Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lars Eighner: On Dumpster Diving


When I first saw the title of this essay I thought it was going to be a tearful devotional by some ex-homeless person who would describe their fall to homelessness then the horrible act of digging through dumpsters to find hardly edible scrapes to feed their entire family, but what I read was the exact opposite. He is no uneducated, dirty hobo, but instead an intelligent and almost scientific persona. I found that his essay took on “how to” voice; like he was giving a guide to surviving off of dumpsters. One statement that he left out was that he never tried to make us feel sorry for him or complain about his situation; he was very upbeat and scientific throughout the entire essay.

Even though Mr. Eighner was in a very tough position, being homeless in all, he took his ability step back and see his situation in a different view and was able to produce a well written recap of his time as a homeless individual. Through this view point he explained the process in which he started, perfected, and eventually gave up. Mr. Eighner used constant word choice. I interpret this as he had the same kind of words and phrases; this means he kept his same persona throughout the entire piece.

In conclusion Lars Eighner took a very informal, revolting, and utterly un-socially accepted form of food gathering and made it into a formal, matter-of-fact and interesting topic. If by some random turn of events I became homeless, I would defiantly refer to Lars Eigher’s guide to dumpster diving, let’s just hope I won’t have to.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Amusing Ourselves To Death

I wake up in the morning, take a shower and get dressed and packed for school. Between eating breakfast and trying to remember where I left my shoes; I flip on the TV. Myself and millions of other Americans do the same every single day. As soon as our 42 inch flat screen plasma TVs’ warm up we are instantly assaulted with images of death, war, murders and the weather. This need for information drives us to succumb to the “god” of knowledge, The Today Show. More and more Americans use the TV as not only a way to stay informed, but as a way to silence their children, a so called “cheap” babysitter. In Neil Postman’s book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, he foreshadows how TV will affect the culture and society in the future, and for the most part it has come true.

Look at your own life everywhere you go there is a TV; Home, school, and even in churches. There is no way to escape it, save if you join a commune. Just recently Burlington Edison High School has switched from giving school wide announcements over the intercom, a completely verbal form of communication which Mr. Postman suggests is the most effective way of communicating, to having them read on a video feed. This is done to give the students something to watch as well as listen to in hopes of getting the information to the school more effectively. This is just one more place were TV has planted itself in our daily lives.

Mr. Postman used many rhetorical devices in his book. A major one that is relevant to me is foreshadowing events to come. Many of his predictions came true; like the fact that TV has become an essential element in everyone’s’ lives. TV is every where. Let’s just hope I doesn’t get worse.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Who Needs Oil?

Crude oil extracted from deep in side of the earth, pumped through pipe lines and loaded into oil tankers were it is transported to a refinery. From there it is processed into usable materials like gasoline, kerosene, propane, and other combustible substances. Gasoline is then piped into trucks and shipped to stations that distributes it to the masses to power their cars which they us to transport themselves and cargo to and from home, work, school ect.

This process is repeated day after day from the East coast to the West coast. Hundreds upon hundreds of thousand barrels of crude oil drive our nation’s economy, leisure life, and even our war machine. Our great Kingdom of States is the world’s largest consumer of crude oil, utilizing up to 20,730,000 bbl/day. Our next largest competitor of oil is China; they have nearly three times the population but only use 6,534,000 bbl/day. Many people take on a shell-shocked look as they fill up their 21 gal tank on their 2.1 mpg SUV’s for $66. With crude oil prices climbing to $90 a bbl and our current consumption rate; the oil industry has a net income of roughly $1,867,500,000 per day (20,730,000 X 90) that is roughly $680,980,500,000 per year (1,867,500,000 X 365) that is roughly $6,809,805,000,000 every ten years. With this kind of cash flow every day and every year the oil industry can afford to pay for health care for all of their workers and families and still have enough left over to buy out small agencies to further their wealth. Which they have done, but sooner rather then later this oil is going to run dry. Civil War will explode in unstable Middle Eastern Countries for control of still running oil wells. The stock of oil will skyrocket and eventually lead to another stock market crash. The world economy will come to a screeching halt; prices of goods will increase as well when the cost of gas increases because shipping by ground and air will become outrageous. This addiction to “Black Gold” will lead us down a path of mass panic and war. If all of this doomsday talk is getting you down don’t fret there is plan to say the world and it is quite simple.

First step includes a mass refit of all combustion engines to clean burning and easily maintained steam engines. A steam engine works by heating water to a boil then using the rising steam to turn a turbine. This turbine spins a magnate that is suspended inside of a coil of copper wire and through this process electricity is produced. This electricity is then transferred and stored in a lithium ion battery. From this battery the electricity will power every component of the automobile or airplane (larger cars/air planes will require a larger coil, magnet, and battery). Converting every automobile and combustion engine to steam engines will require a large work force of mechanics and specialist; this increase of jobs will employ more workers who will use their pay checks to buy goods. This increases the number of jobs and the economy.

The second step is to provide a means to transport, store, and distribute water to provide the “liquid fuel” that powers the steam engine. This presents a small dilemma; many rivers, streams, and lakes that could provide a clean, deep flowing water source and are located near major highways are protected under wildlife preservation acts and utilizing water sources that are not protected might cause a public uproar; but after the realization that this is the only solution, the public and government will lift their bands on these fresh water reservoirs. There may be protests and a cry for returning to past laws, but these demonstrations can be controlled through military action. To harvest this essential resource pipe lines must be built to transport water to still operational gas stations; water will be pumped into the tanks that once held gasoline. With water being non-toxic and non-flammable; it will ease worries of cancer and an explosion at a fueling station. At the stations filters and circulation pumps must be installed to insure the water stays fresh and silt free.

The final and most crucial part of the steam engine is the fuel required to heat the water in the tank. Specialized “fire boxes” and carrying racks must be installed to transport and burn the fuel in the automobiles; both of these can be easily installed during the refit from combustion to steam engines. The next step is to find, process, and distribute this fuel. Wood, paper, and wood/plastic composites are highly combustible; lumber can be harvested from areas once protected under wildlife protection acts, parks, backyards, private lands and government owned tracks of land. Paper can be harvested from tax rule books present at every government office. Six inch thick text books from schools will hold heat and boil water for a long period of time. Houses and apartments hold many combustible materials like mattresses, sheets, book cases, tables, even the walls and floors are quite combustible. To acquire these houses government and private companies can purchase the houses. If the family refuses to sell their house they may be forced to relinquish it to the government, if it holds a large quantity of lumber, or they may be taxed the amount that their living quarters are worth. Of course families that once owned these houses and apartments will have to find new living quarters; they can find shelter in concert barracks once used by military personnel. With this new found resource and ability to cut off our “addiction to oil” we can successfully end the war in the Middle East, halt all research of other fuel sources, collect tax money to purchase more lumber and combustible goods from outside countries. With a plan like this and the ability to see it through, I ask again Who Needs Oil?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Let The Shoes Burn

