Give Me Closure

 

Goodbyes are Hard

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

-Songwriters: Dan Wilson

Closing Time lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

As we come to the end of our blog posts, and our ethics class, it occurs to me that we’re actually beginning the rest of our professional and personal lives. I’m struck by how difficult endings and goodbyes can be, and how we’ve learned how small actions, or lack of action,  can have lasting effects on others beyond the end of someone’s job status.  Throughout class we heard many stories of people who were effected by ethical and environmental decisions, many of whom were seeking closure or retribution and never got it. To me some of the most shocking stories I heard were from whistle blowers whose co-workers never even said good-bye to them, said they weren’t talking, or officially made an attempt to break ties. Talk about lack of closure! It would be one thing if you were told you were getting the silent treatment or yelled at, but to just be shunned with no official recognition, talk about experiencing gaslight. But I’m especially struck by how the ending of something, however lacking in closure it can be, can have such lasting effects on the beginning of new things. From the ending of George Washington’s Presidency the world saw how power could be peacefully transferred between leaders.

 

The end and lack of closure from WWI caused WWII. Most of the “applied ethics” we’ve studied in class are either stories of heroism (or lack thereof), or acknowledgements of on-going ethical dilemmas that lack closure.  This class has made me think about how we don’t control what our legacy is, but we have to form habits so that hopefully our legacies are what we want them to be.

Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
Don’t nobody have control
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story

– History Has it’s Eyes on You

Hamilton

 

When I was younger I used to make a point of saying hello to every person I knew whenever I saw them, because I was terrified that I would not get the chance to say goodbye. This stemmed from experiencing loss as a young person, and I didn’t fully break the habit until college when often people walk across campus on the phone or with head phones. I’ve always struggled to say goodbye. There are so many different ways I’ll let the von Trapps sing them for you.

 

Since I’m not sure what to say here’s, the best goodbye in movie history.

Maybe this is the start of a beautiful friendship for all of us and our ethical sense of selves.

Or maybe this is a wake up call that we have to live in the moment, as if each moment could be the one that is chosen by history as our legacy. There are many ethical quandaries I’m sure we’ll face in our futures, but I hope that our time in this class has made everyone feel prepared, or at least that we can reach out to each other when the need arises.

It’s been a pleasure learning from all of you.

I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives
For a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you

 

Here’s to our new beginnings!

-You know you love me. xoxo Ethics Girl

Thats All Folks GIF

 

How are you?

People keep asking me if I’m ok, or how I’m doing. And I honestly don’t know what to say. Do you want my life’s story, or the stressors of my day like the fact that I have a paper due at midnight or that my experiment keeps having issues, or that I’m tired, or an emotional body scan? Half of the time it’s hard to even tell if someone is just greeting you or if they’re actually asking for a life update. Anyway for everyone who keeps bringing up Pittsburgh…

Image result for meme im fine

But, Like Actually, I’m fine. I don’t know if one has an ethical obligation to react, but I’m pretty un-phased. I’ve only grown up knowing that I was part of a group that’s been targeted for the past 2000 years. My own father doesn’t even know how to swim because of the “No Jews” signs at the Baltimore pools in the 1960s. It’s not like I’m a stranger to discrimination, or haven’t known for the majority of my life that in many places it isn’t safe to be Jewish. Sure the USA was supposed to be a safe place, and maybe I believed that growing up, but all of my belief’s in safety and tolerance in the USA vanished in November of 2016 when the nation embraced a President who’s rhetoric endangered Jews, Muslims and pretty much every other minority. And no one give me that shit that Ivanka is Jewish. Or “there’s good people on both sides,” try visiting Auschwitz or Majdanek or the Warsaw ghetto and then tell me that it’s permissible to do anything but outright condemn racist, anti-Semitic, or intolerant rhetoric.

Anyway’s my only reaction to the news, was “Not surprising, it was only a matter of time.” those were my immediate thoughts. Let’s face it, a few years ago a predominantly Black church was gunned down, gun violence is an ever increasing problem in America, and Virginia Tech is no stranger, why would I think it wouldn’t happen to my community? I mean sure we have video cameras and bullet proof glass and lock our doors, because we know we’re targets, but we open the doors for every service and anyone could walk in. It only takes one crazy with a gun. Just this semester the Jewish Community Center in Fairfax VA-known to be one of the most liberal places in the country- was graffiti-ed with swastikas. And last semester the Librescu Chabad Jewish Student Center, named after holocaust survivor and professor Librescu of VT who sacrificed himself for his students on 4.16.07, had leaflets with swastikas placed all over the property overnight. It’s been clear to me since the election that the US is no longer “the safest place in the world to be a Jew, maybe even safer than Israel”. Sad to say, but while I didn’t expect this, I also am not shocked. In fact I’ve had so little of a reaction people are making me feel weird about it by asking me how I am and being weirded out when I don’t realize why they’re even asking so I reply with the usual “good” “fine” “alright”.

