« September 2007 | Main | November 2007 »

October 31, 2007

If We Snooze, Do We Really Lose?

According to If We Snooze, Do We Really Lose, I apparently had an old fashioned childhood. Throughout elementary school and middle school, I rarely stayed up past 10:00 on school nights. I had to go to daycare on weekday mornings, so I had to adjust to my parent’s schedule of leaving the house by 7:30. It wasn’t until high school where my sleep habits would drastically change. By the end of my senior year last year, I would nap religiously after school for two or three hours, then stay up until 2 or 3 o’clock. In addition, I had this stupid policy were I would never do homework before 9:00 and always quit before midnight. In the mornings I would get up around a quarter to seven to go to school and be fairly tired but conscious during the day. To sum up my sleeping habits, if I needed to sleep, whether it be in class, after school or driving (just kidding), I would sleep and make the best of what I got. I know it’s the same way with other people, but if I sleep for over 9 or 10 hours in one night, I would be tired and worthless for the rest of the day. I don’t know if there is any scientific explanation for this, but I suppose the body goes through different cycles and 10+ hour’s means you’re going into another one.
For me, I don’t really think that school had anything to do with staying up late daily. Sure, every now and then I would do homework until late, but if you are good at managing your time, homework can get done rather quickly. I believe that the dominant factor in lack of sleep was television. Our house finally got cable, or dish, last fall and that was probably the more exciting that Christmas. We had so many channels that I could never stay on one channel because I was going to miss something on another.
In the article, Dr. Avi Sadeh tests the affects of lack of sleep on young students and concludes that the loss of sleep on a person is equivalent to two years of education. The overwhelming evidence against night-owls raises a few questions of mine. If the students were in a normal sleeping cycle, would they go to sleep before the suggested time for the study? And how would this affect they scores they got on their tests? Kids have a general idea of the homework schedule or the other things that need to get done, and those who are more motivated will do them. I assume that younger children are less apt to stay up later doing homework or other activities, so if they needed the good sleep what could be stopping them?
There are many factors that determine the amount of sleep a person will get, mainly activities that people are involved in that consume time. I can see how someone can be busy with school, sports, religion or work, but this doesn’t justify staying up late. There are too many things for a person to waste their time on like watching TV or videogames or the computer, and the time spent on these activities is taking away from what needs to get done. Time management comes into play here; if you are good at spending your time wisely on the necessities of life, then you should have no trouble with losing sleep. I guess we could blame the media or parents for youth “insomnia?, but the only person who has control is the child. I can’t see a parent forcing their child to devote all of their time to a sport or make them watch TV. Now someone could complain saying those children’s minds and bodies are developing and they aren’t able to be self reliant yet, but that is beside the point.
What I got from If We Snooze, Do We Really Lose, is that there are many correlations between lack of sleep and decreased productivity. Steps have been made to give students more time in their day to sleep, by example starting school later. If I had the prospect of going to school an hour later, I would still get the same amount of sleep because I would stay up later. One thing I was expecting to read in this article was something regarding diet. Surely the fact that students are consuming more caffeine and calorie dense foods play a factor in the amount of sleep. I, for example, am an avid supporter of Cherry Coke and Mountain Dew, and chugging one or two of those before bed probably affect my sleeping habit. I guess the solution to the problem is going to be pretty generic: manage time wisely, do your homework early, don’t watch too much TV, don’t have a Myspace, watch your diet, exercise…
Now that I have come to college, my habits of sleeping have gotten a little more reasonable. Besides staying out late on Thursday nights, I am usually in bed by 12:30 and in a solid sleep until around 7:30. Some days I need to power nap between classes, but overall I am not extremely tired. Its kind of funny, I was taking after supper today and totally forgot about to finish this position paper, evidence that the studies are valid?

If We Snooze, Do We Really Lose?

Andrew Otto
Position Statement

I read the article about sleep and the effects of sleep deprivation; the information and research presented I could really relate to. I agree that sleep is an important part of our existence, especially how humans need sleep to function. I need eight hours of sleep to function at 100 percent, but with a lack of sleep I can still get through the day. When I was younger I always had a bedtime and being that I was from a farm I had to get up early in the morning and work on the farm, so for me I just went to bed when I was supposed to. I always felt good the next day, not tired and perfectly able to function at 100 percent, so I never experienced sleep deprivation until I was in high school. When I entered high school I got a job, and there was sports, school, the farm, and friends all to balance into my schedule. Things were often times a lot more hectic in high school and my sleep usually suffered. I would usually get about 6-7 hours of sleep every night, but I was still able to perform all the tasks presented to me. The less sleep I got, the longer is seemed to take to perform a task, but I managed and soon getting less than the recommended eight hours of sleep became a habit. Eventually it appeared that my body was able to adapt to the lack of sleep and compensate for it. Now that I have moved on from my high school sleep schedule to college, I have noticed I am more alert when I get six to seven hours of sleep, not as awake as if I had gotten eight hours of sleep. It seems like if I get nine to ten hours of sleep, I am tired all day, so I guess in theory a person can oversleep. I am a little more irritable when I get less sleep, but I still have the cognitive abilities of when I get a full eight hours rest. I guess the amount of sleep that a person needs to function will vary with the person; some people just need more sleep than others.

As for the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive ability, I would have to say a lack of rest directly affects one’s ability to drive. Numerous studies have been conducted to study sleep deprivation and driving ability and the results are not surprising. According to the study conducted by the Federal Highway Commission, as the sleep deprivation increases, the number of accidents increases exponentially (Peters). In another story concerning the effects of sleep deprivation, the effects were comparable to those of people that were driving under the influence. After a person has been awake for 17 hours or more, they have a driving ability of someone with the alcohol content of .05. That is not legally intoxicated in Minnesota, but it still has an effect on one’s driving ability (“Sleep Deprivation?). I know that many people avoid drinking and driving, but what about being tired and driving, I rarely hear, “Can you drive me home, I think I’m too tired??

Another website I looked at for the effects of sleep deprivation presented a couple more interesting facts. When a person is sleep deprived, they are at a greater risk for developing heart disease, tremors, have slurred speech, and experience hallucinations. The reason a person could develop heart disease is because without sleep the body builds up stress and the heart and other organs have to work harder to perform their functions. In the article in the New York Magazine, it talks about how sleep deprivation effects weight loss and gain. Not only is there a chemical and hormonal balance in the brain due to the lack of rest, what about the common sense idea; if a person is tired do they really want to get up and go to the gym and work out, or does taking a nap sound like a better idea? To me sleep is linked to everything we do and yet, especially in the U.S., the culture is so faced paced it disregards the need for sleep (“The Effects of Sleep Deprivation?).

As a first year college student I figured that I would be tired most of the time. So far that has been the case, it seems like every day I have the best intentions of going to bed early, and get a good night’s sleep. However, living in a dorm building it isn’t always possible to pick when you will get some peace and quiet, or at least enough to get to bed early. Plus at college there are so many things to do, schedules fill up fast and there is always studying to do. It appears that being tired in college is just a way of life, and I don’t see the trend changing anytime soon. I just think that people should be more concerned about sleep and how it affects them. I believe that it would be a good goal for everyone to try and get to bed fifteen minutes earlier than usual tonight and see what kind of difference it makes on tomorrow.

Peters, Robert D. and et. al. “Effects of Partial and Total Sleep Deprivation On Driving Performance.? Federal Highway Administration. < http://www.tfhrc.gov/humanfac/sleep/sleepweb.htm>. 29 Oct 2007.

“Sleep deprivation as bad as alcohol impairment, study suggests.? September 20 2000.
< http://archives.cnn.com/2000/HEALTH/09/20/sleep.deprivation/>. 29 Oct 2007.

“The Effects of Sleep Deprivation.? October 4 2007. < http://www.sleep-deprivation.com/articles/effects-of-sleep-deprivation/>. 29 Oct 2007.

Politics in the Classroom

In the article about teachers bringing controversial topics into the classroom there are many points made about whether the guidelines for what is talked about in class is acceptable. I agreed with many things in this article, but also found it hard to believe other topics.

From what I learned in my days of schooling I found that teachers could not give their opinion for it might influence kid’s decisions about what they believe or think about a certain topic. There is a lot of criticism given out to teachers who try to get a conversation starter in a class that do not give all sides of the topic being discussed. As said in the article as long as the topic being talked about is defined in many ways and gives the sides of the topic that are sufficient. The sides of the topics need to have enough evidence and ideas behind them before a teacher should bring them up in class. If it is just merely one argument then that could be considered not efficient.

There are many different views of the way the guidelines are taken which are perceived different by everyone. This causes people not to be sure about what is considered acceptable. What I think is perceived by the majority of the people in this situation is the fact that you can talk about a controversial topic if first of all it pertains to the topic you are already discussing. If it does follow your topic already being discussed then the ability to show all sides of the story without giving your own opinion. The teacher must be able to do this because the students may just go off of their idea because they feel it is right because the teacher said so. This is a very bad way to gain an opinion because the students are not actually looking at the facts which also causes less stimulation of the mind to think and talk about the topic in class. As it is said in the article, a person can gain stimulation from an audience by taking off their clothes or yelling, but that is not always the kind of stimulation the person wants. A teacher is more often looking for a class to talk and to discuss why one thing is more important or why one person thinks this over that.

There are many examples used in the article and there are many more topics that could be examples of teachers using the class for the wrong reasons or trying to persuade the students without giving all of the information. When it comes to the wording of how the guidelines are written there are many different ways it could and maybe should be written, but will it ever be good enough that no one can question it? I do not think that is true with anything because someone is always questioning everything. My personal opinion on this is that teachers may just stop bringing in controversial topics just for the fact that they do not want to get in trouble for saying the wrong thing. I think the guidelines should be changed, but to the point that they are trying to make. What is the point of having guidelines when no one actually follows them exactly to what they say?... I guess that is why they are guidelines… not rules.

October 30, 2007

Interesting Movie on Learning... (Possible Position Statements?)

This is not part of my reasearch paper, but definately affects all of us as college freshmen. Could this possibly be used for position statements? I think this might generate a lot of conversation between the class... To view this movie click here. It is an interesting documentary film on how college learning is structured.

Is it More Intelligent to You???