As the droning bell sounds, marking the end of the first long period of the day, I bolt out the freedom door. Having measured the radius of the all too familiar Burlington Edison High School parameter, I know that I have no time to waste if I want to make it to my next health class on time. This is, of course, if I beat the bathroom line rush, if the wind is traveling at a somewhat low velocity, and if I don’t get caught behind some of the infamous Slow Pokes.
This antagonizing, irritating, deadly breed always causes major problems. They come in many shapes and sizes, so you always have to be on the lookout. Whether it’s the Chatty Friends species, gossiping about their latest crush, the New Couples variety with their excessive PDA, or the Lethal Texters, phone in hand, they’ll get you if you don’t watch out. One second you’re right on schedule and the next you are struggling to avoid a “tardy.” It’s such a battle again the ever threatening odds. On time is the prognosis one minute while nasty delays change my expected outcome the next. Holy fleeting moments!
I make it out of the bathroom, no problem; the line is just forming as I exit. Looks like I’ll easily make it to the health portable. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining and there isn’t a lurking Slow Poke in sweet sight. Just as I ease up, two Texters merge into the flowing stream of passing students from the right. I was so foolish to think I’d dodge them. I craftily attempt to pass the oblivious Texters, but it is no use. The incriminating bell drones. I am late. I hastily sprint into class explaining to my teacher, who has that what’s-your-excuse look on her face, the details of my encounter just seconds before. “Tardy!”
This is merely one example of the monumental, unjust effect dastardly hallway blockages have on innocent, well meaning students at Burlington Edison High School. Yet, how can we reprogram this common race of student; these Slow Pokes? By transforming the hallways and ground at Burlington Edison High School into hot plates, passages of Sahara-like heat waves, the lethargy of the Slow Poke people will be brought to virtual extinction. With sizzling temperatures of 200°F this breed will be forced to flee the liberated halls, or be forced to sacrifice their shoes. I can think of no one objection that will possibly be raised against this proposal unless it should be urged that someone could get seriously burned.
Firstly, everyone attending the school will be required to sign a mandatory waiver. This will ensure that any injury caused by these heated plates will be solely the fault of that long tarrying individual. This will negate the blasphemous claims made by would be, suit-happy victims. Should they take the right of promptness away from others, consequences will be paid.
Secondly, due to the advantage steel has over carpet, as far as janitorial cleaning expenses, all carpet will be removed from transit halls and replaced by easily cleaned steel flooring. Rather than hiring a full custodial crew to vacuum the hallways daily, scrubbing at the never lifting stains, the steel will be simply brushed off or lightly mopped. Not only will this cut down on the school’s expenses, but it will produce a more sanitary environment along with faster transit times.
Thirdly, Public Display of Affection currently a major cause of the crippling hall jams. If there wasn’t anywhere for these swooning creatures to mingle, it would resolve all-to frequent smooching complaints. PDA can often be inappropriate, or even turn into a mild form of sexual harassment, causing discomfort to other students. This would resume the constant flow of traffic through the halls, while putting a stop to this distasteful act during school hours. When your interest in the world is limited to one other person, it’s hard to realize when you might be creating a debilitating problem from someone else.
Fourthly, punctuality a very important lesson taught in school, which students will carry on to their lives after high school. At Burlington Edison High School, tardies are treated very seriously; 3 time infractions are equal to one detention. It is unfair for innocent students like myself to be penalized for the thoughtlessness of the Chatty Friends, New Couples, or the Lethal Texters. Not only is punctuality emphasized at our school, so is justice. This unjust punishment needs to be put to an end; let righteousness be heard or let shoes burn.
Therefore, I repeat, let no student talk to me of these and the like expedients, till he has at least some glimpse of hope that we can put an end to these Slow Pokes and their troublesome ways. I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in the destruction of social life, relationships, or shoes, to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my school. I can already smell the burning of shoe rubber; the smell of justice.

A Proposal for People

Countries are represented by their people. Every citizen of a country is a small fraction of their whole homeland, yet paradoxically, every small fraction will singularly carry the image of an entire nation. When Yuri Gagarin became the first human to enter and return from space we saw him; he was Russian, he was Russia and we, along with the rest of the world, knew that Russia was a very advanced country capable of incredible feats. Likewise, Germans will symbolize their country of Germany, Japanese will represent Japan and so on – yet the great and powerful country of America is losing that solid symbolization that it achieves through its inhabitants. When foreigners travel to this land, presumably on vacation, it is not the various faces of white people that surround them; they do not feel embraced by the excellence of the American land. When a non-white American is asked where they are from and they state “America”, the world is not imprinted with a concrete idea of who, or what, exactly an American is. No longer does the white face of an American always stand for their country; it is now a varying array of colors. American soil has become somewhat polluted by the many ethnicities of the world; the face of America is no longer a white figure, but blemished by the shades of others.
It is not true to say that every country contains only citizens that have matching racial backgrounds, yet America no longer contains only drops of other colors but splashes. With only approximately three-fourths (74.7%) of this country’s population declared as white it is no wonder that the white face of an American has a difficult time revealing itself to the rest of the world. Less and less is the stream of white faces uninterrupted by the tints of others. Problematically, the supreme country of America is not honorably represented by similarly supreme people with congruent racial backgrounds. The trouble is that America is now fallaciously being represented by the wrong people, by the pollutants of America, and not always by the true, white, American people.
Currently I have seen this situation only dealt with by racial discrimination. I have made these observations in the public, in stores, schools, court cases and throughout merely every square inch of America. Usually the act only leads to ridiculous, unnecessary violence (in reference to gang fights). Yet this form of “defense” is quite unproductive and does not effectively show any country or person how remarkable an authentic American is; only does this show how quarrelsome we can be.
This problematic situation, which is only growing (with every additional non-white American either born or brought into this land), could perhaps be dealt with by simply removing the non-white inhabitants of America from this land… Yet, in proposal, I have a way that will not only give America back a consistent representation of itself, but a way to incorporate non-white inhabitants into the whole scheme. I propose the following in order to give Americans back America.
Firstly, to clearly displace true Americans from the false, all non-white individuals will be assigned a single uniform that will be worn throughout the nation, whenever in public. Detail on the design is not important other than that they are cheap, mass-producible, and contain a white bag, or mask, that can be placed over the head. First off, I believe that this will make the sight of the public easier on the eyes and more pleasing. In other words, this dress-code should effectively leave America with a solid, white image; leaving only the sight of the Americans and the others. With this uniform, it will be extremely easy to identify which individuals are merely “foreigners” and which are the exceptional, white people of the United States of America.
These assigned uniforms will also depict the, more than likely, dangerous individuals from the benevolent American citizens. Americans will be able to simplistically discriminate the suspicious beings; no longer will a deceiving criminal continue as invisible to the public’s eye. Think of how much less we will have to worry about criminals when even a child can point at the masked face of any hazard. I can guarantee that this will lower the crime rates of America, even if we must at times suspect inhabitants who are actually harmless.
The production of these uniforms will require many factories, considering that every non-white inhabitant in America must wear one. Yet this will bring in another positive attribute to the whole plan, unintentionally: job opportunities. The various clothing factories that will be built will require workers, and should rightfully employ the people that will be wearing that clothing (non-white Americans). This should force these workers to respect their new uniforms as well as release them from any previous jobs of importance. Overall I find that the uniforms will have many positive aspects that will only, in the end, filter the non-white inhabitants out of the white pool of Americans.
Secondly, to incorporate the remaining presence of these non-white Americans, white Americans shall be given the opportunity to appoint non-white inhabitants to moil for them, possibly at the house or work. This new opportunity will give many white Americans the chance to acquire extra help in areas that assistance is needed. Hopefully this will not only ensure that white Americans can focus on their important work but also make sure that only they will earn the jobs of importance in America. Non-white inhabitants will be appropriately placed below us, economically. This ruling will also give Americans back their solidity as the white race of America, clearly showing that genuine Americans earn and deserve the most important occupations, further more raising our status in relation to the world.
Thirdly, I believe that the silencing of non-white Americans (at least in public) shall bring the natural and rightful sound of the American tongue back to the land. Specifically, non-white Americans should be required not to speak unless spoken to by a white person or in times of utter importance. This simple law is mainly due to the unpleasantness of the biting and offensive noises that too commonly infest the ears of the public. A silencing will bring comfort to yet another sense (in reference to the previous proposal pertaining to sight) of the body for the white people of America.
Lastly, and considering the last three proposals, I have discovered that yet another movement is in need of initiation. The last proposals have made it clear that non-white Americans should indubitably not be granted the right to affect future leaders of this country, or become leaders of it at that. Voting rights should only be offered to white Americans. It is only obvious that, with the mentioned proposals, a non-white American should not have such powerful rights that directly influence the entire country.
In summary, my entire proposal, or proposals, focuses on two key points to the betterment of America. One that America is given back a prominent white appearance. And two that non-white Americans are effectively presented as untrue citizens of this country, not belonging to or deserving its supreme status and glory. I have faith in my plan and know that it will do what needs to be done. Also I must include that non-white Americans are only, and naturally, deserving of the actions and laws that my proposals partake in; their racial background was determined through genetics, and by chance they are not the white people of America. It was not America that gave them their unfortunate bodies but the uncontrollable force of Mother Nature.
Sadly, I must confess that I cannot participate in supporting my proposals. I have thought through my suggestion and do not worry about its failure. The truth is that I personally and unintentionally insult my own proposal. I am indeed a white American yet my very European name can easily offend the proposals effects, and is highly offensive to the American sound and tongue. Thus I will not participate in aiding the proposal and will most likely be leaving America quite soon, to go to the not-so-powerful country of Canada.

Rachelle's Modest Proposal

It is sad when people travel in our nation. The roads are overflowing with traffic and it takes 45 minutes to get somewhere that usually would only take ten. A fender-bender closes off one lane leaving two open with an onramp merging on to the road less than half a mile down. All you can do is sit and wait and inch forward every once in a while. You look over at the car next to you and the driver is suffering major road rage and is yelling and hitting their steering wheel in frustration. And all this time that you are sitting in traffic, the gas in your car is being burned up; wasted away because you’re not going anywhere. That fifty dollar tank of gas you paid for this morning is over half way gone by the time you get into your car the next morning. And that next morning, gas is five cents more expensive than it was the day before.

