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February 28, 2009

Improved means to an unimproved end

Technopoly Chapter 1. I think I'm late with this post. Better late than never?

"...our inventions are but an improved means to an unimproved end."

That's the sentence that rings in my head. I find it so true, and immediately I think of communication.

Communication used to be intimate and valued and cherished. Speaking to someone was a rarity once when you had to travel for a week just to see them. Young boys and girls, back in the old old days when they wouldn't be allowed to be alone together, finally came together under marriage (whether arranged or not) and were so ecstatic to be together and communicating to each other because it was something so unexperienced in their lives. Letters were hand written and you never knew what the other person was doing so all you could do is wonder. It was because of our "lack" of communication that made it so precious.

Now, you can literally know exactly what your friend (or mild acquaintance) is doing at all times, contact them whenever you want, as long as you want, and see them at a days notice anywhere in the world. You know that movie where the kid wishes for it to be christmas every day of the year, and he gets his wish, and he ends up wanting christmas to go back to being annual because he's sick of it. I think that's what technology has done to communication. It's made it so easy and accessible that it's no longer special. My sister moved to Germany a year ago with the army, met a man there, married him, and is about to have a baby in 3 months. This all sounds so special, but I was really there for all of it. With facebook, cell phones, e-mail, I've literally seen all aspects of her life the entire year since she left. It's like she never left. If all I had gotten from her all year are a few handwritten letters, you can bet that her life would be far more mysterious and interesting to me.

This is truly an improved means to an unimproved end. Phones and Facebook were made to improve communication, enhance it, and from that, make the people who use those technologies closer to one another. This isn't what we get. Little girls and boys nowadays who sit and text and browse Facebook and chat rooms All Day LOnG with their friends have no real intimacy with them. They're talking to each other more and more, but real communication has not improved. Half of all marriages fail. Even super technical jobs (like CSCI) say the number one most important thing they want in a candidate is Communication Skills. Why? Shouldn't our world's communication skills be so so so much better than one hundred years ago considering how much communication technology has improved?

But it's not better. It's ten million times worse. The end is unimproved. Our communication skills suck now and we can blame the vastly improved communication technology.

Plebiscites

Plebiscite - noun - the direct vote of all the members of an electorate on an important public question such as a change in the constitution

In Technopoly by Postman, page 8, second half of the paragraph "Lexicographers hold no plebiscites on the matter."

My sentence:
"Has a plebiscite been considered for the change in our project charter?"

Filtering and Formulating the infomration Overload

1. To manage the information “glut”, I belong to a synagogue. In the past few years, I have come to rely on my rabbi and the people in my community to focus my life in a more spiritual direction. I have learned through this community to look toward the teachings in the Torah as a guide to help me deal with some of the major issues in my life. Suffering, the passing of loved ones, and self realization have been topics that I have worked to understand as a part of some greater plan. Through teachings in the Torah I have tried to break down my own world into something more manageable by taking the information I am given and asking what is really important within it. What is it that is at the heart of my misunderstanding or frustration? Religion has become my filter for what is important in an endless sea of information.
2. I often feel as though the Honors program at the University of Minnesota is a bureaucracy. It is my personal experience that there has been little effort put toward the human aspect of acquiring an advanced education and that the program has been reduced to standardized forms, standardized expectations, and formulated responses by advisors. Nowhere in this “machine” is there any sort of effort to look beyond the students they accept into their program as mere work-horses. Their idea of an “honors level education” is one in which the student is worked into the ground…and of course fills in the proper forms along the way.
3. The three ideas that the “ideological basis of medical technology” is based on: aggressiveness, obsession with the notion the technology is the key to progress, and a reoriented culture, can be seen in today’s advertising. Not only is advertising more aggressive than ever, it has made its way into every visual and audio technology! Every day we are bombarded by messages of clear skin and the newest weight loss cure. These messages are seen on the television in our living rooms, the magazines in our bathrooms, on the billboards as we drive to work, and on the web pages we surf at our desk. Aside from the constant bombardment we receive each day, the greatest change as a result of aggressive advertising can be seen in our younger generations. We are creating a generation obsessed with the latest and greatest (that of which may only last for a few days) and are taking on greater debt to do so. Today’s pop culture is in desperate need of a revamping. Gone should be the constant pressure put on women to change their bodies. Gone should be the stress on males to be the most materialistic and womanizing. People are slowly losing their sensitivity to the constant brainwashing of today’s advertising.

February 26, 2009

Everything's Amazing, Nobody's Happy

YouTube - Everything's amazing, nobody's happy

Check it out. Is this guy bitter? Or jolly? What would Postman say? What do you say?

February 25, 2009

Friend and Enemy

I really liked the points that Postman makes about technology in the reading because it really made me think about the technologies in my daily life. For example” a new technology does not add or subtract something, it changes everything“. I liked his overall argument that technology has both pros and cons and that we should accept new technologies into our lives with caution. I could really relate it to my own feelings about all of the technologies I use on a daily basis. Obviously they were all made to make life easier and that is why I use them, however with every single one of them comes downfalls. My car for example makes me feel a lot of things and seldom is it joy. It needs maintenance all the time, I have been in a bad car accident, and I have to sit in traffic everyday. Yet at the same time it is something I would never want to live without. I think it was very appropriate in Postman’s introductions to present technology as both friend and enemy.

Are we heading in the right direction?

Postman describes a "Technopoly" as a society and culture in which "the primary, if not the only, goal of human labor and thought is efficiency, that technical calculation is in all respects superior to human judgment ... and that the affairs of citizens are best guided and conducted by experts."

Yes and no. I will agree that, to an extent, our America has become a technopoly. The goal of our labor efforts has always been efficiency: how can we get the most work done in a short period of time. At least in the private sector, not so much in the government sector of the economy. That is the beauty of capitalism (if you want to call our economic system that) and the downfall of communism. My beef with communism is that I believe it breeds mediocrity. When everyone is the same, and gets paid the same at their job, no matter what they do or how well they do it, there is no drive to succeed or innovate. Unless there is a government mandate prompting people to develop weapons, for example the arms race of the Cold War, nothing ever gets done and nothing ever changes.

I feel that is the beauty of capitalism, the idea that by working hard and innovating, a single person can succeed and live the life they dream. I don't see that happening in a communist society. Humans in this day and age desire to be better and have more things than their neighbors. That is why sports exist, and I feel that to suppress that desire is the downfall of communism.

"...technical calculation is in all respects superior to human judgment" I don't understand why technical calculation cannot be used to supplement human judgment. Often times our judgments are wrong. What if, for example, the scientists with NASA decided to take a guess at how to get into space. Answer: many astronauts would have died. I do think I'm taking his argument to an extreme, but I feel that our society values technical calculation because it gives us definitive answers to our technical questions. We don't necessarily throw out all human judgment, as he suggests, but I think we use a combination of the two.

"...and that the affairs of citizens are best guided and conducted by experts." If this is true in our society, it is not a society in which I want to live. With the election of Barack Obama, I fear that we are headed into an era with greater government control, more bureacracy and less individualism. Case in point: nationalized healthcare. With a system such as the socialist medical systems of Europe, the government funds all the healthcare. That's great you may say. However, they also control what doctor you see, when you see them, and how long you will wait. The worlds greatest doctors are all found in America, where they have private practices and are paid what they deserve. When the government pays doctors, they are paid significantly less than in private practice, and are paid on a pay scale, much like teachers in America. Many teachers at the top of the pay scale begin to slack off because hey, there is no way they can fire them and they get paid the same no matter how they teach. That is bad enough in our educational system, but do we really want it to happen to our healthcare system too? As I said before, communism, as well as socialism, breeds mediocrity.

Let me leave you with a quote from state Senator Larry Pogemiller that exemplifies the quote above, "I think it's simplistic and naive to say people can spend their money better than the government." Listen to it on YouTube here:

February 24, 2009

Postman

So far I have enjoyed reading Postman’s opinions on technology. He brings up many interesting points that force me to think about my view on the matter. Is technology taking over our lives? America seems consumed with being and staying at the top for everything. If we make one mistake causing us to fall behind, another country will jump at the opportunity to take over our spot. The pressure is on for us to be nothing but the best, which is hard. Technology drives the competition between America and other countries. Having more advance technology is a sign of power and wealth. Will improving technology have an end or will it eventually drive us crazy?

I wonder if Postman has a cell phone?

I don't know about the rest of this class, but I am glad that I don't have to impale myself with a kitana after usng it dishonorably. As I read through Technopoly, I think that I am kind of starting to grasp what Postman is saying, but not completely. I just don't see the line that Postman draws between "tools" and everything else. In one instance, he speaks of cultures that use tools for two reasons and two reasons only; for immediate physical solutions, and basically spiritual puposes. He claims that these "tools" were directed by their beliefs and weren't meant to attack or damage their beliefs. He says that tools are "integrated" and not "intruders."

I was really getting into this and was thinking right on Postman, I hear ya. But then I thought that by him saying that, he might leave a hole in his argument. What about the very first tools introduced to homo sapiens, or other "homo" type beings suc as homo-erectus and homo-neanderthalensis? Wasn't the first use of fire as much of an outsider as its later form of matches? The very first introduction of tools to any culture were no doubt essential to their survival, and maybe the internet will be the same for us. Maybe it will help stop some catastrophic event that otherwise would have wiped out our race.

But anyways, I find that Postman writes interestingly enough and I honestly constantly find myself trying to argue with him in some part probably because I am reliant on many forms of technology which he shows ruins my capacity to achieve something else. I'm not sure what he is REALLY trying to say. He obviously is reliant upon technology to write and massively distribute his book. I bet he is always on his brand new cell phone.

Technocracyopoly

I don’t think that the divisions between tool culture and technocracy, technocracy and technopoly, are as distinct as Postman makes them seem. As the boundary between tools and technocracy, Postman selects Francis Bacon’s new ways of thinking about progress. The ICC’s study of railroad charges represents, to Postman, the dawn of technopoly in America. I don’t think that a shift from tool culture to technocracy, or a technocracy to a technopoly, occurs overnight, or even in one person’s lifetime.