I was devastated by 4.16- but I was also an 11 year old girl who wore a Virginia Tech sweatshirt every single day and told everyone that’s where she would go to school. I was young and confused for Sandy Hook, I didn’t understand why someone would hurt children. When I heard about the Charleston Church shooting I was angry at racist white boys not being called terrorists. I was angered by the Pulse shooting that someone would kill so many people and target people who’s only crime was love. I was terrified during Las Vegas, frantically trying to check in on my relatives who live near the strip. I was upset by Marjory Stoneman, and inspired by the student’s reactions. But when I heard about Pittsburgh via an email from my hometown synagogue, I felt nothing other than “Not surprising…I’ll deal with this later” and went back to writing that paper due at midnight. It’s just another mass shooting in America and maybe my apathy is part of the problem, but what will my tears buy me?

Today I’ve gone about my day as normal, except for randomly being asked “How are you?”. When trying to explain my lack of reaction to one of my friends I tried putting it in comparison for her,”its not like we found out a country was trying to ethnically cleanse itself of Jews”. To me this is just another pogrom, another Kristalnacht, another act of violence that barely makes a mark in 2000 years of history- to her it was “earth-shattering”. But to me its just a physical acknowledgement of the reality of being Jewish in this country in 2018. We weren’t safer on Thursday than we were on Shabbat, or we are today on Monday, does it really make a difference that one individual took an action that has been implied by the rhetoric of the past two years?  Sure its upsetting that this nice tolerant place has become intolerant, but this has happened throughout history. It happened in Spain, and Poland and it’s happening right now in the USA, and its not like the USA didn’t have slavery, or No Colored or No Irish or No Italians or No Jews signs that long ago. Again in my dad’s lifetime the US magically became this “post-race” peaceful fictional utopia that everyone who is shocked by this act apparently believed in. Death, violence and corruption are universal truths, its dumb to think that America is the exception, or any country. And maybe my perspective is flawed, but it certainly got me through the my paper. Honestly my biggest concern of the day was if I would make it to my workout on time and turn in my paper. Instead of getting caught up in any thoughts of fear or anger, I’ve kinda just acknowledged that the situation exists. Is there such a thing as too chill?

And I know America has an apathy problem, and that too much “self-care” endangers us by making us un-informed inactive citizens. But whats the point of being informed if you’re not going to be active with that knowledge? I think that, more important than our apathy problem is the fact that our democracy has a problem in that we’ve elected an autocrat and that party leaders are supporting him. I plan to vote on Nov 6th for a candidate that will pass common sense gun laws, but other than advocating for policy change and trying to replace hurtful rhetoric with meaningful conversations I’m not sure what else there is to do.

Maybe this is supposed to be the “wake-up” call to move to Israel or GTFO that 2020 hindsight historical revisionists call Kristalnacht, but for now imma hit the gym, and maybe all those would be lonely white boy domestic terrorists should too.

Image result for endorphins make you happy gif

I’m sorry white boys, did I victimize you?

-You know you love me. xoxo Ethics Girl

Visit to the Emergency Operations Center at VT

My research pretty much has nothing to do with the on-the-ground practice of crisis preparedness and disaster resilience, or the work done in Emergency Operations Centers, like the one we visited at Virginia Tech. However, I really enjoyed the visit and was super interested in learning about how VT prepares for on the ground responses in potential emergency situations. The current research project I am working on is for a water utility that is concerned about why their corrosion control chemical (orthophosphate) is inexplicably disappearing in their system before it reaches some consumers pipes. The water company is really concerned because without this corrosion control there is the potential for lead to dissolve off of the pipes and into the consumer’s water, and expose people to drinking lead contaminated water. So essentially this project, and a lot of the projects that my research group works with, are attempts to prevent another Flint Crisis, or to understand water chemistry to deal with potential lead crisis’s in the making. So our research would be more comparable to the preparation stages that the EOC discussed, though our group did on the ground sampling with citizens in their neighborhoods to try to respond to the Flint crisis and get data to the public as fast as possible. In regard to similarities to EOC’s boots on the ground as fast as possible if not already pre-placed, my lab group’s response to sending people and supplies to Flint draws a parallel.

