Monday, December 30, 2013

IS UGANDA’S DRACONIAN NEW LAW AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS OR NOT? ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY


Uganda has just passed a draconian new law, which has drawn protest from all over the world. Is the world right to condemn the law or does Uganda have a point? To discover what the law is, do your research and then write an argumentative essay supporting or opposing the bill.
    Reading material to annotate
1.       “Ugandan MPs pass live in jail anti homosexual law” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25463942
2.       “Homophobia in Africa condemned” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-23033423
3.       “Uganda’s gays fear mounting violence in wake of anti gay bill’s passage” http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/23/world/africa/uganda-anti-gay-bill/index.html?iref=allsearch 
5.       “African homophobia has complex roots” http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/may/21/complex-roots-africa-homophobia
6.       “From colonialism to kill the gays”
Videos to watch and make notes on
2.       “US, Richard Branson slam Uganda’s  anti gay bill” http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/24/world/africa/uganda-anti-gay-bill/index.html?iref=allsearch


Thursday, December 26, 2013

VIDEOS ON INDEPENDENT LEARNING PRESENTED BY YOUR BLOGGER

Below you will find the links to two videos in which I discuss "Independent Learning". The videos are on our university website and on youtube. I hope you find them useful

Part I:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqAXApXcKgY

Part II: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFVwPwfUTVg

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

MOVIES OR BOOKS? AN ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY


Some people claim that when a book is turned into a movie, the book is almost always (there are a couple of exceptions) better, others ask why they  should bother to read since they can just wait for the movie watch the story faster and with less effort.
This activity was prepared in its entirety by Mustafa Erdoğan to whom we owe great thanks. It is also my great pleasure to announce that Mustafa  passed the IELTS with flying colours two weeks after posting this writing task.
Reading material to annotate
Are books better than films?
Are movies better than books?

Videos to watch and make notes on
Persuasive Speech (Movies are better than books)
Movies are better than books
Fun

Monday, December 23, 2013

SUMMARY: SNOOZERS ARE, IN FACT, LOSERS


By Maria Konnikova
Location: Level ** reading tasks
The first alternative: The long version
Suggestion: study both summary tasks carefully and see how they relate to the original text.
The take home point: It is possible write summaries of varying lengths for the same text

When we hit the snooze button, instead of gaining a few more minutes of sleep, we are actually slowing down the wake-up process by taking ourselves right back to the beginning of the sleep cycle. If we wake up too early or suddenly from this cycle, we can experience sleep inertia, the deceptively gradual period between sleeping and waking in which we feel groggy. Cognitive faculties, decision-making, and our ability to perform simple tasks are all inhibited in a process that takes far longer than many expect. Our natural sleep cycle is based on our circadian rhythm, or the amount of external natural light and the setting of our internal alarm clock. Social jet lag is the difference between the time we actually wake up and the most optimal and natural time for us to do so, and its effects reveal the importance of sleep timing rather than simple duration. Social jetlag can not only  lead to higher use of alcohol, cigarette, and caffeine use but also to cancer and other chronic diseases. People could avoid these negative effects and eliminate social jet lag and sleep inertia by synchronizing their sleeping patterns more closely with natural light patterns. (198 words)

The second alternative: the short version

When sleep is not synchronized with natural light patterns, people experience sleep inertia: a difficult and gradual period between sleeping and complete wakefulness characterized by grogginess. The difference between our natural sleep cycle and the time we actually wake up is called social jetlag, a phenomenon that many experience which can lead to serious and negative health effects. All this shows that snooze buttons, and perhaps alarm clocks in general, do more harm than good. (75 words)


Both of these brilliant summaries have been written by our summary guru; Nick O’Gara