I read the article “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Is the Onion Our Most Intelligent Newspaper?? written by Greg Beato. I think that the title to this article can be misleading. “Is the Onion Our Most Intelligent Newspaper?? Some people would hear the name “The Onion? and instantly say no way. Others, who stop to think about what the paper is doing, may take a while longer to respond to this question. Depending on how you are thinking of the definition of “intelligent? will provide how you answer this tricky question.

I read the article “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Is the Onion Our Most Intelligent Newspaper?? written by Greg Beato. I think that the title to this article can be misleading. “Is the Onion Our Most Intelligent Newspaper?? Some people would hear the name “The Onion? and instantly say no way. Others, who stop to think about what the paper is doing, may take a while longer to respond to this question. Depending on how you are thinking of the definition of “intelligent? will provide how you answer this tricky question.

The Onion was started by a college student just trying to get advertising out to his fellow students in an easy way. I do not think that he ever imagined what he was starting, or where The Onion would be almost 20 years later. It is one of the most successful newspapers out there today. Imagine my shock and amusement at the fact that when I actually tried the Google experiment it worked. The Onion did in fact come up first when searching for “the? and “onion.? These days the internet provides us with numerous facts and information. The Onion “attracts more than 2 million readers a week.?

According to Greg Beato although The Onion “benefited from the Web,? most of its success is because it creatively utilizes “candor, irreverence, and a willingness to offend.? The point of The Onion is not to provide the exact same news, facts, and information that every other newspaper is providing their readers. The readers of The Onion know that the “news? they are reading is more than likely not going to be hard core and real. But that is the appeal of this newspaper. It allows its readers to take time out from their busy lives and just enjoy a relaxing read of silly news stories. Personally I enjoy taking a break from reading the “real? newspapers to read the fun and amusing articles of The Onion. We all know that being aware of what is going on in not only our country but the world is important and a necessary thing for our survival. But it is one thing to be aware of the issues and problems of our world, and another to be bombarded with the information that is made available to us every minute of every day. After a while, only hearing or reading the “serious? news can start to get to people. It is a nice change of pace to read something that is still providing information, but in a different way. But readers should be aware that the stories or “news? may not be completely true, if it has any truth to it at all. The Onion is different than other newspapers because it “makes no effort to convince readers that it really does understand their needs and exists only to serve them.? The whole point of The Onion is to get the news, whether it is real or fake, out to its readers. Beato discusses the fact that this approach is “old-fashioned? but incredibly successful. The Onion “doesn’t ask readers to post their comments at the end of stories, allow them to rate stories on a scale of one to five, or encourage citizen-satire,? and maybe this is why so many people are reading it.

Something else that I found incredibly interesting in this article was the idea of humorous news being bad news, although it may not have been stated in those words. Greg Beato discusses how even though The Onion and shows such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report provide the news with a different approach, it does not mean that the readers or viewers are not being informed with news on a lower level than the “accepted? or “real? newspapers. “During the last few years, multiple surveys by the Pew Research Center and the Annenberg Public Policy Center have found that viewers of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are among America’s most informed citizens.? I find this information completely fascinating. Normally when told that someone reads The Onion or watches those shows religiously, the first thought that comes to your mind is not, “well, they must have an excellent idea of what is going on in the world today,? and maybe that is the problem. Most individuals, even myself included, think of “real? news as KARE 11 or The New York Times or newspapers with good reputations of supplying their readers with accurate and important information.

Most people think of these newspapers as “intelligent.? As to the question of whether The Onion is our most intelligent newspaper, I think your idea of what is intelligent is going to cause your answer to be different than mine. I think it might be, but not in the obvious way. It is intelligent in the way it gets its readers to be loyal fans, and in the way it delivers its news, even if it isn’t always the “real and true? news.

In the Shadow of the Reich: Nazi Medicine

In the shadow of the Reich: Nazi Medicine was a very interesting film. It was very well done and included some facts that I had never heard of before. I have seen the film three times now and each time I pick up a few more facts that I didn’t the previous times. I had no idea that the United States was involved in a genocide movement, as well as 30 other countries. The movie states that there were over 7,500 people sterilized in Virginia because they were part of an undesirable race, most cases from the U.S. involving mental disabilities or physical abnormalities. I was shocked to learn that the United States supported German research and that we actually funded their experiments.

I began to think about the scientists and so called doctors who conducted the studies. They were widely praised and supported in their community while conducting their research. However, after the holocaust was over they were told what they did was wrong and some scientists were killed for their “work.? This seems odd to me. If first you praise and support someone and tell them what they are doing is correct, and the country will benefit from their work, and then scold them for only doing what you told them, what was right, to do, does that seem right? I don’t think it does; I understand that justice had to be served but by serving justice to these doctors it almost seems like a second injustice. Arthur Caplan, author of “When Medicine Went Mad,? made a statement that got me thinking about this in the first place, he said that the doctors had a mind set that, “they were doctoring a nation.? His logic is similar to mine in that the doctors were able to justify their work.

I am not even remotely saying that it is okay to murder millions of people for the benefit of science; however what I am saying is that it is going too far to in turn murder doctors who truly believe that they are helping a “nation.? There are examples in the justice system today where criminals are not given the death penalty because they are proven to be legally insane. If these doctors were brainwashed or convinced that what they were doing was right when clearly it was wrong, is this not also a form of insanity. A web site defines terms to which someone can plead insanity in their defense:

A criminal defense asserting that at the time of the commission of the acts constituting the offense, the defendant, as a result of a severe mental disease or defect, was unable to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his acts. Mental disease or defect does not otherwise constitute a defense. U.S.C. 18.

I bold Wrongfulness to make a point that is clear in the case above. Maybe the doctors should have been put into metal hospitals with those whom they had thought to be unfit to reproduce; this may have been a better punishment. They may have found out that they were wrong. I can not speak for the sanity of the doctors because I have not and will not meet any of them; however, by definition and the history of the time it appears there may have been injustice at the Nuremberg trials.

This was one thing that caught my attention that I had never thought about while doing my research. I did not think that there would be any logical reason why the doctor’s actions would be defendable. However, I was never taught in school that the United States supported German Eugenics research either. This makes me wonder what other holes of history present in my education, and who is behind it.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
By: TJ Dubbs

While reading “Finding Time? by Rebecca Solnit many things came to mind about what she was saying. The some of the basic arguments that Solnit had are that there are a few central elements in today’s society that are essentially lacking or rather too imperative in your lives. These elements are “Efficiency, Convenience, Profitability, and Security? (Solnit). Efficiency in our world is everything, our lives are all about getting things done fast and getting it done right. One of her main arguments and examples is centralized around the internet and the idea that things are too small now-a-days. By this she means that anything that can be searched for or can be found in a keyword search is strictly limiting purchasing or finding by accident. Furthermore, Solnit argues that leaving the house is greatly decreased do to increases in efficiency (i.e. the internet).

Another aspect of efficiency that Solit argues is a negative aspect of society is the idea of less walking as opposed to driving. Because of urban sprawl more and more people are spending much more time in the car rather than walking to and from work. This is negative because we lose the day-to-day connections and details that can only be obtain through human interaction and essentially walking around according to the article. Furthermore, in my opinion this is very true, isn’t it hard to interact with other people when you’re sitting in a metal box for long periods of time go places? Not only does Solit argue for human interaction but for the sheer fact of being out in the world and getting exercise it a good thing as opposed to sitting in a car. I couldn’t agree with this statement more, I think that getting out is one of the most important things we can do on a day to day basis. Not only is walking good for you, it is essentially safer. If one were to note the amount of people killed each year in a car accident and compare that to the number of pedestrians killed the numbers would be surprising. More than 42,800 people are killed in motor vehicle accidents each year, this number is enormous compared to the estimated 4800 or more fatalities of pedestrians.

Another evil that Solit covers in here article is the eternal goal of owning a huge house, three cars and maybe even a pool. She argues that the American public spends too much time traveling to and from work, which is partly due to the outrageous amount of other people doing the same. I agree with this statement, there is too much traffic and too much of the economic activity happens in the city, if we have urban sprawl, why not city sprawl? A comparison between the United States and Europe is made, in the area of material things and work, Europeans work less and have less things. We as Americans work more have more things, such as a third car, jet skis, snowmobiles, boats and alike. This comparison between the United States and Europe is valid in my opinion, although I do not know this first hand for I have never been over there, but I would very much so assume that Solit has good reason for making this type of assumption.

The overall theme to this article is essentially a return to simplicity. By living more simply and taking everything in so to speak instead of just hurrying through life we as a society will be better off. Not only should we not hurry through life but we should take more time to enjoy everything, society is too materialistic, we need to learn to live simpler. Can simple things in life be enjoyable as well? Of course, we do not need all the extra things that see, to be the goal over every individual in today’s era. In my opinion society needs to slow down and embrace for lack of a better phrase, time off. We need to slow down, and rethink the way society works in an effort to get back on our feet in regards to economy as well as global power for lack of a better term. The United States is ahead of many countries however, if we do not heed to the warnings of the “Four Horsemen? we will no longer be the forerunners in the global economy or for that matter anything.

October 29, 2007

Which Came First (pt III)

Yet again I am attracted to Errol Morris. His writings have intrigued me, and how could I read the first two entries of a trilogy without reading the third? In all three of his essays he examines Fenton’s photographs of The Valley of the Shadow of Darkness. In the first essay he examined the two photos, made a point to not favor which one came first (the one with the cannonballs [ON] or the one with the cannonballs [OFF]), but interviewed ‘experts’ in the field to hear what they thought. Morris just played devil’s advocate by trying to take the opposite of every position that the person on the other line had. Morris did not draw any conclusions, but I had developed a notion that the cannonballs that were [ON] were first, and [OFF] was second, because of the need to travel across the road. When the second entry came out, Morris was still undecided, but invested some great research into his dilemma and traveled across the world to try to find the exact spot where Fenton had taken the original photos some 150 years ago. When he arrived at the spot, he discovered that the photos were taken facing North/Northwest, rather than the original notion that Fenton took the photos facing southward. This is vital information for anybody who was trying to analyze the photos based on the light directions and shadow casting of the landscape or cannonballs. He also visited a museum and got a sample cannonball to see how the light reflected off of it, and how feasible it was to either put all the cannonballs [ON] or to take them [OFF]. He had to see if he could draw any conclusions. He still wasn’t convinced he was sure about what he had found out, and continued interviewing experts to see what they had to say.

