Archive for the 'News and Current Events' Category
If there is one group of people you don’t want to anger, it’s lawyers.
Right now, there is a class-action lawsuit (many people working together to sue) of recent law school graduates (people who have completed their degree) against their own law schools. They say that law schools falsely claim (say something that isn’t true) high employment rates (percentage of people working) of over 90% within a short period of time after graduation. In reality (in truth), they say, graduates aren’t working as lawyers and many not even in full-time jobs. They are working as salespeople, in restaurants, and not in their chosen field (area; type of) of work.
The litigants (people suing) not only claim that law schools inflate (make larger than something really is) employment rates to lure (attract) new students. Schools also do it to improve their rankings (positions among others) in lists of the best law schools in the country. They claim that law schools routinely (done all the time) misrepresent (show something to be different than what it really is) information, including starting salaries (money earned when you first get a job).
This is a difficult time for new college graduates in the U.S. With the economy in poor shape (condition), many are finding it hard to get jobs. Making it more difficult are the student loans the graduates took out (obtained; got) to pay their tuition (money charged by schools to attend).
Five of the law schools being sued are in California. Each of these five law schools charges about $40,000 a year for tuition, and it normally takes three years to complete a law degree if you’re a full-time student. After graduation, students only have a short time before they have to begin paying back their student loans. With over $100,000 of debt (money owed), these law school graduates are particularly angry that they can’t get jobs as easily as the law school’s promotional materials (materials used to get someone to buy or to be interested in something) suggest. Now they’re taking their case to court.
In many ways, the law profession is changing. According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, more and more tasks traditionally (normally; usually) done by lawyers are now being done by, or are made easier with, computers. It used to be that lawyers spent many hours in the law library looking up previous cases and getting other legal information. With the online services and electronic databases now available, these long hours spent — and those who worked them — are no longer necessary.
Online companies have also made it possible for people like you and me to file (to send or submit to some authority) routine legal documents ourselves, without the help of a lawyer. Experts (people with a lot of knowledge about a subject) say that even when the economy improves, there will still be a glut of (too many) lawyers working in all 50 states.
What is the state of the legal profession (jobs related to the law) where you live? Are there professions (types of jobs) where things are changing quickly, leaving many out of work?
Photo Credit: Court Gavel from Wikipedia
180 gallons (681.5 liters) a year. That’s how much The Atlantic says the typical (average) American drinks every year. That’s five small cups (or three large cups) of Starbucks coffee a day. Or it’s five cans of soda, like Coca Cola, or five glasses of milk. Does that sound like a lot? Maybe, but maybe not.
To me, the interesting part of The Atlantic article wasn’t how much Americans drink. It’s what they drink and how that’s been changing. The Atlantic tells us that “American drinking habits have undergone a major shift (change) in the last decade (ten years).” The consumption (to eat or drink something) of soda is down (has decreased) more than 15%. Bottled water is up (has increased) 50%. Energy drinks, like Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy, are up 100%. Cheap light beer is down, but craft beers are up. And wine and spirits – strong alcoholic drinks like brandy, whiskey, bourbon, and gin – are up.
The energy drink statistic (a number that represents a fact) caught my attention (made me stop and think). I’m not surprised that energy drink consumption has doubled in the last ten years. I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had tripled (increased three times) or even more. Energy drinks seem to be everywhere, including in the news.
Many people believe that energy drinks give them more energy and help them think better. Or, as the manufacturers say, they “provide consumers (people who use them) with a physical and mental edge (advantage).” However, there may be a problem.
According to a recent government study, reported by The New York Times, more than 20,000 people went to the hospital emergency room (ER) because of problems related to using energy drinks in 2011. The problems included anxiety (the feeling of being very worried), headaches, irregular (not regular) heartbeats, and heart attacks. In 2007, the number of ER visits was only 10,000.
The problem isn’t only with the energy drinks. The study also shows that nearly half of those who went to the ER “for problems related to energy drinks had consumed the drinks along with alcohol or other substances (drugs)….” Many of these are 18-to-25-year-old young men.
The government study says that “consumption of energy drinks is a rising (growing) public health problem because medical and behavioral (how someone acts) problems can result from excessive (too much) caffeine intake (consumption)…particularly for children, adolescents (teenagers), and young adults (18-25-year-olds).” The manufacturers, on the other hand, insist that their products are safe.
Probably the safest thing to say is that we need more research about the benefits and the effects of energy drinks. And probably the wisest thing to do until that research is done is to exercise caution (be careful) with them.
Are energy drinks popular where you live? Do you use them?
~ Warren Ediger – English tutor/coach and creator of Successful English, where you’ll find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.
Photo of energy drinks courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
In recent months, I’ve come across (seen without looking for it) several stories about how people are using social media (websites that allow people to contact each other and their friends) to help each other with medical issues.
