Unfairness in the World

In today’s world, there are many stories of people being mistreated by police officers. High police force seems to be more prevalent in high-crime, low-income communities, and many people begin to question some of the uncalled for violence and intent of officers in those areas.

There are many different aspects of this image that catches the audience’s eye. For instance, it is noticeable that the infrastructure of the buildings is quite poor, with graffiti on some of the buildings, leading to the idea that this may be a low-income community. Also, what may lead the audience to believe that there is police officer unfairness in this community, is that there is a man submerged in a water-filled hole, and an officer is only looking down upon him, and not lending a helping hand. Furthermore, one can tell from the facial expression on the man in the waters face, that he is terrified. Whereas, the police officer is showing no emotion, and has a very stern face. Also, there are two men walking by the scene in the background of the image, and seem to be ignoring the situation. They may be ignoring the situation either because they are desensitized to it, since this behavior happens frequently, or they may not want to get involved because they don’t want any actions taken against them.

There are also several smaller details that seem to symbolize different aspects of the issue. For example, the sky looks dark and gloomy, which could be referencing the awful problem going on in this picture and society. Also, further in the background of this image is a man who is facing the wall, with his back turned to the scene. This could be inferring that some people turn their backs to these types of situations completely, ignoring the problem. Also, the rope that is in front of the man who is submerged in the water-filled hole, could symbolize the fact that there could be a dangerous situation in that area. The dangerous situation could be the fact that the man in the hole may be ignored by the police officer and not brought to proper safety with respect.

The overall story I feel the image is trying to relay to the audience, is pertaining to some of the wrongdoings done by the police force. The idea that the police officer is looking down upon the man, and not helping, could be referencing an abuse of power. Also, the man in the water, looks extremely worried and scared, while looking up at the officer. Also, there is a line of people behind this police officer. We, as an audience cannot be one-hundred percent sure if anyone stops to help this man, but from what is being perceived from this image, it is likely to assume that no one will lend a helping hand.

I believe the target audience are those that are either targeted themselves with these issues of police unfairness, or those that need to be educated about these issues in today’s world. This is definitely an issue in today’s world, so it is pertinent that in order to change this issue, everyone is aware of what is happening.

No guidelines? No CRISPR.

CRISPR-cas 9, which stands for “clusters of regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats,” is the most prevalent genome editing technology today. It has the positive abilities to enhance fruit preservation, and cure genetic diseases, but it also has the controversial ability to edit the human genome, in any way the scientists would like, where no guidelines are set in place … just yet. 

CRISPR works like a pair of molecular scissors, by having the ability to cut strands of DNA. The Cas9 enzyme (molecular scissors), is what targets the section of DNA that is intended to be changed, but is directed by CRISPR. Together, they work as one to disable, or repair a gene, or insert something new where the DNA had been cut. 

The thought of genome editing may sound fascinating, but it also has a scary side to it. There has been talk amongst scientists and medical professionals of human gene-editing and the “talk,” is now becoming reality. Human gene-editing has many benefits that can arise, like curing of genetic diseases, however, none of this can be properly executed if there are no ethical boundaries for those using the technology to abide by. There must be ethical boundaries for those using CRISPR, especially when it involves humans, because the “talk” of editing human embryos has also sky-rocketed. Scientists like He Jiankui, have escalated this conversation by going forward with editing the embryos of what would be two twin girls, without any boundaries or guidelines to abide by. Scientists and medical professionals all around the world were shocked that this was pursued, and became even more infuriated when it was announced that the twin girls would be susceptible to premature death, and would have been healthy if the embryos were not edited. The conversation that also comes alongside human gene-editing, is “designer babies.”

“Designer babies” is a hot topic of concern within the science and medical fields in regards to CRISPR. A designer baby is a baby that before it was even born, had its physical looks picked out for them, instead of having their characteristics occur naturally. The scientist, He Jiankui, had initially sparked this. First, scientists are starting with gender choice. Who is to say they will not begin editing the eye, hair and skin color of a newborn. This is where a line must be drawn and ethical boundaries need to come into place. The characteristics of a human being are what differentiates them from the rest of society, and are naturally occurring from the process of life. When a natural occurrence in life is disrupted, there is always a consequence. Who is to say that if one part of the human DNA is edited to have blue eyes occur, that there will not be an off-target mutation (when another part of the DNA is accidentally changed) that could affect the child’s way of living a normal life. 