Friday, December 20, 2013

THE GENDER GAP IN PROFESSIONAL ENVIRONMENTS; CAUSE AND EFFECT ESSAY


Gender inequality still remains a problem in certain parts of the world -developing and uderdeveloped countries - especially in business, but is becoming less of a problem in certain others - developed countries - as roles merge. Do your research and discuss:
  • The current situation
  • The changes that are taking place
  • The reasons for the changes
  • The possible repercussions of the changes
Graphs to study and draw conclusions from:
1.       “The gender gap is muted in the professional setting” http://www.theatlantic.com/sponsored/thomson-reuters/2013/12/diminishing-gender-gap/53/
Poll findings:
1.       “The professional revolution: poll findings” http://blog.thomsonreuters.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/The-New-Professional-Poll-Findings.pdf
Reading material to annotate
1.       “The knowledge effect: the professional revolution” http://blog.thomsonreuters.com/index.php/the-professional-revolution-2/
2.       “Gender differences within the workplace” http://smallbusiness.chron.com/gender-differences-within-workplace-10512.html ( Make sure to access the related articles on the website)
Videos to watch and make notes on
1.       “What should a woman’s role in the workplace be?” http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/office-moms/5154a3edfe344451e4000113

2.       “Gender roles: women and equality in the workplace” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGspHs2F0gg

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

GYPSIES PAST AND PRESENT; A COMPARISON CONTRAST ESSAY


Gypsies have been around for centuries as indigenous nomadic people who live in close knit societies with a culture and tradition of their own. They have figured in art and literature with their colorful garb and unique way of life as free spirits who live on the fringes of society. Yet the kind of life they lead has changed drastically over the years. Do your research and compare and contrast the gypsies of the past and those of the present. When you start writing your essay, you will find that it has the narrative qualities as well as discussing problems and suggesting solutions; this is perfectly normal. You could plan your essay in the following way:
In your introduction, introduce the Romani people.
In your first developmental paragraph, discuss the Romani people in history.
In your second developmental paragraph, discuss the Romani people in the current century.
In your conclusion, suggest solutions
This activity has been provided by Özlem Gündoğdu to whom we owe thanks.
Reading material to annotate
  1. “My gypsy childhood” http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/sep/07/gypsy-childhood-prejudice-education
  2. “Romania’s child brides” http://www.theguardian.com/journalismcompetition/roberta-radu-shortlist-2011
  3. “A history of Romani people” http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/american-gypsies/articles/a-history-of-the-romani-people/
  4. “The history and origin of the Roma” http://romove.radio.cz/en/article/18158
  5. “The gypsy life” http://the-gypsy-life.com/gypsy-history/
Documentary to watch and make notes on:
  1. “Gypsy child thieves” http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/gypsy-child-thieves/
Videos to watch and make notes on:
  1. “Gypsy child thieves” BBC documentaryhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGDj0B5WQaA
  2. “Who are the Roma?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyIJuWwe9fQ
  3. “Saving Roma children” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btd6Fpxr23k
Animation plus text to explore:
  1. “Gypsies. Roma, Travelers: an Animated History” http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/voices/gypsies-roma-travellers-animated-history


Monday, December 16, 2013

ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT; PROBLEM SOLUTION ESSAY


            Online reputation management is one of the important connections between customers and brands. Companies should preserve their brands and dignity because negative perceptions and comments can damage their reputations in no time. Online reputation management is a solution for such problems and the way of reaching the customers. Therefore, online reputation management has been gaining more importance in the world. There are various measures both companies and individuals can take to improve a negative reputation.
            Companies can resort to many solutions in order to improve their standing. The first thing they need to make sure of is that the holding owns the assets on the first page since most people do not look beyond the first page as a rule. A business or brand should be looking to own the assets that are on the first page. For instance, Coca cola’s main site, partner sites and customer sites dominate this. Besides, the positive reviews that companies own on their sites start to show in the search engine results. When positive search results are found on a company’s prospects on Google, customers can trust it to perform their services.
            Individuals can also do a lot to help themselves by improving their online reputations. Firstly, joining big networking sites is an easy way to start building their reputations by sharing their good work and commenting on posts. Mainly, social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and so on can enable individuals to connect with both their peers and future customers. Moreover, individuals can ask customers for feedback; as a result, they can improve their standing with the assistance of customers’ views. They can start the monitoring process by searching on Google; thus, they can find information about them that they didn’t know existed.
           In conclusion, a company or an individual can amend his reputation by providing himself with new opportunities. Companies can develop their standing by owning the assets on the first page in the case of a search on Google and instigating positive information by searching for positive links. Besides, individuals can maintain their online reputations by joining big networking sites such as Twitter and asking customers for feedback.    
                                                                                                                                                  ELİF ÇİL


