Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hey Look Everybody, Another False Hope!

As I browsed through Alzheimer's information, I stumbled upon a link stating,

"There Is Hope For Alzheimers! Learn
What Your Dr. Isn't Telling You."

The link leads to this site, very helpful huh? I guess maybe the over-capitalization should have given it away, as well as the fact that it is promoting help for ALZHEIMER'S, not Alzheimer's VICTIMS. (And yes, they left out the apostrophe too.)

For my readers not familiar with the topic of today's rant, Alzheimer's is a degenerative brain disease, which first destroys a victim's memories, then spreads to other parts of the brain, such as learning focused parts and language understanding/speaking parts, and finally kills the parts responsible for breathing, or swallowing, whatever comes first. Oh, and despite what this ad may want you to believe, there is not cure, nor any true treatments. In fact, the current "treatments" focus on delaying the spread of neural death, and eventually they are completely ineffective anyway.

So why would an ad claim such a ludicrous statement? Well apparently they just want people to check out their page, and buy some so-called "treatments" that they link to. Or maybe they want us to try this game that "boosts memory and cognition" for free... and then pay a price to access it. Or maybe access to this site offering MORE links, one of which allows access to a FREE (WOO, MORE FREEBIES!) book, detailing, "Alzheimer's Breakthrough SOLUTIONS of the Past Four Years." Oh, and they admit that a "reputable" Disability and Law firm wrote it. They claim to have come across all of the miraculous information while defending their clients, but really, why would a lawyer come across miracle treatments when defending someone, and moreover what would prevent the average Joe from finding these same cures when actually desperately searching for them? And these two people, perhaps of the law firm, perhaps not, and "giving" it away for free as an e-book. So since when are lawyers keen on super-rare, supposedly non-existent scientific studies? And I am not even starting on the legalities of the dispensing, especially considering they state that the book is a "$97 value." Italic

Hmm, so why have we not figured out virtually ANYTHING about Alzheimer's disease? Maybe it is because people waste their money following empty promises that lead to nothing but pain and misfortune for the buyer, and some cash in the pocket of the liar in charge of whatever site they chose to buy from. If we, as a human population, will ever find anything else out about this terrible disease, it must be soon. After all, according to this truly reputable site, by 2020 there will be over 42.3 million cases world-wide. In other words, we had better get going ASAP, or over 42.3 million people will die an avoidable death, for Alzheimer's is always fatal. Unfortunately, according to this trustworthy site, funding dropped 36% two years ago, and has yet to climb much from that point. I bet that if people would stop wasting their money with misleading treatments and lying books, and instead donated that money to a research fund, that 36% loss would disappear, and more funding would be present than ever before. I admit, I have no research to support this assertion, but logic itself dictates the truth in my words, so if you ever come across such a selfish, lie-ridden, self-serving site, remember my indignation, and please do not support them.

DISCLAIMER: The drugs do delay the disease's conquest of a patient's brain, and I understand why someone would buy them. However, seeking a miracle drug and buying them instead is wrong, and some of the sites seemed designed to confuse their product with a miracle drug. Those are the times I mean what I say in the above post, not if the person is in full knowledge of the true effects.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pertaining to Money-Hungriness in Mammals

I once made the mistake of falling asleep with two rowdy raccoons loose in my room, scurrying across my floor, scampering around in my closet, and tampering with my dresser. Unfortunately, something on top of said dresser was of quite a bit of value: The particular object happened to be my wallet. Ringo, one of the raccoons, probably saw me removing it from my pocket and had been waiting all night for an opportunity to investigate. The little rascal must have grabbed hold of the metal handles, then pulled himself up the individual drawers one by one, and finally reached the pinnacle to obtain his prize. The crafty little devil proceeded to lug my wallet all the way back down to the floor. Perfect, a money-hungry animal. I mean that quite literally, for Ringo decided that he should not be content with skittering around my room with his prize in his mouth, nor should he be satisfied with the fact that he was scattering the money therein, but that he would be happy only when he ate a part of the highest valued bill I had inside. Ringo ate that fifty, and then I woke up. To retrieve my cash, I knew I could do nothing, so capture the raccoons I decided to. Why must crazy, freedom-loving, masked mammals know I cannot fit under my own bed as they can? As they hid in that sanctuary, I reached and groped and skimmed and grasped and lured with my hand. After a long session of raccoon noodling, with my arm beginning to wear out, with my hand succumbing to the quick guerilla strikes, with my patience wearing wafer thin, I finally caught the rascals and put them in their pen outside.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What to read... What to read...

As of late, or really the last few years, I have found that the number of books that I read has dramatically decreased. I've realized that such a lamentable decrease is because lately I have heard less and less good about them and more and more bad. However, today I actually see some potential for entertainment in three books.

  1. Catching Fire, the second book in The Hunger Games series, will continue the tale of Katniss and her accidental rebellion against the capitol. I find that many times I cannot leave a series unfinished, and a series as action-packed as The Hunger Games is definitely no exception.
  2. Apocalypse Wow, a satire regarding the end of the world, was suggested to me by Lauren Gunderman, and maybe she could obtain if for me from her dad. And Lauren, if you are reading this, thanks for your offer and suggestion. Really, at this point, as previously stated, I am almost out of books. Moreover, this sounds very funny, based on what you said. So anyway, thanks again.
  3. Well, if I read Catching Fire, then Mockingjay naturally is another target, much for the same reasons as well. I must say, I am rather skeptical of some people's claims that Mockingjay is "the best book ever," but based on Collin's previous work, the book promises to be an incredible read.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

3B Annotated Reading List

Brown, Dan. Angels and Demons. Leicester: Thorpe, 2007. Print.

Vatican city is plunged into panic as a powerful, dangerous technology is stolen from the world's foremost scientific research institution, having the potential to vaporize the city. Moreover the cardinals of the Catholic Church are in conclave, and all the cardinals are in Sistine Chapel, all except the four that are up for election. These events are tied together by an unlikely villain, and an equally unlikely hero arises to oppose that villain: He is the renowned Harvard Symbolist, Robert Langdon.
Langdon seems to fit an intellectual archetype, because he is simply so knowledgeable, and can figure pretty much anything out. Moreover, he is not a fighter or violent person at all, considering he had "the Hassassin" at gunpoint and still ended up nearly dying. I realize this could be offensive to other intellectuals, but all I'm saying is his character fits the stereotype: smart, sensitive, and abhorring performing violent acts himself.
710 Pages

Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code. New York: Anchor, 2006. Print.

In his second adventure, Langdon finds himself of a "Grail quest," traipsing about through Western Europe with the French police in hot pursuit. With a cryptographer of their ranks assisting him, he finds that he must crack the codes left by a brilliant man, the highest member of a society dedicated to protecting the grail, and discover many secrets not meant for his eyes. However, the secrets the grail contains could rock the world, and more specifically, the church, to the core, and one group will not let this happen under any circumstances. Enter Opus Dei, in The Da Vinci Code.
One dead ringer of seemingly all for Browns books is a complete unexpected twist near the end, preceeded by a vague, enigmatic enemy. In addition, this enemy always seems to end up being a close ally, bent on using whatever the entire quest is for to better mankind in their opinion. I'm sorry if that doesn't make much sense, but I am trying to accomplish two things; explain Brown's typical plot devices, and keep the specific characters names unanoucned. After all, who does not hate spoilers? Anyway, this knowledge makes for regular readers a sense of anticipation, a desire to see who is the defector, and for the new readers a very complex seeming plot web disrupted by a sudden moment of insight when the true enemy is revealed. These assets make Langdon's writings very interesting and holding, as well as spellbinding and time-consuming (in a good way).
597 Pages (Please count as 3 books.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Reading Reflection

For the last nine weeks, my independent reading has reopended my eyes to good books. Prior to this period of time I could never find any good books, but after reading Nineteen Minutes and The Hunger Games I realize that some good series and authors do still exist. This has begun to increase the sheer volume of the books I read, as well as the amount of time I spend doing this enjoyable activity. This, upon becoming a habit, has begun to help me dig deeper and understand certain aspects of texts better. For instance I doubt if I could have ever noticed the pun in Peeta's name. Peeta, the baker's son -peeta bread, unleavened bread.

"Inking my thinking" does indeep help me figure out the text and pull more out than ever before. Had I not, perhaps the complexity of BNW and the names therein would have eluded me, for I would never had really been forced to think about the purpose of their names. Also Huxley's use of pneumatic definately would have.

