I’m going to be honest when I first read The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, I did not really get the satire. It took me reading through it a second time to actually understand it. The beginning description of the friend who wants the narrator to investigate Rev. Smiley is a big part of the satire that I completely forgot about making the story not make sense until I reread it. I thought that it wasn’t really like laugh out loud humor but more humor that made you think about the whole situation and prove a point. That point, of course, was making fun of upper-class people in thinking they are so much better than those lower than them. The whole time the narrator describes Simon Wheeler as a lazy stupid man but in reality, it is the Narrator who is fooled into talking to Wheeler by his friend. The whole long story just makes fun of Southern Romanticism and how they portray people in such a heroic light.

In anticipation of Huck Finn, I would say that I am expecting a lot of mischiefs. A while back I remember watching a video where Huck Finn faked his own death and it was pretty entertaining. I can’t really remember why I was watching it or where it was from but I hope that the book will be just as entertaining. After reading the short story by Mark Twain in class I have pretty high hopes for the book. As we discussed (and the story was further proof of this) Twain is an absolute genius when it comes to portraying different characters and their dialect. He rights a lot about adventures but the subtle jokes he makes really makes you think.

I actually watched iMom a couple of months ago because I love little short film “twilight moony” type of stuff. I was (and still am) totally freaked by the twist ending. The iMom seemed like an angel compared to the real mom who didn’t seem to put a lot of thought into her kids. As she was giving advice to one kid I started to forget that she was a robot but then when I had realized what she had done it made me think about how easily technology can backfire on us without us even realizing it. The satire is honestly just that humans can only make technology as good as they are. There will never a perfect mother because we are imperfect. 

Satire and Twain

I definitely watch a lot of satire humor in my life. Though I think I don’t always put a name to it it is a common theme in the comedy I watch. A lot of it is political such as on SNL but also in The Office of Parks and Rec. I would say while it can be pretty funny sometimes when it gets too real it just gets uncomfortable or upsetting though most comedians no not to take it that far. I also enjoy surreal humor (Monty Python and the coconut horses) or some of the really strange things that Dwight does on the office like hosting a garden party which of course was all a prank by Jim. Another great example of surreal humor is Weird Al parodies which I haven’t really watch in a while but White and Nerdy is a pretty great one. Topical humor can be pretty funny too. A lot of times after I just finished watching a new movie I will go and watch the How It Should Have Ended video on it. If I am being honest some of the more witty jokes take me a second to get them.

I know that Mark Twain liked to make fun of his era of people. As we learned in APUSH he came up with the term the Gilded age which meant that the era he lived in looked great on the outside but underneath things were not going well at all. He wrote a book called The Gilded Age with Charles Dudley Warner which is what that term stemmed from.  After doing some reading online I have realized that Mark Twain had a very interesting life.  He dropped out of fifth grade, became a steamboat pilot, joined the Confederate army for several weeks, and was friends with Nikola Tesla. Because of his very interesting life and the many famous and influential people in it, I think he was able to have a lot of things to talk about in his books. His life experience helped him to have a wide perspective of the United States at that time.

The Good Earth

My biggest critique with this book is that is set one general portray of Chinese people for a long time. It also may have been the cause of some racist ideas of Chinese people. That being said it was very monumental for it’s time in that not many Americans had any idea what China was like and what its people’s lives were like. It also helped raise awareness and somewhat less discrimination against Chinese people in America.

The book itself was an amazing story of life, wealth, family, and sacrifice. It also revealed some of the terrible practices of many Chinese people during that time. The author does a good job portraying Wang Lung’s life through his perspective and describing what he had to do in times of hardship and the difficult decisions he had to make in order to survive poverty. The social differences of wealthy vs poor people in China were also well shown with the way that the Hwang family looked down upon Wang Lung and other peasants. Poor had to treat them like gods and respect whatever they wished. For instance, when Wang Lung marries O-Lan he is expected to come back when she has her first child and show the child to the Lady of the Hwang family. The Lady of the house seems like she could care less that she is losing a slave because they have so so many.