The Virginia Tech Research Team

I thought it was really cool how the EOC used data from previous events on campus to plan for future ones. The presenter discussed how every arrest, EMS response, parking issue, etc is recorded for every home football game, and how this data is used to station police, first responders, ambulances and direct pedestrian and vehicle traffic for future games. The presenter talked about the importance of Building a Culture of Preparedness at VT.  In this respect this planning for future events phase is similar to what my research group does with some of our projects. One of my friend’s project for a water utility tested what would happen to the water chemistry should a utility change its water source from the ground water with it’s specific conditions, to a surface water source with different conditions. As evidenced by the fateful switch from Detroit water to Flint water and the unintended consequences, it was really important that she conducted this study and the utility researched what would possible effects could happen to their pipes and system before deciding to switch. The fact that this other  utility across the country reached out to our lab group after the Flint crisis to so they could make an informed decision and understand the possible effects of switching water sources speaks to the idea that water utilities are trying to enter this culture of preparedness that is so important for emergency planning. The amount of data that the EOC has on event planning is amazing, it would be very cool for future versions of our class to work with them on studying pre-positioning supplies/ personnel to expand on Dr. Zobel’s work.

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

 

Be Afraid Christina Ricci GIF

It’s that time of year again. With Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, and the Midterm Elections coming up there’s lots of things that might be haunting you. To get in the mood, and for personal coping reasons, I’ve decided to make a list of everything we should be afraid of this Halloween.

  • 1. Climate Change- A major climate report described a strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040, with a prediction of the atmosphere warming 1.5 C above pre-industral levels.

 

I’m sure you’ve seen the kid playing with a skeleton in the New York Times, but did you know that the world is on track to lose 2/3rds of wild animals by 2020? That’s less than two years away! And what about the fact that just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global green house gas emissions since 1988?

The actual technical report: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/27/world-on-track-to-lose-two-thirds-of-wild-animals-by-2020-major-report-warns

technical report: http://www.livingplanetindex.org/home/index

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jul/10/100-fossil-fuel-companies-investors-responsible-71-global-emissions-cdp-study-climate-change

  • 2. The fact that Donald Trump meets all factors for signs of an autocratic demagogue and potential dictator, according to Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt professors from Havard Univerisity and writers of How Democracies Die.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2018/jan/21/this-is-how-democracies-die

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/trump-comey-fbi-firing-becoming-a-dictator-a7728031.html

http://www2.philly.com/philly/columnists/will_bunch/trump-is-becoming-a-dictator-pardons-lies-obstruction-of-justice-20180603.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-trump-putin-dictators-democray-20170508-story.html

https://freedomhouse.org/blog/global-democracy-declines-trump-embraces-dictators

  • 3.  Potential Russian interference in the Midterm Elections

Second time around? https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/19/us/politics/russia-interference-midterm-elections.html

  • 4.  Germmmss!!! and Antibiotic Resistance

and the fact that it is not commercially viable for pharmaceutical companies to invest in research, and therefore hardly any new antibiotics have been discovered  in the past 30 years… yay capitalism

https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/89/2/11-030211/en/

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/14/first-new-antibiotic-in-30-years-discovered-in-major-breakthroug/

  • 5. The Post-Science Anarchy Movement

https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2012/jul/24/year-anarchy-science

From Ruffalo and the Young Turks, Resident A, the professor who compared science to a white man’s phallus we’ve seen our share of people who advocate for “alternative facts” in this class.

 

  • 6. Unethical Scientists, Engineers,  Professionals and Experts who give the post-science movement fuel.

Talk about Dr. McElmurry and academically impersonating a PhD student who’s committee you served on, or Jan Hendrik Schon from Plastic Fantastic who fabricated data. Not to mention Rick Rogers, Lynette Stokes, Mary Jean Brown and the whole bunch of worms from CDC and the rest of the DC lead crisis perps.

All of these fears boil down to trust. Can we trust that our climate will be livable? Can we trust our government? Our elections? Our medicines to save us? And can we trust our, experts, scientists, and engineers themselves? Can we trust the people who’s professionalism, integrity and knowledge we depend on for our society to function? How much room is there for corruption, and denial of facts and threatening situations (climate change, Antibiotic Resistance) in a healthy democracy, or a functioning government? What happens when the public can’t trust the experts, their elected officials, medicines, scientists and engineers? Where does a post-modern society lead us? To real anarchy or disaster? To a revolution? Or to fixing our mistakes? And how do we as a society begin to trust again when the very companies that drive the world economy and the same people and voters responsible for these policy decisions are what got us here in the first place? How can we trust while we are still busy trying to get entities to claim responsibility or step up to solving problems?

 

Did I miss anything else we should be afraid of besides the normal fears of death, zombies, old age, vampires, taxes, people with chainsaws, growing up, having your house toilet papered, living in a dystopia and being complacent? 

