Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Feminism...The Good Kind

 I am the oldest of four girls. Growing up, I was taught that I could do anything I wanted, as long as I put my mind to it and worked hard. Rights as a woman never seemed like an issue.

Monday, April 20, 2015

More of Us Can and Should Use Data

Many large businesses and organizations use large data and statistics for the purpose of aiding them to make good decisions that they could not have made otherwise. However, this is rarely done is smaller settings. My call for change is this: because of the tools that we have today, smaller organizations should be able to reap the benefits of data and statistics, even if their skills are limited. Small organizations that adopt the use of statistics in their decisions, in addition to other commonly used methods, will be able to accomplish much more than they would otherwise be able to.

Let's Change How We Think Of Missionary Work

Image result for typing

My semester project has revolved around encouraging members of the LDS church to share the Gospel online.  This has personal relevance for me because I was released not too long ago from my calling in my ward as the ward mission leader.  I have personally struggled with sharing the Gospel online, and being a ward mission leader really helped me see just how much good sharing the Gospel online can do.

In my opinion, many members within the LDS church don’t share the Gospel online, and I believe this comes from the idea that missionary work, or sharing the Gospel, only happens in person, since that’s how it has often been done traditionally.  We typically think of missionary work when we see pictures of missionaries or of Jesus Christ teaching people during his life, but not when we see a person at a computer.

-Updated- Final Call!: Changing Radio in Review

The Apple Seed Team and some of our guests
At the beginning of the semester, had you told me that by the end of the next four months I'd have strong feelings towards the future of radio, I'm not sure I would have believed you. But now, as we are in the midst of finals, I can tell you very adamantly that radio is not dead! And I'd then tell you in detail about how broadcast executives can go about refurbishing their approaches towards radio (and not simply dismissing it) and in turn bring back radio as a relevant, contemporary, and fresh media channel.

This January, I began my job working as an Assistant Producer at BYU Radio for a show called The Apple Seed. It's a storytelling show with deep roots in the traditional storytelling community and flavors of The Moth Radio and This American Life. I LOVE my job.

Social Tribalism and Modern Society

For as long as humans have been around, we have separated ourselves into groups, and we almost always seek a need to extend that separation to those who surround us. Doing so brings order and understanding to the world around us, allowing us to accomplish great things. However, it also leads to a form of tribalism. An attitude of pride and superiority based solely on identification with a group. This tribalism has manifested itself in various forms throughout history, from warring religious groups, to ethnic cleansing, to the social and political climate we live in today. Almost always this human need to label and categorize results in groups of ‘us’ and ‘them’ – with the caveat that one is always more than the other. My question is why? As a society we are complex and established enough to move past this social tribalism.  We need to begin a shift away from this categorization of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and the prejudices associated with those labels.

For the Internet of the Future

For too long the Internet has been held back by old inferior technologies. We need to use better building blocks to create a better internet in the future. These new technologies already exist but developers aren't using them because they're afraid of failure. My call for change is that we stop being so risk adverse. It's holding the web back. It's time for more brave individuals to take a chance and start using new technologies that will power the internet of the future.

Building vs. Burning Bridges

My call for change is that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints change the way they view other religions. I believe that in order to further the building of God’s Kingdom on earth we need to be more occupied with building bridges with those of other faiths rather than burning bridges. I’ve seen often that the way we view other religions and how we talk about them can be offensive to the members of those other religions, and that whether knowingly or unknowingly we often attack their beliefs and faith. This is extra evident when it comes to missionaries and missionary work. After spending 3.5 years working at the Missionary Training Center I’ve seen the effects of this mindset.

stranger danger no more (on the web)

I type this fairly certain that you (the reader) have signed into a google account in order to access this blog site, and therefore know that I am preaching to the choir. That said, my request is reducing the number of anonymous human interactions we have online.

It's about families, it's not about borders

When dealing with immigration we should remember that it’s about families, not borders.  It’s so easy for us to get so concerned with nationalism, patriotism and technicalities that we forget that people are people and deserve our respect.  Over the course of this semester I’ve done a thorough investigation of why so many Americans rage and are overly concerned with immigrants.  I took a Latin American culture and history class to better understand why this happens and what we must understand to overcome it. 