I think it is agreed by all peoples of our nation that the massive amount of gasoline cars use when they overflow the roads, streets, and driveways, is another addition to our never-ending list of down-falls. America is leading the world in gas consumption with an average of over 400 million gallons of gas per day. If someone could figure out a cheap and easy solution to make all that gasoline consumption decrease dramatically or even disappear, would be worthy of giant statue of him or herself placed near our nation’s capital showing what an impact they made as a preserver of the nation.

My intention includes the use of all automobiles in the USA, even those that are old and beat up. However, I will not need the assistance of gas or ethanol-based gas. I have though about this problem for many years and about how I can help our nation solve our gas guzzling situation. Millions and millions of gallons of gas have been burned up and those gallons cost money. America’s current population is 301,139,947 with the average household owning two cars, trucks or sport utility vehicles -- and one in four owns three or more. So what are we going to do?
There are various advantages to my idea which include no more gas. People will save thousands of dollars by not purchasing gas which currently costs an average $3.08 a gallon. My idea will also provide new job opportunities that anyone could become a professional at. Everyone will feel like they are doing the environment a favor because my solution will help our fight against global warming and over polluting our air.

89% of American households own one or more cars. The 2007 Honda Accord Sedan is a popular car in our country so I did some research and found that this car (depending on the version) can get anywhere from 20 to 34 mpg. 34 mpg is pretty good, but remember that all of these tests are performed on a smooth runway without twists or turns, and no stop lights, signs, or deer to jump out at you. So in real life, you’re probably getting around 23 to 28. 28 is still pretty good, but it’s never consistent. With my proposal, you will be getting a steady “mpg” so to speak.

As stated before, there is over 3 hundred million people living in this country and among these people who own a vehicle, 90 percent of them say they usually drive an average of 87 minutes a day behind the wheel. These 87 minutes are not only spent behind the wheel, but in traffic jams as well. About half of Americans say traffic in their area is worse now that it was five years ago, and about half expect it to be worse still five years from now, which only means more time is wasted, which means more gas is wasted, which means more money is wasted.

I shall now tell you dear reader, my proposition, which I hope you will see the good it can do.

I have been assured by a very knowledgeable man from a country near Tibet that horses of any breed can be ridden by a full grown adult as long as they are not of the “miniature” breed. Children I’m sure can ride them (miniatures) up till they (the children) reach sixty or so pounds.

My reason is that cars consume so much gas and the price per gallon seems to increase daily. It’s terrorist activities that cause the futures market to in a way, “freak out” making it more expensive for refiners to acquire crude oil and by the time it’s refined to gas, the price has already increased. But it doesn’t stop there. Then gas stations increase their prices as they see their competitors prices rise as well. The price of gas today is ridiculous so this is why I give the modest proposal of putting into effect, a law that all cars be traded in for money and that the people use horses for a means of transportation. Horses helped our ancestors in the past and can assist us today. These animals do not consume gas like cars, but hay and grain and oats -- all of which are at reasonable prices today. Hay costs around five dollars a bale and you can get a lot farther with one bale of hay than you can with five dollars of gas. Eight dollars can get you an eighty pound bag of oats. Now this feed can be only for the winter because during the summer, grass is available and in abundance for your horse(s) to eat. You can save a massive amount of money because the only time you will really be spending money to “fuel” your “vehicle” will mainly be in the summer.

Yes, horses do not travel as quickly as cars but some sacrifices must be made to save money. Horses cost less than a car and if you have children, when they turn sixteen, you won’t be buying them a new car, but your horse might be pregnant, therefore, you don’t have to buy a new horse. Some people who I’ve talked to are appalled by this idea because they do not want to ride a horse everywhere and one is allergic to them. I have thought these obstacles over and have some solutions. First off, you don’t have to ride a horse. You can build or buy yourself a carriage and either drive it yourself or pay someone to. Padding and shocks can be applied to make the ride smoother, and these days, fortunately, we have asphalt. If you are allergic to horses there is always the option of cows, alpacas, donkeys, etc… But if you are one to be opposed to all this, remember that if Mary rode a donkey all the way to Bethlehem, you can ride one to work and back.

Another question that one of my colleagues asked me was, “What are you going to do with the waste on the roads?” Here is where job opportunities come in. Anyone can become a professional pooper-scooper. In fact, when I was younger, that was my first job. I became very quick cleaning the fields of an alpaca farm and the best part was, I got paid for it. The DOT will hire people to clean certain areas of roads and the waste will be sold to fertilizer farms who will in turn, make it into fertilizer, and turn right back around and sell it to gardeners whose business will increase with the demand for carrots and other such plants for the owners’ horses. As for the cars, the dealers can sell the car parts to people who can take those parts and use them for other purposes, such as contributing to making carriages.

It has also come to my attention that fire trucks and ambulances must get to those in need very quickly. Thoroughbred horses were made to race, run, and do so rapidly. This way, officers and medical officials can be quick. If one is found to be mistreating their horse, animal cruelty will be on patrol, increasing the amount of jobs needed in that field too. Another field in which more jobs will be needed is the veterinary field. More horses mean more patients, bring in more profit. This will also affect the medical field in which new vaccines and medicines will be produced.

In the city and suburban areas, citizens tend to have small yards that will not be sufficient to support a horse. This is why localized horse pastures will be built so that you can board your horse and go get them when you please. You’ll be charged on either a weekly or monthly basis most likely, depending on the pasture you go to for business. Prices will also vary.

As for the poorer people of our nation, wild horses can most certainly be found in the desolate areas of Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming along with other states that I did not mention. But for those that do not live in those areas, cities will become more localized anyway with the commute people will have to make to town. Speaking of the commute, because of the time it takes to get from one place to another will increase, workers will have to communicate and negotiate with their bosses about there work times.

I’m sorry to say that the sport of Nascar will have to end. I am a fan of it, but it’s apparent that so many gallons of gas are wasted just for the entertainment of the American society. We are literally watching gas disappear just like it disappears in our own cars right now. Perhaps horse racing will become more popular and so will other sports.

As soon as other countries see that we can get along without gasoline powered cars, they will want to follow in our footsteps. We will become an example country and others will look up at us for our knowledgeable ways of saving money. We’re also helping the rest of the world by decreasing the amount of pollution we send into the air, contributing to the fight against global warming. America can do it.

The BS Test

A month in which the clouds part, the sun shines and the cherry trees are blossoming; in which winter finally ends and spring arrives. The bright yellow daffodils should be the harbinger of spring, bringing happiness to the people of Washington state but instead, March brings a look of anxiety and frustration to the expressions of parents and students. The dreading warning letters are sent home, advising excellent attendance, a goodnight’s sleep, and nutritious meals in preparation of the rigorous testing. March has been labeled the official WASL month.

The WASL (Washington Assessment of Student Learning) is an exam taken by 4th, 7th, and 10th grade students. It consists of multiple-choice, short-answer and extended response questions in the subjects of reading, writing, math, and science. 10th graders are required to pass the reading, writing, and math sections in order to graduate from high school.

The graduation requirement has caused many problems for the kids who are unable to pass. Hispanic students and migrant children have a higher failure rate, along with kids in the “special education” problem. The vast majority of children from low-income families, as measured by eligibility for free or reduced lunch, also do not meet the standard.

The WASL is an unjust measure of accomplishment to the greatest extent. It has been calculated that there is a 28.9% chance that a child has had his or her test incorrectly scored. If it is stated that a child fails the WASL, there is no recourse or proof as every test is immediately shredded after scoring.

I propose an alternative exam for the graduation requirement of 10th grade students. The BS (Basic Skills) Test will test their ability to complete certain tasks that are essential for life after high school. Unlike the WASL, this test will score life skills helpful as individuals transition to independence. These functions include telling time (from a standard clock), ironing an article of clothing, pumping gas, washing dishes, vacuuming and more.

The assessment will take place in January instead of March because everybody already hates bleak-cold January. Everyone is reconciling their overspending on Christmas and spring is a distant light. So why not throw in a huge test? The test will most likely occupy a couple weeks. Classrooms in schools will serve as stations in which there is a particular event held. Students will be given schedules of the rooms in which they go to at a specific time.

After completing each task, the student will be graded by a trained professional. It is my utmost desire to recommend Martha Stewart in helping with the judging of household decorum. Mr. Clean would be a perfect candidate to teach proper dusting and degreasing skills, and Marie Callender is an expert at cooking frozen goods to taste like home-cooked.

