Blog 18

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After discussing all of the sections, my reaction to this work was that it was extremely powerful. I believe that it is so powerful because Whitman gives things deeper meanings that are easy to understand. That makes it such an influential piece because everyone can understand what he is trying to say, and they can apply his thoughts to their own every day lives. This poem definitely has a way of impacting every single person who reads it.

My favorite section was probably section 14. I really liked it because it really highlighted the facts that are true to the lives of everyone from the past, present, and will be true in the future. It speaks of how, as humans, we are all the same. We are all made up of the same things and we all follow the same laws of nature. It also says how by studying nature, being in and being a part of nature can help us grow as a person. Lastly, he discusses how trying to become a better person was a gamble but the returns back to him were well worth it. He loved everyone, and everyone loved him.

I completely understand why this poem is referred to as one of the most influential in American Literature. It will always be relevant, and it will always have an effect on people. Some important elements that relate to our society today is when he refers to the trippers and askers. These people will exist forever. They will trip you up, question, cause issues, overreact, etc. But how you handle these things and these types of people reflect on you as a person. You can either let it destroy you or let it push you to become better. This poem also talks about how you can’t tell or force anyone to become a better person. To become a better person, the person has to truly want to and they will have to work for it. These elements will be relevant and influential forever.

I still have some questions about this work. What is Whitman’s answer to the people who still ask, “who am I”, “why am I here”, etc? Does everything in life have a meaning? Are there disadvantages to trying to be a better person? What does he say to the people who want to become better but feel that there are too many things tripping them up to be successful?

If I had to rate this poem, I’d give it a 10/10. I think it’s very well written, extremely relevant, and will be influential forever. It is easily the best and most impactful poem that I’ve read so far. It’s also easy for anyone and everyone to understand. Lastly, there is something in this poem that everyone in the world can relate to and become better from reading.

Blog 17

Reading Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” was a very interesting to me. Reading his thoughts really surprised me at first. It goes along with the ideas of transcendentalism that he believed as well. These ideas seem unrealistic to me, considering they believe that people are naturally good. I think that if government governed less we’d have a lot of havoc, because I do not think that man is naturally good, but Thoreau does believe man is naturally good.

I do not agree with the idea that “that government is best which governs least.” This idea goes along with believing that people can take care of themselves, and that they would do the right thing even if there weren’t laws in order to make them do the right thing. I just do not think that everyone would always do the right thing if there wasn’t a government to provide structure and laws that will punish people who committ crimes or do evil things. I think that the role of government is to provide a structure to our lives. To mandate the things they believe necessary, to ban the things absolutely unnecessary, and to also give us as much freedom as possible. I don’t think that the government has a direct role in relation to the individual citizen, except for telling them what they can and can’t do.

Thoreau states that “Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it. . .” Some kinds of government command our respect, such as dictatorships, monarchies, authoritarianism, etc. These governments command respect in order to rule properly. They have to be respected and feared in order to have authority and do what they want. In these types of governments the people do not have the power, the government and ruler have the power.

Thoreau’s essay has influenced major figures such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the way they approach protest, which has in turn become the guide to modern protest movements. I think that the role of civil disobedience today is to influence people to stand up to unjust things going on in the government. I don’t think the role is to give all the power to the people, but I think that it’s to allow the people to stand up for change and the things that they believe in. I think that it is definitely still effective. I think it’s effective because people today still constantly protest, march, construct movements, and demand changes of laws/things that they believe are unjust or unfair. People are continually influencing the government to do the right thing and make the right changes.


