Risks and Rewards: Reflecting on the Foundation of Crime

“Under the rational choice perspective, would-be offenders are influenced by the costs and benefits of their actions, such as the anticipated financial reward of the crime and the certainty of formal and/or informal sanction threats. In addition, offenders are likely to be influenced by characteristics of the criminal event itself, such as the location of the offense and the possible response of the victim (Cornish & Clarke, 1986). In sum, the rational choice perspective focuses on the situational characteristics associated with the criminal act. Since different criminal acts are a function of different situational characteristics, the rational choice perspective requires a crime-specific focus.”

– Alex R. Piquero & Stephen G. Tibbetts

Police Car Lights

Have you ever wondered why that person going down the road didn’t stop at the stop sign, or why that other person stole a candy bar from the supermarket? These are questions that most of us have wondered in our lives some time or another, and they are perfectly legitimate. According to Piquero and Tibbets (2002), people make choices that can have criminal implications based on risks and rewards (Rational Choice and Criminal Behavior). This is quite simple, when you think about it, but it really makes sense because we all have choices in life: risks or rewards? Whatever we choose, we will affect our lives and the lives of those who care about us the most if we decide to choose the rewards over the risks.

Prison Bars

When an individual participates in lying, stealing, and/or cheating––the most basic of crimes––a line is crossed, and the scales of justice must become balanced once again. Why is this? The justice system exists to protect both the rights of society and the rights of the individual. Everyone’s safety, freedoms, and rights (which are Constitutionally protected) must be maintained while also maintaining the defendant’s safety, freedoms, and rights. This is the only true way to be “fair,” and to administer justice in an objective fashion. So, the next time you see a person breaking the law/committing a crime, ask yourself: is his or her reward worth the punishment that he or she will likely receive if the police catch him/her? Only he or she can answer that.

Why do people break the law…?

Lady Justice

Concept Experience 4, Part I: Zotero + Inquiry Project

zotero_logo

Oh my goodness! I just discovered an amazing new software/tool that I can use to gather and synthesize my research materials into a cohesive web-unit of ideas for my inquiry project. This great software is called Zotero, and although it has so many wonderful features, it is completely FREE. Additionally, I am able to add other Zotero users to my network so we all can share our research. Not many things in life that are free are worth a shiny green penny. However, this tool is the real deal because I am able to combine all of my research efforts into one flow of information, which will be much faster than before, and the results that I yield will be a direct derivative of this innovation.

information-security

Recently, I wrote a post last week that addressed my thoughts on…my thoughts, and how I view their processes. Because I love speaking metaphorically, I chose pieces of candy to represent my thoughts, which eventually come together beautifully in the form of a whole bag of candy. One piece of candy (one thought) is sweet, but an entire bag of candy (culmination of mine and others’ thoughts) is sweeter. With Zotero, I am able to not only think of my conceptual network, but I am able to create a tangible and workable system that helps me so much with my research. Considering the writers Licklinder, Engelbart, and Nelson, I believe that they would all agree that Zotero is advantageous, and it serves a wonderful purpose that furthers all of their points regarding computers and technology. Specifically, computers are very prevalent in today’s society and they help us get things done and in a productive manner. With that said, Zotero allows us to take research materials and compute the information and organize it all faster and smarter than simply doing it by hand. Because I have now been exposed to Zotero, my entire research experience will never be the same again.

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Nugget 4: “CL/DM”

“It is intended to fill a crying need. Lots of everyday people have asked me where they can learn about computers, and I have had to say nowhere. Most of what is written about computers for the layman is either unreadable or silly. (Some exceptions are listed nearby [on pp. 6–7 of the first edition, not reprinted here]; you can go to them instead of this if you want.) But virtually nowhere is the big picture simply enough explained. Nowhere can one get a simple, soup-to-nuts overview of what computers are really about, without technical or mathematical mumbo-jumbo, complicated examples, or talking down. This book is an attempt.”

Unknown

To me, this nugget conveyed exactly how I feel about computers and their complexity. However, this sentiment is one that is oxymoronic for many reasons. According to the nugget, it is impossible to find basic literature that teaches others about using computers by being simplistic or without sounding foolish. Simply put, learning about computers is something that must be practiced and taught by repetition. In another sense, it is a common occurrence for individuals in the older generation to say something to the effect of, “This younger generation knows more about computers than we ever will,” or “Them youngins know all about computers.”  Why is this?

