Erin Law

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Senior / Sociology and Spanish majors / Media Fellow / Kappa Kappa Gamma / Minnesota native.

"Ivinghoe Beacon seen looking north from The Ridgeway" by Pointilist is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (via Wikipedia)

A recent study by the University of Cambridge reported that the benefits of walking and cycling outside outweigh the risks associated with current air pollution levels in the UK . Approximately 40,000 deaths in the UK per year are attributed to exposure to outdoor air pollution, and outdoor exercise contributes to that exposure. However, according to the University of Cambridge researchers, the health benefits of exercise, namely lowering the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and several cancers, outweighs the harmful effects of air pollution to one’s body.

"Aggie Stadium at the University of California, Davis" by Andrew Vargas is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Wikipedia)

On November 18, 2011, an Occupy movement demonstration at the University of California, Davis became a focal point of national news when a group of peacefully seated protesters were asked to leave. Shortly after, UC Davis police officers began pepper spraying the demonstrators, an incident which was caught on video and in photographs, and led to nation-wide attention, outrage, and even numerous Internet memes. Although it has been several years since this incident, the notoriety of the pepper spray incident remains in the public’s memory and as a stain on the reputation of UC Davis.

"Stethoscope" by jasleen_kaur is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (via Flickr)

Issues of race and discrimination transcend social interactions and permeate important institutions in the U.S., and the field of medicine is no exception. Recently, concerns about how patients of color may be receiving treatment differently, and less effectively, than white patients have become more frequently studied. Medical schools have implemented diversity initiatives in cultural sensitivity and awareness of subconscious bias to combat these issues and decrease the prevalence of racism in the medical field. However, according to Jennifer Adaeze, medical school student and writer for Stat News, these initiatives are not enough .

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Screenshot, @TayTweets profile (via Twitter)

In an age of frequent technological developments and innovation, experimentation with artificial intelligence (AI) has become a much-explored realm for corporations like Microsoft. In March 2016, the company launched an AI chatbot on Twitter named Tay with the handle of TayTweets (@TayandYou). Her Twitter description read: “The official account of Tay, Microsoft’s A.I. fam from the Internet that’s got zero chill! The more you talk the smarter Tay gets.” Tay was designed as an experiment in “conversational understanding” –– the more people communicated with Tay, the smarter she would get, learning to engage Twitter users through “casual and playful conversation.”

"Classroom" by Steven Brewer is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (via Flickr)

Social constructs of parenting and childrearing norms change over time as the idea of the “right” or “best” way to raise a child is continually debated, such as the social acceptability of spanking. A recent article in The Atlantic titled, “Welcome to Parent College,” explores this notion and the ethical dilemmas surrounding an increasing number of classes across the U.S. that teach parents how to be parents, a little-explored corner of the healthcare realm. Triple P, the Positive Parenting Program, is the curriculum behind the parenting class at the San Francisco center. The class includes parents who have been proven or suspected of committing child abuse and have been referred by social workers, as well as those who are simply at the ends of their ropes, like those who have acknowledged their own tempers and waning patience with unruly children.

"Duval County Courthouse" by Excel 23 is licensed under CC BY- SA 3.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

In the wake of a violent crime and loss of a family member, complicated decisions often must be made in an attempt to find a suitable resolution. In 2013, Darlene Farah’s 20 year-old daughter, Shelby, was murdered in Jacksonville, Florida by 24 year-old James Rhodes.  After security camera footage and Rhodes’s confession made the case clear-cut, Rhodes and his attorneys came up with a plea deal for him to get two consecutive life sentences plus 20 years in state prison with no trial or chance of his appeal. Despite Darlene Farah’s desire to accept the plea deal and allow her family to begin healing, the Florida State Attorney’s Office has decided instead to seek the death penalty for Rhodes.

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Pregnancy by Tatiana Vdb via flickr (licensed by CC 2.0)

On February 18, The Atlantic’s Katie O’Reilly published an article titled, “When Parents and Surrogates Disagree on Abortion.” The article describes a messy ongoing legal battle between a pro-life surrogate carrying triplets and the soon-to-be father of these children. In January, a California woman named Melissa Cook entered into a surrogacy contract with a single Georgia man. There were three embryos created, as is frequently the case when doctors implant multiple embryos at a time to increase the chance that one will be fertilized.

In the wake of tragedy, the issue of rhetoric often moves to the forefront of public discourse. The framing of an event and the way it is discussed has a powerful impact on public knowledge and understanding of an event and its aftermath. When it comes to situations such as these, one particularly difficult task is to cope with finding the proper rhetoric for discussing tragedies with children. Is there a “right way” to talk to children about these events?

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" 'i saw you on tinder' Trastevere 2014" by Denis Bocquet is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

Many are familiar with the popular dating app “Tinder,” best known for its quick “swiping” method of indicating interest in nearby users and creating “matches.” In an apparent effort to get away from its reputation of simply being a convenient “hook-up” app and get closer to its original dating purpose, Tinder recently announced that profiles will now feature work and education information. The change doesn’t go so far as to completely eliminate those with less education or a lower income, such as apps like Luxy, but it does bear possibly problematic consequences. Tinder has marketed this change as a response to user requests for these added profile details to help make more “informed choices”. Yet some are wary that this change comes with an ulterior motive.