Blog 15

While reading the excerpt from “Walden” where Thoreau discusses his attempt to live the concepts we’ve been reading about in the works of Emerson, I was actually very interested. This surprised me because while reading about the concepts in the works of Emerson, I’ve thought that it was a little bit boring because the concepts seem outdated and unrealistic to me. After reading the excerpt from “Walden”, though, my perspective has changed. I was really intrigued when I started to read the excerpt because I realized that the concepts can still effect our every day life and are still be realistic in different parts of our society today. I’ve made a couple connections between Thoreau’s thoughts and Emerson’s. Both of them wrote about different ways that people could improve themselves in their own every day lives. Writing about these topics can be very hard, and even controversial, but they both pulled off the difficult task. After reading both I myself have even thought of ways that I could become a better person by putting their ideas to work in my own life. These ideas are trying to make people become better in every aspect of their life, and I think that some of the ideas could really work. The main idea of the first portion of the excerpt “Where I Lived and What I Lived For” is that it is extremely important to live a simple and happy life. Rather than needing the difficult things in life (traveling, drama, acceptance from society, materialistic things, socializing, etc.), it is actually better to strive for simple things that will make you happy every single day no matter what (just pure happiness and appreciation for the little things in life, no sadness, no stress, no worries, no fears). The main point of “The Conclusion” is be a leader, instead of a follower. The idea is to be unique, do what you what to do, follow your own lead, do the things that will make you happy, and focus on yourself instead of others/what they think of you. Some of the benefits of Thoreau’s leaving behind society to live in the woods experiment would be that you would be forced to focus on the simple things in life, rather than needing/wanting materialistic items to “fit in”. Other benefits could include no drama, not having to deal with people, focusing on yourself, being able to do what you want to do, etc. I would miss would be interacting with others, being a part of society, materialistic items (I know, sad right?), and I’d miss being able to use my technology. I definitely could not do it. Something that a modern reader should take out of Transcendentalism is to be youself. I think that this is the most important Transcendentalist idea, because it can change the future of the world. If we are all striving to be the same, or to do the same thing, nothing new will ever happen. Inventions, creations, and discoveries will slow if we are too focused on going after things that others already have. The most important idea, to me, that a modern reader should take away is to be unique and be a leader instead of a follower.


Blog 14

I think that the purpose of independent reading is to get students to read more, because people who read often are known to have higher GPA’s, higher intelligence, and general knowledge than the people that don’t. This goal of independent reading isn’t achieved most of the time, though. We, as a school, could better encourage our students to read by allowing them to read more of a variety, such as newspapers, magazines, online articles, etc. They could then be tested on the information that was in what they read. I think that this would allow them to read more about things that they are interested in, rather than being forced to read a book that they don’t actually like.

The first book that I chose to read for the 3rd quarter is called “The legends club: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, and an epic college basketball rivalry”, by John Feinstein. I selected this particular book because I think that it would be a good one to make a book trailer about. It’s about some of the greatest college basketball coaches ever, and the greatest college basketball rivalries. It also includes stories about the winningest basketball coach in college history; Dean Smith, who coached at North Carolina which happens to be my favorite college basketball team. This will definitely be a very interesting read for me since I’m a huge college basketball fan, and I love UNC.

After reading the first chapter of this book, I think that I’m going to find out about the history of UNC, NC State, and Duke games while Coach Smith, V, and Coach K were coaching those teams. My initial reaction to the start of this book is that it’s kind of boring so far. It just talks about when the three coaches came to their schools and got their coaching positions, which I personally think is a little bit boring. I definitely think it will get more interesting as the book goes on, though.

One concern that I have in regards to the book trailer is that there might not be an interesting plot line to make the trailer about. It might be difficult to make the trailer interesting enough for people to want to read the book. Another thought that I have is that I think it’ll be fairly easy to find material to put into the trailer, such as clips from the rivalry games, interviews, game scores, etc. Overall I think that making this trailer may be a bit difficult at times, but I think it’ll be fun to do.


^Dean Smith (UNC) & Mike Krzyzewski (Duke)^

^Dean Smith (UNC) & Jim Valvano (NC State)^

Blog 14

I think that Transcendentalism is a very good belief to follow. In my own words, I’d say that Transcendentalism is being unique, improving yourself, learning new things, and trying to become a better person every day. I also think that it means believing in things greater than yourself, and realizing that there are more important things than man himself; such as God and nature. “Nature” talks a lot about how nature exists in order for man to live and how we have to admit that we are smaller than nature and we need it in order to survive. In nature, man is able to set aside himself and focus on the nature around him. We gain the ability to see beyond ourselves. “Self-Reliance” talks about how every time you try to be somebody else you are losing a part of yourself and your identity. If all you do is follow trends, or follow other people, then you have no sense of self. If you speak your own voice, people might not agree with you or like you, but is it so bad to be understood? In order to do something to change the world, you have to break out and be different. You have to rely on yourself. Both of these readings are great examples of what Transcendentalism is and how it affects every person in the world.

