Blog 16

I do not agree with his statement because there must be a balance. There cannot be too weak or strong of a government. Too strong means the people can be oppressed and silenced. Too weak means it can easily be manipulated and evaded. There are always corrupt people. The best way to deal with them is to enact a system that has checks and balances that is strong enough to keep them out and in line, but also balanced enough so those under the power of the system can have their freedoms protected and not oppressed. The government is meant to regulate and control what a person is allowed to do to a certain extent so as to also protect the next person. Without the rules and laws of the government, people can take advantage of this for personal gain and deprive others of their rights. The individual citizen should uphold and support the government as long as it is being used correctly and the government should provide the rights and protections to the individual citizen.

I respect a government that has been tried and true and made through logic rather than tradition. I admire our government because of the series of checks and balances and how it was thoughtfully designed not to imitate worn traditional monarchies, but to better the individual citizens. I admire democracies because it is the closest thing to a true government for the people as we have ever successfully come.

It is here to allow people to voice concerns and problems within the world today. To solve a problem, people need to be aware and informed of it and able to create an opinion on the matter. Protests have provided a means for the word to get out for the population to learn of the issue. Civil disobedience also promotes growth and change. It is because of it that we have the changes and amendments that we do. It is effective because it allows people to unite under one issue and give the issue strength in the number of voices that are calling for change.

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Blog 15

One connection I found between the two was the idea that men should accept their life and the conditions surrounding it. Emerson states that we should “Accept the place the divine providence has found for you; the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events.” Thoreau offers up the belief that “However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names.” These both agree that people should take their individual lives as they are and not bemoan what they are given. They contend that each individual has been placed where they are by the greater being for a reason and therefore should be content.

The main idea from the first was that his reasoning for cutting himself off from society for some time and why he feels others would do well to follow the same pattern. He explains the different steps he took to achieve this, such as the refusal of farms. He also mentions that he went to see what he could learn from his experience. The conclusion is mainly his reasoning for leaving and what he gained in wisdom and experience.

One benefit with the lack of society would be not being afflicted with peer pressure, societal strife, and class of racial tensions, as well as other characteristics of society that are generally regarded in a negative light. I personally would miss some of my hobbies. I love drama and performing, so leaving society behind would mean giving that up. I would also miss the company of others. There are some things that society can do that an individual cannot, such as provide certain goods and jobs and comforts that come from industry.

I think a modern reader should take from Transcendentalism several different ideas. We should take the idea of being not too concerned with material possessions because that is what the world is focusing on now and I agree that it doesn’t do anything to truly better mankind. I also like the idea brought up in Thoreau’s conclusion in that we do not need to trouble ourselves with always keeping to the pace of others because people, especially students, are being pushed to a specific speed that is not helpful when they should go at their own speed.

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Debate

So my thoughts on arguing have changed from before this unit to now. I never realized how many fallacies are easily committed and equally easily avoided or exposed. I was grateful for the in-depth look at different fallacies that can be used to win an argument.

Arguments, in general, are frustrating and intimidating in real life. They seem to be won less on a position of skill and presentation and more to those in power. Adults have a terribly bad habit of using their old age to “win” an argument. If you don’t want to be reminded of your age any other time, don’t bring it up as if it is a respectable concluding sentence to an argument. Parents especially like to use this by using the “Because I said so” or “I’m the parent, I’m right, don’t talk back” route. I’m not saying parenthood is easy or that parents should be fond of answering every child’s argument with an in-depth analysis of the basis of opinion. But I do feel that it should be noted that simply putting forth one’s own position of power is not anywhere near a win for an argument. Is it too much to ask for a simple explanation or reason rather than a reminder that you are a few decades more ancient than us? In any case, it is quite infuriating outside a formal debate setting because the odds are stacked against those with the lesser influence.

I think it was pretty straightforward to me on how to prepare my argument. The most difficult part was finding credible research to base my argument on and organizing the information. I think I did fairly well on foreseeing which points my opponent was most likely to bring up and base their argument on. I think the way my peers formulate arguments in a formal setting is pretty simple. They take the points that are most popular and known. In this way, it is easier for an opponent to prepare because there are more articles on taking those popular points and arguing them than more obscure points.