The first trend is not new, but the use of social media has made it easier: “crowdsourcing.” Crowdsourcing is when you pose (present) a problem to a specific group of people and ask them to come up with possible answers or solutions. When using social media, that specific group can be made up of (consist of; contain) hundreds or thousands of people who put their minds to (think about) the information or question that is posed and then suggest answers and solutions in response. Of course the quality of responses is only as good as the “source” that is being asked, but the beauty of (advantage of) using social media is that you can cast a wide net (reach many people across a great distance) and benefit from the consensus (agreement) of the majority (most people).
Crowdsourcing is now being used by some people to find diagnoses (identification of the causes) of medical conditions that have stumped (puzzled) patients’ own doctors. In one case mentioned in a recent Time magazine article, a woman’s husband posted her medical history, test results, and other health information on social media sites after doctors at Harvard and Stanford — two well-respected medical schools and hospitals — were unable to reach a diagnosis. They received more an 1,000 posts a day from countries all over the world and resulted in the patient being tested again for a rare (not common) condition that might be the cause of her symptoms (indications of illness).
Another trend in medicine that uses social media is “crowdfunding.” As many of you already know, healthcare in the U.S. is not free. Some Americans with full-time jobs have health insurance that pays for some, though not all, health costs. Unfortunately, many Americans don’t have any health insurance at all and must pay for all healthcare out of pocket (out of their own money).
Several new websites now allow people to ask friends and strangers (people we don’t know personally) to help pay for expensive medical procedures and treatments, and even surgical operations (major medical procedure where doctors cut into the body). Normally, family members and close friends are the first to be contacted and are the first donors (givers), but because it is easy on large social media sites such as Facebook to contact strangers in large numbers, strangers who are moved by (have strong feelings about) a patient’s story may also donate. Because it’s easy for just anyone to ask for money on these websites, they have put in some safeguards (protections) against fraud (efforts to cheat people), though false appeals (efforts to ask people for help) are still possible. Despite this, crowdfunding is helping people who would otherwise not get the medical care they need.
Have you come across or used crowdsourcing or crowdfunding where you live? Would you considering using these methods to benefit your own or family members’ health?
Picture Credit: The Anatomy Lesson of Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt from Wikipedia
When November rolls around (arrives as usual), people start talking about “the season of giving,” a time around Thanksgiving (celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November) and Christmas (December 25th). Thanksgiving brings to mind (makes us think) all of the things we are grateful for and about those people and families who are doing without (without the things they need), and December is the time we think about those we care about and of gift-giving.
It’s not surprising, then, that this is also the time of year when organizations send out the most solicitations (notices asking for something) for donations (money to help a cause or organization) and other support. A recent study in the science journal Nature reported in the Los Angeles Times suggests that people are inclined to help (naturally want to help) others, but the longer they wait, the less likely they are to give.
In the study, people were given some money and asked to donate to a group project, and the total amount would be split evenly (divided into equal parts) among the four group members. Those people who were given less time to decide gave more. The researchers concluded that the people in the study were inclined to contribute (give), but time made people less willing to go through with it (finish what they started to do or what they intended to do, especially after a period of being unsure about wanting to do it).
Have you found this to be true based on your experience? Do you, or other people you know, tend to give less when given the time to think it over?
I’m going to test it right now. I feel like giving away $1 million. But first, I’m going to take a nap. We’ll see how I feel about it afterwards.
Picture Credit: Belisaire demandant l’aumone (Belisaire asking for alms) by Jacque-Louis David from Wikipedia
You probably know someone who is a workaholic, a person who works very hard and works long hours compulsively (without being able to stop). When they’re not working, they may feel guilty, believing that they should be working and, if they don’t, they’ll fall behind (not have completed as much work as he or she should have). They may also feel restless, not being able to relax and always wanting to be doing something. These classic (traditional) workaholics are motivated by (driven by; want to do this because) external (outside of your body or mind) rewards, such as more money and admiration from others, or because they are afraid of bad consequences if they don’t work so much, such as losing their job or being thought of by others as lazy or incompetent (not able and knowledgeable). As you might have guessed, classic workaholics also suffer from health problems because of the stress (anxiety; feelings of nervousness) they’re under (they are experiencing).
But do you also know someone who works a lot and for long hours, but is very happy doing it? Some psychologists (professionals who study the mind) call these people “engaged workaholics,” people who have a healthy and positive passion (strong emotional feeling) for their work. (“Engaged,” in this case, means having your full attention and involvement.) The engaged workaholic may work hard, but he or she is not likely to burn out (ruin their health because of working too much) like classic workaholics. Rather than being under stress while working, engaged workaholics are happier when they’re working.