I agree with the belief of the Transcendentalists that man is naturally good. I definitely do not think that man is naturally evil and needs society and its rules to keep him from doing bad things. I think that man is naturally good, unless circumstances end up changing the goodness that they were born with. I would argue by saying that the majority of people are born without knowing anything, and they usually grow up being taught about the good things in life and how to be good themselves. It is only when man is exposed to evil things that they become evil as well. Man is naturally good, but the natural good instincts can be changed by the unnatural world around him. It depends how man is taught, what they experience, what they learn, what they believe, etc. Overall I think that man is generally good, like the Transcendentalists belief, but there are definitely certain cases where man turns evil. Man being evil is not natural, but it can happen at times.


Blog 13


Throughout the argument unit in this class, I’ve definitely learned a lot more about understanding how to properly argue. I have come to realize that I argue every single day even though most of them aren’t even valid arguments. For example when I argue with someone and ask why they’re right and they respond with “because I said so”, “because I’m right”, “just because”, etc. None of these are valid pieces of evidence to support what we’re arguing for, yet we all still use them most of the time. During this unit and this debate activity, though, I’ve learned how to avoid those poorly built arguments. In order to avoid them, you must research your topic and try to build your argument with logic and statistics. You should also use a little bit of ethical and emotional appeal, but mainly use logical. If you use logic, that makes it hard for someone to argue against you, and it makes your own argument that much better.

I’ve learned a lot about arguing in an effective matter. The way you argue matters; you must believe what you are saying or else nobody else is going to believe it either. You also need to be very into your argument using emotion, whether it’s with enthusiasm or humor or even sorrow, in order to captivate your audience. I’ve also learned that my peers construct arguments without and true evidence to back them up. They are the people who argue that the Patriots are the best football team, because “they’re just the best.” Adults on the other hand tend to include fallacies while arguing at times. They sometimes use appeal to emotion, begging the question, and sometimes appeal to authority. These arguments are sometimes more subtle than the ones my peers use, yet they’re both poorly built arguing methods.

I think that the best debate, other than my own, was Evan and Jack’s. They both supported their own topics very well and I felt like it was a very even and hard-fought debate. They both asked good and important questions to put each other in a bad position. They both had statistics to back up everything they said. They both also a lot of logic, but they did include just enough emotional appeal to get the audience’s attention. They both had very strong arguments, and I honestly wasn’t sure which side to be on at the end because they both supported their own side extremely well.

In the beginning of this unit I thought that a lot of these topics were mainly just opinions, without a lot of evidence to change laws, rules, or ways of learning. So, I thought that debating would be really difficult. After this unit, though, I realized that that’s not true. All of these topics can be debated and using statistics, logic, ethics, and emotions, you can find the right side. I definitely think differently about argument now. I think that it is a lot simpler than any of us expected it to be. As long as you use logic, and back up the things you say with evidence, you can build a valid argument about almost anything. The experience of developing a persuasive speech was actually pretty easy for me. After learning how to use mostly logic, and back up the things I said, it was very easy to build a strong argument.

Blog 12

My topic for the debate was whether college should be free or not. My opinion of the topic in the beginning was that I didn’t feel that college necessarily needed to be free for everyone, but after beginning to research this topic I’ve come to realize that free college tuition could be a very good thing to start in the US. My opinion changed because after looking into it I’ve realized how many people it would help.

The most interesting factual piece of information regarding my topic is that, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states, only 65.9% of people who graduated from high school last fall had enrolled in college. This is very interesting to me because it seems like such a low number when I think about how many jobs require college degrees. It should also be compelling to others for the same reason, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that 1 in 3 jobs require education beyond high school. The Bureau of Labor Statistics gave me the information about this.

A very powerful emotional approach to my debate topic is how many people simply cannot afford college. This topic activates emotions in society because it makes people feel bad for the ones who can’t afford college. My debate topic is one that I had to figure out how to activate emotional appeal in the audience. I had to figure this out because there aren’t very many emotional aspects to bring up about my topic other than explaining how some people from underprivileged families can’t afford it. This was also a little bit difficult due to the fact that my audience was filled with juniors in high school, so we don’t all have first hand experience with how expensive college truly is.