Next sememster I hope not to read a book in the last two weeks, and also improve the speed and depth of my reading even further. Finishing the "The Hunger Games" series would help quite a bit, as well as finishing old series that I am interested in, such as the Inheritance Cycle, and the Left Behind series. Overall, this quarter's reading has been quite nice, far better than bearable for a change. I must say, I'm looking forward to more excellent books.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Socratic Seminar Reflection

Our Socratic Seminars proved to be a more than adequate method of researching further into BNW well as a rather fun way to use class time to build our understanding of the book, and the benefits of calmly discussing as opposed to arguing. Prior to entering the discussions I never realized how unlike Bernard Marx and Karl Marx were. I thought there were quite similar, but thanks to Connor, I now know differently. He pointed out that Bernard being Bernard, an individual in his time, goes against Karl's idea that eventually all individuality will be wiped away. So as opposed to the Marxes being quite similar, they are ironically different. Of course preparing for my seminars gave me a deeper knowledge for the book. I recall realizing that Huxley's use of the word "pneumatic" does mean having a good feminine figure (which explains why he used it to describe Lenina so often) but it also means full of air! Hollow, void, empty! And those words describe Lenina, as well as most members of the society perfectly. I finally realized just how careful Huxley was with his words.

I must say, my groups were quite insightful, and my contributions helped bring the group through those awkward silences, as well as commented in the heat of near-debate. The example with Connor previously mentioned almost erupted into argumentation, but the topic thankfully changed.The difficulty laid not in the talking, or the continuation of the conversation, but stopping when time was called. I remember asking a question with less than ten seconds left and continuing to talk about the subject for a few more minutes. One attribute I discovered about my self is that when push comes to shove I can keep a conversation going as well as an audience laughing. Honestly, there is nothing I would change about the seminars, or my performance, the former it seems like Sophocles perfected.

The Sophoclean Seminars were a wonderful way to share information and learn about our own discussion preferences. More later would be quite preferable, and would more than improve upon my working knowledge of whatever text we are researching.

1st Quarter Annotated Reading List

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. Print.

Continuing his grandfather's legacy of writing on controversial topics, Aldous Huxley composes Brave New World, a sneak peak into what Huxley believes is the future of humanity. Between the global society bent on experiencing nothing but pleasure, and the savage reservation where a brutal religion which appears to be a mish-mash of many others, Huxley's portrayal seems not only bleak, but hopeless. However, a few individualistic people do exist, who defy the social order, and attempt to bring change to their unethical society.
(268 pages)

Picoult, Jodi. Nineteen Minutes. Thorndike, Me.: Center Point Pub., 2007. Print.

At the beginning of a normal day, filled with usual conversation, casual gossip, and everyday classes, a cataclysmic event rocks the foundation of a town beyond its core. A boy, an student at the local high school decides to come to school, armed and dangerous, and shoot with little to no concern for his victims. As he is alone and on a warpath, he is eventually apprehended, and his trial ensues, in which his lawyer, despite knowing his client's guilt, performs every task within the law to ensure the shooter receives all the legal protection possible. Guilt seems inevitable, but something is amiss, a key witness and he have had a complex relationship for years, and she may just hold the key to the chains that bind him; literally and figuratively.
(464 pages)

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2009. Print.

Many years into the future, all of North America has fallen into rubble and disuse except for a single area of civilization, twelve districts and one central area. Some time ago, the districts rebelled against the center, but their attempts were futile. As a painful reminder, each year two children are chosen from each district to participate in the "Hunger Games," in inhuman battle for survival in which only one of the children survive. This year, in District Twelve, a volunteer puts her life on the line for the sake of a loved one, and must face an acquaintance that once saved her life. She must also face people that have prepared her whole life for the games, who did not volunteer for the sake of another, but out of selfish greed and desire for recognition. A battle for survival, notoriety, and her heart ensues as she enters The Hunger Games.
(374 pages)

Plus BNW articles on tab = 6 books

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Analysis of Abundance

Pink’s punnish humor (that’s a pun in itself when you pronounce it.) coupled with his relatable anecdotes establish a sort of trust between him and the audience which ultimately leads said audience to consider his argument stating that Americans own abundance of objects has not increased their happiness, leading them to seek meaning and value in life through intangible methods and concepts. When Pink says, “one last- and illuminating- statistic,” (p. 33) he allows a useful facet of his writing style to shine through; his laid-back appeal. He is making a pun, considering the statistic is about candles. Honestly, take out the humor in this piece and what is left? Nothing but boring statistics and dry arguments. His humor, no matter how unattractive to me, makes this piece more readable be a factor of one-thousand. Moreover, many readers will find this far more hilarious than I and continue to scour his work for as many puns as possible. Aside from keeping the reader attentive, this also makes the writer seem more human, and far more likable, which in turn conjures a fair amount of trust from the reader. But on another note, not only is this guy funny, but he also is a family man. To tell the truth, when I think successful writer, I imagine a person with loads of money that do not spend near as much time with their family as they should. However, this man seems to be different, for he even mentions taking a “back-to-school shopping excursion” (p.31) with his wife and three kids. By saying this he not only provides a great example for his point, but he also establishes that he too is an ordinary man. He is not a high-and-mighty scientist or a corrupt politician, but a normal man that goes shopping (when absolutely necessary) with his wife and kids. In doing so, he again appeals to ethos by establishing he is just an honest person with a family, like many of his readers. Moreover, he is decent enough to go CLOTHES SHOPPING with HIS WIFE! Wow, that takes a bit of courage… and/or a very fat wallet. All joking aside, in doing so he uses plain-folks appeal, further evoking trust from the audience. After reading this excerpt from Pink’s A Whole New Mind I must say, Pink appears to be quite a joker as well as quite a decent fellow, furthering his credibility and causing many readers to trust him and his argument quite a bit more.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bullies and Extremists

(Please note this post contains spoilers regarding Nineteen Minutes. Continue reading at your own risk.)

Sometimes a catastrophic calamity brings positive change that absolutely needs to occur. Such a terrible truth rears its ugly head in Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes as a brutal school shooting occurs, planned and orchestrated by Peter Houghton, a relentlessly bullied teenager. As can be expected, before the shooting, jocks and preps plagued and bullied all other groups, but afterward everyone appears to get along, perhaps out of fear or maybe they learned a lesson. For the record, I do not view Peter’s actions as the best or even a remotely good choice, but the end result is certainly preferable to how the social structure stood before.

In a sort of roundabout way, this incident relates to terror organizations, such as Muslim extremists and the rest of the world. For decades they have been setting off car bombs and using suicide bombers to “bully” the rest of the world. Let’s not forget the crippling blow 9/11 dealt us as well. True, this belongs on a completely different scale than the tribulations Peter and others had to experience, but a striking parallelism does exist. Why did people bully Peter? They wanted him to fear them and the action made them feel superior to him. Why do extremists terrorize the rest of the world? Their terrorization produces terror, and they want the world to submit to Muslim ways and practices, thus seeing them as better than our own.

On a final note, going around and killing random extremists will not solve the problem, but only increase it. When one falls they are viewed as a martyr, and people connected to them that are not radical will take up the flag from their fallen brethren, thus becoming radical extremists and adding to the problem. Therefore, the problem cannot be solved as Peter had done, but can only be solved from within the communities in which these people reside.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Triumph for the Win!

Pure unadulterated speed, dangerous looking angles, and "cool" people in dark leather clothing are all often overused by motorcycle companies to portray their products as desirable to the consumer's eye. However, Triumph's advertisement in Cycle Canada does include all of these eye catching elements, as well as some whit and humor that appeal to the more sophisticated (and in this case, more Star Wars loving) buyer. They also include comments from apparently a very trusted magazine, and promises of warranty and availability.