The amount of reliance on the land for life is shown very well in the way that Wang Lung describes the circle of life. The man takes much from the land throughout his life but when he dies his body goes back into the soil. Also, Wang Lung’s perspective in his marriage to O-Lan is very well described and shows a very different way of viewing marriage than what it is like today. Since women where no more than property in China, it was almost like he just went out and bought himself a new horse when he purchased O-Lan for a wife. Despite this, he still wishes to please her and even talks about how self -conscious he feels about his actions towards her at some parts of their early marriage. This shows the human feelings of wanting companionship and acceptance were still there.

The book is a great example of what wealth/greed can do to a family. Wang Lung and his wife cultivate the land and then go through hard times but eventually, they steal money from a well to do family and buy more land and start successfully farming again. They eventually become so rich that Wang Lung doesn’t really have reason to grow anything and starts becoming idle. He finds faults in O-Lan and criticizes her despite all of the work she put into having children, working hard on and off the family land, and raising the children. This is just another example of how little women were thought of during this time in China. She becomes ill eventually dies and Wang Lung regrets the way he treated her. He still is much more greedy now that he is rich but he still believes in hard work and tries to encourage his sons to continue the tradition. They refuse because they have also become lazy with greed and sell the family land and split the money. The amount of trial and tribulation that Wang Lung and O-Lan went through is very in-depth and emotional. Despite the major cultural and historical differences of the setting of the book and now, the reader can still sympathize and relate to the story which makes it a timeless classic. It is a very realistic story too in that it doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending and it doesn’t leave out any of the hardships of the Wang Lung family.

 

VeRtIgO

The thing that surprised me the most about this film is how beautiful the cinematography is. The bright colors and beautiful landscapes all blend together and make the whole film look like eye candy (despite it being filmed on a potato).  I like the story overall so far. I mean the beginning moved kinda slow but now that we are into the good stuff it really keeps you on your toes. One thing I’m really not a fan off is Scottie’s character. I feel like he doesn’t really have a lot of depth. The only person that he really is close to is Midge and he is just passed off as some ex-detective loner. It seems super unrealistic to me and so a lot of his motives are hard to believe or just don’t really seem like they have much behind them. Like I get the whole Vertigo thing and how he is suffering from fear of heights but that doesn’t dictate his whole being. He had a life before he got Vertigo correct? But he is NOT the only one. Judy’s character also has no depth. I mean so far I mean in a way we have just been introduced to her. But regardless she is all like: oh I decided to help some rando guy (who I seem to have no ties) with murder his wife but I didn’t know that would mean I would fall in love *sniff sniff* with some guy after 2.5 seconds of me PRETENDING to have a mental break down. Like I’m just confused why she would feel all emotional and want to kiss him if the whole mental illness thing was fake. Wanting that dramatic embrace for real doesn’t work if she was faking the breakdown the whole time unless she is just that desperate. The court trial is another thing that is weird. They held it so quickly and I feel like realistically, people would give it a few days to collect evidence. Like yes, Scottie is a trusted cop and everything but they didn’t even really go to the scene of the crime and investigate things first. Overall good movie so far just some weird choices that could probably have to do with the time it was made in.

Song of Myself

Song of Myself is very interesting and it gives a lot of profound ideas about life. It just takes some thought to interpret everything so I feel like if I ever read the whole thing it would take me like a year. Our sections in particular talk a lot about nature and how he wants to give all of himself to the world and see what comes back in return. He spends a lot of time observing nature and giving examples of how connected we are to it. To me, this shows he is an extremely humble person who honestly does not want much in life more than to feel content with the world around him. He obviously wants to understand better himself and make himself better but it seems to be in a very humble way. There is no aspect of pride in his endeavors with Transcendentalism. I feel like one of the most important lines is “Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns”. He is saying that he will put out all of him in the balance of the world and to whatever in nature will take him and hopes for much in return. He has a lot he wants to learn from the natural world and because of this, he is willing to give much of himself to the world. The importance he puts on himself and his thoughts is what I think is important. It is a very simple yet complex thing that he refers to. Just himself giving to nature but also his mind and his understanding of everything around him. I am having difficulty fully understand how he is actually acting on a lot of the things he says. Like I am assuming he is working to make things better in the world especially environmentally since that is part of Transcendentalism but a lot of what he says is just theoretical and he doesn’t really explain how he plans to apply it to life. For the time he is writing this, his thoughts on nature and equality to all in the world are very different from the norm of his day.