Ethically, the debate about this topic is very important because free college would promote fairness and equality. Ethics enter into the debate of my topic when it comes to what’s right vs wrong, fairness, equality, and justice. One ethical argument against my topic is that if college was free, people wouldn’t value a college education as much and they would become lazy and unmotivated when it comes to school work. One ethical argument in favor of my topic is that it is unfair that everyone does not have the ability to go to college whether its due to examples such as costs, grades, or standardized test scores.

Of the three appeals, I think that logical is the most important for my topic. I think it’s the most important because the argument about my topic is based solely on opinions, so the only way to truly find the correct side is by using logic from statistics and research. The most commonly used appeal is logical both for and against my topic. The most common argument for my topic is that some people truly cannot afford college. The most common argument against my topic is that the money that would pay for college tuition would still come from the people of the US through taxes. The most common fallacious argument in favor of my topic is that if we began offering free college to everyone, the US economy would improve. The most common fallacious argument against my topic is that if college were free, college students’ motivation, persistence, and success will decrease.

I have really learned a lot about the process of creating a valid argument since we started our persuasive/argumentative unit of study. I’ve learned that if you don’t necessarily agree with the side you are arguing for, the best thing to do is use logic. I’ve also learned that ethic and emotional appeals are very important to use in moderation, but you cant base your entire argument on those two alone because logic is usually the most effective appeal. Another thing I’ve learned is that in order to be able to argue/debate effectively, you must spend time researching both sides of the topic so that you are well prepared for any argument against you and so that you can effectively argue for your own topic. These are just a few of the many things that I’ve learned throughout this entire unit of study, and it has definitely prepared me for any future arguments that I may have.



The Rise of a Star: LeBron James (AR Blog)

The second book that I read for AR was “The Rise of a Star: LeBron James”, by David Lee Morgan, Jr. I really enjoyed this book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. Due to the fact that it is about a star basketball player, most people would think that it would only be a good book to read if you’re a sports fan, but that is definitely not true. This book would be a good read for anyone and everyone whether you’re a sports fan or not. This book offers an up close and personal look into LeBron James’s life, and his basketball career. He was the NBA’s hottest prospect at one point which was very impressive, but the best part of the book was everything that lead him up to that point. His entire childhood was filled with poverty and issues, and how he overcame all of it was an extremely interesting story to read. The odds were against James from the start. Born in poverty to a 16-year-old single mom, without a stable home for the first decade of his life, LeBron could have become just one more scarred product of a rough childhood in the projects. Instead, he became the darling of the sports world, and he plays the part well. Two inserts of color photographs show the athlete from childhood to recent NBA draftee, and most show him with his recognizable smile and truly having fun with his gift of natural athleticism. Morgan doesn’t gloss over the controversy that surrounded the player when he accepted gifts as an amateur, a violation of the high school rules. He just comes across as a typical teen who sometimes screws up, albeit one with a prodigious talent. Morgan, who covered James’ high school career for the local newspaper, draws his material from interviews with family, friends, coaches, and teammates. The result is an extremely well rounded, personal story of the young superstar. This book does an excellent job of depicting the intense pressure and scrutiny James and his family had to endure when he became basketball’s hottest upcoming player. Sixty color photographs really interested me as well, and gave me a better understanding of who James was as well as his friends, family, teammates, coaches, teachers, and acquaintances. This book really touched my heart, as it would with anyone who reads the book. I am kind of surprised that LeBron didn’t get into more trouble with the law because it would have been so easy for him to get into drugs and get quick money. It would have been expected. So, the fact that he never did really makes him a role model for most people. I also didn’t know that it is because of basketball that he found his best friends/teammates and father figure. I think this book is an amazing inspiration for not only athletes or people who come from little, but for everyone. It makes everyone learn to make the best of what they have and understand that they can do anything that they put their mind to and work hard for. This book also shows how if you use your time wisely and do important things and things that you love, you won’t get distracted from your dream. You also won’t get sucked into peer pressure and do bad things that would harshly affect your life. LeBron teaches us all to work hard and understand that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. You can achieve the unthinkable if you work hard and be smart. When he finally got done his high school career there were three major shoe companies that would be looking and fighting for LeBron. Those three companies were Nike, Adidas, and Reebok. Everyone thought that LeBron would sign with Adidas because they supply St. Vincent-St. Marys’ athletic program with Adidas apparel. Surprisingly, James would go his own way and would sign with Nike because he liked them better. So as an 18 year old he would have a $6 million deal with Upper Deck trading cards and a $90 million dollar deal to sign with Nike. James would then declare for the 2003 NBA draft in Madison Square Garden. He would be taken #1 by his home state Cleveland Cavilers. This explains how LeBron did everything that he ever set his mind to, and it sets an example for everyone else that we can too. I absolutely loved this book and I would recommend it so anyone and everyone.