Naturally, these attributes were not thrown into this picture all willy-nilly, nor were they haphazardly stitched together to form this fabric which seems so interesting. This company used the three ancient types of persuasion originally outlined by Sophocles to attempt to convince the reader to buy a motorcycle from them. The most prevalent of these tactics obviously is pathos, the appeals to emotions and feelings. The first object that the reader sets their eyes on is not the print, but the massive, perhaps intentionally picture in the center. Trust me, you can't miss it. Depicted therein is a rider driving WELL over the speed limit, and he appears to be tilting as if going around a sharp turn. Just the thought of going at such a speed makes my heart start pumping a bit faster, as well as my senses seem that much sharper. I can practically feel the wind in my hair, and the adrenaline pumping through my veins. Uh oh... This is exactly what they wanted to happen... Their tactics to make me want to buy one have infiltrated my thoughts... Perhaps that is not such a bad thing... Either way, I digress. Among the other interesting facts and tidbits that they put in the print is the fact that one of their models is designed from a tactical fighter! This appeals to people's desire to be liked, or at least the modern meaning of "cool." Moreover, when I'm honest to myself, whenever I think of tactical fighters, I think of the bombs they drop and the explosions they cause, both of which appeals to every male human being's sense of "coolness," and some females for the record. Perhaps the best claim to fame this ad possesses is the witty use of a Star Wars movie title, The Empire Strikes Back. Considering Great Britain was once an empire, I suppose they are entitled to using this pun. The ad also took the famous line, "A long time ago..." (also from Star Wars) and changed it to "Not all that long ago..." The sheer whit, creativity, and ingeniousness of the connection these Brits made both impresses me and brings back memories of my childhood. Those were my favorite movies after all. Not just mine, but quite a few people's, which tremendously helps this ad out. After all, people generally gravitate toward whatever they are familiar with, and if someone is familiar with Star Wars, then they will gravitate toward anything Star Wars related.

I must admit, the designers of this ad did not use just pathos, but ethos, appeals to trust and credibility as well. This advertisement mentions that Formula one technology influenced these bikes, and because Formula one is known for being fast, this company immediately gets people believing that the bikes are fast. Moreover, the article mentions the influence from hand craftsmanship. In America, we value skill quite a bit, and handcrafting something requires a ton of skill. We think of handcrafted objects as durable, efficient, and very beautiful. If a motorcycle has "traditional hand craftsmanship" as a heavy influence, the said cycle must be good! Another trick up the company's sleeve is a nice compliment received from the very magazine the ad appears in. "... the half-faired sportbike Cycle Canada called 'sublime." This compliment from a major critic immediately lends loads of credibility to their statements. If someone that has seen and rated hundreds of motorcycles has anything good to say, surely this bike is worth the price.

Wow, these people had to be smart. They did not just use two methods of persuasion, but they included logos, the use of facts and logic, which also is the last method. In order to not detract from the rest of the excitement of the ad, they stuck these tidbits in the print. Among their claims, they mention a full two year unlimited mileage warranty, which, upon researching, seem to at least match the best competitors. In other words, anyone knowing this knows that if this bike seems to be a better quality bike, with the same warranty, it is the better choice. Continuing to bolster their swaying force is the fact that they have the most modern production facility IN THE WORLD! With modern production techniques, very high quality merchandise can be made, but as previously mentioned there are hand crafting influences. In other words, the bikes must have all of the durability of a bike with modern alloys of the highest quality, AND be as durable and well made with attention to detail as any handcrafted object! That appears to be quite a deal!

Triumph's ad in Cycle Magazine apparently appeals to all three methods of persuasion, and quite well at that. With wonderful puns and references, important facts to know, and recommendations from valid and accredited sources, even I am tempted to buy from them! Alas, I am not a motorcycle person... even if I do like my leather jacket... (which I never wear...) However, should anyone read this and feel any interest please check them out. Who knows, you may find the motorcycle of your dreams.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Dreadful Inspiration

Young lovers can be torn asunder by many means, and one of the more diabolical means appears to be the inspiration behind the poem “Time.” However, unlike what the title may indicate, the blame does not fall to time alone, if at all, but to a far less likely source; “the two shadows towering over your life.” Time, or maybe just these shadows as the text indicates, “slapped you and hit you so hard your skin grew shell-thick sturdy and impenetrable.” As much as I hate to infer this, but these shadows mentioned may actually be the parents of the lover spoken of, and they hold responsibility for hardening this child.

The fact that there are two “shadows” leads me to believe that they are actually the two parents, or perhaps guardians, of this child. Upon considering, not many other things that really have the capacity to do such harm come in pairs. Also, as much as I hate to say it, some parents do beat their children… What a senseless act that ignites such indignation in my heart… But I digress.

Should the part of the poem regarding the hitting and slapping be taken literally, one could easily explain what happened. These shadows, which may be terrible parents, beat their child, and these beatings over time changed the child. His/her “tenderness” was lost, which makes sense considering the very people that should PROTECT and NURTURE their child are doing such harm. However, I must admit that this may not be physical abuse, but mental and emotional. Many people can take physical pain easily, but emotional pain is another story. Psychological attacks often leave deep, yet invisible gashes, which require special means to heal.

Behind this poem, quite possibly lies a story. This story happens to be a tragic tale of love gained and love lost by the betrayal of two people that should never behave in such a way. Two lovers, separated by the mental wall which one puts up over time as a result of repeated beatings by the people that brought him/her into the world… Why must such atrocious acts occur? I cannot even begin to imagine why… And I pray I never will.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oh the Belying Majesty

(Please note that the photograph linked to is not the photograph I am speaking of. The correct one is the one of a volcanic eruption which is four pictures to the right in this gallery. I apologize for this inconvenience, but I find it impossible to link to that specific picture so please bear with me.)

During my rifling through of National Geographic's "Visions of Earth," I stumbled upon the most stunning and attention grabbing photograph I have ever laid my eyes upon. At first glance, I immediately thought that this picture had to be faked, for the photo seemed too beautiful, too captivating, and too perfect. However, upon looking for a few more seconds, I realized that the picture was not a fake at all, but simply naturally insanely beautiful, and upon further thought, I realized this event could potentially be very destructive.

When gazing at this image, I cannot help but to think of this as occurring on some other planet, or perhaps in some movie. The lightning streaking from the volcanic dust cloud illuminates the landscape and that half of the dust cloud itself, yet the sky is dark in the background. On the other side, red streaks of perhaps magma or burning materials can be seen throughout the cloud, yet they too resemble lightning. Having never seen “red lightning” I could not help but think, “Huh, what movie is this from?” The answer is the Icelandic Eyjafjallaj√∂kull volcano scene from reality.

Looking about four-tenths of the way up the right side of the dust cloud, two eerie red slits can be noted. To me, these slits resemble the eyes of a serpent, or perhaps a dragon, and cannot help but remind me that this piece, however spellbinding, remains a destructive volcanic eruption. This very eruption stopped so many flights in Europe last April and thus caused quite a bit of frustration and anger from the would-be fliers those days. Even worse, this cloud dropped much debris on surrounding farmlands, making agriculture from farming to ranching next to impossible. Perhaps some people even died if this eruption, which would top the list of this volcano’s worst effects.

This somewhat fake looking photo demonstrates a certain wisdom through nature itself. The eruption’s sheer majesty, coupled with same eruption’s destructive potential seems to show that even beautiful objects and events in this world can potentially have terrible consequences. Some minor in comparison to others and others major, but none quite as severe as loss of life, which unfortunately easily can be realized by such a volcanic eruption.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Regarding the Power of the Rich

In Mark Twain’s “The £1,000,000 Bank Note,” a man by the name of Henry Adams finds himself stranded in London with literally no money to his name. However, by a stroke of luck two eccentric millionaires happen to be bickering about the possibility of a million-dollar bank-note being of any worth. These millionaires decide to give the note to a stranger that appears to be “honest and intelligent…and with no money” and see if he can survive a month in London without starving or being thrown in jail. Henry happens to be this fortunate gentleman. Naturally this saves and changes his life forever. But there seems to be a deeper level to this tale then just the surface plot. This act of giving a stranger one-million dollars which evokes a great change in the man’s life illuminates the power of the rich to do good or evil to less monetarily endowed individuals.

Soon after receiving the note, Henry began using it to his full advantage; first to buy clothes, then food, and so on until he was nearly infamous for his use of the note. Millionaires today sometimes attempt to help others through charity, but may not produce such a drastic change. However, their donations surely accomplish something.

On the other hand, the rich also have the same power not to change people’s lives, and therefore leave them in harm’s way. The fact that these eccentrics used this man to resolve a mere argument must be remembered at all times. Just as easily this could have been another man or perhaps even no man at all, and if either of these were the case I fear that the story would have ended with Henry’s death as opposed to his promised grand life.

Aside from telling an entertaining tale of a man with the power to obtain virtually anything he desired, this story portrays the rich as beings with the power to severely alter the paths of less rich people. That, I’m both glad and sorry to say, is true.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Annotated Photo

Click on the image below to learn more about me as a writer, a reader, and a person.

