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With all the mayhem that’s been going on in Washington, D.C. and across the United States, you’d think politicos would use some measure of wisdom.  I’ve been reading articles, watching news reports and tweeting stories, which I feel has some semblance, contrary to all the madness.

Yesterday was Halloween and I read an article on the New York Daily News’ website, which said a “Virginia county GOP sent out a mass email depicting an ugly and disturbing image of our president of the United States.”

A 2006, copyrighted AP image of Obama was created by Virginia GOP committee, which showed him as a skeletal, one-eyed man with a bullet piercing his head.

Now, I’m all for free speech in this country and abroad, but I do believe there are certain actions, which cannot be tolerated nor endorsed.  Any image portraying a sitting president of the United States in a derogatory manner, whether one agrees or not with their policies, is just unacceptable.  No one will ever totally agree with every policy a president or political figure believes in.  But the blatant disrespect of the highest office on earth is unfathomable.

There were policies that our 43rd president didn’t seem to have much wisdom in, but I certainly wouldn’t revert to name calling of any sort for his lack thereof.

Democracy is one of our country’s crown jewels, but relegating to such childish antics only chip away at the very fabric most Americans hold dear to.  Our right to free speech should never be used as a buffeting force as a means to dishonor any citizen – especially our President of the United States of America.

Poking fun at or using convoluted imagery to assault the commander-in-chief’s character only reveals how un-American one can be.

Here’s what I mean.

As a class assignment in my Digital Information in the Contemporary World, we were asked to address images and visual literacy.  One aspect of the assignment challenged us to “briefly check out one of five (assigned) sites listed, all of which use (and/or talk about) images and visualizations in different ways.  My group was given the charge of observing and critiquing the Smithsonian’s Ocean Portal.  I’ll submit two questions my professor posed to the class as a whole.

What is the source of the image or visualization? What do you know about how it was created and why? (Do you know enough?)

The sources of the images are from various photographers.  Ocean Portal either has the rights to use these images with permission from the owners or they’re the sole owners of these images.  I would gather these images were created to support the writer’s view on coral reefs and how they thrive in the ocean or not.

Question two: Have the images been manipulated or modified in any way? (Can you tell?) Does the modification, if any, enhance or distort? (Can you tell?

Yes, the images were manipulated to a degree to show the negative impact coral reefs can experience. For instance, the images show coral reefs in their highlight of vibrancy and full of color thriving in an ocean untouched by humans.  But in another screen shot,  high temperatures cause corals to lose the microscopic algae need to produce food, which feed other animals.  The high temperatures experienced in our oceans were due to global warming which shows our carbon footprint.

I also pointed out that, “the images were “distorted” to a degree with the magnification and added colors, used by the popular program photo shop.  This is the exact method that was used to distort the AP photo of our 44th President, Barack Obama.

How does my assignment have any connection to this article?

Well, as I stated earlier, visualization is one form of communication, which allows the artist, author, or blogger to get their point across.  In a book my classmate Fayola C. mentioned in her analysis of, Readings in Information Visualization: Using vision to think  she added “people think in images as much as they do in words.”

I’d have to whole-heartedly agree to that!

The derogatory image was immediately condemned by Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell and the Democratic Party of Virgina Spokesman, Brian Coy after which, the committee issued a public apology.

“The controversial image was first reported on the northern Virginia blog, Too Conservative.”

Even though the apology was issued, this group of free speech citizens wanted to justify their acts by declaring this in their statement, “[t]he Loudoun County Republican Committee yesterday sent an email to its members that represented a light-hearted attempt to inject satire into the Halloween holiday.”

I hardly call that humor.

Miranda A. Walker is currently in her freshman year in the B.A. in Communication & Culture program at CUNY School of Professional Studies.  She works in the multi-media industry as an Executive Assistant at the New York Daily News.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her children and reading immensely.  Her dream is to one day run her own company.

A major interruption with communication has caused Black Berry RIM users to scramble.  Why do we rely on technology so much?  Because technology has proven to be a useful, efficient and inexpensive tool that allows intra-company communication and communication with outside clients.  The majority of U.S. companies offer blackberry devices to its employees as a means to stay in contact at all times.

