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January 30, 2007

Good vs. Evil

Goneril, Regan, and Edmund, three characters of deceit and lies represent that of evil. Gloucester, Cordelia, and King Lear, three characters of good intent represent the good. The battle between these characters in the final seen of King Lear represents a battle of good versus evil. This seems to be a common occurring theme in all stands of life such as movies, plays, and even real world affairs (America vs. Terrorism). The war on terrorism places America in the role of “world police� representing the “Good�. In King Lear once the “good� could see through the lies of evil, a battle of justice could present itself in which good could show its defying victory or evil.

Or so we would think. We feel that the disloyal Goneril, Regan, and Edmund deserve their deaths, but in the last scene when the audience expects some kind of justice, the good characters, Cordelia, King Lear and Gloucester also lie dead among that of evil. This could also play back to common day war in which we hear insurgents have died. The word insurgent creates a feeling of evil, thus deserving death. When we here an American soldier has died it creates a feeling a great sadness. Yet they die in the same field among each other. This brings up a theme that shows throughout the play and in real life affairs. Is there justice in the world? I would say that there is justice in the world and in the book. In the book I would say there is justice because good does defeat evil, even though good doesn’t get what they rightfully deserve.

King Lear reminds me of the movie “The Gladiator� in which Maximus a loyal General to the late King of Rome, Marcus Aurelius, defends the King against his son’s betrayal and fights his way back to the top to defend the late King as a gladiator facing who else in the final battle, the son and murderer of Marcus Aurelius, Commodus. In this final act “evil�, Commodus, dies with a final blow to the chest from Maximus. Just there after Maximus succumbs to his own fatal ending due to a wound earlier. The feeling at this moment is similar to that of the final act in King Lear in which you feel happy that “good� has triumphed to defeat “evil�, but yet sad that the good characters didn’t live to see their own triumph.

The Antagonists did however express happiness just before their departure, which shows their final sign of justice. King Lear died thinking Cordelia came back to life. Gloucester died smilingly, torn between joy and grief, knowing that Edgar was alive and well, and even the evil heart of Edmund thinks of love in his last moments knowing that two women had died for him. Death comes to us all and in one way or another everyone gets what they rightfully deserve and above all else, good always prevails over that of evil.

January 29, 2007

Thy Homelessness and thy Decisions

The Homelessness in “King Lear� draws a strong connection to the poor/homeless in the Twin Cities. Like Lear, Kent, and Edgar, many people are forced onto the streets by an uncontrollable circumstance. The thing that is different with the poor/homeless in Minnesota as compared to the poor/homeless in “King Lear,� is that in the Twin Cities, the people stay homeless. They are completely lazy! These words I have heard from a stranger help exemplify the point: “They stand on the street corner all day begging for money. I stand all day working and I get paid for it.� Most of them are healthy individuals that can work for money if they have a strong enough desire to work. The problem is that they can get by moderately without doing any work by taking the easy way out: asking people for their hard earned money. They take the lazy route and do not work when they are perfectly fit and capable to do so, making them a drag on society, one of the things we can certainly do without. To me, these healthy people being homeless is ridiculous, which is why I will never support someone begging for money on the street. They have so many opportunities around the Twin Cities for jobs and such, if and only if they have a strong enough desire to work! “If there is a will, there is a way.� In “King Lear�, people like Kent are abandoned, but they work hard to make sure they have a good future and don’t remain homeless. Edgar works hard also. He acts homeless and goes through all the troubles of a homeless man just so he can work hard towards his main goal including status in society. I find their hard work very inspirational and think that the traits and character that they posses are necessary to be successful. The homeless and the poor of the Twin Cities are simply too lazy! As for the people not fit to do work due to mental/physical problems, the Twin Cities offer so many different opportunities due to recent expansion, that a disability is no excuse for not working. I want to confirm my beliefs about homelessness and also learn more about this forever growing group, which is why I signed up to volunteer at a homeless shelter for my service learning project.

