MK 354 Spring 2010

April 26, 2010

A Dancer’s Dream

Filed under: blog #10, Uncategorized — Jackies blah-g @ 12:28 pm

               Across the nation, people with cerebral palsy are trying to live normal lifestyles. United Cerebral Palsy is an organization that provides services and support for people with disabilities in order to live a life without limits.

                Recently in Dubuque, Iowa, the Telegraph Herald published a story about a girl named Challes Reese who has set out to change her situation. Parade Magazine published an article about Reese on March 21 about how she overcame cerebral palsy to join her high school’s dance team.  Since that article was released, Reese has received phone calls, e-mails, and gifts congratulating her on her achievements from people all over the nation.

                Cards arrived at her home thanking Reese for her inspirational story and showing others that it is possible to follow a dream.  Reese’s favorite gifts thus far have been a fleece blanket with images of ballerinas on it. Her story has touched many hearts.

                For the next year, Reese isn’t sure about continuing dance because there may not be a coach. She has set her eyes on joining the cheerleading team at the high school instead.  Stories like these affirm UCP and their mission to help people help themselves.


Nike’s Problem with Women

Filed under: blog #10, Uncategorized — carolinerichov @ 12:14 pm

Nike seems to be having troubles with their ethical priorities.  In 2007 Nike showed they had zero-tolerance for animal-cruelty when they dropped out of their contract with Michael Vick during his dog-fighting scandal.  Nike has sponsored other athletes including Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger. These all-stars have more in common than Nike… they all have shared the spotlight in regard to indecent and insulting behavior towards women.

Most recently, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, was suspended for six games without pay and ordered to receive counseling after a 20-year-old woman accused him of sexual assault. This is Roethlisberger’s second sexual assault allegation in the past year.  A number of blogs and articles have discussed the disturbing charges against Roethlisberger in greater detail. Roethlisberger’s local sponsors “Big Ben’s Beef Jerky” and local newspaper dropped Roethlisberger immediately.  Nike, however, is holding on to Roethlisberger’s contract.  New York Times opinon writer, Timothy Egan, could not have said it better,

“Is there anything creepier than a big, beer-breathed celebrity athlete exposing himself in a night club and hitting on underage girls, all the while protected by an entourage of off-duty cops? Well, yes. It’s the big, corporate sponsor — Nike, in this case — that continues trying to sell product with the creep as their role model.”

Nike took immediate action when cruelty to animals became an issue with one of their spokespersons.  Unfortunately, when Woods, Bryant and Roethlisberger showed disrespect towards women, Nike continued to support them.

Women, Action & the Media is concerned with the representation of women in media.  Nike’s choice to continue contracts with these athletes desensitizes the severity of sexual assault, violence and infidelity.  Nike needs to prioritize what they consider to be unacceptable. Cruelty to animals is unacceptable, yes, but so is cruelty to women.  Nike’s continued support of these sponsored athletes is a clear example of why WAM! advocates gender justice in the media. WAM! organizes conferences and discussion groups to address issues such as this in order to formulate a response and take action. 

It certainly will be interesting to see how Nike will respond to all of this. ..

blog 10: health insurance taken from breast cancer patients?

Filed under: blog #10, Uncategorized — marissagkelley @ 10:18 am

Recently, a significant amount of celebration and controversy has surrounded the passing of the new universal health care bill. But in an April 22 Reuters report, a new controversy has come to light. According to Reuters, WellPoint, the largest U.S. health insurer by enrollment, had targeted women with breast cancer for aggressive investigation with intent to cancel their policies. The process involved using a computer algorithm that automatically targeted patients recently diagnosed with breast cancer, among other conditions.

In response to these allegations, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote a letter to the CEO of WellPoint saying, “I urge you to immediately cease these practices and abandon your efforts to rescind health insurance coverage from patients who need it most.” Sebelius goes on to refer to WellPoint’s practices as “deplorable” and “unconscionable”.

So what did WellPoint have to say for itself? CEO Angela Braly claims that the Reuters report grossly misrepresented the company’s efforts to help patients with life threatening illnesses such as breast cancer. She claims that the company uses software to scan diagnostic codes for conditions that patients would likely have known about when they applied for insurance, but insisted it does not single out women with breast cancer. Whether or not this explanation is true, Reuters stood by their original story and WellPoint shares dropped .7 percent on Friday after the story was released.

