Private interest groups and their role in Washington

How might interest groups use their money to influence policy outcomes in Congress? What effect does the timing and targeting of money have on their effectiveness? How exactly might we go about measuring such influence, in both contributions and results?

It is an open secret that private interest groups wield enormous influence over the Congress. Indeed, political lobbying and the Public Relations efforts that it entails is a multi-billion dollar industry. This state of affairs suggests that far from the principles enshrined in the Constitution, the Congress has now become a market place. Each law or amendment has a bunch of monetary transactions behind it. While a conventional market place sells commodities and services, the Congress sells legislative favors. It is a pitiable condition, but nevertheless true.

Numerous empirical studies have been conducted on understanding the nature of influence of interest groups. As far as studies on interest groups’ . . . Read More

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Emil du Bois-Reymond: Neuroscience, Self, and Society in Nineteenth-Century Germany

Early educational experiences that shaped Emil du Bois-Reymond’s career in science
One of the important educational milestones for Bois-Reymond had been the experimental course he did in Berlin in 1838. His interactions with Jons Jacob Berzelius and other eminent scientists of the day shaped his formative mind. The exchanges he had with Johannes Muller served as an added apprenticeship for the young Bois-Reymond. Reading Carlo Matteucci’s essay “On the Electrical Phenomena of Animals” in 1841 had a profound influence on his ever inquisitive scientific mind. In 1843 Du Bois-Reymond was fortunate to have correspondence with and be appraised by Alexander von Humboldt. This culminated in his dissertation presentation to the French Academy of Sciences. Bois-Reymond’s academic life was thus filled with numerous fortuitous interactions with the leading scientific lights of the day.

Bois-Reymond’s personality, preferences and personal . . . Read More

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Understanding the career and role of health insurance professionals

A health insurance professional can specialize in various sub-domains. These include accounts, customer service, sales, actuary, coding, compliance, etc. Organizations such as AAPC already offer certification in each of these categories. One could obtain certifications like CPC (Physician Practice), CPB (Certified Professional Biller), CPMA (Certified Professional Medical Auditor), etc.

As of now I am open to learning about various career options within the industry. I should be able to identify my most suited domain toward the end of the course. I am naturally gifted in mathematics. So this suggests that an accounting oriented job profile will suit me well. Having identified this possible career direction, I am yet open to explore other interesting options. I believe that sales and customer services are challenging options requiring dynamism and enterprise on part of the aspirant.

As of now I only have limited exposure to health insurance. I’ve visited the websites . . . Read More

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Character Portrait: Jake Sully (Avatar)

Jake Sully is one of the lead characters in the film. Suffering from complete paralysis of the limbs, he chances upon the opportunity to be the hybrid Avatar in place of his deceased twin brother. He is thereby able to make use of his functioning mental capability with the genetically engineered body of Na’vi individual.

Jake Sully is heroic in many ways. First of all, his behavior is sincere and honest. He keeps his word and does not indulge in wrongdoing. He is largely faithful to his superiors stationed in Pandora. He only rebels against them when he feels outraged by their greed. In other words, human greed to obtain the precious mineral unobtanium becomes very desperate and they even resort to ready use of violence to achieve this end. This enrages the fair and just minded Jake. So to save his own morality he sides with the alien race of Na’vis and fights against humans.

That Jake Sully’s intentions were benevolent and morally upright is proved toward the . . . Read More

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Compare and Contrast: Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron and the propaganda of the welfare state

Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron is a critique of overstated equality. As members of civil society we all agree upon the value of equal rights and equal opportunities. But when equality is taken too seriously, it can have counterproductive effects. All of us have experienced inequality of power, fortune and endowments in our personal and social lives. We accept it to be part of the game of life and adapt ourselves to the fact. In contrast, the political realm endeavors to offer equality of individual rights, liberties and entitlements. The eligibility to vote to elect our public representatives is one such right. The right of electoral franchise is equal to the extent that one person is allowed one vote and that each vote is weighted equally. It is telling that this fundamental observation of equality still does not make the United States an ideal model of democracy. Hence, there is disconnection between lofty principles and ground realities in both the short-story as well as . . . Read More

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Avatar (2009) and FernGully:The Last Rainforest (1992)

Avatar has hogged the limelight on the back of its grand international success and record revenues. While the film deserves appreciation on these counts, it is not a pioneer in promoting the environment conservation theme. That recognition will have to go to the underrated classic FernGully, which set a benchmark for feature-length animation.

