Kate Freeman's Profile > Messages Posted


Subject: Should assault weapons be banned?

Forum: Should assault weapons be banned?
Mass shootings are unfortunately an increasingly common occurrence in the U.S. According to one study in Scientific American, the US had nearly double the number of mass shootings than all other industrialized countries combined (24 in total) in the same 30-year period. Every time there’s a mass shooting, an online debate rages over whether banning assault weapons would decrease these deadly tragedies. Proponents of assault weapons cite the second amendment which allows all Americans to bear arms. In addition, people who own assault weapons often say they keep their weapons locked up and safe, therefore not all gun owners should be punished for the actions of a few. There are various ideas for how we as Americans can stop gun violence—from banning guns entirely, to limiting them to law enforcement and hunters only, to making it more difficult to get a gun. Legislation has been proposed in recent time to toughen gun laws. However, one of the complications is that the definition of what constitutes an “assault rifle” is a contentious topic. What is your stance on this issue and why. Explain your opinion in the comments.

Subject: Should felons be able to vote?

Forum: Should felons be able to vote?
Election season is upon us and there are many campaigns encouraging Americans to vote. One massive population who may not be able to vote is current or past felons. There are several studies that estimate America’s felon population to be somewhere between 2.5%-8% of the voting age population. The federal government does not decide if felons can vote, only states can do that. And the laws vary by state: in 10 states felons may lose the right to vote permanently; in 20 states voting rights are restored after prison, parole and probation; in 3 states voting rights are restored after prison and parole; in 15 states voting rights are restored after prison; and in 2 states inmates can vote in prison (source). There’s a growing movement to allow felons to vote. Felon voting rights advocates say felons are disenfranchised. An article by the nonprofit SentencingProject.org states, “When we break these figures down by race, it is clear that disparities in the criminal justice system are linked to disparities in political representation. The distribution of disenfranchised individuals shown in Figure 1 also bears repeating: less than one-fourth of this population is currently incarcerated, meaning that about 4.7 million adults who live, work, and pay taxes in their communities are banned from voting.” Others argue that felons should only be able to vote but once they’ve completed their sentence and probation. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Subject: Do you think animals should be cloned?

Forum: Do you think animals should be cloned?
In 1996, Dolly the sheep became the first animal to be successfully cloned. Since then, more than 60 animals, insects and amphibians have been cloned by researchers who documented their experiments. There are many uses of cloning including for medical research that could benefit humans in a multitude of ways, as well as adding to the food supply by cloning animals people eat. But it’s a hotly debated topic. While cloning an amazing scientific breakthrough, it also makes many people uncomfortable. People against cloning point out that in many cases cloning fails and the clone dies shortly after birth or doesn't live very long. However, when cloning is successful, it could be used to save endangered species or develop new drugs.
Cloning is very complex. According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, “There are three different types of artificial cloning: gene cloning, reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning.Gene cloning produces copies of genes or segments of DNA. Reproductive cloning produces copies of whole animals. Therapeutic cloning produces embryonic stem cells for experiments aimed at creating tissues to replace injured or diseased tissues.”
Around the world, cloning laws have been put into place, with some countries banning only certain types of cloning. What do think about cloning animals for medical research? Is it inhumane? Unnatural? Or do you see the scientific value of cloning? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Subject: Do You Speak More Than One Language?

Forum: Do You Speak More Than One Language?
There are many reasons why you would want to learn one (or more!) languages in addition to your native language: increase career opportunities, make travel easier, communicate with non-English speaking people in your community, or perhaps a more sentimental reason like learning the language your parents or grandparents speak. Only about 15-12% of Americans consider themselves bilingual. Compare that to the global number of people who speak at least two languages, which is estimated to be around 60-75%. Many countries have more than one national language and people in those countries are accustomed to switching from dialects to widely-spoken languages like English, Arabic or Mandarin (studies show this is great for your brain, too!). English is spoken around the world, which is convenient for English-speaking people, however this might be one of the reasons English speaking people don’t feel it is as important to learn two or more languages. But as the world gets more connected, and populations and economies grow in non-English speaking countries, learning a second language could majorly help your career. According to a 2017 report, the demand for bilingual executives at major corporations has more than doubled in five years. Even if you don’t plan on traveling or working abroad, is speaking more than one language as useful? Studies show that learning another language is a great way to keep your brain active and could help prevent dementia and help you recover from a stroke faster. Do you speak more than one language? How does this help your career/social life? Did you grow up speaking two or more languages or did you learn another language later in life? Are you currently studying a new language? Why? Share your thoughts and experiences on this topic in the comments.

