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A Reduced Deficit, but at What Cost?

Budget restrictions are in inevitable consequence of a recession, especially one which itself is the result of irresponsible fiscal management. Subsequently, society and its individuals are forced to endure several significant economic sanctions, which include sizeable reductions in public expenditure and also inflated levels of income and duty tax. While these are an accepted if much maligned aspect of economic recovery, there are serious questions as to how far governments should go to deliver financial stability.

This week, the governors of Michigan supported a move to close up to 70 schools in the troubled city of Detroit, with a view to halving the number of educational outlets in the region by the year 2014. This proposal is in addition to the legislation that closed 59 schools throughout 2010, and will mean that the average high school class would include an estimated 60 students by 2012. Regardless of the economic need, the question that needs to be addressed is whether this sacrifice is worth any amount of fiscal saving.

The Social Cost of Budgeting

This decision is been driven by a desperate need to reduce a vast $327 million school budget deficit, regardless of the cost to the educational well being of US students and parents. This is a government stand point, which states that there are bound to be unfavorable consequences of an economic recovery from a recession, and that the closure of schools is a necessary evil in the pursuit of financial prosperity. The issue with this assertion is that by doing whatever is necessary to secure a short term financial future, there is the potential of damage being done to the long term education of high school children.

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Could a Debit Card Cap Improve Financial Awareness?

It was revealed this week that leading US banks are considering imposing a cap on all consumer debit card transactions, with a view to limiting the swipe fees which cost retailers valuable revenue. Although the motion has yet to be confirmed, it would go further than simply assisting retailers in obtaining a higher level of profit, and would also potentially change the way in which American citizens purchased both everyday and luxury items.

While the benefits for US companies are obvious, any potential advantages for consumers are far more contentious and debateable. Firstly, it is unclear whether this restriction on how and when consumers use their debit cards is either entirely neccessary or reflective of a democratic society, where individuals should be free to spend their wealth as they desire. However, there is also a very pertinent argument that forcing consumers to make more cash purchases would lead to an enhanced fiscal responsibility within society.

Enhancing Economic Awareness

The second of these points is the most interetsing facing the contemporary consumer, especially in an age where consumer and credit card debt has soared beyond $26 billion in the US. Although this issue was not helped by the global recession, the excessive use of debit and credit cards has also been cited as a major influence, with the clear inference that consumers are more likely to spend higher volumes of their wealth through card payments.

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Is the Pace of Progress Jeopardizing Society?

One of the facets of contemporary existence is the fast and unchecked pace of technological and scientific progress, which has continued unabated through the last two decades. While this has created many advantages in terms of engineering solutions and the development of treatments for specific ailments, it has also had a tremendous impact in the methodology that individuals use to communicate and undertake daily chores. The benefits or otherwise of these practices are less well defined, and could in some cases to be detrimental towards society.

While this ever quickening pace of advancement has undoubtedly delivered many positives towards the standard of living within the US, its nature is one that has the potential to leave may individuals in its wake. This is largely because the speed of its evolution creates a wide and cavernous gap between generations, especially with regards to the way that they interact and their perceptions of work, crime and other prevalent social issues. Subsequently, it is harder for parents to educate their children and instill relevant values in them.

An Issue of Communication

For example, if we consider the advent of social networking sites and contemporary media, then we see a mode of interaction that has developed vastly over the last decade or so. It is arguably the premier method of communication for most teenagers and young adults, and is becoming ever more influential as these sites are enhanced and improved upon further. While becoming increasingly relvant amongst youngsters however, its pace of progression has made it almost impossible for the elder generations to follow, resulting in a serious discrepancy to the understanding between parents and their children.

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WikiLeaks: Encouraging Empowerment or Disruption?

One of the most contentious issues that surrounds the World Wide Web is the surfeit of information that can be published and accessed by anyone. The intended purpose of the Internets swathes of resource is to empower and educate individuals within society, and prevent them with the factual data, opinion and objective information to aid them in an individual quest for wisdom. This is with a view to liberating society and giving each individual member the tools to further their own education on desired subjects.

To this end, Wikileaks is an international non profit organization that was founded in 2006, and strives to deliver anonymous submissions of private and covert news to a wide and uncensored audience. As they protect the source of the information they are able to seek and publish highly controversial and topical information, which is served in the greater interest of keeping the public updated with relevant data. In keeping with the nature of their operation, they have been involved at the centre of several well documented international incidents.

Freedom of Speech and its Consequences

If anything, Wikileaks is the evocation of the freedom of speech and democratic values. In its purest form, it provides a platform through which it is able to deliver entirely relevant information that would otherwise be suppressed and censored by government bodies. In effect, it takes control away from governments who wish to control what information is fed to society, and ensures that people are empowered to be as informed as they wish to be. Of course, this concept is one that has produced a vast differential in terms of its reception and response.

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The Federal Government and Religion

Of all the senstive issues which determine the success of a relationship between a government and its subjects, religion remains one of the most pertinent. These issues are enhanced in a multicultural age, as several diametrically opposed faiths and cultures subsist within a single society. Governments are therefore faced with the increasingly difficult task of finding an acute equilbrium between serving the practical needs of society and satisfying religious requirements, and there have been notable examples of conflicts emerging from particular instances.

What many faiths and bodies fail to understand are the pressures that face a government in a democratic society. Recently, a school in Michigan was forced to make a judgement concerning a Sikh student who wished to wear the kirpan, which is a small religious dagger that represents a traditional commitment to fight evil. A ban was placed on these items being worn in December due to the items being considered as potential weapons, but this was overturned after being deemed unneceesary and unconstitutional.

Against the Principles of America

The concept of religious symbols and affiliated wear is a good place to start on this issue, as there are vastly different approaches throughout western culture to regulating their usage. Governing bodies in France and similar western european countries have reacted to increasing religious uncertaintly by imposing a widespread ban on the wearing of religious garments in schools and public auditoriums, in an attempt to difuse tensions and public displays of affiliation. Similarly, a UK air stewardess was sacked for refusing to remove her crucifix during service, after the airline recieved complaints from various passengers and acted upon them.

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Should the US Government do More to Protect Domestic Interests?

