Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Banking in a Recession

November 17, 2009

Just over a year ago the 2008 recession struck the nation by surprise, shocking millions of Americans and crippling the financial system. At the time I was working as a teller at Bank of America. In the beginning, about a year before the recession hit, I thought my job was cool. I got to dress up in a suit and tie everyday and looked professional when I went out for lunch on my break. But in the summer of 2008, the atmosphere in the banking center changed. We had to follow new operating guidelines and more often than not it involved refusing – in my opinion “normal” – banking services to customers.

I worked as the merchant teller on Friday’s and Saturday’s. While the economy continued to slump, I processed all the corporate and small business client transactions and each day gradually resembled the next. It was the same story from every customer. “We have to cut hours and close more locations,” the corporate coffee shop manager said. “I’m not paying myself for all the hours I’ve worked” said the small business owner. And to top it all off, accounts were closing around the clock and I was cashing more unemployment checks every Friday.

My job lost its cool. It wasn’t even fun interacting with the customers anymore. It was downright depressing. I turned away so many customers during this time period; I actually would try to avoid helping certain customer lest I have to turn them away again.

Connie Zanotto, owner of “The Escape” bar on Bascom Avenue in San Jose Calif., was one of our banking center’s small business clients. I helped manage her accounts and kept track of her finances several times a week and soon built a professional business relationship with her. As the recession set in Zanotto saw a decline in business and soon would have to combat the forces of the slumping economy.

Watch Connie Zanotto explain business at “The Escape” during the recession.

Is The Flu For You?

October 19, 2009

As I gaze out on to the street from my bedroom window I can’t help but notice fall is here. The falling red and orange leaves decorate the street and the crisp, cool air fog the corners of my window. But as the season changes so does everything else (dun dun dunnn). I’m not sure if it’s the weather change, the stress of the holiday season just around the corner or the cold season, but it seems like around this time of year people go a little nuts. Especially with the advent of the swine flu (H1N1) this past year, moms and the media have gone flu vaccine crazy! I hear it on the news every day, “More and more cases of the swine flu are popping up across the nation.” Blah blah blah it’s the same thing on every network. It’s like preaching the necessity of a flu vaccine is all you hear. But it worked. People everywhere are lining up in herds to get vaccinated for both the flu and H1N1. San Francisco State was inundated with so many students they ran out of vaccine and had to redirect students to off campus services. Do people always act like this every fall? I understand people don’t want to be ill but to me this year was a bit over the top. And despite all the hoopla less than 50 percent of Americans polled said they will get the H1N1 vaccine, according to the article “Flu, Me? Public Remains Wary Of H1N1 Vaccine,” by National Public Radio.  I found this peculiar because of the media scare and push to get vaccinated. So was all the fretting worth it? If you rushed to get vaccinated and you’re not sick I’d say it was worth it. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests if you feel flu-like symptoms this season you should stay home for at least 24 hours to prevent further spreading. But if you’re like me and are either too busy or just stubborn, good luck.

Tent Cities, Good Alternative For Homelessness

October 19, 2009

I was curious when I first heard Michael Moore was making a new documentary. Given his controversial film history I couldn’t wait to find out what he was reporting on. Then, I heard it was about capitalism and I was hooked. “Capitalism: A Love Story” exposes just how corrupt the American business model is and how it exploits some of the hardest working people. The movie was great but I found one part particularly disturbing – tent cities in America. Tent cities are byproduct of the recession. As more and more people lose their jobs and homes, tent cities are popping up across the nation. Literally people who just a few months earlier were living in homes are now camping out together in cities full of tents (hence the name).

Some of the largest encampments are in major U.S. cities such as Reno, Seattle and Nashville according to “Tent Cities in America: Signs of the Current Recession,” by associated content.com. I remember sitting in the theatre thinking “Are you serious? This is happening in America?” I don’t consider myself naïve and I’m aware that there’s a large homeless population but tent cities in America? I can’t help but wonder if there’s a better alternative for people. But after some research and YouTube searches, I learned tent cities aren’t all bad. OK, yeah sure, the idea of people losing their homes and living in campgrounds is awful, but tent cities help more than just victims of the recession. According to a report by Moblogic.tv, homelessness in Los Angeles is such a huge issue that the city directs some homeless people 45 miles east to a tent city in Ontario, Calif. For many who arrive to the tent city, it is a “refuge” the report says and offers a better alternative to sidewalks and park benches. I guess the bigger issue here is homelessness and how America is going to handle the issue but that’s a question I’m can’t answer. In any case, Moore’s new film exposed me to a greater issue than I imagined and I’m sure that was his intent – to reveal some dark truth about American culture.