I’m also having trouble believing, as Postman does, that the United States is a technopoly. Americans believe in the power of the individual. Something that Postman mentions, but not nearly strongly enough, is that technology is embraced because change can be more egalitarian.

Spectacular Triumphs of Technology

Technology has been around since the beginning of time. From the ancient pyramids to building huts for Native American tribes to live, it all has been developed by someone. Centuries ago technology has been advancing beyond the general needs of people to survive (shelter, food, etc). Telescopes have been invented to look at what is beyond human capabilities to see in the sky. Matches have been developed to create fire much more easily than what once was. Mechanical clocks were created to keep a more accurate sense of time. There are grain mills for farmers to grind their grain in one common area. Computers have been developed to do calculations and, more recently, the dawn of the internet. All of these inventions, and many more I did not mention, have caused some kind of controversy in different cultures. Are we to blame the technology, or the people using it? Can we really blame the mills for attracting prostitutes or should we blame the farmers who decided to utilize the prostitutes? They gathered there for a reason - because the farmers gave them business. As technology advances, many old beliefs are being questioned. Many people, including Darwin, Marx and Einstein, all challenged religious beliefs. It made people question their beliefs because of what the new technology was able to uncover - antibiotics, airplanes, etc. The only thing certain was that technology would be the thing to stand strong. Postman points out many good areas of technology that need to be evaluated.

Matches that cause adultery?

So far I have found Postman’s book very interesting. There are many things I am learning from the book that I have never learned before. For instance, I never knew that we have had eyeglasses since 1280. There is tons of little fact like that scattered through out the book. I also found it interesting how one small technology, like a match, could change the traditions in a culture. I don’t feel that it was the matches fault for causing the tribe to participate in adultery. Instead I feel that it was the fault of the people in the African tribe because their values were not strong enough to withhold from adultery when they were presented with the opportunity. I think that people should be held responsible for their actions and not the technology that gave them the ability to cheat. Now days you don’t blame the internet because it provided your husband or wife with material that allowed them to satisfy themselves, instead you blame the person for not being committed enough to their significant other. I feel that Postman raises some good questions when it comes to the introduction of certain technologies into a culture, but sometimes he is too critical of the technology.

A Little Troble With Warrants

I enjoyed reading TCR's section on warrants. I know that most people were able to grasp the information given but, I had to reread it. It seemed very logical and make sense but, I was having a hard time thinking of something and making my own warrants. Though this section on warrants would help me greatly in my writing, I think I might have a hard time identifying my warrents or making them from something I have read. In our discussion, it became a little clearer and after rereading the chapter and I know is very useful. I know it is a way to suppport my claim. I just think that it takes me a little longer than most to state the warrant. I thought about in our lecture how we came with the warrant "burning buildings smoke," from "Wow, there's a lot of smoke coming from that building, it must be on fire." I get that we have to find what links the reason and claim. I just can't come up with a warrant right away. Though it seems easy, I am having a bit of troble. It think because it is very easy, I am missing it. I am confident that this section will help me write future paper and I think with practice I will get better at identifying warrants.

Technopoly speaks the truth

THey Guys sorry, I ran into some tech troubles. I apparently have another blog underneath my name and accidently posted this to the other blog! opps..anyhow, I logged back in and ran into some technical difficulties because my first blog did not post for some reason so I am posting it again. Sorry if this seems a bit repetitive. It may just be the case that I posted it twice and can't find it on here! So if you happen to find my other blog congrats! This may actually be the case where I would be a case of what postman would call "A loser" and not a "winner" when it comes to tecnology. haha!

his wasn’t the first eye-opening sentence I read in the chapter but seemed to be the most important and valuable as well as eye opening argumentative evidence for me in Neil Postman’s Technology when he states:

Children come to school having been deeply conditioned by the biases of television. There they encounter the world of printed word. A sort of psychic battle takes place, and there are many casualties-children who can’t learn to read or won’t, children who cannot organize their thought into logical structure even in a simple paragraph, children who cannot attend to oral lectures or explanations for more than a few minutes at a time. They are failures, but not because they are stupid. They are failures because there is a media war going on, and they are on the wrong side-at least for the moment.
(Postman 16-17)
The key phrase to this concept of bias created by television that stood out to me the most was when postman mentioned that there are children who cannot organize their thoughts into a logical structure even in a single paragraph. This seemed true to me because many students today, including myself, struggle to organize thought into a logical manner which is vital upon making effective arguments. It’s also truthful because I have trouble not only organizing me thoughts into a logical manner inorder to explain things to someone else, and people say that when you read more often, you learn to organize your thoughts clearer. So this makes perfect sense. It reminds me of a stament my mother would often yeall to me which was "turn that TV off and go and read!" I guess this is what I get for not listening to her!

Technology speaks the Truth 2- The invention of Facebook Networking

The computer is a tool used to increase communication but does it really enhance our communication skills? People supposedly get facebook to enhance and build upon their networking skills but in reality people many have to many many to maintain a network but how does this help us devlop our social skills? Does facebook increase or infact decrease our ability to socialize with others?

February 23, 2009

Winning or Losing?

The paragraph I found to be most interesting in Chapter 1 was the example Postman gives on page 19, “Will the widespread use of computers in the classroom defeat once and for all the claims of communal speech?.” How is this technology changing the way we learn things? The way we interact with people is much different. I can’t imagine what life was like before the age of email to interact with people, or internet to do research for classes, etc. I think people need to take a step back and determine what is being altered in terms of how we learn and if it’s really for the betterment of society. Sure it has its benefits, but it also has its downfalls.

I think Facebook certainly has changed the world. Millions of people have an account on this website and thousands of people sign up each week. They use it to catch up with old friends, and keep themselves up to date on everything. So many people look on facebook to check for updates from their friends about their personal lives and who they’re dating, what activity they’re involved with, instead of picking up the phone and having an actual conversation with them. This technology certainly has its good points by making it much easier to keep up with old friends, and new friends as well, but how much is it affecting our ability to communicate face-to-face with people? As technology advances, it will become even more interesting to see how far Facebook can advance and what new things it will be able to do.

Who knew those caterpillars made such a difference?

Hah, good thing I checked this email again; I forgot that this was supposed to be posted

My response to Question 1:
The passage that most caught my eye was the following:
“In point of fact, the first instance of grading students’ papers occurred at Cambridge University in 1792 at the suggestion of a tutor named William Farish. No one knows much about William Farish; not more than a handful have ever heard of him. And yet his idea that a quantitative value should be assigned to human thought was a major step towards constructing a mathematical concept of reality.”
This hit a note, seeing as how I am a student, and therefore awash in “grades”. Quantitizing the value of a piece of writing with a lettered or numbered grade is normal to me, despite the inanity of that concept. This is something that has always bothered me in the back of my mind, but never before has it been made so clear to me. The important point is not about the grades per se, but about how our perception of reality may differ radically from people in past times. I am not sure if this is a “technological” concept, but it illustrates the point that a certain practice in society can alter your perception about how things are valued.

My response to Question 2:
I will use the example of genetic engineering. Postman’s questions do not involve the practical effects, but rather the impact on society as a whole. Given the potential that genetic engineering provides us with fundamental control over the workings of life, how does that change our relationship with nature? Does the line between natural and man-made begin to blur or disappear? If we get to the point of manufacturing life, what sort of effect does that have on our concept of nature? Of God or some other higher power? If we begin manipulating ourselves at our most basic level (our DNA, our body), what ends do we mean to achieve, where do those improvements take us?

My response to Question 3:
I’m naturally faint of heart. The title of this post has something to do with it.

My Battery Lasts for Nine Months

One of the most eye-opening statements within Postman's book, Technopoly, was when he started to talk about the expressions of the old adage. He stated, "To a man with a pencil, everything looks like a list. To a man with a camera, everything looks like an image. To a man with a computer, everything looks like data. And to a man with a grade sheet, everything looks like a number." This stood out for me because ever since I started attending college, I see everything in a new perspective. For example, whenever I see objects in motion, whether it's a dirt bike jumping or someone throwing a ball, I always think of the physics involved with these actions. Whenever I see water boiling/freezing or a balloon shrinking/expanding, I always think of the chemistry behind each of these instances. This was the topic that was the most interesting to me.

Another technological advancement, that is sure to become a reality, will involve the use of electronics that rarely require the use of a cord. For example, batteries (such as the rechargeable ones in our laptops) will last for months or even years without being charged. Even lamps, televisions, stereos, and many other appliances will eventually become cordless. This will rid the problem of trying to find an outlet to operate our valuables. Using a microwave in the family van would be very beneficial to our busy lives. However, becoming dependent on these items may cause further havoc if an appliance fails and we aren’t prepared for it. What would happen if our cell phone or light dies while out on a voyage through the mountains? What would happen if you depended on a heat source that dies overnight and you wake up freezing cold?

Technology changes everything

While reading Postman's "Technopoly," the part that stood out most to me was on page 18. He states, "A new technology does not add or subtract something. It changes everything." This made me think about what major changes affected my life. Two major forms of technology that changed my life are running water and electricity in my home. I was raised to conserve and use water sparingly. We had to work hard to get water and preserve food in our homes. Sure, those luxuries saved time and work. But, it caused people to become wasteful and take it all for granted. It changed everything. I even became wasteful. When my faucet gets leaky, I don't fix it right away. Mostly because I don't know how. But, every drop makes me think of how wasteful I have become. I told my son how I lived without TV, electricity, Batman, the Wii, toilet, shower, refrigerator, and computer. He was so amazed at how I was able to survive. His reaction was, "Poor Mommy didn't have cars and jackets." That made me laugh. Then, I thought about how some children don't appreciate the fancy new gadgets they have. They get bored and want to do something else. Technology does change things. I like to look at the positive effects but, Postman has made me consider the negative.