Every fair minded and reasonable individual would advocate a democratic society, and champion a government regime that takes its peoples opinions and needs into consideration. This guarantees that a government acts in the interests of society at large, and implements legislation and policy to protect and serve the voting demographic that brought them to power in the first instance. While this is not only desirable for individual countries and communities, it would be wrong to suggest that this methodology of rule would not improve the perilous and hostile state of the world and its factions at large.

With this in mind, it is natural that many of the democratic super powers in the world seek to intervene and impart the democratic wisdom on others, and often go to great lengths to modify countries regimes to comply with their own. The US and the UK have historically taken a keen interest in foreign politics and regimes, both as a way of ensuring the safety of a global community and improving international politics at large. However, as western culture strives to battle hampered economic growth and frequent instances of violent crime, there is growing concern that domestic issues are not receiving the attention they deserve.

The Demands of Foreign Policy

The recent unrest and political protests in Egypt have only served to highlight the vast and significant role that the US continues to play in global peace. While reducing its representative presence of diplomats in the country, it is continuing to pledge aid and support to Egypt during its period of transition. In addition to this, the US is seeking to take a keen and considered interest in political reform in the country, by encouraging diplomatic values and the regulated processes of election.

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The Challenge of Childhood Obesity

The continued growth of the Internet has created a vast and diverse resource for information, which allows individuals to educate themselves on a variety of different topics. This, in theory, harvests a more knowledgeable and independent society, whose citizens are able to take control of their own lives and adopt responsibility for their actions. Subsequently, social and behavioural issues should be challenged to the degree where they can be controlled and regulated by the individual members of a community, allowing governments to concentrate on .

However, this logic is not supported by fact and statistical data. Despite intensive work by research bodies and the swathes of media outlets that report their findings, several social issues continue to be pertinent in contemporary society. Obesity, violence and anti social behavioral trends are especially prevalent, and affect both children and adults in equal measure, which serves to question whether individuals are doing enough to understand this information and improve themselves accordingly.

An Inadequate Response to Child Obesity

Child obesity and fitness are issues that have worsened in the US for over a decade. The steady but significant rise in youngsters and teenagers who are unhealthily overweight is perplexing, especially when considering the accepted knowledge surrounding exercise and nutrition that is accessible on hundreds of web pages and television channels. It suggests that individuals are either applying a loose and misguided interpretation to what they read, or simply disregarding it entirely.

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The Governments Role in Reducing Population

Democracy is the evocation of free speech and independent thinking, built upon a foundation of inherent family values. In accordance with this, large and growing families are a feature of liberal civilizations, as adults have the choice to procreate and raise children without any restrictions or limits to their number. This is considered by many to be a basic right of adults within a civilized and democratic society, and one that should be trusted to an individuals discretion and decision making capabilities.

This way of thinking is not prevalent globally, and other cultures and government regimes have taken steps to restrict the rights of procreation in their respective countries. China is the most notable example, who reacted to their vast population increases with the implementation of a one child family policy. This applies legislation and guidelines as to how many children a family can have, and though conceived in the wider interests of society, it is often devalued in western culture as being both draconian and unnecessary.

Are Governments doing Enough to Curb Rising Populations?

However, as the US population soars towards 310 million at an average increase of 250,000 people per year, there are is an increasing concern with the pressure that is being placed on natural and financial resources. This population rise is part of a global trend, and its escalation is often linked to the prominence of poverty in both poor and wealthy nations. With this in mind, it would seem that a more balanced equilibrium needs to be found between maintaining human rights and the welfare of society at large.

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Telecommuting and the Changing Face of Employment

One of the most notable aspects of contemporary existence is its speed of advancement. From technological innovations to the evolution of how daily tasks are performed, there is an ever increasing drive to constantly adapt and change methodology to improve performance. Though this can rarely be considered a damaging state of affairs, it is at least challenging to society and its generations, as individuals are constantly being asked to react and amend their behavioral trends to suit new demands.

Employment is one such example, and the way in which many individuals now find themselves working is evolving to meet employer requirements. Remote working from home, or telecommuting as it is often referred to, has become an increasingly common activity, so much so that the number of telecommuting opportunities available have risen by over 400 percent in the US over the last three years. Though there are obvious benefits to both employers and employees, there are also potential issues that could result from this practice.

Why is Telecommuting such a Frequent Occurrence?

Telecommuting positions have arisen as a direct consequence of the global recession. Though the US economy is in the midst of a recovery, it corporations and organizations are still cautious in their expansion plans and keen to save money wherever possible. To that end, telecommuting provides an opportunity for employers to hire staff to work from the comfort of their own home, negating several expensive and time consuming aspects such as gas or electric usage and health and safety precautions.

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Being Adaptable in the 2011 Job Market

The paths of economic recovery are strewn with stoops and swerves, as companies look to expand but are restricted by conflicting economic forecasts and conservative spending. This is a frustrating state of affairs for job seekers in the US, as employers are forced to delay hiring permanent staff until the economy has sustained the requisite level of growth. It can develop a period of relative inactivity within the job market, with a few select industries creating a diversity of additional job roles.

However, with unemployment falling slightly in the US at the turn of the year, and with further growth expected over a five year period, there is room for optimism. The rise is employment opportunities will be especially pertinent in specific market sectors, so given this and the fact that more and more individuals have resumed their job search after the festive epoch, there is likely to be a competitive push for the jobs that subsequently become available.

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Why the US Must Maintain its Religious Tolerance

There are several core principles at the heart of a civilized and democratic society. Personal liberties such as the freedom of speech and choice of lifestyle are accepted as basic civil rights in the US and many western cultures, and allow citizens to develop and maintain individual values and thinking. Religious tolerance is another primary factor within any civilized society, as this allows different cultures and belief systems to co-exist within a single community without dispute or prejudice.

It is an idealism not without its issues. In today’s world, there is much trepidation and hostility between alternate religions, due in part to the existence of extreme religious bodies who have adapted a harsh and unforgiving interpretation to specific literature. This, in addition to the diverse nature of beliefs and values prevalent in different religions, make multiculturalism an awkward and potentially divisive concept. One of the significant dangers is that a culture or belief system may lose its unique identity and values when immersed in a mixed and varied community.

