ALCOHOLISM IN THE MODERN AGE

Statistics show alcohol addiction continues to kill

Every day, more than 270 Americans die from excessive alcohol consumption. According to the site Alcohol Addiction, 100,000 people die annually due to alcohol abuse and events that stem from excessive drinking.

Most children and adults who become problem drinkers begin drinking socially and sparingly until it becomes more and more integral in their everyday lives.

Consider the following facts about modern alcoholism:

  • 3 million teens between ages 14 and 17 are problem drinkers.
  • 1 in 13 adults abuse alcohol or are alcoholic.
  • 43% of adults claim to have an alcoholic in their family.
  • Alcohol abuse in the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

As a society, Americans have become comfortable with alcohol use. A survey conducted by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that slightly more than half of the adults asked are considered to be regular drinkers, meaning they consume more than 12 alcoholic drinks a year.

Ted Harrison, a counselor with Wauona Consulting and Training in Chaska, Minn., says that it’s the inert trust and comfort members of society feel toward alcohol that makes it such an easy drug to overuse.

“There are politically correct and politically incorrect addictions,” Harrison said. “Alcohol is a politically correct addiction. There’s almost a pride in it for some. One by one, priorities get set aside until all that’s left is the focus of the addiction.”

Harrison likens it to a switch that goes off in people who abuse alcohol that turns them into full-fledged alcoholics. Once that happens, the only option is complete abstinence from any intoxicant.

“There are two types of people who say alcohol is not a problem,” Harrison said. “Alcoholics and people who don’t have a problem with alcohol.”

The website Alcoholism Facts gives a succinct definition of alcoholism:

Dependence on alcohol where there is always a strong need or craving to drink is known as alcoholism. When this craving for alcohol is indulged, it leads to loss of control where the person lacks the ability to limit his drinking. He becomes physically dependent such that if he doesn’t consume alcohol, he goes into withdrawal symptoms like sweating, shaking, nausea, and even anxiety. Without help, a person addicted to alcohol will build a tolerance for the substance wherein he needs to drink greater amounts in order to get high.

Paul Kurr is a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for more than four years. The following video tells his story:

For people who have legitimate concern as to whether or not they are alcoholic, Harrison says the easiest way to tell is how they react to a month of sobriety.

“If you stop drinking for 30 to 45 days, an alcohol abuser will feel better,” Harrison said, “but an addict will feel worse, because this will be the lowest point of their detox.”

Harrison also believes society has come a long way in providing assistance and resources for addicts who recognize their disease.

“There was a time when, if you were diagnosed as an alcoholic, it was a curse of death,” Harrison said. “Now there are AA and 12 step programs all over and, though they’re not treatment, they can help in getting people sober.”

The website AlcoholScreening.org has put together a test that people can take to help determine whether their drinking has reached a point where they need assistance.

Ultimately, Harrison says that it is up to society to address the growing problem of alcohol addiction.

“We are raised in a culture of addiction,” Harrison said, “whether it’s alcohol, drugs or money. People buy t-shirts will beer advertisements and then give them to their kids.”

STEVE DiMEGLIO TO SPEAK AT MSU, MANKATO

SPORTS WRITER WILL ATTEND ALMA MATER’S MEDIA DAY

Contact: Scott Wilking
Phone: 507-555-1234
Email: scott.wilking@mnsu.edu
Twitter: @sawilking

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

MANKATO, MINN.–Senior Golf Writer for USA Today, Steve DiMeglio, is returning to the place where it all began. He will be attending Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Media Day, where he will give a speech titled “Mickey Mantle’s on Line 1, Steve!” It will takes place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Ostrander Auditorium.

The presentation will address DiMeglio’s journey from editor at the MSU Reporter to the White House to the house that Ruth built to his current role as a golf reporter for one of the most respected newspapers in the world.

“He was absolutely the most dedicated sports editor our paper has ever had,” said Ellen Mrja, a professor in the Mass Media department. “His sports pages were more than scores. They were interesting, informative and consistently outstanding.”

