Final Blog, Check!

Over this semester, I feel like I have done as much writing as I did during my entire senior year in high school.  That’s a bit of an exaggeration, yes, but it’s all to say I have written a lot, and as a result, have learned much.  Thinking over all the forms of writing we have covered, I realize I have been able to gain a better understanding of how to form and write each type of paper, whether it be narrative, expository, comparison, argumentative, or my personal favorite, research (it’s really not my favorite).  I’ve had experience with these types of papers in the past, but my teachers never really explained the steps or factors needed to successfully write them.  So in that aspect, I learned a lot.  I also think I’ve improved in being able to organize my ideas and keep the supporting paragraphs in line with the thesis.

When writing, a big challenge for me is thoroughly explaining my thoughts.  I understand what I’m trying to say, but those reading my writing sometimes have a harder time following my thought processes.  The transitions, links, or take away ideas may be clear to me, but not to everyone else.  I need to remember to take into account that only I know what I want to say and it’s up to me to actually get it across in the intended way.  Expanding on different ideas or notions will definitely improve my writing.  I just need to remember to do so when I write.

My favorite writing project this semester was the personal narrative.  The story told in the narrative had such a big impact in my life and was something that directly related to me.  I enjoyed being able to write it, describe in detail what happened and ultimately show others how I felt in that experience and how it affected me.  It was a story that meant a lot, and as a result, I had fun writing it.

I really struggled with the research paper.  I was able to find a very interesting topic, but because the topic was so narrow and specific, it was hard to find a lot of information which made the organization and staying on topic difficult.  The argumentative paper was also rather hard for me.  I am not a very opinionated person.  Consequently, trying to find a topic that I felt strongly about was difficult.  Even when I found a topic to write about, I had a hard time developing an argument rather than just giving supporting evidence for the point I was trying to make.

Even though I learned quite a bit about writing, I also learned my weaknesses and the elements that need improvement.  This class is about to end, but I know there will be many papers to come, and I will take each paper as an opportunity to learn and improve.

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Will My Future Meet My Writing?

Let’s see.  Writing in my future.  At first I ask myself, when will I actually write in my future?  I can’t see myself sitting down in front of a computer and start typing away for the joy of it, but then, when I think about it, writing is such an imperative aspect of my life that I know not only will it be used every day, but numerous times a day.

Writing is a critical form of communication.  And isn’t a big factor of life communication?  In some way or another we all communicate every day.  If we aren’t there in person to have an auditory conversation, we typically revert to writing, whether it be in the form of texts, email, social media sites, or other forms of interaction with others via written words.

Not only does writing have a big part in communication, but expression as well.  Everyone has a need to express themselves, and even though it may not seem like writing would be the way to do it, many people do in fact express themselves through writing.  It may not be in the required “about you” essays for various classes, but in the form of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, we let others know about ourselves.  If you think about it, some of us are actually more willing and able to express ourselves more openly through writing than we are in a normal conversation with others.

In the future, I will write.  Yes.  I’ll write in my texts.  I’ll write in my classes.  I’ll write on social media sites.  And, even though I don’t want to admit it or think about it, at some point in my career, I’m sure I’ll have a few reports to write.  Communicating with my friends and family will be one of the primary forms in which my writing will be used.  Also, I have a tendency to plan out everything possible, as well as make to-do lists galore, so in that way, I will always be writing.  That however, will be the extent of writing by choice; unless something in me changes, the rest will be required and not necessarily enjoyable.  I’m not one to particularly hate writing, I just don’t ever see myself writing for the joy of it.  And so, with that being said, I’ll leave the big publishing works to someone who enjoys writing.

 

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The Feminization of the Medal of Honor

Mr. Fischer,

First of all, I’d like to say how much it irritates me that you call it “feminizing the Medal of Honor.”  What exactly do you mean by “feminized?” When someone saves the life of another, they aren’t placed into the category of being feminine, so why then do you put this medal into the category of having become “feminized?”  It is essentially relaying the same message.

After reading this article, I went away rather upset.  Not only does it give off an unfavorable connotation for saving lives, but also, because there is a detectable negativity in the article, it gives the impression that there is nothing good in feminism.  You are completely trivializing these acts of valor as well as putting down women.

The Medal of Honor is the highest military award given to those who go above the expectation, above the call of duty.  Being a part of the military, and fighting in wars, typically calls for you to kill.  But does it call you to give up your life?  What is so wrong with saving lives?  Kill the enemy, yes, but if no one’s saving lives, who will be there to kill them?  Putting your life out there is the greatest sacrifice you can give, so why not let those who do so be awarded the highest honor?  