An excellent job is rewarded with 4pts, fair receives 3pts, average equals 2pts, needs improvement would be 1pt, and 0pts is failing. Students will be graded down on mistakes such as leaving a crease in the blouse they are ironing or forgetting to twist on the gas cap after pumping gas.

There are many advantages to the BS Test. First of all, it will benefit kinesthetic learners. Many kids are unable to function optimally when expected to sit down for long periods of time. Instead of reading and writing, they are allowed to move around and perform physical activities. This would likely strengthen their scores.

Secondly, the students who fail the WASL because of the language barrier will no longer have this problem. Because the test is physically demonstrated, students will not have to read, write, or even speak in their 2nd language of English.

But my intention is far from being confined to just “dumb down” the original test; it is of much greater extent and will be created to actually help students once they start living on their own. This brings me to my third point. The WASL, in no sense, brings aide to the growing brains of young individuals. Its pointless questions and open ended answers are meaningless. The BS Test will actually give teens the knowledge to more competently cope with life. Is it more important to know how to feed yourself or to know what a parallel line is?

After many computations, I have discovered that the BS Test would cost approximately $200 million. Hosting several celebrities, who are known for their expertise on life skills, would cost a great deal of money. On top of that, many supplies and equipment are needed such as vacuums, washing machines, cooking supplies, etc.

I can think of no other objection that will possibly be raised against this proposal unless it should be urged that the students who already have the knowledge of completing basic skills will not be challenged. But isn’t the basic educational goal these days is for each student to feel successful and good about themselves?

Personally, this proposal has no effect on me. Being an 11th grade student, I have already taken the 10th grade WASL and passed all sections sufficiently. My high school diploma is not in jeopardy. However, if you are a younger reader, yours may be. I do not reject any other offer that also opposes the WASL. After fully explaining my proposal in depth, I believe it is up to my audience to decide what the best solution is. You’re ability to graduate is in your own hands.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Proposal to Stop the Childhood Obesity Epidemic

Twenty or so years ago your neighborhood boy and his friends probably looked quite like Beaver or Wally Cleaver. Healthy, active, outside all the time. However, now there is a good chance at least one of those children looks more like Augustus Gloop. Overweight, even obese, gobbling up all the chocolate bars and any other fast, fatty, sugary, unhealthy food he can get his chubby little hands on, and the only exercise he gets is when he gets up to look for the remote.

This little problem has turned into quite the epidemic. It is estimated that one third of all U.S. children are overweight or at risk of becoming over weight, and anywhere from five to twenty five percent of kids and teens are obese. The number of overweight kids ages six to eleven has doubled, and the number of overweight teens has tripled, all within the last two to three decades.

A change needs to happen somewhere. And I propose that all schools, both public and private, become year round, live in boarding school, where every single aspect of a child’s and teen’s life can be monitored and controlled.

This may seem like an absurd solution, but looking at it more closely, you can see that it would benefit more than just the students.

While all schools would be boarding schools, they would still either be classified as private, with parents paying the tuition, or public, with the government and taxes paying for the tuition. Many parents are not home enough to monitor what their kids are eating and doing after school. That is one of the main time periods when kids eat unhealthy food and play video games or what TV for hours. Parents that are poor wouldn’t have to pay for the child to go to school, but also wouldn’t have to pay for the day to day care of that child, including food, cleanliness, and medical care. The parents would have time to become better educated and be able to take better care of themselves, afford healthier food and better medical care, and also be able to take better care of their children when they come to visit.

While at first the students may not be very happy about having every aspect of their life controlled, they will soon be too busy to have time to worry about it. Students will be required to participate in a sport all year long; fall, winter, and spring. There will be many options, including soccer, football, swimming, basketball, tennis, baseball, and many others. Unlike it is with many sports now, if you try out for a sport you cannot be cut, you are guaranteed the ability to play. It may not be on Varsity, but it will be on JV, “C” team, or, if need be, “D” team. Playing sports will be a graduation requirement and there will be no way of getting out of it.

The schools will have a strict entertainment and electronic policy. Students are not allowed to watch TV or play video games (hand held or those that attach to TVs) at all. They will only have access to computers for educational and homework purposes. They can’t play games, go on MySpace, or any other non-educational purposes.

Not only will students be required to play sports but they will also be required to take at least two semester of P.E. every year, compared to the three semesters total (all four years of high school) we currently have at this school. They will be placed in a class based on their ability. No longer will a student who can run ten miles be able to take a power walking class. For each class, there will be a required number of miles that must be run (or walked in the case of power walking classes) each week. Also to graduate, you must be able to run a mile in a certain amount of time (determined by your ability and class level). If students refuse to run, just because they don’t want to, they will be punished, usually by having to run at least twice what they refused to.

Once a week, most likely during their P.E. class, every student will be weighed and measured. This is just to check that students are getting enough activity and eating the right amount. This will be done in front of the class, not to embarrass the student but to compel them to do what they are supposed to do to remain healthy and fit.

Exercise would not be the only thing that the school controls. They would also control what the students eat. Currently, at this school, they serve greasy pizza, glutinous gravy, and sugar coated maple bars. However, in my proposal, three healthy balanced meals and two healthy snacks would be provided each day. Students would not be allowed to go off campus to get food, which would probably put many fast food restaurants out of business (another positive thing that comes from this proposal). Schools would not be allowed to serve anything fried or full of fat or sugar. Any student found to be in possession of any unhealthy food would be punished with detention, the amount being determined by the severity of their infraction.

Students would not be allowed to leave campus, not just for food, but for anything. Each school would have a store where students could buy anything they need. It would stock school supplies, personal supplies, and a limited number of clothing items, with any other needed items being bought by a parent and being brought to the school or with a parent over break. The only reason any student would be allowed to leave campus is if they have a medical problem that could not be treated by the medical personnel at the school. If that is the case they will be transported to the nearest hospital that has the ability to treat them.

Students would be required to talk with their counselors, the school psychologist, and the school nutritionist (all schools would be required to have at least one person for each of the three positions). They would be able to talk to them as often as they want but would be required to go at least once a week to make sure they are happy, healthy, and aren’t having any problems. A once a month visit with the nurse and/or doctor would also be required to make sure they are developing properly and don’t have any health problems.

Teachers will have strict instructions to hand out no more than twenty minutes of homework each night to any student. This ensures that every student will be able to participate in their sport without falling behind in class, while still being able to go to bed at their strict ten o’clock bedtime, both during the week and on weekends. Students must also get up no later than seven o’clock on week days, this will give them just enough time to get to class by eight o’clock, and nine o’clock on weekends, so they can participate in all the weekend activities the school with provide.

As will current year round schools, the students will have several short breaks throughout the year. On those breaks, the students will be allowed to go home and stay with their parents; however there will be many rules they must follow. Students are not allowed to be unsupervised for extended periods of time, they must be watched to make sure they follow all the rules. They are required to eat healthy balanced meals and keep a food diary to be turned in when they return to school. Also, they must exercise every day for at least one hour, to keep up their level of activity for when they return to P.E. classes and sports. As with time spent at school, watching TV and playing video games is forbidden. Any broken rules will result in detention and no longer being able to spend vacations at home with their families. For those students who can’t or don’t want to spend the break with their parents, they will be able to stay at the school on a weekend schedule for the entire break.

As you can see, this proposal, though being somewhat harsh at first appearance, would indeed be effective. I am not forcing you to agree with me, but I do not know of any other option that would be able to stop this epidemic from affecting every child in the U.S. Before we know it ten year olds will be weighing two hundred pounds and it won’t be uncommon for heart disease and diabetes to claim victims under twenty.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Compassion

On compassion

This essay is centered on emotion. It seems to me that the major strategies used all lead to one thing and that’s to getting the reader to feel some sort of emotion; let me tell you it worked pretty good for me

“This play doesn’t end - and the players can’t go home” (quote is referring to ancient Greek plays performed to inspire empathy). Through out the essay Barbara Lazear (the author of the essay) talks about two experiences with a homeless person (one of the encounters being her own). Lazear uses that statement to help the reader connect with her essay with every day life. In the encounter she described witnessing a bread shop owner giving away food she was confused and didn’t really understand why the owner would reward the homeless person for his arrival to her shop (uses flashback when talking about this experience). I know when I finished reading her questions of “why reward him….” I started to think about similar past experiences. It also brings emotion that the reader can actually feel.