A Journey to Washington

October 12, 2009

Barak Obama’s presidency is nothing short of legendary. But it’s his historic journey to Washington that defines his character that made him the candidate Americans believe in. From growing up with his mother in Hawaii to Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Barak Obama travelled across the nation and into American politics. Less than a year into his presidency, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for disarmament and diplomacy efforts over sees. Obama’s Administration will definitely be remembered as a piece of history unfolds each day.Journey to the White HouseSource: Google Images; <http://www.biography.com/articles/Barack-Obama-12782369&gt;

More Party Diversity Needed in Senate

October 12, 2009

Most Americans know that the government is run by two parties – the republicans and democrats. But very few Americans (like myself) know how many republican and democrat senators there are in the Senate, and if there are more than just two parties what are they? Well in doing some research I have found the names of these outlier parties and the senators who belong to them. Here’s how it works, the 100 Senators of the 111th Congress are divided up in to four parties. Like I said before there are the republicans and the democrats who make up the majority of the Senate, and then there are two outsiders. Bernie Sanders is from Vermont and represents the Independent Party and Joe Lieberman is an Independent Democrat from Connecticut. When I look at the chart it makes me wonder if there were more independent senators or just less republican and democrat senators would Americans be represented better? I’m not sure about that but maybe the future will see the birth of a new party in American politics.More Party Diversity Source:<http://www.senate.gov/index.htm&gt;

A Lesson in Health Care: The Public Option

September 28, 2009

It’s very easy to become bored, confused or indifferent when it comes to politics. You may not care or do not understand political concepts and often it is difficult to figure out how it will affect your life – if at all. One tumultuous political issue I’m sure you’ve heard of is health care.

President Obama’s crusade to reform health care has unleashed mayhem in town hall meetings across the nation. While ignorant Americans believe right wing radio jockeys and television pundits opposing reform, the divide in the country continues to widen while congress wrangles with what a good health care bill should include.

About two weeks ago I heard an analogy on Real Time with Bill Maher that clarified the argument over the issue of a public option in health care reform. Before we examine the dispute lets back up a few steps and define what the public option is and how it functions.

More than 45 million Americans or roughly 18 percent of the population under 65 years of age were uninsured in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau in a report by the National Coalition on Health Care. The public option was introduced to give millions of uninsured Americans an alternative if the skyrocketing health insurance premiums (or rates) are too costly to afford. So, the decision is either forgo health insurance because the overpriced pool of private insurers is unaffordable, or choose the public option where the government pays for your health plan. The idea here is if health care reform includes a public option it will reduce private market premiums and initiate competition among insurers. Sounds good right?

Well, republicans and some conservative democrats who call themselves blue dogs believe the public option is BAD. It will lead to “government run health care” they say because everyone will choose the public option and leave their private health plan behind – even though they’re satisfied with their existing coverage. Consequently, including a public option will create bigger government where the giant private market insurers will collapse having been undermined by the government run health industry.

This brings us to the Sept. 18 episode of Real Time with Bill Maher and a helpful analogy to clarify some of this confusion. Guest Jeffry Toobin, a staff writer for the New Yorker, made the analogy explaining how the public option is similar to other government services. For instance, one of the parallels he made was between private universities and public college universities. A market where people are given an “option” to choose between the private market and the public system and both industries succeed. Another example is the public mail service. Having a government backed mail service did not drive FedEx or UPS out of business and both industries give Americans the “option” to choose a service they prefer.

Deciding rather to include a public option in health care reform is a bit confusing but I hope this cleared it up for you a little. And the next time you over hear politicians arguing over a health care bill you can be confident about where you stand on the public option and how it will affect you.

Corporations Are People Too?

September 21, 2009

Having lived in Santa Clara County for my entire life I have come to recognize just how diverse and unique this place really is. Besides being at epicenter for booming dot.com startups and innovative technology, the Silicon Valley is a multicultural, melting pot with people settling here from around the globe. The entrepreneur spirit has flourished here since its founding and corporations have marked their territory across the West Coast.