Subject: Would you genetically alter your children?

Forum: Would you genetically alter your children?
Have you heard of “designer babies”? Scientists are developing ways to modify the DNA of human fetuses to create “perfect babies.” Genetic engineering began with food, and then livestock, editing out the less-than-desirable genes for beneficial ones. Now, scientists can edit the DNA of human embryos. On one hand, diseases that have been in families for generations might be able to be edited out of genes, on the other, if only the wealthy can afford to create super-human babies that could lead to a bleak, dystopian future. In addition, many people feel uncomfortable interfering—at least, too much, with nature. Would you want to remove genes for life-threatening diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s, etc.? What about giving your child a certain eye or hair color, or ensuring they are highly intelligent? What is too far? Should this be stopped? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Subject: How Do You Reduce Your Food Waste?

Forum: How Do You Reduce Your Food Waste?
Food waste in America is so pervasive, unless you’re a minimalist living off-the-grid, you probably throw away more food per year than you think. I recently watched a segment from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver about food waste in America. Although John Oliver is a comedian, his writers/reporters do extensive and thorough research. The show also takes clips and interviews from credible news outlets such as PBS and MSNBC. About 40% of the food produced in the United States never gets eaten. That’s a massive waste of food, labor, water, and money, which is especially tragic when you consider that in 2013 nearly 50 million Americans lived in food-insecure households. And the amount of money lost due to food waste is $165 billion annually. In the PBS clip used for the segment one farmer said that it is more expensive to donate food because of boxing and transportations costs, than to just throw it in the garbage. The government could step in and offer better incentives to farmers who donate “imperfect” food – that is, food that is not aesthetically appealing and can’t be sold in a grocery store but perfectly healthy to eat. But what can the average person do to avoid wasting food? Learn how to properly store each food item; eat leafy greens first and other foods that wilt quickly so you don’t have to throw them out; plan your meals ahead so you can ensure you use all of your food; use the freezer if you don’t think you’ll eat something before it gets too old; throw out old produce immediately since it can ruin the rest of your produce. Do you have any more tips for how to combat food waste at home? What do you think farmers/supermarkets/the government can do to reduce food waste? Share your thoughts below.

Subject: Would You Prefer a Remote Job?

Forum: Would You Prefer a Remote Job?
Remote jobs are becoming increasingly common and for millennials in particular remote work is appealing because this generation values traveling and a healthy work-life balance. Remote work allows for a flexible schedule but it can result in long hours, especially for hard-workers, perfectionists and people who are just passionate about what they do. Working remotely means coworkers cannot pop-by your desk to chat, there are no team lunches or coffee breaks unless you want/remember to take them. Remote work offers flexibility and for self-motivated individuals it can be a dream, so long as you remember to take breaks. Whether you’ve put down roots and would prefer a more flexible schedule, or if you desire to be a vagabond without taking a hiatus from your career—remote works sounds like the perfect solution. I had a remote job for awhile and I worked constantly. But the freedom more than made up for the long hours. I LOVED that I could take a lunchtime run and get some mid-day sunshine, and I never had to do my hair or makeup unless I wanted to. I also ate much healthier since I always prepared something from my own kitchen. Not only was I super productive but it was the healthiest I’ve been since working full time. A lot of articles and studies have shown people feel more productive working at home. Occasionally critics say remote work could let employees get away with slacking off. However, your colleagues would quickly find out and you would lose your job if you’re not producing quality work or keeping up with assignments. Another reason some employers don’t like remote work is they say it hinders communication and team building. There are many tools to stay connected and communicate, but it’s true you don’t get to know your colleagues as well while working remotely. Also, if you have a quick questions for someone you can’t just stop by their desk or expect them to respond to a message if you’re not in the same time zone. Another consideration of remote work is the social aspect, or lack thereof. When I worked remotely, I made a big effort to ensure I continued to have a lot of social contact. Sometimes that meant contacting friends on Sunday to organize my social calendar for the week. Would you want a remote job? Would you mind managing remote employees? Why or why not? Share your opinion in the comments.