Image result for crispr gene editing

If scientists have the ability to pick and choose the characteristics of a child, they are taking away the naturally occurring ways of life, while also going about these scientific ways without any guidelines. If there are no guidelines, how do we prevent scientists from going rogue and trying to clone people and endanger the human species? If we want to enhance fruit preservation, and cure genetic diseases, there must be a fine line drawn for ethical boundaries and standards. Although there have been three major conferences about possible ethical guidelines, they still are not clear. How long before it’s too late and another child’s life is affected because a scientist was “testing” out the system. 

plan for research paper

I am writing my paper on the biotechnology CRISPR. I plan on using the structure introduced to us in class. I plan to focus on what CRISPR is, how it is being used in China, how it is planned to be used and why there must be guidelines if CRISPR is going to continue to grow in the future.

My only worry about this topic is that there is a lot I can cover, so I need to really prioritize what I want my reader to get out of this. I am really interested in this topic, so I know the passion will be there. I just have to make sure I don’t get too caught up and stay on track.

P2 proposal ideas

Most of the ideas I am thinking about pertain to the field of medicine and particularly genetics. Some of my ideas of interest are:

  • CRISPR
  • Cloning 
  • Mothers alcohol use effects on fetus/newborn

I am really interested in CRISPR and cloning particularly because I have interests in medicine and I find interactions with genes to be very intriguing. I also know people within the world of genetics, so that made my interests grow even more because I could see some things first hand.

Transhumanism

Technology has become one of the forefronts of change in our society. From the way we communicate with people, build and create things, create medicine, and so many other everyday doings. However, how far is technology willing to go until a boundary is crossed? Transhumanism involves science and technology involving humanistic ideas, which can take a wrong turn if the idea is put into the wrong hands. 

One example of a technology that can be categorized under transhumanistic ideas is CRISPR. CRISPR is a genome technology that has the ability to edit one’s genes. This technology has the capability to be useful and save people’s lives who may have a detrimental genetic mutation. However, CRISPR can become dangerous if used poorly. One scary tactic that can be pushed by CRISPR is this idea of designer babies. According to the MIT technology review, Chinese scientists have “been recruiting couples in an effort to create the first gene-edited babies.” They have been working on genes that may cause certain diseases, however, they have also been working on the idea of adding characteristics that the parents may want, specific hair color and eye color, into the babies genes. This is where the line is drawn. Everyone has their own different and special characteristics that should be embraced by them, and everybody around them. Having this ideology, a transhumanistic idea, that we need technology to alter what a human looks like, takes away the special differences of everyone. Eventually, everyone would have similar characteristics and there would be no differences amongst the general population. If this process of picking and choosing what genes to edit continues for years to come, at what point are the human outcomes even human? This is where the transhumanist technologies become scary and cross a line.  For more about what Chinese scientists have been working on involving CRISPR, visit the following site: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612458/exclusive-chinese-scientists-are-creating-crispr-babies/

Furthermore, another significant topic pertaining to transhumanistic ideas would be artificial intelligence. To what extent can programmers program and enhance computers to the point where the computers control us? Technology and code have to start somewhere. That is in the programmers hands. Once the technology gains an understanding of the code being presented, it will keep learning. When this happens, it creates possibilities of robots learning more than we, as humans, can possibly understand at the rate that it is learning and then it is out of our hands. We see this happen when computers are coded to crack or hack into a system. The computer begins distributing numbers and algorithms at a speed inhumanly possible. This is where the artificial intelligence becomes questionable. The computer is doing things at a speed that we cannot control. How do we know that it will listen and stop when we tell it too? We don’t. This comes into the idea of robots. How do we know the robots we are creating to act like humans will listen to what we are programming them to do? We don’t. 

Technology is all around us, and is it beneficial with how we use it. These transhumanistic ideas like CRISPR can be beneficial until used poorly and dangerously.