The achievement of FernGully is not only pertaining to its epic grand narrative, but also with respect to its technical nous. In 1992, at a time when full-length animated feature films were taking uncertain first steps, FernGully was a bold creation that set a benchmark for narrative scale. Indeed, everything about the setting of the film is larger-than-life. From the elaborately designed rainforests of FernGully or constructing the nightmarish ecological conditions in Mount Warning, the flaura, fauna and geography are richly imaginative.

The theme of environmental sustainability runs through both the films in question. In Avatar . . . Read More

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Management Case Analysis: Netflix

Case Synopsis
DVD rental business is coming to the end of its life-cycle. While Netflix made a name for itself by excelling in this domain, the technological landscape and consumer preferences are constantly in a flux.
Netflix’ leadership position in streaming video is somewhat secure for the moment. But rapidly changing technology and competition from niche players pose numerous challenges that require anticipation and proactive implementation.

Key Themes
The major themes w.r.t. the Netflix study are ‘emergent technology’, ‘supply-chain innovation’, ‘precision logistics’, ‘saturated market’, ‘key product strategies’, ‘marketing strategy’, ‘customer relations’, and ‘value creation’. To elaborate on a few, let us consider first the theme of emergent technology. Netflix was a pioneer in supply-chain innovation and distribution. Hence its precision logistics was a pivotal factor in its success . . . Read More

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Declaration of the Halfrican Nation by Wayde Compton & Stinky Girl by Hiromi Goto

The two texts in question are foremost witty and profound pieces of literature. The artistry and element of fun induced in the two writings make them alluring to the readers. Within this attractive form they present important social comment. As for their content, they both illustrate various hues and shapes that constitute human oppression. This essay will argue that while both the stories take note of structural oppression, their emphasis is on individual oppression – the latter including even self-oppression.

There is substantial difference between how individual oppression is manifest compared to institutionalized/structural oppression. In the former, there is no historic ethnic conflict between the perpetrator and the victim. It is a random act of disparaging treatment of a fellow human based on prejudice or misconception. In twentieth century American history, for example, the blatant institutionalization of black slavery eventually eased to give blacks nominal . . . Read More

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An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma: A brief review

Following up on the impressive debut novel The Fisherman (published in 2015), Chigozie Obioma’s follow up work An Orchestra of Minorities has once again created a buzz. Set in rural Nigeria, the novel follows the life of Chinonso, a young poultry farmer, who struggles with the sudden loss of his father, having already lost his mother during his teenage years. His only sister had long eloped with an unsuitable man. Depressed and feeling ever so isolated, he has a chance encounter with a woman attempting suicide as he is returning home one evening. That event is the crux around which the course of Chinonso’s life will now flow.

For outward appearances, it was Chinonso who saved the young woman’s life. But it would prove to be the case that the act of saving a stranger’s life brings Chinonso’s own struggles into perspective. The mythic ‘Chi’ is an important non-human character in the narrative. . . . Read More

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Analysis of Old Boy by Park Chan Wook

The film contains all the ingredients of a conventional suspense-thriller. But what makes it outstanding is its exploration of complex human relations which were formed under exacting circumstances. The set-piece elements of crime and intrigue easily get the audience hooked. But for the discerning viewer, there is also much to be appreciated in the unfolding human drama. Even within the first 10-15 minutes of the film’s beginning, one can sense these two intertwined dimensions to the film. For movie buffs tired of watching conventional Hollywood crime-thrillers, Old Boy attempts a refreshing reinvention of the genre.

The plot is so constructed to create the maximum intrigue at the start of the film and thereby retain viewer attention. The 15-year long custody of Dae-su is the pivot around which the whole narrative evolves. Yet, where Old Boy exceeds the conventional genre is in how it beautifully illustrates the relationship between Dae-su and Mi-do (the young chef). The . . . Read More

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