Resisting Religious and Cultural Intolerance

Religious tolerance is something which separates civilized people and societies from bigoted and more dictatorial examples. While is inherent to US values, it is not prevalent in all faith or religious representation that exists in the contemporary world. Particular examples of extreme faiths have applied a rigid understanding to relevant text, creating an ethos that is not only intolerant to alternative faiths and beliefs but actually hostile towards them. These groups propagate the notion that belief systems that vary from their own are both immoral and opposed to clean living.

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The Rise of Violence Against Authority

Violence is a significant concern in contemporary society, and is something that has continued to rise steadily in specific geographical areas of the US. While acts of violence between members of society are troubling enough, incidents where violence is directed towards authority figures is even more concerning, as this is something which strikes at the very core of shared communal values. Law enforcement bodies and officers subsist to protect the members of a community, and an attack upon them is a direct challenge to the safety and harmony of a society.

As reports filtered through that a total of 11 US police and Federal officers were gunned down in the space of just 24 hours, a tangible sense of shock gripped the entire country. Although the US and many western cultures have become used to instances of gun crime and violence as a daily though regrettable occurrence, the sudden explosion of fury aimed at a body of authority figures is as disturbing as it is unprecedented. It is a trend that could destabilize an entire society of it were to continue, and one which needs to be understood fully before it is tackled.

Understanding the Violence

Early reaction from government and law enforcement officials suggest that they believe the acts to be unconnected, and individual instances of violence manifested from desperation and variable personal circumstances. While this is a plausible explanation, it does not necessarily correlate with the frequency of the events and their nature. It is particularly unlikely that there would be 11 separate instances of citizens using firearms against police officers within such a short space of time, especially ones that are result of the exact same trigger and circumstance.

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Overcoming Trepidation of the Social Network

The social network is synonymous with many things, from personal interaction to being a vast resource of interactive social games. Many perceptions exist concerning social networking sites, a large volume of which are based in rumor and supposition, which give an unfavorable impression to many potential users. Although increasing popular amongst young US adults, there is an older generation that still approaches the concept of social networking with concern and trepidation.

These worries are undue, especially as the purpose of social networking is constantly adapting to change with the needs of contemporary society. Individual sites are developing to meet more and more corporate and personal requirements, many of which offer value to the mature portion of the global community. For example, 2010 was the year that Facebook surpassed Google to become the most visited site on the World Wide Web, which is a revealing feat when you consider the tools that Google offers to its many users.

Making the Social Network Beneficial for You

The prominence of Facebook and Twitter has grown significantly over the last 2 years, as both sites have recognized the need to expand their appeal. From interactive tools with their foundations primarily built in personal liaisons, they have steadily began to tailor their resources to suit commercial and professional requirements. Companies have subsequently began to use these facilities to advertise and promote their brand, drawing a diverse range of followers who can be kept updated with current events at the touch of a single button.

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Money as a Consequence and not a Cause of Relationship Issues

It is one of the more regrettable aspects of human nature that people apply blame to innocent associates and things for their own abhorrent behavior. This is not a new phenomenon, as examples of such conduct can be traced back hundreds of years. For example, the renowned phrase ‘money is the root of all evil’ is an adaptation of the bible verse ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’, which is a clear criticism of greed and how it creates deceit and ill judged conduct within society.

However, the contemporary adaptation of this phrase suggests that it is money which stands as the significant factor in all that is wrong with the world, and not the people who handle and abuse it. This is an entirely inaccurate and irresponsible conclusion, as it absolves individuals of their duty to spend and save money responsibly. A simple phrase it may be, but its meaning is a clear indication of the blame culture that exists with regards to personal finance and expenditure.

The Concept of Financial Infidelity

The concept of financial infidelity is a further example, and is the process of one person keeping financial secrets and trends from their life partner. Instances of this behaviour seem to have increased during the global recession, which suggests that people have taken to creating their own individual financial safeguards even within a relationship of marital environment. There may be may potential reasons for this, but these issues are more likely to be the cause of the deceit rather than the presence of money itself.

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Does Law Provide Equality for Everyone?

Within a democratic society, rehabilitation is the core purpose which drives every prison sentence and judicial ruling. Regardless of the offense committed, an individual confined to a prison term is required to receive assistance and help in reforming their behavioral trends, as well as serving a debt towards the society they have harmed. This may be professional help to assist in resolving psychological issues, or more standard assistance provided by educational and social programs of learning.

However, there are are cases which seem to stand as exceptions to this rule, where the perpetrators have been detained with little hope for parole. In these instances, prisoners have often been serving life sentences and become completely institutionalized and accustomed to a specific regime, and yet hold little hope with regards to their release and subsequent freedom. A pertinent question that this raises is whether the justice system has simply failed to reform these individuals, or whether they have done enough in an attempt to rehabilitate their behavior?

High Profile Cases of Long Term Incarceration

While all types of crime are diverse in their nature and cause, some are complicated further by their execution and respective victims. As an example, in September of 2010, Mark Chapman was denied parole for a 6th time during his sentence for the murder of John Lennon in New York in 1980. It was undoubtedly a premeditated murder that reverberated around the world, and one which generated a huge amount of public reaction and scorn directed towards the perpetrator.

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Crime and Rehabilitation

The concepts of crime and punishment have been well versed and discussed for generations. In civilized society, the purpose of implementing penal sentences for criminal acts is to rehabilitate the offender, educating them through various programs that aim to modify their behavioral trends. This is opposed to the primal and less evolved attitudes towards prison, which focus solely on punishing the perpetrators of crime and attempting to deter them through the severity of consequence.

It is widely accepted that the former is the most conducive towards reducing crime over a period of time, as well as creating the best environment to change attitudes rather than hardening a prevalent criminal ethos. However, this methodology of attempting to correct behavior rather than punish it is vulnerable to several criticisms, most notably that it is open to abuse from career criminals who observe captivity as an occupational hazard and one that can be endured for financial reward.

Serving Time and Rehabilitation

Opposed to this, there is also criticism from those who deem aspects of criminal law to restrictive in a democratic environment. This observation applies to legislation that continues to restricts the movements and activity of individuals after they have been released from their sentence, and therefore regulates behaviour for far longer than their original punishment. While this may be necessary for specific and compulsive natures of crime, it is not entirely appropriate or ethical for others.