Superbugs

John Bachman-Paternoster, the author of “Antibiotics & Superbugs: The Future of Health,” lost his father due to two superbug infections in March of 2017. This is what set off his curiosity and anger towards the overuse of antibiotics and the resulting superbugs. A superbug is a bacteria, like MRSA, that is resistant to antibiotics so it is incredibly hard to treat and slow down. These superbugs are impossible to stop due to over prescribed antibiotics and insertion of antibiotics within our everyday food production. Throughout this essay, the author did a good job structuring the way he used his emotional and logical reasoning in order to inform the readers of this topic. Once you have caught the reader’s attention with the facts, it is best to connect with them through an emotional appeal. This helps the audience fully understand the concern and have them possibly relate it to their own life so they actually listen and take caution to the issue being presented. In this case, it is best to provide a fact from a researcher or medical based professional about a superbug and then connect the idea to a personal story like the writer did with about his father. Also, through his word choice and sentence structure, he did a good job controlling his overall tone which helps maintain the connection between the author and the audience. One example where the author utilized these key ways, was when he informed the reader of what a superbug actually is and the danger of it, and then connected it to the death of his father. By using a logical appeal and then connecting it to an emotional appeal, it helps to further push the point and get the reader thinking. 

The Future of Health?

Thesis: 

  • “Unfortunately, bacteria are smart and hearty. If you are a microbe that has been bombarded by these drugs, what would you do? Like all living organisms, you would evolve. What has emerged from this evolution are bacteria called “superbugs,” which are resistant to most if not all antibiotics that we have today” (Finlay and Arrieta 104).
  • Is it there because it tells the readers what they are going to be reading about and what the main issue that he is targeting

Audience:

  • The audience is mainly towards the general public, but also towards doctors/pharmaceutical companies, and farmers
  • He wants them to understand the crisis of the superbugs that are arising due to the negligence of pharmaceuticals and farmers use of antibiotics. He also wants the general public to understand the risk they are at for what could happen if a superbug infects them.

Logos:

  • His facts hits the points of every topic he brings up which supports everything he is claiming. His tone is relatively calm and sophisticated, but strong enough to show he is passionate about what he is trying to get across. 
  • “Recent research has demonstrated that the microbiome is essential for human development, immunity, and nutrition. Gilbert and Knight specifically note that ‘“There are at least one hundred microbial genes for every human gene, and they are responsible for many of the biochemical activities associated with your body, ranging \ from digesting carbohydrates in your food to making some of your vitamins”’ (8).
  • “Over the past several decades, antibiotics have been indiscriminately prescribed and misused. Finlay and Arrieta note that ‘“Between the years 200 and 2010 alone there was a 36 percent increase in the use of antibiotics worldwide …. One troubling thing about these numbers is that the use of antibiotics peaks during influenza virus infections, even though they are not effective against viral infections”’ (7). Other researchers have confirmed that many antibiotic prescriptions in the United States are being prescribed for all types of illnesses such as viral infections (e.g. flus and colds), which cannot be treated with antibiotics” (Finlay and Arrieta).
  • “A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzed two survey data sets collected by the Centers for Disease Control (Fleming-Dutra et al.). These two surveys collected information on the diagnosis and treatment for patient visits to two types of facilities.”
  • “In fact, about 70% of all antibiotics produced in the U.S. are given to livestock including chickens, pigs, cows, and pigs (Moyer).”
  • ‘Empirical evidence, like that for humans, has documented the relationship between the overuse of antibiotics in livestock populations and the emergence of superbugs.”

Ethos

  • The way he states who he is taking information from is credible. By using sources from government agencies, reporters, and his word choice in general when talking about these sources makes it sound credible, since it is. 
  • “Empirical evidence, like that for humans, has documented the relationship between the overuse of antibiotics in livestock populations and the emergence of superbugs.” 
  • “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did establish guidelines that discourage the use antibiotics in animal feed and/or water to promote growth, and these guidelines were implemented on January 1, 2017.”
  • “A reporter from Scientific American investigating the use of antibiotics on pig feed lots describes this use: ‘“Beard [the pig farmer] planned to give them feed containing antibiotics – a necessity if they were to stay healthy in their crowded, manure-gilded home. Antibiotics also help farm animals grow faster on less food, so their [antibiotic] use has long been a staple of industrial farming”’ (Moyer).

