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Posted by: | Posted on: May 12, 2021

A finger on the pulse

first_img Previous Article Next Article Isa simple online system which gives an instant snapshot of staff motivation theway forward for HR? Keith Rodgers reports on General Motors’ method for gaugingits workforce’s moodThe thought of asking staff to define how ‘energised’ they feel every weekis likely to raise a few eyebrows among HR traditionalists. More accustomed todistributing employee satisfaction surveys that take weeks to analyse, feworganisations have an up-to-date understanding of motivation levels withintheir workforce. It’s one thing to ask the question “how are you?”when you greet a colleague – it’s quite another to actually do a scientificanalysis of the response. That, however, is precisely what technology company eePulse has persuadedclients like General Motors to do. Founded by Dr Theresa Welbourne, associateprofessor of Organization Behaviour and Human Resource Management at theUniversity of Michigan Business School, eePulse has developed a simple-to-use,online system for measuring motivation levels. Essentially built around onestraightforward question, the system is designed to provide an analyticalframework that alerts companies to morale and workload problems, and ultimatelybecomes a tool for two-way communications and change management. The problem with most traditional methods of measuring how employees ‘feel’is that they’re cumbersome and slow. While formal appraisals theoreticallyprovide employees with the opportunity to discuss soft issues with HR and linemanagers, they are far from perfect. For one thing, they tend to span a lengthyperiod of time, during which motivation levels will have peaked and troughed –so in many cases, the review will come too late to tackle serious issues. Foranother, it’s often hard for individuals to express themselves openly with theirline managers, particularly when the appraisal is directly or indirectly linkedto their salary review. Employee satisfaction surveys fare little better – while the anonymity they offeris likely to encourage franker answers, the process of collecting and analysingdata can take weeks or months, meaning the results are often out-of-date assoon as they’re published. More to the point, as many HR gurus argue,‘satisfaction’ is not necessarily the right metric because it implies employeesare comfortable with the status quo – high-growth organisations requireindividuals that are prepared to drive change, and for them, motivation may bea more appropriate quality. Online measurement systems provide some of the solutions to these problems.By automating data collation, for example, the survey process can besignificantly speeded up, providing a ready-made data set for analysis. Inpractice, that means an HR manager can design a survey on a Tuesday, have itcarried out Thursday and see the results early the following week. This in turnmeans that surveys can be carried out more regularly, providing comparativedata that quickly highlights shifts in employee attitude. And like offline surveys,anonymity is guaranteed. But it’s not just the process that matters – it’s also about the questionposed. Rather than focusing on satisfaction, the eePulse system is built aroundone or more questions that ask employees to rate how ‘energised’ they are – andwhere relevant, how energised their co-workers are. Respondents rank themselveson a scale of one to 10. The lower end of the scale indicates that employeesare not being challenged and are under-utilised, the top end suggests thatthey’re close to burn-out. Either way, if the metrics come in at one extremethen alarm bells need to start ringing. According to Dr Welbourne, different roles have different optimum energylevels – a computer programmer may work most effectively at six, for example,while a salesperson’s optimum rating may be eight. Department heads receiveaggregate statistics that allow them to analyse how closely their teams are tooptimum performance, and to observe how those motivation levels changeweek-on-week. These ongoing comparative statistics serve several different purposes. Tobegin with, managers can see patterns that may point to retention problems –both where measures are consistently low or high, and where they fluctuate.They can also assess the impact of individual initiatives on employee energylevels, allowing them to test the effectiveness of their own actions. In addition to these repeated base questions, organisations typically askdifferent questions each week on any HR or corporate subjects. Employees areencouraged to submit free text in their responses, which can range fromcomplaints about the frequency of unproductive meetings to anonymous tips aboutbreaches of company discipline. Sheryl Owens, former HR director at eGM, the‘clicks and mortar’ operation set up by General Motors to improve customerservice in the dotcom boom, says that managers were particularly keen on thisfeedback mechanism when the eePulse system was implemented. It allows managersto e-mail individual participants – who remain anonymous – to find out moreinformation about specific issues they’ve raised. Clearly, as Owens points out, this kind of one-to-one dialogue only workswhere employees have complete trust in the system. “We found people werenot being open in their comments at first,” she says. “Even though itwas stated to be anonymous, it took people a while to trust it.” Once thatbarrier had been overcome, however, the results were encouraging. Instead ofrelying on HR surveys that took three to four months to deliver purelynumerical data, eGM started receiving up-to-date information, fleshed out witha rich vein of individual comments. GM’s experience with the eePulse system provides some pointers to how thiskind of employee communications mechanism can be expanded over time. In thewake of the dotcom bust, for example, General Motors took the decision to foldeGM back into the main organisation, redeploying staff to regional offices. Thesystem allowed HR to get feedback about the change management process and alsobecame a mechanism for employees to vent their frustrations. Since the eGMpilot, the system has now been deployed in several other divisions of GM,including engineering plants where kiosks have been installed to give hourlyworkers access to the system. The key to this kind of measurement is the combination of delivery mechanismand content. While some HR managers will argue that ‘satisfaction’ is a validmetric – there is evidence linking satisfied employees to satisfied customers –the notion of motivation is widely relevant. But whatever quality is selected,these kinds of online systems deliver aggregate data rapidly, allowingorganisations both to respond to urgent problems – such as sudden dips inmorale – and also to analyse long-term patterns. A finger on the pulseOn 17 Sep 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Posted by: | Posted on: May 8, 2021