But when technology doesn’t measure up, it can be detrimental and even costly.  According to the The Roland Martin Report “Mike Lazaridis, founder of BlackBerry’s Canadian parent company, Research In Motion, appeared this morning in a YouTube video to say, “Since launching BlackBerry in 1999, it’s been my goal to provide reliable, real-time communications around the world. We did not deliver on that goal this week. Not even close.”

Now, I  must admit I have relied (and still do) on my device to keep me in touch with work related emails and personal messages alike.   That’s a good thing. Technology has been monumental in many new arenas of our society, but with anything, nothing is absolute.

Our society has evolved dramatically in more ways than not – one being, the ways in which we communicate.  Twenty years ago, TXTNG was unheard of!  There was a time (before my time) when a boy and girl liked each other, they would write love letters back and forth.  That form of communicating as we know it is now outdated.

Businesses that rely on technological devices to increase productivity should use these mishaps as a learning curve to find ways to keep things moving, if this should happen again – hopefully it won’t. Otherwise, we’ll continue to experience these disruptions all over again.

RIM has provided a very useful service to many companies local and international.

I read an article in Thursday’s WSJ, by Will Connors, Ben Drummett and Christopher Lawton which said “hardware failure began in Europe, Mideast and Africa since Monday.  The company was forced to “throttle” data traffic through its world-wide servers in order to deal with the backlog, triggering fresh disruptions in previously unaffected markets, including Japan, Singapore and  – starting early Wednesday morning-North America.”

For many professionals, this is a must have.

“Service disruptions affected a wide array of U.S. federal agencies, including the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury, as well as emergency services.”

During the email chaos yesterday afternoon, my boss hadn’t received one email since ten o’clock that morning.  But he didn’t mind.  Others that were affected, vented their frustrations on Twitter and Facebook instantly.

With dwindling sales of Blackberry devices, this serves as ammunition for customers to move to the iPhone and HTC smartphones.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, pages A1 & A2 (Thursday, October 13th)

Roland S. Martin’s blog:  http://rolandmartinreports.com/blog/2011/10/blackberry-outage-rim-apologizes-says-service-returning/

Miranda A. Walker is currently in her freshman year in the B.A. in Communication & Culture program at CUNY School of Professional Studies.  She works in the multi-media industry as an Executive Assistant at the New York Daily News.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her children and reading immensely.  Her dream is to one day run her own company.

Astronomy as I had known it consisted only of the Sun, Moon and stars.  But after I took the plunge of enrolling in an astronomy course here at SPS, my perception of what I thought I knew had drastically changed for the better.

I tend to be the sort of person that likes to play it safe.  Here’s what I mean:  I try to stick to what I know best so if I fail, it can be on a subject matter that I know vs. something I have no clue about.  That might sound silly but it’s the truth. Ordinarily, I would have preferred to enroll in Biology or Earth Science but since I’m a college student, I felt it better suited me to try something more challenging.  (I forced myself to enroll).

According to Wikipedia, astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, nebulae, star clusters and galaxies) and phenomena that originate outside the Earth’s atmosphere (such as the cosmic background radiation). At least I was partially correct.  Before, I get all technical, the basics of astronomy began with early observations – some of which you might have heard of.  These great explorers are like Galileo who turned the newly invented telescope  with great discoveries, but Newton made tremendous strides in physics, which connects with astronomy.  Or how about Ptolemy, the astronomer, mathematician, and author who wrote an astronomical treatise (is a formal and systematic written discourse on some subject, generally longer and treating it in greater depth than an essay), on the complex subject on the motion of stars and planetary paths.  There was also a man named Copernicus who proposed the heliocentric system and Kepler adopted the detailed laws of planetary motion.  Not only have these men contributed to the history of astronomy, they have allowed us to see and  further discover what is above our Earth’s atmosphere.

Have you ever wondered why we have seasons?

Seasons as we know it, are a direct result of the Earth’s tilt!  You’re probably wondering what that means, right?  Well it means that Summer (from the Latin word “sol” meaning “sun” and stare, “to stand”) is the point on the ecliptic (plane of the earth’s orbit around the sun), where the Sun is at its northern most point above the celestial equator.  It represents the point in Earth’s orbit where our planet’s North Pole points closet to the Sun!  This occurs on or near June 21.

Six months later, the Sun is at its southernmost point or the Winter Solstice (December 21) the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere. These two affect the height of the Sun above the horizon and the length of the day – which combine to account for the seasons we experience.