Pathos

  • His use of pathos is honest and relatable to why he chose this subject of choice to begin with. It puts the issue of superbugs into perspective and shows how it is crawling around hospitals, a place where people are meant to be better. Not a place where they could possibly die from a superbug. 
  • “Antibiotic resistance in some parts of the world is like a slow tsunami, we’ve known it’s coming for years and we’re going to get wet” 
  • “My father was admitted to Christiana Hospital on December 16, 2016 with a diagnosis of idiopathic pancreatitis [ . . .]  Ten days later, he was on a ventilator in the surgical Intensive Care Unit because he had been infected through his pic line by MRSA, a superbug, which quickly spread through his entire body. My dad was eventually taken off the ventilator, but he never made it out of the ICU. Another antibiotic resistant infection attacked his lungs, and he died on March 5, 2017.” 
  • “Like thousands of people in the United States, my dad did not die from the illness that put him in the hospital. He died from a superbug, just one of several that now lurk in virtually every hospital in the U.S. waiting to find a new host. It is this personal tragedy that inspired me to investigate why superbugs have emerged and how to prevent more from developing.”
  • “What can be done about this looming health crisis and how many people will have to die unnecessarily before our federal government takes the threat of superbugs more seriously?”
  • “The soaring number of antibiotic-resistant infections poses such a great threat to society that in 20 years’ time we could be taken back to a 19th century environment where everyday infections kill us as a result of routine operations” (qtd. in Whiteman).

2008 plane crash

Image result for nancy lynn
Image result for nancy lynn crash

In 2008, at an airshow in Culpepper, Virginia, an event changed people’s lives in a split second. On average, there are about two hundred and fifty airshows a year. The variety of aircrafts and their stunts changes with every show and although most airshows are “tragedy” free, some are not. Unfortunately, an airshow on October 18, 2008 was not “tragedy” free. 

Growing up with a family immersed in the world of aviation, I frequently attend many of these shows that occur every year, so I have practically grown up going to them. The show began as any other: the first couple of performers went, including my father, and I sat and watched as he did aerobatic tricks in the sky. When he landed, he joined me at the fence and we watched our family friend, Nancy, take off. She was doing a phenomenal job with her choice of aerobatics and the crowd was in awe, and I could not wait to congratulate her on her performance. However, the mood in the air changed dramatically when she flew over the runway for a “fly-by photo,” and her wingtip struck the runway. Her plane immediately hit the ground and blew up into flames. Stuck on the other side of the fence, I watched as several bystanders including my father, rushed to help our friend escape the brutal flames of her crashed plane. When my dad left to go help, our friend Gavin stayed with me. The whole accident happened so quickly, that it was like slow motion going through my head. Seeing my dad running to the plane, the flames erupting, the ambulance sirens turning on, it was all processing so slow compared to how fast everything was actually moving; like watching glass break in a slow motion video.

Once the medical teams showed up to the scene, they worked in sync with one another to do their very best to bring her to safety. Already having a fascination with how EMT’s work, I watched amazed at what they were doing in order to get her out. It was at that moment when they put her in the ambulance, shut its doors and turned on their sirens, that I knew I was going to choose to be part of a medical team in the future because there I was, stuck on the other side of the door, wanting to know what was happening on the other side and unable to help in any way. The unexpectedness of every situation is truly something that I want to encounter and challenge myself within my future. Unfortunately, the result of this event was not what we wanted, and Nancy passed away that evening. This incident changed the course of my life, in both a positive and negative way because my eyes were opened to what my future could hold, but I also lost a dear friend. I always have known about my burning desire to help others, but I never thought about executing it in my future. After this accident, I had no second thoughts that the medical field was where I would end up in the years to come.

This event is part of why I am here today, attending University of Delaware’s School of Nursing. Although it was a tragic event and changed many people’s lives, it ignited a spark within me that directed me toward the medical field. I went from volunteering in hospitals, to visiting and talking to nurses and doctors, to then applying to Nursing School itself. I want to take up this challenge so that when someone is hurt, i’m not stuck on the other side of the door or fence. I’m right there, helping, hands on.

About me

Hi! My name is Spenser Smith-Russo and I am from Bernardsville, New Jersey (about 45 mins from NYC). I am currently a freshman nursing major here at UD. I love to play lacrosse and stay active and I also love traveling. Two places I really want to travel to, before I graduate, is Hawaii and Australia! I cant wait to meet new people and see what this year has to bring!