FAMINE AND STARVATION IN AFRICA; A PROBLEM SOLUTION ESSAY


Famine and resulting starvation and malnourishment have become endemic in Africa continuing from generation to generation. A new generation of young people are now growing up under appalling conditions, plagued by this persistent problem. How can this never ending cycle be finally ended?  Do your research and write a problem solution essay.
This activity was prepared in total by Halil İbralim Aydın and İlyas Üstünkaya to whom we all owe thanks
Reading material to annotate:
  1. “A Strategy for Cutting Hunger in Africa- Part IV” http://fsg.afre.msu.edu/africanhunger/wolgin_eng4.htm
  2. “A  Home Grown Solution to African Hunger” http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0201/p01s03-woaf.html
  3. “Ending Africa’ Hunger” http://www.foodfirst.org/en/node/2556
  4. “The Concordia Index” http://www.theconcordiasummit.org/index/?gclid=CLa_lY7stLsCFQy33godf1YAnQ#/overview/OVER
  5. “Is Biotechnology the Answer to Africa’s Hunger Crisis?”
Videos to watch and make notes on
  1. “Obesity +Hunger = One Global Food Issue” http://www.ted.com/talks/ellen_gustafson_obesity_hunger_1_global_food_issue.html
  2. “Aid for Africa? No Thanks” http://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_mwenda_takes_a_new_look_at_africa.html
  3. “How to Solve Africa’s Hunger Problem” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPNv73rZOcA


WHAT IS BITCOIN? DEFINITION ESSAY


Bitcoin is an open source peer to peer payment network and digital currency. It was invented in 2009 by incognito developer Satoshi Nakamoto. It goes into circulation without being connected to any central authority. We can invest or purchase goods and services with Bitcoin. Yet are there any potential pitfalls? Do your research and write a definition essay on the issue.
This activity was prepared in total by Taha Dikici to whom we all owe thanks

Reading material to annotate:

2. “Bitcoin Miners Cash in on Digital Gold Rush” http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/522612/20131115/bitcoin-mining-explained-profit-virtual-currency-cloud.htm

3. “What is Bitcoin and How does it work?” http://moneyweek.com/bitcoin/

Videos to watch and make notes on:

1. “Bitcoin. Sweat. Tide. Meet the future of branded currency.” By: Paul Kemp-Robertson

http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_kemp_robertson_bitcoin_sweat_tide_meet_the_future_of_branded_currency.html

3. “What’s a Bitcoin?” http://live.wsj.com/video/what-a-bitcoin/D79FF38C-7816-435B-B3B0-F9B177BCA0A8.html#!D79FF38C-7816-435B-B3B0-F9B177BCA0A8

