Civil Disobedience

Thoreau does not like the government. He believes that the government should basically just stay out of people’s lives. I do not completely agree with Thoreau when he says that “that government is best which governs least.” I think that the government does need to have some control over the people they govern, but the government shouldn’t have total control. If there was no government control then there would be chaos, but too much control and people would start abusing the power that they have. The government should be used to protect the people that don’t have much power. Ideally, the government would make things fair and equal so that the rich and powerful don’t take advantage of the poor, but if the government has too much power, they become the people that take advantage of the less powerful. Obviously we don’t live in a perfect world, and governments abuse power all the time. The kind of government that would “command my respect” would be a government that does help ensure fairness and equality. The rich and powerful usually take advantage of people that can’t do anything to stop them, so it is the government’s job to prevent that from happening. We run into a problem when the government is the one exploiting people because there isn’t much the average person can do to stop them. This is where Thoreau’s idea of civil disobedience comes in. The role of civil disobedience today is to remove governments that are not taking care of their people. If the government isn’t doing its job, then the people have to try to change the government. In America, we can vote for who is in the government, so that is one way to change things, but other countries don’t always have that option. One of the other options is to protest. There are peaceful protests, like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., and there are more violent protests. In certain countries, it doesn’t seem to matter if the protest started off peacefully because the government responds with violence no matter what. If the government doesn’t care enough about its people to take care of them in the first place, then they probably don’t care about the people who are protesting., so the protests don’t always work very well.

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Thoreau’s Attempt

Thoreau’s writing is pretty similar to Emerson’s. Both Thoreau and Emerson want to connect to nature. In “Nature,” Emerson describes how nature is a beautiful place where you can connect with the world around you. Thoreau took that to heart and spent two years in the woods. Both of them believe in connecting with nature. They both also do not like how society influences people. Thoreau describes how to simplify your life to only meet your needs instead of doing unnecessary things just because society tells you to. Emerson believes in being true to your beliefs even if society doesn’t understand you.

The main idea of “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For,” is that we should live freely and simplify our lives. Thoreau describes imagining buying many different farms, and how he lived in the woods. He says, “It makes but little difference whether you are committed to a farm or the county jail.” He believes that we should be free, not tied down and committed. Thoreau also describes how simplifying your life will improve it. Thoreau says, “Our life is frittered away by detail…Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!” He believes that we should only do the most simple, basic things to take care of our needs. In “The Conclusion,” Thoreau describes how being poor is not a bad thing. He believes that being poor and not tempted by material goods is better than being a dishonest rich person.

There are some benefits to Thoreau’s experiment in the woods. One possible outcome would be to test the idea that society is what corrupts man. If he isolates himself from society, then there would be evidence that society is to blame. It wouldn’t be at all conclusive, but it would be a start. There is no way I could ever live in the woods. I can barely even go camping. I have absolutely no idea how to do anything and I’d probably starve or freeze to death. If I did somehow manage to actually stay alive, I don’t think I would be able to stay in the woods for more than a few days, let alone two years. At first it would be nice and peaceful, but then I would get really lonely. I’m way too lazy to ever live in the woods.

Most people would probably think that transcendentalism isn’t very applicable to modern life, but there are still some lessons we could learn from it. The ideas of taking care of nature, getting rid of things you don’t need that only make your life more complicated, and working hard without worrying about what others think are all still very good lessons for today.

Transcendentalism Quotes

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The End of Argument

I definitely think differently about arguing now. There is so much that goes into constructing an argument. Usually we don’t think much about what we’re saying when we argue with someone. Most of the time it just turns into no you’re wrong and I’m right. I think that part of the problem with the way that we argue is that we really never listen to the other person. We’re just convinced we’re right from the start, which makes most arguments useless and frustrating because the other person doesn’t even address anything you’ve said against them. Most high school kids don’t construct arguments very well. They just insist that they’re right without really backing it up at all. Adults argue in a similar way. They just tell you that they’re right and they just think that you should just listen to them because they’re adults. Not many people actually make good arguments with good reasoning behind them. I used to think that arguing, and especially debating in class, was pretty pointless. Now I’m realizing that I thought that because we’ve never actually had a good argument or debate because we don’t know how to.

