for more impressive on the mind and offer a greater awareness of the science behind climate change.

Science at the Kew: I have had a strange relationship with botanic gardens ever since my senior year of high school. Me and a Friend went to the Chicago Botanic Gardens hopping to find wild sanctuary and lush preserves natural environments. No, we found a museum about gardens. This was the problem i found with the Kew. It was beautiful, but few people could do much more with the actual science that marvel at that to which it refers. In other words, angiosperms do not mean much to visitors, even though they mostly "ooed and awed" at flowering plants. The encyclopedic character of science often scares people away, and damaging public appreciation for science. Still, when the sun breaks through the clouds and the flowers bloom, the Kew offers us a chance to really see the world we could lose to our own Hubris.

Paper Topic: Here is my assignment write up in a more coherent form:

The relationship of science, technology and society is by all means complex. For the sake of the assignment I would like to explore how they interact by focusing on the social relation/reaction to science and technology amongst the “essential discourse” (philosophy). I would begin with the early Greek philosophers, who themselves were responsible for a vast amount of scientific findings. Their understanding of the world, of course, disappears during the dark ages. After this point in history, we reach the renaissance and enlightenment.

These two event in history are the points of departure for both scientific inquiry, technological advancement. They are linked with the philosophical debate over perception and knowledge. Historically this has been framed as the Rationalists vs. the Empiricists. This debate has major ramifications for scientific inquiry and furthermore, allows Immanuel Kant to found a idealist projection of human progress, beginning our current mode of technological advancement.

I would hope to show how Thinking has responded to and influenced both science and technology in the modern era. From G.W. Hegel onward we can see the progression of modernity, the idea of technological advancement as an essential part of “humanity”, and how science subsequently became an imperial force in relation to its subjects of study. From Nietzsche to Heidegger, we can see reactions to both science and technology that seek to articulate the problematic methods and results of scientific progress. Finally, I want to look into Simulation as the final consequence of technological analysis, and its analogous position to the thinking of “Science”.

Within all of this will be bits of feminist and postcolonial critique that provide a empirical exposure to the results of our historical threesome with the world of knowledge, understanding and application.

I think this is a good topic with lots of interesting material in the areas of science, technology and society; make sure to cover all three. Also make sure to maintain focus on the core of science, technology and society and not to wander too far off that track. Remember that simulation is really just the automation of a model, that is first we build a mathematical model of a system (which in itself is a complex and potentially flawed process with lots of approximations) and then we automate it by encoding it in software and running it as a simulation on a computing system, which involves further approximations, compromises, etc. There is a lot to explore in those processes alone. Carry on!

Chapter 17: Biotechnology 1. Can DNA fingerprinting be bypassed without simply tampering with the sample? In other words, can we distort our personal DNA if we can isolate it.

2. Can a person who has undergone genetic engineering, be "un-engineered"?

3. Will an individual who has altered genes produce offspring with the same alterations encoded in their genes?

First STC Question: Chapter one, Question Two It is vital, i believe, to understand Technology as not being limited to the generation of material objects as part of a system. The chapter defines Technology as a system and in so doing, identifies the notion of technology as a technology itself. Politics and political systems that are expressed as governments and infrastructures are technologies. Human communication, from the manifold forms of language to artistic expression also fall into the category of technology.

AS Volti points out, the ignorant conception of technology as merely some sort of object limits the possibility of our utilization of our creations. when we think of a hammer as the technology of striking so to speak, we find ourselves unable to recognize the capacity to join wood in the creation of a table or house which in term provides shelter. Shelter then allows people to settle and develop the technology of civilization. We also fall prey to the negative consequences of technology. When we think of our nuclear weapons as devices for the destruction of cities in times of war, we fail to see the technology of war as a whole system. When we lose sight of the totality of technology as a system, we thus lose sight of its essence, the "Why" of technology. To be occupied solely by the material reality of technology, its artifacts, is to simply miss technology itself. Hence i would stress the need to understand technology as a larger entity.


Second STC Question:

Question four, as well as Volti's comments on the state of communist China and the USSR continue a trend in biased and distorted statements. He blatantly ignores the historical figures and the acts perpetrated by their parties, choosing instead to place the blame on centralized economy and government. He also maintains various normative assumptions detrimental to the progress of humanity in the dissolution of negative race relations, and exploitive economic relations among other things. I intend to articulate how, ideally, a communist community, not a "developing nation" which we might identify as "backward" in his opinion.

It must be noted that in a capitalist system, competition is the main driver of change and innovation. In a society, though which people find the means to their survival and well being, it is easy to recognize that innovation allows the whole to benefit and in turn the individual reaps the reward. using this notion of motivation, as a leader i would encourage the population to search out ways to increase output. It would also be vital to ensure that the movement of goods can be provided. that way innovators would not be limited to local resources. collective labors too would meet with support from the government. because it would be impractical and unreasonable to give some sort of reward to these communities, however the neutralization of consumerist drives would generate a totally new notion of what is of value. It might at once become clear to the inventors of a machine that saves 10 hours of active labor a week, that the reading they are engrossed in was made possible though their work. that the reading might further excite their minds and provide greater inspiration to them as to how they might advance toward a happier future. Dictators, weather they be the free market or Stalin, do little to do anything but inhibit the power of human innovation. they merely give it direction. Volti is correct, soviet cars were not great, but we must also ask why we have a small blue pill and not a cure of HIV.