One type of technology that is on the rise is picture taking. Cameras have evolved. You can take pictures with your phone, computer and save hundreds of them. Kids even have them. I think this has made it so people aren't taking the time to enjoy the place they are taking a picture of. 4D and 3D pictures are available to view a baby who hasn't been born. This was so parents could see how their baby would look before they were born. While I thought this was cool, Postman made me consider the negative effects. I think it takes the fun out of imagining your babies looks and besides your baby's features will change as they grow. I think this may push people to want to change babies looks. In the picture, the baby might have the dad's big nose and they might want to change it. This might stir up pre-birth surgeries. I am speculating that viewing a pre-birth picture regularing might raise questions of how we can change the looks of the baby. While it is cool to view such a picture, what would be the future effects? I hope that people wouldn't consider this type of technology.

..."But I still love technology, always and forever."

1. "Technological change is neither additive nor subtractive. It is ecological." This stood out to me as the most important idea in the chapter because it has proven itself to be so true in our society. Can we remember what our life was like before cell phones? Actually keeping the plans we make with people and not having the option to cop out at the last minute. This dents our value of integrity by not following through on what we say that we are going to do. I might sound drama but we cannot deny thtat cell phones have totally changed our society, in general, for the worse. We have become less confrontational with the use of texting. We avoid conversations in public places because we are taking a personal call on our cell phone.

2. After Postman's quote,"What we need to consider about the computer has nothing to do with its efficiency as a teaching tool", he goes on to say, "...it undermines the old idea of school." This get's me thinking, will we actually need school in the future? Have you or a friend ever used the pharse, "Oh, let me Google that." Google is now a verb! This also ties to the part when Postman (Page 8) gets into how new words have been added and changed with advancements in technology. With increasing ease of accessing the internet with not just laptops, but also with cell phones and the iPod touch we can Google any subject and have access to a huge amount of information in less than 5 seconds. I've thought about this and think it could really happen. Will we need a schooling system in the distance future if all the information we could ever hope and dream to have is right at our figure tips?

BlackBerrys are taking over.

These days, cell phones are not simply a mechanism for talking with someone. Cell phones, which are already being renamed to BlackBerry, Palm, or iPhone, are a little bit of everything rolled into one. Usually, a camera, GPS, internet, email notifications, alarms, etc... are included in a phone. They have not only changed the way we communicate, but have taken over people’s lives. Most people can’t leave their house without their phone or phones. It’s our connection with other people. Cell phones have paved the way for less person to person contact. People don’t have to go home anymore to check their email or calendars because it’s all in the palm of their hand. What will cell phones lead to next? Maybe in the future your phone will have a button to turn on the oven or lock your doors. It’s scary to think about.

The aspect of Postman’s writing that stood out in my mind was, “A new technology does not add or subtract something. It changes everything” ( pg.18). Changing one minute thing will have a domino effect. We can’t ignore the fact that technology does more than benefit our lives, it creates dampers. Take for instance food additives. New methods of preventing food spoilage have increased the shelf life of lots of foods. However, it has also decreased the nutritional value. Can this be an explanation for the obesity epidemic or has methods of transportation caused it? Nobody really knows, but I firmly believe that it has something to do with technology and how it’s shaping our society.

Technology Creating What is "Real"

The paragraph I found most interesting was when Postman was explaining how technology is creating new conceptions of what is real. He uses the example of grading student’s papers, “And yet his idea that a quantitative value should be assigned to human thought was a major step toward constructing a mathematical concept of reality”. I found this so fascinating because I had never thought of getting a grade as having my thoughts being given a number. When explained this way, it makes the concept of grading seem so bizarre. This made me realize how the smallest thing that I would never have even considered a technology has impacted my life so much. Getting a qualitative value for my thoughts has made it so I could graduate high school, take the ACT, and attend college.
The automobile has changed the way we understand basic ideas in society. For example, motorized-patrol officers can not always deal with certain situations as effectively as foot-patrol officers. A police officer acts differently when inside his patrol car than when encountering someone on foot. They often use the car as a barrier to separate themselves from the people on the street. Confronting suspicious people by rolling down the window and questioning them. As a result learning nothing about what is actually going on, and being disregarded by the person on the street in the future as not being a threat. How will this person’s perception of law enforcement influence their actions in the future?

Postman Reading

1. “But new things also modify old words, words that have deep-rooted meanings.”

I have never realized that a meaning of a word can change over time with different technology. Before a definition of a word seemed like a concrete, never changing entity. Now as Postman pointed out definitions are fluid they change with the world around them which to me is rather unsettling.

2. The Global Positioning System is rapidly becoming a part of everyday life, though few realize it. The GPS unit in your car or cell phone has the power to track every movement you make. It can tell if you pass by certain stores and that can be linked to a marketing program which in turn can send coupons to you for the stores that you drive by the most. With this power personal privacy no longer exists, this is a invasion of a fundamental human right, but will anybody do anything about it to stop it?

Technology: Friend or Foe?

I really liked this read as far as the introduction and chapter one go. As I was reading the back cover, I thought "Oh great another one of those people that constantly criticize my generation and say how life was better back then." It turns out that Postman is not saying that at all. I personally think that Postman's claim is that technology is both a burdern AND a blessing, and we have to fully undrstand the consequences of accepting or denying technology, to see if it is worth the advancement.

This is why the specific quote that I chose to look at more in depth is on pages 4-5 and says "Every technology is both a burden and a blessing; not either-or, but this-and-that. This stood out to me because it is very bold and I have never thought of technology this way before. It is bold because he doesn't say "Most technologies have a burden AND a blessing." He says they all do. And after thinking about what he says and hearing his examples, he is quite right. One other thing that I wanted to specifically allude to was the opening of chapter one with the bit about Thamus. He could have started the chapter in a multitude of ways, but this one simplified his argument and appealed to me very much.


On page 19, he alludes to computers possibly altering our concept of learning. I agree in that sense, and one thing I want to relate to that is the use of graphing calculators. In high school math and physics, we HAD to use graphing calculators. Any kind of math problem that we had, we had to show it on the graphing calculator, and even our books were designed to accompany them. It got to the point where instead of actually learning the math, we would just do all of the work on our calculators and that was that. Then I got to college, and we aren't even allowed to use them. I found that at first, I was very behind other freshman that had learned their math on a more practical, more difficult, but in depth level. We had different concepts of math, and theirs was better suited for college.

Overall, I think Postman does a good job of using examples to demonstrate his points effectively and even from just the first chapter, I will think about technology a bit more cautiously.

but Technology tastes so good

The most intriguing thought that really struck me as interesting, and in many ways daunting was, "...And this is what Thamus wishes to teach us-that technology imperiously commandeers our most important terminology. It redefines 'freedom,' 'truth,' 'intelligence,' 'fact,' 'wisdom,' 'memory,' 'history'-all the words we live by..."(8-9). According to Thamus, then, technology dictates how people view the most important aspects of their lives, and sets guidelines on what standards humans should live by. I had always believed that technology helped to fortify our already existing concepts of the words listed by Thamus, but it seems that technology doesn't play second fiddle to anyone and demands that it sets its own definitions.
Cars have influenced American culture in significant ways. What it means to travel has changed immensely, you enter into a steel framed space in one place, and exit in a new place without changing the environment that you are sitting in. Not only have people found an easy and convenient way to travel, but the introduction of the car into American culture has also set a standard for a specific age, turning sixteen. In addition, not only has the car set a standard for specific age, but also for entertainment. Basically, people love cars so much that they'd be willing to watch them race each other, going around in circles or even race them illegally on the streets. Have people been using the time that has been freed by fast travel, beneficially or productively? How has American's love of cars redefined what technology means to people, for example naming cars, washing, tune-ups, modifications, paint-jobs, bumper stickers, and the amount of time spent driving. How has cars changed how people view the outside world when they travel?

Barzun and Postman

The passage that struck me the most as interesting was where postman said: “He [Thamus] knows that the uses made of any technology are largely determined by the structure of the technology itself – that is, that its functions follow from its form.” This statement reminds me of our earlier reading “Can we Define ‘Technology’” by Barzun. Both authors make the statement that the technology comes first and all the various uses come after. It is the relationship that makes it difficult for us to see the shortcomings of a technology when it is developed. Since all of its uses have not been determined yet, we cannot evaluate how it will affect our lives.
A technology that I think obviously has its negative effects is fast food. At first it was just meant to be quick food that you could get on your lunch break or if you didn’t have time to make dinner. It was a convenience, and was not supposed to be a complete replacement for home cooked meals. Fast forward to the present day and we live in a society that has its highest obesity rates ever. People have replaced healthy eating with convenient eating.

Technophiles

While reading the first chapter, the part that really stood out to me was when he wrote "Theuths, one-eyed prophets who see only what new technologies can do and are incapable of imagining what they will undo. We might call such people Technophiles." (Pg. 5) The reason this stood out for me is because after reading it I realized that my husband is a Technophile. I have always known this about him, but I was never really able to put a word on it until now. I myself am a bit of a Technophile too, but there are times when I can understand why some people see certain technologies as a bad thing. I don't see being a Technophile as a dangerous thing in the way that Postman does, but I see it more as something that we as a society have to be aware of because there are people who don't see technology in the same light.
One technology that I see as changing the world is spelling and grammar check in programs like Microsoft word. This may be a bit of a weird technology to choose, but if you think about it, it is a technology that is always being used. It is great for writing documents so you can type quickly and trust that what you are not spelling correctly will be caught by the word check. Even now as I type I am being corrected, so that when I post this blog everything will hopefully be correct so the people reading this don't have to try and guess what I am trying to say. The bad side to spelling and grammar check is that people no longer have to be able to spell things correctly, they just have to get close enough so that the word check can understand what they are trying to say. In the past children had to learn the difference between their, there, and they're, but now they just rely on the word check and expect that if they use the wrong version they will get corrected. Will this effect the next generation of children's grammar and spelling capabilities? What will happen to english classes in the future?