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Family Values as a Modern Consideration

There is a persistent sense of uncertainty around contemporary existence. From worsening environmental conditions to an array of global conflicts, there appears to be a continual stream of bad news reported through the many media outlets accessible by society. These feelings of anxiety are heightened as western culture continues its tentative steps out of recession, and are entirely at odds with the liberal and technological enhancements that have been designed to assist the overall quality of life.

Of the everyday concerns that trouble US citizens, there are two that can be perceived as threats to the accepted way of life. The most pertinent of these is the consistent and disproportionate growth in the global population, which continues to stretch natural and financial resources. Secondary to this, the high divorce rate and subsequent numbers of individuals who live in isolation is also a concern, especially to those who cherish the relevance of the family unit and affiliated values.

The Social Effects of Contrasting Behavior

Understanding traditional family values, it is interesting that these two particular instances should co-exist simultaneously. With the US population set to reach 311 million by the close of 2011, it would be reasonable to presume that this was a consequence of prosperous marriages and an increased rate of romantic union. Considered as part of a larger trend, this projected increase in population would be in line with the average annual increase of between 250,000 and 300,000, and suggest that there is a steadily growing number of couples and family units within the us.

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Raising Children in Contemporary Society

With an ever increasing amount of online resources that provide information on a range of subjects, the methodology that we adopt to do certain things is a permanent state of transition. Whether undertaking daily functional chores, or performing the significant task of raising children, the Internet age is exposing individuals within society to an expanding choice of conflicting and diverse information. This data often challenges and modifies an individuals approach to their conduct and behaviour, as well as adapting their understanding and perception of life.

Raising children is a case in point. By searching the depths of the World Wide Web and its resources, it is possible to source new information that advises parents on a daily basis, creating literature that discusses diverse techniques and theories concerning childcare. This can be in the form of an opinionated blog post or through the published findings of a specific research program, but the frequency with which these articles are printed provides both advantages and disadvantages to the reader.

Best Utilizing the Information to make an Informed Decision

It is logical to assume that where a surfeit of information exists, a considered approach is required to determine whether it is suitable. The nature of online resource is a wide and largely uncensored one, which means that independent writers and research bodies can publish their findings promptly and freely for the attention of others. This diversity of text will often produce opposing views and conflicted findings, which can be overwhelming to a reader if they do not take the time to understand the information and apply a process of discrimination.

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Tackling Gun Control in the USA

Just a single week after the tragic shooting of Gabrielle Giffords at an Arizona shopping mall, thousands of US citizens attended an annual gun show in Tuscon yesterday. Despite the incredible levels of feeling and emotion that the incident has prompted nationwide, the two day event has attracted a staggering 7000 attendees, which is a noticeable increase on the number of citizens who visited in the previous year. Of course, both the timing and nature of the event have raised several questions about gun control and the use of firearms within the USA.

The debate is a longstanding and emotionally fraught one, as the subject of firearms and their usage becomes ever more pertinent in a violent and desensitized culture. Critics have questioned the validity of gun control and regulatory legislation affiliated to firearm ownership, and have been quick to cite the Arizona shootings as supportive evidence. Of course, gun enthusiasts take a different view, and are quick to assert that firearm related violence is a wider issue of contemporary society and alternative negative influences.

Gun Control in Contemporary Society

If assessing the arguments objectively, it is hard to disagree with gun enthusiasts within the US. Gun control and supportive legislation has been assessed and evaluated regularly over the last decade, as federal government has attempted to regulate their levels of control over the types of guns viable and the status of registered owners. Given that law enforcement bodies were also at the Tuscan event monitoring specific sales and purchasers, it appears that those responsible for the safety of US citizens are continuing to do all they can with regards to firearms.

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Understanding the Reports of Economic Prosperity

In many ways, the period of economic recovery that follows a recession is an often unsure and frustrating time. This is in part due to media coverage and its emphasis on sensationalism, where every single optimistic portent is heralded and perceived as a huge step towards prosperity. This creates an unrealistic expectation amongst society concerning unemployment trends and personal finances, as individuals seek a quick and effective resolution to economic hardship and periods of fiscal difficulty.

The fact remains however that while the are undoubted reasons for economic optimism for the forthcoming year, there is an inherent misunderstanding of financial reporting and the core processes of an economy. This is what causes many individuals to misunderstand the portents and indicators that are presented by media resources, and subsequently develop disappointment and frustration as the economy does not display the rate of growth that is anticipated.

Understanding the Numbers and Economic Cycles

The main issue facing society is the representation and usage of statistics and figures. While it is easy to adopt a piece of numerical data to argue a point or economic trend, it can often be contracting or negated by another piece of information within a related field. As an example, it was proudly proclaimed that unemployment rates in the US dropped by 0.4 percent at the end of 2010, and this figure was indeed reflective of a positive trend. However, this rate was inclusive of individuals who had simply stopped seeking employment or claiming welfare, so the actual number of those who had sourced work was less than initially perceived.

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The Role of Video Gaming in Obesity Trends

The Role of Video Gaming in Obesity Trends

The trends of growing obesity are a concern both globally and within the US, as annual statistics reveal the steady decline in the levels of health and physical fitness across a network of societies. This issue is even more worrying when analyzed across a diverse age demographic, as figures suggest that more and more children and young adults are developing obesity as a serious health condition. This epidemic is expected to become more widespread before it improves, as children in particular continue to consume a poor nutritional diet alongside a reduced level of physical exercise.

Dietary elements and subsequent exercise are considered to be the most influential factors in determining a persons general health. These form part of a routine and cycle of behaviour, and the approach that an individual takes towards them is significant in establishing their physical fitness. However, diet and exercise are subject to environment and a persons individual attitudes, meaning that they themselves are vulnerable to numerous contributory triggers. To deal with obesity effectively, appropriate bodies must strive to discover the root cause of unhealthy behavioural trends and find suitable resolutions.

Contemporary Social Causes

Although diet is often considered to be the most significant influence in a persons general health, this is not supported by popular research and statistics. As an example, the metabolism and structure of the human body dictates that a person could consume 5000 calories in a single day (which is twice the recommended amount for a male), so long as they perform the requisite cardiovascular exercise to convert them to energy and burn them off. This is true with sportsmen who participate in particular disciplines, where a high level of energy is expended on a regular basis.