While the majority of your post I did not agree with, I did like the point you made about the cross.  It was entirely true, and I found it to be a thought-provoking point.  Jesus did need to wound the enemy and bring him down in order for his sacrifice to have been effective. Otherwise, it would have been as you said, meaningless.

Nonetheless, just because people aren’t being specially rewarded for killing, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.  People are still killing the enemy.  I think that if the Medal of Honor was awarded to those who killed the enemy instead of to those who saved lives, people wouldn’t do any more killing, just as I have a hard time believing that people give up their lives for the award.  Their sacrifices and actions lie in something more important than a medal.

So when it comes down to it, a medal is a medal.  There is a label to it, and a recognition that comes with it, but something makes me think that those who are going out to war, risking their lives, care about a lot more than some reward.  It is an honor, yes, but so is the knowledge of saving a life, or helping your country.  So instead of discussing it, I think we should be appreciative of whoever received the medal, because regardless of the action they took, whether it be killing the enemy, saving lives, or giving up their own, they were worthy and deserving of an award.

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Christians and Their Adamant Beliefs…Sheesh

This post certainly took me off-guard.  I’ve grown up always hearing “stand firm in what you believe” and “don’t let other’s dissuade you from your views.”  But isn’t it good to be solid in your beliefs?  Doesn’t that mean they truly are a part of who you are?  That you’re not just putting on a role to “fit in” or be somebody you’re not?

Is certitude really such a bad thing?   I mean, as Christians we all have our own calling.  The Bible, and the principles taken from the Bible, will vary slightly from person to person, yes; but are these variations significant enough for us to take a step back from our fixed opinions, from what we’ve learned and grown to believe and rethink them? Given a personal relationship with God, I believe each individual will be called to abstain from certain things that for another person may be completely fine.  People shouldn’t take every aspect of the Bible in an utterly literal way.  There are some things that can be looked at and interpreted from different perspectives, but can we go as far as to say homosexuality is okay and reevaluate our view on it just because others feel it is acceptable?  There are some things which I feel God says are straight up wrong, one being homosexuality.

The stance stance taken by Tandy is respectable and his points are solid; Christians do need to practice humility in their discussions about these relevant topics.  However, his specific example went the wrong direction for me.  Had he chosen a less divisive and contentious topic, I would have been more inclined to fully agree.  Yet, having already formed my opinion on this topic, I had a harder time accepting its contents–which does in fact make a statement and prove Tandy’s point.

Ultimately, Christians shouldn’t have every single issue figured out and have an assertive opinion on it, but I do think that as Christians, we should know what God’s will for us is, and be able to determine through God’s word and his calling, what is right and wrong.  There are some things that regardless of who you are as a Christian, is wrong and nothing should change our views on them.  Nonetheless, I agree with a certain point made in this article.  The certainty with which Christians hold to their arguments is rather stand-offish and it does create a block for those whose opinions are different.  So, yes, we should lay off on the bold, indifferent stances we take, but that doesn’t mean we should reconsider our beliefs.

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Sure it was an Accident…

In May of 2009, Maureen Dowd, a respected and well-known New York Times columnist, was accused of plagiarism when a Talking Points Memo blogger discovered a paragraph from one of her articles that closely resembled a passage from another writer.  With further investigation, he observed that this forty word paragraph was copied nearly verbatim from Josh Marshall, editor of Talking Points Memo.

When under indictment concerning her questionably similar passage, Dowd put if off as unintentional, practically going as far as to blame her friend, saying, “I was talking to a friend of mine Friday about what I was writing who suggested I make this point, expressing it in a cogent — and I assumed spontaneous — way and I wanted to weave the idea into my column.  But, clearly, my friend must have read Josh Marshall without mentioning that to me. ”

One detail in particular that made this case especially interesting was an incident that occurred over twenty-five years ago.   Ironically,  in 1987, Dowd shot down Joe Biden, one of the current Presidential candidates, for supposedly being guilty of plagiarizing a speech.  Here is a valued journalist who is seemingly a stickler for plagiarism, yet commits this very crime.  As a result, she was brutally criticized, and more attention was brought on upon the matter.  Dowd incurred no penalty aside from undergoing the harsh criticism of society.  She did however quickly fess up to her fault and corrected it by giving the true author his deserved credit.  Yet even after her confession she continued to trivialize the offence, saying it was accidental.

Dowd’s actions should be labeled as plagiarism because regardless of intentions, plagiarism is plagiarism.  This case required more attention because with logical review, the details scream her lack of innocence.  I mean, who remembers in exact detail a forty word paragraph that was relayed via conversation, or as she put it, “talking?”  Even if she read the passage, and by doing so had direct interaction with it, is doubtful given the similarity of the two passages.  But the fact that she remembered in extreme detail Marshall’s passage from a conversation, is superfluously doubtful.  Either Dowd has impressive memory, or the more logical explanation, she’s lying.  It’s disputable.  She may in fact be innocent of dishonesty, but one thing’s for sure: she is not innocent of plagiarism.