In his third entry (the final in the trilogy) he starts out adamantly researching the light spots on the cannonballs and background, and try to figure out chronologically which one came first. He encountered a problem in that with the technology that they had 150 years ago it was hard for true blues to appear in black and white photography. This presented a problem in that it was really hard to decide if the pictures were taken in an overcast or sunny day. The other problem was that the tones in the two pictures were different (which would make the sun angle dating much more difficult). After lots of alterations, the photos seemed comparable, but then a new factor arose: the placement of rocks. There is no doubt that one of the two photos ([ON] or [OFF]) was staged. One had to be the original, and the other the second, or altered photo. However it may have happened, the alterations of the cannonballs (for either aesthetic photography, deception of danger, or making way to drive past) would be noticed by the people moving them, but the rocks that they tripped would not be so noticeable.

I really like how as humans, sometimes the easiest answer to something we do not know, or do not fully believe, is that it was a conspiracy. Morris brought in the Moon landing of 1969 and how some people are convinced that it was a conspiracy. He brought in proof that I had not heard, but really liked: in his interview he uncovered the unbeatable truth that the dust that the astronauts kicked up, fell straight back down. Since Earth has atmosphere, those dust particles hover for a moment, and fall in disorganized patters, whereas the moon does not have an atmosphere, the dust rose and fell the way it was kicked up.

It was interesting that after Morris and his colleague had made this slight discovery with the rock displacement, his next interview also brought up that point, and ultimately made a conclusive decision that [OFF] occurred before [ON]. The rocks in the pictures had fallen down slightly with gravity, and that was a much better argument than the nearly impossible task of mapping the light in the valley. Morris concludes that [OFF] occurred before [ON] but was sure that he would never really know why [OFF] was before [ON]. It could be because Fenton wanted to make it seem as if he was in more danger than he was. It could’ve been because it was more artistic to have it on. I really cannot draw a conclusion either, because there is no way for me to know either. Even though I had believed that [ON] and occurred before [OFF], this new evidence is much more powerful and I’m just going to have to go with what Morris concludes.

The Onion

This was a good article for us as a class, because The Onion is readily available to all of us in most of the buildings around campus. The Onion can always be a fun and entertaining piece to read at the bus stop, on the bus, or while waiting for our next class. The article “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Is The Onion our most intelligent newpaper?? was interesting, especially trying to connect it to the past couple weeks in Writing 1301. The things that have really stuck to me so far have been our discussions (or sometimes debates) about documentaries. A newspaper is as much of a documentary as a film or book. When we read The Onion we know that some of the pictures have been altered or posed. With these different alterations that the photos have with the stories, it makes the stories false, but usually pretty funny. I personally like The Onion because of its humor and its lightheartedness.

Sometimes The Onion can take things too far. They have a tendency to sometimes over-generalize, or demean groups of people, organizations, or specific people. These crude comments that The Onion makes are sometimes bluntly true (but improper to address), or sometimes it is a load of crap that just shows the author’s own feelings on the subject matter. Sometimes with the oversimplification of the story, the result is a rude feeling toward the event. Although The Onion sometimes makes rash comments about subject matters, I still usually find it pretty lighthearted and fun. It is much lighter than the ‘real news’ and a lot less depressing.

I do not like our obsession of violence and tragedy in the modern media. The philosophy of ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ really disturbs me. The Onion takes serious things, and dims them down, so that reading the ‘news’ can be more enjoyable. With most of the readers of The Onion being from ages 18 to 44, they should know not to take the stories too seriously (as if they actually happened exactly the way the paper said). An interesting point that the article brought up was that the viewers of the ‘mockery news shows’ (The Colbert Report and The Daily Show) were actually more aware of the world’s current events. It is a simple fact that the viewers of the show are entertained by the inaccurate portrayal of current events, or the sarcastic humor of the newscasters. The viewers who are not up on their current events don’t comprehend the jokes that the media is trying to convey.

The one downfall that The Onion has for me (as a college student), is that sometimes I don’t know how accurate some stories are, and how some information isn’t. Just the other day my girlfriend and I were waiting for the Campus Connector and picked up The Onion. We both read the same articles, but pondered how much it actually connected to reality (which strengthens my last point that the knowledgeable readers enjoy the jokes more). Some of the stories are so farfetched that it is obviously just for humor, but some of the stories are written in a more sophisticated tone, and without knowing everything that had happened recently (I don’t have cable), it was hard to decipher what was fact, and what was fiction.

For this reason, The Onion should never replace other forms of media. Although the news on TV and the newspapers have the philosophy “if it bleeds, it leads? they are trying to incorporate lighter subjects to their papers or shows. The papers are incorporating more entertaining articles to the paper, especially with their newer sections like “Entertainment?, “Housing and Gardening?, and others.

In addressing the question of the article: “Is The Onion our most intelligent newspaper??, I would have to say it might be. The economics that The Onion has are amazing. It is a free paper that is one of the most read papers in our time, and an innovator in displaying stories to the public. Many of the top selling newspapers are including different ideas that The Onion provides (making the paper more entertaining, rather than just a tool). Even if the stories that The Onion prints are not true, it is a very well done paper in my mind. It combines our nature of wanting to know what is going on, and mocks our obsession with violence and crime. It makes serious matters funny, and it’s readily available almost everywhere and is free!

October 28, 2007

Solution to sleep problem

I found this article very interesting because it relates to everyone; we all have our own sleeping pattern, habits and schedules. There are so many topics rolled into sleep and how much students should get. I believe the times for schools should be changed and believe there are many benefits rather than negative aspects to this change. An example of this is the school district I grew up in there are 2 high schools, 3 Middle Schools and eleven elementary schools. I believe there is solutions to the sleep problem my district had and that is start the elementary schools first then the middle schools and lastly the high schools. For parents with a full time job the average work time starts between 6-8 am. Many parents could benefit from this time change rather than sending their kids to daycare or leaving them at home hoping they are safe at a bus stop. If school started at the high school times between 7 and 7:30 they could drop the kids off or at least see they get on the bus safely. As for sleep this means that if children in elementary schools go to bed at 9 and wake up by 6 they are getting the 9 hours of sleep recommended for their age. This is easier to obtain as a child with parental influences for a bed time.

When individuals get older it becomes “cooler? to not have a bed time and stay up a little latter. As for high school students they are more responsible and more capable to get transportation to schools with many kids that can drive and would benefit from the extra sleep seeing as they are more involved in after school activities then younger students. High school students need about 8-9 hours of sleep which isn’t too much different than that of an 8 year old. The difference is that due to over packed schedules and school activities they are typically chronically sleep deprived. “Recent data suggests that 70 million Americans may suffer from either chronic sleep disorder or intermittent sleep deprivation? (Rubin). This may also be a reason for bad tempers, problems in school, driving accidents, and drug use. I think most of our class can attest to the fact that in high school it is rare to get to bed before 10 at night. If a student were to start school around 9am as most elementary schools start now they could go to bed at 11pm get up between 7 and 8am getting their 8 to 9 hours of sleep in. This is also good because it is closer to the time they would go to sleep on weekends. As the article said, “Staying up three hours later on weekends is equivalent to flying across three time zones every weekend.? With a midnight curfew for high school students on weekends the bed time is only thrown off by an hour or so.

By having this starting time change in schools would not only benefit the students and their sleep but additionally the safety and convince issues it would have for parents. Comparing elementary to high schools if is easy to say the difference in sleep is obvious. “60 percent of high schoolers report extreme daytime sleepiness.? How many times can a person remember falling asleep or seeing someone asleep in elementary school? It just doesn’t happen often but as schooling continues for an individual the more sleeping goes on in the classroom. In high school, “over 25 percent fall asleep in class at least once a week. The correlations really spike in high school, because that’s when there’s a steep drop-off in kids’ sleep.? This sleeping problem could all be solved if administration of the school districts could come together and realize the importance of sleep in children and how it affects their overall education.

http://www.therubins.com/aging/sleep.htm (Allan Rubin)

October 25, 2007

Is The Onion our most intelligent newspaper?

Although I do not read The Onion often, I am usually greatly amused when I do open it up. With all the seriousness in the world today, it is a nice change to laugh for a bit about current events. The onion is anything but credible and I would never replace it with reading a real newspaper, but I do enjoy it from time to time to keep up on my current events.

Despite its “Fake news?, The Onion has done extremely well. It is one of the top selling newspapers in America, and you can find it almost anywhere in the country. It is a relatively new paper, first written in 1988 by a college junior. It’s modern form of writing appeals to younger people and the majority of its readers range from age 18 to 44. Many older, reformed journalists find it to be inappropriate and unprofessional.

Molly Murphy

The Onion can be very offensive to certain people about certain articles. Even just reading some of their headlines, I question how they are even allowed to write some of the things that are in it. In the article, Beato claims that one of The Onion’s key selling points is, “Their willingness to Offend?. The newspaper has no problem offending any one person, or group of persons. This willingness to offend has caused The Onion to almost be law suited out of business. But it is also what makes it an extremely popular newspaper. American’s are getting tired of the regular newspaper’s beating around the bush. There is an appreciation when one reads someone’s actual opinion, even if it is offensive.

To compete with The Onion, other newspapers are becoming more personal, asking for the communities input on things like cooking, gardening and current events. Although the public does seem to respond to this personalization of the news, it is still not up to par with what The Onion has to offer.

The Onion’s approach to use sarcasm is becoming a popular form of media. Other television shows such as The Colbert Report are using the same method to attract an audience. Although many people are very against this form of journalism, in the article Beato states that, “viewers of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are among America’s most informed citizens?. So even though the show’s main purpose is to make a comedy about today’s current events, it still is focusing on current events, and people who wouldn’t normally pick up a newspaper are getting their dose of knowledge about the world today.

I personally quite enjoy this change that the media is seeing. Whenever I turn on the news all I see are sad, depressing events going on in the world. But The Onion’s goal is not to eliminate these stories; in fact they are doing the opposite. By bluntly stating the story, usually totally and completely stretched, they form a story that is interesting and doesn’t put a damper on your day.

