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.

Virtues

So as I expected I failed at this virtues project epically. Literally the day I started keeping track a broke industry, order, patience, and resolution. Mostly because I procrastinate and am unorganized literally every day. In my head sincerity was broken a lot. I feel like judging other people is just like an automatic thing everyone does and it’s kinda hard not to. I will say though that when I felt the judgment coming on I tried to compliment that person in another way which helped me think about them in a better light. Also, I had some arguments with my parents and siblings that definitely were not in line with sincerity or humility but I gotta speak my mind sometimes. Over the weekend industry and frugality were both broken. I spent too much money on food I didn’t really need and I just decided to be lazy instead of doing homework on Sunday which lead to me staying up super late Sunday night to get things done. Then the past couple of days I’ve been pretty lazy. I don’t know if it is that Christmas is next week or what but I literally have no motivation to get anything done. Both Monday and Tuesday I just read a book that I literally can’t put down (Heir of Fire)  instead of cleaning my room or working out (therefore failing on the whole healthy body healthy life thing). Patience is just an all-around hard virtue to have when you live in a house with four siblings but I have to say I did better than I thought I would and I think only messed up on this one like twice. Love yourself was hard to follow through with pretty much when I realized how terrible I was doing at this whole virtues project thing but hey I guess I recognize that there are habits that I need to change if I want to be more happy with who I am. I did do dishes Tuesday though so there is that. Also, I found my planner which is good because I can now be somewhat more organized and remind myself of the things I need to do but probably will not end up doing. One good thing I did do was follow through on my goal of practicing piano every day (including the weekend) for a half hour because I have a recital coming up. The rest of the virtues:  cleanliness, justice, chastity, temperance, and moderation were kept. 

Analysis of a Dodo

When I first read “The Dodo’s Conundrum” my eyes hurt. There were literally so many different types of stanza forms and rhymes and everything else and to be honest my brain was not ready to figure all that out again. The theme also felt extremely confusing. Each stanza honestly felt like it could be its own separate poem. I wasn’t really sure if that was on purpose and the eventual process of connecting all of the stanzas into one big theme felt like a daunting task. The theme seemed like it was about how depressing life was but also not. I knew I really had to dig a lot deeper if I actually wanted to understand the poem. My questions: Is the author reflecting on his own life or someone else or everyone in general? Is the author implying that those people in the model town may be living lives of secret desperation or is he saying that comparative to the model train world we in reality live lives of secret desperation? How much significance is the model train world really? What are all the forms of poetry used in this because I am actually not completely sure yet?

The sound and sense questions were definitely harder to answer. Mostly a lot of the figurative language was way less noticeable and there were A LOT of stanza forms to recognize. If we hadn’t been able to work on it as a group I really doubt I would have been able to get through the questions. I’d have to say for this particular poem my writing of poetry didn’t seem to help all that much. I really don’t feel like I am a pro at this even then we wrote two poems. But lets be real two poems is definitely not enough to actually have a good hold on poetry. I mean I am NOT saying we should write more poetry though, I think we filled the high school English quota for the year. Last but not least I am going to be honest, I was really shocked when I found out the you/McGarry wrote the poem. That seemed to make everything about the poem even more confusing.

 

Honestly, I have liked the poems we have read in class. Eldorado had a lot of hidden meanings that I did not really catch on to until we went over it in class. I would have never caught that the pilgrim shadow is actually the knight’s shadow and when he “met a pilgrim shadow” he was falling on to his own shadow from loss of strength. The poem was way more depressing to me when we interpreted it then it was when I read it for the very first time. I really wish that I could catch stuff like that better when I read poetry. I am hoping that we read a couple more poems just so I can practice this level of analysis better on my own. The other kind of analysis with stresses/non-stresses and what kind of poetry it is not really my favorite. I feel like its hard to do that and still enjoy the poetry that you are reading. I mean I understand the point because it definetly helps you understand better whether something really is good poetry or not but its pretty similar to diagramming sentences which I hate.

I was pretty happy that we didn’t do anything more than watch a Simpson interpretation of “The Raven”. I feel like 8th grade year it was sooo over analyzed. And the thing is I learned more in our like two/three days talking about poetry in class then I did in a whole unit of it in 8th grade. We focused a lot more on Edgar Allen Poe and his life than his poetry and we never talked as indepth about analyzing poetry. Freshman year we kinda just read a lot of poetry and I think we may have written our own but I am not sure. It was very laid back but we didn’t really learn a whole lot.

The poem that I am writing is about my dogs. I feel like its a pretty easy topic so it should be fairly easy to write. I just have to figure out how meaningful I want to make it. 

