Engines of Anxiety: Academic Rankings, Reputation, and Accountability

Engines of Anxiety: Academic Rankings, Reputation, and Accountability

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Students and the public routinely consult various published college rankings to assess the quality of colleges and universities and easily compare different schools. However, many institutions have responded to the rankings in ways that benefit neither the schools nor their students. In Engines of Anxiety, sociologists Wendy Espeland and Michael Sauder delve deep into the mechanisms of law school rankings, which have become a top priority within legal education. Based on a wealth of observational data and over 200 in-depth interviews with law students, university deans, and other administrators, they show how the scramble for high rankings has affected the missions and practices of many law schools.

Engines of Anxiety tracks how rankings, such as those published annually by the U.S. News & World Report, permeate every aspect of legal education, beginning with the admissions process. The authors find that prospective law students not only rely heavily on such rankings to evaluate school quality, but also internalize rankings as expressions of their own abilities and flaws. For example, they often view rejections from “first-tier” schools as a sign of personal failure. The rankings also affect the decisions of admissions officers, who try to balance admitting diverse classes with preserving the school’s ranking, which is dependent on factors such as the median LSAT score of the entering class. Espeland and Sauder find that law schools face pressure to admit applicants with high test scores over lower-scoring candidates who possess other favorable credentials.

Engines of Anxiety also reveals how rankings have influenced law schools’ career service departments. Because graduates’ job placements play a major role in the rankings, many institutions have shifted their career-services resources toward tracking placements, and away from counseling and network-building. In turn, law firms regularly use school rankings to recruit and screen job candidates, perpetuating a cycle in which highly ranked schools enjoy increasing prestige. As a result, the rankings create and reinforce a rigid hierarchy that penalizes lower-tier schools that do not conform to the restrictive standards used in the rankings. The authors show that as law schools compete to improve their rankings, their programs become more homogenized and less accessible to non-traditional students.

The ranking system is considered a valuable resource for learning about more than 200 law schools. Yet, Engines of Anxiety shows that the drive to increase a school’s rankings has negative consequences for students, educators, and administrators and has implications for all educational programs that are quantified in similar ways.

Engines of Anxiety Academic Rankings Reputation and Accountability



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Natural Cure for Asthma Found in Fiji

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According to World Health Organization estimates, nearly 300 million people around the world suffer from asthma, with nearly 10% of the global population diagnosed with this lifelong respiratory disease. In the United States, around 70% of asthmatics also have allergies to pollen and certain foods, especially dairy, with the annual economic cost of asthma reaching US$20 billion in medical and indirect costs, with prescription drugs representing the largest single direct medical expenditure at US$6 billion. Every year, nearly 250,000 people die from asthma related complications.

There is currently no known medical cure for asthma, with asthmatics enduring a continuous management regime of steroids, inhalers and nebulizers to help reduce its symptoms. But an 11 year old Australian boy begs to differ with medical science, and claims that a traditional Fijian remedy for asthma has cured him, with no relapse for the past 12 months since he underwent an incredibly moving and traditional Fijian ritual. At the age of five, Tanner Blessington from Sydney’s north shore in Australia contracted the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) at the start of winter and ended up being hospitalized and treated with intravenous fluids and ventolin immediately. RSV is a major cause of respiratory illness across all ages in nearly every country, but school-aged children are particularly susceptible during colder months as colds and flu spread and place their immune systems under enormous pressure. RSV was first discovered in 1956 and since been recognized by the medical profession as one of the most common causes of childhood illnesses.

The Blessington family visit Fiji every year for holidays but on one visit they learned from a Fijian working at one of the resorts that his mother claimed to have the gift to cure asthma. Tanner’s mother, Leanne, just shrugged the comment off as a Fijian myth but remained curious for another two years, when by a second chance meeting, she met the same man. Still curious but acutely aware that it might just be a scam for money, she decided to take the next step and meet this mysterious mother. In pouring rain, the Blessington’s took a taxi to the local village to meet the man’s wife and three children. His elderly mother came straight up to Tanner and said that she had a dream that he was coming to see her. After a few hours of pleasantries, Leanne and husband Adrian were asked to leave the room, so that the elderly women could concentrate on helping young Tanner. With night approaching and still raining, the men of the family went to climb a nuidamu coconut tree to retrieve an orange-red coconut, and to get a medicinal tree root. Without any safety equipment, one of the men climbed a tall palm tree, carefully removed a few coconuts, tied a rope around each bundle and gently lowered them to the ground. Nuidamu coconuts are highly respected in traditional medicine and the utmost care was taken not to let them hit the ground.

