Animal Euthanasia in Asia

So I came across this today an article about a Taiwanese animal shelter director’s suicide due to having to put too many dogs to “sleep” so I decided to talk about this a bit. Any people, especially western animal activists perceive that euthanasing stray animals is an inhumane, cruel acts but if they put ourselves in Asian animal shelter officers, they might have a different view. Rescuing animal, especially dogs in Asia is not easy as their meat is still largely consumed in various countries. Some regions even think that beating up the animals until they die makes their meat taste “better”. Thus, stray animals are usually stolen animals that escaped from the thieves after having beaten up to the nearly dead.

Giai cuu chu cho bi buoc mom den hoai tu o Ben Tre

Animal owners in Asia still have some stigma in castrating their pets, hence, the animals keep following “the call(s) of their love”, producing more pups (often will be thrown away heartlessly), creating more chances for animal thefts and cruelties.

As an obvious result, the limited number of animal shelters, which normally are not supported by any official government acts or private funds, are overly crowded with animals, mostly in nearly dead situations. They are then facing two choices. They can use their limited fund from donations to halt the sufferings of these poor animals and having extra to support other healthier ones. Or they can save all of them, acknowledging that the medical costs are extremely high and that they can still not survive, and have little or no money left to either accept more animals in or support the healthier ones. Isn’t that would be unfair to the healthier ones?

If you were to be in that position, what would you choose?

Posted in the course

Loss aversion

Loss aversion refers to people’s tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. Many people claim themselves to be “rational” in decision making, yet that is not usually the case when it comes to loss.

I made some observation during final week on book selling behavior of others and of my own at the Book Mark. The school’s Book Mark offers to buy back any book at the minimum of $1 with the exclusion of water-damaged book. Many of students come with many books that have zero or almost zero monetary value. Yet, “just that?” questions still pop up. They know that they could not sell those books at any higher price and they probably will never touch them again.To be honest, I’m not even sure that stores would want to buy them back. Rationally, $1 is still better than nothing, plus we don’t have to think about storing them over the summer. However, as normal loss averse people, we never feel that we have enough compensation for our used books unless we get just as much as what we paid for.

I guess this is why risk seekers are more likely to be successful businessmen. As they are not blinded by the loss aversion, they can actually see financial benefits clearer and can also exploit the loss averse tendency from others. In fact, this is one of the reasons why insurance and warranty exists.


Posted in the course

Obama in Vietnam

President Obama has been in Vietnam for the last couple of days. He had met with government officials and business leaders, fed gold fish at President Ho Chi Minh’s house, had street food. He had been greeted by many people everywhere. They even have banners to welcome him. I don’t know if he is treated like that in other countries. Side note: G. W. Bush said that people had thrown tomatoes at him in every country except Vietnam and Honduras. However, Obama seems to be much more likable. I don’t know exactly the reason why people in Vietnam are exclusively friendly towards U.S presidents. But I would be curious and want to see them in real life myself and more importantly, I think it reflects Vietnam’s green light with the current role of the U.S  about sea disputes. Vietnam wants the U.S to be present where its disputes with China are.

However, if the U.S were in China and having sea disputes with Vietnam right now, Chinese officials would have had the welcome instead.

Posted in the course

Last Blog Post (Ever?)

The Review

For my last blog post, I thought that I would talk about what can happen when the peer review process fails. Bryn Mawr host reviews of classical works (post publication) done by various notable scholars. Occasionally, I come across a review that catches my attention. The above review did just that – but not in a good way. This review is completely scathing and reminds me why I should always cite my sources.

On an unrelated note, have a wonderful summer everyone.

Posted in the course

What is Race?


How does society influence or charge the social construction of race? How has my race and identity been challenged in these aspects?

For me these are challenging questions. When I view myself in terms of race I never really considered myself Hispanic, at least not in terms of how it is viewed in America. Growing up my identity was white, or rather Chilean. I was more than my skin tone I had a different view of myself in the world. I wasn’t better than any of my friends I was just not the same race. As I started writing this I thought of all the different issues that I have been exposed to since coming to Minnesota, as well as coming to Gustavus. Being from California my experience has been different than those in Minnesota. Being Hispanic became one of the biggest identity markers for me. Living in a city, where the majority of the population I was exposed to was Hispanic, I never truly realized the disparities of my race. Coming to Minnesota where I was able to truly experience how differently people viewed me because I am visibly Hispanic as well as the assumptions people had made of me because I was Hispanic. My race became a central character in my college career and exposed me to certain groups before others, such as OLAS and the Diversity center.

When in Cuba I noticed differences in how I was approached in comparison to my friends. I would be assumed to speak Spanish but not with ill intent. The reason I say this is how these interactions differed from my experiences with individuals at Gustavus. In Cuba when approached and given an assumed identity, it came from a place of similarity and in a way sense of community. It was someone extending their hand for me to continue and join the conversation. In my interactions at Gustavus, while not all ill intended, many of the interactions came from a place of assumptions. It came from a place of assuming there can only be one identity and one perception of who I was based off my skin and based off my appearance.

Many of my self-reflection and thought processes came from rereading the work of not only Paulo Freire but also looking more into the words of Jose Marti. By looking at the words of such great and influential men I was able to make connections I myself did not realize until I took time to reevaluate my own values and my own way I chose to walk through the world an what impacts I myself want to make.

“No one is born fully-formed: it is through self-experience in the world that we become what we are.”