Honestly, I absolutely hated the debate. Developing a persuasive speech is not easy at all for me. I can put information together, but using that information to try to persuade someone is a lot harder. I also didn’t really expect to beat Jamie at debating because she is more experienced than I am with being on the forensics team. She as more experienced about taking notes during a constructive and she did a good job at addressing all of my points. When we were actually debating, she started talking faster than I could process what she was saying, so it was hard to rebut a lot of what she said. Overall, the debate wasn’t too terrible, but I still don’t like debating at all. I’m a little sad that I didn’t get to see how the other people in my class debated. That would have been fun to watch, and it would have been interesting to see how they constructed their arguments.

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Image from https://medium.com/@skylerjokiel/how-to-win-an-argument-without-arguing-f87ba8b666de

Debate Topic

I hate debating. Every time we have had debates in the past, it always just turns into the same three or four people yelling at each other from across the room. Obviously since this will be just two people going against each other and not half the class debating against the other half, that won’t be a problem, but I still was not excited at all when I learned that we were going to debate. Hopefully it won’t be too bad because there will be a lot of structure and formality to the debate. My topic for the debate is gun control, and I got the pro side for it. This is also the side I personally believe in. I am happy I got this side because it will be nice to not have to debate for something I don’t agree with. Honestly, Jamie was the one person in the class I didn’t want to debate against, and I still managed to pick the same topic as her. It’s better than having to go against Mcgarry, but I still didn’t want to go against her because she’s on the forensics team and actually knows how to debate.

Prior to research, most of my knowledge about gun control comes from just hearing people talk about it. Usually after a big shooting we talk about it in our history class, and sometimes the topic of what to do about gun control comes up. The main idea of the argument for gun control is that it will be harder for people to access guns, which means it will be harder for someone that wants to use a gun for criminal purposes to find one. If it is harder for these people to access a gun, then less people will die in shootings. Some basic research shows many arguments to use in a logical approach, such as statistics on how many injuries and deaths are caused by guns and how other countries have created stricter gun control laws. An ethical appeal would be the moral obligation to protect lives, and an emotional appeal would be the fear of being killed by a gun.

Gun and Constitution

Image from https://www.britannica.com/story/gun-control-in-the-us

 

Changes

One issue for the subject of a debate is whether or not the electoral college should be used to determine the President of the United States. One side of the debate is that we should keep the electoral college. This side argues that the founding fathers thought that it was the best method. The founding fathers thought that using the electoral college would safeguard against uninformed people making poor decisions, and having the electoral college made sure that the people who would be most likely to have the most information about the best choice would be voting. This side also argues that it ensures that all parts of the country are involved because the candidate can’t only focus on heavily populated areas, so small rural areas are also taken into account, and it ensures certainty of the election results. A candidate can get the highest number of popular votes without actually getting a majority of over 50%, but the electoral college gives a more certain outcome. On the other side of the debate, the electoral college should not be kept in place because the original reason the founding fathers created it is no longer relevant, it gives too much power to “swing states” that are not guaranteed to vote one way or the other, and it does not always directly reflect what the people want. The founding fathers created the electoral college because the masses wouldn’t have the necessary information to vote, but because of technology today, this is no longer a relevant concern. Candidates can focus mostly on swing states because they can guarantee that they will win some states, such as democrats being almost guaranteed to win California. Finally, a candidate can win the electoral college without winning the popular vote, which means a candidate can win the election without having the most support from the most people. I am against the electoral college. It is outdated and doesn’t always accurately reflect what the people want.

My school year has gone pretty well so far. I pretty much like all of my classes, and I’m doing well in them. The one thing I would change is I need to stop procrastinating. I really just need to stop putting things off and stop being lazy. With drama practice starting I’m going to have to start doing my homework earlier anyway because I won’t have as much time to put it off. I need to stop wasting time in study hall too because I never end up getting anything done in study hall because I end up talking to people or just sitting there not doing anything. I really just need to stop being lazy and just do stuff earlier.