The event is being financed by the Nadine B. Andreas Foundation. There will be no charge for attending.

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THE AUDACITY OF AUDACITY

Learning how to use Audacity was incredibly simple for me, because I have a wealth of experience with more sophisticated audio editing programs, like Adobe Audition. Still, considering it’s a free program, Audacity is an incredibly useful tool for anyone looking to utilize audio sound bites in a multimedia presentation.

Getting Started in Audio Editing
is a tutorial by Mindy McAdams that covers all of the necessary basics for novices of audio editing. I didn’t have the luxury of a tutorial when I began editing my band’s music, so I had to teach myself all the ins and outs of editing sound, which resulted in a lot of trial-and-error (as well as crappy sounding finished products).

Here is some advice for those new to audio editing:

  • Learn the basics — Knowing how to cut, paste and trim within an audio file are a prerequisite to everything else.
  • Take your time — There are infinite edits you can make, and you’ll never find what you’re looking for if you don’t try different ideas.
  • Feel free to experiment — Some of the best things I’ve produced have happened completely by accident.
  • Don’t get frustrated — It can be very tedious, but there is no better feeling than listening to a finished product that sounds great.

Learning about how to recover from mistakes and how to zoom in on a small sample of your audio file are critical for establishing a comfort level with audio editing. Once you have the basics down, then the fun can really begin; using effects and filters in creative ways can truly enhance your sound files.

ANALYSIS OF A NEWS PACKAGE

The Las Vegas Sun multimedia package concerning the 12 construction workers who died in 18 months from late 2006 until early 2008 was a perfect candidate for examining the effectiveness of incorporating various multimedia tools in a package. The multimedia report is troubling on its own, so I’m not going to focus so much on my emotional takeaway from the story itself, but rather on which tools the Sun used to present the report and how effective those tools are. The one point I will make that the Sun was unable to — probably out of fear that they would be charged with a bias of some sort — is that, when it comes to profit versus a potential loss of life, don’t be surprised when large corporations choose to focus on their bottom line and not the human cost, especially when the penalties from OSHA are so small compared to the cost of a slower, safer work environment.

“The Internet’s first advantage is that it affords the audience greater control over information,” James C. Foust wrote is his book, Online Journalism: Principles and Practices of News for the Web. This notion is particularly true in the case of the Sun story, where visitors to the page are able to choose from a slideshow, a video, an interactive map and a wealth of written material. My criticisms of the report are few, but I must admit that the onslaught of blog entries and companion articles is a bit overwhelming. It may also be overly sensitive and I know the newspaper business needs revenue anywhere it can find it these days, but the pop-ups for how to lower my mortgage payment became a distraction when pulling up various articles regarding this very serious subject.

Seeing the faces involved in this tragic story is certainly the most powerful way to convey the weight of it all, so I applaud the Sun for incorporating still photos of the dead construction workers and their surviving family members in their multimedia. The interactive map that tracked all the deaths on the strip was the most powerful element of the presentation, because it told the story of how the construction workers died and illustrated just how much tragedy such a small part of Las Vegas had experienced in such a short amount of time. Because of that accomplishment, the interactive map was the most jarring element. The video and the slideshow were powerful in a different way, because they simply pulled on my heartstrings and effectively reminded me of the human toll of the story, but looking at the overall package through a journalistic lens, the interactive map was by far the most impressive piece. It was emotional and factual, telling the entire story from the deaths to the pathetic fines OSHA eventually settled on. I’m sure the family of Angel Hernandez, who died February 7, 2007 at the the Vdara Condo Hotel alongside fellow carpenter Bobby Lee Tohannie, can sleep well at night knowing his life was only worth $7,000 in OSHA’s eyes.

It’s very easy to navigate the Sun’s page dedicated to the tragedy. It is curious to me how there are no links to anything outside of the Sun and its contributors to the package. I’m not sure how large this story was back in 2008, but I find it hard to believe that no other media outlets had anything to say on the topic of construction deaths at such a fast clip. In fact, if no one else was paying attention to the tragedy, wouldn’t that be a story in and of itself. Maybe I’m reaching, but it baffles me that something so tragic wouldn’t have more coverage — even national coverage! Something had to be out there, but the only links I found were of reports by Sun reporters. That being said, a person could spend the better part of a day diving into all of the articles and blog posts connected to the story. That is not an overstatement.

