Tag Archives: Blog Post 4 – Exercising Public Voice

A Dangerous Question

BLOG FOUR

The last time I raised this question I caused two people to stop being friends. I have hence then refrain from this question… but I saw a tik tok so I thought I would bring it back up.

In fall semster of 2019 I took a Composition 2 class at Century College and this is where I first heard this question. It was a pretty heated debate, and I have asked multiple people this question too and I get variations of the same response.

This question has two parts and the first part ask this:

“How do you feel about transgender?”

In other words, do you think it is okay for people to change one’s gender? Most people in this day of age are like, “Yeah that’s fine, be who feel you are.” This was the question that caused my friends to cut ties since one was part of the LGBT+ community and the other is a by-the-book Christian. It turned into ugly debate of one person calling the other person names and belittling them while the other tried to tell them their views are from a religious standpoint and not a personal standpoint.

Anywho, most people are accepting of transgender. So there is the next part of the question right:

“So how do you feel about transracial?”

A lot of us were confused by what this meant, but we quickly learned that this meant switching race or ethics. People where up in arms with this question. And everyone I have asked says that transracial cannot be a thing. So the real kicker is, “If you are okay with people being transgender, why can’t people be transracial?” If a cis boy can become girl, non-binary, and vice versa, why can’t a black person be white, or a white person be Korean, or an Japanese person be Jamaican, etc.

The girl in the video says to the guy, “If you are trying to deny someone of their identity, and deny what their life experience is, then that does not seem like a moral stance to me.” She goes on by saying that she wants to respect people identity and how they want to present themselves to the world.

A lot of people say that your skin color is not something you cannot wash off, and this is true. But most people say that one’s color hold culture and people behind it. So people don’t accept it because if the historical and cultural background tied to each color.

When I was still pursuing music, I asked my amazing friend and jazz & blues pianist this question. He told me that is a black man, he does not think people should transition racially. So I asked him well what about my case. Physically I am a white woman. Raised with Christian and mixed culture and morals. Ethically, I am African, Native, Swiss, German, and Irish. So I asked him if it was okay for someone like me to be black. He agreed that it was okay since I was raised with some of the culture and I have that tie. So culture is not culture unless it is shared, but you must be of that culture for it to be shared upon you.

I like to pick at peoples brain more by asking them questions like what if the kid is adopted and was raise in a culture completely different from their skin and feel more like the culture they were raised from verses the culture of their skin? Or what is someone grew up around people different from their own and feel closer to them than to their skin. What then?

The teacher asked this question because we were going to read a book called Your Face in Mine by Jess Row. It was an interesting book. Basically this dude comes back home after his wife and daughter die in a car crash and he goes to a store and meet a black man and they talk and the black man tells him that he was actually this guy and they both use to be in a band and he was white. So the black man tells the main character his story and tries to get him to change his rationality as well because they need more people to test the surgical procedure before they can release it to the public.

But yeah, I guess I am curious on your thoughts. For me, I have the mentality that we all bleed red. Be who you want to be.

The case against autotune (pitch correction and pro tools)

I often jokingly use my age as a crutch or a backdrop of context as to why I feel a certain way. With that in mind, I want to make a few things clear upfront. Every generation feels that they are doing things in a way that is new and unique. Every generation also seems to feel that the previous ones are a little pretentious in how much that value and romanticize their own experiences.

I grew up in the 70s and 80s. The 80s were my timeframe of musical experience. I remember acutely feeling that the Boomer generation was so annoying and pretentious in their assertion that the only good music ever to exist came out of the 60s. I appreciated classic rock and the warm and fuzzy feel of a mid-70s Steely Dan vinyl but at the same time, I had my own thing. U2, REM, The Replacements, Prince. Music that was scoffed at by our parents. What I learned though was that every generation goes through this change and pushes away from the previous. Elvis and the Beatles were feared because they were different…. but they meant just as much and evoked the same feelings for kids in the 50s and 60s as Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra did for kids in the 40s. I try really hard to extend that benefit of the doubt to the current trend in music.