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The Rise of Online Fraud and Identity Crime

Of all the types of crime and criminal conduct that are prevalent in contemporary society, online fraud and identity theft are perhaps the most bewildering. These are advanced and highly evolved crimes, and perpetrated with a level of remoteness and distance that provides both safety for the criminal and extreme consternation for those who are it victims. And yet for all of the intensive media coverage that has engulfed these modes of criminal activity in the latter part of the decade, they remain vague and incomplete with regards to their public perception.

Unsurprisingly, these types of crime have become more prominent annually since the turn of the century, with the levels of reported instances rising annually across almost every US state. The figures suggest that this issue is a national concern rather than one that is confined to particular geographical areas, which makes the crimes both harder to tackle for law enforcement bodies and also more difficult to analyze in terms of their cause and primary motivations.

Targeting the Primary Causes of Online Fraud and Identity Theft

One of the most significant tasks in tackling and overcoming a type of crime is first understanding its causes and subsequent consequences. For example, to understand violent crime then a government would assess where the crime is most prevalent and draw conclusions from their findings. So as violent crime and murder are most common amongst areas of society with high rates of poverty and unemployment, then it would be reasonable to identify these as primary causes, and implementing resolutions to solve these issues would have a positive impact on particular types of crime.

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Assessing the Extremes in Political Opinion and Action

In the aftermath of the tragic shooting of democratic representative Gabrielle Griffiths at a neighborhood meeting yesterday, a sharp and sudden focus was drawn against the increasing extremities of feeling that exist within contemporary US politics. Although an exact motive for the attack that killed and wounded others has yet to be determined, their are rumblings of the accused gunman being extremely hostile towards the current government regime and also especially vocal about his inherent dislike and reasoning.

This reaction is extreme and entirely unjustified in a civilized society, but the instance is not isolated in terms of the level of threat and deep rooted animosity toward the existng political government. There have been several occasions in the last 18 months and 2 years where democratic representatives have been subjected to verbal abuse or vandalism, as concerns and issues with economic policies and health care legislation have combined to produce increased levels of frustration and discontentment with government representatives and legislation.

A Diversity of Opinion

While this particular instance and general type of political protest is repugnant, it is not the only reason for concern in federal circles. At the entirely opposite end of the spectrum, there continues to subsist a growing apathy towards voting and policies in particular geographical and age related demographics, and one which is born of the same levels of disenchantment that fuels acts of violence and anarchy. In a society where two opposed and yet deeply similar and related political issues are pertinent, there are several conclusions and portents that can be drawn.

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Taking Individual Responsibility for the Economy

Given the recent reports concerning proposed economic prosperity for 2011, it was logical that Barack Obama would cite the literature in his weekly address to the US. He identified the positive trends that have been established in job creation and reduced levels of unemployment, and suggested that these figures herald the beginning of a brighter year ahead for the country. His speech was an exercise in accentuating the positive, and an attempt to capitalize on the growing optimism in US society.

Although these reports suggested a level of economic growth that was underwhelming when compared with economists predictions at the close of 2010, there was still clear progression and improvement in the fiscal circumstances. Unemployment dropped from 9.8 to 9.4 percent throughout the last month of 2010, and although it has been suggested that this is due chiefly to the fact that many stopped looking for work during the festive period, the government is keen to assert that this is a portent of things to come.

The Wider Picture for the Growth of the US Economy

It is widely known that the condition of the US economy in 2012 could well be the deciding factor in Barack Obama’s prospects for a second term in office. It is all too apparent that a large and disproportionate amount of responsibility for the economy falls on the shoulders of the president and his representatives, which is especially concerning given the size and capitalist nature of the country. It is arguable that the responsibility for such a diverse economy should be more equally spread, with businesses and individuals being encouraged to take control of their own financial health and well being.

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Should Smoking be Restricted in a Democratic Society?

As the US government continues to restrict the rights of smokers, there is increasing debate as to the ethics of such a policy and its place within a civilized and democratic society. This debate has intensified recently with legislation being implemented to ban smoking from the side walks and well populated streets of Great Neck Village in Long Island, as the local board of this affluent suburb upheld complaints and suggestions from its residents. This is considered to be the first instance of authority restricting smoking in public and completely open spaces.

This follows on from the decreasing tolerance shown by governments towards smoking, and specific bans on smoking in various enclosed public areas and establishments. This ethos, coupled with the escalating costs of buying cigarettes and tobacco, has been credited with reducing the number of smokers by over 6 percent of the population since 1990. While this has been accepted as beneficial to society and its members, there is some debate that the continual tightening of smoking regulations is actually an affront to personal choice and liberty.

A Personal Choice? The Arguments of Smokers

The argument of smokers in the US is based primarily on the fact that they live in a democratic society with the supposed freedom of choice. This applies to any act or decision that can be taken within the existing laws, and as smoking remains a legal practice then theoretically there should no serious restrictions on its practice. There is an unclear and conflicting message sent concerning smoking by government legislation’s, with smokers being subjected to numerous restrictions and price increases on the basis that smoking is detrimental to health, while cigarettes are still sold on every street in the USA without any serious stipulations.

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Learning the Lessons of the Global Recession

When the individuals of a country are afflicted by the hardship of a recession, the very suggestion of prosperity and optimism can seem foreign to the concept of logic. As unemployment rises and jobs are cut from the private and public sectors, so too consumer spending power diminishes to create a vicious cycle within the economy. However, there are signs emerging through the gradual recovery that adults in the US have not only taken heed of the financial portents of the recession, but also developed a positive attitude in moving forward in society.

A recent survey of young adults aged between 18 and 34 has revealed that this demographic have learned important financial lessons through the recession, and in fact resolved to save more of their disposable income and through budgeting and reducing their levels of impulse purchases. The published findings also suggest that this generation of citizens have also developed an increased responsibility concerning their debts and burdens, and are motivated to committing more money throughout 2011 to reduce their financial duty appropriately. Aside from the bare statistics, this survey also reveals some key points concerning young adults living in the US.

Adapting to Social Conditions

One of the most significant conclusions that can be drawn from the survey is the malleable and adaptable nature of young adults living in contemporary society. It is a well versed theory of psychology that young adults are more adaptable to the change in social conditions, and also more likely to modify their behavioural trends to a more positive end. This capability to conform to changing environment and conditions is believed to diminish over time, as adults more experienced in life are either too comfortable with their own wisdom or embittered by specific instances of hardship.