STS Question 3: Leader of a poor country Q3 To cast myself as a leader to a “poor” country leaves out a vast array of characteristics that would help in crafting my response. Well, given the prejudice of our author, to be poor has a direct link with having a communist nation. This would be my government. As a leader, my aim would be to employ technology that was feasible within the means given. Having a closed economy would, of course, limit the possibilities available for diffusion. None the less, limiting technologies deemed consumer goods would be the primary policy of my government.

Products such as the iphone, with superfluous applications would face scrutiny, having only communication as the sole function worth much value. The economic considerations of my nation would be very different from those focused on capital gain. Outside pressure would be great, our markets would be valuable resources to the “free” market. Interior dissidents would reject, however I would stress that the aim of our nation is first to secure a standard of living the pursue the luxuries afforded by “modern technologies”.

Over all, production of food be facilitated by the most effective means available to us within our limits. Resources would be harvested in a similar manner, our aim would be to work within reality.

STS Question 4: To terminate life? Q4 After having taken a Bioethics class, I can admit that there is a great amount of ambiguity in end of life issues. Since the question allows me to vent my own perspective on this issue, I will take liberties with my response.

Life, for me at least, is something lived. Vegetables… well if the analogy is false, and vegetables in hospital beds and out in fields are indeed sentient, than vegetarians and vegans would find themselves in a pickle. It is my opinion that, seeing as those in persistent vegetative states are unlikely to magically regain the utility of their violently damaged cranial content, they can hardly be considered living. It is cruel to both sustain body without the ability to sustain itself, and to spend resources upon this being without recognizing the cost to those who are able, who can recover, who have not due conditions imposed upon them from without and not from within.

I don’t trust government as it stands today, yet if it is the only way to move beyond dogmatic convictions, it would be necessary. As long as there is no order pre-existing, and politicians are not engineering the situation, the government ought to draw a line beyond which none shall pass. In other words, there should be limits for those who are in a PVS.

STS Question 5: pros and cons of patenting It is not hard for me to agree with Volti, that there are definite benefits to patents on genetic information within a free market system. The financial benefits are vast, particularly in the United States where a privatized medical system grants pharmaceutical companies the ability to charge millions for the results of their labor. It also means that abuses are limited. A company cannot just claim to have such and such genetic information. They cannot, likewise, sell false products that may endanger buyers.

On the other hand, Genetic material is not novel for everyone has them and expresses them in the most effective way at all times. Moreover, just as one cannot patent water as it is a necessity, genes too are already in the public domain. I know that these arguments seem to be a stretch, but to take a persons genetic material and express it in GT and C does not really remove it from the essential reality of it (my skin, my nose, my taste buds). It is therefore not legitimate, to attempt the patenting of genes. Ethically, this becomes clear when the cons of gene patenting are listed.

If a company can patent certain genetic information, for example those that can determine whether or not one has a 80% risk of developing breast cancer, they can change whatever they want for test that will reveal this information. This means that many people without ample financial means will be condemned to passing on a major killer and a major “dehabilitator”. We also become disconnected from ourselves as living creatures. We assume, as Volti points out, that genes are strictly expressed and that we can inhabit the written codes. We are for more of a conflagration of the code and our environment. If we are to be a code, we might as well be part of the machine, we might as well think of ourselves as computers patented by Apple….. Patenting genes is absurd, and in a world where scientific and technological information is wildly misunderstood and represented, we cannot afford to allow the public to fall prey do the market system.

Sixth STS Question: Question 1 It was once in question, weather or not type was even acceptable for the art of word. Yes, Socrates himself, along with all those who preceded him, had a firm distrust of the written word. Its funny now that what is written seems to pass for truth simply due to its medium.

It can be argued that the appearance of something has more baring on our trust than that which is heard. If one looks at the movement of media trends, technology moves from the oral and audio to the visual. We have moved from Word of mouth to and rhetoric to the written word, from radio to the tv, from text format computer programs to visual simulators and video streams. We tend to trust our eyes, for our vision has great influence on our other senses. Texture has been proven reliant on our capacity to see what is felt.

Moreover, that which is textual is more permanent. Humans have an apparent obsession with longevity. From previously noted trends in health that drive hypochondriacs to early death, to time capsules aimed at some sort of eternal preservation, humans need hope in the projection of their identity into the future. The written word is solid, text is on paper, and the paper will fall to shreds long after we have died away. The word itself stays, locking down the identity we impart to our thoughts. We find solidity in the word.

This solidity, longevity, or what have you, reassures us of the commitment to the statement. We know how it feels to say something we cannot take back, to be wrong in speech. If one is willing to put down in writing their ideas, they must have a great amount of confidence in what they have to say. The natural assumption is that “it must be true”.

Forgetfulness is a human quality.

Second question.

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