Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Science Of Love

The primary goal of science is to quantify everything in nature. If something cannot be measured, it is beyond the realm of science. Most things that fall into this category are considered taboo in the scientific community. Ghosts would be the best example. Science has tried very hard to give everything a definition and a predictable outcome. Love is no exception. But when it comes to the topic of love, I believe science falls short. Though scientists have come up with neat little categories for types of lovers, the idea of love is still beyond all science. And to me, that is where it belongs.
As humans, we have a need to organize and groups things neatly. Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., at the University of Washington, is one of these people. Schwartz has developed classifications for the types of lovers in society. Schwartz says knowing your style "can keep your relationship healthy and happy." Schwartz has six groups that she says categorize each type of lover. I think, as many things in science are, this is completely bogus. But it is fun to think about.
The first type of lover is the "romantic." Schwartz describes this type of person as someone who "loves being in love." But Schwartz warns that this type of lover can set too high expectation. She says to remember "true love doesn't recede with his hairline, and romance doesn't have to fade as the relationship matures." To keep things going, Schwartz suggest "Planning dates, weekend getaways, or just-the-two-of-you vacations to rekindle the spark that ignited your relationship."
The second type of lover, according to Schwartz, is the "list-maker." In this situation, a person will "have criteria that are important, and you won't change them." Schwartz suggest doing away with any lists and simply worry about the important things, "companionship, love, a capacity for forgiveness."
The third category of lover is called the "obsessive." Schwartz describes this type of lover as someone who "wants to spend all their time with their partner, and constantly worries about their relationship, even when they've been together for years." This can lead to "partners being overbearing or having highs and lows that drive their significant other crazy." To avoid obsessive love, Schwartz suggest, "Realize that too much of a good thing can be too much. You may need to talk to a counselor who can help you understand why you feel so insecure and help you find ways to put your relationship in perspective."
The next category of lover is called the "giver." Schwartz describes this person as follows: "You're constantly working selflessly to meet your partner's needs, but you're not looking after you." While there may not be anything wrong with pleasing your partner, it is important to develop your own interest and still have your own life. The important thing to remember is always be faithful.
This leads us to the next type of lover, the "player." This type of lover is described as "easily bored in long-term relationships, and your eye may roam." It is hard to keep a steady relationship is you fit into this category. Schwartz says, "Take temptation out of your life. Instead of looking for excitement outside your relationship, try doing new things (salsa dancing, anyone?) with your partner, so you can see him or her in a fresh light."
And the last group of lovers are the "pals." Every romantic movie has one of these. This person is the type that will one day realize what they have missed out on. These types of people need to be adventurous and try a relationship with someone they see as a friend. See science has this all figured out. Happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Save The Planet, Win $25 Million

It is hard to imagine what one could do with $25 million. It is hard to even imagine what $25 million looks like. Such a vast sum of money would be hard to come by for most people over a number of lifetimes. However, in the next five years, one lucky person could receive this fortune. The only catch is that the person must, literally, save the planet.
It sounds too good to be true, but it is reality. To try and inspire the brilliant minds of Earth, the owner of Virgin Airlines, Richard Branson, has offered a $25 million prize to the person who can come up with a way to scrub greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. This is a serious issue. If something could be developed to remove a good portion of these gases (especially carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere, we could fight global warming. That is the goal of this massive undertaking. Branson said, "Man created the problem and therefore man should solve the problem." The predictions for Earth are grim if global warming is not slowed. In an interview, Branson bluntly stated the scenario that could be Earth's future. He stated, "Unless we can devise a way of removing CO2 (carbon dioxide) from the earth's atmosphere we will lose half of all species on earth, all the coral reefs, 100 million people will be displaced, farmlands will become deserts and rain forests wastelands."
So all the people of Earth are invited to brainstorm this idea. The "contest" with work as such: The prize will initially only be open for five years, with ideas assessed by a panel of judges including Branson, Al Gore and British ex-diplomat Crispin Tickell as well as U.S. climate scientist James Hansen, Briton James Lovelock and Australian environmentalist Tim Flannery. The goal of the winner is to come up with an idea that will remove one billion metric tons of carbon gases a year from the atmosphere for 10 years. Once the winner is announced, he or she will be given $5 million. Upon the completion of the winning plan, the winner will receive the other $20 million.
I do not believe this is an impossible feat. Some may call this a science-fiction dream, but I think it can be done. All that is needed is a great plan and a great mind to think it up. There is no way to convince me that in all this wide world, there is not a single person who could figure this out. There are over 6 billion people on this planet. One of them can surely save it. Branson said of the project, "This is the world's first deliberate attempt at planetary engineering." If we, as a species, can complete this task, we can move on to greater things. The universe is a big place. If we intend to explore it, we have to fix our problems at home first. Start thinking, I know I will, and maybe you could be $25 million richer.