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The Benefits of the Internet as the Premier News Source in the US

Recent studies and reports have suggested that the internet has now surpassed TV as the premier resource for news in the US. This trend is especially prominent amongst young adults in the country, with 65 percent of the 18-29 age demographic using the World Wide Web to keep informed of topical local and world events. This is an increase of 31 percent in the least three years, whereas the rate of this age demographic who cite television as their main news source has dropped 16 percent in the same period.

Though this trend is most prevalent amongst younger adults, it is reflected across other ranges too. A significant 48 percent of citizens aged between 30 and 59 now regard the internet as their primary news source, whereas even the retired generation now cite online resources as their first port of call for current affairs. These statistics clearly show that the internet has surpassed television as the most significant media outlet, and also raises questions as to the validity of a largely uncensored entity providing news to the public.

The Advantages and Otherwise of Internet News Resources

There are both advantages and disadvantages to people using the internet to obtain their daily news bulletins. To understand these, it is important to comprehend the core differences between information that is provided to the internet and that which is displayed on television. The most important difference is that news can be sourced on the internet through a range of different sites and uncensored providers, whereas contrived television bulletins are carefully structured to deliver considered news and requisite opinion.

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The Growing Influence of Facebook and the Social Network

The concept of the social network has shown immense growth since its inception, and has emerged as a key resource for communication and interaction in contemporary society. Facebook stands as the single biggest social network, and recently revealed that it now boasts over 500 million users worldwide, providing an ever improving computer interface accessible in hundreds of countries.

It was recently revealed that private investors have sunk $500,000 into Facebook in 2010, which has elevated the corporations market value beyond the staggering level of $50 billion. This rate of investment and corporate growth have made the brand currently more valuable than the Times Warner Group, Yahoo and the popular Internet trading site EBay. Given the nature of the site and its purpose, this level of global and financial expansion is quite remarkable.

The Present and the Future for Facebook

As a social networking entity, Facebook continues to expand and develop unabated. It continues to gain new investors with ease, while also being able to source and capture alternative and smaller social networking resources. In 2010, statistics even suggested that the site had surpassed as Google as the most frequented web resource, which is another remarkable feat given the multipurpose structure of Google and the range of business and personal services that it offers to the consumer.

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The Economic Portents for 2011

As the US continues its gradual and yet persistent recovery from the global recession, the New Year heralds the beginnings of fresh hope and expectation for the unemployed citizens in society. Obviously, one of the most documented consequences of economic hardship and turmoil is unemployment, where redundancy and the closure of companies forces individuals from their positions and into an ever competitive job seekers market.

Of course, the issue in an economic recovery is that there is not enough positions to satisfy the increased number of unemployed citizens. This is because companies and organizations often choose to utilize this period as a time for consolidation, and are therefore loathe to expand their enterprise and employ additional bodies. This can lead to a frustrating and ultimately fruitless job search for many, and create a prominent sense of apathy and depression amongst large sections of society.

The Signs Ahead for 2011

Given these accepted economic theories, it is surprising to learn that the indicators are particularly positive for 2011. Although it is expected that the year will still see only a gradual and intermittent improvement in terms of unemployment levels, the same period of time is set to see the creation of between 2 and 3 million jobs within the US economy. This is a natural progression for economic climates afflicted by a recession, as companies emerge from financial hardship and look to expand their companies to previous capacity.

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How Law can Continue to Challenge Criminal Behaviour

Historically, the struggle between law and criminal behaviour is one that has been both prominent and persistent. It has been a global conflict which has been contested differently depending on the individual country or culture, and has seen many attempts by governing bodies to minimize criminal conduct and successfully reprimand and rehabilitate the perpetrators of crime. However, despite the variety of approaches from law enforcements agencies to uphold specific legislation, crime continues to harm society and its erstwhile citizens.

The main issue in the fight against crime is the simple matter of law and its implementation. Law and legislation is created and implemented to best fight criminal behavioural trends, and is then enforced by police and government officials as rigidly as possible. However, while the application of law must be to the letter and maintain a clarity of process, those who wish to defy the law are not bound by the restrictions of duty and transparency. Unfortunately, the nature of law and its application means that it will always be easier to break than it will be to uphold.

Law in Contemporary Society

The levels of crime reported and discussed on daily news bulletins throughout the US is currently at an unprecedented level, and although this has something to do with the vast amounts of media outlets that can be accessed it should not detract from the fact rising crime is a troublesome social issue. This trend is especially prominent amongst instances of violent crime, such as aggravated assaults and armed robberies, and this type of crime is also the most significant in terms of being targeted by government bodies and their legislation.

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The Relevance of Community in Society

What became apparent however was the sense of community and togetherness that had been fostered through hardship, as countless residents gathered to assist the Red Cross operatives at the scene. This reflected an incredible selflessness of character, as individuals put their own issues and suffering aside to help the rescue efforts and clear the debris from the roads and man the refuge centers and facilities.

The Community in its Traditional Sense

This reaction and communal spirit displayed in common is the instances of emergency and natural disaster, and serves as a comforting reminder of the best side of human nature and behaviour. However, this sense of community and selfless distribution of time raises another question, as it is at odds with the behaviour and conduct witnessed in every day life and contemporary society.

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How important is Union in Contemporary Society?

Various governments across various civilizations have eschewed the virtues of marriage and long term union in contemporary society, and some have even introduced legislation and incentives to encourage marriage and the development of a family unit. However, as the global rate of divorce spirals towards a troubling 50 percent, and the rate of divorce in the US alone stands at approximately 48 percent, there is an increasing concern as to the relevance of union in a modern society.

The thought processes involved in attempting to create marital and relationship harmony is simple. Governments regulate society, to make its citizens law abiding and maintain their safety. The concept of the family unit, and all of the values of clean living and moderation that are incorporated within, ensure that it is used as a tool with which to govern and maintain a social equilibrium. This abates the concern that single individuals are more vulnerable to external influences and corruption without the support of family or their communal values.