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Debate Topic / First Thoughts

My debate topic is about whether we as a country should keep the electoral college or abolish it. My assigned position is to argue that we should keep the electoral college as a part of our political system. This is the polar opposite of my actual position regarding this debate. Prior to research, I already knew that the electoral college was outlined in our Constitution and has been in effect since. It essentially was originally designed to prevent presidents being elected by an uninformed population. Instead, the people would elect a certain member of the electoral college based on whether they would put their electoral vote for a certain candidate. The electoral college would then vote on the presidential candidates and whichever candidate won above a certain number of electoral votes would then be President. I disagree with this because the reasoning this system is based on is no longer relevant to the US anymore. A google search brings up information about it, how many times attempts to remove it has failed, and why certain majorities see it as an advantage they can use to secure political power (predominantly Republican and swing states). Because I am to argue for keeping the electoral college, one logical approach I can use is that there is a better certain outcome because it is less likely for people to dispute the outcome of an electoral vote in contrast to a purely popular vote. There are some ethical issues surrounding this topic, but all the ones I have found (example: electors being pressured to vote one way or another against their own conscience) help the side I am against in this debate. Perhaps more research will turn up a few that will aid me? This can become a heavily emotional debate for many reasons. People tend to have strong opinions regarding this because it affects their power as a state (republican vs democratic, also swing states). Others get emotional about this because they blame the system for how the outcome came out.  But the biggest reason is how it affects their representation. As I think of it, the president is meant to be a president for all the people, not for a select 538.

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Changes

My school year so far has been OK. Not outstanding, but not bad either. I expect that to change now though because today is the first day of drama (AKA: craziness). I would like to better plan out my time, particularly my sleep schedule around drama, work, and school. Last year, I definitely did not get enough sleep and I would like to avoid that this year as it is very unpleasant to walk around in a constant state of exhaustion. This week, I intend to start looking at my schedule and try to plan it out so that it can be the most efficient and healthy for me. Something that could unravel that plan is unexpected schedule changes like cancellations and reschedulings, snow, and ability to get a ride to where I need to go (until I get my license).

Speaking of lack of sleep, the issue that I am interested in evaluating deeper is the issue of school start times. People are becoming more and more aware of the problem of chronic sleep deprivation among teens. Studies have shown that a teenager needs an average of 8 to 10 hours to function properly, but most fail to come close to this number. Teenagers are stuck with enduring many biological changes, including how they sleep and how their bodies react with sleep. They are hardwired to get tired later in the day and consequently sleep later in the day. When schools start earlier than 8:30, it becomes very difficult to find time to get the sleep necessary. A later start time would help promote proper sleep schedules and be beneficial to the student academically, emotionally, physically, mentally, and socially.

Some parents are not so keen on this proposal to have school start and end later in the day. They feel that this will interfere with after-school activities such as sports and eating times. If the school day starts an hour later, it also ends an hour later. This, in turn, will push back sports practices and make it harder for the parent to adjust meal times and pickup times.

I side with pushing school start times to a later time because I feel that the student’s overall health is more important than convenience. As a sleep-deprived student, I can say first-hand that it isn’t healthy trying to take tests on 6 hours or less of sleep. While the other side has some valid concerns, I think they are not nearly as important as the overall health of the teenage population.

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The Mad Experiment

Overall, I have to say I’m not terribly surprised. Some virtues were easy like loyalty, chastity, excellence, frugality, etc. By far, industry was the hardest for me, likely because there are some days where I’ve finished all work I am aware of and don’t really have anything of great import to spend my time on. I am a bit skeptical of the results though. I find this experiment to be quite flawed, however. It rests solely on certain components such as interpretation, circumstance, and opportunity.

Interpretation is how each individual perceives and defines these different traits based on their unique morals and life experiences. Because of this, the results have a certain margin instead of a clearcut defined number. For example, if I interpret temperance to only apply to food and drink, I would have fewer mistakes than if I interpreted it to apply to more aspects of life such as having a balanced schedule.