As I stated before, I would never replace The Onion with a regular newspaper. But it is a nice change of pace from every day news. It will forever be a controversial newspaper, but that is part of the appeal of it.

October 24, 2007

Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite.

Sometimes when I go to bed at night early I’m so excited by how much sleep I’m going to get and how good I will feel in the morning. What usually happens is that I went to bed so early that I wasn’t tired and ended up laying in bed for an extra hour or a half just waiting for that next minute when possibly, luckily, I will fall asleep. Whenever this occurs I always feel like I wasted another hour and a half of valuable time that I could’ve used studying, reading, writing another paper or watching at least three full episodes of Sex and the City. I suppose we all have ways of spending our precious time on this earth and to some sleep might not be that important. I know of two girls on the floor above me that study to two o’clock in the morning and are in Math at eight the following day. Where are our priorities? And should sleep be the highest on the list?

A recent study shows that even ten more minutes of sleep can improve our quality of life at school. Not necessarily every quality—if you go to a poor school, then you can’t help that—but it helps your quality of obtaining knowledge develop better. A couple of years ago Dr. Avi Sadeh of Tel Aviv University wanted to know the effects of an extra half an hour of sleep, or a deficit of a half of an hour. Randomly he selected seventy-seven fourth-graders and sixth-graders and randomly told them to go to bed earlier or to go to bed later for three consecutive nights. The first thing that was on mind was how Dr. Avi Sadeh would know that the children were telling the truth that they truly went to bed earlier or later? I thought maybe the parents would be monitoring, but it was much more complex than that. Dr. Sadeh sent the children home with an actigraph that measures they sleep by the way they move. This actigraphs showed the trend of the first group resulted in them receiving 30 minutes more of sleep, while the second group’s actigraphs showed the result of them being deprived of 31 minutes of sleep.

Once the experimental stage of his research was complete Dr. Sadeh needed to test the children to prove a difference in the amount of sleep they received. The test the subjects partook in was used to “rate a child’s ability to maintain attention in class? as the article stated, but I didn’t understand if this would me that they did not necessarily learn more. Dr. Sadeh’s test resulted in a huge difference. He discovered that the loss of one hour of sleep is equal to losing two years of your academic life. Apparently he is not alone in his findings. His results are completely consisted when compared to many other studies done by researchers across the United States including two from the University of Minnesota.

The next argument presented is that if studies consistently show that more sleep is better, why don’t they start off the school day later? As a study proved in at Edina, an suburb of Minneapolis, switching from 7:25 in the morning to 8:30 in the morning caused a dramatically educational boost in the students. For the longest time at my high school in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, SPASH--which is known for their positive experiments on their student body--debated if they should start school later. The only problem that occurred at the time with that was that my town’s school district was in mega debt and growing—about $28 million each year. Of course over the last few years money has had an important hold over the district and thus the buses couldn’t operate to the high school at the same time the elementary school starts—which is already at 9:00am. Therefore, this was one experiment I sadly, could not partake in. I mean of course who wouldn’t love getting more sleep? Fortunately for myself, my senior year I had reliable transportation and the option of having an open hour, which gave me two options to choose from—going to school an hour later, or leaving school an hour earlier. I opted for both, and first semester I slept in until 7:00am whereas second semester I needed to wake up around 5:30am. I didn’t realize a difference in my test scores, nor my GPA unlike studies showed, but I think that may have been for the weighted grades of AP classes. Hooray.

The Never-Ending Controversy of Teaching Politics

Kimberly Ayres
Writ 1013 Ward
Position Statement
Preface: I had some disagreements with the author of this article until I read a short biography about the author, Stanley Fish. To make it short and simple, Fish has held a number of distinguished positions in the academic world. He is an author of ten books, had taught at the University of California at Berkeley and he has held several scholarly positions around the U.S. My disagreements with Fish terminated possibly because of the other New York Times article posted on the class website, Diet and Fat: A Severe Case of Mistaken Consensus, when the author, John Tierney, referred to a common fallacy in the scientific world called the “information cascade.? He explains that most people agree with one person who seems confident with their answer; this fallacy possibly makes the true answer or information lost in the depths of the he-said-she-said erroneous belief. My reaction pertains to Fish’s article, George W. Bush and Melville’s Ahab: Discuss! but my initial background pertains to the concept of Tierney’s article.
At the beginning of Fish’s article, he affirms that the opinion of the American Association of University Professors states that teachers are able to liberally teach material to their students, but they must abstain the controversial matter that does not relate to the subject. He questions the clarity of the specific words “controversial? or “relation? in the statement in the article of 1940, which seems quite clear to me. Especially in our current nation, any person can easily distinguish something controversial from something that is not within the snap of a finger. There is no need to question something on whether or not it is biased; as Americans, living in a heavily-disputed democracy, when we sense opinion, we know. The AAUP presented a well-structured, sturdy guideline that was left up for the rest of us to interpret; that obligation to us seems to be fair because they cannot possibly define all aspects of Fish’s supposed confusing words, “controversial? or “relation.? In its statement, the AAUP acknowledges that teaching controversial subjects is inevitable.
He then presents the subcommittee’s viewpoint that a teacher is able to teach their political standpoint as long as one is able to give ideal background information and educational insights on why one’s opinion is shifted in that direction. Fish specifically states that the word “balance? signifies the view of the subcommittee. I agree that an essential part of teaching consists of a balanced viewpoint of all possible alternatives and conversations that apply to a theory.
My main concern is that academics should come first; the political position of a good teacher should remain a mystery to the classmates. Relating to Fish’s stimulation technique in the classroom, I have experienced that, during a class debate or discussion, the teacher endorses both sides of an issue, praises the students’ insightful statements for each position, and the teacher does not deem a certain viewpoint as a “winner? for the debate. The idea is to get students to formulate their own opinions about current arguments and to reinforce them with praise or a good grade. This technique exposes students to the actual debates circulating in society, without making a particular topic superior.
Fish’s description of the negative comparison between Captain Ahab in Moby Dick and our current president, George W. Bush, should not have been extinguished from teaching, as Fish implies. It should have elaborated not only the perspective of Bush as a dictator, but should have equilibrated with the positive point of view about Bush. Whatever is criticized should be analyzed.
Fish arranges a good argument about the controversy within the discussion regarding freedom of speech in education. He compares his opinion on the declaration of the subcommittee in the AAUP. It is essential to learn both perspectives of politics or even religion. This gives students a “heads up? in the political world if they study each side in depth. In our world, it is simply impossible to try to give an unbiased lesson on politics; the only way to avoid it is, as Fish mentions, to create stimulation within students on certain issues as long as it falls into the academic category rather than the awry “Bush-Ahab? category.

Works Cited
Fish, Stanley. "George W. Bush and Melville's Ahab: Discuss!" The New York Times 21 October 2007.
Tierney, John. "Diet and Fat: A Severe Case of Mistaken Consensus." The New York Times 9 October 2007.

Snooze or Lose. The Choice is Yours.

I was initially drawn to this article because normally only get seven and a half hours of sleep per night as opposed to the recommended minimum of eight hours for young adolescents and teens. I have always assumed that a half and hour of sleep was not a big deal, especially since I have always had relatively good grades. However, this article seems to prove my way of thinking incorrect.

Dr. Avi Sadeh’s experiment with seventy-seven fourth and sixth graders definitely provides undisputable evidence that a half an hour of sleep really does matter. Sadeh randomly gave these children instructions to either go to bed early or stay up late. The first group went to sleep thirty minutes earlier than normal. The latter group went to sleep thirty-one minutes later than normal. After three straight nights of this behavior, the children were given a neurobiological functioning exam. The test used can accurately predict both a child’s academic achievement and their ability to maintain focus and attention during class. The tests showed that the hour’s difference in sleep is equivalent to two grade levels of cognitive knowledge, in other words, “a slightly sleepy sixth grader will perform in class like a mere fourth grader.? Sadeh is not alone in his findings, Dr. Monique LeBourgeois of Brown University and Dr. Paul Suratt of the University of Virginia have conducted similar studies. LeBourgeois found that students scored seven points lower on school-readiness exams after a weekend sleep schedule. Suratt also found a seven point differential on vocabulary tests between students with sleep disorders and children without them.

One thing schools can do to combat this trend is to start classes later. There are a handful of schools nationwide attempting this approach, the most known being right here in Edina, Minnesota. The start time for high schools in Edina was changed from 7:25 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. The following year, SAT verbal and math scores for the top ten percent of Edina’s students had increased by two-hundred twelve points. In Lexington, Kentucky, school start time was moved back one hour and student awareness was positively affected. The district saw a sixteen percent decrease in student related automobile accidents while the rest of the state saw a nine percent increase.

Another part of this article that I found intriguing was the mention of University of Minnesota Professors Dr. Kyla Wahlstrom and Dr. Mark Mahowald. Wahlstrom surveyed seven thousand Minnesota high school students regarding their sleep habits and grades. She discovered that A students got approximately 15 more minutes of sleep than B students. B students sleep about eleven minutes longer than C students, and C students sleep about ten minutes longer than D students. An earlier, similar study had had the same results with three thousand Rhode Island high school students. The two studies show that not only does every half-hour count, but every fifteen minutes counts. Mahowald’s mention in the article is more of a comment than a study. He states, “Of all the arguments I’ve heard over school start-times, not one person has argued that children learn more at 7:15 a.m. than at 8:30?, as a dismissal to those who argue for earlier school start-times. This statement is warranted because he has a Ph.D. in neurosciences and currently manages a sleep clinic at the Hennepin County Medical Center.

The final section of the article that I found interesting is the discovery of the “neuroendocrine cascade? by Dr. Eve Van Cauter at the University of Chicago. Most people would say that overweight people are lazy and people that sleep a lot are lazy, so by the process of circular reasoning people that sleep a lot should be overweight. However, Cauter’s research disagrees with this statement. She found that sleep loss triggers the hormone ghrelin, which signals hunger, and decreases the body’s output of leptin, which suppresses appetite. Sleep loss also increases the effects of the stress hormone cortisol. Human Growth Hormone or HGH, which is secreted as a big pulse at the beginning of sleep, is also disrupted. I do not understand this part of her research because it seems to me if HGH were secreted right away, children could sleep for five minutes a day and still get the HGH they need.