Religious Tolerance: America's Final Frontier

This semester, in my rhetoric and civilization course, I decided to focus on the value and practice of religious tolerance. With tensions ebbing and flowing between America and ISIS, and with day-to-day tensions between Americans who share different beliefs, who wouldn't benefit from taking a moment to evaluate themselves? I decided it was time to explore an alternative view toward religion in America. Throughout my research, my personal views on religious tolerance evolved--often prompted by questions raised from my peers in the class.

We Are The Change

With the rapid development of technology in our age, social media has become an integral part of our lives. Along with a plethora of efficacious implications, technology also carries with it the potential to be an pernicious evil. When used as a medium for pornographic material, technology begets a destructive force with implications of destroying interpersonal relationships, hindering society and harming individuals. We need to become more conscious of the negative consequences associated with pornography through increasing personal awareness and effecting change by personal acts of valor.  By doing so, we thereby effectuate the change.

All Work and No Play

We work too hard. And for what? For money? For fame? For security? Though the reasons may vary some, people ultimately seem to want the same thing. Happiness. And yet, in America, it feels like few truly have it. Since its foundation, America was known as the land of opportunity. If someone was willing to work hard, they could find the happiness that one desires. At first, work was seen as a gift that could allow a person to grow and succeed. But unfortunately, Americans today have taken it to the extreme. If we work hard now, we can rest later. If we work hard now, we will be happy in the long run. But the long run never seems to come because we become so focused on working that we put off the here and now.

An Uncertain Source: Why You Should Doubt the Internet

This semester my call to change is focused on changing the undeserved trust that people give to the internet. In my midterm video, I began by recapping a normal interaction on the internet; seeing a product, following a link to a website, reading reviews and then purchasing the project. While this seems normal and harmless, the fact is that the internet user just followed an unverified link to a website who’s reviews they blindly trusted and then gave very personal information, including a personal address and credit card number, to a company they have no real knowledge of. Basically the reckless way in which we approach the internet will come back to bite us if we don’t put measures in place to protect ourselves.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"It Takes a Village", Samoan Style

My call for change is that we need to take a fresh look at education in America. I took note of the changes that Tonga had made to its educational system, which had been heavily exam-oriented, and British (or Western) based, and I have now further expanded to look at Samoa (with the same British base), who revamped their educational system entirely.

Brother, can you spare a dime?

My call to change is that the NCAA should allow certain athletes to be paid. I say certain athletes because I don't think that it is possible to pay all athletes right now but in the future I would hope that all collegiate athletes could  be paid.

For all of my life I was opposed to paying college athletes. It wasn't until last year, when a point guard from the University of Connecticut caught my attention. His name was Shabazz Napier and he helped lead his team to win the national title in men's basketball.

 In an interview Napier told members of the media that he often went to bed starving despite having a university meal plan. According to the University of Connecticut's student-athlete handbook, student athletes were allowed three meals in any residence hall from between 7 a.m. and 7:15 p.m. But for Napier, this plan could not simply provide enough nourishment for his body. It was at this moment that I realized that many of these athletes come from the poorest of backgrounds and can't afford the simple indulgences like McDonalds or a Wendy's. I felt for Napier and I thought that it was simply not fair that he would go to bed starving because he couldn't afford to buy food but the University that he played for would make millions of him and his teammates. 

A Change in Student Debt

Well, it’s been a long semester, filled with twists and turns, but I’ve finally decided on my call for change. I suggest that the government should allow pro bono hours to be applied toward alleviating law school student loan debt.
Image result for byu law school

About two weeks ago, I finally decided to attend BYU Law, and the main factor was the price. I felt like I would have more freedom to actually serve people when I graduated if I graduated with as little debt as possible. However, not all people are as lucky as I am to go to a school that provides a fairly cost-effective option. Some graduates find themselves saddled with six-figure debt that severely impedes the options they have to serve others because instead of serving the poorer community, they need to work to pay off their student loan debt.