There is some current music that I like and appreciate. Taylor Swift’s new album is really good. Charlie Puth is a musical genius. He is a natural on the piano and has a deep understanding of music. Watch these videos of him on Howard Stern if you had any doubts. He is 29.

Here is where I need to make an argument. Charlie talks about the “science” of music and how music makes you feel by leading you along a push and pull of tension and release. You hear a note and you want it to go somewhere logical. A song and draw that out and then pay it off. But, it’s not just about notes. It is also about purposeful imperfections. Funk uses drummers’ feel and how he or she finds the pocket or uses blank spaces or the off-beat to create that tension. It’s the slowing down, speeding up, and sometimes off-key scream of punk. It is the slight singing behind the note or scooping up into the next note in the swing. Also, it is simply the kooky offbeat but strangely poetic sounds of voices that are not perfect you did not expect.

Why then does his music on the recorded versions of things sound like this?

Autotune is clear in this one and I would argue that it is part of the plan of the song. Not trying to hide anything. Additionally, with all the music done on computers, you have perfect time, perfect drums, perfect simulations of “feel” and perfect pitch.

Pitch correction is not always this noticeable. As technology improves, it is more and more commonly being used to “clean up” a recording and make it sound like your favorite pop star is hitting all the notes. It literally still sounds like them but pitch perfect.

Imagine a ubiquitous pop song from the 80s and run it through Pro tools to even all the drum hits and Pitch correction to “fix” singing. it would be a completely different song… and a boring one at that. We have been seduced to think that pop music has to be perfect.

Back to me not sounding like an old guy. I am not here to say that good music cant be made on a computer or that 100% synthesized music is bad simply because of the way it is made.

My point is this. Stop pretending that it IS human. Perfection is not human. If Bon Jovi cant make it through a TV performance, what good does it do anyone to run it through the machine and pretend? Just make AI music. Who cares if it is realy Taylor Swift? Might as well be a Roomba Vacuum. People still buy music from certain artists because they think they are buying something real. A real expression of a person. If music is not authentic then it is disingenuous, or even misleading to sell Michael Buble as an artist when you are getting the computer-aided perfect version of it. That is why we still don’t allow steroids in sports. Computer-produced music has a place and can be an art form. Just give us some transparency. Let us know that we are not buying someone’s actual voice and the drummer is not that talented, because many people think they still are.

Nurses, Doctors, Medical Professionals Deserve MORE! Ft. Covid-19

The COVID-19 outbreak is one of the most significant public issues that this nation has faced. COVID-19 was declared a national emergency in March 2020. Ever since then, life has been completely different, we were in quarantine for months, gas prices hit a dollar for the first time in decades, and this country’s unemployment rate was the highest since the great depression. The reason why I believe the COVID-19 outbreak was the biggest issue since the 2008 recession is because it changed millions of American’s lives. With that being said, imagine the doctors, nurses, and medical professionals who worked tirelessly during the pandemic, witnessing people die from this disease, having the entire country call your work/profession a lie or a hoax, and dealing with aggressive patients refusing to wear a mask or social distance. Nurses, Doctors, and medical professionals are burnt out, they’ve been exhausted and overworked since the pandemic started, they have to deal with toxic management, who prioritize making $$$ over saving lives. 

My mother currently works at one of the largest hospitals in Minnesota and she worked during the pandemic. Every day when she’d come home after work, she’d update me on how “filled up & packed” the hospital is. She witnessed Nurses get emotional because there weren’t enough beds in the ICU for COVID patients. The most upsetting thing she told me was how they prioritize people, for instance, if an ambulance rushes in a patient, they will get helped first, instead of the sick patient with COVID. I’ll never forget when she told me that her hospital set up tents, and filled them with COVID patients. All while people are still partying, socializing, and putting more people at risk. 

You might be asking where I’m going with this, and I’ll tell you. 15,000 Minnesota Nurses have gone on Strike because they’re not being paid fairly, they are short-staffed and overworked, and both of these factors harm patient care. Because when these Nurses go on strike, there will be nobody who will help patients. These are the same Nurses who worked so hard and saved lives throughout the pandemic and the Union representing them is not providing them with what they deserve. Nurses, Doctors, and all Medical Professionals deserve higher pay & better working conditions. I don’t know why this has lasted longer than it already has, these people helped save lives during the pandemic. They faced the ugly and put themselves at risk every day by working directly with COVID. 