Annotated Photo

Friday, May 28, 2010

Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner

In the soon-to-be war-torn streets of Kabul, a young privileged boy by the name of Amir goes about his life, oblivious of the trials and tribulations to come. His servant, and also best friend, Hassan and he appear to have intertwined fates, which becomes more and more apparent as the novel progresses. As time passes, events occur that threaten the duo's friendship, and set the two down a path filled with crimes, but later redemption. Khaled Hosseine's The Kite Runner warmed me with a story of friendship, heroism, and redemption.

During the childhoods of these children, the two rascals spent much time shining light into their neighbor's house with a mirror, as well as shooting the neighbor's dog with a slingshot. As time progresses, a kite fighting tournament starts up in their neighborhood. They decide to enter, and they win. However, that is merely half the battle. The real winner is the person that runs after the second place kite, retrieves the kite, and keeps it. They have the most honor. Hassan decides to run after the kite after Amir and he cut the string. That choice leads the two of them down paths never before imagined. Paths which would separate them and ultimately bring them back together in the most unexpected way. Paths that will lead one into the truth of who the other really was. Along this path lies war and much suffering, but in the end, redemption and hope.

Hosseini did not just write this book as a method of telling an interesting story. He also did not write this to till about Afghanistan's suffering. Not entirely anyway. Hosseini uses this novel to convey central themes that are necessary for humankind to understand. Among these belongs the theme of guilt leading to the purest form of redemption. Near the beginning of the book, Amir wrongs Hassan in a terrible way. Actually, he does this multiple times. As he grows older, he realizes just what he did, and regrets the fact terrible. He becomes an insomniac, and when he does dream, he has nightmares revolving around that occurrence. Later, Amir gains an opportunity to redeem himself, and save a close relative of Hassan. Along the way, he learns a secret of his father's which could have completely changed his mind about the matter and justified him quiting. However the fact only spurred him on. By doing this action, Amir gains peace from his scarred past, and acts as, "his brother's keeper."

In The Kite Runner, a crudely elegant, touchingly raw, and humbly powerful tale is told. Hosseini pulls no punches so to speak in this novel. At times this book seems repulsive, enfuriating even, and yet engrossing all the same. At other times the book appears uplifting, and then catastrophe strikes and a gloom decends over the reader, for a time anyway. Honestly, this must be a favorite book of mine, and a must-read for pretty much any teenager or adult.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Analysis of "Of Mice and Men"

Analysis of Detail

From his first paragraph, John Steinbeck sets the scene in Of Mice and Men through his use of imagery as he describes the natural world as a parallel to later events in the novella. For instance, "the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green," possesses a non-literal meaning and serves as a means to hint at a coming event or time. The "green" mentioned can mean sick, or jealous, or abundant. "Deep" can relate to a river that it has depth and therefore strength. In the context of the novel,George thinks things through and seems to posses a strength in the mental realm that will help Lennie and himself throughout countless trials. Lennie has abundant physical power, but also is, in a sense, "green" (sick) in the head, which will lead George into having to make decisions that determine his fate. The way that Steinbeck describes the part of the scenery as "slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan mountains" also holds some complex significance. "Strong" can relate to George in a mental way, or Lennie in a physical way. "Rocky" can mean unstable or dangerous. Later, George solves problems with his stalwart intellect whereas Lennie makes even more with his bumbling instability as well as his formidable strength. These problems posses a certain element of danger as well, causing many difficult choices to be made ahead. Steinbeck also hints at less obvious parallels when he says, "under the trees the leaves lie deep and so crisp." "Deep" here can be buried or deep green, as the leaves once were. Perhaps the word refers to the depth again. "Crisp" can be fresh, as in new or inexperienced, and also fragile, a terrible combination in any case. Therefore, George continues to search deeply for answers to the duo's problems, but "crisp," inexperienced Lennie nears his breaking point. The mentioning of "a path beaten hard by boys coming down from the ranches to swim in the deep pool, and beaten hard by tramps who come wearily down from the highway" naturally would mean something deeper as well. A "path" can refer to a path of life, the consequential series of events following a specific action. Because it was beaten hard, many people have followed this path of life, by both innocent children to take a dip in a refreshing pool, and by tramps ambling on from another such path. Perhaps either George or Lennie will make a choice that will lead them down a path of life that can end up with a deep, refreshing awakening like the children, or weariness and restlessness like the tramps. Steinbeck's final clue lies in the sentence "the limb is worn smooth by men who have sat on it." Yet again, many people have been in the exact same position, sitting on the limb until it becomes bare. In context of the entire novel, this means that George or Lennie will be in the same position as many others, somehow.

Analysis of Point of View

John Steinbeck used the third-person objective point of view throughout the novel to stress the isolation each man experiences. One indicator of this lies in the passage "Crooks did not see him...on raising his eyes...a scowl came on his face."
"Lennie smiled helplessly in an attempt to make friends." (p 68) This shows that Crooks indeed was a loner. He does scowl at the appearance of Lennie after all. He must not have many human bonds at all considering how hatefully he behaves toward a man that obviously does not posses average mental capabilities. Also based on this, Crooks appears to value his privacy above relationships. He continually attempts to shoo people from his room with obvious body language as well as direct requests. Lennie on the other hand apparently wants friendships, and looks constantly for them. His loneliness led him into Crooks's room. Moreover, Lennie seems to have a hunger for relationships. He always tries to have a companion, even if they are dead like the mouse at times. Lennie needs the sense of security that comes with not being alone. George's words also sum up the intent of Steinbeck when he says, "Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place." (p 13) Essentially he says that ranch workers have no one to rely on and must live out an existence of wandering, for they "don't belong no place." Looking at the whole novel, this statement means that, in the end, ranchers will only have themselves to rely on. However, George had Lennie and Lennie had George. (Spoiler Alert!) Until the very end that is. George thought that he had to kill Lennie to save him a torturous death or imprisonment. (End of Spoiler) Therefore, at the very end, and probably for the rest of his life, George was forced to live the lonely, pitiful life he described, drifting from place to place and never being truly happy. By using the third-person objective point of view, Steinbeck quite effectively amplified the effect of lonely lives of these men in a way that he otherwise could not have done.

Analysis of Tone

Stienbeck's use of contrasting delighted and somber tones to amplify the already stark contrast between George and Lennie. In one scene, Stienbeck uses the following quotes, "Lennie cried in triumph." " 'For the rabbits,' Lennie shouted." "Lennie giggled with happiness." All three of these clearly show the ecstasy that Lennie experiences in those fleeting moments, and seem almost to be heard by the author in a happy tone. However, in the same scene, Stienbeck uses words like "George was quite for a moment." "He said shakily..." "George shivered and looked at the gun..." "But George sat stiffly on the bank and looked at his right hand that had thrown the gun away." "George's voice was almost a whisper." and, " 'Yeah, a drink,'" in a serious and saddenning tone. His pre-action shakiness and quietness can be attributed to the sadness he knew that he would feel after the deed was done. Afterward, George was shocked and daunted at all he had done, leading him to throw the gun away, sit despondently, and, with his mind merely half aware of what was occurring around him, agree to go get a drink with Slim. Such a contrast between these two men in the same few pages leads a reader to note differences perhaps overlooked. This kind of contrast also produces a bit of irony, for the last thought in Lennie's head was George shooting him. And that is exactly what happened. Steinbeck's use of these conflicting tone words in close proximity highlight more differences between the two protagonists than ever and produces a kind of irony, the kind that really makes a person wonder of the righteousness of his action, and whether or not they would have done the same.