The Bassoon King

Reading this book just proved further to me the amazingness of Rainn Wilson. It gave him depth and character and it was awesome to learn about his personal experience.  writing this book was a gift to the world. He gives GENUINE advice that I will remember and use in my own life.

Honestly, when I decided to read the book I didn’t really know what to expect. Obviously, some humor because he is a comedian, but other than that the only person I knew Rainn to be was Dwight. He is, in fact, a very witty person with a lot of good wisdom especially for those who want to make it in the acting field. Some of my favorite parts of the book were when he talked about his breakthroughs on his road to becoming an actor. One example which was kinda cheesy was that he went to go see A Chorus Line in theaters and despite it being a terrible movie, he broke down and cried. The movie, he says, is about a bunch of people who really want to make it big and they sing a lot about it. This struck a chord with him and really helped him realize how much he wanted to be an actor. The way he wrote about these events was somewhat dramatic but that is what made them entertaining and have a lasting impact.

 

I really love that in the book Rainn is honest about what it takes to make it. I feel like a lot of times when a famous person’s story is told it is sugar coded. Rainn’s seems much less so. He talks about all of his experiences making it big, good and bad.  He had to go through lots of training, living in not the best places, and doing different odd jobs just to make it to where he is today. For instance, he had to live with rats in an abandoned brewery in Brooklyn. This gives insight and inspiration to anyone reading but especially those who are considering becoming an actor. As I struggle to decide whether I want to make a career out of my musical talents and whether it is worth the risk of investing in a good music school, this is a story that I can take into consideration. Rainn put it all in and chose to take whatever risks there are and that worked out for him. I guess what is hard is that he is telling it from a perspective of making it. A lot more people don’t make it than do. Realistically my chances are super slim so I am probably not going to try and make it as just a performer  (I’ll probably end up teaching) but while I was reading this I almost reconsidered. It just goes to show that this book is inspiring.

 

Rainn comes from a really interesting background. He was (and he actually says this in the book) a nerd. Like a classic dungeons and dragons playing, nerd. I thought that that aspect of his life must have really helped him to portray who he was in the office. As Dwight, he must have had to go back in time to what he was like as a kid. Rainn tells of his gradual transformation from nerd all the way to quirky actor throughout his book. When he moves he decides to change his whole style. He becomes somewhat of a rocker type and he expresses that all the girls kind of dig it. I liked hearing what it was like for this geeky high school age guy. I think it kind of helped me understand that perspective better. It was really cool also how he could describe his life events with a lot of zest (if that’s the right word). He made them seem like an adventure.

 

I would really recommend this book for all these reasons ^^^ and lots more.

Brave New World

I think the biggest reason that I read this was because I wanted to read a classic sci-fi. I feel like I haven’t really read many of them before. I have definitely heard of Brave New World before so I decided to give it a shot. At first, when I was reading it I was a bit shocked about how openly it seemed to talk about sexuality and recreational use of drugs for it being written in the 1930s. Then I thought of something. The Great Gatsby which I read last year for AR had a similar dark spin on how the pleasures of the flesh and class/caste system can affect people. It seemed to me that after reading these two books (and I am sure there are other examples) this time in literature may have been when people were more inclined to discuss these topics in their works. I guess I would have to do more reading about that but there were some thematic similarities between the two. They obviously both come to very different conclusions and are set in completely different times. At the same time, they are similar conclusions. In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby works to become part of the upper class (from his place at the bottom) and fit in so he can have Daisy. Bernard, in this story, wishes to experience something outside of what the “World State” gives to him because he feels out of place in his own class. In both cases, the protagonist chooses to rebel against what was set out for them due to life circumstances and society leads to their destruction.

The book itself when I first started reading it was definitely not what I was expecting. A lot of what was done at an early age to children was very unsettling to me. They were pretty much brainwashed their whole growing up so that they would all live with the same mindset and be what the “World State” wanted them to be.  All humans were set to be self-indulging. They would never feel things on a deeper level and only live to satisfy their immediate urges. It made me wonder if they yearned to feel something more. Deep feelings of love and passion are essentially what makes us all human. One might feel something was missing in their lifestyle if it wasn’t for Soma. Soma had a lot of resemblance to recreational drugs that are used nowadays. Could we eventually become much more reliant on these than we are now to stump our emotions? Technology may even improve these drugs so that they have the effects that we want without the consequences. It is scary how close some of the aspects of our society are to those of the “World State”.