If Nurses and Doctors don’t receive better working conditions & pay, they will leave their profession and that will put many American lives in potential danger because it will soon become a game of “Which life should we prioritize today? & We need to help this patient first, they are more urgent”. I don’t want to live in a world, where my life is measured by the sense of urgency. COVID-19 caused so much damage to the health workforce, there’s this quote from this article that caught my eye We’re doing twice as much work essentially for the same compensation and with fewer resources.”- This came from an ICU nurse with 14 years of experience, this is so devastating. Action needs to be taken place, and the state needs to do something, there should NOT be a nursing shortage, these are great people who dedicated their lives to help and save ours, and they deserve excellent working conditions, and pay.  

References:

Pictures Are Worth Words, Why Don’t They Have Them?

Every month, you click through thousands of pictures, perhaps even more. You keep up with friends, shop for important or beautiful things, gather information from snazzy infographics. It makes sense. The internet is visual, pages on pages spreading before you in the interconnected, brightly colored smorgasbord of content inherent to its very nature. And it should be. Pictures are gorgeous, and our class text makes very clear how important it is that content catches the eye. But for some people, a picture alone doesn’t work, no matter how fancy the page. Some people need words. Thankfully, the internet has ways to make that happen. But content creators aren’t using them.

When people use words to describe a picture, its called alt, (alternative,) text. Not only does it help Google sort your images into better search results, it also makes images accessible to people who use screen readers, software that speaks everything on the screen and makes devices accessible without sight. More information on this technology can be found here. Without alt texts, screen readers might announce the word, “Image,” or read the file name such as “078GUU.jpeg, according to this thorough article. Such extraneous words when trying to look through a page are at best unhelpful and at worst cluttering as a totally blind user trying to scroll through a web page or a social media feed. But with good alt text, the pictures become relevant, clear and often interesting. Some platforms are beginning to attempt to bridge this gap with AI, but as this page so clearly illustrates,  it frankly does a terribly inadequate job, often spouting things like, “May be an image of cup.” Thankfully, humans do much better, though results are still varied.

Good descriptions differ a lot in length and focus, perfectly natural when there are so many types of images. They might be brief. “Model wearing a red floral dress with a sweetheart neckline and short sleeves,” for example, to accompany a listing in a shop that might have a wider description below. It might be long, “Two toddler boys, one with red hair and the other with blond, demolish a chocolate cake. The blonde-haired boy has frosting all over his face,” for something like a social media post or perhaps a description in a picture book. The above article suggests making sure you’re brief, no more than 125 characters, and clear in detail. Think about it like you’re trying to describe the image over the phone, and don’t include too much extraneous content. I’ve seen those same standards reflected in other research and real-world examples, but it’s very flexible, depending on the needs and preferences of an author. Its also an incredibly interesting art, because you get to decide what’s relevant, and that will very much depend on what kind of context or message your visual carries. Take the example of the two boys above. If they’re wearing yellow shirts, one is white, one is black, and they’re in a kitchen with blue walls, how much of that matters? All of it? None? If it’s a housing advertisement, perhaps the kitchen needs some love. Skin color is generally important these days, so an author might want to add that regardless. But so much around what gets highlighted has to do with purpose, so there’s no one right answer. This might make some people feel daunted, which might mean it gets neglected altogether, but that can’t continue to stand. Leaving images unlabeled is shutting a whole group out of the beauty, uniqueness and wisdom the Internet has to offer.

As of February 2021, a New York Times article states that 60.6% of home pages have no alt text, and a study in 2019 of 1.09 million tweets with images found that only 0.1 percent included it, as well. Please, help put an end to babbled file names and unhelpful descriptions. Here is a full guide on how to add alt text to some of the top social media sites. And if you want even more advice on writing descriptions, you can check out Alt Text is Poetry, a really unique project with a great mission to humanize the process while making it better for all involved. Shine a little bit of light into the darkened jumble at the heart of the net, one described picture at a time. Your visually impaired viewers will thank you.