Though there are many sad situations in King Lear, the one that I find to be the saddest is when the King and Gloucester realize they have falsely blamed their children only when it was “too late,� The happy part about it is that they all die knowing the truth. I think that many other issues in our time have been decided upon, but then are deeply regretted only after it is way too late. For example, many believe that Iraq shouldn’t have been invaded, but most of the Political leaders realized they made a mistake way after everything had been initiated and done. People instinctively make decisions, but they often only realize that their decisions are bad, too late, leaving them nothing they can do to correct their mistake. A wrong decision may even land one homeless. Sadly, these inevitable mistakes will happen no matter what. There is nothing we can do about them because they are a product of our instinct. Could they be avoided by taking more time to make decisions? I wonder if the previous question is true. I often believe it to be true, that with time and deep thought about a matter, the right decision will often come, but the wrong decision will inevitably be made sometimes.

January 24, 2007

homes

After King Lear’s two daughters (Regan and Goneril) got what they can inherit from their father they literally put him out on a limb. And even after getting all that they can get from their father they try and get more, for example his followers, they wanted to take all of the few man that King Lear had left with him.

I feel like now days parents and children’s have a better parent and children relationship. I can never imagine putting my parents out on the street. It is another cause if the parent needs to be in an elderly nursing home because you really can not do anything else to help them because they have gotten an elderly condition or something similar that needs the support of someone else.

I believe we have a better society now than we did in the past because we now have homes that shelter the homeless. We have homes that take care of the abused whether it is women or man. We have homes that take care of the elders. And we have homes that take care of the orphans. We have homes for almost every kind of people. Last week I volunteered at a place call FEED MY STARVING CHILDREN and it is amazing how much one person can make a difference. There, we watched videos on homes around the world that these organizations help mix together dry uncooked rice and other nutritional dried food together and mail them out to the different homes. I was amazed at how many different locations there were and all of it was done only by the support of volunteers and donations. I think that these homes exist because there is someone willing to do it. Now if King Lear was of this time he would have somewhere to go to. I think that being a service learning participant will help understand the similarities and the differences between living society of now and Shakespeare’s time.

January 23, 2007

Blog and Response Schedule

TuesdayThursday
JANUARY
1/161/18
BloggerMitch OgdenBloggerLaura Wavra
Response 1Mitch OgdenResponse 1Lee Khang
Response 2OPENResponse 2OPEN
1/231/25
BloggerMan YangBloggerLee Khang
Response 1Claire PaczkowskiResponse 1Mark Gallivan
Response 2OPENResponse 2Kelsey Daly
FEBRUARY
1/302/1
BloggerSteve JacobBloggerSteven Sauber
Response 1Justin VargheseResponse 1Lee Khang
Response 2Adam PetersonResponse 2Laura Wavra
2/62/8
BloggerChris NewkirkBloggerAdam Peterson | Katie Wentzel
Response 1Steven JacobResponse 1Laura Wavra
Response 2Claire PaczkowskiResponse 2Mark Bailey
Response 3Steven SauberResponse 3Steven Sauber
2/132/15
BloggerSarah RitterspachBloggerAlicia Reigel
Response 1Chris NewkirkResponse 1Sarah Ritterspach
Response 2Kirby MontgomeryResponse 2Mark Bailey
2/202/22
BloggerBryan DuffyBloggerMark Bailey
Response 1Man YangResponse 1Adam Peterson
Response 2Mark GallivanResponse 2Sarah Ritterspach
MARCH
2/273/1
BloggerClaire PaczkowskiBloggerJustin Varghese
Response 1Bryan DuffyResponse 1Alicia Reigel
Response 2Man YangResponse 2Steven Jacob
3/63/8
BloggerMark GallivanBloggerGabe Miller
Response 1Chris NewkirkResponse 1Justin Varghese
Response 2Bryan DuffyResponse 2Kirby Montgomery
Response 3Katie Wentzel
3/133/15
SPRING BREAKSPRING BREAK
3/203/22
BloggerMaja WheelerBloggerKirby Montgomery
Response 1Tiffany AndersonResponse 1Maja Wheeler
Response 2Dane JasterResponse 2Kelsey Daly
3/273/29
BloggerMeghan NelsonBloggerKristin Bil
Response 1Sean SongResponse 1Maggie Bennett
Response 2Maja WheelerResponse 2Christine Lee
APRIL
4/34/5
BloggerKelsey DalyBloggerTiffany Anderson
Response 1Gabe MillerResponse 1Alicia Reigel
Response 2Jeff PabarcusResponse 2Rebekah Lease
4/104/12
BloggerJeff PabarcusBloggerChristine Lee
Response 1Tiffany AndersonResponse 1Sean Song
Response 2Jonathan MarkResponse 2Meghan Nelson
4/174/19
BloggerJonathan MarkBloggerMaggie Bennett
Response 1Gabe MillerResponse 1Rebekah Lease
Response 2Jeff PabarcusResponse 2Kristin Bil
Response 3Derek Timm
4/244/26
BloggerSean SongBloggerRebekah Lease
Response 1Christine LeeResponse 1Jonathan Mark
Response 2Meghan NelsonResponse 2Dane Jaster
MAY
5/15/3
BloggerDane JasterBloggerDerek Timm
Response 1Kristin BilResponse 1Katie Wentzel
Response 2Maggie BennettResponse 2OPEN
Response 3Derek Timm

