Tutor profile: Sofia L.
Why do we dream and what do our dreams mean?
According to recent research, dreaming is our brain's way of organizing all the things we've thought about, experienced and learned that day. If you pay attention to the themes in your dream, you'll notice that they tend to reflect things that have gone on in your mind that day (albeit sometimes depicted in pretty creative, even weird ways). That is your brain taking each of those little bits of information, processing them, and then reorganizing them in a way that allow it easy access in the future. It's like tidying up your desk drawers. You have several drawers with different purposes. Within each, you might have different boxes or folders or areas where you store certain groups of things. Office supplies will go here, documents there, notebooks in another area. You do this so that you have control over the items and can find each one you need quickly and with ease when you need it. If we didn't dream, our minds would be a confusing jumble of random information all mixed together, and we'd barely be able to collect our thoughts. The reason dreams are sometimes "weird" and not a direct replay of events is precisely because of this reorganization. If you're thinking about moving, you might dream that you're in your childhood house. This is because your brain is processing today's thoughts into the category of "home/house" and its first or strongest association of this may be your childhood home. If you're nervous about an upcoming event, you might dream that your teeth are falling out. This is your brain's way of processing the fact that you're afraid of losing something important, like your high GPA after an upcoming exam. Dreams are also insightful when it comes to our subconscious thoughts - those that we don't consciously think about, but are in the back of our mind. Your brain still needs to process these subconscious thoughts, so they might surface in your dreams.
Subject: Political Science
What is the First Past The Post system and how does it influence the representation of citizens?
First Past The Post (FPTP) is a type of voting system, known and appreciated for its simplicity and low administrative costs. Some of the most notable examples of countries using the FPTP system are the US, the UK, and India. In this system, the country is divided into districts or constituencies, containing roughly the same number of citizens. Individuals who live within these districts vote for a single official who will represent the area. The candidate who gets the largest number of votes (the first person past the post) wins, even if he/she wins by a single vote. Each district has a corresponding seat in government. Since each candidate is a representatives of a certain party, the more districts a party wins, the more seats it gets in government. While the FPTP system is straightforward and cost-effective, there are a number of issues associated with it. Most notably, it's often not representative of the population's actual voting behavior. As previously mentioned, it only takes one vote to win a majority. That means that in a district of 10,000 people, if 5,001 vote for a certain candidate, that candidate wins, and the votes of all the other citizens in that district is not taken into account. While this is an extreme example, it does demonstrate how the legislative makeup in countries with a FPTP system may not accurately reflect what the public voted for. A modern real-life example of this is the most recent 2019 UK general election. The Conservative party won 44% of the popular (total) vote in the election, but it took 56% of seats because of the constituencies it won. A distortion can also be seen when comparing the performance of different parties. The Liberal Democrats received 11.5% of the popular vote and received 11 seats. In contrast, the Scottish Nationalist Party received 3.9% of the popular vote and received 48 seats. This shows us that the final number of seats a party receives is highly dependent on the geographic distribution of its voters. If they are spread across the country and do not make up the majority of certain districts, the party they support will not win seats, even if the number of supporters is actually higher than that of another party. An arguably better system is the Proportional Representation system, in which the percentage of votes a party gets is equivalent to the percentage of seats it receives in government. In this system, all members of the public are represented, not only majorities like in the FPTP system.
Subject: International Relations
What incentive do large state players have to follow the rules of international organizations, if they have the power to do as they please?
First, let's talk about power. There are different kinds of "power," but here we will distinguish between what is called "hard" power and "soft" power. Using "hard" power means employing military or economic policies/tactics, often in an aggressive manner, in order to achieve one's political goals. "Soft" power, as its name would suggest, is less combative and it rather focuses on incentivizing through positive diplomatic and cultural practices. In a developed, globalized and cultured world, states want to use soft power before they use hard power, as it is much less disruptive to the world order. International organizations serve as a global meeting point, where state representatives can get together and discuss how to work towards the collective goals of peace and prosperity. An important aspect of this is determining the limits of both hard and soft power. International organizations are also observers and mediators in the global arena, making sure that each state complies with the rules set forward, or penalized for breaking them. They encourage 1) the use of soft power over hard power and 2) the compliance with international rules and regulations. A state with a lot of hard or soft power could choose to go against these rules and go on the offensive. However, there would be serious repercussions for such actions, with a large part of the international community uniting to penalize them in coordination through international organizations. Additionally, they would lose the trust and support of the international community, which is detrimental in a globalized world. Some examples of this include sanctions, withdrawals from trade deals, or even military interventions. With these risks in mind, there is a great deal of incentive for states to act in accordance with the rules set out by international organizations, and engage in best practices.
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