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Virtues

I like to think that I’m generally a pretty good person, but following a list of virtues can be a little rough. At the beginning of this experiment, I figured I would have a problem with at least a few of the virtues, and it went pretty much as I expected.  One of the virtues I have a lot of trouble with is order. I can be a very messy person. I tend to just throw things down onto a pile to deal with later, and that pile grows very quickly. I did clean my room this weekend though, so there’s a little improvement. I also have trouble with industry. I’m usually very busy, so when I do have some free time I either sleep or just go on my phone. I have a bad habit of taking three hour naps when I can, and then I have to finish my homework at ten o’clock at night. If I ever have any free time I basically just waste it because I rationalize that I’m just relaxing in the little down time I have. I am also very bad with resolution. I procrastinate so much on everything. Then there are the virtues I’m alright with, but could still use some work, like tranquility. Usually I’m pretty calm, but sometimes I can get very worked up. Similarly, I do alright with moderation, but sometimes I can overreact a lot. I like to think that I do alright with justice, but I know that sometimes I can get a little critical of other people. Along the same lines, I try to be sincere, but I know I mess up sometimes. I try to do alright with humility and docility, and I do most of the time, but I can get a little full of myself other times. Although I had some problem virtues, I did very well with some other virtues. I did well following frugality, silence, cleanliness, and chastity. I absolutely hate being wasteful, I don’t really like talking, and I tend to be a little bit of a germaphobe. Loyalty is another virtue that is very important to me. I will do a lot for the people that I care about. If you’re wiling to stand by me, I’ll do the same. On the other hand, if you do something to hurt me or the people I care about, I won’t really ever trust you or think as highly of you ever again. Finally, I do pretty well with excellence because I worry too much about getting good grades to not do well with it in school. Out of school, I can struggle with this though because I am very lazy. Overall the experiment went pretty well. I know what virtues I have to work on a lot more, but to be honest I probably won’t really think too hard about it again.

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Image from https://www.biography.com/people/benjamin-franklin-9301234

Poetry Part 3

My first impression of “The Dodo’s Conundrum” was that it made no sense at all. The first time I read through it I was very confused. I had absolutely no idea what it was even saying. It took until about the third time reading through to even get a tiny idea of what it was talking about. Then after reading it a few times I understood what the words were saying, but I had no idea what it actually meant. It only started actually making sense after looking a few things up like what a microcosm is and what the Dodo’s conundrum is. After reading it once or twice I realized I had no idea what a microcosm is, so I looked it up and learned that it was a miniature world. The lines about miniature trains and people and everything made a lot more sense after that. Then I looked up the title and learned that the Dodo’s conundrum is about how a Dodo has wings but can’t fly, and that made me think that in the poem everything that you would think you need to do something is there, but you can’t actually do it. In the poem, there is this miniature world where you would think you have everything you need, but in reality it doesn’t work like that. The speaker creates this miniature model world that is perfect to escape from the real world, but it isn’t fulfilling because it doesn’t have the bad things that make it real. The Sound and Sense questions were a lot easier to answer for “The Dodo’s Conundrum” than they were for “Eldorado.” Writing poems definitely helped with that. It made me think about how to show ideas ideas in poems which helped me identify those ideas in other poems. The one thing I definitely wouldn’t have gotten without writing a poem was how in “The Dodo’s Conundrum” the stanzas going back and forth between ballad and free verse conveyed the idea of structure in the miniature world and disorder in the real world. I would have seen that the stanzas were in different forms, but I never would have guessed why. Writing the poems helped a lot with analyzing.

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Poetry Part 2

As I shamefully admitted in my last blog, I didn’t hate poetry going into this unit, and I still don’t hate it. I actually really like trying to fit lines into either iambic or trochaic form. It’s kind of fun. Having to write a poem with requirements made me start to see that there is really a lot that has to go into writing a poem, but writing poems with the requirements really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Most of the hard part was figuring out what to write about, but after I got an idea I didn’t hate actually writing it. I couldn’t really think of an idea for my first poem for a while, and I ended up sort of forcing something together, so it was harder to write, but for my second poem I had a better idea of what I was going to write about so it was a lot easier. Mostly what changed between my first and second poem was that I had a better idea for what the poem would be about. The idea for my second poem actually started out as a joke. In math class I jokingly said I was going to write a love poem to math, and I thought it would be funny to make someone that hates math read that and grade it, but then it ended up turning out alright, and it had all the requirements, so I turned it in. Honestly I don’t really like the idea of adding a visual element to a poem. The video we watched in class ended up being really creepy and I did not like it at all. I think that the poem should do its job of describing something well enough that it doesn’t need a visual, but if I had to add a visual to my poem, I would probably add some angel wings in the beginning because it’s supposed to be like the thing I’m speaking to is some heavenly, amazing thing. Then I would add a dove flying past a bright sun with the light shining behind it to show the peace and beauty that I talk about in the third and fourth stanzas. And then I would end it with some math equations floating around hearts.

