Affirmative Action should no longer be based on Skin Color

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I am not a fan of Affirmative Action, but if it has to exist, it should be based off of class.

affirmative-action

Imagine this – a talented, hardworking white kid with good grades of a poor single mom loses acceptance into a University by an upper-middle-class minority student. Why should this happen? Because the grandparents of the minority student suffered discrimination decades ago?

When Affirmative Action was introduced by President Lyndon Johnson a half-century ago, minorities could expect to face humiliating economic and social discrimination. But today, affirmative action should be focused on class, not race.

Why?

Today one in six Americans now marries a person outside his or her own race which makes the job of determining racial preferences more convoluted. Does the child of a dark-skinned Bolivian with an Anglo father qualify? What about the mixed-race child of an African-American college professor and a white millionaire?

Skin color is no longer a clear indicator of privilege, but wealth certainly is. 92 percent of black students at elite colleges come from families in the top half of income distribution. Clearly, black (and white and Hispanic) at the bottom of the economic scale are being left behind.

Original talking points “Should race still matter?” featured in The Week, May 9, 2014.

4 Building Materials that can Drastically Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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Did you know that in the US, buildings and skyscrapers use more than 40 percent of the country’s energy? Skyscrapers are bigger power hogs than the transportation and industrial sectors. So one way to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to use different materials when constructing these skyscrapers.

Here are 4 materials that can be used when building skyscrapers that will dramatically reduce power consumption:

Zero-Carbon Building Block
zero carbon building block

Replaces: Cinder blocks
Manufacturer: Lignacite

How it works: Carbonated aggregates (CO2 mixed with sand, cement, and water) plus recycled materials create one of the first carbon-negative chunks of masonry.

Heat and Light – Blocking Windows

heat and light blocking windows

Replaces: Old-school glass
Manufacturer: Heliotrop Technologies

How it works: An electro-chromic coating lets a relatively inexpensive glass composite window adjust heat and light transfer to reduce energy consumption.

Pollution-Eating Concrete

Pollution eating concrete

Replaces: Concrete
Manufacturer: Marshalls Paving

How it works: Titanium dioxide in “Noxer blocks” traps nitrogen oxides and potent greenhouse gases and converts them to water-soluble nitrates.

Solar Shingles
solar shingles

Replaces: Roof-mounted solar panels
Manufacturer: CertainTeed

How it works:
Building integrated photovoltics, or BIPV, have been around since 2005, but they were not as affordable as they are today.

The Typical Government Retiree has a Greater Income Than a Full-time Worker?

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State-pensions_breaking_the_Bank

We taxpayers are being eaten alive and we don’t even know it. Some cities have already eroded into bankruptcy because the weight of having to fund public pensions has become too much of a burden. According to a study by the American Enterprise Institute, in the average state a typical career government retiree has an income higher than 72% of all full-time workers. Excluding health benefits, the average pension pays out lifetime benefits of more than $750,000. And us taxpayers are footing the bill.

public-vs-private-pensions

So why is this important? It is important because these costs are driving up state and local taxes and forcing cities to lay off police officers, limit school funding, and stop repairing roads. I understand public employees deserve to retire with benefits, but not with lavish benefit checks that are far beyond what those in the private sector can expect. Do you agree?

Original story “Pensions that cities can’t afford” by Jeff Jacoby from the Boston Globe.

Portland – a Vision of what a Shared City Could Be

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portland

 

A city that is shared..

What do you think of this idea? Does it sound radical? Well it’s not. Cities are the original sharing platforms. Formed from ancient crossroads of trade that grew through the sharing of resources. And now, Airbnb wants to bring this idea back and help build a future where space isn’t wasted, but shared with others.

What is Airbnb?

