Tuesday, November 18, 2014

We, robots

In the book review titled “We, Robots”, the author reviews a book in which the author initially encourages the use of the internet as an open network for individuals to try on personalities like clothes, but later rejects and cautions its use as it distracts from human interaction. The author first agrees with the latter argument. However, slowly he grows to conclude that the new medium may perhaps be just another tool for human interactions to continue. I believe the technology in this day and age is well beyond what we as people know how to handle thus far. Congruent with the author’s point, we don’t send as many letters, we don’t pass as many notes, and we look to technology to avoid human interaction because it is much easier and “less dangerous”. He mentions a study conducted by MIT which revealed psychological stress was reduced by online interactions. However, personally I experience less stress and longer periods of happiness when I am not on social media or using my phone; some of my happiest vacations have been when I leave my phone in the room and enjoy the moment.

This passage moved me to consider the long term implications of using technology. It made me think when it discussed how robots might alter our relationships much worse, as we have a robot girlfriend there at home. These were all insane consequences I had never considered that actually moved me to write a letter home just for the sake of taking the time to write a message that wasn’t instantaneous and didn’t light up a screen for three seconds before being forgotten. The author is correct in stating the internet is just another accessory for communication and interaction, however it cannot be allowed to be the only one.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Project 5 Media Choice

The harms of aspartame are difficult to encapsulate in a medium other than a research paper. A video could have some power running as a documentary of the chemical's shady past, but would be restricted by the overwhelming amount of evidence, though corrupted, that supports the additive. I believe to most efficiently get the point across, I need to represent my argument in a satirical political cartoon or comic. By using this medium, I hope a creative cartoon will have the most impact on the viewer.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


                In this sketch, cartoonist Jimmy Margulies portrays the discrimination against homosexuals in Chick-fil-A by drawing a parallel between gay discrimination and color discrimination in the South prior to the mid-twentieth century. Chick-fil-A was founded by a traditional Christian man who wanted to incorporate his religion into the way his business was conducted. Thus, every restaurant in the massive fast food chain is closed on Sundays, and the employees have the liberty to turn away a homosexual customer. The drinking fountain labelled “straight” is drawn to be of much higher quality than the drinking fountain designated for homosexuals as a method to represent the underlying inequality and harshly correlate it with racial discrimination. Some critics believe this to be too harsh of a comparison, because the discrimination through the twentieth century was much crueler than the inequality faced today with homosexuals. Others, particularly in the gay community, applaud this cartoon for directly victimizing Chick-fil-A. It came to my attention that many gay individuals boycott eating at the restaurant as a way of protest and put economic pressure on the company to change. Like all political cartoons, there are a wide array of reactions to this drawing.

Academic Writing

I find academic writing to be incredibly difficult and often times unbelievably boring. Often times my writing style is too flowery as described my teachers, and I receive bad grades on formal writing assignments because of this. I don’t believe formal writing should inherently mean the elimination of sentences and poetic paragraphs because that removes all creative thought. That creative thought makes writing and reading special and unique to each individual and is the driving force of all powerful literature in history. No literature geek read an academic paper and thought it was beautiful use of asyndeton, litotes, alliteration, metaphors, or any other literature technique that is used in poems by Robert Frost or Szymborska or written masterpieces by Virginia Woolf or James Joyce. Each of these leaders in literature gained the respect of the reading community by breaking the rules in a creative way.
Of course, certain works need to obey basic conventions so as to avoid confusion. However, I believe these instances would be so rare that it would be common knowledge when to follow these formalities. Such as in research papers or technical reports for scientists and engineers, there would be no need for flowery prose. This would be analogous to a manual for building something out of a set of Legos being a twenty page novel instead of direct directions. It is interesting when the chapter describes a Romanian student’s writing experience in the United States and how they wrote in flowery sentences in Romania, but here its frowned upon as not being straight to the point. I am not sure if it’s a result of the culture I was raised in or if it is only logical, but the only way I can envision professional writing in the workplace or academic writing is being strictly formal.