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Image from https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/worldpoetryday

Poetry

It’s time for a confession. I actually don’t hate poetry that much. I like the flow of the rhythm patterns, and I always think it’s really cool when an author comes up with a rhyme that sounds really clever. When we were looking for a poem we liked and a poem we disliked, I found one really cute poem, and I found one where I don’t even know what was happening. The first poem was “The Mouse’s Tale” By Lewis Carroll. I thought it was a cute little poem, and I liked that it was a pun on a mouse’s “tale” because it was in the shape of a tail. I also liked the bouncy feel it had, and the rhyme pattern made it sound very cute. At first I just thought it was a cute little poem so I wrote it down for the poem that I liked, but then when we had to analyze it, it actually had a deeper meaning, and I thought it was really cool how that was woven in there. For the poem I disliked, I picked “Shame” by Richard Wilbur. Basically when I was flipping through the poem books I found this one, and it just made no sense at first. I also don’t like free verse as much, so I put it down for my dislike poem. I didn’t totally hate Eldorado either. I liked when we analyzed it in the context of Poe’s life and the California gold rush that was happening at the time. I thought that the two different interpretations were really interesting. It took me a while to think of an idea for a poem, but eventually I settled on something with fire. Eventually that turned into describing the different ways fire can be used. Fire can either be helpful, like when it is used to keep us warm, or it can be destructive. Then I had the idea to relate fire to people. People can be good or bad just like fire. I actually don’t hate writing poems either. It’s kind of fun finding a sentence that fits the pattern, but shhhhh no poems are bad. Just terrible. Clearly.

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Image from https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Fire-burning-just-west-of-Healdsburg-one-13359863.php

First Quarter Book #2.

I really loved the second book I picked for the first quarter, Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. This time, instead of just trying to find a book randomly looking through the library, I used the What Should I Read Next feature on the library website, which was a really good choice. I’m going to start off with saying I know this is just young adult trash but I don’t care. I’m trash too and I liked it. The book was pretty much what I expected, so my thoughts on it didn’t change too much throughout. The first thing I liked about it was the main character, Meira. I really liked her, and she was much more realistic than the main character in the first book I read. She is honestly just like all the other main characters in the books I like but I still really liked the book. Almost all of the main characters in the books I read can be summed up by a teenage girl that wants to prove herself and make her own destiny, and she ignores what people tell her to do because she just does what she thinks is right, but hey if it works it works. Meira fits this character type exactly. She wants to prove that she can help her kingdom, but she wants to do it in her own way and still stay true to herself. The books starts off with her trying to prove that she is capable of going on missions to help her kingdom and showing her desire to matter. Then she has a chance to get help from a neighboring kingdom by marrying the prince, which would form an alliance between the kingdoms, but she doesn’t want to because that isn’t how she wants to be useful, she wants to fight and be a soldier, not just be someone that is married off. She also doesn’t really follow orders really well. On the first mission she goes on, which is to retrieve half of a locket they need to restore magic to their kingdom and save it, she was supposed to go back to camp if something went wrong. Something does go wrong and guess what she doesn’t do. Instead of going back like she’s supposed to, she goes after the locket half, and does manage to get it after they have been trying for sixteen years to find and get it. At this point I’m thinking that this book is so much better than my first one and I’m very glad I decided to read it. Like my first book, this one also had a twist at the end, but unlike my first book, this twist didn’t come out of nowhere, so it actually made sense. One of the first problems in the book is that the only surviving heir of the destroyed kingdom is male, so he can’t use the magic in the locket they were trying to get because only female heirs can access the magic. The first scene in the book introduces this problem, and my first thought was that it would be much more convenient if Meira was the heir, since she’s female and could use the magic. Then the antagonist, who can use a different, more powerful kind of black magic, tells her that she has magic somewhere with her, but she assumes it’s in a stone that her friend had given her. Now I’m wondering if she could be the child of the queen, not the boy that everyone was told is the heir. Then we find out that Meria actually is the daughter of the queen, and that magic can be contained in a person, not just an object. I do think that other people should read this book. Even though it’s more fantasy, the characters are much more realistic than in my first book. I empathized with the main character so much that I cried when her father figure died, and I would recommend most books that can make me cry.

 

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Image from https://www.amazon.com/Snow-Like-Ashes-Sara-Raasch/dp/0062286935