Analysis of Theme

Among the various themes that Steinbeck portrayed through his novel, Of Mice and Men, the idea of one person being his brother's keeper comes up. This is evident in many episodes during the book. For instance, when Lennie and George are attempting to get a job at the farm, George tries adamantly to get Lennie the job. When questioned about why he replied, "I told his old lady I'd take care of him" (Steinbeck, p21). George could easily have obtained the job on his own, but he defended Lennie's interests as well. Perhaps he lied a bit, but he nonetheless looked out for Lennie out of the goodness of his heart. Lennie had been nothing but trouble for George after all. After feeling of a girl's dress in Weed, which caused her to scream rape and him to grab and hold onto her in fear, the duo had to run for their lives. George could have abandoned Lennie then and there and saved himself a lot of pain later, but he did not. He allowed Lennie to come along with him to his next job. Once there, a small man by the name of Curly had various problems with Lennie. After all, "Curly's like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys." (Steinbeck, p26). George then proceeds to warn Lennie of this belligerent man, in essence doing the little he can to watch out for his friend. Far later after Lennie accidentally kills Curly's wife, a search-and-kill party is formed to find and destroy Lennie. George initially wishes to find Lennie so that "they'll lock 'im up an' be nice to 'im." (Steinbeck, p94) However, when Slim bats this fantasy out of the sky, George realizes that he has two options; let Curly find Lennie and kill brutally harm and kill him, or find Lennie first and painlessly kill Lennie himself. In the end, "he pulled the trigger." (Steinbeck, p106). George, despite the intense grief he would feel, decided to give Lennie the only merciful option of death. George was heartbroken after this, and probably would think back to that moment with regret forever. But he did play his brother's keeper in that moment, perhaps in the most emotionally tugging way possible.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pictures of a Great Depression

The "Migrant Mother" photos by Dorothea Lange capture the heart and soul of what the Great Depression was; the Depression was a time of major strain on the American spirit, as well as a period of desperation for the American people (especially people affected by the Dust Bowl as well). These pictures evoke such pity for this woman and her family as well. I pray that they did indeed survive the Depression.

Based off of the pictures, Of Mice and Men, and other sources, the Great Depression was not exactly the best time to be alive. People frequently lost every possession they owned and were forced to move elsewhere to find work. In fact, many people moved to California, where work was promised. However, upon arriving this statement was proven false, for the people met sights such as this following sign.

This sign clearly illustrates that despite the requests for more workers, places in the west did not actually have the jobs promised. This ironically let many people down, possibly plunging them into the despondence of a mental great depression.

From the book, Of Mice and Men, one could assume that places between the east and west did not experience this deficit of occupations. According to the novel, people entered various farms and simply moved on after a few days, allowing many positions to be vacant and claimable. After all, other workers tell George of the migrants that simply spend the night claiming to work and leave at their first opportunity.

The sheer apathy these people held for the job that they posessed for a few days ignites the indignation inside me. When people are marching on the way to California, these people have the nerve to recklessly abandon an occupation, and one that provides room and board such as this? How dare they! When people are starving in the streets, they have the indifference to just simply walk away from a paying occupation? What selfish fools! But I must digress before I allow my anger to boil into a frenzied rage. Still, I do not understand what these people were thinking.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Animals in Animal Farm

In George Orwell's Animal Farm, farm animals represent the people of Russia during the period immediately following World War I. His use of this representation increases the effectiveness of the novel perhaps ten-fold, for under this guise, he could write against the Soviet Union, as he did, without having to worry about his life suddenly ending in a Soviet execution. This opaque shield also may have allowed the book to circulate inside Russia, without a second glance from the KGB. However, the use of animals also makes this novel reminiscent of Aesop's fables. Such connection attract fans of Aesop in droves. Another attractant lies in George Orwell's characterization. He always kept the fact that the animals were just animals painfully apparent. Despite his personification of every farm animal, he still acknowledges the fact that they are, in some cases, unintelligent, not bipedal, and unable to manufacture certain products. This unique methodology could possibly appeal to some readers. All in all, Orwell's choice to use animals instead of humans as the main characters in Animal Farm probably attracted far more readers than simply casting humans into the roles would have.

Lois Lowry's The Giver

To the people of various Communities located around the world, life involves little pain or suffering, as well as minimal dissent and disagreements. People in the Communities have no conception of true suffering, of starvation, of chaos, or of war. Every aspect of their lives are carefully controlled, from what they do as a career to who they are in a "family unit" with. They have no worries, no desires, but also no choice nor aspiration. However, one boy gets the opportunity to experience all that no one else has, both good and bad. Actually, this boy does not truly get to choose to take all of these experiences in, but the role is forced on him by the Council of the Elders. The boy, Jonas, through his new found experiences and the wisdom that he gains through them, realizes that without the good and bad in life, life simply becomes a waste of time. Lois Lowry's The Giver entranced me with the sheer oddity of a seemingly perfect society, then horrified me with the truth about every action behind the scenes.

As previously mentioned, Jonas has been chosen to receive experiences in the form the memories of ancestral people. One person in the Community must bear this monumental task for the rest, and every once in a blue moon a new "receiver" must be chosen. Needless to say, Jonas is the newest receiver and must obtain the memories from the previous receiver, now known as the "giver." As time passes and Jonas receives more and more memories, he begins to realize that his "perfect" world possesses some flaws. In order to maintain complete equality and perfection, in addition to every aspect of life being controlled, the climate, landscape, and even color of everything is strictly manipulated into a never-changing, flat, and bland world. Jonas, caught between his duty as the new receiver and his desire to show the world what he sees and feels, must choose either to stay and live in a pretended ignorant bliss or to relinquish everything he has known and cherished for the sake of the populous.

Lois Lowry's main goal in writing this book must have been embedding serious themes subtly within. One of the most prevalent throught the novel is the question, "What sacrifices should be made in order to obtain perfection, and moreover, would they be worth the loss." The people in The Giver sacrificed their strongest emotions, the variation of the Earth, and their freedom to make their own choices, but were their decisions worth the peace and leasure that served as a replacement? Is peace and prosperity worth blandness and a pre-decided fate?

Lois Lowry and her book, The Giver, provoke many difficult questions that must be answered, while simultaneously telling an imersing tale of love and sacrifice. Honestly, this book belongs among the best that I have read, and that is saying something. I cannot think of any reason someone should not read this book, so to all, go pick this book up somewhere, find a comfortable position, grab a glass of sweet tea, and begin reading. Chances are you will like what you read.

179 Pages

My Cross-Examination

In places from courtrooms to classrooms to household the world over, cross-examination occurs time and time again. Lawyers, teachers, and parents all wonder why in the world some sort of event has occurred and try to extract the explanation from an unlucky victim through any method, no matter how painful or embarrassing. I myself often have to endure cross-examination by the final mention of the said list, or by a certain friend that must enjoy playing mother hen, over a variety of topics, many of which, I am sad to say, I do not understand the gravity that they seem to see.

One such example of my parent's unnecessary interrogation of my life revolves around my schoolwork. I understand their concern and the fact that they would like me to excel, but asking me every single day how I did on a quiz or a test or a project can become a bit much. Especially if I took the test or quiz or did the presentation that day, in which case I have no clue as to how I fared. My casual, "I did well, I suppose," never cuts it either, and always heralds the explanation, "I just took/did the (insert graded work name here) today, I believe that I did quite well, but I don't know my grade, so I cannot be one-hundred percent certain of anything." However, I fear that I should get off this topic before a rant suddenly appears before me.

Another cross-examiner happens to be a very close friend of mine, whose name I shall not mention for her sake. She claims that I have a gambling addiction, which I do not, and constantly nags and gripes about how I am going to gamble all of my money away. This will not happen of course because I do not gamble and I do not plan to. I just happen to love card games... and bets... but not the two combined! Moreover I never bet money, so I am pretty much safe. I appreciate my friend's concern, no matter how unnecessary, but she should not worry about me, such an act surely is bad for her health!

Despite the fact that I mentioned earlier that I did not understand why such topics held such importance to my friends and family, now, after writing this post, a new ray of light has been shown on their arguments. I suppose that all they do is care of my well-being, my future, and in my friend's case, my wallet. Hmm... I wonder if she has some ulterior motives there... (I am kidding, she would not.) Either way though, cross-examinations can have varied results on me, although the results typically benefit all parties.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Regarding Celebration

In places the world over various people celebrate an equally diverse myriad of occasions. Some celebrate national holidays such as Arbor day or Memorial day whereas others celebrate church occasions such as Christmas or Buddha's birthday. Others celebrate more personal events such as birthdays and anniversaries. Some athletes celebrate their victory over others in their respective events. However, most people celebrate some combination of these, and I, falling in the category of most people this time, celebrate a conglomerate of these.

Among the multitude of events that I celebrate there are many birthdays, my own naturally, but also my friends' and family's. Some people I know celebrate just the fact that they are alive each and every day in some small way, which I can see why I suppose. I do not really celebrate each new day, but I do have an appreciation for each one.