You know you love me. xoxo Ethics Girl

Back to the Basics

This afternoon I went to a beginner’s yoga class, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn two new yoga techniques. I’ve been studying yoga for over a year and while I would not consider myself super advanced, I often go to the most challenging yoga classes advertised that I can find, in my attempt to surround myself with experts and challenge myself to learn quickly. Today I learned a really cool block sequence for a low lounge, and a way to use blocks to support Fish Pose. In the past I’ve always struggled with Fish Pose. Often wondering if I was doing it right, or why I couldn’t feel my chakra opening or what the stretch was meant to be. But in the beginner class the teacher had us place a block under our shoulders so that we could get into Fish Pose and all of the sudden the pose just really clicked!

 fish pose https://www.artofliving.org/us-en/fish-pose-matsyasana

Everyone knows this but it’s like as humans we’re always surprised that its the basics that we need in life. Think about all of the epic scenes throughout pop culture where people realize they have to go back to the basics, or they use a basic technique to overcome a struggle- usually in the form of a battle or duel.

From Avatar the Last Airbender with Uncle Iroh telling us to “Remember your firebending basics, Prince Zuko. They are your greatest weapons.”

http://avatar.wikia.com/wiki/History_of_Zuko_(83_AG_-_100_AG)

Or Avatar Aang refusing to violate his basic principles by killing, even the Fire Lord, using his basic lesson on energy bending to take away the Fire Lord’s powers, instead of his life:

excuse the foul language someone added to the clip. whoops.

to Harry Potter using Expeliarmus vs Voldemort’s Avada Kadavara

to Cady’s Mean Girls diatribe about the basics of human decency that takes her back to the basics of math

But let’s think about this seriously, most of the conflicts in the world stem from adults ignoring the basic rules we were taught in kindergarten, like:

  • keep your hands to yourself
  • treat others as you want to be treated
  • clean up after yourself
  • ask nicely
  • say thank you
  • compromise
  • share with each other
  • you know all that stuff in the Young Professionals Survival Guide etc.

 

And Lastly, my favorite:

 

Was this post super basic? Was that the point? OMG so meta.

-You know you love me. xoxo Ethics Girl

 

Resiliency in Athens

Challenges to Resiliency in Athens:

The resilience strategy for the City of Athens has four pillars: open city, green city, proactive city, and vibrant city. Open city aims to address government transparency and accountability, to achieve effective and efficient governance, and manage to communicate and collaborate better with its residents by fostering data driven policy making and accountability. Green city aims to incorporate natural systems into the urban fabric, with the goals of being able to withstand climate change and environmental challenges, fostering sustainable food systems and establishing a sustainable and equitable energy system. Proactive city aims to streamline the city’s ‘survival’ skills to enhance planning in the face of serious challenges through planning and communication and empowering municipal representatives and local community and neighborhood members. Vibrant city aims to nurture and develop assets to promote well-being creativity, and entrepreneurship. Challenges to achieving these four pillars of resiliency in Athens include:

  • sharp decline in the population
  • large influx of refugees
  • increasingly aging infrasture
  • threat of earthquakes, violence and civil unrest
  • fragmented government structure and overlapping jurisdictions
  • the socio-economic crisis in Greece and Europe
  • declining incomes, growing personal debt, high real estate taxes
  • unprecedented levels of unemployment, poverty and homelessness
  • climate change, and insufficient climate protection of existing buildings, as well as public works and new building construction disregarding local climate conditions
  • social and economic decline and desolation of the city center
  • socio-economic squeeze of the lower income brackets

All of these challenges have recommended solutions in Athen’s Resiliency strategy based off the four pillars.

Stakeholder Engagement:

The stakeholder engagement began with the Agenda Setting Workshop that included 130 Athenians. After the workshop, stakeholders who were engaged included: city officers and elected officials, central goverment authorities, academics, non-profits, entrepreneurs, and a large variety of citizens and community groups. More than 140 organizations and 900 citizens participated in 40 workshops, conferences and public events. Athens engaged with fellow cities with international and local experts from each city. They used working groups, focus groups, workshops, confrences, meetings, and online surveys to engage stakeholders.

Who is missing:

While specific citizen demographics/ groups were not particularly clarified, I would venture to guess that most likely refugees, homeless people, and potentially groups/ members of groups who participate in civil unrest and/or violence were most likely not included in the conversation. While this might indicate that these people were not considered a high enough priority that DRRM researchers who complied this report would mention the efforts made to engage them, it could also indicate that these groups of people were difficult to contact or engage. Members of violent or civil unrest groups probably don’t want to identify themselves as members of these groups, though these groups often make their demands know via demonstrations. Homeless people and refugees may be difficult to stay in contact with, and/or not want to give out their personal information. While the report does not mention direct efforts to engage these people, or if these people were included in the large number of citizens who were engaged, the report does mention specific ways the resilience plan can help address likely concerns of these people.

https://www.100resilientcities.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Athens_Resilience_Strategy_-_Reduced_PDF.compressed.pdf

Can this post-modern society be saved or will it become a Blank Space?

Did you have a childhood celebrity hero?

I had one- a few years ago I decided I out grew them- and worse that they were never worth idolizing in the first place- essentially I lost hope in them. But she did something yesterday that got me thinking I might believe in Fairy Tales again- maybe.