Saturday, December 14, 2013

SNOOZERS ARE, IN FACT, LOSERS


By: Maria Konnikova
Level of Difficulty: ** with a twist
Thanks are due to my friend and fellow teacher Nick O’Gara for this fascinating text and the first set of questions: ‘questions, the first batch’. He also inspired me to come up with this new reading activity so I owe him thanks for that as well.
BEFORE YOU READ
  • Do you wake up on your own? If not how do you wake up?
  • How do you feel when you first get up in the morning? Groggy, energetic, zombie- like, firing on all four cylinders and ready to go or do you like to take things slowly?
  • Do you have a morning routine? How long does it take you on an average morning to really get going?
  • Do you feel your natural sleep pattern corresponds to the sleep pattern you have to stick to?
  • If the answer is no, what effect does this have on you?
  • What do you think the following means: you snooze, you lose?
QUESTIONS: THE FIRST BATCH
Directions: Read each question and underline the answer in the text. Work as fast as you can!
1. Instead of giving you more time to collect yourself, what effect does hitting the snooze button have?
2. What is sleep inertia?
3. Though we feel we have woken up, why is the process instead more gradual?
4. Why are we bad at making decisions at this time?
5. What does the word 'mitigate' mean as it’s used here?
6. What basic activities can help speed the process of waking and barring sleep inertia?
7. What factors is waking without an alarm clock mainly based on?
8. What is social jet lag?
9. What are some of its negative consequences?
10. How serious is this problem according to some?
11. What is the most important factor in terms of sleep for academic performance?
12. Is it possible to reverse sleep inertia? If so, how?
QUESTIONS: THE SECOND BATCH
Directions: go back to the beginning of the text and try your hand at this second set of questions. These are harder so keep your wits about you.
1.      Hitting the snooze button on hearing the alarm is a mistake since……………………….
2.      There is a positive correlation between the severity of sleep inertia and……………………
3.      Problems linked to response time, attentiveness, memory, focus and the like emerge during the transition period described as sleep inertia because………………………………is not yet fully activated.
4.      What conclusion can we draw from paragraph 5 ( the one beginning: “Other research…”)?
5.      Social jetlag is directly due to the fact that …………………..and………………….don’t overlap.
6.      What conclusion can we draw from Till Roenneberg’s study?
·       *   30% of the population have a serious problem with social jetlag
·         * Two thirds of the population have a less serious problem with social jetlag
·        * Social jetlag is a more serious problem than we think
·        * All of the above
·       *  None of the above
7.      The case of the night shift workers is provided to support the contention that……………..
8.      What conclusion can be drawn from paragraph 8 (the one beginning: “ Roenneberg…”)?
9.      Read the case of the campers carefully. What general conclusion can be drawn from this example concerning the sleep problems that have been discussed thus far?
10.  Wright feels that all the problems related to displaced melatonin could be solved if we agreed to………………………………………………………………………………………………..
11.  Which of the statements by Roethke, quoted in the last paragraph, best supports the above view?
WRITING TASK; THE FIRST ALTERNATIVE: SUMMARY
You work for a big daily and your editor has told you he needs a piece of about 150 to 180 words for the back page on sleep inertia and social jetlag. Summarize the text and get published or lose to your co-worker! The best summary sent in will be published on this blog.
WRITING TASK; THE SECOND ALTERNATIVE: THE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL JETLAG AND SLEEP INERTIA
In your introduction, introduce the concepts of sleep inertia and social jetlag. Then state that it is important to become better informed concerning the negative effects in order to increase attentiveness, decisiveness, vigor and efficiency in the business world, academia and in private life.
In the first developmental paragraph, discuss the effects in the workplace. Discuss the possible effects of lack of attentiveness, decisiveness vigor and efficiency in the case of jobs that require precision, quick reflexes, instantaneous decisions and how a less than perfect performance can even endanger lives. Consider factory workers, machine operators, air line control, doctors and similar medical staff, security agencies and the like.
In the second developmental paragraph, discuss the effects in the academic world. Discuss the effects of below optimum cognitive skills on students, teachers, academics and researchers. Explain that this will ultimately rebound on the wider society.
In your last developmental paragraph, discuss the effects on the individual. Discuss the psychological and physical effects of being out of sync. Mention the harmful habits that may be adopted and the possible ultimate effects: cancer, heart disease.
In your conclusion, suggest compromises to minimize these effects like managing shifts and off days better in the case of factory staff, the security forces and other shift workers, planning student schedules more realistically and the like.
SNOOZERS ARE LOSERS KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
I have tried something new with this activity: after the usual pre-reading section, students work through a relatively straightforward set of questions to familiarize themselves with the text; an activity that needs to go pretty fast. Once they have done this, they continue with the second set of questions which are a good deal more challenging. Hopefully, this approach will help students gain insight into text analysis. When they have finished, they first write the summary and then the effect analysis essay. If this being done in class, I would give it two hours.
KEY: THE FIRST BATCH
  1. It makes the wake up process more difficult and drawn out.
  2. It is a period between waking and being fully awake when you feel groggy
  3. Because the cortical regions, especially the prefrontal cortex, take longer to come on board.
  4. Because the prefrontal cortex is involved in decision making and self control
  5. Allay, calm
  6. Eating breakfast, showering, turning all the lights on
  7. The amount of external light and the setting of our own internal alarm clock
  8. It is the difference between our actual socially mandated wake up time and one’s natural biologically optimal wake up time.
  9. Increase in alcohol, cigarette and caffein use; obesity
  10. Very serious.
  11. Sleep timing
  12. Yes; by reverting to hyperlocal time zones.
KEY: THE SECOND BATCH
  1. It makes the wake up process more difficult and drawn out
  2. The abruptness with which you are awakened
  3. The cortical regions; especially the prefrontal cortex
  4. No matter what, our brains take far longer than we might expect to get up to speed
  5. The internal clock and the external clock
  6. Three
  7. The practice of going to bed and getting up at unnatural times could be the most prevalent high risk behaviour in modern society.
  8. It is bad to sleep too little; it is also bad, maybe worse, to wake up when it is dark.
  9. The effects are reversible
  10. Revert to hyperlocal time zones
  11. The last