Although some national holidays I do not understand the point of, such as Arbor day, I celebrate quite a few of them. Among those are ones considered church holidays like Christmas and Easter as well as strictly national ones such as Independence day. I suppose that you could say that I celebrate all these holidays in a normal manner, with presenting gifts and a dinner on Christmas, a nice dinner on Easter, and fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Prior to yesterday, I had no reason to celebrate any anniversaries unless one were to count a birthday as an anniversary of the day of a birth. But either way, as of yesterday, I actually have a reason to celebrate an anniversary, because in 364 days, if nothing goes wrong, one year will have passed from the day that Katelyn and I became boyfriend and girlfriend. So... Here's hoping for a great almost-year!

To be blunt, I would be hard pressed to find a person that literally celebrates nothing. I mean we all have to celebrate something sometime, I hope. Without any celebration there would be no joy, nor any excitement. Such a bland world would be such a burden to live in, and a pathetic existence would probably be the only destiny to be manifested in us. However, fortunately we do not live in such a bland world. Our world possesses the joy, excitement, and love that such a bland place does not. And we display all three in acts of celebration, which make life so much more livable.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ayn Rand's Anthem

In a highly socialistic seemingly-medieval aged world of the future every person follows the council's guidelines to a "T." In this world no hunger exists. No strife or outright evil presents itself readily. In fact the criminals keep themselves locked in prison, for they understand that they have done wrong and they must have adequate time to repent from their wrongdoings. In this world the council of vocations decides what a person's career will be after they finish schooling. And in this world, the word "I" and "you" cannot be found. Everyone uses the words "we" and "they" instead, as well as verbs to have correct subject-verb agreement. These people possess no individuality, no hope. However, one man decides not to be like the rest. Equality defies the rules and regulations of the government to blaze his own trail and attempt to restore the world to the heights civilization once achieved. Ayn Rand's Anthem engrossed me with constant plot twists and unexpected happenings.

Despite the adequateness of the storyline, one fault of this book lies in the very stylistic substitution of plural words for singular ones. At some points in the book multiple people are in a given area, and the use of "we" can either mean that Equality or the entire group of them do something. In all fairness I must admit that most of the time the author covers this weakness by preceding the action by mentioning how Equality goes off on his own. Moreover, whenever the number of participants is indeterminable, the action they are doing seems irrelevant or otherwise unimportant.

Ayn Rand used this book as a discreet method of spreading her theology of objectivism. Essentialy this theology highlights man as his own reason for existance. Objectivism states that we as humans exist to fulfill our own desires, and only we alone can do this. Objectivsim states that there are no "higher powers" at work, and that human altruism wastes lives. She does this by setting equality in a world where altruism is the way of life, and the government, although it claims to be equal with the people, is essentially worshiped as a god. By breaking free through his own power he shows that as humans we have all we need at our fingertips to survive and thrive. Needless to say, Ayn and I do not see eye to eye on all the points of objectivism, although some I do agree with.

Anthem, as a novel, presents a compelling story of the triumph of the human spirit over any and all opressive forces. The pace seems fast enough, although sometimes confusing as the story is written in retrospect. The manuscript also serves the role of propaganda supporting Ayn's objectivism. Despite this subliminal influencing, Anthem reamains a good read and a decent way to pass some time.

105 pages

Thursday, April 15, 2010

That Four Letter Word...

Hunted by

A four letter

Painful at

Yet worth
any great

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Relating to Saint Patrick's Day

To the casual participant of Saint Patrick's Day, the day has little to no meaning save an excuse to go around and pinch people. In fact, until today my view has been the same as theirs. However, today I have decided to research just who Saint Patrick was in an attempt to find out why we celebrate this day, and perhaps what he has to do with pinching people that do not wear green.

Saint Patrick turns out to be the patron Saint of Ireland, or at least the most recognized one of them. He was born somewhere around 340 A.D. and when he was sixteen he was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland to serve as a slave for six years. He then managed to escape and return to his family. He soon became a bishop and ended up back in Ireland. Most accounts of his life are heavily criticized, for only two of his hand-written letters remain today. Every other source came from later dates, sometimes centuries later. However, through is supposed exploits there, be they fact or fiction, the Catholic Church made Patrick a saint.

In regards to the pinching of Saint Patrick's day, pinching has no connection whatsoever to the saint. People pinched others in Ireland at one time to remind them that if they did not wear green that leprechauns would begin pinching them. For the most part they do not practice this anymore and view Americans as insane for pinching each other.

For a saint, Saint Patrick seems to be quite the mysterious man. A mere two records of his very existance survived to this day, both being letters that he had wrote. Thankfully the pinching associated with his holiday has no connection whatsoever to him, for otherwise this saint would seem slightly nutty in my eyes. Either way though, Saint Patrick layed the foundation for the Catholic Church in Ireland, which given their previous predominant pagan status, was quite the feat.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sophocles' Antigone

Sometime in the distant past, two brothers face each other in battle for the kingship of the great city of Thebes. Fighting throughout the day, both finally accomplish their goal in an unexpected twist of fate; they slay each other at the same exact time. At the other gates of Thebes the army that the attacking brother brought has been routed and peace has returned to the city, for the most part anyway. The brothers’ uncle Creon is made king. The brother that defended the city has a proper burial while the attacking brother has been left to rot and be eaten by the dogs of the street and the carrion eating birds of the sky. Only one person has any qualms with this, Antigone, sister to both of the fallen brothers and niece to Creon. Drama unfolds as she stands for her brother’s burial rites, while Creon adamantly opposes to see an enemy of the city buried. Sophocles’ Antigone perplexed me with the still-applicable issues that form the plot of the play and yet bored me with the lack of any action whatsoever.

The issues that this book brings up include how much control the government should have, as well as where our civic duties and family duties come into conflict. This book makes me think, “You know, Creon really had no right to deny his nephew a burial.” I do realize that Thebes was an absolute monarchy, but the ancient Greeks believed that should someone not be buried and mourned, they would be condemned to wander restlessly outside the underworld for eternity. So basically, Creon was condemning Polyneices to wander aimlessly for eternity. That is far too much power. The other question this play brings up is what is more important, our civic duties or our family duties. Antigone’s views represent the duties we have toward our families, protecting and making sure they have the best possible circumstances whereas Creon’s symbolize our dutes to our communities, also protecting and looking out for everyone. Really they are both right in a sense, but wrong in another. I suppose that the matter is up to the individual to decide, who is right, and who is wrong?

This play not only brought up some interesting questions, but the play also had a decent storyline. As I have mentioned before, Antigone’s brother dies and is not permitted burial by Creon. Despite the law that he creates, Antigone finds his body and begins burial rites. A guard catches her in the act and brings her before Creon. Her punishment is to be put in a cave and have the entrance sealed so that she will die of starvation. Nobody save Creon wishes to see this happen, and he receives quite a few visitors arguing her case, but in the end does Antigone ever receive help?

I must admit, the play Antigone by Sophocles was not the most action-packed read in the world. However, the book did bring up some questions that need to be asked. Personally, I really would not recommend this book to anyone but people that enjoy thinking about questions. The book just is not that interesting.

On Persuasion

The use of persuasion throughout time has differed depending on the persuader. Some have used the art selfishly to satisfy their own needs and to gain and retain political power whereas others were thinking of the whole population as they spoke fervently of a need that perhaps had a solution that harmed them. Even today, people from politicians to prisoners use persuasion. In fact, I would be hard pressed to find someone alive that has never used persuasion once in their life. I would like to say that I am a decent persuader, but I really have not used the art all that often, or for very important matters anyway. Sure, there have been a few instances that I have argued for hours on end and eventually the other person agreed… or just wanted me to shut up… But other times after the hours a simple verdict was not reached, and both I and my opponent were still just as stalwartly for our views as when we had begun.

When I do choose to argue in order to persuade someone, I typically use logic and facts, a tactic called logos. If I can use pathos, evoking emotions of the audience, I do, but most of the time that cannot be done. I suppose that I use ethos, getting the audience to trust you, and to believe that you have been where they are before, but most of the time ethos is not effective in my arguments because they are with people that know and trust me anyway. These may be the three “official” persuasive tactics, but I have an ace up my sleeve in the sense that I have a special trait that helps me win; I am probably the most stubborn and persistent person I know. I just do not give up, no matter how horribly the deck seems stacked against me. However, this trait does seem to be a double-edged sword in the sense that I sometimes annoy my opponents into submission and they really do not accept what I said as the truth, and that my stubbornness often contributes to my closed-mindedness. Yes, unfortunately, I am quite closed-minded on most, if not all, issues. However, that only applies to issues. On situations such as brainstorming plans and similar occurrences, I am decently open-minded. Either way though, the persuasive weapon of logos merely acts as a boon, whereas my own armor against giving up too easily, stubbornness, often acts as an equally strong bane, keeping me restricted to my own opinions.