Blog 11

My topic for the debate is state college tuition. I was assigned the “pro” position for the debate; college tuition should be funded by the state. My personal position on this topic is the same one that I was assigned. I definitely think that college tuition should be funded by the state. Prior to research, I know that not all college tuitions are funded by the state. I also know that even if tuition is free, that doesn’t mean that college is free completely. Even if their tuition is free, students must still pay for fees, books, meal plans, rooming, and other miscellaneous expenses. From a basic Google search I found mostly biased sources, but I did find some reputable sources that were impartial. They included a lot of opinions, but some sources that I did find were reputable with valid studies to back up the conclusions that they had drawn. One way that I plan to address this topic in a logical approach is explaining how Germany eliminated tuition because they believed that charging students $1,300 per year was discouraging Germans from going to college. Chile will do the same. Finland, Norway, Sweden and many other countries around the world also offer free college to all of their citizens. If other countries can take this action, so can the United States of America. An ethical issue regarding this topic is that it might appear to devalue a college diploma. It could lead to students cutting classes or not trying because they don’t necessarily have to “get their money’s worth”. The price of college drives students to complete their schooling as quickly as possible to reduce their debt. Without that financial drive, we might see more laziness and less appreciation from our students. The emotions that can be brought into play are empathy and sorrow. These can come into play because I can bring up how college tuition being funded by the state could allow more people to receive a college education that wouldn’t have been able to without state funding. Whether it be from thinking they can’t afford it, thinking they won’t fit in, not knowing how to choose a college, or not doing well and high school so therefore assuming college will be the same; state funded college tuition could give these people a chance to try it out for themselves without too much stress and worry.


Blog 10

You might have heard people say “be sure to eat breakfast because it’s the most important meal of the day.” This is a very common thought among many people. Many articles have claimed that it is good for your brain, your growth, your mood, and most commonly for weight loss. In one particular article, Casey Seidenberg emphasizes these claims and says that eating breakfast is necessary.

These claims are all wrong. It is not absolutely necessary for everyone to eat breakfast. For certain people, it’s part of their routine and it makes them feel better in the morning. For others, eating breakfast is the last thing they should be doing. Breakfast can make them feel very nauseous. For some people, breakfast is necessary, but for others it is not. It’s all about your personal preference and how it makes you feel. The statement that it is necessary for all people to eat breakfast is wrong and, quite frankly, unrealistic.

Weight loss is a big factor in whether or not people think that they should eat breakfast or not. A 2014 study by The American Journal of Critical Nutrition concluded that a recommendation to eat or skip breakfast for weight loss was effective at changing self-reported breakfast eating habits, but contrary to widely espoused views this had no discernible effect on weight loss in free-living adults who were attempting to lose weight. Therefore, eating or skipping breakfast has no obvious effect on weight loss. In another study which looked at more than 300 people, participants were split into 2 groups. One ate breakfast and the other did not. While there were some small differences, the bottom line was that there was no significant difference in weight loss between the breakfast eaters and the breakfast skippers. In fact, both groups lost weight and this occurred without the researchers telling participants what to eat, or not eat, for breakfast. Research can be flawed, but our body’s biological nature is not meant to be deceiving. Weight loss depends on how many calories you eat, the foods you eat, and the nutrients you consume in your diet. Add in exercise, and that will determine how you look and feel. It does not depend on when you eat, whether it’s breakfast, lunch and/or dinner.

You may need to eat breakfast, and that is completely okay. Or, you may need to skip breakfast because it makes you feel sick, and that is also just fine. Whether you do or don’t eat breakfast in the morning is not going to change you or your body. It is all about what you want to do, what you think is right, and what makes you feel the best. If that is eating breakfast, that’s great. If that is skipping breakfast, that’s great. Either way, it is not necessary to eat breakfast every morning every day. It is just important to do whatever you choose to do.