No. 15/16 Dixie State Men’s Basketball Prepares For Weekend Homestand

December 5, 2019 /Sports News – Local No. 15/16 Dixie State Men’s Basketball Prepares For Weekend Homestand Brad James Written by Tags: Blacks Hills State Yellow Jackets/Dixie State men’s basketball/South Dakota School of Mines Hardrockers FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailST. GEORGE, Utah-This weekend. No. 15 (NABC Coaches Poll)/No. 16 (D2SIDA poll) Dixie State (6-0, 1-0 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play) continues the RMAC season by hosting South Dakota Mines (3-4, 0-1 in RMAC) and Black Hills State (3-3, 1-0 in RMAC play) Friday and Saturday, respectively, at Burns Arena.Trailblazers head coach Jon Judkins is presently 268-126 (.680) in his 15th season leading the Dixie State program.As a collegiate head coach in the Beehive State, he is 552-254 (.684) all-time including his tenure at Snow College and is only 31 wins away from surpassing former Utah women’s coach Elaine Elliott for the most wins in Utah college basketball coaching history.Presently, his Trailblazers squad has many solid student-athletes contributing at high levels to the team’s success.Dixie State presently scores 84.2 points per game, ranking the Trailblazers 62nd nationally in scoring offense.Junior forward/center Hunter Schofield (16.7 points, 6.8 rebounds per game) is the Trailblazers’ leading scorer. Schofield also has a team-best 5 blocked shots on the season.Freshman forward Frank Staine (14.7 points per game) is a rising star while junior guard Dason Youngblood (10.5 points per game) and sophomore forward Josh Newbold (10.3 points per game) also score in double figures on average for the Trailblazers.Senior guard Jack Pagenkopf (9.5 points, a team best 9 rebounds per game, and team bests in assists [47] and steals [8] is arguably the Trailblazers’ most indispensable player.Defensively, Dixie State surrenders 74 points per game, tying them for 142nd nationally in scoring defense with Hawaii-Hilo, Bridgeport, Emporia State, Virginia Union and Texas A&M-International.South Dakota School of Mines is coached by Eric Glenn who is 15-22 (.405) in his second season at the helm of the Hardrockers’ program.South Dakota School of Mines scores 75.6 points per game, ranking the Hardrockers 184th nationally in scoring offense.Senior guard Allec Williams (12 points, 4 rebounds per game,  tied for a team-best 19 assists with sophomore guard Damani Hayes and a team-best 9 steals) and redshirt sophomore forward Mitchell Sueker (11 points per game, a team-best 5 blocked shots) are the only Hardrockers to score in double figures on average.Senior forward, New Zealand native Logan Elers, averages a team-best 5.9 rebounds per game for South Dakota School of Mines. The Hardrockers surrender 65.4 points per game, ranking them 30th nationally in scoring defense.The Trailblazers lead South Dakota School of Mines, 1-0 all-time.Black Hills State is coached by Ryan Thompson who is 21-14 (.600) in his second season leading the Yellow Jackets’ program.The Yellow Jackets net 79.7 points per game which ties them for 110th nationally in scoring offense with Quincy, Fairmont State and Regis.Freshman forward Joel Scott (16.8 points, 4 rebounds per game), junior guard Trey Whitley (16.8 points per game, a team-best 2 blocked shots), redshirt senior guard Tyler Oliver (15.8 points, a team-best 9 rebounds and team bests in assists [36] and steals [8]), and Serbian national, senior forward Stefan Desnica (14 points per game) all score in double figures on average for the Yellow Jackets.Black Hills State gives up 73.2 points per game on the season, ranking them 133rd nationally in scoring defense.The Yellow Jackets lead the Trailblazers 1-0 all-time. read more

Posted by: | Posted on: May 3, 2021

Ex-Iranian President’s son faces University investigation

first_imgThe son of the former President of Iran is being investigated by the university following a complaint which alleges that his doctoral thesis proposal had been written by someone else.Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, the son of Akbar Rafsanjani, who was Iran\’s President between 1989 and 1997, began a five year DPhil course on the Iranian constitution at the faculty of Oriental Studies in October.A complaint from a leading academic concerned that the university\’s high academic standards had been ignored when admitting Hashemi has triggered a full investigation led by Sir Peter North QC, a former Vice-Chancellor of the university.If the allegations are substantiated and it is proven that Hashemi did not write his own thesis proposal he may be asked to leave. Kaveh Moussavi, an Associate Research Fellow at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, told Cherwell that he believed Hashemi had broken the university’s rules in making his application.According to Moussavi, Hashemi\’s English is not of the required standard to study in the UK but he was given special dispensation by the Oriental Institute. Moussavi also claims that Hashemi does not live within the required 12.5 mile radius of Carfax as stipulated by the university, but currently resides in Dubai.Moussavi further alleges that Hashemi’s ‘proposal was written by a graduate student of the same faculty who was paid to do this.’Moussavi continued, \’To the lasting credit of Oxford University they have immediately appointed a leading counsel in Sir Peter North QC to conduct the investigation. I have every confidence that there will be a thorough investigation, and I have no doubt as to where it will lead.’When contacted by Cherwell Hashemi said,’ [I] categorically deny these allegations.’He continued, \’My proposal was studied and accepted regardless of my family ties. I do not believe being the son of ex-president has made any difference to my acceptance [at Oxford].\’The ten week investigation will involve two academics that read and approved a first synopsis of Hashemi\’s thesis proposal in January 2010. Dr Homa Katouzian, an expert in modern Iranian history, strenuously denied that he was influenced by Hashemi\’s background in recommending his proposal.\’I did not know that Mr Hashemi was Mr Rafsanjani\’s son when I assessed his application, but it would not have made an iota of difference to my academic judgment even if I had known this. The application was a good one and I recommended it to the Graduate Admissions Committee.\’Katouzian also criticised those making allegations about Hashemi. He believed that \’They should come clean and name the persons they have in mind or they would be guilty of deliberately harming the reputation of our colleagues and students.\’The University Press Office confirmed that the allegations were received before Christmas and have resulted in a thorough investigation which is ongoing.Hashemi has declined to comment at length about the allegations levelled against him and is quoted as having directed further enquiries to the University Press Office.The investigation has come to light amid scrutiny in many UK universities about their links with ruling families and governments in the Middle East. Sir Howard Davies recently stood down as director of the London School of Economics after concerns were raised over apparent closeness to Colonel Gadaffi\’s Libyan regime. It is expected that Oxford will be wary of similar controversy connected to this case.last_img read more