It’s time for an extra cup

I have no doubt many of the bloggers here are like myself and can’t seem to get enough java during the workweek. Over the years we’ve all heard the warnings and hazards of having too much. While some concern is warranted regarding caffeine addiction and the ramifications of such should not be taken lightly. Coffee can actually provide a lot of positive effects for the body if consumed in normal quantities.

There have been a lot of studies conducted on the effects of coffee that prove, time and time again, that the benefits really do outweigh the risks. For example, a decade-long study that was concluded in 2018 found that 500,000 coffee drinking adults were 10%-15% less likely to die than non-coffee drinkers. If that isn’t enough reason to have another cup it’s worth mentioning that coffee is also a natural antioxidant and reduces inflammation. 

While the perks of coffee sound great, the catch is that the people receiving these benefits are drinking multiple cups a day. To maintain a healthy range the experts recommend that we drink three cups a day and no more than five since the positive effects diminish after that point. As I reviewed these studies I want to point out that there wasn’t a consensus on whether the coffee had to be caffeinated or not. However, logic would dictate that if caffeine intake is a concern it’s probably best to stay safe and drink decaf. 

https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/science-says-you-should-drink-this-much-coffee-in-2022.html

Why More Young People Should Consider Co-Buying

What is Co-Buying?

Co-Buying is the process of purchasing a house with two or more people in the pursuit of homeownership. Not everyone can afford a house these days and with the constant increase in inflation it becomes even more difficult to achieve. One must also consider the amount of insurance fees, maintenance costs, and taxes. That can be alot for one person to handle, so co-buying works as a stress reliever and means of shared equity.

Why Are Homes So Expensive?

The increase in price we have seen in the housing market is do to multiple factors but one that seems to almost be running unchecked and is also being enabled by our government is the mass purchasing of homes by hedge fund companies. Forbes.com states that the amount of homes for sale on a given day in february has gone down 24.5% percent from last year (https://www.forbes.com/advisor/mortgages/why-houses-are-expensive/). After the 2008 recession president Obama put the “Home Affordable Modification Program in place to help 4 million people with a $75 billion buyout but it didn’t work and 9 million lost their homes. The issue is that after these people lost their homes hedge funds would buy them out, sell them at a 30-50 percent lower price, and rent them out. As housing prices increased, the apartments around them increased in rental price as well. (https://peoplesworld.org/article/how-the-government-helps-wall-street-landlords-convert-family-homes-to-rentals/)

Proposition 13 is a piece of legislation that was put in place in california to protect homeowners from higher tax rates but instead fueled the government to do the exact opposite which was lower the incentive for the government to build affordable housing and instead focusing more on a gas station or mechanic which had higher gains in property taxes. Bills like this are being used all over the country and the main way they succeed is in making sure you do not know about it.

How Does Co-Buying Protect Against Increasing Housing Costs?

As time goes on co-buying will become a more common practice because of how our society is designed around equity. It is becoming harder and harder for the middle class to break into the housing market and this is an issue because passing down homes from a parent to child is one of the main ways members of the middle class build equity. Co-Buying allows you to get an earlier start on building that equity with others without having to handle all of the risk on your own, as no one wants to get stuck with a home loan they cannot pay off.

Why Masking Should Be Here to Stay

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2022/02/covid-mask-mandate-washington-dc/622860/

Of all the lessons that have scared me during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that you don’t know who you will hurt or kill if you catch the virus and silently pass it on to someone else. I have medical professionals in my family who have been taking care of extremely sick patients who sometimes would end up on ventilators and pass away, the majority of them being unvaccinated.

I am pro-vaccine, pro-masking and consider myself pro-public health. I grew up receiving the round of required vaccines for going back to school like many other children across the US. I have learned to accept the choice people have to decide whether or not they will receive a vaccine (even though it affects my family members working in the medical field who will end up caring for them if they get horribly sick), but I find it hard to accept a person’s choice to not wear a mask in public spaces during a pandemic.