― Paulo Freire

My grandfather instilled that into us at a very young age. Never look down upon others, never look above those that need you, see the world for what it is, with your chin level to the floor. Race was never meant to be a factor to look at in my life. All I knew growing up was I needed to help those that needed help or be a voice for those who didn’t know how to use theirs. I was meant to help empower myself and through that empower others. My race while for me isn’t my whole identity; in many ways it is what people first see of me. When I am viewed I am first seen by my assumptions, then by my voice and ideals. “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. ” ― Paulo Freire.

Today Cuba remains as described to me, a racial paradox, as institutional racism has been removed from society, but not from the hearts and actions of some who hang on as if to sacred tradition. There’s the fact of the low representation of blacks in Cuba’s vast travel industry, and as pointed out to us by members of the community, every top Cuban leader during the past 75 years has been white. As we have seen in United states history as well as Cuban history, Power has been correlated with skin color since the advent of colonialism and imperialism by Europeans across the world. “The oppressors do not favor promoting the community as a whole, but rather selected leaders.” ― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. According to the Cuban census figures say black and mixed-heritage people are about 35 percent of the island’s population, but a quick stroll around any Cuban town will provide visual confirmation of just how many Cubans of color deem themselves “white” when the government is asking. That may not be surprising given that race is not a scientific category, but rather an organizing principle of political power, both before and after the revolution.

Throughout the entire experience the most remarkable and hard hitting to me was visiting the house of Paulo Freire. Being given the opportunity to show and share stories around race, ethnicity and overall hardships gave me connections to these people, to their own struggles, to their own hardships. It opened my eyes to the reality of race and identity in Cuba and made me challenge how I view myself in these aspects. Was being the “white” identified individual change or skew who I was in terms of my identity as Hispanic? Was I creating a barrier in myself that would isolate from others, who face the same struggles and hardships as me? Was my work lessened because I was socialized to believe I was white? Race itself is a social construction. Whether it be socialized institutionally, such as in America, or internalized like that in Cuba. The idea that even with the large population accepting that this is their society, we don’t see people of color as figures in everyday life in Cuba.

To insist on the divisions into race, on the differences of race… is to make difficult both public and individual enterprises, which depend for their success on a greater rapprochement between the groups that must live together… Everything that divides men, everything that classifies, separates, or shuts off men is a sin against humanity… Man is more than white, more than mulatto, more than Negro.

– José Martí


I End with this quote because for me it is powerful and from I stemmed more questions. How can we compare the idea of race in America, when race in other countries have different ideals? Keeping in mind race as a social construct how can we observe it in different aspects of identity? Why is race such a difficult topic? Why do we perceive race?

I live my life daily reminding myself, I am more than my color. I am more than what people see. I am more than a status. I am more than anyone can see. I am me. We are more than what can be seen. We are more than just a number or a mark on the census.

Posted in the course

Wallace, a summary

“There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?’” This excerpt is the opening paragraph to David Foster Wallace on Life and Work. In this excerpt foster uses this example to explain his views on people’s day-to-day lives. He explains how we have a self-involved view of the world, even if it is unintentional, as our “default setting”. He explains that we see what we choose to see. Whether it is a bad day where it feels as if the world is against you or a fish not questioning his surroundings. Wallace goes further into detail of our “default setting” and delves into his views on such topics such as Atheism, religion and liberal arts. While I disagree with Wallace’s views on worship and religion, I agree on his view of the Liberal Arts. He states in his paper that “…I have come gradually to understand that the liberal-arts cliché about “teaching you how to think” is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: “Learning how to think”…” I agree with Wallace in his views on how we learn to think for ourselves and not be told how to think. I may disagree with Wallace on some issues I agree that if we learn how to think we won’t be a “slave to our minds”.

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Issues in Research



One issue i have found for myself in my research is attempting to be impartial and not make hasty judgements or have biases towards individuals.  Below are more descriptive forms of which I feel have been an issue in affecting my data. No names, key descriptors have been used to describe people.

Interpretation validity: To effectively interpret what has happened, the investigator will have to capture the observation as interpreted by the individual being researched. The primary threat to valid interpretation is imposing one’s own meaning, instead of understanding the viewpoint of the individuals studied and the meanings they attach to their words, phrases and actions. In order to avoid compromising interpretation validity, investigators should use open-ended questions which allow the participant to elaborate on answers. Inquiries should not be confusing or directional in an effort to obtain any response other than the one the respondent would have normally given.

Researcher bias: Each and every investigator will have some kind of bias. The bias need not be racial, ethnical, gender linked, or cultural. The bias could be simply promoting one theory over other or neglecting to interview some kinds of offenders. Research workers should determine and emphasize their biases to make sure that they don’t impact the study outcomes. Researchers must describe in their proposal the way they will take care of their individual biases to ensure they don’t influence the conduct and findings of the study. Some examples are: phrasing questions different ways for different individuals, and asking leading questions.

Posted in the course

This course will give students interested in going to graduate or professional school—or who simply want to know more about research—an immersion in the structure of the literature of their chosen field and exposure to research tools and collections. Students will conduct a literature review on a topic of their choice and will analyze aspects of their discipline’s traditions, compare them to traditions in other fields, and explore the social and ethical dimensions of research.

The collage used in the header is by mypixbox, who has made it available under a Creative Commons license.

This is an open course. Feel free to use the material here.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.