Returning back to the house, the older woman began shaving the skin of the root over newspaper, like peeling cassava root. The shavings were then bundled up inside the stringy, vau bark of the coconut tree to form a bundle, and immersed into the coconut water to let it infuse and absorb. In the meantime, as the family continued to pray and chant, she ran her finger across Tanner’s hand and up the underside of his arm and said to him, “this will not work if you don’t have love inside you”. All negativity and stress had to go from his mind, as well as his parents who were sitting nearby. This was especially difficult for his parents, as they had just heard that their Sydney home had been robbed and most of their jewellery and possessions had been stolen whilst they were in Fiji. Leanne tells of the hardship to rid herself of stress but she was determined to do everything right to make this work for her son.

Once the bark and shaved roots had absorbed most of the coconut water, they were hand-squeezed to extract the essential oils and tree sap back into a bowl, leaving only the dry bark and root in a bundle, which she put to one side. Tanner had his first drink of the herbal water and said it didn’t taste as bad as Western medicine. After more ceremony and prayer, Tanner had one final ritual to perform. He had to swim out to the deepest point in the sea and throw the dry bark bundle as far as he could and say “goodbye to my asthma”. He was told that he had to drink the rest of the mixture, with top ups of more nuidamu coconut water, for the next seven days. He couldn’t drink any other liquids including water, juice or the gravy from his favorite curries – only the coconut medicine that had been made. This was probably because it may have diluted the potency of the herbal drink, ensuring the traditional medicine could do its job. Leanne was still skeptical, but there was no money exchanged and the old woman simply asked that they had faith and put their hearts and minds to believing the treatment would work. On day eight, Tanner mustered up the courage to put the treatment to the ultimate test. With his inhaler at the ready, he ordered the biggest ice cream sundae. To everyone’s surprise, there was no reaction. No wheezing, no constricted airway, his asthma had miraculously disappeared. For the next 12 months, Leanne held her breath, constantly monitoring her son’s condition back home in Australia, unsure if and when his asthma may return. It didn’t. On their return to Fiji just recently, Tanner fulfilled one his biggest dreams that his previous condition had prevented him doing. He learned to scuba dive. “On the dive application form, it asked if I had any medical condition. I ticked no. I used to have asthma but it is now out there at sea” said young Tanner.

In the book, “Secrets of Fijian Medicine”, Dr. Michael Weiner, a professor at the University of California in the US, spent several years in Fiji during the 1980’s working with the government and the United Nations Development Programme to document Fiji’s ancient herbal remedies. In it, Tanner’s treatment is documented and well known to many Fijian elders. Tree roots used to treat asthma include vesi (intsia bijuga) and vadra aerial roots (pandanus) and both are commonly found throughout parts of South East Asia and the Pacific Islands. The sacred orange-red coconuts are also listed in his book. Native to Asia and Polynesia, the niudamu tall palm tree grows to a height of 100 feet and bears mainly yellow and orange-red coloured coconuts. Belonging to the cocos nucifera L. family, this unique tree is known in Fijian medicine to also cure a number of ailments like fish poisoning, infected sores, scabies and is used as a general antibacterial agent.