One of the many stunning images available on the Hubble website.

This is truly fascinating!

Astronomers view any and all activity by high-powered ground telescopes and even the HST (Hubble Space Telescope).  The HST is very unique device since its stationed high above our Earth’s atmosphere.  It has produced thousands upon thousands of crystal clear images that the ground telescopes aren’t able to produce.  Images are passed to another satellite in space and finally beamed to a ground telescope and transferred to a computer at the Goddard Space Center in Maryland.

If you have a chance to log onto Hubble’s official website at: http://hubblesite.org, there are extraordinary images that could possibly bring you to tears.

According to the NY Post, an outdated research satellite will re-enter our atmosphere where it’s expected be destroyed. I can’t but help to have a new-found respect for this science and technology, which is ever-changing before our eyes.

What I’m learning from taking this course is that observations and new challenging can be exciting and even thrilling.  My decision to rise to the challenge is definitely paying off by this  new-found hobby I’ve acquired of becoming an elementary star-gazer.

Sources: Wikipedia.com, Astronomy Today, Volume II, chapter 4 & 5 (Chaisson, McMillian)

Miranda A. Walker is currently in her freshman year in the B.A. in Communication & Culture program at CUNY School of Professional Studies.  She works in the multi-media industry as an Executive Assistant at the New York Daily News.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her children and reading immensely.  Her dream is to one day run her own company.

I am a resident New Yorker, but I haven’t understood or even cared about my home state’s major attractions.

I’ll explain why.

Recently, my company moved from its midtown digs to plusher and more greener pastures at South Ferry.  There’s a conglomerate of shops, businesses, restaurants and of course Battery Park to name a few.  My initial attitude upon hearing that we were moving, was that of reservation or even unhappiness.  Why would my company decide to pick up and leave our present location to a new area that could pose to be  difficult – navigation wise?

How dare they!

After two and a half-months, the area has really grown on me.  I’m proud to say where I now work, since it’s an ideal location for any business or resident to work or live in.  I hadn’t known the many things my company was lacking in terms of location, location, location!

One of the goals any business considers when choosing where to do business – is the location.  Location is key.  It can prove to be beneficial or devastating – to say the least.

Our former address in midtown proved to be devastating because the daily walk from the subway was a schlep no one cared for especially in nasty weather.   There were a limited variety of restaurants and shops and I mean, limited!  It took an half-hour to arrive at an ideal restaurant or even a local store.

Or try eating at the same restaurant, week after week.  Who does that?  On many occasions, I’d forgo eating lunch and resort to having a snack instead, until I got home later in the evening.

So before you’re faced with a change however intense it may be, trying looking at the brighter side of things.  Who knows, you may learn a true life lesson that drastically enriches you!

Miranda A. Walker is currently in her freshman year in the B.A. in Communication & Culture program at CUNY School of Professional Studies.  She works in the multi-media industry as an Executive Assistant at the New York Daily News.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her children and reading immensely.  Her dream is to one day run her own company.

It was a clear September morning.

The first plane struck the World Trade Center’s North Tower at 8:46 a.m.

The second at 9:03 a.m.

Terror came to NYC in the form of evil that most had never known before.  For all of the lives that were impacted on this tragic day in our nation; I  saw a glimmer of hope that transcended anything I’ve ever witnessed.

Every effort made on that day and thereafter will never be forgotten, deeply embedded in our hearts and souls.

I can’t thank them enough for their selfless act.

They’ll never be forgotten.

At a time when our nation was mourning the loss of its brothers and sisters – that same nation put aside all of its differences for the good of the people whether big or small, black or white.

This is why I love my country.

I will forever remember 9/11/01 for as long as I live.  My nation, my city and my fellow neighbor stood tall and firm; not allowing anything or anyone to pull them apart.

And while we can never forget the evil which lay dormant until that day, our love of country, life and freedom will never fail.  No matter who opposes our will to live free.

We are one nation of many, and a nation of liberty.

On this commemorative anniversary, I shall never forget the lives taken for the liberty which we fight to protect every day.

God Bless America.

 

Miranda A. Walker is currently in her freshman year in the B.A. in Communication & Culture program at CUNY School of Professional Studies.  She works in the multi-media industry as an Executive Assistant at the New York Daily News.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her children and reading immensely.  Her dream is to one day run her own company.