I had a few real life heroes, but few celebrities were allowed on the list. I figured if I didn’t personally know them how could I care? Additionally my NPR and public television loving parents didn’t really expose me to Disney channel stars- that’s right my parents didn’t pay for TV and we had five channels until I was 13 and public television “went digital” aka you had to pay for TV. But I had an alarm clock radio that woke me up every morning and I had music.

When I was ten going on eleven I heard a song on the radio that I fell in love with. It was written by a girl who was not much older than me, and it was playing on my alarm clock radio, and soon it would play most days as it made its way into the top 40. While the song was about romance, that wasn’t what stuck with me- what I loved about it was the way she sang about how she hoped that she would be remembered for the good times she had had with a friend. Her descriptions and lyrics were essentially poetry, real words, no cheating with a catchy chorus and lack of substance verses. The way she captured how music can instantly take you to a person, place or time in the past- was what I loved.

I grew up guided by Taylor Swift songs, starting high school  “Fifteen” perfectly described walking down the halls of this new school, “Tear Drops on My Guitar” helped me get over un-requited crushes. “Mine” described the lake front where my first boyfriend and I would sit- and “Picture to Burn” helped me get over him. At Girl Scout camp I taught dance routines to “Sparks Fly” and “The Best Day”.  Towards the end of High School she got out of country music, and I didn’t really listen to pop stations, but I still held a place in my heart for her earlier work.

In Spring of  2015 I helped make a video on behalf of Virginia Tech Relay for Life asking Taylor Swift to come play at our Relay. Check it out 1:58 I’m next to the cat:

Taylor would never comment or reply to our invitation to come to Relay…

It was shortly after making this video that I started to become very disillusioned with Taylor and the American Cancer Society. But when I was in this video I really believed in her, so much that I thought she would come to Relay.

I had already been annoyed about the switch to pop music, but then I started thinking about appropriation, and I started to get the feeling Taylor was selling feminism as a brand.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/apr/17/hunger-games-amandla-stenberg-criticises-miley-cyrus-taylor-swift-cultural-appropriation

https://www.thedailybeast.com/cant-shake-off-taylor-swifts-cultural-appropriation-haters-gonna-hate

 

Then the Nicki Minaj stuff came out and I really felt like Taylor was stuck on “White Feminism”.

https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop-shop/6641794/taylor-swift-nicki-minaj-twitter-argument-timeline

Not to mention her song “Bad Blood” was so opposite of the intricate lyrics I had loved I was already annoyed at her. (I know Swift said that was the point) but idk with this tweet…

Katy had a point. And I started to think about the audiences for Taylor’s music and how she was selling us sisterhood, but not necessarily fighting for every sister.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/07/23/sorry-taylor-swift-being-a-feminist-is-about-more-than-just-supporting-your-girlfriends/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.babd212e0b86

The Washington Post suggested that we not hold celebrities up as people who should be influencing our political views.

Feminism is political. It’s more than a You Go Girl cheer. And while the celebrity cheerleaders are important and can, hopefully, bring more people to the feminist game, the feminist movement itself is one place where they shouldn’t be the stars.- https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/07/23/sorry-taylor-swift-being-a-feminist-is-about-more-than-just-supporting-your-girlfriends/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.babd212e0b86

But I disagreed- and still do. When I was ten I would think about Taylor Swift on the radio, and how maybe one day I would be an actress or singer, and how I would use my fame and platform to speak out against injustices and fund charities. And so it was only natural that I would become frustrated when Taylor wouldn’t speak out for women when she had experienced assault her self as was public knowledge in 2015 . https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2017/08/11/542873672/judge-dumps-lawsuit-against-taylor-swift-filed-by-man-accused-of-groping-her

Yet, this weekend, after a leading presidential candidate was heard bragging about engaging in this exact behavior, Taylor Swift did not say a word. She stayed silent on social media in the wake of this political controversy, as she has for the entirety of this campaign cycle. She’s been silent on the hundreds of misogynistic and racist comments Trump has made, silent on who she will vote for in November—silent on whether she’ll vote at all. It’s surely an intentional decision on her part, to avoid controversy and maintain the allegiance of all of her fans.- https://splinternews.com/it-s-time-for-taylor-swift-to-say-something-about-donal-1793862658

When “Grab her by the Pussy” came out I expected Taylor to say something, not necessarily pick a side, or take a political stance- but just  to say that this was unacceptable from any man or person, ever, period.  And I felt that her silence was deafening.