Friday, December 13, 2013

"THE MORAL LIMITS OF MARKETS" VIDEO BASED REACTION / RESPONSE ESSAY:

Harvard professor Michael Sandel discusses a very topical issue which most people don't think about much in their everyday lives: "The Moral Limits of Markets" in this wonderful video presented by The Institute for New Economic Thinking. Watch and listen carefully, make notes and write a reaction or response essay. You will find examples of such essays posted on this blog under "Sample response / reaction essays" if you need to check out the organization. Thanks are due to my dear friend and fellow teacher Shayn McCullum for this wonderful video. The link is as follows:
http://www.social-europe.eu/2013/12/moral-limits-of-markets/

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A TOXIC FEELING: PREJUDICE AND HOW TO DEAL WITH IT; A PROBLEM SOLUTION ESSAY


Prejudice against a particular group of people, based often on atrocity myths or similar groundless views, has longed plagued human societies. Untold pain and suffering and pain have been inflicted on members of various ethnic and religious groups in many parts of the world. What are the roots of this toxic feeling and how can it be tackled? Now in December 2013, while commemorating the life and beliefs of the great civil rights activist and former president of South Africa, it is appropriate to research this topic and write a scholarly essay. There are many more sources than you usually get this time so a much longer essay will be required. The research should be spread out over three or four days at the end of which a 500 to 750 word essay could comfortably be written. The sources are all provided by academics who teach at respected universities. It is suggested that you introduce the problem, discuss it, present some of the causes and then the solutions. In your conclusion, have a restatement. This is one long writing activity so enjoy yourselves and get cracking!
Reading material to annotate
1.       “How to deal with prejudice” http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_deal_with_prejudice
2.       “Top ten strategies for reducing prejudice” http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/top_10_strategies_for_reducing_prejudice
3.       “Warning: racism is bad for your health” http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_racism_is_bad_for_your_health
4.       “Juan Williams and the psychology of prejudice” http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/juan_williams_and_the_psychology_of_prejudice (This is a very objective article so be patient and read it through; I was put off at first but revised my opinion)
5.       “The egalitarian brain” http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_egalitarian_brain
6.       “Policing prejudice” http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/policing_bias
7.       “What does prejudice reveal about what it means to be human?” http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_does_prejudice_reveal_about_what_it_means_to_be_human
8.       “Does empathy reduce prejudice or promote it?” http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/does_empathy_reduce_or_promote_prejudice
One film and two videos to watch and make notes on
1.       “Twelve angry men” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RelOJfFIyp8 (This is a complete movie all about prejudice)
2.       “11 Ways to reduce prejudice” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQohvfz8SA0

3.       “A class divided" http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/a-class-divided/ (This is the complete experiment involving eye color and prejudice and is very interesting to watch)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

PAPER, PLASTIC OR NEITHER? ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY


The plastic carrier bag has long been vilified by environmentalists as a menace but is its popular alternative, the paper bag, as innocent as it seems? Do your research and write an argumentative essay supporting plastic, paper or cloth carrier bags. Make your choice clear in the thesis statement you provide in your introduction.
We owe this interesting activity to Özlem Gündoğdu who did all the research and sent in the links. Thanks very much Özlem.
Reading material to annotate:
1.       “Microplastics pose toxic threat to marine biodiversity” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25186871
2.       “Are plastic shopping bags a problem in our environment?” http://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/Are_Plastic_Shopping_Bags_a_Problem_in_Our_Environment  Scroll down and check out the related links as well.
3.       “Paper versus plastic” http://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/Paper_vs._Plastic Scroll down and check out the related links as well
4.       “All about bags” http://www.allaboutbags.ca/papervplastic.html Check out the links on this page as well
5.       “Paper or plastic? A new look at the bag scourge” http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB124473522987806581
Videos to watch and make notes on:
1.       “Seven reasons to say no to plastics” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Obl6bPqd3sQ
2.       “The plastic bag debate” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x37H0gsOVnk
3.       “The big bag debate- part 1” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJ73nn8SS3M
4.       “The big bag debate – part 2” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMT1eyupRJg