Everything is Data

One of the most valuable points in Chapter 1 of Technopoly is the assertion that technology shapes the way we view the world. “To a man with a computer, everything looks like data,” Postman claims. This statement relates to Jasanoff’s article about the “Technologies of Humility,” asserting that we need to recognize the fundamental limitations of our technologies. In both science and humanities, people try to discover more by categorizing, assigning labels and numbers to things that aren’t necessarily concrete.
MP3 players and iPods are technologies that are changing the world. When you’re traveling somewhere or in a public space, you can make the surroundings more comfortable and more personal just by plugging in your headphones. You can listen to the same songs in any environment. But it’s easy to lose a sense of connection with the real world. In the past, music has brought people together, but the ability to play any song, anywhere, for your ears alone, could pull people apart. How will this technology change our social dynamics? What are the negative consequences of everyone being in his or her “own world”?

The Lamentation of Postman

As I read the first three chapters of Technopoly, I tried to discover his warrant. I believe the claim Postman is trying to put forward is that technology has had a profound effect on our culture and has lead to dependence and a deterioration of culture and traditional thought. I believe the warrant of his argument would then be that this change in culture and tradition is a negative aspect of technology. In the first three chapters, I do not feel as though he has addressed the opposition of this warrant (at least not very well): that a change in culture and tradition is a good thing! Postman seems to lament the turning of the times. One example of Postman’s point of view on technology’s affect on culture is the continued debate over religion and its new place in society. No longer is religion in the driver’s seat, but technology and scientific reasoning have taken control. People are losing faith and turning toward the absoluteness of technology and science. What I am wondering is, what is so wrong with the evolution of ideas and thought? We no longer segregate blacks and whites, stone adulterers (at least not in this country), etc…so why is the idea of losing traditional logic such a big deal? Is it not our nature to continue to ask questions and seek the answers we think most logical and accurate? And is technology not a part of that process?

Leanring is Changing

Going through the first chapter of Postman's "Technopoly", the phrase that I found most striking throughout this chapter came from page 17 where Postman is talking about the two types of students. He gos on to state, "In time, the type of student who is currently a failure may be considered a success. The type who is now successful may be regarded as a handicapped learner-slow to respond, far too detached, lacking in emotion, inadequate in creating mental pictures of reality." Right now technology, specifically television, plays an important role in the cognitive development of children, and when they get to school this thinking that they have received from television clashes with the education they receive using the written word, causing them to struggle greatly. But, like Postman states, "they have become failures because of the media war going on right now...and there is no reason to suppose that such a form of knowledge must always remain so highly valued." At the end he is referring to the possibility that learning may be in the process of changing more from written word to reality.

One new technology that came to my mind right away is "Facebook." As many of us know, like all technologies Facebook can have its benefits and it definitely has its downfalls. On the good side it allows people to keep in contact with each other, such as old classmates or distanced friends or relatives, and it can be used for file sharing for things such as photos. However, I do feel that, like text messaging, Facebook helps people avoid personal communication and a willingness to not converse with their peers. Now this isn't bad if you are just sending a friend a quick message, but for example, I know of a story where someone ended a relationship by changing their relationship status to "single" without personally talking to the person they were breaking up with. Now, I don't know about you, but how can people expect truthfulness from interpersonal communication when there are instances like this happening? Is a genuine one on one conversation ever going to be the same again?

King Thamus and his Texting Populace

For me, one of the most important and valuable parts of the first chapter comes from the story of King Thamus and his inventor Theuth. King Thamus says to Theuth about his invention of writing, “Those who acquire it will rely on writing to bring things to their remembrance by external signs instead of by their own internal resources. What you have discovered is a receipt for recollection, not for memory” (pg. 4). To me, this has been one of the fundamental issues I have had with my college education. I feel as though, for the most part, our time spent in class is less focused on our ability to think and reason, and instead to memorize and mimic the logic of others. I have never thought of writing as a technology, but in this context it is revealed as one of our greatest and certainly our most influential.
Text messaging has become a phenomenon that has reached the point where it is removing our willingness to speak directly with those we are communicating. This is something beyond a simple e-mail; this has created an entire generation who faces their social problems though expressionless technology. Using a smiley emoticon is now becoming a replacement for the sound of laughter. I have seen teenagers texting the people sitting next to them! How do we expect a generation of “texters” to act as they grow into adult hood and are then forced to communicate in the business world? How will texting continue to affect our relationships and social interactions?

February 18, 2009

Oh this makes me curious you see

I really like this book a lot. So far everything I've read has been something I can actually use in my writing. While it all seems like common sense, TCR presents it in a way that makes it seem solidified in your head instead of just personal ideas that you think may or may not work. This is especially true of what I just read 5 minutes on Warrants. The idea that while a reason for a claim may be factually true it doesn't necessarily mean that that reason is beneficial to that claim is something that has killed my writing in the passed. I can be the king of fluff at times and I've often made a great effort to provide a great breadth of facts to support my claim without answering that big question "So how does this even apply to what you're talking about?" I'll have to be a more concrete writer now.

This is a book I won't sell back at the end of the semester (honest!). Every example was fluid and made perfect sense. I never felt lost and I love the way everything flowed into their next presentation. Good chapter.

February 17, 2009

Look Before You Leap

Reading more of TCR makes me wonder why in high school I never was taught more about these types of necessary writing skills in order to have a good paper. As a senior in college I feel as if I should have been using these skills a long time ago rather than now. This is a great book that I know I'll be referring to in the future if my career path ever leads me into writing of any kind. Before this book, I had never heard of using warrants in a paper, let alone anything else important it seems. Granted, I know now people use warrants in everyday conversations, but I never knew there was a definition for it. The examples of everyday warrants like, "Look before you leap," helps me understand a little more clearly what point they are trying to get across to their readers.

How to use warrants and determining whether or not they are necessary when making a claim is still hazy to me, but I feel as if once I start writing papers it will slowly become clearer as time passes. It makes me feel better knowing that the authors state they too have trouble understanding warrants sometimes even though they are experienced writers.

Using Warrants

I enjoyed reading this section on warrants. Most of the time, I try to show how my evidence supports my claims. Still, this section is a valuable reminder that an acceptable warrant for one person might be unacceptable for another. The chapter’s many recommendations, including how to create and validate warrants, contain a lot of useful information.
I’m not always comfortable with material that tells me how to write. Sometimes I think that reading about writing will make my arguments too restricted or formulaic. I like the TCR approach, though. It’s intuitive and interesting. As I read the various cases and examples, I can recognize how I use warrants in my writing. I also see ways to improve. As the text said, using warrants well is a matter of ethos. I’d like to make sure that my claims are supported in ways that will satisfy my audience.

Just Jump Out Of The Plane And I Will Meet You On The Ground

I was introduced to warrants last semester in my WRIT1301 course, and I have been able to write very effective essays ever since. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I attended college that I found out about them. In high school, I always wrote papers about motocross or my pets, and my feedback from the teacher was usually, “Great Job!” or “Excellent!” It just felt odd that none of them actually spent the time to critique my work and what I could do to improve my skills. By learning about warrants, I have come to realize that I always assumed the reader knew what I was talking about. For example, I wrote a narrative essay about one of my motocross races and described what I did and how, but I never stated why something happened and for what purpose. Now, I spend extra time looking at my paper and trying to find ways to explain every detail, like how a skydiver would tell you every procedure before jumping out of the plane. By taking this course, I can further enrich my skills to create a very clear, effective, and informational research paper.

Warrants... What do they mean?

Wanting A Real Reason And Not Too Simple. Take the first letter from each of these words and you spell the word warrants. Warrants give a 'real reason' to believe a particular claim and they are 'not too simple' to come up with.
I appreciated the way Booth, Colomb, and Williams present and explain warrants. The examples they use are effective when comparing a poor warrant to a good one. This was a lot of new information for me and would like to know more about how to construct them in my own papers. I feel that this is a chapter I will refer to often.
After reading through this chapter, I'm motivated to be a more active reader and question warrants presented in an article verses a passive reader that takes the arguments as valid even if the warrants have loop holes.

February 16, 2009

A thought on Warrants

I found the section on Warrants in TCR to be really helpful. I was not sure the purpose of a warrant initially, but I now realize that they are probably the most important part of an argument. How can you make an argument if your reasons are not relevant?! Anticipating your reader's objections is key to creating a sound theory that is threaded throughout your essay. What do others think are the best ways to anticipate readers' objections?

Despotic

Citation: Men, Women, sex and Darwin by Natalie Angier in the 1999 New York Times.
In-text page one: But evolutionary psychology as it has been disseminated across mainstream consciousness is a cranky and despotic Cyclops, its single eye glaring through the overwhelmingly masculinity lens.
Despotic- any person who exercises tyrannical authority; a tyrant, an oppressor (Oxford Online Dictionary).
Fidel Castro is a despotic ruler of his people.

Despotic

Citation: Men, Women, sex and Darwin by Natalie Angier in the 1999 New York Times.
In-text page one: But evolutionary psychology as it has been disseminated across mainstream consciousness is a cranky and despotic Cyclops, its single eye glaring through the overwhelmingly masculinity lens.
Despotic- any person who exercises tyrannical authority; a tyrant, an oppressor (Oxford Online Dictionary).
Fidel Castro is a despotic ruler of his people.

February 11, 2009

Changes in research and science

I have had first hand experience of medical research and treatments that has said to help prolong my life. I have been through a lot of testing, painful accounts, and therapy. Almost a decade later, I find out that I didn't have to go through most of the suffering and long term treatments that I did. It came to my knowledge I could have skipped a lot and just went thrugh one very painful procedure and be done with my treatments. It's hard to explain with all the details but this article , "Do we really know what makes us healthy?" reminds me of my life experience. Today, I am happy with how my treatments went and happy with the outcome. Although, it was very costly, I am happy and well. I still have difficulties with being physically fit but, with my disease, it will always be a problem. I agree that you should listen to your body. I think we do know what makes us healthy for the most part. But, in my case, I didn't know. I was very physically fit and started being "lazy" and thought that out of shape is what everyone goes through. I was wrong, it was my disease taking over my body and making me unfit. I didn't know how it felt to be out of shape. So, I thought nothing was wrong with me except not exercising. It does help to get a professionals opinion. Going to the hospital and maybe even trying a new treatment might prolong your life. I think with all the information and how it has changed is what makes medical research so interesting and good for our society. We also have to be aware of what the media informs us about. We need to know the factors and do a little research ourselves. This article helps us to think beyond what information is given. The research may have been on a certain age group or even on one race, making certain genes factors not considered. We just need to be aware of what we read and where they are getting their information and are they giving us all the facts. I think that is what Taubes's article is telling us.

short answer: no

well I just had a good post but we had some technical difficulties on my end that resulted in deletion. The problem described in this article as little to do with science or scientists. The article should really be about how the depictions of the results of studies in the media are inaccurate and frequently have little connection with reality. This attitude of mine is not taken lightly as I am a bitter/. veteran. I've read many articles and discussions over the years that have led me to this conclusion. There's misstatements, misquotes, and outright lies contained in articles written about most any study. I didn't take notes on the subject and I therefore have no specific examples to cite but I know they exist. Any time there is a report of the latest cure all we need to respond with a certain amount of skepticism; not the instant acceptance that sells newspapers or tv advertisements.