Thoreau CD

I somewhat agree with “that government is best which governs least” because I can see that government does tend to get in the way at times but I don’t really think that America is ready for that. This is a very ideological way of thinking. The United States has very differing ideas among its people of what is best for the country. While the government takes a long time to agree on things or a lot of times just doesn’t end up doing much about whatever issue is going on, we need it to keep order. Having a specific way of dealing with our problems leaves less room for contention over what to do. Until we can all agree to be civilized and use compromise to govern ourselves, we need the buffer which is our government the way it is.

I think a government that listens to everyone and works towards equality and a fair chance for everyone in the country to be successful is one that would command my respect. Not one that holds secrets from its people or does anything for self-gain. No government is perfect (people are not perfect) and because of that, a good government must be able to change and be flexible. It also must be able to kick corrupt people out and not support corruption.

The role of civil disobedience today can be seen in any of the peaceful protests that we have such as the March for or Lives in Washington after the Parkland school shooting. Its role is basically a way for any citizen in America to peacefully protest what they may feel is unfair or unjust about their government. Civil Disobedience’s influence is very important even today because it says that we should express our feelings about government because we are the ones who created the government in the first place and many times we allow it to get in our way even though it is our government and it is there for us. While peaceful protest can take a long time to make a difference it has been very effective and still is today.

15-Thoreau

Thoreau and Emerson both consider nature very important to humankind. They both seem to think that we should be part of nature and not choose to disturb it but rather enjoy it in its state and spend time in it. They also seem to think that we can learn quite a lot from nature if we look at it simplistically and at a level in which we are equal to it. Also, no matter what circumstance you live in you must accept it and live life to the fullest if you want to be successful.

The main idea of the first portion of Thoreau’s attempt is that we should try to live as simply as possible because in reality all of our man-made subjects and technology are just a distraction to a higher level of thinking and understanding of the world around us.

The main idea of the conclusion of Thoreau’s attempt is that if we persevere through our lives with confidence, no matter what circumstances we may be in, we will find success.  Society tends to hold us back but we must learn to accomplish our dreams at our own pace and think for ourselves.

Everything around us that we focus on, social media, technology, our jobs, educations, distract us from being ourselves and becoming one with everything around us. We could progress so much farther in our lives if we could not care what others think and become more connected and on the same plan as the natural world. We should not let society tell us what to think but rather think for ourselves. No matter what walk of life we come from we can find some level of contentment and become successful.

This advice is important to us today because we tend to get very caught up in things that don’t matter in our day to day lives. Especially for high schoolers because it matters very much to many of us that we are excepted by everyone which means conforming to what everyone else is doing. Learning to think for ourselves and excepting our weird side can be hard to do with so much pressure to wear the right clothes and have the perfect social media account. Our phones also constantly distract us from what is truly important in our life. The sooner we can work on changing these things, the better.

14-Argument

My perspective on argument has definitely changed a lot. While I have done debates in the past, this was by far the most formal that I have ever prepared for.

I argue with people a good amount in my day to day life and honestly most of those arguments end with no definite winner. I have never really put much thought into this until we began talking about arguments in class the way that we did. I have realized that a lot of my arguments include a good amount of throwing insults back and forth. They are usually about who is right about something or why my parents should let me go hang out with my friends. When my parents argue with me they generally like to point out that I should just listen to them because they are my parents and don’t give actual reasons on why they are right. With my peers (and myself) it tends to be a battle of who can outwit the other person or who made the best choice in the situation that we are discussing. In general most of the arguments I am in don’t have much thought put behind them. Since arguments tend to come out of anger they are generally spur of the moment sort of things and both parties don’t have time to prepare good points or a valid argument.