Specialization in Education

I think we need to be spending more time thinking about what our education is getting us, and
gearing it towards giving the most it can to students. This is particularly relevant in college education, because we need to have more specialization in our education. If we are here to get jobs and degrees, the way that our education needs to be focused is on getting qualified for a job, and being as qualified as we can possibly be. That means we need to be focusing more on one specific field—which we do already as we pick majors—but we can do this more. We can make a difference in our own educations, and make the educations of our children more efficient, if we can move towards more specialization.

Grappling With Nonprofit Overhead

This semester I have been grappling with the overhead ratio as a means to determine whether or not a nonprofit organization is successful. I knew this was what I wanted to discuss from the second Professor Burton said we would be talking about our call for change. I have been heavily involved with nonprofits for the past few years and plan to spend the rest of my life helping them (check out my website: stephanietannergrants.com).

Saturday, April 18, 2015

9 to 5 No More, America!

This semester I've focused on the current workplace system that dominates corporate America: the 9 to 5. I've called on corporate America, and all its worker drones, to reconsider whether this 20th century system is the best system for the future. Do we even want a new norm at all? Why is society so scared to just abandon it completely? 

I became particularly fascinated with this as I've interned at Marriott International the past ten months. I found myself shocked at how often people weren't in the office. Interns, assistants, secretaries and managers followed the 9 to 5 (or 8 to 6) norm, but the upper level managers, directors and VPs were gone 75% of the time, traveling and working from home.

Online Voting - Would You Vote For It?

I am calling for voting in elections to be placed online (see me actually calling for change here). I first wanted to change this because I have seen first hand what happens when there is too much of an opportunity cost to vote--people just won't vote (as shown in this post).

In talking with others about this idea, I have received quite the array of feedback. Someone commented about how a change like this would affect tradition. Many people commented on how we are using technology in many other areas, so why not use technology in this one? One person mentioned the possibility of eliminating voting and using statistics and random assignment of the population to get us a true representative government (as shown here), others disagreed with that idea. Those who disagreed felt that we didn't want a "fully representative" government. This brought up interesting ideas about what we want when we say we want a voice. Do we actually want one? Or do we just enjoy the idea of it without actually putting it into practice?

What inspired my call for change?

There is a strong need for us to reform education. There are many aspects that need to be eliminated, reformed or implemented. My main focus has been incorporating technology in education. I am not simply talking about using Power Points in the classroom, but really allowing kids to embrace technology, and use it to learn about the world around them. I have explored this idea is previous blog posts, which you can check out at:

What inspired me to investigate this topic were some Ted Talks that I happened to stumble upon. Sir Kenneth Robinson and Sugata Mitra have some great ideas about education. Those videos got me thinking about my own personal experiences in school. I used to struggle in school and still do. It is something that has never come easy to me. I have learned to deal with my struggles and have become a decent student, but it was a very different story when I was young. I can be a bit of a perfectionist at times, so when I didn't understand my homework I would throw a tantrum as if the world were about to end. I felt so dumb and I didn't know how to deal with it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Credentials Shmredentials

I wanna stop credentialism (the valuing of credentials over other qualifying characteristics).

Not because the things that we call credentials are actually bad, but because why we get them and how we look at them is...not the best.

I first came across the term in Sociology 111. It interested me because I found myself in the camp of those who live their lives striving to satisfy its precepts (or, as I put it in another post, being "slave to this platypus").

As I continued to think about the idea of credentialism, I realized that it bases itself in certain outward expectations (as Jerrick commented, a definition of "success") that are the same for everyone (as Spencer commented). AKA, someone somewhere decided--when it was actually a worthy decision--to only hire people who had gone to high school. Later, they decided to only hire people who had gone to college. Then the colleges jumped in and decided only to accept people with a certain ACT score or higher. You see where I'm going? The world of business and education became more about lists of credentials than about the people who had those credentials.