The “sexual play” and “death conditioning” that children participated in at a young age was something I was definitely not expecting when I chose to read this book. It was honestly very gross that children were taught from such a young age to except ideals that are against how one would naturally react to situations. Death was taken very lightly and so was sexuality. This removed any deep feelings towards these topics which felt so wrong to me. As Mond, the “Resident World Controller of Western Europe” explained, at the end though, the removal of human connection to these things created stability. I argue, though, that having so much sex and never falling in love with that one person for you makes sex meaningless. It would eventually numb you from the true feelings of sexual connection. Also if people don’t feel suffering and pain then how can they appreciate happiness and enjoy the good moments of life. That is the flaw in the whole system. There is absolutely no fulfillment in life without those things. That is why Bernard was struggling so much because he yearned for more. And I think deep down others in the “World State” also did. Some human inclinations you just can’t brainwash away.

Another extremely unsettling thing to me was how embryos were altered before even being born they were predestined to what life they would lead. This seemed like it stole something from those of lower classes. As biology gets more and more advanced in our own world I think this same idea could take on in a different form. Ever heard of designer babies? This the genetic altering of embryos to make them superior to other children and have specific attributes of the parents choosing. Though this concept has been inspired by the book Brave New World, we are starting to see that this could have the potential to become a reality. When this is possible it will probably be extremely expensive and something only the very rich could afford. I think if this tech would become available it would separate classes that are already pre-existing rather than an organized caste system by the government. This would definitely pose a problem for those in lower classes because they would never be able to catch up to those in upper classes thus making them stuck where they are. Then we would resemble the caste systems in Brave New World that also have no mobility from caste to caste.

Brave New World is a book I would recommend to others with a warning. There is a reason it is such a classic because of how much thought and purpose the Huxley put into the story. It follows a high level of thinking especially when at the end John discusses with Mond the very ideals of humanity and why it was necessary to take those away from people in order to create a society without any problems. If you like thinking about where our society may eventually lead itself in the distant future and whether our human nature would have to be sacrificed in order to have a perfect world then this is a good book for you.

writing my short story

When I started my short story it was truly just an idea. To be honest it wasn’t very original either. 80% of at the start was pretty much the same as what the six words I picked were. Someone fails the SAT-They are actually really smart and invent something. Through our different assignments that forced us to create structure for our stories, I was able to make an actual short story with much more interesting content. Now it feels like less of a statement piece on why SATs are bad and more of story about someone’s life struggle to get through school. I really tried to understand better people with anxiety and how that could affect their day to day. While it isn’t really the story that I wanted to write, it’s what I came up with and it’s not too bad. Part of me feels that maybe it stems from my worries about life and how they affect me. Or maybe it is also a way for me to understand better the people in my life that struggle with the same is problems.

 

As a side note because I felt like I didn’t know where to fit this in: One thing that has bothered me about the process of writing it has been how rushed I have felt. I mean I understand it can’t take all year, but I just wish I was less busy and I could have put more of my time into writing it. As always I procrastinated.

Though I am not finished with my first book-but I am very close-I think I have decided that I want to read a sci-fi book. I want to read a classic because I feel like I have mostly read sci-fi books that were written recently. I’m sort of leaning towards Brave New World.

A story that’s short

Okay I’m going to be honest, I am not a huge fan of my short story idea. It just seems really unoriginal. I mean I feel like with all the TV and articles and books I consume on a regular basis I would have more creative juices flowing but as of present I really don’t. Thankfully, my story is maybe starting to grow on me. I still don’t really know where it’s going but hopefully somewhere interesting. The thing that I just hate about it though is that I don’t know if I would want to read my story if I just came across it as an outside person.

My idea stems from how much pressure is put on high scholars about the SAT. It feels like that test is like a defining moment in your high school career. And it is. It pretty much sets the stage for what colleges are in your reach and whether you will get scholarships. I want to make the point that what you get on the SAT, or other tests for that matter, doesn’t define you and what your life will become. Sadly, not doing well does lead to some consequences. But many of those are because of how put down we are mentally from our failure.

Because of the work that we have been doing, my story definitely is more of a story than a statement protesting SATs. It actually has characters with backstories and developing personalities. I also got a lot from listening to other people’s ideas for stories and I’m pretty excited to see how they turn out.

Whenever I have written stories in the past I have started out just throwing my ideas on a paper and hoping they get somewhere. This time around (even though I hate that I had homework) I feel more organized with my story because of all the work I have done dissecting the story I am going to write. Now I have set points to get to in my story. There is a lot of structure and hopefully I won’t need to do as much editing. I guess in the past I have thought of stories as more coincidental than they probably are. This is not the case I have now realized and I am glad because it will definitely improve my story writing. You know I feel like in most of my schooling they have focused more on other types of writing such as persuasive. Story writing has gotten tucked in the back corner. It’s kind of sad so I’m glad we are getting a chance to write a story now (even though it’s a lot of work).