To me, persuasion is an art form, one to be used and reused throughout the centuries and millennia to come as a prime, viable method of convincing. Persuasion has many methods and tactics used and seen daily. I mean, how many people have not seen a commercial asking for a donation for starving children in some foreign country? How many people have not seen a scientist avidly speaking about the threat of global warming? How many people have not heard a politician mentioning how he or she knows exactly what we are going through, and have been tempted to believe them? The fact is, people will use persuasion to benefit themselves or the whole group for as long as we humans walk the earth. For such a reason, persuasion remains an important part of society, and my life for sure.

On the Meaning of a "Winner"

To some people, winning means the world to them. To some people, winning is as addictive as heroin, and gives a similar euphoric effect. To some people, winning means that they are simply the best, and they deserve to be treated as such. To these people, losing means misery, the chronic illnesses caused by heroin abuse, and the feeling like they are not good enough and deserve to be treated as such. The meaning of a winner to people such as this has been morphed and twisted beyond recognition. To be a winner, triumph over everyone else is not necessarily required, and moreover, if defeating other competitors is required, a real winner will not desire to be treated any differently, for if they do, they are the real loser in the matter. They also should not become depressed by a mere loss or setback, but take everything in stride, and get ready for their next opportunity. Being a winner involves two characteristics, giving enough effort to the point that the competitor becomes proud of themselves, and being humble in the event that some sort of contest with other competitors is won.

The essence of contest is proving that you are the best to everyone else, or is it? Perhaps the real purpose of competition lies not in the fact that by winning you prove your superiority in skill, but in simply bettering yourself through adversity. That adversity does not necessarily have to be another human being, but the competitor themself. By simply showing that he or she is better than before, the competitor proves that they are improving, which seems to be a need of us as humans. In truth, a tangible reward may be nice, but in the end such a trophy will merely sit on a shelf and gather dust. Rather than compete to prove superiority, we should compete to make ourselves better, for that is the true reason we compete, or rather should compete.

Unfortunately, I find that I can fall into the category of people mentioned at the beginning of this post. However, I do my best to keep my words humble as well as my demeanor. Therefore, I try not to keep track of my past winnings, no matter how great. Trust me, this preventative action is for the best; otherwise I would probably be bragging your ears off (perhaps eyes because you are reading...)

The definition of winning can come in far too many forms to give one specific definition, but a winner stays the same thought them all. He or she is not just the one person that came out on top in the end, but also the one that did not proclaim their victory to the world nor did they obsess over their loss should one come their way. A winner is a type of person, the type that takes life as life comes, and chooses not to foolishly gloat or wallow in their success. Or that is what I choose to believe anyway.

About Olympian Commitment

As pretty much everyone knows, the Winter Olympics have arrived. With their arrival, we spectators have the opportunity to see the apex of skill in all sorts of winter sports, and the culmination of all of the difficult hours of practice that athletes must undergo in order to compete with the best. One might think that such a commitment has no parallel to anything else. Personally, I believe such a statement screams the word, “FALSE!!!” There are plenty of similar commitments, ranging from marriage to a career. I plan on taking both of these commitments one day, but one seems like a more decided path than the other. I plan on being a doctor, a general practitioner to be specific (pun intended), and one day have my own private practice.

Now you may be thinking, “Dude, an Olympic athlete has to do YEARS of INTENSE BACKBREAKING practice. What is so bad about your commitment?” One word everyone, school, and a lot of it. Sure, I may not have to go as long as a specialist, but later I may decide to dabber in a few extra fields, just so that I can better help my patients. Moreover, establishing a private practice, and one that could sustain itself and my family at that, will take years more. And now I have one last point. Olympic athletes usually are in their twenty’s when they compete. Basically, they do not have to continue their rigorous practices and extreme competitions afterward. I do realize that most probably continue to be insanely fit and could probably compete and continue winning if they wished, and that in the 1920’s one Olympic athlete won medals despite the fact that he was 72. However, for most their commitment ends after their twenties. For me, my road is merely beginning. Not only will I have to continue rigorous study into my late twenties, do intern work, and work to make my private practice successful, but I also plan to make this medical practice my career. The whole point of all of this studying and use of time is so that I can effectively treat patients for nearly the rest of my life.

The casual reader may be wondering at this point why I wish to undergo all this. He or she may be thinking, “Maybe he is in it for the money, or perhaps he just likes feeling important, because people come to him when they are ill.” Well, truthfully, the principal reason is that I enjoy helping people and that I believe that I can help more people in that field than in any other. Perhaps I cannot do as much good as a surgeon in evasive surgery, but I also cannot screw up and cut too deeply or sever an artery or otherwise do unintentional damage with my own hand. I do also realize that I can do some serious harm by giving someone the wrong medication for their problem or by misdiagnosing them, but to me at least, that is not the same. Besides, for most cases of this occurring, the person would have enough time to act, whereas should a surgeon may not get a second shot. Either way, I just dislike seeing people in pain, or in some other sort of distress, and love to help them. Those are my motives.

For the record, I am not claiming that my choice holds more gravity than an Olympic athlete’s, for I could not ever do what they do, but I am saying that my commitment holds similar importance. Nor am I saying that my career choice is more difficult than anyone else’s. All I am trying to convey is that I, and everyone else in some way or another, will make a similar commitment to an Olympic athlete’s at one time or another in our lives. And that mine at least, will be more than worth a thousand times the cost.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rick Riodan's The Last Olympian

In the fifth book of the Percy and the Olympians series, Percy Jackson and company are forced to defend Mt. Olympus, which can be found above the Empire State Building. The forces of Cronos have regrouped after their defeat in the battle of the Labyrinth the previous summer and are using the rising of the father of all monsters, Typhon, as a distraction while they attack Olympus. All gods but Poseidon are present merely attempting to hold Typhon away, whereas Poseidon is busy fighting off the sea titan, Oceanus. The climax of the series draws nigh, as Percy, hero of the prophecy, must make a choice that will destroy or save Olympus, possibly at the loss of his own life. Rick Riodan's The Last Olympian kept me spellbound from one page to the next with constant action and thrilling suspense.

This book's plot appears quite complex and confusing while reading the book, but in retrospect everything fits together in an easily summarizeable way. Annabeth, a very close friend of Percy's, suspects that Cronos' army will soon attack Olympus, and takes the entire entourage from camp half blood along to protect the seat of the gods' power. The entire camp save the Ares cabin, whom are angry because they did not get a flying chariot from a raid. Percy also makes his own preparations. Awhile back, the son of Hades, Nico, made him an offer. He told Percy that if he were to bathe in the River Styx, he could become like Achilles, nearly invulnerable. Percy must make a choice then at the river, after being warned by Achilles' ghost about the so called "curse of Achilles." Either way, with the mountain to defend, Percy makes his choice and is quickly off. Arriving at Manhattan, Percy and his friends must face Cronos' army, but somehow Cronos knows their every move, every plan, and every position. He even admits to having a spy in their camp. With the disarray and fear caused by a spy, and the seemingly futile battle ahead against the lord of time, how can Percy ever win this one?

This novel holds deep themes settled in the last stand of the defenders. Once, Prometheus came to Percy in a diplomatic mission in an attempt to con him into stopping the fighting. After being unsuccessful, he gave Percy Pandora's Box, which actually is a vase. He told Percy that if Percy were to open the vase and release the last being inside, hope, the fighting would stop, the action would be considered a surrender, and Percy and his friends would be spared. Basically, give up hope, and everything will end. The vase also appears whenever Percy feels lowest, when he would like to give up hope. In the end, Percy entrusts the vase into a trustworthy person's care, cementing his faith that everything will turn out fine. Just as the vase shows up when Percy would like to give up, so does the vase appear with us. Whenever we are at our lowest, we are tempted to give up on whatever is causing that low, correct? We wish for an easy way out, and giving up would be the equivalent to flight in the fight or flight approach. However, unless the situation is utterly hopeless, the correct choice is to fight, not flee. To make a stand just as Percy chose, for better or for worse, and to let everything play out. Basically, and as I used to say myself, "The only way to lose a battle is to give up hope in victory, for whenever hope is given up, the battle is truely lost."