Sources:

http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2009/05/18/the-maureen-dowd-plagiarism-scandal/

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/press_box/2009/05/maureen_dowds_next_step.1.html

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“The Demise of Guys” Response

Video games and porn…these elements of modern day society have a large and not-so-good influence on boys and men alike.  Yet can we go as far as to say they are the demise of guys?

According to an excerpt from the newly published book, The Demise of Guys, these factors are dragging down 21st century males. While this argument is compelling, one has to consider other statistics and the patterns of society.  For instance, technology is increasing the need for instant gratification nearly all areas of life, yet men still revert to physical relationships and physical violence even given immediate access to videos games and porn.  However, there is no doubt that both porn and video games have proven to be addicting.  As a result of these addictions, men and boys are losing out; they are losing out on real life face to face.  Instead, they’re caught up in flashing screens of another world, more thoroughly immersed in the events occurring on screen over tangible life.  While I see the point trying to be made, much of this excerpt contradicts the patterns that have been developed in society for many years.  Further, it leaves out any mention of women taking part in these activities.

Having read the critiques of the Zimbardo/Duncan excerpt, I can say I fully agree with them.  These critiques definitely cause the readers to reconsider the information being output by The Demise of Guys and the weak research that supports it.  Their facts are much more detailed and bring up solid points, arguing the opposing view made by the Zimbardo and Duncan.  While the critiques also agree that both porn and video games are unhealthy and addictive, they are rational and show skepticism on the statement claiming that porn and video games will be men’s utter downfall.  The evidence used to support the excerpts by Fung and Clark-Flory isn’t exaggerated and mentions points pertaining to both views.

Zimbardo and Duncan were right in that porn and video games are addicting and are not good pursuits for men.  However, they took it too far by saying these modern day elements are the demise of guys.  Yes, men need to focus more on the reality of life rather than being glued to their screens, but in no way are these pursuits the complete downfall of men.

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“The Boy Behind the Mask”

Opening the link, I let out an exasperated sigh, anxious to get on with the assignment, finish it, and mark it off my to do list.  My eyes scan the title, slightly interested yet more focused on my end goal.  Wearily, I look ahead, searching for an approximate finish time.  And then I see it…in utter despair I let out a loud groan and settle back into the soothing arms of my pillow, not ready to spend a long, eye-aching, brain-screaming night staring at the bright, and seemingly mocking screen of the computer.  No more procrastination, it’s time to start.  Sentence one, check.  A few moments pass. Paragraph one, check.  Paragraphs two, three…check.  Again, time and headway advance, but this time those aren’t the only things that progress; my attention has progressed and I am fully enthralled, utterly intrigued.

The Boy Behind the Mask won the Pulitzer Prize because it is a compelling and thought provoking narrative that fails to serve as just another sad story.  The intensity of the story strikes you in such a way that your thoughts are centered solely on the contents of the story; it captures your attention in an indescribable way.  Soon, you feel like you are right there besides Sam’s parents, just as curious, just as concerned, and more importantly, just as hopeful.  With an abundance of details, facts and perspectives, you are drawn into every event, every action and are left always wondering at all the possible outcomes.  Because this story gives nearly every character’s insight to the entire situation, you get a fuller and more thorough sense of how it actually transpired.  Going back and forth from possibility to possibility, everyone is captivated, needing to know more.

Personally, one bit I didn’t care for was the in-depth detail given during both the operation and the process of getting into the surgery.  The stop, go, stop go scenario built up the suspension, yes, but it carried on beyond the climax of anticipation and into repetition.

While I enjoyed the entire story, I especially loved the closing lines.  For the duration of the narrative Sam avoids light, sensitive and insecure to the reality that comes with the absence of shadows.  Yet in the end he steps into the flash, confident to be himself.  The way the story comes together has a lasting effect on the readers.  And the fact that we are never told whether or not he received the following surgeries or fit in as a high school student shows that while those are important aspects of the story, the most imperative factor was that Sam finally felt the courage to step into the light and start to let others see him for him, not for the deformity on his face.

Sam never received the following surgeries due to complications; however,  given his change of confidence shows that maybe he did not necessarily need the surgery as much as he believed he did to be “normal.”  Maybe he now leads his life with confidence knowing that he can contentedly live with the thoughts that the people who love him, love him, regardless of his disproportionate face.

This story portrays everything there is about human dignity, hope, love, and especially faith.  It teaches us that more important than appearance and the opinions of others, is the ability to believe in yourself, others and the power of hope.

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