Consider the fact that other countries who have faced deadly viral outbreaks like the SARS epidemic in 2003-04, where approximately 8000 people died from 29 different countries [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7159403/ – Overview on SARS in Asia and the World], where wearing masks in public expected. Yes, eastern cultures are typically more community-oriented – and in the west, particularly the United States, we embrace individualism and certain personal freedoms – therein lies some of the reasons why there is tremendous public discourse over things like vaccine mandates and mask mandates. The personal choice we have to wear a mask (or not) during COVID-19 pandemic is different than other freedoms we embrace, because it is a choice that affects the personal safety and well-being of others (if the virus is passed on from one infected person to the other).

The recent ruling by Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle to toss out the federal mandate for wearing masks on airlines has been deeply disappointing, and has no basis in supporting public health measures. “When U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle tossed out the federal government’s transportation mask mandate on Monday, she relied in part on her interpretation of the term “sanitation.”” [(https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/04/19/1093641691/mask-mandate-judge-public-health-sanitation#:~:text=When%20U.S.%20District%20Judge%20Kathryn,of%20the%20term%20%22sanitation.%22)%5D. I am hoping to see this overturned or challenged in the court system as soon as possible, because not only have many of us been looking forward to traveling safely, but it still affects the immuno-compromised who cannot get vaccinated and have a significantly higher chance of getting sick and passing away. Wearing a mask is a personal choice, but it is one that affects people around us and should continue to be mandated in public areas by the government to protect the health and well-being of everyone.

Homelessness in Minneapolis

Minnesota is ranked 16th for homelessness. You may be asking yourself what that means. In 2020, Minnesota had approximately 8,000 experiencing homelessness. This includes those unsheltered, sheltered, in hotels, or suffering from chronic homelessness. California is the leading state with the highest homeless rate with approximately 152,000 homeless. The difference of amount is what ranks us sixteenth and what ranks california as first.

Within the state of Minnesota, Minneapolis has a high amount of homeless in one area. It is quite obviously a problem. Not because there are homeless around our parks and schools. It’s the fact that the number of homeless are increasing, especially with the pandemic. This is an issue that needs to addressed. We need to take a step and act to help the community around us. If we don’t, the problem will only get worse.

Minneapolis’s Population of Homeless

There are many homeless encampments throughout the city of Minneapolis. The one that is most populous is the Powderhorn Park encampment. Homeless were evicted out of neighboring hotels suddenly after George Floyd’s killing. They were forced to venture for new shelter which landed them to the nearest park, Powderhorn. Currently, there are about 550 tents at this park. The people’s response was welcoming and full of helping hands. Volunteers, neighbors, and organizations rushed in to care for the homeless that was quickly evolving. Organizations started organzing funds to donate the bare necessities. Elected officals seemed to be overlooking this blaring issue as if it weren’t a problem. These volunteers advocated for the homeless and demanded help from policymakers of the city and state.

Problems still lingered despite these efforts. Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, Governor Tim Walz sent $6 million of relief to the Minnesota Zoo. Money that could have been better utilized for the homeless. Now that the eviction moratorium has been lifted, those not eligible for the COVID-19 emergency relief can be evicted. This is worrisome because this means the homeless population will climb even higher as people and families are evicted from their homes. Protestors took this issue of ignorance into their own hands and camped outside of the govenors residence to advocate for the homeless and the funds they undeniably deserve.

City’s Response

As encampments started growing, the concerns from the surrounding community arose. Residents complained to the city and county because the encampment was mere feet from passing cars, and between two alternative high schools, prompting one to end in-person schooling and go online. They said people openly sold and consumed drugs and walked into traffic.

As a response to these concerns, the city began a clearing out process that affected many encampments. This act ultimately displaced the homeless residing there. The recent clear outs were the North Loop and Powderhorn encampments in Minneapolis. This upset both homeless and activists, so they took this into their own hands to protest this ugly act.