"My Evolving Call for Change"

                My call for change is to integrate math, statistics and basic computer use into primary education on history and social science.  This would prepare our youth to use the data and tools that are available to make a change in the world today.  This idea germinated in 2014 when I was examining my possible carrier choices as a mathematician.  There is almost nothing that one can do with pure mathematics but teach, however, applying mathematics and computer science allows incredible flexibility in working on solutions to almost any meaningful human problem.   I was inspired by the enlightenment figure Thomas Bayes who invented a math theorem related to probability that was totally unusable in his time and for a hundred years after! (Link first blog)   However, once the early ninety’s came about computers had enough computational power to implement his theorem which is now used to improve machine intelligence and, most importantly to me, several statistical projects relating to human wellbeing.
                “The past called for specialization of a field of knowledge like sociology, math, computer programming, economics or statistics.  Those who specialized typically were the more successful in their research as they could focus on something so specific that no one had attempted it before.  Today is the age in which flexibility is the dominantly trait of a world changing researcher.”(See my first blog)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

My Semester in Review

My call to change has to do with the idea of political correctness. I believe that political correctness started out with good intentions as a means to ensure equality for all people, but now is used by political parties as a crutch and restricts people's rights of speech and expression.

This topic is talked about in my family often and is something I have found myself thinking about a lot when it comes to our country's society and politics. Fairly recently, TV star and chef Paula Deen, was forced to apologize for saying the "N" word years ago when she was younger. This control was all done in the name of political correctness and I thought it was so ridiculous! Back then in Paula Deen's younger years in the South, the "N" word was not a bad word. Why then were TV and news officials forcing her to apologize now? Like they have never said a bad word before? This story of how political correctness was used as a means to restrict really bothered me and has been in the back of my mind since then. It sparked my call to change project.

Over the course of the semester I wrote two blog posts about how I felt political correctness had become a problem and why it needed to change:

To recap, I feel that when used correctly, political correctness can protect minorities and other groups. But in our society today, it restricts people from speaking truth about morality and expressing their beliefs and opinions. It has become largely about dancing around a subject in order to not hurt anybody else's feelings. It is the biggest irony in our society. It is essentially intolerant of intolerance.

During my Call to Change presentation, I point to three main historical periods where we see a focus on equality: the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the Gilded Age. After touching on those periods, I focus on our period today and how that focus of equality has turned to political gain and restriction.

When discussing this topic with other classmates and peers, many agreed that political correctness had gone out of control. A few disagreed and felt that it still served its original purpose. But most believed that something needed to change. A few gave their opinion that the way to change this dogma in our society is to focus on speaking truth but tactfully.

In my presentation, I focus on the idea that political correctness in itself largely affects the way we communicate in our society. I also acknowledge that my communication in my presentation might come across as politically incorrect, but I need to be able to speak my ideas and call for action.


Thank you for the comments! In response to these, I would like to echo the comment that political correctness does come with its own set of unspoken "rules." This is what makes it unfair and irrational. It can be used differently, even as a weapon, by certain groups who feel they have something to prove. To expand further on my call to change, in the future, I think something that could be done in schools is to have group demonstrations or talks where the children learn more about each other's differences and be comfortable with talking about them. Classroom exercises where the children are highlighted because of their differences, and are proud of them, could be useful as well.

The Evolution of Science and Its Relationship to Religion

As society continues to grow more secular and less religious, the general public is trying to find in science the benefits from religion that they rejected. Science does not provide a foundation for belief, faith, or any other spiritual or emotional need, because of its objective nature in determining truth. Our society needs to keep science in its realm of relevance and not try to apply scientific principles to religious ideas. My call is to resist the growing dogma of science as a quasi-religion.

I began noticing this ideology while I was serving as a missionary in Mexico City. Most people have strong Catholic roots, but I encountered a few atheists who proclaimed that religion was an invention of mankind and that science held the answers. Those people failed to notice that whereas religion claims to originate from God, science is definitely man-made (though God-inspired). It also struck me that typically the atheists were not always well-educated. These encounters inspired my connection to the famous line "I believe in science!" from Nacho Libre that I used in a previous post (February 24, 2015). Esqueleto lived on the street and had apparently had little knowledge of science yet claimed it as his belief system. Though comical in the movie, the same attitude can be seen in society among people who are generally unsatisfied with religion as a source of truth.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Credentialing: The Process of Realizing It's a Problem - UPDATED

               I have come to the realization that the way people approach and think about credentialing in 2015 needs to change. This call for change, that I have a great desire to see fulfilled, has come a long way since my initial feelings about those who create certification process for actuaries. I initially was a little mad about how hard they make the credentialing process, but later realized that it wasn't that they thought they were too smart, but rather it was from the wrong perspective. Eventually I realized that the way we think about credentialing, or gaining certifications in general, in 2015 is way far off of where the focus should be, and that this was the real problem that I was trying to address. More and more evidence became clear to me that inappropriate stigmas, dogmas, and ways of approaching credentialing existed when I started to do some research to historical time periods and ideologies which we discussed during our rhetoric and civilization class at BYU. After receiving feedback from classmates on my blog posts as well as in class I was able to come up with a presentation that I think anyone can relate to in some way, and feel a little bit of the need for the change that I see.