The Modern Relationship

While this trend of government thinking is clear, it is also a little misguided in contemporary surroundings. The nature of relationships and union has changed dramatically over the course of 4 decades, and the relevance of marriage slowly diminishing alongside the revolution in dating and methods of courtship. Quite simply, the encouragement of traditional family units and values becomes less pointed in a society where couples no longer begin their relationship in the traditional way, especially where marriage is often seen as an expensive luxury or a mere title.

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Is Apathy a Cause or Consequence of Social Issues?

If we are to listen intently to the various media outlets that report on news and current affairs every day, we could be forgiven for believing that the world is veering on the very edge of tumult. From global conflicts that push the grand concept of world peace ever further from the grasp of civilized community to health and social issues that are more prominent within the US, it would appear that societies and the people within them are at the mercy of circumstances like no other generation before them.

However, many of these local or global issues are created by the many faults of mankind, whether it is greed to steal or satisfy a personal desire, or a misguided aspiration to use faith and religion and a tool to engineer anarchy. This makes these problems so much more than the sum of their parts, as there are too many cases of individuals turning away and displaying overt apathy in the face of their manifestation. The most pertinent question is whether this apathy is the root cause for such social issues, or whether it is a consequence of them and their subsequent media coverage.

What are the Issues and their Causes

This lack of feeling can be seen in many cases of neglect and wilful ignorance. For example, the level of US citizens who smoke is still unreasonably high at between 19 and 20 percent. Although this figure is down by an estimated 5 percent on the numbers recorded in 1990, it is unfathomable given both the public exposure of the damage that cigarettes cause and the quality of treatments available that so many still choose to smoke at all. This practice is clearly at odds with the advertisement campaigns, scientific research and media coverage that has been invested in revealing the extent that cigarette smoking can do to the human body.

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Correctional Facilities: Purpose vs Effectiveness

As long as they have existed, correctional facilities have been discussed in terms of their exact purpose and levels of effectiveness. Such dialogue often concerns the actual purpose that a prison should serve, whether it is to punish a criminal for their conduct or to focus on rehabilitating them to ensure a successful return into society. In an ideal world, a correctional facility would meet both of these requirements, but the truth remains that it is exceptionally difficult to strike a harmonious balance between such diverse aspirations.

The secondary issue centers on how effective correctional facilities are in achieving either aim. As contemporary facilities have leant towards rehabilitation and modifying values and behaviour through learning, there has been criticism that this ethos actually creates an environment that is far too comfortable for inmates and convicted felons. Such an atmosphere does little to encourage a criminal to learn or change their conduct, nor does it act as any form of punishment for a particular crime that has been committed.

Crime and Punishment

Many correctional facilities across the world are designed with different concepts and ideologies in mind. In Eastern European and Asian cultures, such facilities are feared and renowned for appalling conditions and brutality, whereas western prisons are far more developed and built to suit rehabilitation and personal improvement. Each has their own sets of supporters and critics, but it is the western and US correctional facilities that are considered the most effective in a civilized society.

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Internet Usage and Education

For all the advantages in terms of convenience, speed and delivery that the internet has provided to the average consumer and household, there are increasing concerns as to its influence on social conduct and etiquette. These concerns are centered on the fact that the premise of the World Wide Web has been outweighed by its impact, and despite its supposed benefits to individuals and families alike, it is often citied as a prominent factor in decreasing values and social behavioural trends.

The fact remains that while consumers can purchase and internet users can seek information through the vast resources of the internet, there is less and less need to venture into the outside world and communicate with other human beings through traditional conversation. This type of secluded environment in which young adults are thrust can contribute towards a restricted and introverted outlook on life, and in extreme cases develop anti-social behavioural trends amongst users.

Internet Usage and Education

One of the primary concerns around internet usage is its influence on the education of teenagers and young adults. With regards to the vast resources available on the World Wide Web, there are two schools of thought. One would consider that the diversity of information and opinion is beneficial to further education, and actively encourages the development of a considered point of view. However, there is a further notion that the internet’s depth of resource and often uncensored nature is confusing for impressionable minds and often contradictory to curriculum teaching.

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The Reality of Drug Usage and Users

There is often a noticeable dichotomy between public perception and reality, and this ethos is particularly relevant to drug use and drug users. The general understanding of drug use is that it is currently more widespread than ever, and that it is particularly prevalent amongst teenagers and young adults. This theory is developed due to over exposure to sensational media reports and generic journalism, where indistinct statements contrive an unconsidered presentation of actual events.

In fact, the level of drug use between the 18 to 25 year old demographic has fallen between 2000 and 2008, with a total decrease of 0.5 percent. This may seem insignificant, but not when you consider the sum of the US population and also the fact the percentage drop for the same period of citizens who have ever used drugs was registered at 2.4 percent. This secondary statistic is far more indicative of a continual and gradual decline in the number of drug users since the turn of the century.

A Public Perception

So, where does the perception of a worsening drug culture emerge from? Surprisingly, the only increase in the number of drug users is actually in the 26 to 34 year age demographic, where the level of current users has risen from 10.5 to 11 percent between 2000 and 2008. Although this statistic, when considered on its individual merits, may suggest an increase in adult drug use, it not supported by other figures that feature in the same target age range.

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Is Society Equipped for Multiculturalism?

This is not a slur on western culture, but more a realization of the magnitude of melding numerous cultural and religious bodies into a weave of similar communities. It requires a certain level of tolerance, knowledge and understanding, and also vast amounts of interaction and communication to make the transition smooth and effective. The danger is that by merging different entities together without the requisite foundation being laid could lead to ignorance, resentment and ultimately conflict.

Teaching the Values of Different Religions

There are two major issues with religious teaching in general education facilities. Firstly, it is not considered a primary or compulsory subject, and therefore either abandoned or simply ignored by students who do not see the value in such education. Secondly, where specialist religious education bodies exist, they often teach only a single religious or cultural theme that does not encompass alternative or external influences. While this at least teaches at some religious values in depth, it creates a closed minded attitude towards the notions of other belief systems.

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Education as a Resolution to Social Issues

When addressing issues of poverty and rates of crime throughout the US, education would appear to be the strongest tool in opposition. This applies to the teaching of children and young adults in two separate guises: from standard or private educational bodies and personal examples set through the conduct of guardians. However, while the number of children enrolling in education is rising year by year, there are concerns as the rates of crime, poverty and teenage birth continue to display a rising trend.