One of my favorite brands out there. I’ve used the site while traveling to D.C., San Diego, Austin and Galveston. Airbnb is a website that allows people to rent out their private rooms, entire apartments/homes, boats, and other propertieis. Airbnb has listings all over the word and every property has a host whose profile includes recommendations by other users, reviews by previous guests, as well as a response rating and private messaging system. Hotel too expensive or want a different experience? Check out Airbnb.

airbnb shared city

 

Back to the ides of a Shared City….. Airbnb has launched a new initiative to help civic leaders and communities create more shareable, more livable cities through partnerships and concrete actions. The first of these cities is Portland, Oregon. Working with Mayor Hales and his staff, Airbnb has created a vision of what a Shared City could be by:

–          Airbnb has made free smoke and carbon monoxide detectors available to hosts in Portland in order to help their hosts make their homes safer

–          Airbnb is offering to cut red tape and to collect and remit taxes to the city of Portland on behalf of their hosts

–          In addition to Airbnb’s disaster relief program offering free housing in cases of emergency (pretty cool huh), they will work with Portland’s Bureau of Emergency Management to establish training programs to help their hosts respond to crisis

–          Airbnb will work with Travel Portland on joint campaigns to promote the city as a destination to their global community, highlighting its unique characteristics; and sending visitors to local small businesses throughout the city

–          They will make it easy for Portland hosts to donate the money they earn from Airbnb to a local cause, and will match those donations as a percentage of their fees

portland shared city

 

Interested in having your community become a Shared City? Email your thoughts and ideas to Brian Chesky at Brian.chesky@airbnb.com

For a list of other shared goods and service companies like TaskRabbit and Uber, click here.

 

Why Paternity Leave is Good for the Kids and Wife

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Fathers who take a long period of leave (two weeks or more) after a birth are more likely to regularly engage in early child-caring tasks such as feeding and reading bedtime stories than fathers who do not take time off.

Dad's who take paternity leave
After the baby comes, most men have to return to work immediately because of financial reasons. And of course, the employer has no obligation to pay the father for parental leave. Unfortunately that is the law of the land. But in some other countries like Norway, Sweden, Australia and soon Britain, fathers do and will receive paid time off for paternity leave. The idea is encourage men to become more involved in caring for their children, share the role of caregiver at home, and help women return to the workplace. While the obvious happens – Fathers become more involved in childcare activities such as helping a baby to eat, changing diapers, bathing and reading to a child, there is now further evidence to conclude why paternity leave is good for the kids and wife.
why paternity leave is good for wife
According to new academic research, findings show that:
  • The children of fathers who take long leave after their birth are more likely to perform better in cognitive development tests and are more likely to be prepared for school at the ages of four and five
  • In almost any way a child can be better off, they are better off for having an involved father in their lives. Kids stay in school, do better in school, get into less trouble, get arrested less, get divorced less, have better health
  • Having men help at home can help women establish breast-feeding and can also increase a man’s sensitivity to his partner’s needs, strengthening family bonds as a whole
  • With Dad stepping in to help out, it helps make returning to work for Mom much easier. Returning to work after maternity leave is a huge stressor for many moms because of having to re-arrange work life around the new baby. With dad helping out, Moms can make a smooth transition back into the work place by arranging to have flex time or just work part-time
  • It gets men more invested in the household from the get-go. “When a baby comes, it sort of recalibrates the division of labor at what one economist has called a crucial time of household renegotiation. It has surprising ripple effects further down the road, particularly with regard to routine chores that have to be done every day or every night, and therefore frees up women to work longer hours”

I think in a few years the stigma associated with men who take extended leave when a baby is born will disappear. Moreover, since we’re in a situation now where women in many cases are better educated than men, it is imperative for countries and companies to find ways to keep these highly productive women in the workplace. But enough talk about the chores, the beauty of this idea is that it helps fathers bond with their children – and that is priceless.

About the author – Eric Melchor is a native Houstonian who resides and serves on the Midtown Management District in Houston Midtown, is a former adjunct Professor at UHD, and has lived in NYC and Europe.

Holy Crap! College Recruiters Look at my Instagram Page?

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Houston Hispanic College and Career Day

Recruiters look at my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook page

Times have changed. No longer do college recruiters just look at your high school grades and college application. Today, they look at your online profile and behavior. Your tweets, Facebook pics, Instagram pictures, Youtube videos and blog comments now all play a part in your college application. Don’t take it from me here is what a few admission officers have to say:

college applicants

College Recruiters check out social media pages

College Recruiters check out Instagram pages

College Recruiters check out Instagram pages

Here is a story that the NY Times published about a high school senior who attended a college campus information session. During the presentation, she posted offensive comments on Twitter about fellow attendees, repeatedly using a profane word. “It was incredibly unusual and foolish of her to do that. We would have wondered about the judgment of someone who spends their time on their mobile phone and makes such awful remarks,” – the dean of admissions and financial aid.” The college ultimately denied the student admission.