Oxford's State: Tanked

Last night marked the annual State of the City address from Mayor Richard Howorth. In the address, the mayor stated that the number one problem facing the city of Oxford is the "culture of alcohol." The mayor called for working with the University to solve this problem.
In the seven years that I have lived in Oxford, I have seen the mayor proven right again and again. No greater problem faces this city than the abuse of alcohol. Now don't get me wrong, prohibition is a terrible idea. Many of Oxford's citizen enough drinking in a very legal time and place. But it has become a concern of many that illegal use of alcohol is out of control.
Last year, the University formed the Ole Miss Alcohol Task Force. This group was composed of student leaders and community leaders to combat alcohol abuse on the university campus and in the city. The group presented its final report to Chancellor Khayat on January 23. The report gave the University two options to help solve this growing problem. The mayor, speaking of the task force, said he is more convinced than ever that it is the city's job to apply more resources to law enforcement."
More law enforcement will definitely be a help to curving this problem. The people that break the rules need to be punished. And the mayor discussed a possible way of aiding law enforcement in their pursuits. The task force recommended restricting minors' access to alcohol-serving businesses after 10 p.m. This seems like a great idea. However, the mayor feels this would "greatly impact the revenue of those establishments." The mayor went on to say, "As all establishments that serve alcohol must also technically qualify as restaurants, enforcing this curfew law would mean denying non-drinking minors access to eating in many restaurants after 10 p.m."
My issue with this is that there are plenty of other restaurants open after 10 p.m. Perhaps the minors should eat earlier in the night. It will not affect revenue as much as the mayor believes. Few have realized that little impact has come from the smoking ban that Oxford put in place. I do not think the same thing would happen here. A curfew for minors in these establishments is a great idea. It does not, however, address other means of minors acquiring alcohol in the city.
But the main problem is still the University campus. Unless greater efforts are made to completely stop alcohol consumption on campus, this problem is only going to get worse. I just think that the administration of the University needs to grit their teeth and accept the fact that some rich alumni are going to get pissed off. And frankly, that is just too bad. If they base their support of the University on something as trivial as alcohol, they are not the kind of supporters I want for my school. Campus should be dry and Oxford needs to clean out the drunks and under-age offenders. This people need to be shown that breaking the law is not okay in this town.

Monday, February 05, 2007

War-Hungry Budget Won't Fly In Congress

In his State of the Union speech, President Bush made a lot of remarks about government spending and our country's debt. He said that the budget he sent to Congress this year would change these things for the better. However, we now know that the budget for this year is no different from any other since the war started. Money for the Pentagon makes up the majority of the budget. If we have any hope of ever having another surplus, our spending priorities need to change.
The total for this year's proposed budget is $2.9 trillion. Most of this money is delegated to go toward another increase in military spending. However, the budget also contains measures to eliminate the deficit in five years. With the amount of military spending, I do not see how this is possible. Members of Congress are already voicing their concerns on the amount of money being asked of the American people. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad said of Bush's budget, "The president's budget is filled with debt and deception, disconnected from reality and continues to move America in the wrong direction." And he is exactly right. How can this country possibly hope to get out of debt if it continues to spend ungodly amounts of money on foreign wars?
Members of Congress from both parties have suggested that support of Bush's budget is a bad idea. House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt said, "I doubt that Democrats will support this budget, and frankly, I will be surprised if Republicans rally around it either." The top Republican on the budget committee in the Senate, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, said, "Unfortunately, I don't think it has got a whole lot of legs. The White House is afraid of taxes and the Democrats are afraid of controlling spending."
It is very clear that the way to get our country out of the hole is to find a way out of Iraq. Increased military spending is driving the United States further and further into debt. Anyone familiar with economics can tell you what a bad situation this could set up. Yet the White House is demanding even more money for its war. In this new budget, the Pentagon would receive $624.6 billion for 2008. That's more than 1/5 of the total budget and is up from $600.3 billion in 2007. That number is only a base-estimate. Due to the changing conditions in Iraq, the number may increase. We keep throwing money at a problem that is not getting any better. Soon we will have no money left to burn and the economy will come crashing done. Of course by this time, Bush will be safely out of office. Engineered policy? You be the judge.