Circumstance means having the appropriate tools and environment to be able to accomplish a specific task. If one is lacking any of these, the task can never be completed just based on the environment. For instance, if someone does not have the means to buy unnecessary items, then it is near impossible to violate frugality. In this case, it doesn’t matter what the person would have intended to do, should they have had the appropriate circumstances. A great deal of this experiment relies on the environment being influential in one way or another when really the focus should be on the character of the person and what they would do in a neutral environment.

Opportunity means having the means of being able to do a certain action. Here it is important because we cannot do something wrong if we don’t have the opportunity to do it at all. The best example in the context of this experiment is frugality. If I had the money to be able to buy something, but I was not able to go to the store, then I would not have the opportunity to violate or uphold the virtue in question.

While I understand we can never perfect anything, I think that we should not place too much stock in the sheer number of infractions and focus more on the natural inclination and taming it.

 

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Poetry still?

My first impression of The Dodo’s Conundrum was that the author was a bit frustrating, mainly for the allusions no one outside of teachers would actually see. I’m really glad we had footnotes on those allusions because I can guarantee I would not have seen half of them. The only ones I could see being understood by a general audience is the title and mermaids and sirens. Just about anybody knows about the differences between a mermaid and a siren and their roles in different myths. And “The Dodo’s Conundrum”, ok, as long as you know what conundrum means and the most famous thing about the dodo bird, the reader could in theory piece that one together. But the other ones, who is going to recognize those? Isn’t the point of an allusion for the reader’s to recognize the allusion and put it together with the poem?

In theme, I have figured it to be along the lines of “A perfect world is built on order, the real world is built on chaos”. Everything from the structure to the diction in this poem seems to point that direction.

Some of the allusions, I would like more clarification on why the prompt the theme. And why the author would choose to use a false quote from Thoreau because that seems a bit odd to me.

I feel like the Sound and Sense questions were easier this time due to practice. There are some that are still tricky, such as overstatement and understatement, paradox, occasion, irony, and metonymy. Because we haven’t really seen any poems with most of these specific things yet, I am worried that I will be unprepared should we be tested on a poem containing these.

Since writing poetry, I feel that I have gained a better understanding of the difficulty poetry can present. I also think I have a new appreciation for what goes into poetry. In this poem, I was especially impressed by the use of alternating free verse and ballad and I think it was a well-thought decision because it gives the poem more depth and propels the theme.

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(Untitled)

I want someone to write a poem about how frustrating poetry is in high school because that would honestly describe me. I started out with the opinion that I don’t like poetry and (surprise, surprise!) I still don’t. I don’t particularly like all the rules involved in poetry. Everything has to be just right with rhythm, rhyme, structure, imagery, tone, syllabic stress, and about fifty other components. I work better with creative writing and stories because I am less restricted and find it easier to convey my ideas. I have looked on other poets now as people who must not have paid very much attention to what the school is teaching about poetry. If they did, they probably would have never decided to make a living on poetry. The second poem was a bit easier to write because I had a general idea for my theme. My poem’s theme is “life is made up of different seasons” and it compares seasons to the different time periods in a person’s life. I did this because I felt that I could convey this idea best out of all my other ideas.

I think my poem could be enhanced with images of either the seasons or of the character developing. The reason I want either one or the other is that I like the air of mystique that approach lends my poem. In my actual poem, I never come out and directly point out that I’m talking about spring and summer. I don’t blatantly tell the audience that I have an evolving character in my poem. I do this because I want the audience to make their own connections and do some of the work. This also allows the reader to gain their own perspective on my theme. Out of the two ways I could go, I like the seasonal imagery better because it is somewhat easier to portray and I feel it would help the audience understand better. An idea is to have a tree or vine border around the page that evolves from one season to the next as my poem dictates. Perhaps something like this?