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Honestly, this is because the younger generation of today is more in touch with computers, and we use them more frequently. While this is not surprising, older individuals are perfectly capable of learning about computers, their functions, and how to do many things with them, but they choose not to be because computers are out of their generational context. It is perfectly reasonable to assess that computers were not prevalent during the baby boomer age and they slowly made an appearance into popular culture during the ’80s and ’90s. With this shift in productivity from the 100% human aspect of research and academia (everything was done using libraries and typewriters) to the computer age, there is a stark contrast in how “stuff gets done.” All in all, I feel that even though there is a generational gap there is still a possibility for any generation to take hold of the opportunities that are offered because of computers and their complex, but somehow, simple way of operating. After all, some things become easy after we’ve become acquainted with them, and they even become second-nature to us even after we haven’t touched them in a while…

mind_bicycle

Why People Break the Law

Why do people break the law? That is a question that society has been asking for centuries, and it’s still relevant today. I often wonder this because I see people break laws every time I get in my car and drive down the road, every time I stand in line at a store, and in life in general. There are many reasons why laws are broken, but some reasons are more popular than others, and I am determined to see what those are. Whether one commits blue collar/street crimes, or one commits white collar and/or green collar (environmental) crimes, the law is the law. When I first really dove into this topic, I knew that I hit the jackpot because I often wonder about laws and their adherence almost daily. I often wonder why people choose to obey some laws and not others. I often wonder about what society would be like without laws. All of these wonders, my curiosity, and my desire to answer (or at least attempt to answer) as best as I can has propelled me to research this subject.

Handcuffs

Concept Experience 3, Part II: Conceptual Networks | Various Topics on Living and Learning

Introduction

Knowledge is very significant; it is what propels our world and lifts men higher. Similar to how atoms are the basic building blocks of molecules and elements, thinking contributes to our knowledge, and our individual thoughts are the basic building blocks of our ideas and our network of thinking. Our network of thoughts/our conceptual network is all of our thoughts combined with others’ thoughts to form a beautifully blended web of ideas to form larger thoughts, or chains. This web is connected from many sources, but is not exclusively linked to just one thought. To me, this is what it means when individuals say, “It’s a small world after all” or when researchers mention how everyone on earth is connected to every individual on the planet to the ninth circle/degree of people. That is, for example, I know a person who knows another person––that in itself is two generations. According to this theory, everyone on earth is connected in this way by the ninth circle/degree. Wow! That is so amazing! Likewise, our thoughts are even more connected to others’ thoughts––no matter how unique they are, because we all have unique thoughts––and this is such a beautiful thing.

Over the past two and a half weeks, I have encountered all three of the components mentioned above, and I can’t help but notice that they are all connected, as suggested, and this does not surprise me. Why is this? One does not need to overthink the answer, although it may seem complex or unattainable, because there are infinite answers. Unlike a set math equation, our knowledge––(which we already have) that leads to our formulation of thoughts into ideas and finally into our conceptual network––is such an amazing phenomenon that is completely unique and cannot be replicated by anyone else. For this reason, there are an infinite number of answers to the question of why our thoughts and others’ thoughts are connected.

Earth boyThe Sanctity of Life

For centuries, men and women have killed each other with their bare hands, with sticks, stones, clubs, and eventually, knives, swords, and finally firearms (with the Chinese’s invention of gun powder). Sure, without weapons, damage may not have been as extensive, but surely bare hands can end another individual’s life; therefore, I feel that it is not the weapons that are cruel, but the men and women themselves who wield them. [But, while mankind] may perish in conflict before [it] learns to wield that record for [its] true good, [the applications of science] may yet allow [mankind] truly to encompass the great record and to grow in the wisdom of race experience.

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Thinking, Learning, and Knowing

Oh how beautiful thinking is…. God surely made all of us to think for ourselves, and because the “simple” act of thinking is very complex, that just shows the complexity of the Creator. [Thinking] is my chance to contribute to society, to the world, and to the universe what comes from my brain, my intellect, my soul, and my entire being. Why stop thinking and learning just because an assignment is finished or a task is complete? Thanks to the ease of Internet browsing that I am lucky to have access to, I was able to discover numerous more answers than I was intending and also extend on the subject with new questions. I believe that because of this, research has become a lot more accessible and easier. We will never truly comprehend the impact that our education [and our research] has on us because our learning never stops. Sure, we may earn degrees and get nice jobs because of our hard work and dedication, but we can definitely make a difference in the lives of others because knowledge is power. It is the power to change the world, the power to better oneself, and the power to ultimately help others for selfless reasons because this is what life is all about.