Details played a major role in brining this essay to life. The imagery created with the use of details was incredible. Not only do the details create scenes in your mind but they also help isolate an emotion. For example in the first encounter described in the essay you could tell the woman was afraid of the stranger; although, it was never stated flat out like that, instead details and imagery was used. “the baby’s mother waits for the light to change and her hands close tighter on the stroller’s handle as she sees the man approaching.” The fear the woman radiated created suspense for the reader.

Another strategy used that I think was pretty effective in making the reader stop and ponder for a while was asking a question and then rapidly moving along, leaving the question unanswered. Leaving questions unanswered gives the reader the opportunity to look deeper into the matter and try to analyze it, which would provide the reader with more genuine emotion. “Could it be that the homeless, like those ancients, are reminding us of our common humanity?”

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Lost in the Kitchen

Lost in the Kitchen

When I first saw the title of this essay I thought it was some sort of metaphor for something much bigger, but I was wrong. This essay was probably one of the easiest to read since the author used a lot of humor and imagery in his writing which provided me with a simpler understanding of what he was saying.

The biggest rhetorical devise used in this essay was his humorous and harsh tone. Not only did the author use humor to entertain and keep the reader hooked, but also as a way to connect the reader to everyday life and produce emotion and better understanding of his arguments. For example “men are as useful as an ill-trained Labrador retriever” (you might have noticed that that was also an analogy). Through out the essay the author was very harsh when he talked about men in helping in the kitchen, like in the example above he compares men to dogs and not only a few men but all men in general another quote that backs up my opinion on this matter is “men are still basically scum when it comes to the kitchen”. When he talks about men being useless he also includes himself in there as well. Another rhetorical device hat I think really helped in his writing were his long sentences. The long sentences made the whole essay flow a lot better and since it wasn’t one of those that you have to place close attention and retain information it really added to the effect of his writing.

With out the use of the strategies mentioned above his essay wouldn’t have had the same feeling and the readers would of had a harder time relating to his writing. And the fact that he didn’t exclude himself when he criticized and stereotyped men made his arguments a lot more convincing and revealed a lot about his character.

Salvation Essay Review

Salvation Essay Review

Is lying about something important really the best way to go? In his short essay by Langston Hughes, he really brought a new way of looking at certain events in my life and why I made those choices; however, he made this by having unique rhetorical devices in his writing.

First of all he uses vivid word choice in his writing. The type of word choice that you need to be able to understand his writing is words based on Bible talk. He has many relations to god hence the title “Salvation.” Also he seems to use simple-but strong-words that work for better understanding throughout the story.

Then the author uses a short sentence structure, which is good when you want to get straight to the point. Dialogue was presented well to show emotions from some of the characters. The small sentences also added the option to go back and reread if you didn’t understand it. In my opinion his descriptive sentences were his strongest points.

Also, he uses these descriptive sentences to create great imagery in our heads. For example he uses this to describe the environment of being in church and to describe how Jesus is supposed to come into your life. The comical part of the story had to do with how he described the people inside the church and their reactions.

Lastly, his voice contributes to how the reader takes in the story. In this specific essay he has many different tones. It’s comical because the story is like him remembering of the stupid mistakes he’s made because of pressure. Like I said before he wrote as a really “visualistic” writer. The tone could have also been revealing because he expresses out all of his feelings in the end.

In the end Langston Hughes puts a humorous twist to a traumatic experience that he decides to share with the rest of the world.

Amusing ourselves to death

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Culture in a box

Television in our culture today is like a car crash in slow motion – Most of us that know and can see what is happening(except those involved in the “car crash” which in today’s society is almost every one), but we are all seemingly powerless to stop it, or we just don’t care. In amusing ourselves to death Neil Postman is in a way foreshadowing (considering he wrote the book in 1985) and warning us about things to come. Television is taking over. And guess what! He was right. Today people get most it not all of their information from what is believed to be reliable sources, TV; however, even the most serious and informative programming is and has always been corrupted – almost nothing is taken seriously.

Neil Postman uses a lot or rhetorical devices but one of the most important ones is foreshadowing things to come by referencing the past. – Clearly history tends to repeat itself. To be a little vague, in the first half of the book Neil Postman talks about how verbal communication was first thought to be the best way to communicate, but then came typography which made it was easier to organize one’s thoughts. By referencing the past Neil is foreshadowing that soon television will take over; just how in the past epistemology was replaced by typography. To be honest as soon as I saw the book amusing ourselves to death I had already made up my mind about it and I hadn’t even read it. To me it looked like a one sided biased book written by some geeky guy that didn’t like television and I myself having grown up watching television felt it was my duty to defend it until the end. I was wrong. - Don’t judge a book by its cover. Everything he said he backed up with facts and statistics. No where in the book did I find him to be extremely biased, ok fine, maybe he was a little biased but not too much. He never said TV was a good thing or a bad thing he merely pointed out its effects on society and culture. When ever he uses a fact, statistic or quote he always lists the reference he got it from. The fact that he was unbiased in his argument made his writing a lot more effective. Another major rhetorical device I found through out the book was Hypophora. Hypophora is when you ask a question and then proceed to answer it. (pg 152-153) “Why these students studying the behavior of humpback whales? How critical is it that the “academic themes” of navigation and map-reading skills be learned?” then he proceeds to answer by saying “map-reading has never been considered an “academic theme”……”

After reading through the whole book I have come to a conclusion that I agree with what Neil is saying. What helped me decide on that was his use of rhetorical devices that really helped make his writing a lot more effective. This book has opened my eyes to how I view what’s on television not literally of course.

Amusing ourselves to death.

Television: Ticking Time Bomb?

When in time would we ever think of television becoming a negative aspect in our life? Since television is usually used as a getaway from the real world we haven’t actually had the chance to sit down and look beyond that simple black box. In Neil Postman’s, “Amusing Ourselves to Death”, he describes to us how this regular object in every household has begun its slow burning match to a path of destruction.

He argues that speech is the best way of learning, not by imagery. In his book he seems to persuade the reader by simply supporting his ideas behind others quotes. The usage of quotes from past presidents, older researchers, and other cultures has shown me that the best way to actually understand “anything” is by typography. The most important idea behind this book is that the book itself is made to be a warning bell in our heads; to open our eyes to a world that has never been introduced to us before. Also, he compares our always changing lives to that of the Huxleyan and Orwellian-first culture becomes a prison then culture becomes a burlesque. As the author describes that the typographic mind has slowly been converging into the mind that only believes and understands visual emotions, it begins to form in my mind that this sort of statements are true; and, that growing up watching television has been the wrong way to take in the ways of life. This could be the best way to warn society from nowadays (although this book was written in 1985) to move further away from what could be harmful to us in the future. “We are a word centered culture and think as an image centered culture.” His arguments are that we started as writing and reading culture and that why can’t we just keep it that way?

The “television degrades our conception of news, political debate, religious thought”, and everything else that should be important to us. Television has only given our mind the way to act and look-and not really the best way to comprehend. Television portrays itself as an excellent source of entertainment and information, but do you really believe that television is actually a positive influence to society? This is the question Neil Postman will help shed some light on.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

On Keeping a Notebook

On Keeping a Notebook by Joan Didion starts with an entry from Joan’s own notebook.
“‘That woman Estelle is partly the reason why George Sharp and I are separated today.’ Dirty crepe-de-Chine wrapper, hotel bar, Wilmington RR, 9:45 a.m. August Monday morning.”
At first she has only the slightest notion of what it means. Looking at it distantly she asks herself a standard question, why? That is the question that Joan has chosen to explore in this essay. Why? Why keep a notebook?

A scheme she uses is rhetorical questions. On page 79 Joan asks, “waiting for a train? Missing one? 1960? 1961? Why Wilmington?” Though she may not directly answer her questions Joan uses them to get the reader thinking, what is the point of keeping a notebook? Having the reader reflect upon this particular question helps to keep the audience focused on the very question Joan is trying to answer.

Throughout her essay Joan uses stories to enable her to bring up her points and explain them. As she writes about the “impulse to write things down” Joan draws upon her own experience to show the reader. Using herself as an example she is also able to fit in her personal reasons for keeping a notebook. An example is (pg.81) “So the point of my keeping a notebook has never been, nor is it now, to have an accurate factual record…” Instead for Joan it is about what specifically reminds you of a memory.

Keeping in touch,” Joan says, “is what notebooks are all about.” For someone who hasn’t experienced the impulse to write things down and instead posses more of an “instinct for reality,” I cannot relate well to the points brought up. Yet for me On Keeping a Notebook was an interesting look into a different lifestyle.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Inheritance of Tools

When I was looking through the essays, trying to decide on which one to read, “The Inheritance of Tools” caught my eye. As I further explored, I discovered that it was the story of not only the tools that a son had inherited from his father, but also the lessons that accompanied them. I found that I could relate these experiences that the father and son had shared in the essay to experiences that I have had with my own dad. This connection was in part due to the fact that Scott Russell Sanders could bring these events to life by the use of different rhetorical devices.