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Poe and Poetry

So far, I’ve mostly enjoyed most of the poetry we’ve read. Poe’s poetry is easier for me to dissect and analyze. El Dorado surprised me a bit. It was one of the few pieces of literature that I’ve read from Poe where it starts on a relatively light note. But inevitably, it ended on despair. I mean, it wouldn’t be Poe if it didn’t focus on sadness and despair, now would it? I could relate in a way to Poe’s short story “The Cask of Amontillado”. That story also started a bit more light than others from Poe where the men are merely friends conversing. But it takes a dark turn at the end where there ends up being a murder committed. This tactic gives an eerie and suspenseful feeling to the writing which suits Poe’s writing style quite well.

I feel like our analysis of El Dorado went pretty well. The thing that tripped the most people up though was the allusion to the Bible with “The Valley of the Shadow”. That I feel is a detail that can be easily missed. Finding the rhythm was slightly hard as well, especially with the female endings. I still detest looking for that and meter, even though I’ve been doing this for years. I rather liked Poe’s use of a nursery rhyme-sounding rhythm. It effectively made the poem eerie, spooky, suspicious, and creepy. It was quite interesting how he continually used El Dorado and shadow throughout all the verses. I can’t recall a poem outside of this one where the author uses the same words for all the verses. I believe it was done to emphasize their importance and meaning, as they both are central elements to the main point of the story.

I have yet to come with a solid idea for a poem. Poetry has never been and will never be my strongest suit as I personally find it much too restrictive and flowery for my taste. I considered doing something about struggle towards a goal. However, I do not know how I am going to make this concept into a poem.

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Scythe Review

This book is by one of my favorite authors, Neal Shusterman. I loved his Unwind series and had heard many good things about the Scythe series as well. In fact, Mr. Burell recommended it to me. Based on his description of it and how much he liked the series, I decided to take his professional opinion and give it a shot. Even without the assigned requirement of reading an additional book, I definitely believe that I would have willingly read this book anyway which is a nice change from being forced to read books I would never even go near in a thousand millennium.

 

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I went into this book expecting a similar style to the Unwind series. I was not disappointed. Neal Shusterman takes an idea and uses it in a way to make the reader question their core beliefs. In this book, it was about the consequences of conquering death. No one wants to face death. That is what drives us to continually seek for cures to diseases and pain. But what if that were to happen? What if we conquered natural death? Shusterman shows us this possibility with a demonstration of a major consequence to seemingly eternal life: overpopulation. He forces us to think questions like: “If it is for the good of all humanity, is it bad?”, “Is it considered murder if it is done with a better intent?”, and “Is eternal life worth this?” Books like this are extremely tricky to write because you need to know what makes people tick. To make a book that is meant to shake people to the core, the author needs to identify a belief, moral, or idea that is common among various audiences. Shusterman is basically manipulating us by presenting us with a conflict between beliefs and then stepping back, almost to watch what happens.

After reading it, I had to think a lot. As a student interested in the medical department and the hope of finding cures, this book made me reevaluate myself as a person, where I stand, and why I choose that opinion. I like a book that makes you think while and after reading it, so this was a good mark of a great author.

I could best relate to Citra, the girl main character. Her unique set of problems and past experiences are easier for me to understand and feel as a reader. I also can relate to Rowan to a good extent as well, particularly his survival techniques in enduring his second apprenticeship. In general, all the characters are vibrantly created and provide each reader several different personalities to be able to relate to.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone. It is skillfully written. The plot sweeps you away and is quickly addictive. As a piece of modern literature, this book will have a fairly easy time reaching and communicating with diverse audiences. This makes it appealing to the average high schooler. However, I recommend this book with a warning. If you do read this, be prepared to question your judgment and basic core beliefs. Neal Shusterman writes to challenge these beliefs and therefore, drawing the reader in further emotionally. This book took every belief I had about eternal life and turned them upside-down. If you wish to be emotionally invested and ready to question yourself, this is the perfect story to read. I think that “We think of our beliefs, but not the consequences of these morals” is a theme Shusterman is trying to get across to his captive audience. This book is one of the best I’ve read and I can’t wait for the next one!