Posted by: | Posted on: May 2, 2021

The importance of the U.S. Constitution

first_imgTo the Editor:President Trump’s repeal of President Obama’s Executive Presidential Order that implemented the DACA legislation created quite an uproar among the press and a lot of members of our population. Under our Constitution legislation must be written and passed by Congress and must be signed into law by the President of the Unites States (POTUS). Under our Constitution the President of the United States cannot sign legislation into law by Presidential Executive Order as was done by President Obama with “DACA.” This separates us from dictatorships. Thus DACA is de facto unconstitutional. Rather than vilifying President Trump, the press should have been praising the current president to bring government back into line with our Constitution. Furthermore, President Trump requested Congress to write and pass replacement legislation for DACA. However, the press reported only the repeal of DACA, which is extremely dishonest.It is a scandalous testament to our educational system that neither the majority of our press corps nor a large portion of our citizens know and understand our Constitution any more. The United States of America is unique among the countries of this world. Unlike traditional countries like Germany, France or Italy, China Japan or Korea, which were established and developed over thousands of years based on ethnicities and cultures, the USA was founded for one purpose and one purpose only, the establishment of the Constitution of the United States of America. The citizens of the USA have come from cultures and ethnicities around the world. What thus joins us is our passion for our Constitution that guarantees us the freedom economically and culturally to pursue our individual happiness as long as we do not infringe on someone else’s pursuit of happiness. If we ignore and violate the principles of our Constitution we destroy the very reason for the existence of the USA. In this context, our national anthem represents and honors the establishment of our Constitution and not the celebration of any U.S. politician. So when the very highly paid athletes refuse to properly honor our national anthem, it is a poor testament to their unlimited ignorance. Anyone who truly does not believe in the goodness of our Constitution has the freedom to leave this country. I am a first generation immigrant who came to the U.S. legally 36 years ago to live under the protection of our Constitution and to live with a people that understood the significance of our founding documents. It is a poor testament to our educational system that this awareness among our citizens has waned. ALEXANDER SCHENKlast_img read more

Posted by: | Posted on: April 21, 2021

Sales and profits up for Finsbury

first_imgFinsbury Food Group, a leading manufacturer of cake, bread and morning goods, today announced it had seen a near 16% rise in its pre-tax profit to £2.2m for the six months ended 31 December 2011.The rise in profits arrived as group revenue increased by £14m or 16% to £102m, after the company broke the £100m sales record for the first time.Commenting on the results, John Duffy, chief executive of Finsbury, said: “We are pleased to be reporting further growth across each of the Finsbury businesses. This is particularly noteworthy considering the pressure we are seeing from high commodity and input price inflation.  With this in mind, we are focused on driving both efficiency and productivity to mitigate against the negative margin impact of these pressures, and believe that the measures we are taking will continue to bear fruit.“Our priority is to further invest in the business to ensure that the growth momentum continues and look forward to both driving further shareholder value and reaching our next sales milestone.”Finsbury said it had seen increases in performance across both bread and cakes. Sales in the cake division were up by 19% to £76.4m and revenue in the bread and free-from division grew by 8% to £25.6mlast_img read more

Posted by: | Posted on: April 20, 2021

Greggs, SSP and Caffè Nero to present at conference

first_imgLeading figures from businesses including Greggs, SSP, Caffè Nero and Itsu will be speaking at the 2018 MCA Food-to-go Conference.This year’s event, taking place at the Ham Yard Hotel, London, on 7 February, will analyse changing consumer behaviour and its implications for industry stakeholders.Operators will talk about their growth plans, as well as the operational, marketing and supply challenges and opportunities set to define the future of the sector.The conference is described by organiser MCA – which is owned by British Baker publisher William Reed Business Media – as an “unmissable event for fast-food outlets, cafés, supermarkets, convenience stores and their suppliers”.This year’s speakers include:Julian Metcalfe, founder of Itsu, on why 2018 will be a big year for his Asian-inspired concept, including how it has become a £100m-turnover business and its plans for further growth and its launch in the US.Gerry Ford, founder and group chief executive of Caffè Nero, on the continuing international growth of this business across eight countries.Hannah Squirrell, customer director at Greggs, will take a look behind the success of Greggs’ Rewards loyalty app, and how it contributes to the company placing the customer at the heart of its business.Simon Burdess, the first director of foodservice at Waitrose, on how the retailer is evolving its food and beverage offer and increasing its in-store foodservice options to meet consumer needs.Jonathan Robinson, business development director at SSP, will discuss how the company selects its food and beverage partners, and the challenges and opportunities it faces working in high footfall locations.For further information visit www.foodtogoconference.co.ukFor delegate enquiries or event sponsorship opportunities contact [email protected], or phone 01293 610334.last_img read more