Activists confronted police and expressed the lack of understanding about homelessness. These activists were quick to inform them that not enough is being done for those who need a home the most, which is true. The city isn’t helping, it’s only making the problem worse. The clear outs are based on crime in the area that residents report and the deterioration of the area. These are baseless accusations and the city needs to realize that there is no proven correlation. It’s just a mask for the ugly truth of their feelings. Generalizations are drawn from the homeless population way to often. It’s time to stop and implement programs that will actually help the homeless and not drag them down further.

In order to change other people’s mindsets on the issue of homelessness, we need to bring awareness. Protestors are doing one thing that has made an impact, they are marching for the homeless that have died due to the homeless conditions. The frigid cold being the top cause of their deaths. Even though the tempature was below freezing on December 19 – the day of the march – they still followed through. This is only proving that they are desparate for awareness, and for help. I agree with them. The signs have names, ages, and locations. This personalization will impact those not aware of the cause substantially, hopefully,

Minnesota’s Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness

The state of Minnesota realizes that everyone should be treated equal. For the homeless, this means providing stable homes, employment, and resources for their overall well-being.If this is provided, the community will only prosper.

The state’s main program is called Heading Home Together, which was presented in Minnesota’s 2018-2020 action plan to prevent and end homelessness. This plan is different that the last that was proposed. This one urges for all minnesotans to take part in this cause. If we realize our awareness contributes to the prevention and end to homelessness, we can make a difference. We all play a role in this action plan and we will continue too, especially me.

I admire what the state is trying to do here. The city’s response has been extremely negative and something I do not agree with. The only aspect I agree with is the positive advocacy. The state realizes the issues with this community of homeless. There is nothing for them. Nothing is provided or noticed by the city other than the crime in their area that residents pick on because they are uncomfortable for no good reason. This plan does the complete opposite and urges minnesotans to fulfill their role. The one thing we can do to make a change.

If more acts like this were implemented, the awareness could change the game. Influence from protestors would ultimately affect the city’s decision process when it comes to the homeless. Maybe funds will be allocated to the population, or donations will be made. If we try hard enough, we can make a change that’ll impact a community that needs love and comfort. I believe in helping the homeless and I hope you do as well after reading this.

Resources

https://www.fox9.com/news/protesters-gather-at-powderhorn-park-after-homeless-encampment-asked-to-vacate

https://mn.gov/dhs/heading-home-minnesota/

Adopt from a Rescue Shelter

A cause that I am very passionate about is adopting your animals from a shelter. When you adopt an animal from a shelter you are saving an animal’s life and emotionally rescuing them from their past as well. There are plenty of animals living at rescues that are in need of a home and need to be shown that they are loved. You could be the person that changes that animal’s life when you take them in.

Benefits of Adopting an Adult Rescue Dog

There is a big stereotype around shelter dogs having many behavior issues but actually many shelter dogs have been through some training. In the shelter, many dogs have been updated on their vaccines, and checkups through the vet. The shelter staff can also share important information about your new furry friend’s personality. This way you will know what to expect when you bring you dog home with you. This link that I found explains the many benefits, including the ones that I have listed above about adopting a dog from a rescue shelter. Adopting vs Buying a Pet — Are Purebred Dogs Better than Mixed Breeds?

This is the Best Time to Adopt a Dog

Ever since the pandemic started in 2020, most people have been stuck working from home. If you are one of those people who are working from home all the time, this is the best time to invest your time in getting a new companion to enjoy the time at home with you. Adopting a dog could not only save your new friend’s life but save another dog’s life who needs a shelter to save them as well! By adopting you will also discourage mass breeding from taking place as well. This link tells all about the benefits of adopting a dog: Why Adopt a Shelter Dog

When you decide to adopt a dog, please consider going to your local dog shelter and saving a dog’s life that day!

The Ocean’s Most Barbaric Practice Continues to Thrive

Humans kill 80 – 100 million sharks annually. Many have their fins sliced off and are discarded back into the ocean still alive. The fins are used for shark fin soup, an East Asian dish associated with wealth. As apex predators in many ecosystems, the disappearance of sharks is causing dangerous imbalances in marine communities worldwide.

What is shark finning?