In this case, the blurred line between the human condition and politics repulses me. Isn’t it true that a nation of people should be able to trust their government with, at the very least, their lives? I compare the insurance giant WellPoint to government because it is in a position of great power that has control over the lives of thousands of people. This position should not be taken lightly, and if WellPoint is responsible for using breast cancer against their customers, then it should be publicly punished.

Although the universal health insurance bill will render this argument unnecessary (the bill makes rescinding insurance illegal), as a matter of principle it is worth bringing WellPoint to justice. As a collective people, we have a responsibility to uphold certain principles that defend our basic rights. Therefore, as a people, we should hold WellPoint accountable for their actions.

Jazz Fest ’10

Filed under: blog #10, Uncategorized — katehefler @ 7:41 am

This weekend, Jazz Fest took place in New Orleans, LA. As USA Today mentioned “Indulging one niche may be the modern festival formula, but it doesn’t apply to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which expects huge crowds this year with a bill that accommodates Simon & Garfunkel, Drake, My Morning Jacket, Ledisi, Terence Blanchard, Smokie Norful, Better Than Ezra, Grandpa Elliott and Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. & the Zydeco Twisters.” The 41st edition of Jazz Fest will take place Friday-Sunday (April 29-May 2), and will open its gates to what Quint Davis, the show’s producer and director, calls their “wheels-to-wheels” demographic, “everyone from strollers to wheelchairs.”

The Boston Children’s Chorus prides itself on having a diverse lineup of music ranging from cultural to modern. This would be a perfect format for a new concert because it would reach a wide variety of listeners and create a learning atmosphere for the singers. The chorus prides itself on One of The Boston Children’s Chorus’ goals is to increase their concert attendance. By creating a concert similar to Jazz Fest would increase attendance because the songs would create a more diverse line up and from that create a more diverse interest in the concert.

The End of the Bully

Filed under: blog #10, Uncategorized — pmitch1 @ 4:41 am

Following up on a the recent news story in which a South Hadley teen committed suicide after being continually bullied at school, Massachusetts has passed legislation designed to prevent bullying altogether.  The bill received bipartisan support, passing unanimously, 148-0.  The law bans bullying completely and calls for schools to create bullying prevention programs.  There is an opportunity here for the Cooperative Artists Institute to create a program specifically designed to help schools follow this legislature.  The CAI’s unique style of using art to form interpersonal connections between students is an ideal way to educate students about the dangers of bullying in a way that will stick with them better than a teacher simply lecturing them.  This government mandated education creates a need that the CAI fills very aptly and can certainly lead to more business for the organization if played correctly.  The CAI should be actively contacting local schools offering its services.

In conjunction with a new program, why not start an anti-bullying day?  The CAI already works within schools to prevent bullying so the idea fits in perfectly with the organization’s mission of creating a unified community.  Plus, it would be a great way to gain free publicity.  The CAI could even hold an event honoring the occasion.  An anti-bullying day would call awareness to both the increasingly prominent issue of bullying and also to the CAI itself.  The CAI can, like the state of Massachusetts, send a very clear message; bullying is wrong and has no place in civilized society.

April 25, 2010

Longer school days

Filed under: blog #10, Uncategorized — mtamayo26 @ 9:44 pm

The article I chose deals with President Obama purposing longer school days and shorter summer vacation for students. He believes because students spend little time at school American children are at a disadvantage with other children around the world. However, while it is true that children in many other countries have more school days, it’s not true they all spend more time in school. “Kids in the U.S. spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do kids in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the U.S. on math and science tests — Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013). That is despite the fact that Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have longer school years (190 to 201 days) than does the U.S. (180 days).”

The extra time would be intended for core academics, more time with teachers and for students to get help if they have fallen behind. The article also mentioned leaving the school open after classes and on weekends as an optional place for students to spend their free time in an enriching environment. The Goodwill offers after-school programs for young boys and girls to continue learning outside of the classroom with instructors and mentors to help them with their schoolwork. Ultimately, the programs offered by Goodwill are similar to those that would come from having longer school days and shorter summers, except Goodwill offers its programs to children who are underprivileged who seek the extra help with their academics.

HIV: spread the message not the virus

Filed under: blog #10, Uncategorized — csomerville @ 8:43 pm

There is a lot of time and money being spent on developing a vaccination to prevent the contraction of HIV/AIDS. Millions of people would benefit should this advancement come to pass, and a stop could be brought to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that has ensued for 30 years. However, there’s another form of prevention that could produce the same results and it’s already on the market.