Learning

KnowledgeOur Experiences and the Truth Spectrum

Fathers are necessary, but just what exactly can they provide that mothers cannot? Just how important are fathers and the roles that they play in their children’s lives? Everyone comes from different backgrounds, and all of our lives have been influenced by our beliefs, our values, our morals, our friends and families, and our experiences. Because we are all different yet still connected by the web of humanity, our unique and diverse opinions and ideas give this whole experience an entirely new outlook. With absolute truths existing, why are there not that many compared to all of the theories and opinions in the world today? Sometimes, things just are; they exist that way, and their existence just proves that we cannot always prove everything with science and mathematics. [Furthermore], the opinions of today will become the theories of tomorrow, and the theories of tomorrow will become the absolute truths in centuries to come. Isn’t that interesting? I thought so….

What is TruthMen vs. Machines

Could you imagine a world where computers are smarter than humans? “Mechanical extension” has given way to replacement of men, to automation, and the men who remain are there more to help than to be helped. If we focus upon the human operator within the system, we see that, in some areas of technology, a fantastic change has taken place during the last few years. Unfortunately, [computers] have the power to take away our jobs, but they also make things run more efficiently. No matter how uninvolved humans will become because of the machines that will replace them, humans will still ultimately be needed to maintain [the machines]. Whether one is convinced of an all-out human necessity for computers, or one believes that humans can do fine without them, one thing is for sure: mankind and computer-kind have a mutual relationship. I am [also] reminded that no matter how technologically advanced we will become as a society, nothing will be able to replace humanity as sentient beings that think and reason with both logic and emotions. [Regardless of] how intelligent one is, just the fact that our brains do what they do and are equipped to solve the problems we face is nothing short of amazing.

Men vs. MachinesOrganizing Intelligence and Foundations

When one looks at a computer system that is doing a very complex job, he sees on the surface a machine that can execute some extremely sophisticated processes. [However, the] sophisticated capability results from a very clever organizational hierarchy so that pursuit of the source of intelligence within this system would take one down through layers of functional and physical organization that become successively more primitive. Excellent organization is the key to intelligence, and if intelligence has any correlation to organization, some of the most intelligent people on Earth are sure to be organized in almost everything they do. No matter the endeavor, one must always have a foundation––a rock––that is solid and can support the rest of the organization, no matter how simple or complex. So, what is your foundation?

Intelligence     Organization

Concept Experience 3, Part I: Gathering Information

When I think of the bits of knowledge that I obtain from others, I often think of compartmentalizing them by thinking of pieces of candy. Each idea comes individually wrapped, and as any group of candy is, they are put into a bag. This “bagging” mechanism is how I group them all together. After they are all grouped, I can see the big picture because they reflect a large amount of candy instead of a few individual pieces. However, when I dissect each thought and “unwrap” them, I am able to see each thought (or each piece) for what they’re worth.

While I don’t normally think about this metaphor for how I process and gather ideas and information, this concept makes sense to me because I understand the relationship between both thoughts and candy. Furthermore, I also visualize thoughts as candy that are here today and gone tomorrow but, when eaten (and digested), are of much greater value than when they are wrapped. To take this metaphor even further, consider this question: Is an entire bag of candy worth more or less than a single piece (of the same candy) by itself? In the same way, many thoughts put together to form wonderful plans and are of greater value because they add to the “sweetness” of the situation. That is, they are better unwrapped and together all at once than sitting somewhere not even being touched. Because both a bag of candy and a group of many individual’s thoughts (which are grouped/kept together) are amazing, when opened to the world, their true potential is unleashed, and their essence is realized. So, what’s your favorite candy, and when was the last time you had a bag of it?

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Nugget 3: Augmenting Human Intellect

When one looks at a computer system that is doing a very complex job, he sees on the surface a machine that can execute some extremely sophisticated processes. If he is a layman, his concept of what provides this sophisticated capability may endow the machine with a mysterious power to sweep information through perceptive and intelligent synthetic thinking devices. Actually, this sophisticated capability results from a very clever organizational hierarchy so that pursuit of the source of intelligence within this system would take one down through layers of functional and physical organization that become successively more primitive.

–Douglas C. Engelbart

I chose this nugget because I liked how Engelbart analyzed the organization of computers. By showing that computers, which perform complicated functions, are actually quite simple when broken down and dissected, he exemplified a basic principle that exists in other facets of life too. Personally, I know nothing about programming, hard drives, motherboards, and other ins-and-outs of computers, but I do know that Engelbart must know what he is talking about because most things in life that seem complicated are only that way because of organization. As the nugget suggests, excellent organization is the key to intelligence, and if intelligence has any correlation to organization, some of the most intelligent people on Earth are sure to be organized in almost everything they do. No matter the endeavor, one must always have a foundation––a rock––that is solid and can support the rest of the organization, no matter how simple or complex.