Shark finning is the gruesome practice of cutting off a live shark’s fins and discarding the body back into the sea. Because of the high commercial value of shark fins and the relatively low value of shark meat, fishermen take only the fins and leave the rest of the body behind—an extremely cruel and wasteful practice. Appallingly, the sharks are usually conscious through much of the ordeal.

Why is it a problem?

Shark populations around the globe have faced extremely steep declines due to years of exploitation for their fins, cartilage, meat, and liver oil. There is a robust global market for shark fins in particular to meet the demand for shark fin soup.  

Around 50% of the dried fin market is brokered through Hong Kong and China is the primary market for shark fin. However, shark fin is still a major trade and is consumed widely in the USA, putting shark populations at risk.

Continued demand for shark fin soup, dumplings, and other shark fin dishes served in restaurants around the world perpetuates the practice of finning, resulting in an estimated 100 million sharks being killed each year for their fins alone. Large shark populations are declining globally, and many species are imminently threatened with extinction.

Shark fins are used to make shark fin soup, a delicacy once prepared exclusively for the Chinese emperors and nobility.

Business is good…

In the past 20 years or so, the demand for shark-fin soup has skyrocketed. It is still associated with privilege and social rank – a bowl of soup can cost up to US$100 – but the explosive growth in the Chinese economy means that hundreds of millions of people can now afford this “luxury.”

Viewed as a delicacy and status symbol, the shark fin is typically eaten shredded in a jelly-like soup at weddings and family banquets. “The shark fins themselves don’t taste of anything,” says Andrea Richey, Executive Director of Hong Kong Shark Foundation . “The taste comes only from the soup broth. It’s the texture of the shark fin that people like and the fact that it is a luxury item. It’s conspicuous consumption. It’s about showing wealth and status by ordering the best or most expensive item.”

The cartilage from a shark fin is carefully dried and prepared, and used as an ingredient in a soup flavored with seafood or chicken broth and herbs.

Is shark fin soup healthy?

Shark fin soup has been associated with a variety of benefits from increased virility to longer life.  However, the fin is purely cartilage, the same compound in human, cow, and other vertebrates.  Cartilage has no nutritional value.  Any benefit would come from the broth and other ingredients added.

Why this issue is important

This practice is barbaric in nature, unsustainable and unethical. As apex predators, large sharks like great white sharks, play an important role at the top of the marine food chain. Removing these top predators creates an imbalance called a trophic cascade leading to less abundance and declining ecosystem health. Without them, the entire food chain can be affected, negatively impacting the entire ecosystem, including fish humans love to eat.

Progress

The U.S. Congress banned shark finning in 2000, but the legislation has loopholes. For starters, fishermen are still allowed to have a limited number of separated fins onboard, if the rest of the animal isn’t dumped back overboard to die. But the measure can be hard to enforce and leaves plenty of room for cheating.

But the Shark Conservation Act closed such loopholes. The bill forces fishermen to bring sharks to port with their fins still attached—a requirement that advocates hope would, by virtue of freezer space alone, finally provide some real limits to their haul.

“It’s very sad to know that we are contributing to the demise of one of the greatest animals in history,” says HSI campaign manager Iris Ho, herself a Taiwanese American. “It’s shocking, it’s embarrassing, and I just know we have to stop it. And I just honestly think that if Chinese people, if we are contributing to the problem, then the solution is also with us. We have to stop it.”

What can you do?

Sign this petition to end the cruel practice of shark finning: https://chng.it/M8bxfCTMXD

Sign the petition asking Fed Ex to join 35 airlines including UPS, DHL and Air China and stop facilitating this unsustainable trade of endangered and threatened sharks. https://chng.it/qrt9Vtnp7t

Now that you are aware of this cruel and unethical practice, share this message on social media, inform your friends and family, sign a petition, donate to the cause, boycott restaurants that use shark fin in their foods, keep the conversation going.  

Sharks still lack sufficient protection from the cruelty of shark finning and because of the fragility of shark populations, this blog is a leading effort to compel you to care.

– April

Links:

https://ocean.si.edu/ocean-life/sharks-rays/shark-finning-sharks-turned-prey

https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/shark-finning-cruelest-cuts