                I think with clear communication and applications to important lessons from history, others will see the need to make some changes to the world of certifications and credentialing. This is not just a needed change within the actuarial world, but in the world as a whole. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Not Buying a Commodity, Especially not on Credit

The most iconic translation error 
in video game history: Zero Wing
"All your base are belong to us."

If you read my latest blog post, you know that I changed my topic from today’s credit dogma to today’s translation dogma but you may not clearly understand what “translation dogma” even means. Although many Americans don’t have a constant need for translation, those who do need to understand that translation cannot be bought as a commodity (Inspired by an ATA publication). When I say “translation,” what I really mean is any language service; be it sign language interpretation, literary translation, medical interpretation, etc. And when I say it’s not a commodity, I mean that translation services cannot be compared solely by price. Not all translations are created equal and they should not be bought with that mentality.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Recapping the Call to Change of the Role of Social Media In Our Lives

Is social media making us socially awkward? How online relationships are affecting real-world relationships. My call to change is not necessarily a shock to many, as we are well aware how much time we usually spend and waste on social media. I desired to understand how we got to this point. Working my way through history, starting in the 16th/17th centuries, I found out what media existed and how it was used throughout time. This helped me understand how it evolved into something that enslaves many of us today.

Starting with my very first post dealing with call to change, I actually started with a topic dealing with useless conversation starters. I talked about  how we should liberate ourselves from pretending to care that we actually want to talk to people, and instead, find ways to desire and seek after conversions we can enjoy and build relationships from. I found that this topic didn't have much to support it, but it allowed me to build into my topic of social media and the importance of real life relationships.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Anonymity in warfare

One of the greatest parallels I found between my topic and the later periods we've studied is actually a backward parallel.

Wars began very personal. The earliest familial disputes were likely settled with fists, until we fashioned clubs, spears and blades. Other weapons of war followed (cimeters, swords, clubs with spikes, etc.) but even into the Enlightenment, wars were fought in a very personal way. The invention of gunpowder then changed the way we fought.

We discussed the great destruction that came with WWI, as soldiers used the personal war-tactics they had always known. New technologies rendered old strategies obsolete. Because no one was prepared for this new brand of warfare many soldiers died.

The destruction was compounded as technology evolved. According to many estimates nearly twice as many lives were lost in the second World War than the first. When one considers the bombs dropped in Japan or over London, the link between destruction caused by those weapons and the relative separation officials involved had with the actual suffering that followed, it is no wonder that trends move away from personal combat where possible.

(A caveat to this example is the world's shift away from chemical warfare. We recognized that some things are too destructive.)

As warfare moved from a very personal style of combat to anonymous killings, casualties have dramatically increased. When individuals are removed from the destruction that follows their actions they are less likely to appreciate the gravity of their actions – as happens by the second on the web.

We must facilitate a more deliberate shift from anonymous communications on the internet. Warfare over the years has submitted to the opposite, and the evidence of destruction is sobering.

History and Communication

While it's been easy for me to tie the topic of radio and how it can be revived/updated to fit modern times into the Enlightenment, I've had to work a little harder to figure out how to tie it in with later events.

  • But one has come to mind. During the early 20th century, there was a revival in the role of art as a communication method to the masses. With the rise of graphic design, the oldest mean of communication became a new, powerful way of communicating important ideas with the masses.
  • Another tie-in could come in the form of industrialization. With the rise of industrialization, mass production began to enter every aspect of life. Entertainment began to be mass produced as well. The popularity and rise of TV is part of this. But we are edging out of this era. We are again entering an era of specialization as technology improves. We can once again apply specialization to our media consumption.

As for other tie-ins, I'm rather stumped. But I'll keep brainstorming.