5.       “The big bag debate – part 3” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lUZn8EQl0A

Thursday, December 5, 2013

SAMPLE SUMMARY: WHY OUR IQ LEVELS ARE HIGHER THAN OUR PARENTS'


Source: Ted Talks
The previous 100 years have seen a dramatic rise in the relative IQ levels of ordinary people, leading some to ask if newer generations are more gifted. Instead of a true rise in intelligence, however, what we see is a shift based on the demands of a more complex and cognitively demanding world which necessitates the mental habits of clothing the concrete in classification, using logic on abstraction, and taking the hypothetical seriously. The demands requiring this shift include education focused on science (and hence hypothesizing), a higher number of cognitively demanding careers, and an upgrade in the complexity of already existing professions. This shift has unexpected benefits in that using abstraction on universals enables moral debate. In spite of this obvious advantage, ahistorical generations may continue to make the same mistakes as previous generations.
135 words

Provided by: Nick O’Gara

WHAT MAKES US INTELLIGENT?


 By Tom Stafford
The effect of technologies on our brain and intelligence pushes us to ask whether knowing something is the same as having access to the information. A popular theory suggests people are “cognitive misers” in that they avoid mental work in favor of taking short cuts. Furthermore, people often experience a phenomenon called “change blindness” in which even extreme changes in the environment go unnoticed. Instead of revealing a deficiency, these phenomena actually reflect mental efficiency. People are “natural born cyborgs” in that they incorporate new tools, ideas, and abilities. This is further illustrated in something called “transactive memory”, in which people rely not only on their own memory but also on the pooled information in technologies and even individuals around them. This suggests that our intelligence is based, in part, on coordinating with other people and our surroundings.
138 words
Provided by: Nick O’Gara


PRIVATE SECURITY COMPANIES IN WAR ZONES; AN ADVANTAGES DISADVANTAGES ESSAY



The security of their land and their people is of vital concern to all countries. Additionally, being strong and invincible in war zones is important as well. To achieve these two prime goals which contribute to the continuity of countries, countries prefer either to employ their own armies or to employ private security organizations. There are certain advantages of private security companies, whereas there are also disadvantages.
            The first advantage of private security companies in war zones is the surge and the flexibility provided by PSCs. As seen in Iraq, PSCs can provide a surge and quickly field additional forces. Not needing the political and bureaucratic lead time required for mobilizing military forces, PSCs can move forces in to accomplish a wide variety of tasks. These forces can disappear as quickly as they appear. Once dangers pass or local forces are trained and deployed, contracts can lapse and these personnel can be quickly demobilized. The second advantage of PSCs is their specialized forces. These companies recruit from databases of mostly retired military and police personnel. This makes it easier for them to hire people with particular experience. So, for instance, a PSC can specifically recruit retired MPs, civil affairs officers and Special Forces personnel. PSCs can also recruit personnel with particular skills or particular experience. It is much harder for national military organizations to find those kinds of specific skills and experience, and deploy them to a particular arena because they do not have such databases but only their regular armies which may not be as specialized as private contractors. PSCs can also recruit internationally. They are able to gather soldiers from countries like Fiji, South Africa and elsewhere. The final advantage of PSCs is that they are politically less costly organizations. Private contractors work for profit and of their own choice, whereas national troops work for their country. Therefore, sending employees of PSCs abroad does not correspond to sending national troops. The former is easier to carry out.
            The first disadvantage of PSCs is that employees of PSCs can easily commit human rights violations. They carry and use weapons. They are able to load bombs. They can also fulfill other essential military functions. As a result of these, private contractors might engage in violence against innocent people in cases when they lose control. Additionally, losing their control does not require a long period of time. On the contrary, it can easily occur. Due to the fact that private soldiers are not disciplined as well as soldiers of armies, they may get out of control and not listen to their captains. After that, they do harm to innocent people. Sometimes, they even kill them. That is why, they pose a threat to civilians and to international human rights law. The second disadvantage of PSCs is summary executions fulfilled by employees of PSCs. According to U.S. military reports, private soldiers of U.S.-based firm Blackwater Horizon killed 17 civilians on the 16th of September 2007 in Baghdad. Because of the fact that this incident occurred without provocation, it is called a massacre. In addition, more than 20 civilians were injured. Despite the terms of the contracts which determine that PSCs can engage only in defensive use of force, the company Blackwater’s contractors fired the first shots in over 80 per cent of the shooting incidents. A further disadvantage of PSCs is acts of torture. For instance, in 2007, two U.S.-based corporations CACI and L-3 Services put Iraqi detainees to the torture at Abu Ghraib, whereas these services were only responsible for interrogation and translation services. Plaintiffs asserted 20 causes of action among which there was torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The last disadvantage of PSCs is arbitrary detentions. In addition to arbitrary detentions, clandestine raids against alleged insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan may sometimes occur, too. Employees of PSCs are involved in taking of detainees from pick up points, transporting them in rendition flights and delivering them to drop off points. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in May 2007 against Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. which is a subsidiary of Boeing. The ACLU claimed that Jeppesen would have participated in the rendition by providing flight planning and logistical support.
            To sum up, to provide substantial security on the entire land for their people and to succeed in war zones, some countries resort to private security companies. Alternatively, some countries stick to their national armies. There are both advantages and disadvantages of private security companies which make both choices right according to the point of view. By: KEREM ÇIRPAN