Developing a valid argument takes a lot of research and analysis. I guess with day to day arguments if you wanted to make one formal you would have to take time to think about what happened for it to occur in the first place to decide whether it is even worth arguing about. I think having this unit has made me realize that a good argument takes time and careful thought. Most of the arguments in my life aren’t really worth the energy put into them because neither side is really well equipt for what is being thrown at them.

For me, the research aspect of writing my argument wasn’t very hard. I actually somewhat enjoyed reading the articles and seeing what information was out there about my subject (even though the drinking age in America is not all that riveting of a topic). Creating a persuasive speech was harder. Parts of it were easy but at times I felt like I ran out of things to say other than stressing my points. Making them attractive and interesting to the audience is hard and it probably would have been even harder if I had to actually debate. 

Drinking debate

SO—i literally have no idea who I’m debating against which is stressing me out but anyway…My debate topic is against changing the drinking age to 18. Honestly, I agree with both sides of this debate. Even with the drinking age as high as it is, teenagers still seem to find ways to drink anyway so it seems like it almost backfires on us. Once kids get to college underage drinking is crazy high and people make really terrible decisions because they have no idea what they are doing. For that reason, I would argue that we might as well just lower it. If you look at European countries that do have their drinking age at 18 the amount of accidents caused by young drinkers is actually LOWER. I think this is probably due to the fact that people that age have more experience with alcohol by the time they are driving/drinking in general. On the other hand, the percentage of drinkers between the ages of 13-17 is way higher in those countries. The biggest reason I think lowering the age WOULDN’T work in the US is that drinking in Europe culturally different than in America. Drinking in America is something that is more taboo and so if we lowered the drinking age young people would make really reckless decisions. In Europe, on the other hand, there is a long-standing tradition of drinking being more normalized and a big part of everyday meals. Not saying that people in Europe don’t make reckless decisions with alcohol, it is just less likely.

Logical approach-Their are plenty of statistics about the effects of drinking on drunk driving based on the last time that the age was changed in the US that could be used to argue the age change. There is also scientific evidence about the bad effects of alcohol on the young brain.

Ethical approach- Could argue morals of the no drug and alcohol stance that is preached to us from a young age.

Emotional approach- The deaths caused by drunk driving are very sad and someone close to the audience may have been affected by it. Drinking at a young age can cause eventual alcoholism. This tears families apart and effects many people.

Debate

Should we allow more or fewer refugees into our country?

The argument for fewer:

We do not have enough security to do background checks on every person from Syria coming into our country.

Refugee communities have a history of forming terrorist groups.

It cost the US a lot of money to help refugees settle in America per person.

There have been several cases of terrorism in the US by refugees or legal immigrants.

The argument for more:

Most of the terrorist attacks in the US have been by non-muslims

Refugees have to go through the highest security checks out of anyone going into our country.

13.5 million Syrians are in need of assistance and refuge.

Of all the refugees admitted to the USA, only three have been convicted of terrorist attacks.

In my opinion, we should allow more refugees into the country. Right now our country is at a historical low 0f only 30,000. There is no evidence of increased security risk to our country to take as many as we were and with so many people suffering, we should do our part to help out with the humanitarian effort when our country is as stable as it is.

So far my school year has gone pretty well. I have gotten closer to a lot of people that I wasn’t close to last year which has been awesome. My SATs went pretty well and I made it into district chorus with a super high score so hopefully I can continue that level of achievement in my auditions/tests as the year progresses. Cross country season was amazing but also bittersweet because it is my last year with Mina. My school-work ethic has honestly not been very good, I have been procrastinating a lot and my motivation for school has been at an all-time low. That is something I really hope to change. What worries me the most is that I won’t be able to change my habits by the time I get to college and then I will really be hit hard with work that I put off. Also, professors will definitely not give as many breaks as some of my high school teachers do. But keeping up with school work is my new year’s goal so hopefully, I can get myself to follow through.