Recently, while watching Stephen Colbert’s, “The Colbert Report,” I learned something new and startling about the Valley’s history that is still being hashed out in the Supreme Court today. The Supreme Court case, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad of 1886 determined much more than the state of California originally set out to. New state legislation ruled that the railroad company could no longer subtract mortgage expenses from their state tax, a right guaranteed to state citizens but not private corporations.

Before reading the ruling, Supreme Court Justice Morrison Remick Waite announced that “The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of opinion that it does” according to an article published on http://www.ratical.org.

Due to the negligence of the court’s reporter who misinterpreted Justice Remick and wrote the courts findings – “The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteen Amendment to the Constitution of the United States” – the ruling inadvertently gave corporations the same rights as people. As discussed on the “Colbert Report,” the implication of the ruling raises many questions including, “Are corporation’s people too?”

Well, today the Supreme Court Case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, addresses a huge component from the 1886 outcome. If indeed, corporations are in fact “people” and are granted the same rights, they too would be allowed to contribute to political election campaigns – perhaps the most frightening implication of the ruling.

Could you imagine Republican and Democrat candidates financially backed by corporate machines with unlimited funds? Any corporation willing to fuel a campaign would benefit in return if their cash helped marginalize the opposition and win the election. This is not democracy at work. It is a horrendous attempt to infiltrate and legalize capital-run elections where democracy fails and the people become second-class citizens to corporations.

This was the unfortunate realization I came to while watching Colbert that night. My forward thinking view of the Silicon Valley was tainted. But I guess I’ll just have to wait to hear how the current case goes to establish to what degree the mistake of that 1886 reporter has on American law.

Due to the negligence of the court’s reporter who wrote the courts findings – “The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteen Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” – the ruling inadvertently gave corporations the same rights as people. As discussed on the “Colbert Report,” the implication of the ruling raises many questions including, “Are corporation’s people too?”

Well, today the Supreme Court Case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, addresses a huge component from the 1886 outcome Morrison Remick Waite announced that “The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State. If indeed, corporations are in fact “people” and are granted the same rights, they too would be allowed to contribute to political election campaigns – perhaps the most frightening implication of the ruling.

Could you imagine Republican and Democrat candidates financially backed by corporate machines with unlimited funds? Any corporation willing to fuel a campaign would benefit in return if their cash helped marginalize the opponent and win the election. This is not democracy at work. It is a horrendous attempt to infiltrate and legalize capital-run elections where democracy fails and the people become second-class citizens to corporations.

This was the unfortunate realization I came to while watching Colbert that night. My forward thinking view of the Silicon Valley was tainted. But I guess I’ll just have to wait to find out how the current case goes to establish to what degree that 1886 reporter had on American law.

From the Radio to the Future

September 21, 2009

I first heard National Public Radio years ago in the car on the way to middle school with my father. Back then, I didn’t understand what was said and compared to Metallica and Limp Bizkit it was pretty boring. But now, I Listen to NPR – everyday. With no commercials and news coverage from around the globe, NPR keeps me coming back.

And in this growing multimedia day and age, the news organization has managed to stay ahead of the curve with innovative, user friendly strategies to keep listeners and web traffic levels up. By focusing on local and relevant issues each broadcast builds a community of listeners who are directly affected by their reporting according to the June 3 report by mashable.com. Even hyperlocal coverage – smaller community stories that the mega mainstream media ignore – about the neighborhood senior center that helps keep seniors healthy and active by teaching ball room dancing have a place on the growing popular program.

Furthermore, NPRs non-profit business model and open accessibility allows listeners and web readers the freedom to take as much or little information as they please. In recent months, the organization launched several new developments that personalized podcast scheduling at your fingertips. There pioneering spirit to deliver honest reporting and gain followers pays off while they continue to grow in even the toughest of times.

The amount of information I have accessed from NPR is countless; and I can add a few more after hearing about their new strategies to boost readership. For instance, sticking to local issues is something I would like to incorporate on this blog as well as developing a greater knowledge for social networking and media. Moreover, once I’m grounded on the technological side of reporting e.g. gathering sound bites and video, I would love integrate media to enrich and compliment each post.

Mullen Calls For More Troops In Afghanistan – NPR

The three minute and fifty-two second clip outlines the ongoing Capital Hill debate over whether to deploy more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. The clip is from the National Public Radio program “All Things Considered” and begins with a brief voice over introducing the reporter, Mary Louise Kelly, and gives some background information on the issue. Kelly’s narration and the related sound bites highlight the dichotomy in Congress. The piece included natural sound bites from prominent debate figures including Admiral Mike Mullen, who calls for more troops in Afghanistan and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who supports Mullen’s decision. Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and Chair of the Armed Service Committee voices his concern for implementing more men and says the U.S. should focus on training more Afghan soldiers. Overall, the clip represents a classic NPR news brief with in-depth fair reporting and objective in view.