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

NEW AUDIO BOOK WEBSITE: LIVRIVOX

A follower of this blog, İrem Kaynamış, has sent in the following link for audio books which I have checked out too. You can download as an app, or you can search Google Play Store or App Store for "LivriVox Audio Books". The stories are original and unsimplified but very good. Thanks are due to İrem for this find.

https://librivox.org

A NEW WEBSITE: NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO

Selin Burgaç, an intermediate student at our university, has drawn attention to a wonderful website which provides superb opportunities for listening. I have checked it out and it looks great. The link is as follows:

http://www.nprnews.org/

SELECTIVE LISTENING EXERCISE: FIGHTING WORKPLACE BULLIES


We owe thanks to Oya Özağaç, our resident expert, for this wonderful activity.
The selective listening exercise below should be done before or after covering the related reading, “The Silent Epidemic: Workplace Bullying” listed under “Level ** reading tasks”. The activity can be done in the following ways:
1.       If you are a teacher covering this in class, give the students five minutes to read the questions, deliver the text at a natural pace and then give the students 5 more minutes to check their answers.
2.       If you are on your own, copy paste the text on to google translate and answer the questions as you listen. Alternatively, download as an mp3 and listen in your own time, more comfortably.
3.       If you use word to write your answers and remember to switch to English, you will also be able to benefit from the spell check and the grammar check.