Using contraceptives is an affective way to prevent the contraction of HIV as well as other sexually transmitted diseases and infections. There should be a greater importance placed on educating people, particularly youth, about HIV/AIDS prevention. Teaching students at an early that condoms are the only prevention tools that protect sexually active people against HIV/AIDS would hopefully put an end to the myths and misinformation.

The fear that I have about the creation of an HIV/AIDS vaccination is that people will feel less inclined to sexually protect themselves against diseases and end up contracting something else. Though the other STDs and STIs don’t compare to HIV/AIDS, they can still be painful, embarrassing and incurable. I believe that the vaccine would be of lesser importance if people were more sexually educated, because there is already a sure-fire way of prevention. When it comes to HIV, spread the message not the virus

April 12, 2010

Synthesize My Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — michaelryan89 @ 11:39 am

Today’s popular music seems to have become something future. New ways of producing, mixing, and creating sounds have led to awesome sounds that people love. However, what have we lost from this from this powerful technology? Looking at the lyrics for a lot of these songs, I realized that not a whole is actually being said. For instance, Britney Spears is an artist who is known for making very light music that people can dance too. When I looked at her song “3” though it became fairly obvious that the song was about having threesomes and not anything else.  These are literally the lyrics to the chorus of the song, which she repeats about a million times:

Britney Spears' "3"


1, 2, 3

Peter, Paul and Mary

Gettin’ down with 3P

Everybody loves (sexy moan)


What does that even mean? Those words don’t even make sense together. What is 3P? Have we given up artistic integrity in favor of a beat that we can dance to? I don’t want to sound like an old man when I’m only 21 years old, but what happened to our society? Are we now that shallow and attention deficit that we need a beat and a chorus that repeats a billion times in order to hold our attention? I know that this could probably be said about other eras of music, like 80s New Wave, but it seems as if popular music has hit a new low. Songs such as “Shots” by LMFAO and “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha (yes that is how you spell her name) discuss relevant topics such as getting crunk and hooking up with people. Yep, that’s pretty much it. What does this mean for the future of music? Well, for every Britney Spears there is a Regina Spektor, and for every LMFAO there is a Ray LaMontagne. Hopefully, people will soon recognize the significance of lyrics over beats and start to demand that this music be played on the radio.

Communication Through Music

Filed under: Uncategorized — katehefler @ 11:05 am

In the article published by The English Magazine, the author explores the idea that music has been used for years ads a communication tool. The article states “Even today, music is one of the few ways in which people can connect with each other without language, it is one way in which cultures can not only identify themselves but also communicate with each other and find common ground.”

This idea of communication through music is extremely pertinent to The Boston Children’s Chorus. The organization mission has always been to harnesses the power and joy of music to unite Boston’s diverse communities and inspire social change. The singers transcend social barriers in a celebration of shared humanity and love of music. One of the programs the organization has created is a trip to Jordan. During the trip students are given the opportunity to explore the cultural differences with the children of Jordan. During the trip, the students shared their musical experience and found common ground with the students in Jordan through music.

The Boston Children’s Chorus is rooted in its mission to create a children’s chorus that will also serve as a catalyst for community building and a communication between cultures.

Don’t cha know who’s comin’ to town?

Filed under: blog #9, Uncategorized — marringoodall @ 9:17 am

Everyone has exactly two days to brush up on their northern accents and tired SNL jokes because Sarah Palin is coming to town! This Wednesday Palin will be making her last stop on the Tea Party Express nationwide tour on the Boston Common for a rally organized by the Boston Greater Tea Party. In 2009 nearly 1000 supporters gathered on the Common to rally for “no taxation without representation-” or something like that.

This unique group, which has sprung from fiscally conservative activists, will absolutely draw a large mass of people. However, recently elected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown will not be one of the faces in the crowd. Although he owes much of his victory to the GOP and the newly formed and enthusiastic Tea Party, Brown will not be at the rally on the Common in the attempt to “mainstream himself before the election,” said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist. This poses the relevant question of whether or not elected representatives are truly listening to their supporters and voices on a local level.

This event will most likely end in a chaotic and ineffective manner due to the celebrity (both positive and negative) that Sarah Palin has become. Facebook groups and events reveal plans to humorously crash the event by rallying with sarcastic Daily Show-esque signs and moose costumes. This event will most definitely be something that the media is going to cover for the chaos factor alone.

I think this would be a great opportunity for Press Pass TV to cover a story that has local roots in a much larger issue. The locale of the event also serves as a great opportunity for students who are acquiring professional skills to witness such a significant political (and pop culture) gathering.

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