Not surprisingly, some scientists say that having control over the work helps determine whether you’re a classic or engaged workaholic. If you’re a CEO (Chief Executive Officer; main manager) of a company, you have a lot of demands on you (many requirements for your attention or action), but you also have a lot of control. If you have more control, the work may be more interesting and engaging. On the other hand, if you are in a demanding job with little control over what and how you do it, that’s a situation ready-made (made for) classic workaholism.
These ideas are not new, of course. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who is originally from Hungary but who immigrated to (moved to to live) the U.S., has written a lot about the concept (idea) of “flow,” a mental state (way for your mind to be) where you’re completely involved in doing something that makes you feel energized (with a lot of energy) and happy, and time slips away (goes by without you realizing it). That activity may be anything, but usually you’re learning something new. If your work gives you flow, then it’s no wonder you’re an engaged workaholic.
Are you an engaged workaholic? Do you know anyone who is? Are there any activities at work or in your leisure (not working; relaxing) time that gives you flow?
Picture Credit: Detail from “Labor” by C.S. Pearce, Library of Congress, PD
Today the United States goes to the polls (the place where you vote) to elect our next president. You must be an American citizen (official member of a country) to vote, of course, but some people have been expressing their preferences (choices) for months now in other ways.
A recent article in Time Magazine reported that many people are “friending” and “unfriending” people they know on their Facebook account based on whether or not they agree with their choice for our next president. (To friend on Facebook means to include someone in a group that gets your updates or posts to your page.)
So if you find out (discover; learn) that someone says they’re going to vote for Obama, and you want Romney to win, you might decide not to friend him. Or, if he is already your “friend,” you may “unfriend” him (take him out of your group of friends).
It appears that a lot of “unfriending” isn’t always because a person disagrees with his friends, but because the “friends” are posting too many of their political opinions on their Facebook page. A recent study found that 20% of Facebook users had blocked (not allowed) or unfriended someone who was posting political material too frequently or too disagreeable (unpleasant; unkind).
Even if you can’t vote for the U.S. president today, at least you can friend someone who agrees with you.
Photo credit: Romney (Gage Skidmore), Obama (PD)
I think that the world is divided into two types of people: campers and non-campers. Campers like to sleep outdoors, cook their food over a campfire (outdoor fire), and commune (feeling in close spiritual contact) with nature. Non-campers are people who like a soft mattress, room service (food served in your hotel room), and a view of nature.
How can we reconcile (make it so that it is possible to live together) a camper and a non-camper? The solution may be “glamping.”
Glamping is short of “glamorous camping” and combines the comfort of a home or hotel experience with the experience of sleeping outdoors. More and more, hotels and tour companies are offering glamping options. If you choose glamping, you don’t need to find a camp space, erect tents (put up a temporary shelter to sleep in), carry your gear (supplies and equipment), and cook your own food. Instead, you’ll sleep in a real bed in a safari tent (tall tent, about he size of a small room), tent cabins (small, rough houses), or even tree houses (houses in trees, of course!).
On the low end (inexpensive end), glamping gives you a place to sleep and perhaps a wood-burning stove (appliance used for cooking) and you’re on your own. On the high end (expensive end), you could have a butler (male servant), personal chef (professional cook), a plush (thick and soft) bed, electricity, and a bathtub. You can find glamping in more and more U.S. locations known for its beautiful outdoors, such as Yellowstone Natural Park (discussed in English Cafe 88).
Are you a camper or a non-camper? Would you consider glamping for any of your trips?
Photo Credit: Grand canyon of yellowstone.jpg from Wikipedia
There are only two possible memories you had this weekend upon hearing of the death of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong: watching footage (a video recording) of the landing in history class at school, or thinking of where you were on July 20, 1969, when you watched it live. I fall into (am part of) the latter (last-mentioned) category. And for that reason, I am on the edge of the wave.
A wave, of course, is what moves through water when there is some motion or wind or movement. The ocean water moves in waves. And, perhaps because I live near the ocean myself, a wave was the first thing I thought of when I heard on Saturday that Armstrong had died, and that I was old enough to remember his historic walk on the moon.
Here’s what I mean: I, having been born in 1963, am among the youngest people in the world who could possibly be old enough to remember the moon landing, to remember where I was when it happened. (I was in my parents’ bedroom, on the bed, watching a small black-and-white television.) Anyone younger than I am (well, perhaps a year or so younger would qualify (meet the criteria)) is too young to have witnessed the event, or at least to remember watching it. So if you were born, say, in 1965 or later, you are likely to have no good memory of Neil Armstrong’s famous words, spoken live, “One small step for man, one giant leap (large step or jump) for mankind (humanity).”
I am on the edge or end of that wave of people on this planet who have this particular memory, just as someone born in 1996 would be on the edge of the wave of those who remember 9/11, or those born in 1923 might remember the great Stock Market Crash of 1929.