Between the page turning brawls, and the curiousity driven by suspense, I must say, this book is quite the read. I fully recommend the novel to any and everyone. People that like Greek Mythology probably will also enjoy this book, and series. I must say, this book is one of my all time favorites, and that is not a statement to be taken lightly. The Last Olympian commands all of the elements of other books in the series, and improves upon them, as well as posesses new and addicting characteristics which improve the overall quality of the book.

381 Pages

Robert E. Lee Day?

A few days ago, I was talking to a friend about all of the different holidays, and about how we get out of school for so few of them. She brought up one that I had never heard of, Robert E. Lee Day. Supposeably, some people in the south celebrate this day in place of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, for they fall so close together. Officially, the unofficial Robert E. Lee Day falls on the Nineteenth of January, his birthday. King's holiday falls on the third Monday of each January, typically around his birthday, January fifteenth. Click here to find out more about Robert E. Lee Day.

Celebrating Robert E. Lee Day out of sheer spite for the North seems quite childish and immature to me. This practice occured somewhat recently, as the friend I mentioned earlier had heard about the holiday from her step-father, who had got out of school for Robert E. Lee Day, not Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I mean really, the civil ended over a century ago! The South lost and the North won, end of story. So we cannot have slaves anymore, big deal! Personally, owning another person seems rather pointless and idiotic to me, especially since slavery was probably always involuntary. But those are just my feelings on the matter.

However, not every reveller celebrates Lee's birthday just to show their unending spite and immaturity to the world. Some people honor Lee for the man he was, a courageous and brilliant general. He did not keep the Union army busy in Virginia for three years on sheer luck after all! However, this man was more than just a military might, for after the war, he lived a humble life as an example to all. Being such a brilliant man, he was given many offers that would have substantially increased his wealth, and yet he settled in as a public educator. This man truly shows that humility brings the highest form of admiration. To get to a detailed story of his life, or at least the war related parts, click here.

No matter how or why people celebrate his birthday, Robert E. Lee was a great man. He probably would not have enjoyed his life being celebrated in spite of the North, but I am more than sure that most people still spiteful of the civil war would beg to differ. Either way, this unofficial holiday has found a way into my calendar now, to give honor to a humble man that devoted his life to serving others, be his role protecting what and who he cared about or heading a teaching institution. Robert E. Lee, as a great man, not as a great southern general, deserves our respect and admiration.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rick Riordan's The Battle of the Labyrinth

Assume for a moment that all Greek myths were actually true. That minotaurs and centaurs, sirens and titans actually exist. And that most of mankind cannot register their existence because of a magical force known as “Mist.” However, some people can naturally “see” through the mist for no reason. Some other people can see through the mist for another reason; they are half-bloods, the result of a cross of a Greek god and a mortal. One such half-blood, Percy Jackson, has seen quite a lot in his fifteen years of life. His achievements stretch from recreating the some feats of Odysseus, and his own namesake, Perseus, to making his own name as a hero by recovering Zeus’s favorite weapon, his Master Bolt. Percy has been through a lot thus far, but all of that is nothing in comparison to what lays in store in his fourth adventure, Rick Riordan’s The Battle of the Labyrinth.

In this novel, the armies of the titan Cronos attempt to find a way to navigate the Labyrinth, a complex maze once used to house the Minotaur. However, the maze has a habit of driving those intrepid, or stupid, enough to enter insane. One material object, Ariadne's string, can safely guide the user(s) through the harrowing hallways. Cronos wishes to destroy a summer camp known as Camp Half-Blood. Camp Half-Blood houses many half-bloods during the summer and acts as a training facility. Percy, a regular attendee at the camp, goes on a quest to stop the army from finding the string. Along the way, the Labyrinth separates his group, causing Percy to be anxious and worried about his friend’s safety. Percy and company make good time in the great maze, but will it be good enough?

Despite the fact that I enjoyed this book, I do have some qualms regarding it. For one, the setting always seems quite vague. The writer describes the setting, but never with vivid words. I admit, the words paint a picture, but based purely on the text the picture typically is not ornate. Much of the imagery is left up to the reader’s imagination.

One affinity this book possesses lies in the style in which the novel was written. To be specific, I like the author’s sense of humor. Oftentimes, the author puts a sarcastic understatement or an ironic jest in at the most unexpected times. He also writes the chapters to have strange, funny, random names.

Because of the great humor and nearly unending action, this book nearly tops the chart of my favorite books. The plot can be addicting, and the book can be hard to put down. So this book can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone, given that they have read the first three in the series.

361 pages

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Stand Once Taken

In my nearly sixteen years of life, I recall taking many stands. However, upon recollecting, they all seem either unimportant or idiotic. For instance, the stands that I have taken against bullies do not carry much gravity, or because of the sheer futility. So instead I will speak of a stand that I have always taken, not just once. One that surely should be considered a given, if I am more than an acquaintance. I stand for rectification, setting things straight, or, more specifically, making everything that I possibly can better.

As a broad example, practically all of my closest friends come to me with their problems, at least to be ear to hear them out. However, sometimes I can directly assist, in which case, I offer my help. Whether they accept my offer or not does not matter, I typically do what I can either way.

As a specific example, one of my closest friends once came to me with a problem concerning some people that absolutely hate her. They had told her that they were going to beat her up, or send some people to, if she did not comply with their demands. She was completely distraught, and almost in a complete panic. So after I calmed her down, I logically explained that they were obviously bluffing. No self-respecting guy would attack, or send some people to attack, somebody nearly two years younger. Moreover, he was over eighteen at the time, meaning he would face jail time. Finally, I explained to her exactly how fast word would travel concerning his part in the occurrence. His wonderful reputation would be tarnished permanently. And I told her that if all else failed, (against my better judgment) that I myself would be there to protect her. After awhile she began proclaiming how she was not afraid anymore, and about how she was then sure that he would not do anything. Honestly, I was a bit afraid then, being half afraid she would run up and kick him or something! Half joking!

Another instance in which I tried to make everything better occurred at a church camp I attended one year. This attempt failed miserably. As I was exploring the campus in my free time, I stumbled upon a group of people surrounding someone that appeared to be crying. I immediately ran over and asked the person weeping what was wrong. Everybody in the crowd started looking at each other as if they were thinking, “What the heck?! Who’s this guy?” Then somebody in the crowd told me the truth of the matter. They were practicing for their skit. Feeling like a fool, I apologized for interrupting, and went on my merry way, being sure that my cheeks were redder than a beet with embarrassment. I heard them laughing behind me.

So why do I want to help basically anyone, random or friend? The fact is, I hate seeing people in mental anguish or distress. I also enjoy the feeling of seeing someone overcome whatever obstacle they face. I suppose the effect of doing this so much is that the action has become a part of me, just one mere facet of my personality. So all in all, I suppose that I stand for the solution, or perhaps the way to get there.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Another's Inspiring Stand

Throughout time, millions of people around the world have surveyed the conditions around them and then took a stand reflecting their views on the matter, causing theirs and others’ destinies to change dramatically. For example, the forefather’s of our country went against the odds, risked their lives, and began possibly the most important war in American history, just based on what they believed to be right. These people deserve respect and admiration for taking the stand that became the first step down the long road that brought America to what the country has become.

These people, including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and George Washington, played their deadly game with a deck stacked against them. Their opponents, the Britons, were a highly trained, highly skilled, and highly feared superpower. The Thirteen Colonies however were just a bunch of backwater settlements, unheard of and supposedly weak. The game began with the high taxes bringing on peaceful protests. When the taxes were raised further, the protesting became wilder and more ingenious. Really, where in the world would a Boston Tea Party happen, other than in, what would become, the United States?

Soon the British influence and laws become intolerable, causing a full-scale war. British soldiers met the “American” opposition and, against everyone’s expectations, the Colonies’ forces dominated the British at first. The Colonies had advantages the British could not match. North America and Britain are separated by the Atlantic Ocean, causing to resupplying and reinforcing to take a long time. The French also bore a grudge against the British; after all, France had just lost Canada to Great Britain. Because of this, the French lent the Colonists their support. Spain also lent the Colonists a hand. With Britain facing war on multiple fronts, they could not help but to ration their troops on all of them, therefore dividing them and making them easy to conquer.

During all of this, patriots held their ground and literally fought for freedom. George Washington led the troops as a general, Thomas Jefferson gathered support as a diplomat, and John Adams set the people’s hearts ablaze with his powerful, eloquent speeches and his piquant retorts toward British supporters. Their actions have had a direct effect on history itself, and for that they deserve our admiration. After all, where would we be without them?