Medical Marijuana Arrests; Calif. isn’t Mellow Yet

Tom Fudge’s piece on the crackdown on Medical Marijuana dispensaries in San Diego, Calif. is controversial and full of vivid natural sound. It starts with a voice over beside the ocean in the San Diego community of Mission Beach. The crashing waves of the pacific ocean are heard in the distance as the piece cuts between opponents and advocates of medical marijuana distribution. Advocates argue that unlike dispensaries in other communities, San Diego authorities have not thoroughly specified what determines an illegal sale. The clip outlines the county’s efforts to regulate San Diego’s marijuana shops so that both parties clearly understand the law.

Using Media to Land a Job

September 14, 2009

Searching for a job in the wake of the changing, multifaceted journalism industry is an ambiguously daunting task for anyone. Veteran journalists and young college graduates are competing in a new business climate where they are not only critiqued by their writing ability, but also an awareness of the present and future impacts of social media technology. And that’s just what Page One PR is gearing up for – the future of social media.

As a Silicon Valley leader in the public relations industry, Page One PR prides itself with distinguished Sr. staff people, workplace diversity and cutting-edge media technology to exceed client expectations.

With a background in journalism and a keen familiarity with social networking I believe that I am the perfect candidate for the Page Wonder position at Page One PR. Their enthusiasm for staying ahead-of-the-curve with social networking tools, and willingness to employ people with all levels of experience drew me to the position.

I am currently a full-time student at San Francisco State University majoring in Journalism with a minor in Political Science. Acquiring the necessary skills for the position will coincide with my journalism training. For example, this semester I am taking Digital News Gathering to earn my journalism bachelor’s degree. The course is multimedia driven and requires extensive online research and analysis to succeed, including: creating and maintaining a blog and producing story’s through a variety of media. The skills I develop in this course will undoubtedly support my future success at Page One PR.

When I started community college I wanted to study criminology. I pictured myself as Grissom from CSI, examining and analyzing crime scenes for evidence and quickly chasing down the suspect. As soon as I realized how much math and science I would have to complete to earn my degree the dream faded fast. Then I became interested in anthropology which also lost its luster somewhere between prosimians and genetic variation. I have always been fascinated with world issues and several years ago began watching more news coverage and reading the newspapers.

I began studying journalism about a year and a half ago at De Anza College. I joined the newspaper staff and left five quarters later and transferred to SF State. I choose to study journalism because I enjoy being out in the field and doing something new each day. As a journalist I believe it is my job to hunt down a story and tell it in the most objective way to those who do not have the time or resources to find the truth. Most of all I enjoy being the first one to know what it is I am reporting on and staying honest to my morals and values when writing the story.

No Compromise

September 14, 2009

Growing up with a sister five years older than you is tough; especially when you’re the only boy in the neighborhood. It was always them against me, the evil pack of girls vs. my friends and me – the only men on the block. The water balloon fights, room invasions and midnight spooks that ensued were well-planned and only postponed future quarrels. All summer, it was an endless back and forth bout between “the pack” and the men. My many attempts at a truce were always thwarted the next day and again it was business as usual.

My innocent childhood feuds in a way remind me of the republicans and democrats battling over a healthcare plan. For the sake of the argument, I’ll refer to “the pack” as the republicans and my friends and I as the democrats. For months, the president and his health care team have rewrote their health plan to satisfy the republicans and blue dogs (conservative democrats) who continue to refute the bill calling it too costly or provisionally flawed. The bickering has gotten out of hand. Town hall meetings have become a breeding ground for hate speech and cannibalistic behavior instead of an organized forum for free speech and peaceful expression.

The fight over health care will continue to erupt until both sides hear each other’s argument and can manage to be in a meeting together and not carry weapons or scream at the top of their lungs at congressmen. The battle for healthcare has turned the nation upside down bringing out the worst in people for something innately good for all Americans. Until Congress can agree on plan – that won’t drive up spending and provides better quality insurance for those who need it most – the feud will carry on with no positive end in sight and once again go back to business as usual.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.