January 22, 2007

That Glib And Oily Art

The world runs on charm. The easiest way to get ahead is to be a smooth talker, a person who knows what to say. It doesn’t matter what you say, so much as how you say it. Look at the whole concept of customer service.

When you try to contact someone about a problem for a product or a service, what you reach—most if not all of the time—is the customer service department. That, as you can tell by the name, is a department for dealing with customers. They are not the department that builds things. They are not the department that programs things. They aren’t even the department that delivers things. Customer service doesn’t have the power to resolve much. If Customer Service Representatives were vital for the basic functions of a company, they would not have the time to answer phones. Most of the time, the things that customer service tells you, are things you could have figured out yourself. Who doesn’t feel a little silly when told, “You don’t have internet access because your modem is probably broken.â€?

Last year I worked as a “Customer Service Representative,� answering phones at Schwans Food Company. I was told that Schwans’ Customer Service Department had the highest customer satisfaction rating in the country for a few years now. And yet, transferring calls was the only thing that was in the power of the department to do. What customer service really did was soothe ruffled feathers. Being able to actually do something to resolve the situation was rare enough to be happy surprise. Although most of the time nothing immediate happens, if the person answering the phone is “glib� enough, the customer is happier. How the customer responds doesn’t correlate with what is being done to resolve the problem as much as it correlates to the manner and phrasing of the words of the customer service representative.

A lot of a person’s qualities aren’t visible, so people can get judged, and misjudged, on what shows. Mostly, it is the Gonerils and the Regans of the world that are highly regarded.

January 19, 2007

Ready For the Grind

The play seems to be alluding to the disconnect or the chasm that lies between an education in liberal arts and the real world. It is something that I am familiar with as I am getting closer to the end of my career as a student in this field. It is a source of mounting frustration and anxiety, especially during the holidays when well intentioned relatives ask me about my career plans. "Professional student", is often my response as I imagine myself climbing up onto the kitchen table to let everyone know that I don't know...right now exactly what is that I want to do, but I am working on it. I certainly don't want to be "slurped down" by an adulterous Wall Street Journal subscriber.

But, much like the students in the story I feel the pressures of time and the the cold dark shadows of the looming ivory towers around me.

I do not, however, feel that my education experience let me down. I've never imagined for a minute that studying the classics would get me into a high paying position or that I'd land some dream job working for Spin or National Geographic. I've always known that it would be a grind and I guess I'm ready for it.

Service learning projects are cool. I've definitely logged in the hours at schools, nursing homes, food shelves, shelters and drives. At first when the prof. announces that it is going to be a requirement, I have to admit that I usually consider dropping the class,just for nanosecond i think- great, another concentrated dose of reality to cure me from my idealism. But, all in all they have turned out to be some of the best parts of my undergraduate career—and they look great on a resume or curriculum vitae.

January 17, 2007

Education, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?

Sitting in a Shakespeare class turns my thoughts towards Jolly Old England.

A recent article in a British newspaper (“Being a Student Doesn’t Suit All�) laments the decline of the age-old English tradition of apprenticeship, asserting (as its title suggests) that being a student isn’t right for everyone. Many students, it argues, will benefit more from hands-on craft- or trade-based training, than from heady, academic learning. This in the face of a tremendous push by the government to increase university enrollment to 50% of young adults in the U.K. by 2010.