What we don't know

Taubes’ article is rather scathing. A lot of the problems in medicine stems from the incredible complexity of the human body. Hard-core theoretical physics is easy by comparison: we know much more about the inner workings of the universe than we know about ourselves.

Taubes’ article is rather scathing. A lot of the problems in medicine stems from the incredible complexity of the human body. Hard-core theoretical physics is easy by comparison: we know much more about the inner workings of the universe than we know about ourselves.

The ethical dilemma is this: in order to know more, we have to experiment on ourselves. People will necessarily get sick and die from new treatments that turn out to be faulty. This is the source of much mistrust in the medical field and of science in general. It is hard to promote the wonders of medical science when the doctors cannot tell you what is wrong with you. Despite those misgivings, medical science has advanced light-years. Far fewer maladies plight us than even fifty years ago, and life spans have increased dramatically.

Do we really know what makes us healthy? I think the answer is: sort of. For all my touting of the wonders of science, we still know so little. It is good that articles like this are popularizing the problems with medical science, and the difficulty epidemiologists face day to day. Being conscious of our shortcomings is a big step towards improvement. I don’t see these sorts of criticisms as “tearing down? the field.

February 10, 2009

Know yourself!!

Lately, I feel everyone is becoming more concerned with being healthy. This is a good thing and an issue American’s can afford to work on. However, having a healthy life style is not rocket science. When people want to become healthier, more in shape, or eat the right foods they tend to look for the easiest shortcut. Everyone is unique with different genes, diseases, immune systems, and motivations so generalizing one specific method for everyone to use to accomplish their goal will NOT work. You have to experiment and find a method to work with your schedule and the things you like. If you hate running then find a different way to exercising.

In Gary Taube’s article, “Do We Really Know What Makes Us Healthy,? I feel he was demonstrating that everyone is different. People live distinctive life styles with their own view points. A study will always have factors affecting the outcome. I don’t think there will ever be a study that is perfect. So do we really know what makes us healthy… that answer will come with time and analyzing your family history and body. Taubes seems to be pretty well educated and has done his research on health. He talks about many doctors, Universities, and studies. I think he is trying to demonstrate that the media and your doctor aren’t always right. You must take into consideration your body and the environment you live in. Nobody knows you better than yourself, so listen to it!!

Everything taken with a grain of salt

I think the best thing to take away from this article, and one that Taubes does a very good job of conveying, is that there is an information overflow. There are too many people conducting too many studies, which only vary slightly enough to cause opposite results. There might be two studies on what level of smoking causes lung cancer and depending on who is sampled out of the population or how the study is conducted; there might be two very different answers. This is exactly what Taubes was proving time and time again with his numerous examples of conflicting data. The problem, at least in my eyes, is that there is too much outside influences to really get consistent data. While one study alone might produce consistent and reliable data, simply changing where the study was done, who it involved or how it was conducted might produce drastically different results. This is exactly what is happening in the medical research field. We have too much data and statistics to be able to make clear judgments about the risks or benefits of partaking in certain actions or using different drugs. The scope of the research has become so large that we can no longer find the real answers buried underneath the constant inflow of information. What we are left with is nothing more than common sense. Everything you eat, drink, or do has the potential to benefit you, have no effect, or negatively hurt you. So be careful what you believe, because what heals you today might hurt you tomorrow.

I'm going to go eat 500 cookies!

My initial reaction after reading the article, "Do We Really Know What Makes Us Healthy," was a sense of loss. I liked all the facts, studies, and references that were used by Gary Taubes to fortify his point that not everything that we believe is good for us, actually is. Mr. Taubes use of facts and many references to experimental studies helped his article to remain unaffected to the point that he was trying to get across. Basically, he gave us reasons to trust his expertise, when throughout his article he was giving us reasons to question expert's opinions (ethos). I was surprised to read about the many contradictory health opinions and experiments throughout the article. The constant changing of beliefs regarding whether the drug H.R.T is harmful or beneficial made me wonder, how much of the medicine we use presently is actually safe and well tested? Also, the use of a placebo in experiments and how it actually benefited its users really shocked me, how much of our ailments are actually just in our heads and thus can be cured by other factors then deadly drugs? In addition, I found it interesting, in the article, the difference in health status between a Japanese person who lives in America for just two years and one that doesn't. This statistic made me wonder how this was possible with America's health care. Overall, Mr. Taubes has influenced me to question, not only the medicine which may be prescribed to me, but any health advice given to me by an "expert" because what do they know.

Studying the Statistics of Science

This article is quite interesting to me. It brought back many memories of the AP Statistics course I took as a junior in high school. I never realized how important this class would be, and I found many statements involving statistics within Taubes’s article. I’ll mention some of the statistical terms below.

A placebo trial, one that most are familiar with, is an experiment involving the use of an object, usually a medication, in which the patient assumes it will “cure? the problematic issue (half are given the real medication while the rest receive a fake medication in order to determine if the pill is really necessary). The people, also referred to as subjects, expect a positive effect, when it is merely their belief that they are getting better.

A double-blind trial is another way to prove the use of a drug. Neither the subjects nor the people who have contact with them know if the medication is real or a placebo. This insures more information that is accurate.

Observational studies involve watching what will happen, and an experimental study involves testing to find an outcome.

Bias can make a huge impact on statistical data. Some of the most common issues that arise are the personalities amongst the subjects who take a certain medication. Those who are more active and more concerned about their health are more likely to take a medication, whereas those who don’t take care of themselves are less likely to take the medication at the times directed by the physician. This can significantly distort the results and make the positive outcomes seem more or less probable.

These are some of the terms brought up in Taubes’s article. If this subject is interesting to you, I suggest taking a statistics course. It is quite useful for anyone, especially for those who are interested in medicine.

Hoping my understanding of ethos and logos is correct.

From the Taubes reading I thought he was trying to hard to establish his ethos. Taubes continuous dropping of doctor names seemed to me like he was trying to justify his position with the people he talked to, not with the work he did himself. One name that stood out was Sander Greenland, and how Taubes named the book he wrote besides the position he holds at UCLA. I do not see why the book had to be included, Greenlands position is enough to demonstrate his importance in the epidemiology field. It seems like Taubes is trying to hard to establish his credibility with all the names.

Taubes use of mesothelioma as a example of a “bolt from the blue events? also had me questioning his ethos. In my geology class I had to watch a movie about the asbestos deaths in Libby, Montana. There is documented proof the industry knew since the 1950’s that being exposed to asbestos fibers is the cause mesothelioma, that does not seem very out of the blue. The data is available that shows the companies knew of the dangers, I think a better example could have been used.

One point Taubes made had me questioning his logos. His point about how a thirty percent chance of getting cancer is still a small risk makes no sense. If a person goes from having an almost zero percent chance of being diagnosed with a disease to a thirty percent chance, that seems like pretty significant change. This is a human life, they only get one chance at it and any increase in the chance of being diagnosed with a terminal disease is serious. This is not like if your pet cat dies and you go to Petco and buy Mr. Snuffles 2.

Link to a description of the movie about Libby, MT
http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2007/libbymontana/special_02.html

True or False?

This article very imformative. It's crazy to understand why for so long many of us, me included, would believe so much of what comes through the media as breaking news for our well being without doing our own research or asking obvious questions such as details on the experiments.

I understand why Gary Taubes comes off frustarated when he describes the "flip flop" nature of science. He takes sides with Stephen Pauker who states, "Epidemiologic studies, like diagnostic tests, are probabilistic statements." They don't tell us what the truth is, he says, but they allow both physicians and patients to "estimate the truth" so they can make informed decisions. Even though I agree with Taubes frustrations, I want to be able to trust the experts who do studies to make sure a particular treatment is legit. We don't have time to be experts at everything. I believe that it's fair to hold these conductors of research to a high standard when it comes to epidemiologic data and keep it from media sources until it is a confirmed true.

I was very surprised to find under "The Bias of Healthy Users" in the part about the Walnut Creek Study what Diana Petitti found to be true about women taking HRT. She "found an even more dramatic reduction in death from homicide, suicide, and accidents." She also goes on to state that, "The same thing causing this obvious spurious association might also be contributing to the lower risk of coronary heart disease." What?? After this, there is nothing metioned about why this might be legit. I'd mark it as a false.

This was a intriguing article that made me think twice about what's true or false. Gary left me curious to investigate the studies that expose new outbreaks that affect me directly.

Purdah

Purdah - noun
~ The practice among women in certain Muslim and Hindu societies of living in a separate room or behind a curtain, or of dressing in all-enveloping clothes, in order to stay out of sight of men or strangers.

Angier, Natalie. 1999. Men, Women, Sex, and Darwin in The New York Times. Section 6; Page 48; Column 1; Magazine Desk

"There is still enough lingering female infidelity to justify infibulation, purdah, claustration."

I heard of a Muslim woman get in trouble for practicing purdah while walking into an American gas station.

New study shows that everything you thought was good for you is bad for you and everything you thought was bad for you is good for you.

