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"Mercator 1569" is licensed under CC0 Public Domain (via Wikimedia Commons)

Schools in Boston recently decided to make the switch from the Mercator projection of world maps to the Gall-Peters projection, becoming the first American school system to do so. While seemingly uninteresting, making the switch from the Mercator projection is a step toward inclusivity and one that other schools should consider making.

"A registered nurse from the Antigua and Barbuda Nurses Association checks the blood sugar level of a patient" by Brian Finney is licensed under CC0 Public Domain (via Wikimedia Commons)

Jamaica’s healthcare system has a critical problem: there are not enough specialist nurses in the country. Jamaica produces plenty of specialist nurses. However, nurses trained in Jamaica are leaving the country to work in places in the developed world, like the United States or the United Kingdom. According to a recent NPR article, “the exodus has forced Jamaican hospitals to reschedule some complex surgeries because of a lack of nursing staff on their wards.” James Moss-Solomon, the chairman of the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, accused richer countries like the U.S. of “poaching” nurses from Jamaica. The use of the verb “to poach” —which can mean “to take something in an unfair way”—implies a moral condemnation of the practice.

"Police Officer Making Arrest" by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is licensed under CC0 Public Domain (via Wikipedia)

In the face of President Donald Trump’s threats for an immigration overhaul, as well as increased U.S. immigration enforcement across the country, undocumented individuals will undoubtedly face greater threats of deportation, raids, and discrimination in the coming months. Despite the fact that, yes, the Obama administration set a record high for deportation of immigrants and therefore a precedent for future Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity, President Trump’s usage of executive orders has particularly targeted legislation designed to protect immigrants.

"Heiwa elementary school" by ajari is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Equal opportunity weighs heavily in American views of education. Not everyone can grow up to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, but who gets to be CEO should be determined principally by merit, and not according to skin color, place of birth, or family wealth. Both conservatives and liberals describe education as a driver of equal opportunity. While some may be born into poverty and others born into wealth, a well-rounded education can be the leg up that the poor child needs to compete with the rich kids. The moral case for public education rests on its ability to give everyone a shot to rise to the top.

"The contents of a needle exchange kit" by Todd Huffman is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Under new legislation in Maryland, spaces will be provided for illegal narcotics to be ingested in clean facilities under the supervision of medical professionals. There are nearly 100 such facilities worldwide, largely in Europe, where they have existed since the early 1980s. In the United States, where rates of accidental death from opioid overdose have “quadrupled since the late 1990s,” these facilities are still largely a controversial possibility.

"No Loitering" by nathanmac87 is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

Food Not Bombs, a grassroots organization focused on food justice, are facing their second round of legal battles this month after their demonstration in Tampa, Florida, that led to the arrests of seven activists. Other organizations in Tampa have faced similar action or threats by the local authorities over their illegal behavior – feeding homeless people in a public place without a permit.

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"Donald Trump" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

President Donald Trump’s foreign policy has been labeled everything from isolationist to realist and everything in between. In maneuvering through the clues of policy that Trump has left us throughout his campaign and his presidency, a common thread can be found. This metaphorical thread is in some ways revolutionary — not necessarily in its existence, but rather in its blatant acknowledgement in recent mainstream American politics. This overarching theme is as harrowing as it is simplistic: American nationalism. Trump has centered his interactions with the outside world around the idea that Americans are the best, must be respected, are superior, and deserve more than their foreign counterparts — solely because of the land they happened to be born on.

"IBM Blue Gene P Supercomputer" by Argonne National Laboratory is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Twenty-one years ago (February 10, 1996), Deep Blue, an IBM Supercomputer, defeated Russian Grand Master Gary Kasparov in a game of chess. Kasparov ultimately won the overall match, but a rematch in May of 1997 went to Deep Blue. About six years ago (February 14-15, 2011), another IBM creation named Watson defeated Champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in televised Jeopardy! matches.

The capabilities of computers continue to expand dramatically and surpass human intelligence in certain specific tasks, and it is possible that computing power may develop in the next several decades to match human capacities in areas of emotional intelligence, autonomous decision making and artistic imagination. When machines achieve cognitive capacities that make them resemble humans as thinking, feeling beings, ought we to accord them legal rights? What about moral rights?

Screen Capture of the Implicit Association Test on Race.

In 1998, a team of researchers founded Project Implicit for the purpose of identifying, measuring, and correcting implicit (i.e. subconscious) biases in the general public. Project Implicit is organized around the Implicit Association Test (IAT), a psychometric evaluation used to probe the depth and nature of bias in individuals. By showing test takers various pairings of words and concepts (“white,” “black,” “pleasant,” “unpleasant”), the IAT can determine which associations takers make more readily. Consistent lags in pairing a category, like “black,” with positive concepts, like “pleasant,” indicate that the test-taker is biased against that category of people.

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"Women's March" by Voice of America is licensed under CC0 Public Domain (via Wikimedia Commons)

One piece of local advice to any newcomer to the D.C. metro area is this: avoid the metro like the plague during the Fourth of July, the Cherry Blossom Festival, or any major tourist-attracting event – especially an inauguration – unless you really, really want to be there. Getting in might not be an issue, but getting out can be next to impossible, unless you have the fortune to live within walking distance. I remember the time when I was fourteen that my parents decided to take me and my seven-year-old brother into the District for the Cherry Blossom Festival, only for us to be stranded and forced to walk two or more hours from the National Mall over the bridge into Virginia, in the hopes that the metro station in Rosslyn would be less crowded than those near the festival itself.