And while articles would come out saying that listening to celebrities is the problem in the first place, arguing:

“At moments like this, it feels like the same Resistance that tasked itself with opposing Donald Trump is succumbing to the frivolous celebrity worship that helped install him”- https://www.theringer.com/pop-culture/2017/8/31/16234302/taylor-swift-donald-trump-problem

However, I was in total agreement with:

“But silence is not an apolitical action, as much as Swift seems to suggest that it is. To remain silent is to remain complicit—a choice that’s all the more egregious in light of Swift’s enormous platform.” -https://www.theringer.com/pop-culture/2017/8/31/16234302/taylor-swift-donald-trump-problem

I had decided that Swift’s silence was at best complicit, and at worst- maintaining her privilege and profits in lieu of the political situation, and I decided she was no longer my hero, and her songs began to hold an empty bitterness for me. Reminding me that- in this post modern, post science society, what does it matter what opinion you have, if all opinions are equal anyway, is there a point in even voicing them?

 

…..So imagine my surprise when I saw this:

Taylor finally spoke out about her actual beliefs and encouraged people to vote. Not only did she endorse feminist policies, she actually endorsed a candidate and their platform! She did the only thing I had wanted her to do since late 2015, and now I feel like it’s anti-climatic, potentially too little too late, only for her brand and/or to keep her talked about (yepp I’m talking about her), feeds into the whole post-modern society and worshipping celebrities thing, but it gave me hope. 

Taylor using her platform to speak out (FINALLY!!!) means that maybe other people who were previously silent on politics or “didn’t care” are waking up to the idea that you cannot live a non-political life because silence and a lack of choice- IS A CHOICE. Her action- while it may be motivated by many factors, some of which could be self-interest- still gives me hope that more people will participate in our democracy and fight for our democratic ideals, checks and balances, by making their voice heard. 

The way I see it we are currently in a post- modern society that if it collapses will leave a blank space for any power wielder, oligarchy or dictator to step in.

The only way I can see for us to fix our post-modern society that values facts just as much as opinions, and worships celebrities is for as many critical thinkers to vote as possible, and for our celebrities to become worthy of their platforms. Today Taylor took a step in the direction of making up for her past silence, and actually living up to her proclaimed principles.

 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/08/entertainment/kanye-west-taylor-swift/index.html

https://abc7.com/entertainment/taylor-swift-ig-post-brings-voter-registration-spike/4442341/

 

So remember

Register to Vote!!

You’ve got a Blank Space Baby, Please Write Your Name! https://www.montgomerycountyva.gov/content/15989/16035/16830/default.aspx

Think about where you want your vote counted, you’ll likely be living in Blacksburg for at least a year, in that time the local government could effect your life a lot. Do you want your apartment building to recycle, or more parks, or have an opinion about the Mountain Valley Pipeline? Things like that can be decided at the local level

-You know you love me. xoxo Ethics Girl

Models

In class we heard how models are defined and used within both Dr. Weiss’s and Dr. Zobel’s discipline. Dr. Weiss used mainly physical  models based on Newton Mechanics and laws of motion and mathematical models that use mathematical processes and equations to represent a physical process. Dr. Zobel used an optimization model for his research on pre-positioning supplies before hazards occur. In my discipline of Environmental and Water Resources Engineering we focus more on quantitative and physical models to help us discuss things that are happening in the real world and come up with quantitative analysis for things like pollutants, contaminants, global warming, and other environmental hazards.

Environmental and Water Resources Engineering has many smaller disciplines that fall under our department, and different models that accompany each discipline. On the water side, we have hydrology and fluid dynamics, and models like Hec-Ras and Modflow used for predicting the likelihood and/or quantifying water ex, flooding, storm surge, sea level rise etc. These models are limited in that they rely on assumptions that allow us to use equations to solve them quantitatively.

Here’s an example  of a static quantitative model from my class notes in hydrology:

 

As you can see the equation that is being used to model snow-melt is limited in that it relies on having data that is representative of a large spectrum to calibrate and find a rate constant. The model is static and quantitative  in that it accounts for how much snow has melted, but does not account for the water moving downhill. This static model would need to be paired with a fluid dynamic and a soil infiltration model if you wanted to know not only how much snow is expected to melt based on different temperatures each day, but also where that melted snow would go, and if it would perhaps flood a town, flow to a river or ocean, or be absorbed by the soil.