In conclusion, this article was very interesting and brought up some good points, but I won’t be changing my sleeping habits, at least not unless my grades take a sharp dive in the near future.

Michael Arens

If we snooze, do we really lose??

I read “Snooze or Lose? by Po Bronson and I found it really interesting. The article is about how the average kid today is getting an hour less of sleep than they actually need. Over the years, I have always been told by my mom and dad that I need sleep to function. This seems like an obvious statement to me, and I have always thought so. Unfortunately, like most kids and teens I never actually went to bed when I was “advised? to. Why go to sleep if I do not feel tired? I had many reasons or according to my mother, “excuses? as to why I should stay up later instead of going to sleep. I had homework, I was talking to my friends, or I just could not sleep still being way too wired from the hectic day of school, sports, and friends. One reason why I usually did not go to bed was that my “bedtime? was never enforced. “While parents obsess over babies’ sleep, this concern falls off the priority list after preschool? (6). In the article, Po Bronson discusses the idea that if schools start later, students will learn better. While I have no personal experience with this idea, it seems to be a great idea for students today. Having attended a school that started at 7:25 every morning I never had trouble contributing or functioning in my morning classes, but maybe that was because I woke up earlier than most students do, or maybe I managed somehow to get an adequate amount of sleep to get me through the day of school.
The article provides countless “evidence? that if a school starts later in the morning, then the students will learn better and be better students because of the later start time for school. The author discusses a school in Edina, Minnesota that decided to start school at a later time than they had started in the past and after doing that found that “In the year preceding the time change, math and verbal SAT scores for the top 10 percent of Edina’s students averaged 1288? (18). Apparently not only test scores can be changed for the better, but also the numbers of car accidents students have each year. “After the time change, teenage car accidents in Lexington were down 16 percent? (19). While I know that it is common and obvious knowledge that getting a good night’s sleep is important for any activities, I think that most people do not really consider that before they get behind the wheel to drive a car. I know at my high school students would wake up a half hour before school was supposed to start, drive to Starbucks to get their coffee to wake up, and then after finally getting their “wake up?, they would carry on to school. It seems insane that people do not think about things like getting into accidents when they are tired and getting behind the wheel of their car, but students and people on their way to their jobs all do this, whether they admit it or not. Another aspect of the idea of starting schools at a later time is the fact that many schools ignore the evidence supporting this idea. “85 percent of America’s public high schools start before 8:15 a.m. Thirty-five percent start at or before 7:30 a.m.? (20). One question that comes to mind is, if starting school at a later time will not only help your students’ test scores but also make them safer out on the road, why would a school not change the start time to a later one? Apparently there are a great number of reasons that fights this idea. “Having high schools start earlier often allows buses to first deliver the older students, then do a second run with the younger children. This could mean doubling the size of the bus fleet. Teachers prefer driving to school before other commuters clog the roads. Coaches worry their student athletes will miss games because they’re still in class at kickoff time? (21). While all of these reasons make complete sense, they seem to me to just be excuses for the school districts to not have to go through the “trouble? of changing the way things are. Teachers are usually at school a long while before most students start to arrive at school, and if it is really a concern the times of sports events could be changed to support this change. I think if the people in charge of the schools could, they should consider changing the start times of school. The benefits will outweigh the negative aspects by many, most important being the success and safety of the students.

October 23, 2007

Hopefully This Will Make Conversation

Kimberly Ayres
Writ 1301
Jeff Ward
Position Statement-ish?

One of the things that I have learned in this class is that you cannot make a reaction out of something you do not feel strongly about. A person needs to have some personal reference to a story to be able to make a true, genuine response. I feel like I have responded to some weblogs because I have to force myself to have a reaction. Is it possible to be completely apathetic about something? Possibly not, but one can get disoriented in trying to make a reaction out of nothing.
On the other hand, I cannot persecute all stories that have been posted on the weblog because I have had a legitimate reaction to them and I have formed an opinion of my own. For example, Margaret Bourke-White is someone I had a reaction to possibly because she is a woman, because she was famous for being a talented photojournalist, and because the media loved her. I can relate to that even enough to write 750 words about. The essays from my classmates are well-done and deserve to have comments posted to compliment for their hard work, but it is difficult to conjure up an opinion on someone-else’s judgment that may not be a sincere reaction to material given, and I do not expect you to do the same to mine. Another example is, at this time, the most recent example of a visual personality test makes me wonder about how these tests are constructed, what are the reactions of the participants in the tests, or can one really agree with the answer? I could respond easily to something from the Minnesota Daily or the bomb threats on the West Bank. I realize the challenge that is being presented by having us respond to some difficult texts, but I cannot take a standpoint if I cannot connect.
The solution? I would love to surf the internet and post up random blogs that may actually ignite an opinion and begin a conversation as long as my classmates and teacher are willing to do the same. Reading such confusing articles regarding documentaries makes it difficult to congregate a reaction for me. If the material was more on my level of interest, the content and the sincerity of my position statements may improve and hopefully may conjure more comments.
Now that was easy to react.

Thank you for reading this – please comment truthfully!

October 20, 2007

Visual Personality Test

Using simple prompts which ask people to answer questions visually, the visual personality test is amazingly accurate (in my opinion, at least).

October 18, 2007

Camera Lucida

Barthes’s view on “Photographs? as he calls them with the capital P was a very interesting view point. Unlike other reading before him he tries to tackle photograph from a different view point by defining pictures in a whole new way. Barthes’s method of viewing photo was amazingly interesting because he does not take what other have to say about the picture, but look at picture from only his view point with saying the words “I like it? or “I don’t like it.? Barthes interestingly created two words from Latin to categorize the photos with simply “punctum? and “stadium.? Barthes categorizes “punctum? as photos that “pricks? us while “stadium? photos are simply photos of like and dislike.
To what Barthes has to say make senses to me. For example when he talks about how “Photographs is pure contingency and can be nothing else,? it makes sense because most photos that I have seen so far represented something in one way or another. Another point that he made that took me awhile to think about was that “Photograph is dangerous.? I though how can a photographs be of any danger in anyway. Then remembering back to the Errol Morris article a photograph without the context cannot be that dangerous, but one with context can be dangerous.
I found Roland Barthes article “Camera Lucida? very interesting to read because I buy what he is trying to say. I also found myself agreeing to most of what he had to say about photographs therefore it was much easier to read what he had to say.

“In China, a Lake’s Champion Imperils Himself?

“In China, a Lake’s Champion Imperils Himself? is a nice change of pace from constantly reflecting on the science of photographs. Hopefully the pollution problem in China will yield a debate that will come to some type of conclusion, because I am getting sick of running in circles with photography.

As I first started reading this article, I couldn’t help but think about our situation here in the United States. It seems like we (the US) and China are in on the same problem when it comes to pollution. We acknowledge this issue, but are hesitant for a change when it jeopardizes profitability. China is also engulfed in this debate, but their “hesitant? nature consists of arrests and secrecy rather than addressed public concern and political debating. “Fixing the environment is, in other words, a political problem.? Too much time, in both countries, is spent talking about finding ways to limit and reduce pollution instead of actually doing our plan. (Yes, bio-fuels are an example of progress in becoming more eco-friendly, but it doesn’t really count. We still pollute by chemical application on fields; ethanol and Biodiesel produce CO2; and we haven’t really reduced our dependency on foreign oil, we just have more to use.)

The main steam of the environmental protection debate is revolving around one thing: money. I believe that if money was not an issue; environmental pollution resolutions would be an easy task for any government to complete. I cannot speak for the United States, but in China four-fifths of the revenue for government comes directly from taxing chemical, power and production plants. It is understandable why they aren’t being as aggressive as the United States when trying to clean the air and water. By constricting these plants, they wouldn’t be able to fund themselves, the environmental clean up programs they need, or many of the other problems that China is facing, like over population.

This article sparked another concern that I have; I’m sorry for not going into further detail about Wu Lihong and the trouble he has gone through, but I feel that overpopulation in China may work in tandem with pollution to cause complete chaos in the country. As you know, China is the largest country in terms of population, with well over one billion citizens. Within the past few decades, cities large and small have started to catch up with other developed countries in the world, and this increased need for technology, mainly cars and computers, will ultimately mean increased need for energy. China is not implementing up to date science and environmental awareness when they construct their thousands of power plants. I heard a statistic from a professor here at the University that China is building a new coal-powered power plant almost every week. Frightening news. The United States is consuming the majority of the worlds supply of coal, and with competition from China, the reserves will dry up quicker than expected. Daily life here and in China will become more complicated as a result. Another disturbing result is the affects that China has and will continue to have on the environment. Joseph Kahn illiterates this for us in “In China, a Lake’s Champion Imperils Himself,? where we can read of the damage that has already occurred. Just imagine the impact of new power plants on the environment without the implication of environmental protection.

China, the United States, as well as many other countries need to get their act together when it comes to protecting the environment. I acknowledge the baby-steps that most of us have taken, but other things need to happen; strict mandates or laws with no under the table barters, in order to see and feel a difference in the world. The issue of money needs to be set aside so we can focus about what is most important: a quality environment for future generations to live in. We are all too concerned about “paying the mortgage? but the earth has a mortgage too. I had a teacher last year who had a saying about the environment. “The earth is not ours; but rather we are borrowing in from our grandchildren.?

Camera Lucida

“I see photographs everywhere, like everyone else, nowadays; they come from the world to me, without my asking; they are only ‘images.’? So begins section six of Roland Barthes essay on photography, Camera Lucida. Barthes’s voice in Camera Lucida has a very arrogant feel, and most of his evidence towards his claims come directly from himself and his own opinions. He speaks about the art of photography as if talking about an old acquaintance, giving Photography a capitol ‘P’ when mentioned, such as when he states “there are moments when I detest Photography? or “that Photography is an uncertain art.? What’s rather peculiar about the reading is that Barthes is constantly contradicting himself. Towards every given photo, and several others at that, Barthes offers his opinion judging towards the importance and significance, and his interpretation of it. But in his paper Barthes clearly states that he has no desire “to fill the scene of the text with [his] individuality.?