The total number of children and adults enrolled in education was over 72 million in 2008, which was a significant increase in the figure of 69.5 million in 2000. These figures include individuals who sought and completed further educational and vocational courses, and who continued to learn and develop through their adult years. These statistics, when compared with the comparative levels of hardship and delinquent behaviour in certain areas, would suggest that education is not a relevant resource with which to improve society significantly.

The Ages of Child Enrolment

However, investigation of these numbers reveals some more relevant portents. While the number of children enrolled in schools and educational outlets has risen annually, the number of children per demographic age range has not. In some cases, there are groups of children where the numbers of school attendees have actually decreased from those reported in 2000. A secondary element is the ever increasing population of the US, which inevitably increases the number of youngsters and individual’s eligible for schooling year on year.

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The Links between Poverty and Crime

Of all the supposed consequences and effects of poverty, crime is one of the most discussed. It is a common perception that people who live beneath the poverty threshold and who are victims of economic hardship are more likely to commit crime, whether for financial game or otherwise. Although various US census statistics would corroborate this to some degree, it is still pertinent to investigate other factors in criminal behaviour such as the types of crime committed and how poverty influences an individual’s personal morality.

What research has shown is that high rates of crime are more prevalent in low income areas of the US, and therefore that states that are subject to the highest rates also populate beneath the poverty threshold. Crime, however, is a broad and diverse subject matter, and understanding the types of crime most common in these areas is crucial to establishing the role that poverty plays in delinquent and illegal conduct.

The Levels of Crime in Deprived Areas

It is important to remember that the US federal definition of poverty differs to its public perception. An individual or family who are beneath the poverty threshold are not necessarily struggling to exist, but are more likely to have their residual income stretched across daily and monthly expenditure. Therefore, someone who is technically living in poverty in the US may actually live a comfortable life, only without many of the contemporary luxuries and features in higher income households.

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Where to Save Money in a Recovering Economy

As the US and other western nations continue their recovery from the global recession, more and more citizens and consumers are looking for ways to save money. This ethos is employed in all areas of existence, from day to day expenditure through to sporadic and luxury spending. However, the core emphasis for frugal living relies on saving through regular and necessary consumer spending, rather than reducing the amount sourced and spent on luxurious items and experiences. Statistics show that all forms of consumer spending have risen between 2000 and 2009, and also that the inflated expenditure far exceeds rises in average income and salary.

For those on a tighter budget, there are many ways to save money on food, drink and other household necessities. Although these processes often involve consumers having to spend more time to find discounts and devise money saving strategies, the end result can be seen at the end of each month. By reducing expenditure, a household can in effect begin to save money and capital for future times of need and hardship. If periods of recession teach society one thing, it should be that when experiencing economic growth and prosperity, each citizen has a duty to spend responsibly and save money for periods of financial regression.

Saving on Weekly Expenditure

The most effective avenue to saving money is on day to day expenditures. By saving money on groceries, drink and household bills, a consumer can create the biggest possible excess in their residual income. With regards to food and drink, many consumers find that shopping online helps to both reduce overall cost and also wastage of unused items. This is because customers are able to peruse a supermarkets website at their leisure and calculate the outgoings throughout the process and even at the checkout stage. This means that they are able to adjust their list as they go along and not only be aware of every cent that they spend, but also make sure that what they purchase is required and necessary.

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Can Extensive Research Really Benefit Society?

There is an ever increasing amount of capital invested in research every year throughout the US. The nature of this is variable, ranging from market research into consumer trends to scientific and medical research into remedies and vaccinations to treat and cure diseases. Some of this research is funded by governments through appointed grants, whereas others are sourced through private investment, and which types of investigative research qualify for grants depends entirely on their purpose and benefit to people and society. However, given the sums of public and private resource that are committed to such projects, it seems reasonable to question the effectiveness of such outlay.

It appear that there is no hope of doing perfect research, and this can be argued through two core principles. Firstly, certain types of research are reliant on human response and reaction when faced with an action or a set of questions, which of course are open to a completely unique interpretation from each subject. Secondly, and despite the global nature of research across an increasing range of media, we are still analyzing individual tests and results rather than opting to review a garnering of data from different sources to provide a more accurate set of findings. These facts compromise the conclusions drawn from all types of research projects, and draw sharply into focus their purpose and they way that they are conducted.

Human Reaction and Conditioning

Examples of this this can be seen through various projects conducted. Looking at the influence of the effects of media violence on society, the work of George Gerbner stands out from other protagonists. His seminal research through the USA not only inspired further testing but also suggested that heavy TV viewers had their perceptions of the world molded to suit the images presented by the media. He surmised that, due to the sensationalism of media reporting, society was left more anxious and fearful of their surroundings, a concept Gerbner labelled ‘Mean World Syndrome’.

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Are Religious Bodies Doing Faith a Disservice?

The concepts of faith and religion have undergone much scrutiny since the turn of the century. As individual religious bodies have developed splintered and extreme fractions, the core principles of various faiths have become increasingly unclear, creating conflict and dissention within and outside of certain independent belief systems. This has seen a steep rise in the increase of those who practice atheism and are agnostic within the US.

The last 9 years have witnessed the total number of citizens who practice atheism double from its 2001 figure. In terms of individuals who are agnostic, their number has more than doubled in the same length of time, as faith has been tested and numerous eminent voices have disputed the validity of religion as a whole and their values. The question is whether religious bodies and their teachings actually doing God and the concept of faith a disservice?

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The Celebrity Age and Reality Television

The word celebrity used to hold different meaning to the connotations affiliated to it now. Before the advent of reality television, celebrity was a consequence of public achievement, and represented a status that was earned through endeavours in film, television or literature. Actors who had starred in numerous feature films were defined by their career achievement, and celebrity was a following corollary of their deeds.

In today’s age, this has changed. Rather than celebrity being an effect of a person’s ability or career, it has become a direct aspiration to an entire generation. Youngsters growing up throughout the world no longer desire to be famous actors, writers or sportsmen, but instead yearn for fame and the perceived ideals of a celebrity status. People are now able to leap from anonymity to celebrity without anything tangible to bridge the cavernous chasm.

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