Posted by: | Posted on: March 1, 2021

From lab trash to treasure

first_imgHarvard’s used and surplus lab equipment is finding new life in laboratories in the developing world through the efforts of a former graduate student and two groups of current students who collect, organize, and ship beakers, centrifuges, and other items to where they’re needed.The effort, undertaken by the students and fellows at Harvard’s Longwood and Cambridge campuses, diverts equipment that would otherwise find its way into the waste stream. Instead, it is collected, cleaned, cataloged, and then sent through a nonprofit organization begun several years ago by a Harvard grad student to underequipped labs in developing nations.“I started working in a lab my freshman year, and I didn’t realize how much I took for granted,” said Denise Ye, a Harvard College senior, molecular and cellular biology concentrator, and a founder of the Harvard College student group. “[Disposable] pipette tips — I’d throw out a box of them a day — I didn’t know that labs in Africa reuse them.”Ye and fellow senior Xun Zhou, a chemistry concentrator, started the undergraduate student group during their sophomore year, modeling their organization after a similar one operating on Harvard’s Longwood Campus. Both groups work closely with Seeding Labs, a nonprofit launched by then doctoral student Nina Dudnik, who began collecting surplus lab equipment while studying molecular biology in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.Dudnik said she became aware of the desperate needs in overseas labs when she worked as a Fulbright Fellow in the Ivory Coast before coming to Harvard in 2001. While in Africa, she worked on agricultural development in a lab that was so poorly supplied that it was common practice to wash, dry, and reuse “disposable” plastic test tubes for as long as three months.She suffered a case of laboratory culture shock when she came to Harvard, and she recalls walking the halls at night seeing discarded equipment left outside the lab doors to be picked up for disposal.“It’s a waste stream at most universities, and it’s not a waste stream that anyone is paying attention to,” Dudnik said. “People are buying new equipment all the time.”Robert Gogan, associate manager of recycling services for the University’s Facilities Maintenance Operations, said the students’ efforts, together with Seeding Labs, provide a second life for equipment.“Seeding Labs is a wonderful example of a group that has succeeded in recovering resources that aren’t state of the art for use at Harvard, but are still useful to others,” Gogan said. “Nina tells me that the used microscopes, centrifuges, and freezers we have picked up from Harvard laboratories are extremely helpful in the South American and African labs to which they have been shipped.”To aid the effort, the University provides storage space in Allston and Longwood, and the equipment is shipped several times a year. Gogan expressed gratitude to the Allston Development Group of Harvard Real Estate Services and Harvard Habitat for Humanity, which let the student organizations use their warehouse in Allston.The equipment — 140,000 pounds shipped so far — is most often used but still serviceable. Often it is being replaced by newer and faster models, or, in the case of something like pipette tips, was overordered and is sitting unused in supply closets. Older equipment is a welcome addition to faraway labs.“The equipment that is most commonly used, it’s most likely to be surplus, but it’s also most likely to be needed overseas,” said Amanda Nottke, a graduate student in Harvard Medical School’s departments of Genetics and Pathology and an organizer of the Longwood effort.Though there is a constant stream of donated equipment coming in from working labs, Nottke said more arrives when a laboratory moves or closes and discards equipment it no longer needs. In those cases, working labs get first dibs on equipment, but there is often plenty left over and unwanted. Seeding Labs maintains an online database and allows overseas institutions to build a “wish list” for equipment they particularly need, Nottke said.Seeding Labs does charge a small fee for the equipment, about a tenth of what it would cost to purchase, Dudnik said, which augments funding from foundations and individuals for the nonprofit’s operations. Though Dudnik has reached out to other universities, Harvard’s many laboratories in Cambridge and Longwood still provide the bulk of material sent overseas.Though giving a second life to lab equipment is the heart of the effort, relationships established along the way are leading to scientific and cultural exchanges as well, Nottke said. In the fall, Harvard Medical School’s Genetics Department and Massachusetts General Hospital’s Molecular Biology Department will sponsor student “ambassadors” who will travel to Kenyatta University in Kenya for several weeks as part of an exchange that will promote cultural as well as scientific understanding.Nottke said the ambassadors, who haven’t been named yet, would be asked to blog about their experiences and make presentations upon their return.last_img read more