Organization

One real-world example is that of the U.S. military. There are five branches (Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard), and they all have organizational qualities that make them the best fighting force in the world. All of the different branches have different roles and functions, but they work together so well to get the job done and keep our nation safe. Furthermore, the United States Marine Corps (USMC) works hand-in-hand with the Navy to go from sea to land, the Army continues the assault inland, and the Air Force provides air support. And no one could forget that the Coast Guard, which is very similar to the Navy (with rank structure and other formalities), keeps our nation safe here at home all of the time. As the Navy-Marine Corps detachment works in conduction with the Army and Air Force to deliver the ultimate payload, their cohesion is an example of complex organization that is simple (and weak) when separated, but complex (and strong) when joined together. Together, all five branches (as well as the Army National Guard and all Reserve units) are the United States of America’s solid foundation. If all of the branches were not organized, our nation’s battles would not be won. But, because we have a military that runs on organization, we remain the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

Veteran's Day Wallpaper

Reflecting on Week 2

Today marks the end of week two, as most of us have relaxed and completed our work at a steady pace during the week. We all have written posts about thinking, computers, men, and all three of them, and we have synthesized our ideas into cohesive pieces of rhetoric. So, I have been wondering, what makes our progress so great? Well, for starters, none of this would have been possible if we wouldn’t have enrolled in this pilot course of UNIV 200.

Two essays, As We May Think and Man-Computer Symbiosis, have both challenged us to think about humanity and machinery. They have encouraged us to use our past experiences, morals, and values to shape our view of the symbiotic relationship. More importantly, we have begun to think about other related things, things that are just that––related but different. For most of us, we have Googled different topics and inquired into just the tip of the iceberg of knowledge on each subject, and even those results are enlightening. This is because we are all embracing teamwork, and our strength is truly in our numbers. After all, “Team work makes the dream work.”

Some examples of the different posts that we have composed are as follows:

  • Laikyn’s concept experience entitled, Analyzing the Obvious
    • Her statement, “I am alive right now” and her analysis of either living because of our beating heart and breathing lungs, or truly living (chasing after and following our dreams) caught my attention because it truly is what our lives tend to be characterized by. Are we truly alive and following or at least pursuing our dreams, or are we just closer to death each and every day that we get out out of bed because we are breathing and we have a pessimistic view of life? This was really powerful.

1 Chronicles 16.8

  • Alanna’s second nugget entitled, Man-Computer Symbiosis
    • Alanna’s nugget was very interesting because of her basic, but still very effective analysis of the discrepancy between the language of humans and the language of computers. Whether one is talking about technology or one is directly discussing humanity itself, communication must be clear and all barriers must be removed. Therefore, we must either have interpreters or we must know the language with which we seek to communicate with.

language-barriers

  • Karen’s Associative Trail
    • This post seemed interesting to me for many reasons, (1) being that I am a criminal justice student, and (2) I love the aspect of justice and fairness. If one were to look at my page, one would see that I have the lady justice holding the scales of justice in her hand, and this has become much of what I strive for in my everyday life. Karen’s exposition into why she wanted to pursue a forensic science degree is commensurate with why I want to pursue a degree in criminal justice as well. I could go on and on all day about justice. It IS just that interesting…

Justice

  • Pooja’s post entitled, How it Feels When I Think…
    • While this post goes all the way back to our first assignment of week one, I really liked this post because it is so simple yet it captures the essence of what thinking truly is. Honestly, I don’t think any of us can fully comprehend what thinking is, but we will continue to grow closer each and every day as we share our thoughts with others and our ideas permeate into the thinking of others. Combining our “thinking” is so wonderful, and this makes the growth and continuation of humanity’s knowledge possible.

The-Enterprise-Needs-Big-Knowledge

So, I have really given this week’s reflection some thought because I have seen my piers’ posts, and I notice the hard work that goes into them. I am a firm believer in attaining knowledge and wisdom, and I am encouraged by the similar thoughts of others who piggy-back off of their own curiosity, the curiosity of others, and Google. Again, I think that this course has changed my thinking about writing, rhetoric, research, and thinking in general because I have engaged myself in learning. We never stop learning over the course of our lives, so why stop here? Why stop thinking and learning just because an assignment is finished or a task is complete? We will never truly comprehend the impact that our education has on us because our learning never stops (sure, we may earn degrees and get nice jobs because of our hard work and dedication), but we can definitely make a difference in the lives of others because knowledge is power. It is the power to change the world, the power to better oneself, and the power to ultimately help others for selfless reasons because this is what life is all about. So, how about that knowledge? Go get some…

Earth boy

Proverbs 2:6-8 NIV – “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.”
James 1.5

Analyzing the Obvious: 2+2=4

One of the most recognizable equations in the mathematical world is 2+2=4. Why is this? Everyone who goes to grade school (everyone is required to by law) will know that this is a universal truth. There is no deviation from this. No one can dispute this equation because everyone in the arithmetical and scientific community agrees that this is correct. Even more so, this can be proven.