So, with that said, if you are applying to college or a job, here are a few things you should do right now to clean up your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

#1 Use SimpleWash

simplewash

SimpleWash is a simple, if slightly imperfect, free tool that helps you find inappropriate content on your Facebook account (it also works on Twitter). It scours your account and compares all the text it finds, including photo captions and comments from other people on your Facebook account, against a list of bad words. The list goes well behind the dirty words not allowed on network television and includes things like “beer” and “sexy.” Once Simplewa.sh finds the content, it helps you edit or remove it by directing you to the page or post where it lives—you still have to manually hide or delete it.

#2 Control your Facebook Privacy Settings

According to a recent survey Kaplan survey, 29% of admission officers use Google and look at Facebook profiles to screen applicants. SimpleWash probably did a good job at cleaning up a lot of the offensive language and inappropriate photos on Facebook and Twitter, but that doesn’t mean that ‘Facebook friends’ can’t tag you in any future embarrassing public photos or posts. Here are a few tips to help prevent that from occurring:

Only allow people you ‘friend to view your page. Click on the arrow tab near “home” at the top of the page>scroll down to privacy settings>control your default settings>switch from “public” to “friends”.

Facebook Settings

Set your profile up so that you can review posts ‘friends’ tag you in before they appear on your timeline. This will help control any inappropriate photo-tagging mix ups. Under the Privacy Settings go to Timeline and Tagging>Edit Settings>Review Posts Friends Tag You in Before They Appear on Your Timeline>On.

Review TagsReview your Facebook application permissions and remove anything that you are not actively using anymore. Go to Settings > Account Settings > Apps. Be sure to click “Show all apps” at the bottom of the listing.

Facebook applicationsReview your activity log. You can hand-pick through your content easiest using the Activity Log, which you can find on your profile page. The Activity Log lets you drill down by content type, such as photo, photos of you, tagged photos, and so forth, so you can focus on one area of your Facebook account at a time while finding images to delete or hide.

Facebook Activity

If you want, you can make it difficult for people to find you on the social media site. After all, the harder it is to locate your profile the less chances an admission officer has of finding anything to hinder your acceptance.  To do this go to Privacy Settings>Apps, Games, Website>Public Search>Edit Settings> Disable Public Search.

Last but not least, view your profile as how the public would see it. Clean up poor grammar, offensive language, any racial slurs. Remove and delete photos with inappropriate clothing.  Check out your Likes – remove any unnecessary pages. And don’t allow yourself to be tagged in public photos that show you as anything but a fine, upstanding young citizen!

#3 Clean up your Tweets

Twitter doesn’t give you nearly as many features as Facebook does for assessing your data. The first third party tool you should make ample use of is AllMyTweets. This simple site quickly generates a page of – you guessed it – all your tweets. Actually, that’s false … just your last 3,200 tweets, which is the limit Twitter will return. If you want or need the real thing, you can request your Twitter archive. Head to settings, and hit the archive link. It will be email to you for download.

Next, you should take stock of who you’re following – anyone done anything super messed up recently? Cut ‘em lose. And if you’re just generally a little scared of what might be in your personal stream of tweets, sign up for TweetEraser and you can mass delete using its filter feature. Last but definitely not least, head over to your settings and check out what apps you’ve given permission to – and make sure you’re OK with what you see.

#4 Clean Up Your Instagram Profile

Instagram

The risk of posting or sharing a photo that will damage your online reputation continues to grow every time you add a new photo to Instagram. Here are some tips for cleaning up your Instagram profile and preventing reputation damage:

Delete Unprofessional Comments and Likes. The individuals you associate with could impact how you are perceived online. An unprofessional comment with profanity or a politically incorrect joke could reflect poorly on your character. Similarly, liking photos of strangers in provocative poses or of friends breaking the law could be interpreted as an endorsement of these activities.

Remove Unprofessional Photos. When deciding whether or not to delete a photo, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself how you would feel if college admissions officers, hiring managers, family members, or your boss saw the photo. Any images showing underage drinking, binge drinking, drug use, obscene gestures, and partial undress (think swimsuit photos) are best left off of your profile. Reputation911.com shares some more good tips about cleaning up your Instagram profile here.

In conclusion, there’s no shame in having had posted an embarrassing photo, comment or tweet. We’ve all done it before. That’s the great thing about living in the digital age: It’s all easily recorded. And this means that like the attic full of memories and mementos, sometimes you have to clean out the junk.