Posted by: | Posted on: March 1, 2021

Politics in a ‘post-truth’ age

first_imgPolitics has always been a nasty and brutish game, but what has startled political observers about the 2016 election is how long-established standards and rules once thought to govern the way we choose a president have seemingly fallen away.Conventional wisdom appears up for grabs about who’s qualified to run, who’s likelier to win, how candidates conduct themselves, how campaigns are run, how the media remains fair, and what ideas and actions voters will embrace or reject. The unpredictable race is now down to the unorthodox but successful candidacy of Donald Trump, the brash celebrity business mogul, and Hillary Clinton, the familiar careerist politician who’s been eyeing the presidency since at least 2007. This has been an election in which no political experts have had a handle on what will happen next.Do these surprising dynamics and developments suggest that this nation is simply in a strange, outlier election cycle, or has it somehow crossed a political Rubicon? After 57 presidential elections since 1789, has something fundamentally changed?“I look at this as a normal revolt in the cycle of revolt and collapse that is the history of America and the way it manages change. We’ve avoided the violence of European revolutions quite extraordinarily because we’re in fact a more institutionally and culturally conservative country than we’d like to think we are,” said Richard Parker, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and senior fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.“We have a story of our being independent and independent-minded and ‘Don’t tread on me,’ and that’s why the Tea Party is the image of this latest eruption. And yet at the same time, we’ve got one of the most conservative governing constitutions in the world. We’ve got all the constraints of a two-party system and its comparative lack of representativeness compared to a multiparty parliamentary system. We’ve got information distribution concentrated in a relatively small number of hands. Wealth is as concentrated as it’s been at any point in 100 years. So it doesn’t feel to me like a country that: A., is falling apart, or B., is all that prone” to making huge structural changes, he said.‘The ability of democracies to function is not reflected simply in whether or not there are quadrennial elections that are carried out fairly, but whether there’s a culture of democracy that constitutes rules of the game for most people and that are felt not just as rules, but as values.’ — Richard Parker“I don’t think it’s new. If you look at political campaigns in the 19th century, there’s [some] pretty vicious rhetoric,” added Jennifer Hochschild, the H.L. Jayne Professor of Government at Harvard. “The media were very, very, very partisan through much of the 18th and 19th centuries. The notion of the nonpartisan, fair, and balanced media is really a kind of mid-20th century phenomenon.“I’m not prepared to say that we are in uncharted waters,” although “it’s hard to think of a presidential candidate — we’ve certainly had demagogues and racist demagogues — I don’t think any presidential candidate of the two major parties looks like” Trump, she said, noting parallels between his surprising success and that of first-term U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, an outsider who rode an emotional wave of change into office seven years ago.Yet analysts say this election does raise important questions about what it means to be Americans in a democracy today.“For me, one of the principal underlying questions has to do with who we are as an American society in a pluralistic world,” said Harvey Cox, Harvard’s Hollis Research Professor of Divinity. The proliferation of partisan media that has driven rising political polarization is worrisome because such outlets reinforce biases and squelch our ability to empathize as we talk past one another, he said. “We’re not learning how to negotiate our differences at a very basic, grassroots level, and I think losing the capacity to do it at a national level.”“The ability of democracies to function,” said Parker, “is not reflected simply in whether or not there are quadrennial elections that are carried out fairly, but whether there’s a culture of democracy that constitutes rules of the game for most people and that are felt not just as rules, but as values.“I think that the great moral questions for me are, first of all, whether or not we can recover a sense of being a moral community that functions as a democracy. That’s the most pressing. And then you move on to the writ policy questions and the issue of what it means for America to be a global leader or a global hegemon and what it’s going to mean going forward,” compared with what it’s meant in the 60 years since World War II.“There’s no clear sense in which America can point, as it did in the Rooseveltian period, toward a set of rights or an organization of societies and international rules that are clear victories for this idea of moral democracy,” he said.A diverse, democratic populace like that of the United States will never reach total unanimity on an issue, said political theorist Danielle Allen, who directs the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. But “you do have to have shared principles. Fundamentally, you have to have a commitment to democratic lawfulness and to constitutionalism and basic rights. And Trump is challenging that in a way that other candidates are not.” Media coverage of candidates was unbalanced early and often, study says Lies, damn lies, and politicsPresidential elections are the ultimate popularity contest. Whoever persuades the most people in enough states to provide 270 electoral votes is the winner. And yet, after the Democratic and Republican primaries winnowed a field of 23 contenders, the 2016 electorate will have to choose between Trump and Clinton, two of the least-liked major candidates ever to run for president. In May, according to a Gallup poll, two-thirds of Americans said that neither Clinton nor Trump is honest and trustworthy, and both have unfavorable numbers at historic highs.How can this be? Certainly, the dissembling politician who skillfully shades the truth, gives the issues a self-serving spin, or sidetracks inconvenient facts is a timeworn archetype in American politics. But outright lying or routinely withholding information that may cast an unflattering light on a candidate or campaign has become a central, unifying theme this year. Both Trump and Clinton are trying to brand the other as a habitual liar who can’t be trusted to run the country or look out for the interests of ordinary citizens. In previous elections, such assertions, if proven false, likely would have damaged the candidate who made them. That’s far less true in this election.The fact-checking nonpartisan organization Politifact recently rated 129 of 169 statements made by Trump as “mostly false,” “false,” or “pants on fire.” It found that of 212 statements made by Clinton, whose assertions about her use of a private email server while secretary of state have been undermined repeatedly, 59 were similarly untrue.So how did we end up with these presumptive party nominees? Has the United States entered some sort of “post-factual” political period? Critics of the United Kingdom’s recent vote to exit the European Union suggested that the result was at least partly caused by misleading ads and editorializing by the “Leave” campaign, and that some voters either didn’t know the assertions were inaccurate or, worse, didn’t care.