 SELECTIVE LISTENING: Fighting Workplace Bullies –
From your readings, you may have understood that bullying can take many forms. It can happen at school, at a workplace, even on a public bus. Today I am going to cover a small part of a really big problem: bullying at work. First, I am going to explain what bullying at the workplace means and second, I am going to explain the ways to fight bullying.
 According to the WBI Definition of Workplace Bullying, workplace bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms: Verbal abuse, offensive behaviors which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, and lastly work sabotage, which prevents work from getting done. Let me repeat the definition for you to be able to take notes: the forms of  workplace bullying can be verbal abuse as well as offensive behavior, which may even extend to work sabotage.
On the way to fighting workplace bullies, the first thing is preparing yourself to respond. The first question you should answer is “Are you ready to fight back against a bully at your work place?” It’s tempting to confront him immediately, now that you understand his motivations and recognize his behaviors. But that usually isn’t a good idea. It will be difficult enough to deal with the bully without adding lack of preparation. In other words, before confronting a bully, it is necessary to get prepared.
That’s not to say that you couldn’t respond right now. It might even work out well. But otherwise it’s better to hold your fire, particularly if the bully is highly skilled and well-entrenched.
Preparation has to have two forms: mental and financial preparation, after which you can prepare a strategy for fighting back, covered in the next lecture.
As for mental preparation, you should be ready to accept the fact that you will face many problems. You are likely to experience many ups and downs as you battle a workplace bully. To be effective, you need a resilient attitude. What is meant by resilient attitude is that you must recover easily and quickly from the hardship you will live through. That will allow you to endure difficult circumstances without feeling overwhelmed. Being resilient will also make you far more effective in your daily interactions with the bully. To sum up, being ready to recover has two advantages: first, you do not feel overwhelmed and second, you become more effective when dealing with the bully.
When you display a positive demeanor, it shows everyone--especially the bully--that you aren’t bothered by his aggressive tactics. You may even convey slight amusement at his more obvious bullying behavior. By displaying calmness and poise, and staying in good humor, you become a more difficult target.
An interesting finding about workplace bullying is that you are alone in fighting your own battle. You need to expect to be on your own in your fight with a workplace bully, with no support from within the company. Even if you have colleagues you consider close friends, they may not support you. They may stay loyal to you, but don’t count on it. They are more likely to distance themselves from your problems, hoping to preserve their own position and opportunities. In other words, they want to keep their own position and opportunities by putting a distance between themselves and you.
And how does the management react against bullying? You should prepare for the possibility that fighting a bully will get you fired. If you are alone in fighting a bully, management has an easy way to resolve the situation. However, the management almost always supports bullying because first, they do not like victims and second, bullies get the job done. Well, it is really an interesting fact that the management will support the bully rather than the bully’s targets.
As for financial preparation, you should accept the fact that taking on a workplace bully can get you fired, or drive you to the point of quitting. Take some time to consider the consequences. Are financial pressures making you desperate to hang on to your job? If so, you will be in no position to calmly and effectively fight a bully. So what’s the solution?
The solution is finding another job before you start fighting back. You could line up a new job in advance, which will make you feel more powerful because then, you will not have to keep on working at a workplace that does not protect your rights. You have other options. There is the possibility that a vindictive workplace bully will harm your ability to find a new job. Let’s say, for example, that as you fight back, you either get to the point of being fired or you resign before finding a new job. In this situation, the bully may provide negative feedback on your performance to any prospective new employers. This negative feedback on your performance may affect your chance of finding another job because he would be poisoning the well, which means he can cleverly paint a negative picture of you without being explicit. For this reason, you may be better off lining up a new job before you get too far down the road in fighting a workplace bully.
When you talk to prospective employers, be careful not to complain about your current situation. Instead, explain your motivation in positive terms. Explain that you are generally satisfied with your current job but you are seeking to improve your prospects. Don’t mention that you can’t stand your boss. One common pitfall  for  job seekers is that they complain about their previous employers, which leaves a negative impression. Instead, try to find companies you admire, and then describe that admiration as your reason for interviewing. Alternatively, you could simply explain that you want a job closer to home. Networking also proves to be a highly effective method of finding good jobs. Your network of friends and former co-workers help you in providing a positive impression by giving a personal introduction to a prospective employer.
So far, we have looked at the definition of workplace bullying and two ways of preparation to fight it, namely mental and financial preparation. Workplace bullying may appear as an individual problem; however, it may also reflect on your life after work. If you are married, the upsetting work environment may reflect on your family life as well. So, there are one or two things you can do to make sure your family is less affected by your problems.
First, you need to get your family on board. This means, when bullying starts affecting your life, share this information with your family. They may not know much about your workplace or the intensity of the bullying but you can reduce problems of miscommunication to a minimum. Do not keep secrets from your family. They need to know what is happening with the other part of your life. To solve miscommunication problems and find support, educating your family is a must.
Thank you for listening.



FIGHTING WORKPLACE BULLYING – SELECTIVE LISTENING
Answer the following questions while listening to the talk.

1. What are the different forms of workplace bullying? (write one).


2. What is the initial step to stop workplace bullying?


3. What advantages does being ready to recover have? (write one).


4. Why do your colleagues want to put a distance between themselves and you when you are bullied?


5. In case of a workplace bullying, who does the company support?


6. What is the solution to not having any financial pressures?


7. How does a bully harm your ability to find a new job?


8. What is one common mistake that jobseekers make?


9. When bullied, how can you solve miscommunication and find support from your family?