Friday, July 31, 2009

SUMMER PROJECT: Online Grassroots Politics: "Take Back the Beep!" Campaign

Don't you hate that 15 seconds of useless airtime when you call someone and want to leave them a voicemail? Did you know the cell phone companies are making MILLIONS of $$$ from us consumers for those collective 15 seconds? Why not just have a beep? We KNOW what to do!

David Pogue, tech blogger and columnist, wrote an article in the NY Times recently that started the "Take Back the Beep!" campaign in which millions of annoyed cell phone users are writing to their cell phone carriers to get rid of that dead 15 seconds we're paying for.

Want to get into the act? Here's a link to a website that provides the email addresses for all the major cell phone carriers so you can express your opinion.

If you twitter and you're interested in technology, you might want to start following David Pogue @Pogue, where you'll be able to get updates on how the campaign is going.

As an avid observer of politics and social networking technology, I can't wait to see if it works! Join the cause if you're interested, and/or respond to one or more of the following prompts:

In what ways do cyber campaigns like this one alter politics and policy making in America?

Do you think online grassroots campaigns like this one are positive or negative forces in American politics? Explain why.

Predict how and why the major cell phone carriers will respond to this campaign.

Monday, July 13, 2009

SUMMER PROJECT: Should/can judges be above politics?

Today, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee began its hearings to determine whether to confirm President Obama's first nominee, federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor, to be a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. By the time some of you read this post, Judge Sotomayor may already have been confirmed -- or rejected -- by the Senate.

Click here to read the article about the first day of the confirmation hearings, and then address one or more of the following prompts:

How do these hearings provide an example of the Constitutional concept of checks and balances?

If confirmed, Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic American and only the third woman to ever serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Do you think diversity on the nation's highest court is important? Why or why not?

Some Senators are concerned about comments made by Judge Sotomayor in a 2002 speech when she said that, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." What do you think she meant by this? Do you share these senators concerns? Why or why not?

All federal judges are first nominated by the President and then confirmed by the Senate. Knowing that, do you think there is any way for them to be "above politics"? Why or why not? Should they be?