Subject: How Do You Minimize Cell Phone Radiation?

Forum: How Do You Minimize Cell Phone Radiation?
It is well documented that cell phones emit radiofrequency energy that is linked to cancer and other health problems. So what can you do to lessen the impact of radiofrequency energy emitted from your mobile device? With all the mobile phones around the globe—the ones owned by your neighbors, coworkers, family members, it can be difficult or nearly impossible to completely escape radiofrequency. Radiofrequency energy is a form of electromagnetic radiation, which is categorized into two types: ionizing (which includes x-rays) and non-ionizing, such as radiofrequency and microwaves. There have been many studies on radiofrequency. According to Cancer.gov, it’s possible that radiofrequency energy might affect glucose metabolism, but two small studies that examined brain glucose metabolism after use of a cell phone showed inconsistent results. Another study investigated whether exposure to the radiofrequency energy from cell phones affects the flow of blood in the brain and found no evidence of such an effect. (The National Cancer Institute has a web page with information about electromagnetic fields and cancer). Even though cellphones emit non-ionizing radiation, we’re using them constantly. Many of us even sleep next to them. If you are concerned about being exposed to too much radiofrequency, you can take some steps: First, spend less time on your phone, and put it into airplane mode at night. You speaker or hands-free so you can hold the phone away from your head. Other factors like how far the nearest cellphone tower is located (the farther away it is, the more energy is required to get a signal), and the amount of cell traffic in the area (higher traffic areas often require more energy). You can go to great lengths to avoid radiation. Do you think about how your cell phone might be negatively impacting your health? Do you take steps to keep your cell phone away from your head when using it? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Subject: Should We Get Rid of Daylight Savings Time?

Forum: Should We Get Rid of Daylight Savings Time?
Daylight Savings Time started in the early 1900s in Britain to give farmers more time in the daylight to work the land. Soon, governments and businesses identified other advantages to Daylight Savings. In the U.S., workers who got out of work when it was still light outside were more likely to go shopping and spend money. Shifting the hours of the day to maximize the sunlight caused sales of golf balls to soar, and evening baseball games became more popular since artificial light wasn’t available at stadiums yet. But most people these days are not farmers, and we have plenty of artificial light to illuminate stadiums. Not all states subscribe to Daylight Savings Time. Arizona saw no need to get an extra hour of summer sun when it’s 100 degrees during the day. And the long-held idea that farmers prefer Daylight Savings Time is simply not true – some farmers have said they need those morning pre-dawn hours to get work done before the farm day kicks-off. Many people today just feel it’s not worth the hassle to change our clocks, and it’s an unnecessary antiquated practice.

Subject: Should Bottled Water be Banned?

Forum: Should Bottled Water be Banned?
Comedian Jim Gaffigan did a short bit in a comedy routine about the first time he saw bottled water for sale. At the same time, he thought it was absolutely ridiculous to sell bottled water but was also curious enough to try it. Even though it was a bit for comedy’s sake, he does bring up a good point—it’s a bit strange that we buy something that’s essentially free? Tap water is free and accessible to all Americans, so why do we buy it bottled? It’s true that some bottled waters are put through rigorous treatment processes to make them more alkaline and therefore easier on the digestive systems and some studies suggest better for you. With the proliferation of all types of water brands touting various health benefits and appealing to consumers with sleek packaging, consumers might feel that bottled water is safer and tastes better than tap water. But there are many downsides to buying bottled water, including environmental damage and turning something necessary for life into a luxury commodity. In addition, many bottled waters are in actuality just plain ol’ tap water. Not only can it be a waste of money to buy water, but it’s so simple to have an at-home filter and a reusable bottle. However, for people who are on-the-go bottled water is a convenient and healthy alternative to soda. The International Bottled Water Association states that bottled water is a necessary food item, not a luxury item. It states that taxes on bottled water make it more out-of-reach for populations that rely on bottled water such as low-income people, the elderly, and people with immune deficiencies. What do you think? How can society reduce bottled water waste? Is this something we should be concerned about or do the positives of having bottled water outweigh the drawbacks? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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