We can call these memories “datable” memories (memories of events that we can say happened on a particular date). My earliest one is actually from a year earlier than the moon landing, in 1968. It was, unlike the moon landing, among the saddest of events of that time period: the funeral (death ceremony) for the assassinated (murdered) presidental candidate, Robert F. Kennedy, brother of the late (dead) President John F. Kennnedy.
We all have datable memories, I’m sure, and some of these include great historical events such as the moon landing. What is your oldest datable memory? Are you on the edge of a wave for some famous event?
Note: The Sea of Tranquility in the title of this post is an area on the moon.
Photo credit: Ocean wave in Pacifica, California, Wikipedia CC
Normally, traveling 12 miles (19 kilometers) is not a great distance. But if you are a space shuttle, that trip can be a major (big) headache.
A space shuttle is a space ship or vehicle that travels, well, into space. Endeavour* is an American space shuttle that first went into space in 1992 and flew its last mission (journey into space) in May 2011. In those 19 years, it circled (went around) the Earth 4,600 times and spent nearly 300 days in space. After all of those years in service (working), it is now retired (no longer required to work). In September and October of this year, it will travel from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Los Angeles to its permanent (not to be changed) home at the California Science Center near downtown Los Angeles.
To get to the California Science Center, Endeavour will fly from Florida to California on the back of an airplane, a Boeing 747. From the Los Angeles International Airport, it will travel on land 12 miles to the museum. Endeavour is 57 feet (about 17 meters) long and has a wingspan (from one end of the wing to the other) of 78 feet (nearly 24 meters).
Recently, I was at a birthday party for one of my friends and I met a man who works at the California Science Center. I knew nothing about this upcoming (soon to happen) move of the Endeavour, but he told me all about it. He said that the museum has been making arrangements for its arrival for months. The biggest problem is that the space shuttle cannot be dismantled (taken apart) and must travel in one piece. The route (path) that the space shuttle will travel has been very carefully mapped out (planned). It will take four days to get this huge ship across the city. It will also require that power lines (electrical lines bringing power to buildings) and traffic lights (red, yellow, and green lights used to control cars and traffic) be moved, and trees be pruned (cut back; made smaller). The space shuttle will travel at a speed no more than two miles (3.2 kilometers) per hour, and at some points on its journey, it will have less than one foot (.3 meters) of clearance (space) on each side. This will be a major undertaking (project; task).
Once at the museum, it will be place on display (for people to see it), and eventually (sometime in the future), the museum will build an addition (add a building) where it will be placed permanently for visitors to see.
The path that Endeavour will be taking is actually not far from where I live. I hope to catch a glimpse (brief look) of it as it makes its way through L.A. streets. With luck, it will arrive without incident (with no problems). It would be ironic (happening in the opposite way that one would expect) if the space shuttle made it through 19 years of space travel unscathed (unharmed; safely) only to meet with problems on its final and most dangerous journey — through Los Angeles streets!
* The word “endeavour/endeavor” means to try hard to do something or to try to achieve something. The space shuttle is named “Endeavour” spelled with an “OUR.” In American English, we use the spelling “endeavor” with a “OR.” I have no idea why it was named using the British spelling.
Photo Credit: STS-130 Endeavour Rollout6.jpg from Wikipedia
If you’re like me, you’re at least a little cynical (not trusting; believing people are acting for their own good, not yours) about politics and politicians. A few weeks ago, I saw this photo and it put a smile on my face. That’s hard to do when I’m reading about politicians.
Here’s the story behind the photo: The little boy touching President Obama’s hair is named Jacob, and Jacob’s father worked at the White House, but was leaving his job. As is tradition (normally done), he asked for a photo of his family with the President. As the family was leaving the room, Jacob’s father told President Obama that each of his sons had a question for him. Neither of the boys’ parents knew what they would ask.
Jacob, the younger son and only 5-years-old at the time, asked his question first: ”I want to know if my hair is just like yours.”
The President responded, “Why don’t you touch it and see for yourself?,” and proceeded to (continued to) bend down (lowered himself from the waist) so that his head was within Jacob’s reach (near Jacob’s hand). Jacob hesitated and the President said, “Touch it, dude!” Jacob touch the President’s hair and Obama asked, “So, what do you think?” And Jacob responded, “Yes, it does feel the same.”
Even for cynical people like me, this was a very poignant (strongly emotional or meaningful) moment. For the little boy to meet someone who looked like him in this position of authority was not only meaningful for him, but perhaps for a lot of children like him. This photo is displayed in the White House and it is a favorite among White House staffers (employees). I can see why.
* “A picture is worth a thousand words” is an old saying meaning that a complex or complicated idea can be communicated in just one simple picture or image.
Photo Credit: White House Photo