On the Environmental side, we have a lot of different types of disciplines that come together often for just one profession. For instance if you want to become a professional in Water Treament (either for drinking water or wastewater) you need to understand models from the fields of microbiology, chemistry, and physics so that you can design unit operations that will treat the water. You need to understand microbial kinetics models, to estimate how microbes react in chemical processes. You need to understand mass flux models to be able to estimate how aeration, or another unit operation will effect concentrations of chemicals in your water. And you need to understand water quality models to understand how hydraulic forces and sediment and other components of lakes and natural waters interact, so that you can understand your water source. In my program we take Principles of Environmental Engineering, which is essentially a class about modeling physical processes and using physical laws, like conservation of mass, to track concentrations and components of different systems. Here’s an example from my notes of modeling the effect sunlight and heat has on large water bodies:

All of these models have limitations in that you have to make assumptions to create the equations you use to make the model. For instance, will you assume that no flux (or air-water exchange) is happening in the model? If you do this then you would cross out a term in your model, but if you’re trying to mimic reality and flux is happening, perhaps at a low level, that term may or may not be important. Additionally, it can be hard to account for all the things that are happening within one model, for example, to model sea level rise, you need models on snow melt, models on fluid dynamics to find out where the water is flowing, models on soil infiltration, evaporation, transpiration etc. to find out if water is lost, models on water quality and potential stratification of large bodies of water to see how the temperature differentials impact sea currents and water movement. There are so many equations and models that must be used within other models, that the assumptions made could have a large impact. Dr. Zobel had a similar experience where he was building a model to figure out where to place red cross trailers, and within his model he used an equation- or a mathematical model- to determine risk. If that equation had a simplifying assumption that was untrue for the scope of Dr. Zobel’s larger model, then his using that method of calculating risk for his model could potentially impact the results of his findings. Just because most model’s components are actually smaller models, does not mean that modeling is inherently flawed, in no way am I suggesting that models should be thrown into the post modern science category with no way to prove their worth. The fact that most models are built from smaller models is both a limitation to their use, and also a great system that allows us to get closer and closer to capturing reality. We just have to be careful that the components of the model support and agree with the model and that underlying assumptions made throughout the model do not contradict themselves.

Being the change, or becoming the system?

“It’s always darkest before you burn the bridge behind you.” 

I think Marc may have meant this as emotionally it is most distressing before breaking ties with an ill acquaintance and after you feel much better about discontinuing the relationship.

However, I’ve taken Marc’s word’s to mean that you have to accept that you’re fighting someone, that you can’t fight someone and work together at the same time. This also means that if you are working together with a party you cannot be fighting them at the same time.

This idea can be extended to:

Being a mole turns you into the ultimate insider.

or

People who want to fight the system from the inside end up becoming the system.

And I think this is true for better or worse. It all links back to the need to belong, either you belong to the opposition or the system, there’s little room for the grey area in between.  You can’t fight openly or on all fronts while working with someone, because essentially the definition of working together is compromising. Which means that when you’re trying to fight the system from the inside you have to compromise with the system. Though the optimist in me felt like it was the real revolution when Hyde’s crush on That 70’s Show said

"Hyde, rebellion is cool and all, but I want to get into a good college so I can fight the system from the inside."

Read more: https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view_episode_scripts.php?tv-show=that-70s-show&episode=s02e09
 and clearly I did that cus I'm here at VT rather than Occupying Wallstreet or destroying Capitalism
academic elitism and the patriarchy.

The pessimist in me knows that some would argue that the act of compromising with the system means you have lost the fight against the system itself. And that by joining academia and pursuing a career in a field that will “get me a good job” I have joined the system. In fact I am writing this for the system since this blog is an assignment, therefore could it be argued that my points arguing for fighting the system are rendered mute.

And the pragmatist in me tells both sides to pick their battles. After all how will institutions change for the better without those fighting on the inside to Be the Change?

OR

Today you might have noticed women “blacking out” their profile pictures in light of the Supreme Court situation, some women are arguing for a blackout- an attempt to show society what it would be like without women participating. Critics have said this exit from the stage only gives the opposition what it wants which is silence from women that can be taken as consent. However, they fail to realize that this “blackout” is essentially the burning of the  bridge, or the fighting the system by leaving the system. And women who say we should not be silent, but should scream louder at the system are essentially trying to “be the change” or change the system by working with it and confronting it with the problems they see. The main issue with the “blackout” is that the exit from the system is only the first step one has to take in fighting it, this must be followed up by attacking and destroying the system. aka taking the Patriarchy and burning it to the ground. 

“Should we push for transformation within existing institutions, or should we model in our own lives a different set of political relationships that might someday form the basis of a new society?”

https://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/mark-engler-paul-engler/should-we-fight-system-or-be-change

Is it possible to do both? At the same time working with the same people?

Is it even really possibly to exit the system enough to fight it? In some cases maybe not. Like capitalism, could one really remove oneself from a capitalist system and still have the means to fight the system itself? Of course this totally depends on the definition one is using for capitalism, or whatever system you’re trying to fight. If you make yourself too much of an outsider is it even really possible to have an effect on the system you’re trying to change. Marx would seem to argue that you cannot change the system for the better, you can only destroy it and replace it with another. So in that case it would be argued, people who say they want to fight the system from the inside, really don’t want to fight the system, they want to work within the system and with the system to change some of it’s features, but not its fundamental tenants. Essentially the two principles of “fighting the system” and “being the change” seem to be a paradox for each other.