I do like this read. I was kind of long and loaded with extra facts I couldn't seem to care about, but the research that Taubes has done is very creative. The first factoid that struck me was how he proved what everyone kind of already knew: the American lifestyle is unhealthy. The stat of Japanese women who were perfectly healthy before, but after spending a generation in the US become just as fat and disgusting as 60% of us was a little bit of a shock to me, but not really. The Bias of Compliance was another good factoid where the type of person who would faithfully take their prescribed pills were generally smarter, healthier people to begin with.

I think most people know exactly what makes them healthy: eating right, eating less, and some form of physical movement once in a while. But all these things require a form of hard work which is contrary to everything McDonalds, Burger King, KFC and fast food in general pumps out of its advertising. It's a dead horse to beat, but money is again at the root of this evil of obesity and disease. Everyone knows that 5 layer cheesecake and double bacon burgers are bad for us. Not many people will admit that it's killing us. I used to be obese myself, and I remember the mindset I had (and I know it's the mindset of Americans in general). If I'm not stuffed, it must mean that I'm hungry. I'm not thaaaaat overweight, just big boned...I can blame my genes after all. I don't need to exercise rigorously, I just need to by this contraption I saw on TV. Being fat is normal. Only a "health freak" would eat vegetables and whole wheat all the time. Those previous 5 sentences represent, in my eyes, the mindset of the average american.

What Can We Trust?

In Taubes' article, "Do We Really Know What Makes Us Healthy," his point was clear; large observational health studies should be looked at carefully. Taubes developed this "logos" through his explanations of many case studies that were more or less based upon cause-and-effect relationships of a human habits (such the use of hormone-replacement therapy). He uses this as evidence to support his claim that these studies should be looked at carefully before taken into consideration. We need to consider the patient in the trial, and if they are liable test subject to base results. The answer to this is "no" more commonly than not, so this raises the question; what can we trust with our own health if we can't trust science all of the time? To answer this Taubes goes on to explain how the only way to test these hypotheses is to test them in a randomized-controlled trial, or what we like to call an experiment. The only problem with this is that they are hard to initiate and very costly, so many times experiments are not viable. As technology develops though, I think that it will become easier to perform experiments that test different hypotheses to give us answers to some of our health questions, but until then we are just left to question; what can we trust?

What Can We Really Be Sure On?

This article made me really think about the things in my own life that I do because I believe they are healthy for me. For example I eat mostly organic fruits and vegetables for many reasons such as studies have shown how pesticides can cause cancer and other problems. Some scientists say that there is no health differences between organic and non organic foods. Other scientists say that the pesticides found on foods that are not organic are linked to cancer and other diseases. This makes me wonder if the scientists for either side of the argument misinterpreted what they saw.
“Do We Really Know What is Best for Us? reminded me of the controversy with antibiotics and how with medicine, what is advised to patients with confidence one day is reversed the next. It makes me really wonder what will be advised against next, and what I may be doing right now that could be causing me serious harm in the future. For example, people used to think smoking cigarettes was healthy, now we know that it is a major cause of many different diseases. This also reminded me of the article about how the Malaria drug is losing it’s potency. A drug that has saved millions of lives is now going to need to be replaced.

On Religion and Evolution

Written by a Catholic Cardinal, this article seems to be a rather reasonable essay joining evolution and Christian faith and proclaiming the value of inquiry. It's definitely worth a read.

The Onion on Technology (contains copious amounts of profanity: you've been warned)


Sony Releases New Stupid Piece Of Shit That Doesn't Fucking Work

February 9, 2009

Darwin at 150

The New York Times features a number of fascinating articles discussing evolution, natural selection, and Darwin. They're worth perusing in order to appreciate the state of the field and how science has changed since Darwin first proposed the theory of natural selection.

Great Argument--I only got a little lost

As someone who has always been skeptical of health studies that use statistics to imply causation, I felt like this article did a really great job of laying out the potential flaws in that particular line of reasoning. After going over the concept of “logos? in class this afternoon, I could really see it in Taubes’ writing. Taubes sets up his claim—that large observational studies in health should be looked at critically—gives several reasons—the absence of consideration of patient habits, for example—and then presents several case studies as evidence. Taubes’ also takes on the “hedge? in which many may argue that large observational case studies have lead to major discoveries in correlations between such things as smoking and lung cancer. I could not help but picture my statistics teacher last year in front of the class making this exact same argument (only with a lot of passion and snappy retort). I sent her a copy of the article after reading it.

I did have one problem with the article: Did anyone else get lost in the details half way through? I found myself wandering off the course in his argument. What is the best way to give a great argument to your reader without the risk of losing them in the details?

claimreasonsevidenceacknowledgerespondprinciple

I'm a mechanical thinker. I like lists and numbers and charts and graphs and knowing exactly where I'm going and what I'm going to do to get there. This ideology has always spilled over into my writing and I've always felt that that was not how writing was supposed to be. In my mind I felt like writing research papers was different than writing schematics or a computer program. I felt like papers were heart-felt reflections of impulse where you're not supposed to think, you're just supposed to write. In some poetic cases that may be true, but I'm learning that this is not always true in research papers. In fact it's never true (yes!).

What is my claim? Do I have reasons to back up my claim? Do I have evidence to support my reasons? Do I acknowledge and respond to alternatives? What principles make my reasons relative to my claim.

I read those question conditions that TCR claims is the foundation of research writing, and I like it. I like it to be mechanized. I like how linear and cohesive it is. My original ideology wasn't wrong after all. CLAIM because of REASON based on EVIDENCE. I'm starting to enjoy the clockwork of this book now.

Techniques for Structuring a Paper

Information from the next two readings of the Craft of Research I found useful because it was a good refresher. I actually would recommend reading ahead for those of you who are planning on rewriting or editing your paper. It was useful in terms of reminding me the of rule concerning empty words or words that serve no purpose in a sentences. I definitely need to get a list of words to avoid using them in my papers especially since I don’t write on a daily basis to keep them embedded in my mind. Overtime, I somehow became absent minded of them all. Also, I found the section concerning paper structures and brainstorming methods interesting. In the past , I used regular outlines with the titles and subtitling of subjects. However, overtime I lost patience with using this technique. It wasn’t a helpful technique for me at all. Now, I brain storm as I work on the paper but it takes me a long time to just even get through the paper. It took me two full days to write our previous paper. The book mentioned a technique called a story board. I somewhat heard of it few years back but I never used the technique. It was a technique that was not used in my classes or by many of my peers. So I knew very little of it. It looks straight forward after reading details about it but complex in regards to doing research with it simultaneously. I was wondering, has anyone used this technique before and did you find it useful? If not what other techniques do you suggest? I was thinking about possibly trying the storyboard technique for my next paper but if you are against it for certain reasons I would like to know why you refrain from using it.

February 7, 2009

Respect for beliefs

When I read Chapman's God or Gorilla, I started thinking about ALL my beliefs. This doesn't happen too often. I grew up on the Navajo Reservation, informed on Navajo culture. My mother and her side of the family were the big influences on me with that. As for my father, he was very knowledgable with different science's and even was the first one to tell me about the Theory of Evolution. I was very young, still in the single digits at the time. There even was his side of my family with Christian religious beliefs. So, growing up there were so many sides pulling at me. There always came a choice between one or the other. For instance, when I was in middle school, my biology teacher said we would be dissecting a frog and if we wanted to, we had to fill out a permission slip. I was confused, why? I wanted to do this soon as possible, I had been wanting to for a long time. Then, a few of my classmates said they couldn't. The teacher said they would have to dissect something else like a part of pig or sheep. I asked my classmates why and they said it was against their beliefs. I was still confused but didn't ask them too much more about it. So, I went home with my permission slip, gave it to my mom and dad. They were happy to sign because I was so excited. No questions about it. The evening went by and I was still confused and went to my mom. I asked her why the other kids couldn't dissect frogs. She said, "Navajos can't." Well, we're all Navajo and wouldn't that be bad? She simply said, "Yes, we're Navajo but we can't learn by not doing things. People say it is against our culture. Navajo tradition says that reptiles and amphibians are our ancestors. We are supposed to respect them and not hurt them. They have helped us in our history come to this world. I know you want to dissect a frog. You and your dad have talked about this for a long time. We both agree that it would be good for you. You know where you come from and you respect that. Dissecting a frog will not make you bad or disrespectful. It is a way to increase your knowledge about the world you are in. I know you want to be a doctor and have said this since you were 5. This will help you and is a great part of biology. You will not be a bad person for doing this. Now, if you grabbed a knife out of the kitchen, went outside, caught a lizard, stabbed it all up, and flung it on the ground then, you would be disrespectful and downright nuts." She smiled, hugged me and asked if I felt better. I did and never forgot that. People ask today about how I juggle all of it and what is true for me. I have a respect for it all and all of it has made me a better person.

Should we bestow trust into recommendations of medical professionals?

The article “Do We Know What Makes Us Healthy,? is not alarming to me since I believe in the importance of public health and because this article identifies with my logic in regards to handling recommendations from medical professionals. As this article suggests, there are individuals who do what is suggested of them and there are those that do not. I am a person who is reluctant and hesitant to readily do what is suggested especially with respect to health-related issues. So I definitely do not agree to do what the doctor always suggests and I also make this point clear to my family. In other words, I question everything and though experiences I have every reason to do so.
Every year millions of people get the flu shot and I ask myself, why is it that many people find it important to get the flu shot especially since it is not a hundred percent effective. Influenza is continuously evolving especially when antiviral medication is developed to prevent it. The flu shot doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get the flu but it might offer slight protection from it. Once the drug is excessively used the virus will develop resistance to the antiviral anyway. I have come across several cases where people receive the flu shot and still get the flu. One of these cases pertains to me. I honestly don’t know when was the last time I received the flu shot once I concluded that with the shot I still get sick. Thus, in the long run it seemed useless to get the antiviral. My mother came to the same conclusion not to long after me. In fact, we both noticed that when we receive the flu shot, we get sick not to long afterwards. This is after the ten day period after receiving the shot when the body slowly becomes familiar with the virus and there are slight symptoms of the flu. My mother and I actually found that our chances of not being sick dramatically decreased when we do not get the shot. Thus we both concluded that although it is recommended it was also useless.
Furthermore, there is also the newest recommendation that I am currently against and that is the HPV Vaccine that is now available. This vaccine is strongly recommended by doctors and is supposedly proven to prevent cancer. However, the dilemma with the vaccine doctors are failing to mention is how long is it guarantee to offer protection and how efficient is it. The drug is so new out on the market and is publicized to be administered to girls but yet there is no certainty in its long term affects. In other words, it seem like a marketing scam to me. They have commercials on TV suggesting that the HPV Vaccine helps by preventing cancer among those that are sexually active but yet there is no indication for how long. Thus, the significance of the commercial is to increase sales. This HPV vaccine seems irrelevant to be giving girls especially before the age of ten. Presently, the health and pharmaceutical industries are trying to get the HPV Vaccine administered to infants. In my opinion, this seems useless because infants are not sexually active and it’s uncertain how long the vaccine could provide protection for the infants in the future. I suspect that it is for this very reason why the vaccine is not required for all females.
The HPV Vaccine and the flu shot are examples as to why I do not submit so easily into recommendations and suggestions. Overall, I just hope to teach others around me to be more responsible for their health and the health of those they are responsible for by at least questioning some of these suggestions instead of overlooking them.