The first device that I noticed that was used was imagery. Sanders utilizes imagery right away to set a scene for the reader. “At just about the hour when my father died, soon after dawn one February morning when ice coated the windows like cataracts…” is how the essay begins. A few sentences later, Sanders uses imagery to describe the mark on his thumbnail after he smashes it with a hammer. “A week or so later a white scar in the shape of a crescent moon began to show above the cuticle, and month by month it rose across the pink sky of my thumbnail.” The use of imagery continues throughout the rest of the story and really brings all of the experiences to life.

Another device that Sanders employed was the use of similes and metaphors. These contributed to the existing imagery by adding the details. Some of the best similes are used when Sanders describes the hammer. “The head is scratched and pockmarked, like an old plowshare that has been working rocky fields.” Then right afterwards an unusual metaphor is used, “(It) gives off the sort of dull sheen you see on fast creek water in the shade.” This caught my attention because it didn’t seem like a comparison that all of his audience would be able to relate to. At the same time though, I think it reveals a little about Sanders and where he comes from. For instance, if Sanders would have come from the city rather than the country it might have been compared to cars or skyscrapers in the shade instead of creek water.

In addition to his rhetorical devices, Sanders has a fascinating way of looking at the world through his tools. The first example of this is when he is describing his level and states that, “When the bubble is lined up between two marks etched in the glass tube of a level, you have aligned yourself with the forces that hold the universe together.” I thought this was a clever way of looking at how something that seems unimportant is acted upon by such an immense force. One more instance of this is when he states that he sees no point in him owning complex machines that could do the same thing that his tools could. “The skill is invested in the gadget instead of the person who uses it,” he says, “and this is what distinguishes a machine from a tool.”

In conclusion, this essay is one that you could almost see as one of those movies where the son looks back on his time spent with his father. Sanders gives the events in the story life with his use of imagery backed up by his similes and use of metaphors. I was also able to relate this story to my life which made it interesting for me to read.

Salvation

The story of one 12-year-old boy’s beliefs being devastated is brought to readers in the story of Salvation.

Langston Hughes, the author of the short essay, brings emotion and drama to his own childhood story with various rhetorical strategies. First off, the author seems to almost take himself back in time, into a youthful writing style that mimics how he may have retold the story as a 12 year old; a writing style that puts the reader before the boy himself. This approach at the event is effective and creates a strong ethos environment for the reader. The reader may become more emotionally attached to the main character in this situation as well, which ends in sorrow.

The story accumulates emotion and passion (as a pathos piece of work does) through its dialogue and distinctive details throughout the story. Every sentence builds suspense upon the salvation of Langston; the questioning minister, his fellow churchgoers, the church’s environment itself plays upon the augmenting suspense. The actual time that takes place during the single event lasts longer than the few paragraphs make it out to be, yet this is only done to give more strength to the brief essay.

Various small rhetorical devices are splashed in throughout the story. Personification is used upon the church to express the true mood of the temple (pg.156). The aftermath of Langston finally rising is explained with a metaphor, as a "sea of shouting," which illustrates the scene. The mere use of exclamation points (on page 155) causes the reader to feel Langston’s excitement and anticipation for the upcoming event, as well as his aunt’s excitement.

Sentence length also plays a key role in emphasizing certain aspects. The extremely short "So I got up," concluding sentence completely contrasts all of the detailed events that led up to that single moment. Plainly stating the truly simplistic event, that meant so much to the church, gives the moment the kind of attention that suits it. Whereas in the end, Langston rambles on about his crying and why he is crying so. Which brings the reader to an understanding for what Langston is going through, and why his lie ruined more than just a belief of his own.

Shooting an Elephant

By Daniel S.

I became interested in George Orwell's Shooting an Elephant just by reading the title of the essay. Having read 1984 and Animal Farm, I knew that it had to be about something political, but exactly what, I was unsure of. In order to satisfy my inquisitiveness, I decided that I should simply read the essay. Simply put, I was amazed.

The thing that amazed me most about Orwell's essay, was how utterly vivid it was. Not only could I picture everything that happened, I could practically hear everything that was going on. When he wrote, "When I pulled the trigger I did not hear the bang or feel the kick . . . but I heard the devilish roar of glee that went up from the crowd," I was able to see the crowds' reaction to the elephant being shot. I could almost hear the sudden change come over the crowd, from holding their breaths in anticipation, to sudden excitement as the bullet strikes home, mortally wounding the colossal beast.

Something that struck me as equally amazing was the tone of the story. Before shooting the elephant, there was a feeling of a building frenzy, and as soon as he shot the elephant, I noticed a sudden somberness to the rest of the story. I noticed a sort of sadness as he came to the close of his anecdote. He knew that he shouldn't have killed the elephant, so he hides behind killing it with the excuse that it had to be killed after killing a coolie.

Beginning this essay thinking that it was simply going to be bookish, I came out surprised. I guess I should have expected it since I had read two of Orwell's books, but I made the mistake of underestimating his writing abilities. Orwell's skills as a writer are, to me, nonpareil - unequaled. He uses intense amounts of imagery, but while doing so, is still able to get his message across to readers.


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Now playing: Avenged Sevenfold - And All Things Will End
via FoxyTunes


On Dumpster Diving

On Dumpster Diving

By Lars Eighner

Dumpster diving: an art, a passion, or just a way to survive? This essay, written by Lars Eighner, basically covers the finer points and etiquette of dumpster diving. Eighner shows us in his essay how in every dumpster, and in every bag of garbage; there is a story to be told. He shows us how wasteful our society really is, and reasons with the audience how it really isn’t wrong to practice this ever-popular form of art and self sustainability. I think that the reason that Lars wrote this essay, was not because he wanted to teach people how to dumpster dive or to talk about his life story; but it was because he wanted to educate people about how this form of self sustainability is not so much a selfish or greedy act, but more an honest way to survive through poverty. Also, I believe that it is a statement to people everywhere, telling them that even though they might be living in the lowest societal realm, there is always an honest way to survive.

One of the ways that Eighner convinces the audience of his points is through many examples of his own personal experience; or logos. He shows this throughout the essay, whether it be telling a tale of how he manages to score fresh and hot pizzas for himself and his dog Lizbeth, or how he uses certain techniques to determine is the food he is scavenging is “maliciously contaminated” or not. Another way that Eighner convinces his audience and exemplifies his point is through metaphors. He uses this form of rhetorical strategy quite often, an in many forms. For example, on page seven of the essay Lars writes:

"Every grain of rice seems to be a maggot. Everything seems to stink. He can wipe the egg yoke off the found can, but he cannot erase the stigma of eating garbage out of his mind."

In conclusion, I believe that through many compelling and convincing writing strategies and the use of a multitude of facts and personal experiences, Eighner has definitely convinced me that Dumpster diving is not so much a sin, but more a way of life. So in memorial of this essay and also of the dog Lizbeth that died, I will capitalize the word "Dumpster" as a sign of my respect to the many people who live on the fringe of society, but still manage to cling on.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Why Don’t We Complain?

The first sentence of the opening statement reads, “William F. Buckley Jr. is one of the leading voices of conservative politics.” I immediately assumed that his words would be that of a ultra conservative Republican. It wasn’t until I had finished reading his anecdote about the 85 degree train about which nobody complained that I realized; the article doesn’t concern any specific political party. Americans in general are guilty of tending toward passive compliance. We endure so many things, all the way from a movie being out of focus to the rulers of our country violating constitutional and common law, often to avoid confrontation with authority.

William Buckley Jr.’s writing style appears very simple and basic. Upon further scrutiny, Why Don’t We Complain is jam packed with rhetorical devices aiming to support his theory and opinion of Americans. His main attempt to communicate with the audience is through ethos, convincing by the character of the author, and pathos, persuading by appealing to the reader's emotions. This is done by sharing anecdotes that are relatable to the reader. That way, they get a feel for Buckley’s character and he becomes more personable.