“This has just been a clinic on the post-truth age of politics, Trump in particular. It’s performance art at this point,” said Christopher Robichaud, a lecturer in ethics and public policy at HKS. “It’s true that what Trump is saying is false, it’s just that in the post-truth age of politics, we’re beyond criticizing someone for that. It’s like criticizing an actor for saying a lot of false things. He says whatever he needs to say to move people emotionally.”‘We’re in the very unlucky situation that the first person who happens to have mastered the new communications architecture is also filling those channels with junk.’ — Danielle AllenHochschild, co-author of “Do Facts Matter?,” a book on truth and democracy, disagrees. “I think that’s a little too strong. It is certainly the case that to some degree people have different truths. We listen to different media, we either see different events or prioritize different events differently or interpret the same event differently. There’s a lot of that going on, there’s no question.“Whether he’s crossed some line that had, to some degree, restrained previous politicians and it turns out it wasn’t a real line anyway and they all are kind of fools for having thought that facts actually matter — I think you could make a case for that,” she said.“I still would like to believe that it’s going to catch up with him, that once we get [further] away from the primary season, it’s not going to work…,” she said. “But I wouldn’t put money on that at this point.”Rules of the gameMuch of what’s astounded the professional political class is the extent to which the seemingly immutable rules about how elections are won and lost no longer appear valid. Most evident is the way in which U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a white-haired, little-known Socialist from Vermont, managed to draw stadium-sized crowds and raised more money than every Republican and Democrat except Clinton. Then there is the way that the novice Trump built a national political following using Twitter and pep rallies while eschewing major fundraising, polling, data analytics, and ground campaigning.“The communications marketplace has been transformed, and Trump is the only candidate in either party who understands the new architecture,” said Allen. “Any candidate could actually master the communications architecture just as well as Trump has and fill it with positive content. We’re in the very unlucky situation that the first person who happens to have mastered the new communications architecture is also filling those channels with junk.“For starters, we have to acknowledge that the culture has bifurcated between a culture that reads and a culture that watches. Trump’s is the only campaign that’s built around that principle. Most of his campaigning is directed at people who watch and don’t read, which is partly why he can ignore the text press. If you look at his campaign website, he doesn’t have policy papers, he has short videos expressing more or less his attitude on particular things. The old-fashioned read-a-lecture-from-a-text does not meet audiences where they are right now. And Trump gets that,” said Allen.“Second, he gets the bifurcation of the audience, and he’s using that very much to his advantage. And then there’s the social media piece. He knows how to amplify conversations in a way that’s well beyond the capacity of the other candidates.”Everyone’s a whinerNot that long ago, elections were hard-fought because they were decisive. Someone won and someone lost. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court intervened in an extremely tight race between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore to deliver the presidency to Bush through electoral votes despite Gore garnering more votes nationwide. Gore’s concession speech was a gracious acknowledgment of the court’s decision and a pledge of cooperation despite an outcome that many voters felt was fraudulent.Now, our politics appears to put a lie to the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous line that “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts,” while embracing a culture of whining. A contest that does not yield someone’s desired result is often not a loss now, but “rigged” or “unfair” and therefore illegitimate. The untrue assertion promoted for years by Trump and others that Obama was twice elected president of the United States under false pretenses — that he is not an American-born citizen as the Constitution requires and thus not entitled to the powers of the office — is at the heart of “Birtherism.”“I’m always sensitive to challenges of a public official’s legitimacy because that’s a moral claim. It’s not ‘You’re wrong,’ or ‘I think you’re bad for the country,’ or ‘I’m going to oppose your ideas.’ It’s ‘You don’t belong,’” said Robichaud, also noting the grumblings from the Sanders camp and his supporters that Clinton’s pending party nomination will be the result of an unfair selection process manipulated by the Democratic National Committee.“I think in an election year in which anti-establishment sentiments run high, you’re going to see an increased use of language about the lack of legitimacy, and up to a point it’s fine — all’s fair in love, war, and politics. But I do think at some point it crosses a line. I don’t think it’s healthy for our democracy to claim there are no legitimate political mechanisms,” he said. “It’s just not true.”Certainly, the primaries process is “ugly and messy” and “the way we vote for a president in this country is deeply problematic. These are real problems we need to and should look at and address … But I’m not ready, nor do I think it’s reasonable, to look at them and go ‘nothing legitimate can come out of this process.’” Pollster Peter Hart explores electorate’s mood, gauges early presidential prospects Defining deviancy downJust four years ago, the line between what was fit for public discourse and what was best left for private conversation was pretty clear. Candidates vying for the presidency strove to project a statesmanlike demeanor before voters at all times, talking about topics and issues that played to their perceived strengths in tone and language that reinforced those goals. Few thought it strategically sound to provide ammunition to enemies by speaking intemperately or risking off-color or self-destructive comments like Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remarks.Yet, since the Republican primary began last summer, Trump has blazed his trail through cursing, name-calling, making sexual innuendos, advancing conspiracy theories, and making tabloid-style smears about opponents’ alleged criminal behavior, and disparaging and mocking people for their