Similarly, there are many other ideas, concepts, and even hypotheses that can be proven using this same logic. While those in the scientific field call things that cannot be entirely “proven” theories, there are those (especially in the philosophical and religious communities) who term such “theories” as absolute truths. The only difference between theories and absolute truths is that theories are widely accepted but cannot be fully proved 100%, and absolute truths are fully accepted as being canon and cannot be changed. So, why does this happen? Sometimes, things just are. They exist that way, and their existence just proves that we cannot always prove everything with science and mathematics.

On another connected but different train of thought, one might ask, “With absolute truths existing, why are there not that many compared to all of the theories and opinions in the world today?” This is a good question. We don’t often think about this topic, but I feel that this is a completely relevant and legitimate topic to wonder about.

For instance, topics such as abortion, capital punishment, legalization/decriminalization of current illegal substances, et cetera, all make us wonder why there are no right, clear, or concise answers to these issues. Because we all come from different socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds, we all bring our experiences with us and we throw in our ‘two cents’ as to what the answers should be. In this instance, I am sure that there is a cut-and-dry answer that we could ultimately say is an absolute truth, but that will only be answered later.

So, you might wonder why I chose to speak about absolute truths and their existence, and I will explain. As I have grown and matured, I have always wondered why things are they way they are. I decided to attempt to look up internet articles regarding this topic, but I was lead by the thought in my own head to think about related issues––issues that are interconnected because they are opinions. The opinions of today will become the theories of tomorrow, and the theories of tomorrow will become the absolute truths in centuries to come. Isn’t that interesting? I thought so….

Truth

Nugget 2 | Man-Computer Symbiosis: Take 2

“In one sense of course, any man-made system is intended to help man, to help a man or men outside the system. If we focus upon the human operator within the system, however, we see that, in some areas of technology, a fantastic change has taken place during the last few years. “Mechanical extension” has given way to replacement of men, to automation, and the men who remain are there more to help than to be helped. In some instances, particularly in large computer-centered information and control systems, the human operators are responsible mainly for functions that it proved infeasible to automate. Such systems (“humanly extended machines,” North might call them) are not symbiotic systems. They are “semi-automatic” systems, systems that started out to be fully automatic but fell short of the goal.”

– J.C.R. Licklinder

The nugget I chose from the passage, Man-Computer Symbiosis, is one that caught my attention immediately. When I first read this passage, I instantaneously began to think about how the humans who currently work in restaurants and businesses will be replaced by machines in the future. One example in particular that I thought of was the movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory––which is a remake of the older film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory––where the main character’s (Charlie’s) father loses his job because a machine replaces him. Although Charlie’s Father’s position at a factory that makes toothpaste tube caps may seem menial at best, this is the perfect illustration of this occurrence.

Charlie's Father

Nanjia touched on the fact that computers are needed to do complex tasks, and they allow humans to be more productive than if they did not have them.

Robots

Laikyn did an excellent job of capturing how devastating it would be for computers to replace humans.

However, as the remainder of the nugget suggests, no matter how uninvolved humans will become because of the machines that will replace them, humans will still ultimately be needed to maintain them. Another example of this occurrence is how computers are extremely fast and productive machines that help aid humans with getting work done much faster than without them. Rachel has a fantastic point about how computers have progressed so far over time, and she compares how different the large “box” computers that existed during our parents’ days are nothing compared to the “paper thin” laptops of today.  But, even as all technology progresses, computers get viruses, crash, and fail sometimes, and the realistic––not artificial––side of things will be needed. To relate these thoughts to the nugget from last week, humans are so extraordinary when it comes to thinking and reasoning. No matter how intelligent one is, just the fact that our brains do what they do and are equipped to solve the problems we face is nothing short of amazing. Finally, I am reminded that no matter how technologically advanced we will become as a society nothing will be able to replace humanity as sentient beings that think and reason with both logic and emotions. That just will not happen.

iRobot

Pooja did an excellent job of illustrating this concept as well because she mentioned how computers will never be able to replace humans.

People

Lastly, Karen believes that computers are not even needed sometimes. Whether one is convinced of an all-out human necessity for computers, or one believes that humans can do fine without them, one thing is for sure: mankind and computer-kind have a mutual relationship.

Humanity-Technology Connection