This push for higher education is certainly familiar back here in the good old U.S. of A. College enrollment in America has been steadily rising since the Second World War, encouraged first by the GI Bill and then by a host of federally sponsored grants, loans, and tax benefits. At present, 45% of 18 – 20 year-olds and 35% of 21 – 25 year-olds are in college. Lacking the well entrenched culture and practice of apprenticeship, vocational education emerged in America instead, locating the learning of practical skills within the realm of institutional higher education rather than nurturing a culture of such learning independent of a formal education system. Technical colleges are, after all, colleges.

What is happening as America becomes more and more educated? It is easy to be swept along by the tide of proeducational propaganda that asserts “more is better.� Education is, we believe, the key to unlocking the American Dream: go to school to get a firm grip on your bootstraps. Then pull up. But gone are the days when a college degree is a guarantee of an (upper) middle class lifestyle. So why do we continue to push college education? What does a diploma mean? Will the economy keep pace and provide opportunities that satisfy college graduates? Or will more and more graduates experience a life of being “underemployed�?

This line of questioning seems to forget, however, the value of education for its own sake. As I have taught undergraduate college students for the last six years, I have observed that the appreciation of education—for personal enrichment and satisfaction—is wanting. Students are paying more than ever for college and rather than deepening the intrinsic value of education, the growing expense transforms students into defensive consumers and translates academic majors into salaries. Conversations of learning, the pleasure of academic challenge, and a critique of knowledge and knowledge production are drowned out by concerns of paying the bills, amassing excessive debt, and the despair that a college education won’t pay off—literally.

But what about the English apprenticeships? We’re not going to change the culture of American education anytime soon. That is, college enrollments are going to continue to increase and no one is going to establish a viable apprenticeship program (Donald Trump and NBC’s overhyped version doesn’t count).

So why not fuse the two? In engineering programs, internships have functioned effectively (and often efficiently) as apprenticeships of a sort, giving a student practical work experience that frequently leads to employment. But engineering is, ultimately, a practical field of study. What about the social sciences, arts, and humanities—the fields that undeniably enrich our lives and our world, but majors that, in most cases, don’t pay off?

Well, why can’t the heady, academic stuff coexist with the gritty, hands-on stuff? If these academic fields can align themselves with practical, marketable work in the real world and give students opportunity to work in viable economic sectors, their graduates just might find their vocation. Finding a vocation means satisfaction, and satisfaction remedies underemployment and a life of career hopping. Education and satisfaction—what college grad wouldn’t want that?

January 16, 2007

Blogging Guidelines

As each of you take on the cultural role of a blogger, you need to be thoughtful about what that entails. Blogs have emerged as one of the most forceful and influential media outlets, and we are going to treat ours as a place for such intellectual work. It is not merely a bulletin board or a social space, though it may also become those things. First and foremost, it is a place to make insightful observations, thoughtful critiques, meaningful connections, and provocative arguments. When writing your blog post, you are specifically tasked with engaging very recent assigned readings and class conversations and formulating a thoughtful and stimulating statement. Make connections between these readings and conversations and your public project experiences, social issues, current events, media reporting, public policy, or cultural practices. In doing so, you are doing more than merely describing, summarizing, or giving information. You are creating arguments—large and small—along the way. You are asserting your ideas in convincing ways, attempting to persuade your reader.

At a glance, the guidelines are as follows:

  • engage recent readings and class conversations
  • make connections to contemporary social issues
  • assert arguments convincing and stimulating arguments
  • post approximately 300 to 600 words for a blog entry
  • post blog entry by 5:00 pm on the eve of your assigned class period (Monday and Wednesday)
  • post 100 to 200 words for a comment
  • post comments by 12:00 noon on the day of your assigned class period (Tuesday and Thursday)

Take a look at some of the examples of active blogs that are working hard to inform, instruct, and ignite, and incite. In most cases you’ll see there is no shortage of smart, convincing writing that is characteristic of this genre. Find a voice that suits you in blogs like these and then assert your own voice. Being an effective blogger is only a matter of will.

Little Green Footballs (a conservative blog)

The Moderate Voice (a moderate blog)

Think Progress (a liberal blog)

The Raw Story(a news media blog)

A myriad of examples is merely a google search away.

Blog on.