ethnicity, gender, appearance, disability, and religious beliefs. His comments have rarely hurt him badly and have belied the conventional wisdom about what 21st-century voters will tolerate. Some Trump opponents, including U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Elizabeth Warren, also have also dipped their toes into brackish water with mixed results.Allen, who teaches a course on justice and citizenship in ancient Athens, the birthplace of democracy, said the tone of the race in 2016 is “demonstrably different” from past elections. The Athenians “were incredibly scurrilous and said all kinds of things about each other’s mothers and so forth,” but “they never stooped to the level of vulgarity we’ve seen this year.”The coarsening of our political language is an “unsurprising” carryover of our shifting tastes and standards of popular culture over the last few decades, which paved the way for acquiescence to what once was shocking or even deadly for a political career, she said. Throw in the post-Internet culture of casualization, where billionaire CEOs wear sweatshirts to board meetings, where cyber-bullying is unfettered, and where everyone feels free to offer unsolicited opinions on everything from politics to poor restaurant service across global publishing platforms, and it’s not hard to see the decline.‘Trump is tapping into part of our culture that doesn’t want to be told that the way that they conceptualize and speak about the world is problematic at all — and they really ought to reconsider that.’ — Christopher RobichaudThe Continental DivideHistory often provides clues to the present, however. Analysts say this election’s populist themes of division and suspicion are straight from the frayed pages of the American political playbook.“Before the Civil War, people referred to the United States in the plural. It’s only after Northern triumphalism takes hold of the country that we begin to actually speak of the United States in a unitary way,” said Parker. “We are in many ways a deeply disunited country and have been all along. To our great advantage in some ways, we have downplayed, ignored, or lied to ourselves about the degrees of disunity, but they are there.“Race, region, and religion are the great axial forces or vectors of American politics. So to know where someone is going to stand, you need to know race and religious background and gender, but you also need to know something about region, because region becomes a proxy for very powerful communal attitudes that play out in individual ethics even though the overlay of law may make the region look not substantially different from other parts of the country,” he said.“Our culture has had the beliefs that Trump has given voice to for quite some time — a portion of the culture anyway. I don’t think it’s purely a result of Trump being Trump. I think it’s the times as well,” said Robichaud. “There’s a lot of anxiety out there that has made it ‘permissible’ to say these things again [because] we’re in crisis mode. Trump is tapping into part of our culture that doesn’t want to be told that the way that they conceptualize and speak about the world is problematic at all — and they really ought to reconsider that.”In a culture founded on the pursuit of religious freedom, stoking fears of terrorism by blaming Muslims is the dark side of what has been an extended period of religious tolerance since the anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism of 1950s politics, said Cox.Would a Trump victory in November open the door to other celebrities and public figures outside politics to run for president? Richard Parker, a lecturer in public policy at HKS, says it’s more likely we’re going to see more women elected president than billionaire TV stars.“There’s more mutuality and mutual respect and cooperation among religious groups in this country than there has been for a very, very long time,” he said. “It’s enormously improved on the one side. On the other side, it’s been exacerbated by people who want to stimulate this sleeping, underlying, dormant animosity and use it for their own purposes.”Does the resonance of naked appeals to racial, religious, ethnic, and gender prejudices indicate a sudden reversal of what’s acceptable?“It’s important to say that the norms are still obvious and in existence. The trouble is that they seem to have lost their power. It’s not that they’re gone; we see a good number of the candidates adhering to the norms of civility and reasoned argumentation,” said Allen, a frequent Trump critic. “The majority of Americans do not approve of what Trump’s doing, and we’re all sort of losing sight of that fact.“We have a kind of collective-action problem: How do you re-establish norms of decency and civility so that they do capture … to some extent the whole of the culture?”Allen likens it to the advent of “quiet cars” on trains. “Everybody’s annoyed” if there’s still noise, “but nobody wants to say anything; nobody wants to be the one to stand up and say, ‘Hey, would you turn your music down?’ So you have a collective-action problem, which is actually that the majority of opinion is against this kind of behavior, but the majority doesn’t know how to coordinate around re-establishing those norms,” she said.Where we go from hereWould a Trump victory in November open the door to other celebrities and public figures outside politics to run for president?Parker said Trump’s decades of television celebrity coupled with his personal wealth and his unusual skill at garnering billions in free media exposure make him an anomaly. “I don’t think this sets a precedent. It’s more likely we’re going to see more women elected president than we’re going to see billionaire TV stars elected president over the next 40 years.“I’m struck by the fact that the passions are so high relative to the policy stakes, which are so low. There’s nobody advocating we overthrow the government by force and violence, there’s no marshaling of nighttime rallies with giant bonfires and the burning of the books of the opposition. I don’t think we’re going there,” he added.“I actually think that we’re in another one of those long period interregnums, just as we were in the 1920s or the 1970s. This is not going to be a determinative election, but that rather 2020 or 2024 is going to produce a major new president who’s then going to lock in an ideological direction for the country that’s probably going to last for 30 or 40 years. And it’s going to be driven in no small part by this massive demographic shift that’s going on,” said Parker.“If this continues for a couple of generations, we’re really in trouble. The good news is I don’t see why we should think it will,” said Robichaud. “I’m hoping this is just a moment for us to go through, collect ourselves, and hopefully move forth. I don’t know where the bottom is, but I’m really hoping Trump represents the bottom and we can start pulling ourselves up from that and recognizing that not everything goes.”Added Hochshild: “I cling to the belief that sooner or later, the chickens come home to roost.”SaveSave Related 2016 issues: Voter anger, distrust The making of the campaign, 2016 Relatedlast_img read more