As he writes, Barthes makes a point to separate himself from the pathos of a photograph. He wants to get a more distant view than that of which would be simply viewed at first glance. To separate himself from the emotion of the picture would allow for a more artistic view towards the photograph. Though effective, this viewing technique comes off as disturbing from a humane level. On page 159 we are shown the picture of some small children in Little Italy, New York sometime in 1954. The photograph is a dramatic image showing a group of children naively smiling, and there is a small boy in the center, who while smiling, has a revolver pointed at his temple. A child has a gun to his head, and all Barthes can manage to say is how the picture is “all very touching, amusing, but what I stubbornly see are the one child’s bad teeth.? The child’s bad teeth!?

Something I agreed with Barthes writing was his opinions on the historical importance and authenticity of some photographs. On page 149, he discusses how through this photo of Russian peasants, he can learn certain things about their culture. One can view broad topics such as how people dressed, and interacted with one another, or more less thought about things such as how long people wore their nails in certain periods. He speaks about how Photography can show us these things much better than any human interpretation could, such as in a painted portrait. He conveys that Photography has an important relation to history.

Barthes later discusses photography and the meaning behind certain photographs. In advertising the meaning behind a photograph is meant to be clear and distinct, with a simple nature with the sole purpose to sell. Though I suppose it is not so different from other types of photography, with the sole purpose of a picture to convey a certain emotion or feeling with the direction to make you feel a certain way. Barthes even says in regard of what we, as in the general public, define as a “good? picture simple put would be a picture that inspires us to think. But controdictly, Barthes later explains a certain potential photographer for Time Magazine whose pictures were rejected because his pictures “spoke too much?: “They made us reflect, suggested a meaning--a different meaning from the literal one.? So sometimes photography is not too radical when it “frightens, repels, or even stigmatizes? but is absolutely outrageous when it makes us think.

Another thing that shook me about some of the pictures exampled in Barthes’ book was the harshness of the past, and what is and was considered appropriate to say. On page 162 there is a photograph of two mentally-retarded children standing in front of one another taken in 1924. The photograph is titled “Idiot Children in an Institution.? Today it is far from politically correct to call someone that is mentally handicapped an idiot, and the attitude behind the picture, the lack of dignity given towards the subjects would be seen as completely inappropriate and harsh if repeated today. And as I mentioned earlier, Barthes’ separation from emotion is somewhat irking when reading his opinions on this photo. Barthes describes the children as having “monstrous heads? and “pathetic profiles.?

All and all I found Barthes’ views on photography, or Photography as he calls it, to be very unique and offering to very different angles than I’ve never encountered before, but his arrogance and love of himself and his opinion is hard to get over. His reading is hard to pull through as he constantly contradicts himself and he loves using complicated terminology and when he can’t find a word complicated enough, he invents his own, to the greater confusion of the reader. So to conclude in Barthes’ example: I surcease to eulogize the disquisition, Camera Lucida.

Frogs and Better Hearing Aids

I read the article, “Lessons from the Frog Chorus? and the four videos which went along with the article. The article was very interesting in the fact that I would never even think about combining the research of frogs to human hearing. In the article it talks about Mark Bee who is the lead researcher on the project, why frogs are good subjects to study, and how he is going about conducting his research.

Mark Bee is an assistant professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior here at the University of Minnesota. He has been working here since 2005. Before working at the U of M, Bee worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Oldenburg, Germany. In Germany he worked in the lab of animal physiology and behavior. Mark Bee also has received many rewards for his research. For example, he received the Frank A. Beach Comparative Psychology award. This award is given to the best paper published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology. As you can see Mark Bee is well qualified for this research. If you want to look at more things about Mr. Bee this is the website I used.

Why did Mark Bee choose the University of Minnesota to conduct his research? One factor that brought him to the U of M was all the water in the area. There are numerous lakes in the twin cities area. Although there are not many different species of frogs in Minnesota, that did not deter Mark from coming here. He said that there are a number of researches interested in human hearing here at the U of M which was a big factor in coming here.

The article said, “He's especially interested in the so-called "cocktail party effect"--the ability of many animals and most human beings to pick out a sound or voice from the acoustic clutter of many other voices and sounds.? For example, you get on the campus connector and sit down in the front of the bus. A few minutes later you hear a specific voice that you recognize as your friends and you turn around and it is actually your friend who is speaking. That is the “cocktail party effect? in action. Female frogs use the “cocktail party effect? while searching for a male in the mating season.

To be able to study the frogs, Mark Bee and his six undergraduate assistants must capture frogs and bring them back to the lab on the St. Paul campus. Originally I thought this was cruel to the animals to take them out of their environment. Reading the article explained to me how the transfer did not affect the frogs. When the researches put the frogs into the plastic containers for transfer right when they put them in the containers they resumed their mating calls. Back at the lab the article said that they refrigerate the frogs over night. This is done so that the female frogs do not lay any eggs so they are still in the mode for the experiments. I also thought this was pretty cruel. Me not knowing much about frogs but in the article it explains how frogs are cold blooded and their body temperature is related to the weather so they are used to the drops in temperature of a Minnesota winter.

Like myself, you might be asking, how does the study of a frogs hearing help with human hearing. I could not figure out how this would work. The article only tells me that by studying the much simpler frogs than humans we might find something that was missed or overlooked while just looking at humans.

Even though I do not know how this is going to work, I do think that this research is good. If or when they do make a connection it will greatly benefit many people. With my parents beginning to get older, hearing loss most likely will start to begin. When this does happen I would like them to have the best possible hearing aid out there. I would want my parents to be able to pick me out of the conversations going on at a busy restaurant when I take them out to eat in future years.

"In, around, and afterthoughts"

While first reading this article I found myself to be in complete opposition of Mr. Ward’s first disposition, towards the article. I was on the side of Martha Rosler. She had some good points that Jeff acknowledged, as well, but I could agree with her because I could not think of a way to prove her wrong, based upon my lack of knowledge of the history of documentary. Then again a few of her ideas rubbed me the wrong way and I could only try to reason why. There were times in this article when I wanted to rip my hair out, and there were times when reading that I understood what was going on. Here is what I came to understand before Tuesday’s class, even if now I feel slightly differently.

When reading “In, around, and afterthought? I noticed that Martha Rosler had a continuous theme of talking about the history of documentary compared to today’s version of documentary. Throughout the piece I picked up on the idea that Rosler did not want to discredit the photographer or the artist rather that she was putting out the idea of having the documentary in the first place. Rather within the piece she actually hints at reform within the documentary in order to suit the public, either being documented or the audience. She talks about people not caring about documentary and only reading them as a way to make themselves feel better about there own lives, which is shown when she says, “liberal documentary assuages any stirrings of conscience in its viewers the way scratching relieves and itch and simultaneously reassures them about their relative wealth and social position.? (pg 306/307)

I could believe and relate to this. I see ads for feed my starving children on television and I read about news stories of traumatic events, such as the flooding in southeast MN. These people could use my help, but I don’t do anything. At the age of 18 I am perfectly capable of trying to help these people, yet they don’t receive my help. It has to do with priorities; people don’t want to rearrange their schedules to help someone who they don’t know. However, the goal of writing anything of worth is to make people care, according to Rosler this is missing in Liberal documentary. She is saying that documentary needs to reform or leave.

However, I can also take another point of view; here Rosler’s logic is flawed. I see her article as a response to society’s ignorant repugnant self, who does not take into account any problems but their own. She is saying that documentary is useless because nothing comes of it, but it is not the fault of the artist, it is society that makes the documentary obsolete.

So on one hand it is the documentaries job to make the public care, but on the other hand, if the public refuses to care, what should be done with documentary? Or is the quarrel simply over the definition of documentary?

One point of interest in the article is when she talks about the subject in the documentary. She talks about the people being cheated, both by “betraying their own heritage,? (pg 310/311) and by the case of Florence Thompson.

First she talks about cultures being put into history. When cultures are documented she says that it continues “traditional racism? (pg 311). Parts of the culture are left behind because there is no way to represent everything about a group of people. But in doing this the culture is misrepresented just to get the attention of the public.

As far as Florence Thompson goes her story is sad. This quote really stood out in my mind, “That’s my picture hanging all over the world and I can’t get a penny out of it.?(pg 313) Is this right? Florence thought that by being photographed she would get some help to better her own life, but this never happened. Here I almost felt like Lange was the bully, and that's not right. (this shows how skewed this article is) People like her received some relief, but that probably doesn’t mean much to Thompson who had high hopes of getting some help herself. In documentary it is hard to help anyone if the documentary is not reaching the capable public.

It is also hard to completely trust what Rosler says because she is focusing on the ulterior motives of every person involved, in other words a pessimist. She focuses on the fame and fortune (“bedrock of financial gain? (pg 320/321)) aspect of the photographer, whether it is his/her goal or not (not, in the case of Gene Smith). She focuses on the subjects longing for individual attention, help, and money. And she focuses on the readers unresponsive, self praising tendencies. When she does not bring up the true goal of the artist her argument is skewed. She also does not bring up the amount of help the public does put in; in cases where charitable foundations are created and succeed, ex sunami. These articles do reach the public, just not the whole public, and she puts no mention of this in her piece.

I believe that Rosler sees a problem with society and she immediately associates it with documentary. Yet she only sees the problem because she is looking for it. The goal of documentary may not be to get help for others, but to inform in hope to get others to care about the topic.

By reading this article I am very confused by her interpretation of events, I can agree and disagree with her at the same time, which shows that her choice of argument is a good one, and well as complex. Before being able to understand this article one would have to have a grip of knowledge on the subject as well as an understanding of both sides. I do not have that much knowledge on the subject, which is why my position is somewhat of a volley in a match of wits.

In China, a Lake’s Champion Imperils Himself

In China, a Lake’s Champion Imperils Himself
By: TJ Dubbs

After reading “In China, a Lake’s Champion Imperils Himself? and then reading it again right there after, I asked myself “what in the world?? These were about the only words I could even think of after reading this incredibly disturbing yet ridicules article. While reading I read of pressing issues in the environment, lies, and corruption. This article is especially pertinent to me because this is my field; this is what I am studying. This kind of thing is my future, no matter how polluted and nasty it is. The information is this article is appealing, how could the government or any environmental groups not care? In my mind, I cannot even comprehend it. The facts presented in this article are very clear, especially concerning what is actually going on at Lake Tai, in central China. In the article, Joseph Kahn the author speaks of vast amounts of industrial type plants near the banks of this large lake in central China. This lake is the 3rd largest lake in China and is key to thousands for water, food, transportation, and irrigation.