Studies of coconut oil around the world reveals that pure virgin coconut oil, cold-pressed and not heat-treated like that processed in Fiji’s copra mills, is very high in antioxidants that are beginning to be recognized around the world to help stop brain degeneration and life threatening bacterial and viral diseases. MCT’s (middle chain triglycerides) are in high concentration in virgin coconut oils containing 60% of the good antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties of any known oil. Lauric acid is also naturally occurring in coconut, and like breast milk, acts as an antibacterial and antiviral to both kill germs and nourish the cells. Our modern diet, especially in Western cultures, lacks MCT, which was always mostly found in coconut oil and now you will find it lacking or nonexistent in most cooking oils you use today. One of today’s characteristic health problems is high cholesterol mostly in the form of LDLs (low density lipoproteins), with low HDLs (high density lipoproteins), and high triglycerides. What’s interesting about coconut oil is it increases HDL, reduces LDL, and reduces the triglycerides all at once. MCT oil is also being used in a number of applications in the US for treatment of a range of viral diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, asthma, eczema and HIV, as it is believed that this ancient medicine in a coconut is one of nature’s gifts of a highly effective, non-toxic remedy to kill viruses and bacteria in the body.

So does Fijian traditional medicine hold the clues and secrets to curing asthma and other modern diseases? Medical science says no, but for one young Australian boy, the “Tree of Life” takes on a whole new meaning.

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Unethical Search Engine Optimization Explained

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If you've ever thought about hiring a professional search engine optimization (SEO) consultant or read about SEO as a subject then you may have seen the term "black hat" mentioned. Let's take a closer look at what black hat SEO really means.

To begin with, we'll revisit what is meant by the term search engine optimization (SEO). SEO referers to methods that improve search engine rankings for a particular website. Techniques can vary but will often involve making the most of the website by ensuring that its content and structure appeal to search engines, as well as visitors.

There are various schools of thought on how best to carry out such optimization. As far as the major search engines are concerned, there are ethical methods of improving search engine rankings and unethical methods.

Within the professional search engine community, ethical techniques are known as "white hat", while techniques that are viewed as unethical have been labeled "black hat".

White Hat SEO involves making the best use of the structure and content of the website to improve rankings. Black Hat techniques will often involve trying to fool a search engine into believing that a particular website is more relevant or highly regarded than it actually is.

Examples of Black Hat methods may include cloaking, which is where a search engine is effectively shown a different version of a website to visitors. Other techniques would include employing hidden text and links.

Although Black Hat SEO can have some impressive results, the major search engines are constantly trying to clamp down on such methods, banning websites who employ them.

For long-term results, ethical White Hat methods are the most effective.

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How to Use Alexa for Tracking Website Traffic

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Upon making a website the next step is to optimize it on search engines through generating site traffic. With good rankings, your site will be popular among online users, giving you greater opportunities of attracting more possible customers.

There are many ways to generate traffic for your website. You can apply different search engine optimization techniques such as article / video marketing, keyword research, creating back links, and others to gain organic traffic or acquire paid advertisements for quick visibility.

Because of online marketing's popularity, people in the business industry are making its way to utilize the power of the World Wide Web. And with this, an intense competition among businesses already exists.

To keep up with the competition of the game, you must regularly monitor your traffic. It is a must to every site owner to know what is happening within their website so they can do some adjustments for further improvement.

There are many traffic tracking sites that you can use to monitor your web traffic. Now, let's take Alexa first.

Owned by Amazon, Alexa is a popular website traffic tracking site that is proven to be highly effective because it enables you to see what is more than just graphs. It features traffic rank, page views, reach, bounce and search percentage, and the time the viewer spent on the site.

Other information helpful to your marketing is demographics. More than the amount of traffic to your website, Alexa also enables you to know the gender, age, education, and even the family details of the site visitor.

With this, you will be able to make your branding according to the background of most of your visitors. In an instance, if you're generating traffic from people aging 20-40, you can set the branding such as lay-out, feel, and language to fit into the preferences of your viewers.

More than the traffic volume, Alexa also does website analysis such as your measuring keyword effectiveness, knowing links made from your site, and others. With this, you can make changes to improve your content.

The great thing about Alexa is that you can know how the competitors' website is doing such as the volume of their site traffic, pages with the most views, the site before they landed on that site, and the keywords used. By doing these details, you can work on your site to overpower your competitors.

Since your visitors are your priority, Alexa lets you know the feedback from your visitors through their comments. This feature enables you to determine what things that are needed to be improved.

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