In many instances the author utilized asyndeton, lack of conjunctions between coordinate phrases, clauses, or words, for a variety of reasons. On certain occasions, the author used this strategy to propose diversity of why different people may have similar feelings . Pg 66 “And the reason no one did is because we are all increasingly anxious in America to be unobtrusive, we are reluctant to make our voices heard, hesitant about claiming our rights; we are afraid that our cause in unjust, or that if it is not unjust, that it is ambiguous; or if not even that, that it is too trivial to justify the horrors of a confrontation with Authority…” This use of asyndeton also reads nervously, just as Buckley proposes Americans feel about confronting authority. Another approach that involves asyndeton is to emphasize something specific by listing. Pg. 69 “When Premier Khrushchev first came to this country late in 1959 he was primed, we are informed, to experience the bitter resentment of the American people against his tyranny, against his persecutions, against the movement which is responsible for the then great number of American deaths in Korea, for billions in taxes every year; and for life everlasting on the brink of disasters…” In this case Buckley makes the reader anxious and frightened through his skill with asyndeton.

Aposiopesis, when the speaker comes to an abrupt halt, seemingly overcome by passion (fear, excitement, etc.) or modesty, is introduced when Mr. Buckley runs out of paper. He is writing while he is on an airplane and is out of space. Due to the circumstances, he is unable to get more paper from his briefcase and has to wait to continue writing. I think this is a clever way to interpret pathos into his writing. The fact that he is just a normal person with normal problems helps his readers relate. Most people, having been there and done that, can connect to him on some level.

After discovering that William F. Buckley Jr. wasn’t advocating a right or left wing agenda in this piece, I found that his use of ethos, pathos, asyndeton and aposiopesis were extremely effective literary strategies to lure me into agreement with his contentions.

Angelou's Graduation

Angelou's "Graduation" has many strategies to get to the reader. As time has gone by, humans have evolved in many aspects. Exaggeration, visualization, and quotes are used in this essay in order to do so. The way that people were back then is different to the way that we are know. Many people are able to do more than before.
Exaggeration in "Graduation" was used to emphasize the meaning of the setting that the essay would take upon. On page nine, the school and the number of students was really looked at. That was to set the tone for many things that would go on. The campus had large classes from both grammar school and the high school that would graduate and move on to their own separate lives. This was a huge school with little equipment for all to use. In order to use the baseball diamond, a bat, or a few balls from the physical education teacher, you would have to ask him in advance because others would want to use them too and they were limited. The exaggeration was used to make the point that it did.
Angelou had many areas where you could visualize what she was talking about. Maybe because it has happened to you or someone you know. On page twelve when she was glad that she didn't have to yank her scalp off to comb it, I have seen this happen at my own house with my sisters. I also related to not being able to do chores when I was excited for a special event, such as Angelou and her graduation gift from her brother. This used to happen to me quite a bit. Strong words that aren't common to the eye are also placed in this essay to help visualize what was going on in the essay. You don't often read many essay that all have strong depicting words like the ones used by Angelou. Visualizing these types of things help you see what you are reading, it is very good to see a bit of this visualization.
"Graduation" has quotes that were used back in her time. That is what make thing even better, you get to see the types of things that were used back in the day. On Pages nineteen and twenty, Angelou put a few quotes that motivate you to doing what you need to be doing in order to advance. Putting quotes in essays is unique in a way, because you get to see more things than just the story line. If you look at those quotes deep enough, you will find a meaning that can be usable to you.
Angelou's "Graduation" had strategies that help the reader in unique ways. By either exaggeration, visualization and using quotes, you get a better outcome of what Angelou's is telling you and you could relate to some of the things that she talked about. These strategies I like more than others.

The Ways We Lie

We all lie, in one way or another. Whether it’s a simple white lie about how they look or blaming your brother for something you did. Stephanie Ericsson shows in her essay the ways people lie to get what they want or make themselves look better; showing this by personal experience and examples. She proves that is nearly impossible to eliminate lies from our life and how many lies have been adopted by our culture and many things have been based on simple “harmless” lies.
First, she breaks everything down into each individual type of lie and uses logos to convince the reader. By giving examples of how she lied four times in one day because she didn’t want to face the consequences of what she had done. She avoided a 60$ overdraft fee, and a family argument. Only to point out and show what lying can do for you and how much the truth really hurts.
Second is how different ways lies affect you. As you all know there are the white lies and the blunt lies. But, as Ericsson stated, many lies have been have been adopted into our culture such as stereotypes and clich├ęs. Also, many people don’t realize the effects of the simple lies, which Ericsson points out again with logos, showing how the stereotypes separate social classes and groups of different people because of them. Right now the Mexicans are looked at as a source of work instead of as regular U.S. citizens. Every day we face different kinds of lies, but our culture has grown accustomed to classes and different cultures, destroying the connections between the different groups of people.
Finally, lies have become part of who we are. You can be as honest as you try to be lies will still become part of you every day speech; engrained in your DNA. When ever you look at someone no matter what judge who they are yet you have no idea who they are. In our society today lies are a part of who we are, those who say otherwise are fooling themselves.

Machiavelli's Morals of a Prince

Perhaps even more famous than Plato, Machiavelli's name has become more well known as an adjective (Machiavellian) rather than the name an actual person. The main cause for Machiavelli's success in the world of rhetoric is this essay, The Morals of a Prince. To be short, people from the 16th century often discussed which moral values make a person of power and leadership such as a prince successful and not dead. Scholars from that time would say that it is better to be a good prince or a bad prince based shallow reasoning and somewhat clouded logic; Machiavelli thoroughly researched and hypothesized about this topic from an unbiased perspective that allowed him to really answer certain questions with historic proofs and logic. This put him a step ahead of his time, in my opinion, because the ability to find the answers to questions that are as sensational to different powerful groups like the church and state did not typically smile upon those of the 16th century.

The most prevalent writing trait found in Machiavelli's writing is logos. His appeal to reason is uncanny, as shown in his writing here, "....for if you exercise you generosity in a really virtuous way, as you should, nobody will know of it, and you cannot escape the odium of the opposite vice. Hence, if you wish to be widely known as a generous man, you must seize every opportunity to make a big display of your giving. A prince of this character is bound to use up his entire revenue in works of ostentation." Logos aplenty.

I would also like to note what Machiavellian refers to with respect to a person. Often times, it means, when referring to a person, that the ends justify the means to a person's case. For example, if you're a prince and you'd like to stay a prince, you wouldn't necessarily be concerned with the well-being of your populous unless it concerns you; staying a prince is the top priority, in other words. It's important to include this adjective in my analysis of Machiavelli's, The Morals of a Prince, because it is this point of view that is truly represented in his essay, which is why this essay was included in the book, 50 Essays, in the first place, and why it's an important book to read.

Just Walk On By

Just Walk On By is an essay driven by emotion and resentment. Brent Staples writes about his experiences of continually being mistaken for a criminal, as a young black male. Clearly, anger fuels Staples’ writing, yet he maintained a calmness throughout the essay and did not point fingers. He understood why females acted the way they did around him. They had a reason to: young black males are drastically overrepresented by perpetrators of street violence. Brent Staples learned this growing up around fellow African American men who ended up in jail.
At the beginning of the essay, Brent’s word choice was purposely misleading. He started out by saying, “My first victim was a woman…” This led me to think that the author was a criminal. But as I read on I realized that I had made the same mistake many other people had. As a young black male in Chicago, Brent Staples had been mistaken for a burglar, murderer, or simply a vicious man. He did an excellent job describing the fear he saw when he walked by people: “They seem to have their faces on neutral, and with their purse straps strung across their chests bandolier-style, they forge ahead as though bracing themselves against being tackled” (363).
There were a few rhetorical devices the author used that really helped him get his point across. An onomatopoeia is the use of words whose pronunciation imitates the sound the word describes. Staples uses this to create the atmosphere he often endured on pg 363 when he says, “I could cross in front of a car stopped at a traffic light and elicit the thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk of the driver- black, white, male, or female- hammering down the door locks.” Explaining how innocent he really is, Staples says, “As a softy who is scarcely able to take a knife to a raw chicken – let alone hold one to a person’s throat – I was surprised, embarrassed, and dismayed all at once” (pg 363). This is an example of an analogy, which compares two things.
In my opinion, the best use of a rhetorical device is the author’s last sentence when he uses a simile. It is about Staples’ whistling classical music being the “equivalent of the cowbell that hikers wear when they know they are in bear country” (pg 365). The cowbell is supposed to warn bears to stay away, just as Brent’s whistling warns concerned strangers that he is harmless. As a white female, it is impossible for me to completely understand the experiences of Brent Staples. Even though I too have been judged by my appearance, I have no idea what it’s like have people running from me, scared. The fact that Staples would have to walk by a building he was about to enter just because he doesn’t want skittish people to think he’s following them, is unacceptable. On the other hand, Chicago has some frightening people that might be harmful. It is a difficult topic to write about, however Brent Staples drew a great portrayal of his point of view.