Social media has grown exponentially over the past few years, and I can’t help but wonder how much more attention a story like this would have garnered if it were reported on today, with Facebook and Twitter ruling the online world. Back in 2008, when the package was published, neither site was anywhere near the juggernaut they are today. There hasn’t been any reporting on the story in nearly 2 years, and I’m sure that a heavy majority of people who are not residents of the greater Las Vegas area, like myself, have never heard of this story before. What scares me most about that is the old adage about history repeating itself, especially in a time where corporate interests increasingly usurp that of human beings. As soon as we start buying into the idea that “corporations are people”, which is the position of Mitt Romney, likely Republican nominee for president, then there will never be an excuse to look out for the worker’s health over the corporate entity’s health, because they are equals. It will simply become a case of survival of the fittest.

LANGUAGE OF THE IMAGE

I just completed an online course from Poynter’s New University titled The Language of the Image. What I found to be most fascinating about the course was the way it dissected the different elements of what makes for a good photograph.

I’m sure most people believe that they know a good picture when they see one, but how many of us are able to describe, in detail, what is so great about the image itself? How do we classify photographs?

Among the many things I learned while taking the fascinating course, the most important pieces of information I will take with me are:

  • The polar difference between an active and a passive photograph. Passive photographs are more thought out or planned and rely heavily on a photographer’s creativity, whereas active photographs are more “of the moment” or “as it is happening”, telling a story with the action in the image.
  • How powerful elements like juxtaposition (using opposing elements to create irony) or mood (feelings evoked by a photograph) can enhance what would appear like an ordinary photograph.
  • How visual techniques, like the rule of thirds or point of entry, can help to ease a viewer into an image.
  • Using multiple elements can create combinations that give a photograph even more power and relevance.
  • There are multiple ways to approach a shot, and it is up to the photographer to determine the best course to tell the story they want conveyed.

I’ve always been skeptical of the phrase “A picture is worth 1,000 words” because, more often than not, a picture is worth far less than that.  The main point I’ve taken from this course is that a picture has the possibility to be worth far more words than that, depending on the choices a photographer makes.

Here are a couple of examples I chose to analyze, taken from the Huffington Post:


This image, taken by John Minchillo of the Associated Press, is of a police and protester confrontation at an Occupy Wall Street rally in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. It is an active shot, because it involves real people in real time, as the officer pushes the protester back. The is an element of impact with the physical altercation. There is also emotion in the eyes of the protester, who looks ready to push back.


This image of Mario Manningham making “The Catch” of Super Bowl XLVI was taken by David Duprey of the Associated Press. Again, it is a very active shot, capturing the most intense moment of the game. There is a layered element, with the action in the foreground and the guys watching on the sidelines, waiting to see what happens. There is certainly emotion involved as well, not to mention the impending impact from the New England defensive backs.

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

Preamble

Grievances

The Pledge

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.


In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

OBAMA TO EXAMINE VALUE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Student loans, federal spending to be part of the discussion

The Obama administration is asking what people are getting for their money since college drop-outs cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Unemployment remains high, yet high-tech companies are projecting shortages due to a lack of prospects entering the workforce.

Consider the following facts regarding modern higher education and its economic impact:

  • Students with loans are graduating with more than $25,000 in debt.
  • The federal government pours $140 billion annually into federal grants and loans.
  • About 40% of college students at 4 year schools do not graduate.
  • About 20% of full-time students at a community college do not return for a sophomore year.

A commission convened during the George W. Bush administration found literacy rates among college students have declined and higher education has become “increasingly risk-averse, at times self-satisfied, and unduly expensive.”

The president is on record with his belief that post-secondary schools need to be more transparent regarding tuition costs and the success of their graduates.