It seems a lot easier to change a system that already exists than to completely tear it down and make a new one. But this also brings up the point of how different must this “new” system be to signify that it is no longer the old system. For example, the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers created a new system of government, twice with the Articles of Confederation and the US Constitution, and would be an example of tearing down a system and replacing it. But what about the English Parliment and the UK’s system of government? Can it be argued that this is a “new” system different from the old system of monarchy? I mean essentially the goal of the American revolution, of liberating themselves from the ultimate rule of a monarch has been achieved by the current UK system, but this goal was achieved in completely different ways. The American Revolution essentially was a fight the system masterpiece, in that it completely tore down a system of government and replaced it with another. Whereas the UK’s system is essentially a be the change masterpiece, in that working within the system and with the system slowly over time the system was changed until it was changed so much that it could be argued it’s completely new, yet still recognized slightly by the original.

Everyone loves to romanticize the American Revolution, after all who doesn’t love a good rebel? However, I would argue that most people who want to “fight the system” are really rebels without a cause.

Or rather they have a cause, but not a plan. Not only do you have to overthrow the system, you also need a good replacement for it.

So then for us non demi-god George Washingtons and Alexander Hamilitons we have to circle back to the dilemma of how to change the system from the inside without becoming the system?

And when picking between Fighting the System and Being the Change, Is it better to be right, or to be seen as on the moral high ground? And which is which?

 

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free you mind instead

Don’t you know it’s gonna be
All right, all right, all right
All right, all right, all right
All right, all right, all right
All right, all right

-the Beatles

What are you’re thoughts? Is destruction of an entire system ever really justified? Can we both “fight the system” and “be the change” at the same time? Do you want to burn the patriarchy to the ground? Or think you’d rather work with the patriarchy or whatever system it is that’s bothering you?

-You know you love me. xoxo Ethics Girl

Interdisciplinary Data

This week in class we listened to an interdisciplinary panel of researchers who look at hazards and their impacts. There were different approaches to defining and understanding hazards and their impacts. The similarities and differences in these approaches have the potential to impact collaboration across disciplines when it comes to discussing disaster resilience and risk management.

Dr. Cowell researches how communities, cities and regions prepare for disasters, and focuses on economic development, looking at how disasters change the economic base. She was drawn to this research because of her experience with threats to the local economy in her hometown while growing up. For her research data collection consists of using interviews, surveys and focus groups to learn about communities ability to create places where people want to invest, work, and live in, as well as people’s connections to institutions.

Dr. Zobel looks at the disaster resilience triangle, and initial, short term and long term impacts, focusing on supply chains. He looks at the different aspects of people exchanging goods or services, with an emphasis on commercial and humanitarian supply chains. such as who to give what and when, and the logistics of how to get it there. He looks at the organizational and economic impacts that supply chains have. For him data collection consists of interviews, surveys, scenario  reactions, empirical data, IT, twitter, 311, event studies for companies and regression models.

Dr. Zhang looks at the long term impacts, when media coverage of the effected region has ended. He looks at how people are recovering, with regard to housing, reconstruction, and the hazard’s impact on the capacity of the community to develop plans. He investigates the time compression concept where conflicts in decision making are amplified when the time to make them is compressed, such as shopping at Kroger before a large storm when supplies are quickly being grabbed from the shelves. For him primary data collection includes surveying or interviewing homeowners, with secondary data being obtained from tax office data or property values.

Dr. Irish looks at the direct damage of hazards with regards to floods from storm surges, as well as how hazards can impact the potential to evacuate. She studies beach dune erosion, barrier island overwash and breaching. She points out that some of the things she studies, such as erosion are their own hazard caused by another hazard, so she essentially studies cascading hazards. Her goal is to help people be more aware and put themselves in less danger. For her data collection consists of computational models to simulate real world events, physical measurements she takes in the field, some in field inferences made that access building damage, laboratory work, LiDAR and photos.

While all of these researches look at hazards, they all look at different aspects of hazards, at different times with reference to the hazard. Since each researcher focuses on different parts of hazards, they might feel like the other researchers don’t have much to add to their individual research. However, together these researchers contribute to a larger body of knowledge about hazards, with multiple different ways to assess hazards. While Dr. Cowell might not have much to add if working with Dr. Irish on assessing the coastal damage from a storm surge, and Dr. Irish might not have much to add to evaluating the storm’s impacts to the economic base, together they both contribute to evaluating the hazard and the recovery. It’s really important that they acknowledge their different areas of expertise and work together to use their individual skills to contribute to the larger picture of protecting and educating the public- something they both said was their goal and their personal motivation for research. It’s also important that these interdisciplinary teams work together and communicate clearly with each other what each individual’s definitions and understandings of hazards are, what kind of data they need to work with, and how each individual will use their background to contribute to the team.