There are an estimated 2,800 chemical plants near Lake Tai and its tributaries. These plants make everything from bricks to dyes, adhesives, and soundproofing material just to name a few. All of these plants take water from the lake and put it back, but the water being put back is full of chemicals, pollutants, and other harmful things that destroy the environment and the area around the lake. It was reported that the lake turned a “fluorescent green? as a result of all the harmful things being dumped into the lake both blatantly and secretly. It was not until Wu Lihong, a local worker and resident who protested against the pollution did things start to get better. However, it took over a decade for that to happen. Over the course of a decade Wu faced hardships of every kind. He lost his job, he was arrested, persecuted, and thrown in jail because he protested against the government and its policy toward pollution.

Wu went as far as taking pictures and samples of the water near him as well as in other areas further away. He did get some results, local media and officials came to examine an area at one point. Wu thought this was a good thing, however, the plant nearby got wind of the inspectors arrival and proceeded to clean up nearby streams, dredge them, only emit clean water, remodel their factory, and put fish and fishermen on and in the stream. The plant went to huge lengths not to reveal their true secrets or intentions. The media came and went, saw nothing wrong. Wu had charges for fraud and other things put on him because of instances like this. When I read this it really bothered me. The facts were so obvious, how could people not see? The lake was green! Lakes are not normally green, no not normally smell like death or require the use of rubber gloves and boots to avoid melting of the skin while coming in contact with the water. Things like these should not happen, simple as that. The facts were very much so in plain view at Lake Tai. This was not for a short time either, things like these went on for ten years. That really gave me a shock, that it took ten years and a lot of hardship just to get someone with authority to notice that a huge source of water was horribly polluted and essentially destroyed.

The lake got the point where there was a thick layer of green algae that floated on the top of the water for months! This rendered the water undrinkable and forces hundreds of thousands of people to have to buy bottled water or find other ways to hydrate themselves. This made me mad, this environmental problem should have been stopped long before the point where the majority of the lake was rendered useless. I cant even begin to express my utter disdain and disappointment of the Chinese authorities and other government leaders for letting something like this go one for so long. This would never happen is the USA, it would have been cleaned up and things would have changed in half the time if not better, the sheer idea of having that many industrial plants near a lake is daunting , even though the lake is enormous. Industry expands this is a well known and accepted fact, but we as citizens and people who live in this world need to watch out for things like this so it doesn’t happen. Wu tried to make changes, he seemed as though he was mostly alone in the fight, this may have been due to fear or the fact that some people just don’t care. Overall, the voice of the little man was silenced.

I feel very strongly about this issue, I think that incidents like Lake Tai should never happen regardless of what country it is in. Furthermore, in today’s day and age we need to pay attention to the environment, especially with growing population, and the especially popular topic of global warming. Incidents like this are but a glimpse of the things that could happen if the right steps are not taken to protect the environment.

October 17, 2007

Students today

From Kansas State University. Does this seem correct to you?

All bad vikings must go!

Not to interrupt the Serranofest that seems to be gearing up, but I feel it important to point out that the Sons of Norway in Duluth are having a sale.

Andres Serrano

The article about Andres Serrano’s paintings getting destroyed is not a surprise to me. I read the article and when I heard about some of his other works, I was disgusted! I’m not exactly sure what photographs taken by Serrano were on display at the gallery, but if they were in the taste of his other works that I researched I have to say in a way I am happy that they were damaged. However, I do not support vandalism or the destruction of art, nor did I see the exact images that were destroyed myself.

I did go to Google and look up Andres Serrano, and found that his other works were absolutely distasteful. The “TriumFish? photograph depicts a nun pleasuring herself and the “Piss Christ? photograph depicts a crucifix immersed in Serrano’s urine; both pictures taken by Serrano. I don’t even know what to say about pictures like that. I am a practicing Christian Catholic, and those photographs are so offending I can’t even put it into words. Other photographs taken by Serrano are of similar material, being pictures of nudes or corpses from morgues.

I will agree that there is a freedom of artistic expression, but the material that Serrano chooses to pursue and photograph is extremely off color. I understand that photographers take pictures of many different things and that they are not always beautiful, but when it comes to insulting religion, I have to say that “Piss Christ? was over the line. There are millions of people throughout the world that should be offended by that image. In fact, when the image was on display at the National Art Gallery of Victoria, Australia there were two incidents where an act of vandalism was attempted on the picture. One was from a 51 year old gentleman, and also another from two teenagers, one eighteen years of age and one sixteen. If the image was so offensive that older and younger generations felt that they had to take action against it should say something about the content of the photograph (Art Crime: Piss Christ).

As for the pictures of the corpses, I still don’t think that it is very tasteful to take pictures of the dead and display them in an art gallery. Having a picture of the dead isn’t always of color or distasteful, I’m being somewhat hypocritical, but sometimes viewing the dead or mangled is almost necessary. In images of war or disaster seeing photos of the dead often gives a lot more meaning to the people viewing the pictures. To photograph corpses that were victims of an accident or natural death and display them in order to make profit the way that Serrano does is something that I do not agree with.
From what I have read in a few articles about other works done by Serrano, nearly every one of his photographs are controversial. I believe that controversial photography is good on one hand, as long as it doesn’t offend half of the world’s population. There was another photograph by Serrano of a member of the Ku Klux Klan, which seems to me like it would lead to a lot of controversy if it was displayed in public. Serrano is an artist that deserves artistic freedom, but the images he insists on capturing should not be displayed in a public art gallery; the privacy of one’s home would be a little more appropriate given the subject matter of the pictures.

All in all my opinion of Andres Serrano is that he is not an artist I would like to view. I also do not support the vandalism of a person’s property in the case of the masked men that destroyed Serrano’s works in Lund Sweden. I just believe that if Serrano chooses to photograph and display such images he should expect some form of reaction from the public. My position on the subject about the vandalism of Andres Serrano’s artwork is that it is wrong to vandalize. However, given the content of most of Serrano’s work and assuming the pictures at the Swedish Gallery were of similar subjects, I can understand why they were destroyed and I would have liked to destroy them myself. I support the freedom to use anything that one wants to as an example of art, but I feel there should be some regulations as to what can be displayed; especially if the material is extremely controversial.

Art Crime: Piss Christ. National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. Oct 16 2007. .

Brought to you by: Andrew Otto

October 16, 2007

How can frogs help us build better hearing aids?

I think this topic is very interesting. It has been known that we have used pigs for their hearts and other animals for other parts that are related to the human. The new a very fascinating topic is the use of frogs to understand how to make hearing aids better. I think it would be a marvelous idea and outcome because the majority of people when they reach the elder years of life will want to have hearing aids. Why not have hearing aids that are just like you didn’t have them? Isn’t that the point?

The research being done is very helpful because they are taking a female frog, which has better hearing than a male, putting it in a situation that can be controlled and having all kinds of other kinds of frog’s calls going. The female can pick up on the call from its own species and tell exactly where the male is in the room. I find this to be very true in humans also, if you walk into a crowded room and find one person you know you can tell what they are saying because you know what their voice sounds like which is different from everyone else. By studying frogs in many different situations can give researchers a better understanding of this way of hearing. It can also tell them why it happens and how. One thing that Mark Bee, lead researcher, wants to do is manipulate the sounds the frogs hear to find out if frogs have the ability to hear the mating call of a male frog and pick it out. Bee selected this college because of all the water. Although there is only about fourteen species of frogs there is a large quantity of them. One thing that will benefit him here is the fact that many people at the U are interested in human hearing.

The sound chamber they are using also sounds very interesting because it is a dark box to simulate night time that has speakers in it the give off different male frog species mating calls. Infrared camera in the box allows them to see what speaker the female frog jumps to. The idea of manipulating the surroundings and using what the frogs will give them is what the research will really help them with.

The research in the way it is being done is also a wonderful idea because it is giving the opportunity for students to conduct in actual university studies. The University of Minnesota is a research college so why not let the students get their hands wet with something may love to do. It is also teaching students about life and hearing especially. This will provide experience, learning practices, and possibly helping them out in the future if they discover a way to relate the frog’s sense of hearing back to humans and use it in hearing aids.

October 11, 2007

'The History of Sex' Scandal

If you didn’t know the history behind the Swedish Art Gallery Scandal, one may ask why someone would do such a thing to hurt one man’s work of art, or even better yet— a masterpiece. But if you look at the past history of Andres Serrano you can see what his artwork consists of and observe how they caused tension in many groups worldwide.

When I researched the background of Andres Serrano even I was taken aback by his pieces of art. Andres Serrano is an American photographer who became famous from taking photos of corpses. Personally I think that in this world there is a lot better things to take pictures of than that, but whatever floats your boat and makes it rise to the top is the path you must take I guess. Another one of his controversial pieces of art is called ‘Piss Christ’ which is of a plastic crucifix in a jar of the photographers own urine. Of course this sparked an outraged and people were upset and put off by galleries that continued to support this man’s right to express what he is feeling through art.

However when does something cross the line from controversial to something that needs to be censored? And who decides who and what should be censored and when censorship is okay?

On Friday, October 5th a video appeared on YouTube of what appeared to be men scurrying through a Swedish art gallery completely ruining the sexually explicit photos of Andres Serrano. As the vandals fled the scene they left pamphlets reading, “Against decadence and for a healthier culture.? No one knows their organization or what they could have possibly been affiliated with but what is obvious is that they did not support the ideas and works of Andres Serrano. It is apparent that these men felt the need to take it upon themselves to ruin $200,000 worth of art simply because they did not agree with the topic chosen by the artist.

According to the article this is not the first time Andres Serrano’s work has come under attack. His other famous piece ‘Piss Christ’ became a conversation piece between politicians and religious groups alike when the National Endowment for the Arts gave Serrano a grant. Luckily for Mr. Serrano he makes triples of all of his artwork pieces knowing that they are notoriously shocking and constantly under fire.

One may ask why the art gallery chose to feature Andres knowing that he is always under attack. The truth is that he does have the right to express how he feels through his art and since it is done well is should be displayed. Simply because his artwork is racy doesn’t mean it should be hidden in a closet for anybody to see. Which brings me to my next question; if so many people have problems why doesn’t someone censor this man’s work?