Questioning your Morals

"God and Godzilla" is a very interesting and entertaining article. Aside from everyone else’s remarks concerning bias, I also came out with a different approach to the overall significance of this article. While reading, I got the overall impression that the purpose of this article was to suggest to its readers to think about why you believe and practice what you do on a daily basis. Chapman stressed this importance by declaring his biased towards his thoughts on Darwism in the beginning of his article. He states, “I have no evidence for this belief, and my lack of evidence is a matter of pride.? He continues to declare his bias in the beginning of the article by explaining how he negatively felt against his great – great grandfather Charles Darwin whose work on evolution was fully accepted in England. He describes his difficulty in life by being pressured into achieving academic success like his grandfather. As a result, he turned to ignorance to alleviate the stress of academia. By choosing to express these two statements at the beginning of his article, Chapman uses himself as an example to illustrate that although everyone takes a different stance in regards to ID and evolution, everyone in this trial was forced to conclude why they believed what they did. Upon doing so, people involved in the case were forced to tell lies to protect views of an issue that is a moral dilemma filled with uncertainty. Chapman clearly makes this argument by providing a quote of a man he interviewed stating “It’s an endless loop,? and “If you think too much about it you will go insane.?

February 5, 2009

Chapman's Argument

I thought this article was extremely interesting—it had a lot of entertainment value. Chapman clearly shows what side he’s on; he’s biased against ID. He’s playing to those who believe in evolution, and he’s not trying to win over ID supporters.

Chapman, in this essay, is co-opting what he perceives to be traditional ID tactics; namely, that an unsubstantiated argument somehow means more if you say it louder or more passionately. We expect these types of arguments from ID supporters—Kent Hovind, in some of his lectures, makes “straw man? argument and selectively ignores important points made by evolutionists. On YouTube, I watched him quite seriously state that “The evolutionist believes a dog came from a rock.?* When Chapman attacks easy targets and ignores the interesting point of “irreducible complexity,? we see his rhetoric for what it is. We expect more of evolutionists than we do of ID supporters. Why?

* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmfQZdl03D8 , time 5:00

Dover Monkeys

"Dover lies a mere 30 miles from the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, and the meltdown of its core and subsequent leak in the 70's is responsible for the weird behavior now seen in the locals."
What? I have to admit that that paragraph surprised me. I think his goal with both that paragraph as well as the entire first section was to grab the attention of the reader and draw them in. His ruse totally worked on me. Even the snide remarks about Americans drew me in. I'm open to some outside views and criticism.
On thing that really intrigued me about Chapman's writing was that he described some things in a lot of detail that, at first, I didn't' think was relevant. The way he described the courtroom, Tammy and her daughters, the two local reporters, the school board president, the curriculum director, and the counsel for each side seemed odd. He even described some people down to the number of kids that they had. I think he did this to discredit the defendants' side. If you read through all of these descriptions, while Chapman doesn't specifically say that he's doing it to discredit the defendants, all of the descriptions have a negative connotation to the defendants. Personally, I think he over-did the discrediting. However, it did make for an interesting article.
While this was an incredibly interesting article that kept me entertained and attentive, I wish I could get a less biased version of the story. Along with more of a description of what went on in the courtroom, there needed to be less of the intense detail that was so demeaning to one side.

February 4, 2009

Wise Words

As I read this article, I could not help thinking about something a young rabbi once told me. He said to me that in order to get 13 year old Bar and Bat Mitzvah boys and girls to start thinking about their relationship to God he asked them these questions: Why are you here? Why did God create you? Of all the infinite ways elements could be arranged, how, with the crushing weight of statistics against you, did you come into being? I have always been a firm believer in the theory of evolution. I have always been told that a theory is not something easily dismissed (after all, gravity is only a theory). But I can not help but go back to what the rabbi said and wonder (and hope) that there is more to life than random chance. Could it be that we are all just random collections of molecules? Is God present in this world or perhaps did it create us and leave us to our own devices? I could think about the purpose and reasoning behind life all day long; but I think the most poignant message for me within the article came at the very end when the very astute greaser said, “If you think about this too much, you can go insane.? Wise words.

Chapman - God or Gorilla

I know my goal in reading this article is not whether or not I agree with the authors point of view. If that was goal of the assignment of this article, this blog post would be easy. But I think this article was assigned to give us something to view as an example of rhetoric. That makes this blog post not easy. Chapman's style and his presentation of the trial that happened in Dover Pennsylvania over intelligent design being taught in school was so absurdly bias and filled with ad hominem that I had a hard time viewing this reading as a professional article.

After I was done reading, I first felt that this article was mostly a jab towards anyone in the Dover trial that had the audacity of defending Intelligent Design. Insults, jokes, sarcasms, and this smug tone of "Can you believe they actually believe that? Oh those idiots..." I had a hard time focusing on the debatable facts he actually presented, the few that he did. However, he did prove well that the defenders of ID in that trial did an awful, ignorant job of defending it. The only ID defender that he didn't make fun of was Behe, the professor that brought up irreducible complexity. Ironically, Chapman didn't bother refuting any of Behe arguments. He just made a mention about how Behe wouldn't be anything without his fans on the ID side, that the scientific community hates him, and that he sells a lot of books. Are these seriously Chapman's arguments? Is this article even about ID vs. Evolution and them being taught in school? All Chapman does is take shots at everyone at every chance he gets.

Every defender in the article, Groves, Behe, Buckingham, Hovind, Geesey, and Maldonado, got libeled by Chapman and his writing. He knew before he even wrote his article that their defenses of ID were weak and that no scientific writer would bother with them. But Chapman spends this whole article ripping the weaker arguments to shreds while ignoring the stronger arguments presented by Behe and Hovind (and I've read Hovind's stuff and seen him in debates twice. He went to Universities all over the country showing holes in evolution with very strong arguments) What's worse is that this article was, I'm sure, written with the intention as being some sort of victory for evolutionists everywhere by showing how stupid and ignorant ID proponents are. Writing like Chapman's makes me mad. He shows no pursuit for knowledge with this article, but only to pick on those that he knows cannot defend themselves.

Digital signing and its flaws

NOTE: Hey everyone, this is my blog post from last week that never got posted. We had some "technical difficulties".

This is in response to the NY Times article about archiving and crypto hashes:

The article presents this as being “new? technology, when in fact it is very mature technology. Hashing is a wonderful tool for digital signing. It is in extensive use by many software distributors as a sure-fire way of verifying that a piece of software is not corrupt or tampered with. As a core technology, hashes and crypto are bulletproof. The trouble lies in the implementation.

Two fundamental flaws exist. First, it is implicit that you trust the source that you obtained the digital signature from. Ironically, modern public key cryptography renders the transmittal of these signatures over the internet quite safe. The real danger lies in social engineering, which transcends computer security, and can only be defended against via behavioral changes, or spartan security procedures. The second problem was touched on more extensively in the article: the practical problems of archiving data for the long haul. Fancy digital signatures are of no use if your data is unreadable or stuck on obsolete data mediums. While I think that it is worthwhile to standardize a long-term data storage medium, I think a more practical solution is readily available to us: incremental backups. What I mean by this is that we should continuously be transferring our archival data to newer mediums of storage, so that it never gets stuck on an old tape drive that you can’t use.

Hopeful

After reading the first chapter in, "The Craft of Research" I felt I was well informed of what I was doing wrong. I know I am like a lot of people who cannot put what they are thinking into writing. At times, I know what I am thinking makes sence, seems very logical, and has meaning. But, when I write it, I know I have gone through extremes of writing the facts. I have a hard time with bringing interest. I am hopeful about grasping my readers attention more in my papers. Sometimes, I write to just tell somebody something new and interesting because I enjoy it. I didn't consider writing to grasp a particular audience. I guess, it shows when I talk to some of my friends. They will tell me something they think is cool and they really enjoy it. Some of the things they saw loses my interest and my mind satrts to wonder. I know it sounds bad but, I really try hard to pay attention to what they are interested. One example is politics. I find hardly anything interesting about it. I guess that is why I married my husband because he has that interest and keeps me informed when I am lost in a conversation. I do the same to my friends. I will talk about a subject and they will ask me a question that is so off what I was talking about. I don't get offended, I just understand that they weren't interested. That's is just time for me to stop talking about what I like and get deeper in what they like. I agree that reading is a conversation between the author/s and I. There were many books I read that gave me a mental picture. And, of couse, there were books that ended up like my lost conversations with my friends. So, I am excited that I will be able to have an interesting conversation with my audience, in my writing. Now the step is to doing it and practicing.

The "Work" of Research

Throughout my scholastic life, I have been forced many times to do this so called "research." Go on the internet. Type in what I am looking for. Read it. Then say, " Wow this pertains to what I am looking for!" That was about the extent of my research for the majority of my projects until I realized something. You actually have to care what you are writing about. I think that in a way, Booth, Colomb, and Williams allude to this in their prologue by implying that research is essential to learning and teaching in this "age of information."