Read the The Key Factor that will Increase Hispanic College Education Rates

Read what Psychologists have identified as the best (and worse) ways to study
About me, I am a first generation college graduate. I also have an MBA and am a Manager at a major electricity company. In my spare time, I teach at University of Houston Downtown, where I educate students not only on the subject I am teaching, but also on self-motivation and teaching them that their background does not dictate your future.

The Key Factor that will Increase Hispanic College Education Rates

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The Key Factor that will lead more Hispanics to Higher Education and Prosperity

Eric Melchor, Hispanic College Rates

Eric Melchor – The Key Factor that will Increase Hispanic College Education Rates

Did you know that 21% of US adults have at least one tattoo? In addition, 21% of Americans say they would go without sex for a whole year in order to maintain access to the Internet. Now I don’t have a tattoo, but I am part of the 21% of Hispanics who have an associate degree or higher. And ladies and gentlemen, 21% is not enough.

According to a national study I read in USA Today recently, 30% of African Americans have have an associate degree or higher. Whites – 44%. Aisan Americans, well we can all learn something from the Aisans. 57% of aisan Americans have an associate degree or higher. As for Hispanics, well if you haven’t guessed it by now, 21% of Hispanics have an associates degree or higher. So, the question is why? Why are the majority of Hispanics not attending college and finishing college? Experts from the Pew Research Center list several factors that contribute to this problem. These factors are:

–          One is, the parents socioeconomic status – its difficult for their children to attend 4 year institutions because their parents cannot afford it

–          #2, lack of role models

–          Three, parents educational background and lack of involvement in their children’s education.

Now, It is true, this is the reality for many Hispanics. It’s the truth, this is the reality for many American Latinos. But in contrary to what the experts have to say, I feel the experts have failed to point out the one key factor that will lead more Hispanics to higher education and prosperity. Allow me to share a short story about 3 siblings born and raised in Houston.

Not too long ago there were 3 siblings – Lynn, Theresa, and Victor. Each was two years apart. Their father had passed away when they were all very young which left quite a burden on their Mom who often had to work two jobs just so she could provide shelter and food for her kids. Their Mom had no college education. In fact, she did not even finish high school.

Fast forward to today, Theresa and Victor work low paying jobs, frequently move from one apartment to another, and both are dependent heavily on social welfare programs to help cover their expenses. Their  oldest kids, failed to graduate from high school, also never had a real job, and they too rely heavily on public welfare to cover their expenses. Lynn, however, owns a beautiful home, has a great job in the financial industry, and her sons not only finished high school and own their homes, but also graduated from college and have good jobs.

Why were Theresa and Victor not able to hold good jobs, buy their own homes, or be able to support themselves without social dependency? If you ask them, they will give you a list of reasons such as: “I did not have a Mom or Dad to push me to do good in school”, or, “I did not have a role model to look up to”, or “well we were poor and college was not even an option when we were growing up”, or “I just wasn’t lucky to get a good job”.

Now when you ask Lynn the question – “why do you think your life turned out different than your brother and sister’s?” she simply answers – “I believed in myself. I wanted a good job, I wanted to own my own home, wanted my kids to do well in school, and I took the necessary steps to make that happen.”

Self-belief is what made the difference. Lynn decided that she would determine her own destiny because she was responsible for it.  Experts point out several factors as to why there are so few Hispanics in higher education, but the one factor that makes all the difference in the world, the one factor they fail to highlight, is self-belief.

More than likely you know someone who has a dream, maybe that dream is to go to college. Maybe it’s to become an actor or start a business or simply to buy a home. But for some reason or another, they make excuse after excuse for not going after it. When you see this person, tell them about this story.  3 siblings, all from the same household. All from the same socio economic status. Two very different roads. One road is to accept things as they are and take whatever life gives you. The other road is believing in yourself and determining your own destiny.

About me, I am a first generation college graduate. I also have an MBA and am a Manager at a major electricity company. In my spare time, I teach at University of Houston Downtown, where I educate students not only on the subject I am teaching, but also on self-motivation and teaching them that their background does not dictate your future.

Sources for article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/16/hispanic-highschool-education-dropout_n_1096995.html

http://www.usatodayeducate.com/staging/index.php/ccp/latino-graduation-rates-continue-to-lag