Why Don't We Complain

A little girl pouting because she doesn't get what she wants; a soccer player who stops running because it's too hard; or a customer at the store saying that her strawberries are no good are all ways to complain. But, when someone has something legitimate to complain about, it gets pushed aside when it really should be said. That's what I learned from William F. Buckley Jr., in Why Don't We Complain.

When looking at the writing style of William F. Buckley Jr., I find that he uses imagery all throughout his writing. He uses words to paint a picture in your mind; a picture that will help you understand his point of view. Like, when he is describing the situation on the train, where it's 85 degrees and no one musters the confidence to complain about their suffering, he includes every detail about all aspects of the situation. Such as the setting, obviously; and the characters, like the conductor who walks through eighty sweaty men and doesn't realize that anything is wrong. He also includes the overwhelmingly bad mood that everyone must be in. His writing gives you the total ability to see where he's coming from and where he draws inspiration.

One of Buckley's explanations as to why people don't complain is this: "the observable reluctance of the majority of Americans to assert themselves in minor matters related to our increased sense of helplessness in an age of technology and centralized political power." In essence, this quote means that people are surrendering their voice and opinion to the politic and technology of our technological society. This statement is one of the strongest metaphors in this essay, but it also seems to directly correlate withe the book we just read, Amusing Ourselves to Death. I found it very interesting that Buckley would make a point like this in amongst the scenarios he used to persuade the reader.

The author of this essay frequently uses his opinions and experiences to explain the reasons we don't complain. Whether it is his out of focus movies, or ironic opinions. One ironic statement he made is that "I myself can occasionally summon the courage to complain, but I cannot, as I have intimated, complain softly." This statement is ironic because he starts out needing all this courage to complain at all, but when he does complain, he's loud and outgoing. Personally, I think ironic statements make the writing stronger because the reader has to think more to understand the message.

Overall, this essay by William F. Buckley Jr. taught me that people don't say what they really feel because they don't want to complain. But, those reservations cause the people who really need to be heard to not be heard at all. And when we don't say what we really feel, how will we be heard? We wont be.

Just Walk on By: Black Men and Public Space

Just Walk on By: Black Men and Public Space by Brent Staples was a very interesting and thought provoking piece. Through his writing he really captured my interest and got me thinking about the role prejudice plays in our lives and the world around us. Within this essay Brent Staples used several rhetorical strategies to make his writing not only stronger, but more meaningful.

Perhaps the simplest method used within his writing is metaphors, which is the comparison of two unlike things to one another for figurative effect. He uses this strategy in statements such as, "I chose, perhaps unconsciously, to remain a shadow--timid, but a survivor (page 364)." and, "I whistle melodies from Beethoven and Vivaldi...It is my equivalent of the cowbell that hikers wear when they know they are in bear country." Brent Staples uses this strategy to reveal how much he had to be on guard in order to survive. By using metaphors he allows the reader to better understand the position he was in and the precautions he was forced to take.

Another extremely effective writing technique the author uses is imagery. This is where he uses descriptive writing that draws on vivid sensory details and figurative language to re-create an experience for a reader. We see several examples of this in his work in statements such as, "I was to become thoroughly familiar with the language of fear (page 363)." or "Elsewhere...where sidewalks are narrow and tightly spaced buildings shut out the sky --things can get very taught indeed (page 363)." and "They seem to have set their faces on neutral, and with their purse straps strung across their chest bandolier-style, they forge ahead as though bracing themselves against being tackled (page 363)." This technique makes very easy for the reader to better experience the story that is being told. His language is very compelling and descriptive which better engages the reader as through it they can more easily relate to either the author who has been the cause of fear or one of the women who has been the victim of fear.

Another strategy that Brent Staples seems to employ is that of self-blame. Throughout his writing he makes statements that sound as if he believes it to be his fault that people are scared and prejudiced against him. Through doing so he engages the compassion and sympathy of the readers. We see examples of this when he states, "My first victim was a woman... (page 362)" or "I now take precautions to make myself less threatening (page 365)," and "...I first began to know the unwieldy inheritance I had come into--the ability to alter public space in ugly ways (page 362)."

Another technique that is used is the way the author shows how he reacts emotionally to these situations. By showing his emotions in his writing Brent Staples shows he is only human, just like everyone else, and therefore someone the readers can relate to as they have reacted in much the same manner to situations in their own lives. You see examples of these emotions when he says, "The kind of alienation that comes of being ever the suspect, a fearsome entity with whom pedestrians avoid making eye contact (page 363-364)," and "Over the years, I learned to smother the rage I felt at so often being taken for a criminal."

Overall, I enjoyed the way the author used more intricate and complex sentences with the occasional simple, short sentence. It gave it an unique style that made it all the more enjoyable to read, aided by it's simple storyline. I found this essay to be very enlightening towards prejudices some people are forced to face everyday. Brent Staples also added in details about his past and the situations he faced that enhanced the piece to not only make it more educational and thought-provoking, but believable.



Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Douglass's "Learning to Read and Write"

In "Learning to Read and Write", Frederick Douglass uses different strategies to get his point across to you. Its amazing how much he had to go through in order to learn and write while we have it simple and don't want to. Look at all the things that he had to do, while we have more than enough things, in order to learn to read and write. Exposition and astonishment are found in "Learning to Read and Write."
Douglass has some expositional areas in his essay that if you pay attention to all the things that he has gone through, you would be able to put it together. Throughout the essay, Douglass explains how he got to write and read. He started out with his owner showing him the alphabet and why it wasn't common for slaves to know how to read and write. After a long time of just looking at the alphabet and text, he began to read and understand a bit of what it was. Letters at a nearby ship yard helped him learn to read by seeing what they meant. Writing, which he didn't have a place for, came to him by using chalk, walls and the ground. He explained all of the things that he went through to finally get reading and writing to eventually drop in place for him after a long time of hard work.
Astonishment was put in this essay by Douglass to show the types of things that all should do. First of all, the kindness of the people that were around him more than just good. He had people that gave Douglass advice on how to get free. Douglass had others that were kind by giving him tools in which he would need for the future, and he did use them. If you look around, there are not to many people that would actually take the tools that you give them and use them or even give you the tools in order for you to use, of these there are more of though. You should be one that does use the tools that are given to you instead of just putting them to waist. You should also give tool to get others going, not to put them down. What also was astonishing, was that he went through all the things above in order to learn to read and write, when we have it so easily.
Douglass uses a few strategies in, "Learning to Read and Write", this short essay to tell about all the challenges that he had to go through in order to achieve something that we think is simple. The strategies have some meaning behind them. The astonishing thing is what he did, that is something that many more people should do in their lives. Give and use tools other than wasting them is one thing that you should remember to do.

On Dumpster Diving

On Dumpster Diving describes one man's experiences scavenging dumpsters for food and whatever else he needs to survive. The author, Lars Eighner, uses a variety of rhetorical devices throughout the essay, as well as ethos, to get his point across, and lead to some more abstract ideas.

One of the main schemes Eighner uses is antithesis. For example, he use antithesis in the phrases: “...which is not so much a positive sign as it is the absence of a negative one,” and “A boxed pizza can be written off; an unboxed pizza does not exist.” The latter is also an example of parallelism, as is the sentence: “He can wipe the egg yolk off the found can, but he cannot erase the stigma of eating garbage out of his mind.”

Asyndeton is present when Eighner writes: “Boom boxes, candles, bedding, toilet paper, medicine, book, a typewriter, a virgin male love doll, change sometimes amounting to many dollars...” Another scheme used is anaphora: “I like the frankness of the word 'scavenging,' which I can hardly think of without picturing a big black snail on an aquarium wall. I live from the refuse of others. I am a scavenger. I think think it is a sound and honorable niche...”

Ethos is strongly present throughout the essay, since the author is writing about his life and what it is like Dumpster diving. You know that the author knows what he is talking about, since he has real life experience. Pathos is also used, such as when Eighner describes the dead or dying animals in the Dumpsters, and when he writes: “Dumpster things are often sad ─ abandoned teddy bears, shredded wedding books, despaired-of sales kits. I find many pets lying in state in Dumpsters,” he is appealing to the readers' emotions.

Altogether, On Dumpster Diving is a very interesting essay, which uses rhetorical devices, humor, and anecdotes to move into more important lessons, such as “the transience of material being.” These abstract ideas are pretty much summed up in these two sentences: “Between us [the very wealthy and the author] and the rat-race millions who have confounded their selves with the objects they grasp and who nightly scavenge the cable channels looking for they know not what. I am sorry for them.”