They really did the right thing when mentioning the bits on football, baseball, and basketball requiring research, and not just the "nerdy scientist" or book worm. Simple things like looking up baseball statistic, or looking in the yellow pages are considered a form of research. Everybody does research all of the time, and everywhere.

For the most part, I agree with everything that the three authors have to say. It is very informative and it obviously hits on ALL points and aspects of research. The reading not only tells us the important aspects of researching, but more importantly why they are important. I personally believe that one of the biggest problems in today's society is not knowing why you are doing what you are doing. I will use an example from my work to truly illustrate one particular reason why knowing the "big picture" is important.

My boss told me to box a bunch of pieces of metal so they would fit a certain way in the box. Well I did box it a certain way, but I made it more difficult than I had to because I didn't want to damage the box or the metal pieces. But then when my boss came down he just said that he wanted it that way for convenience and that it didn't matter necessarily matter how neat it was. That was a bad example but it still shows that if he would have told me the importance/unimportance of what I was doing, I could have understood what he wanted out of the job.

I kind of got off subject there, but my point is that The Craft of Research does an excellent job of making points, using examples, and delegating importance upon different aspects of research. But I don't think it is perfect.

My main problem with this book that besides some catchy examples here and there, it is very dry and colorless. It kind of seems like just a reference book(Which I guess it is). One might refer to it only seldomly, as if they would check a dictionaryfor the definition of a word. At one point they suggest reading it multiple times to let it sink in. I had to laugh a little bit because they are right that it is hard for it to sink in all right, but I would definitely refrain from pouring over it multiple times.

Overall, it is a helpful book that has content with which I agree with. I would recommend using this as a research tool to other people. But besides the catchily written prologue, it seems kind of dry and is relatively difficult to soak up.

Tyler

February 3, 2009

A Little Worried

“The Craft of Research? is going to help me a lot this semester with constructing my papers. Not only in this class, but I am taking two other classes this semester that are very heavy on the writing. I am a little worried because I have not taken any writing classes in college other than Freshmen Composition, and that was over two years ago. I have problems getting my thoughts out on paper in a way that is clear and organized. I also have problems just coming up with good topics to write about, and making an argument that is clear. I thought the instructions on connecting with your reader will be helpful in making my research papers more interesting, and really capturing my audience. Some things I learned from this reading that I will start doing for my future papers are constructing a plan on preparing and constructing research, and making a blueprint for a first draft. This will help me a lot with organizing my thoughts, and presenting them in the best way. It will also be very useful to learn how to judge what is good, sound evidence, and what not. I like to use my old books that I have kept from previous classes because I know that they are reliable resources. They are a good resource, rather than just using the internet to find information.

High Expectations for this book.

After reading the first chapter I can already tell that I will learn more from this book than I ever have in any previous English or writing class. My problem with research is that I never know where to start looking, and even when I do find good research, I am not sure how I should add it to my paper. I always have a hard time with research papers and finding appropriate sources. In the prologue, the writes talk about how everyone uses research. I feel that when most people do research, it is different than when you do research for a paper. I think that it is easier to do research when you are trying to find an answer to a question; for example, when was Michael Jordan Born? This involves going on the internet and typing in a search engine and coming up with the answer on the first or second website. The way I research for a paper involves going through pages and pages of websites or trying to navigate a database before I finally come up with several good websites or articles. This process takes about 3 hours for me, whereas finding out Michael Jordan’s birthday takes 2 minutes. In short, I hope this book fulfills my expectations that it will help me to become better and faster at researching for papers.

What have I been doing?

What have I been doing? That's the question I began to ask myself as I began to read the first section of this book. Too often my research papers begin well and end poorly. More often than not, I end up more than slightly off topic and fail to expand effectively on my ideas (which my professors deem valid initially). The root of all my writing woes, whether they be in a research paper or otherwise, is my lack of planning in my arguments. I'm a very hasty writer; I start way too late and try to finish way too early. Writing is not my favorite past time, unfortunately for my grades. I much prefer working on my car or playing some sort of sport, like golf or hockey. And I also suffer from undiagnosed ADD, and I truly did not intend to include that in my blog post. However, that also fouls up my attempts at successful writing. Rarely if ever do I construct a plan for my writing, or even write a rough draft. I know these are big aspects of the writing process, but I don't do them anyway. In order for me to be a more successful writer, and more importantly communicator, I will need to organize my thoughts in a way that will be easy to read and appealing to my audience, and I hope that with the help of this book I can accomplish that goal.

A Failure to Connect

In seventh and eighth grade, students in my middle school were required to create an entry for the History Day program. Both years I chose to write research papers. I did a lot of research for both—I had book sources, official documents, articles, just about everything. The first year, the topic had just the right scope. But the second year, I chose a topic that was too complex. It was broad and couldn’t be condensed into a simple and clear thesis. As I wrote, the technical nature of what I was reading spilled over into my writing. I was afraid of writing the paper on a level that was too elementary. But in the end, my paper was filled with jargon, it was too hard to follow, and, ultimately, it wasn’t very successful.
Reading Chapter 2 reminds me that it’s difficult to understand and create a “role? for yourself in your writing. By reading different kinds of material, you get a sense of the style and demeanor that audiences expect. Who is your audience? How detailed should your writing be? How should your writing style vary with your purpose? If I had read more essays and articles—not just the technical sources I was using to write my paper—it would have helped me realize what was wrong with my second paper.

"Very Nice!"

The book, The Craft of Research, so far, has proven Greg correct, when he said that this book was awesome. Writing research papers or any type of paper for a college class is extremely difficult, in that, every professor wants something different. Many years of altering my writing style to the expectations of a professor has left me with a puddle of confusion. Although in the Barzun reading, we are made to believe that writing cannot be taught, I believe it can be highly influenced by a student's desire to get an A. Thus far, I am hoping that this book will lay out a concrete foundation for me to build my writing and research skills on, so that I can write with the least amount of BS possible. I like the issue that the book brought up on how easily we accept research, without wondering if our information is credible. Sometimes information can be so interesting or outrageous that we just hope its true without diving into deeper research so that a paper can become more interesting. Yet, after reading the TCR, there are a lot of different ways that are suggested in enticing a reader. I liked how much emphasis they put on including the reader or the audience in a research paper, and the means on which to do it. The style in which the authors wrote this book was easy to follow, and has already helped me to become a more critical writer, and as I read on I hope it continues to enlighten me. As we talked about in class, constructive criticism is extremely useful in becoming a successful writer, and I think this book does an excellent job encouraging the writer to criticize and evaluate their own work, while setting down productive guidelines in which to do it.

Salient

A. adj.

1. a. Leaping, jumping; esp. of animals, saltatorial.

b. Of water: Jetting forth; leaping upwards.


c. Of the pulse: Beating strongly. poet.

Found in The Craft of Research by Booth, Colomb and Willaims on page 6. "A newspaper reporter writes her story in the traditional "pyramid" form, with the salient information first....

Regretting Poor Research

After reading the first 26 pages of “The Craft of Research?, I can’t help but feel as if I have been doing research papers incorrectly for the past 10 years of my life (give or take a year or two). I have never gone into researching and writing a paper with any sort of formulated plan or with any other audience in mind other than my professor (for whom I was expected to show off my knowledge and play to their prejudices). One really great example of the ladder would be a research paper I did for my Human Geography course freshman year of college. I came into college a die-hard conservative (I know) and here was this guy was telling me that globalization was the devil and that the lack of bus access to the suburbs was a conspiracy to keep lower class people from impeding on the rich. I thought he was crazy, but I played to my audience and accused the architecture in Minneapolis of being sexist toward working women. I regret this now. I knew my audience well, but I refused to bring anything beyond his own agenda to the table. I never considered that I may be providing “new factual knowledge? or even “entertaining? my professor or other readers with a different opinion on something like globalization. I am currently starting a new research paper for my History of Architecture course. I am now rethinking my approach to the paper: start with a plan and play to my reader. Don’t just give them a history lesson (the professor knows the history) but offer up something on a deeper level of understanding and clarity.

Crafting Research

Even though I have only gotten through the first 29 pages of this book, I am already in love. I’ve had to write a research paper before but the explanation I received on how to go about writing it wasn’t even close to the caliber of this book. My goal in this class (as cheesy as it sounds) is to learn how to write a ‘good’ research paper. There are several things just in the first couple chapters that I never though about while writing a research paper. Things such as writing as you go and not writing the entire paper only after you have deemed the research you have collected complete; writing important tidbits down so you remember them, not just reading them; and making clear lines around the role of the readers and therefore your role as a writer. Now that those ideas have been presented to me, they seem really obvious and make complete sense. One thing that I hope they get to in this book is how to select and narrow a topic. That is one of the things that I seem to have the most trouble with. However, as wonderful as this book is, I wonder why it has taken me to my second year of college to learn how to write a good research paper. Since I’m going into the science field, I believe that It’s very important but I’ve never had a good teacher for doing it.

February 2, 2009

Etymology

Etymology: noun. plural et·y·mol·o·gies.
1 : the history of a linguistic form (as a word) shown by tracing its development since its earliest recorded occurrence in the language where it is found, by tracing its transmission from one language to another, by analyzing it into its component parts, by identifying its cognates in other languages, or by tracing it and its cognates to a common ancestral form in an ancestral language 2 : a branch of linguistics concerned with etymologies
— et·y·mo·log·i·cal -mə-ˈlä-ji-kəl\ adjective
— et·y·mo·log·i·cal·ly -k(ə-)lē\ adverb

I found this concept in Barzun Chapter 1, pg. 51. "If in doubt about the differences among words that are not in everyday use, recourse to etymology will help."

The learning and use of academic English words by Corson, David
It is available through the library or by searching the EBSCO Host directly.

http://web.ebscohost.com.floyd.lib.umn.edu/ehost/pdf?vid=2&hid=108&sid=e49eee3c-470d-4195-b498-1438ef35912b%40sessionmgr109