Posted by: | Posted on: January 26, 2021

DPAC rolls out new student films

first_imgAmid the Oscar buzz, student filmmakers are gearing up for their own event, the 25th annual Notre Dame Student Film Festival.The festival will feature 14 films representing the work of 31 student filmmakers, and will be held in the Browning Cinema of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC). Screenings will begin  at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The running time for each screening will be just under two hours.Maria Massa Ted Mandell, associate professor of Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) and founder of the festival, said the purpose of the event is to share and recognize the work of film students.“It’s an event to showcase the great work our students do, to give them an audience for their films and to provide a launching pad for their future careers in the film and television industries,” Mandell said.  “This might be one of the best collections of films in one festival that we’ve ever had.”Mandell, also a producer for Fighting Irish Digital Media, said he founded the festival in his second year teaching film production in the FTT department as a way for students to share their work with more than just their professors, families and friends.“When I was a student here, I graduated in 1986, the only time we screened our films was during graduation weekend for our parents. After I returned as a member of the faculty, I thought the student work should be seen by a larger audience,” he said.There will be one award given for the single best film in the festival, as determined by audience preference, Mandell said.“We’re excited about the Audience Choice Award, which allows the audience to vote for their favorite film via text right after the show,” he said. “We will present the award before the final screening Saturday night to the winning filmmakers.”One film that has been selected for the festival and is eligible for this honor is “Lilith’s Game,” a horror film created by seniors Anthony Patti and Johnny Whichard.Patti said it was rewarding for the partners to have their film selected for the festival.“I was incredibly excited when I found out,” Patti said. “The film process is pretty strenuous, so making it to the festival, while it wasn’t the goal, was certainly a nice pay-off.“Movies are made to be watched, so being guaranteed an audience is pretty much the best a film maker can ask for.”Patti said believes the risks he and Whichard took in the making of their film will allow it to hold up against the competition and have a chance at earning the Audience Choice Award.“The film demanded everything effort-wise and my partner and I decided to take a lot of risks that ended up paying off,” Patti said. “I haven’t seen many of the other films, but I do have faith in the film Jonny and I made, and I do think it’ll at least be a contender.”The natural unpredictability of filmmaking made the process difficult, Patti said, but working at Notre Dame provides an advantage.“Whether it’s in the classroom or on the movie set film is very up and down,” he said. “You’ll have one week with nothing to do followed by another week of non-stop work with no sleep and no food.“Despite how difficult film is as a craft, it’s relatively easy to make a movie at Notre Dame because everyone is so friendly and obliging.”The films featured in each year’s festival are drawn equally from all films produced in the last two semesters — spring and fall 2013 — from the beginner, intermediate and advanced production courses by the professors teaching those courses, Patti said. The filmmakers behind each film are notified and allowed one last round of editing to prepare their work for the festival.“Lillith’s Game” has a 10 minute and 57 second running time, which makes it the fourth longest film of the 14, and was produced last semester for an intermediate production course, Patti said.Patti said the pair began work on their film on the first day of the fall semester. They logged six total days of filming, with shifts ranging from two to 12 hours and three main locations — the off-campus house of their lead actor, the Cedar Grove cemetery and the forest near the campus lakes.Patti said he urges everyone in the University community to attend the festival because each of the 31 student filmmakers has an important story or message to convey.“People should come to the festival because, despite the misconception that media students blow off school, the department is full of passionate storytellers who love their craft and truly have something to say,” Patti said.Mandell said another reason to attend is to see the work of some of these filmmakers before they make it big.“In 2011, festival alumnus Peter Richardson won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance for Best Documentary. Some of these filmmakers will go on to very successful careers in the film and television industries. Our alums are executives at television networks, Hollywood screenwriters, editors, cinematographers, sound mixers, etc,” Mandell said. “The Student Film Festival is where they got their start.”Patti said he hopes to eventually join the numbers of film festival alumni who have gone on to work in Hollywood.“Right now my plan is to do a little mission work after school, but after that head out to Hollywood with a backpack and a cardboard sign saying ‘will film for food,’” Patti said.Tickets for the festival can be purchase online or in person through the DPAC box office. The cost is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for students and children.Tags: Student Film Festivallast_img read more

Posted by: | Posted on: January 17, 2021

11 Honeybee respect

first_imgBy Amanda M. EllisUniversity of GeorgiaWhen a honeybee buzzes the blooms in your garden, give it somerespect. The pollination it and other honeybees are providing issupplying an estimated one-third of the world’s food. In the United States alone, honeybee pollination provides a$20-billion boost to agriculture. And we may be in danger oflosing these vital pollinators.Over the past 20 years, some exotic honeybee pests have beenintroduced into the U.S.The most devastating of these is the varroa mite. To a bee, thismite is like having a basketball-sized tick attached to yourside. You can imagine the damage it causes as it sucks thehoneybee’s blood.Varroa mites transmit viruses to the bee, too, causing evengreater sickness. These mites have all but wiped out wild U.S.colonies of honeybees. As a result, the honeybees in NorthAmerica are virtually all domesticated, relying on beekeepers tomanage the devastating mites.Garden pollinatorsAnd just when overall bee health is at its lowest, we needhoneybees more than ever. Honeybees are important pollinators forgardeners at all levels.Pollination is the movement of pollen from the male part of aflower to the female part. It’s vital to plant reproduction. Mostplants need pollination to produce fruit. Some even requirecross-pollination to set more and larger fruit.Other types of native bee pollinators are out there. But habitatdestruction and urban development have reduced their populations,too, in many areas.Honeybees fill the pollination void left by native species.They’re excellent pollinators because of their generalistforaging habits and large colony sizes, with 30,000 to 60,000bees per hive.Honeybees visit plants to collect both pollen and nectar to useas food. They use pollen as a protein source for rearing babybees. And nectar, which they process and store in the hive ashoney, is their primary energy source.Bee dancingTo “tell” one another where pollen and nectar-rich plants are,honeybees use a special dance language known as the waggle dance.During spring and summer, forager bees work from sunup tosundown, working themselves to death in only six weeks.Pests such as varroa mites bring bees’ death even faster, makingthis valuable pollinator scarce in many areas. The honeybee laboratory at the University of Georgia is at theforefront of honeybee research. The lab’s primary researchemphases focus on controlling bee pests and studying pollinationecology.Scientists are making strides in both areas. And just in time.Honeybee health is at an all-time low.Honeybees are a vital component not just of a successful gardenbut of agriculture, too. So, support and promote honeybees andbeekeeping in your area. After all, honeybees give you one-thirdof all the food you eat.(Amanda Ellis is a graduate student in entomology with theUniversity of Georgia College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences.) Volume XXXINumber 1Page 11last_img read more