On the National Coalition Against Censorship website they have Andres Serrano listed in 1989 for his tactless work of ‘Piss Christ’. I don’t care if someone likes the piece ‘Piss Christ’ but there is no argument when it comes to it having tact or not. So in 1989 Reverend Donald Wildmon, who was director of the American Family Association at the time, took it upon himself to verbally attack Serrano through a mail campaign once he found out that he was receiving a grant for his work. According to the NCAC Reverend Donald Wildmon’s letter stated that
Andres Serrano's work was “shocking, abhorrent, and completely undeserving of any recognition whatsoever.?
The main problem he had was "is not a question of free speech" but "a question of taxpayers' money". To me it seems like both sides—Reverend Donald Wildmon, and the NACA—both have extremely weak arguments when it comes to putting away Andres Serrano’s work. Of course the NACA just played the ‘freedom of speech’ card and truly couldn’t do nothing more. It’s not like Andres Serrano’s artwork was adding value to the society either culturally, educationally, or socially.

As I browsed the internet for the many works of Andres Serrano I found myself to imagine what the art gallery contained; pictures of dead bodies that Andres re-cut himself and dirty pictures of nuns. “Oh okay.? I said to myself as to not pass judgment on him before I finished writing my article. Nevertheless I feel more educated about the situation now than if I were to pick up The New York Times off the street and make a decision such as “Whoa, if they did that then his pictures must have been bad,? or a simple “Oh, it’s just another angst group that didn’t get their way again.? Maybe you should look at his other artwork too, but I don’t recommend it for weak stomachs.

Which Came First? (Part 2)

Which Came First? (Part 2)
Position by Robert Preston

As mentioned in class, there is a strange attraction to Errol Morris and his stories. This could probably be explained by the fact that we might ‘trust’ him, or know more of him (and his past works) than other writers/photographers. I also like Errol Morris because the way that he writes, but also his views on things. While we might not be ‘two peas in a pod’ in our beliefs on photography, and the sincerity of every picture, we have very similar ideas. I like the way he can put into words exactly what he is thinking, or what he is thinking the other people are thinking. He is an author that really allows the reader to go into his head. With this type of writing style he can really portray to the reader his rational for all of his arguments.

Last week he posted his first of a presumed three essay part to Fenton’s misunderstood famous cannonball picture at the Valley of the Shadow of Death. It is odd because it is a pair of photographs, which are taken in the exact same spot, but depicting two very different scenarios based upon the position of the cannonballs in the foreground. The question then becomes which one was taken first, and why were there two shots?

Errol Morris is definitely very thorough in all of his research, and interviewed five different people with different theories of why Fenton would do something like that (taking two different pictures). From the first essay I was pretty convinced that the cannonballs were on the road first, and then removed for the cars to get past. I agreed with Jason Eartl’s comment on how sometimes a photograph should just be taken as a photograph, and not always overanalyze things too much. Errol Morris is definitely an analyzer by trade, and was still not convinced by anybody’s theory, and had to explore it for himself.

That’s where the second part of the essay began. He flew into Simferopol to try to get to the actual spot where Fenton had taken the shot in 1855. He looked for quite a while before getting to a spot where he is almost positive the shot was taken (Morris is not a fan of absolute certainties). The shocking thing about this essay was that when he got there, he realized that Fenton was probably shooting towards NNW, not SSW or WSW like presumed before. I thought it was great how Errol Morris really ‘got his hands dirty’ to figure out where he had taken the shot. Now that he knew the time the shot was taken (or close to it), and the position the camera was in, they could tell which shot was taken first by the light shone on the cannonballs’ surface. Morris does not draw a conclusion in his second essay, but should in his third.

I entertained myself by reading the comments to the second part of Errol Morris’s essay. Many people think that they have drawn conclusions from just the first two parts of the essay. There are some people who feel very strongly about what they have to say. The thing I was most interested in was the people who were talking about GoogleEarth and looking at what the place actually looked like. I entertained myself by following different coordinates that they were explaining and trying to look for the place myself. It’s almost like a geocache on the internet.

After the second essay I don’t really know what to believe now. I am excited to see what Errol Morris concludes in his third essay. I can probably expect him to conclude something, but with not 100% certainty. Another interesting point would be to interview the ‘experts’ as he did in the first one, and explain any new evidence he uncovers while he is exploring out in the field what is going on. He spoke very briefly in addressing some of the comments in an unplanned third essay. That would be fun to read his rebuttal against the angry internet bloggers that challenge the force that is, Errol Morris.


October 10, 2007

Because He is Not an Artist, He is a Jerk!

Andres Serrano, an American photographer, was born August 15,1950, in New York, New York. Serrano is half Honduran and half Afro-Cuban and was raised as a strict Roman Catholic. He is an excellent artist and has won ten major awards in the last twenty two years. Many of his works are relatively uncontroversial, including America, Nomads, and even The Objects of Desire are not too bad. However, Serrano has taken some photos in which his Roman Catholic background does not shine through. Some of these include Piss Christ (1987), which is a picture of a crucifix in a jar of Serrano’s urine, Daniel (2000), a picture of a young boy in a noose, and Triumph of the Flesh (2000), a picture of a nun pleasuring herself. Needless to say, these photos are highly controversial and have been scrutinized among conservative and religious groups.

In fact, as recently as Friday, October 5, 2007, a group of four vandals entered a recently opened Serrano exhibition in Lund, Sweden, around 3:30 p.m. and proceeded to smash display cases and seven of Serrano’s 50-by-60 in photographs worth an estimated two hundred thousand dollars. The group left behind pamphlets stating, “Against decadence for a healthier culture?, although they listed no name or organization. Local police believe the group of vandals were part of a neo-Nazi organization. Later Friday evening, the group posted their video, shot at the scene with a handheld video camcorder, on YouTube.com, and Google video. Google has since taken down the video from both sites due to the pornographic pictures. The group has not yet been found. The exhibit, “A History of Sex?, remains on view at the Kulturen Gallery with bolstered security.

Upon further research, I discovered that this is not the only time that Serrano’s art has been publicly scrutinized. In 1998, Piss Christ was placed on display in the National Gallery of Victoria, in Australia. (4, 51)The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, The Most Reverend, Dr. George Pell brought a lawsuit against the gallery that asked the picture be removed. Pell argued that the showing of the photograph would constitute the crime of blasphemous libel against the church. The Supreme Court’s ruling was “blasphemous libel was not an offence know to the law of the state of Victoria?.(4) “However, the court held that if the crime of blasphemous libel did exist it was necessary to show that publication of the matter complained of would cause unrest of some sort. In the absence of such evidence the court declined to grant the injunction sought.?(4)

The recent article in the New York Times also alluded to the National Endowment for the Arts coming under fire by conservative politicians in 1989. I was able to locate part of the United States Congressional Record for May 18, 1989, that includes the statements made by Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato (R, NY) and Senator Jesse Helms (R, NC). (5) The document starts out with D’Amato addressing the president of the Senate about letters he has received concerning Piss Christ, although he is too repulsed to utter its name. The letters questioned “How dare you spend the taxpayer’s money on this trash.? regarding the fifteen thousand dollar endowment that Serrano received from the National Endowment for the Arts through the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. D’Amato then show a copy of Piss Christ to the president and continues to tear into Serrano and his photograph: “And to ad insult to injury, after this group of so-called art experts picked this artist for this $15,000 prize - of taxpayer’s money; we paid for this, our tax payers- I do not blame people for being outraged and angered, they should be angered at us, unless we do something to change this?.(5,6) D’Amato also exclaims, “The purpose for which the Endowment was established, and I quote, ‘to support the survival of the best of all forms that reflect the American heritage in its full range of cultural and ethnic diversity and to provide national leadership on behalf of the arts.’ Mr. President, I submit this as a distortion of those purposes. It does not reflect the full range of cultural and ethnic diversity; rather, it is a perversion of those principles.?(5, 8&9) The document contains a letter written to Mr. Hugh Southern, acting chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts in sections 12 through 18, and signed by notable senators such as Bob Dole and John McCain. Senator Helms then feels it is necessary to add his two cents to the conversation, “Mr. President, the senator from New York is absolutely correct in his indignation and in his description of blasphemy of the so-called artwork. I do not know Mr. Andres Serrano, and I hope never to meet him. Because he is not an artist, he is a jerk.?(5,19).

If I were to side with or against Serrano, I would side against him because my own personal religious convictions. His photographs are distasteful and offensive, although I believe it is safe to say that I would not take my convictions as far as Senators D’Amato and Helms, Archbishop Pell, or the four vandals have as I do not feel quite as strongly as they do.

Michael Arens

1. New York Times

2. Wikipedia

3. artnet.com

4. House of Lords

5. May 18,1989, Congressional Record

October 9, 2007

Interest in John Berger and his Interpretations

After reading Appearances I grew very interested in John Berger. Many things he said in his reading really enthralled me. I was curious about this author his ideas of art, photography, time, memory, meaning, communication, history and where his analysis was coming from. I liked this reading more than the others in the book and I think it is because he is straight forward about things and discusses so many different subject matters that involve humans and their part in society, how people perceive and react to things.
Some background information I did not know that is important about Berger it that he served in the “British army from 1944 to 1946, after that he attended the Central School of Art and the Chelsea School of Art in London? (Chandler). He was an artist before he was a writer; he taught drawing from 1948 to 1955 and continued to paint the rest of his life. This is important because his opinions were formed bases off these experiences in his life. An example of this is when he is discussing history he says, “History used to pays its respects to morality: the enduring honored the value of what is brief. Graves were a mark of such respect… History no longer pays its respect to the dead: the dead are simply what it has passed through? (Berger 190). I believe this is important because it gives you a glimpse into his own life and makes the reader curious about his own personal experiences with death. Additionally it gives a different perspective of how his paintings can be interpreted with this in mind.
I really enjoyed the way Berger questions pictures and drawings. I like his interpretations of the photograph because they are different then mine yet I still agree about what he is saying. Berger’s interpretation of communication was furthermore intriguing. I enjoyed how he compared the aspects of drawing and photos through the idea of communication and expression. Drawing and photographs he feels are two very different forms of expression “a drawing is translation? (Berger 181). He is trying to convey that drawings are a different kind of communication because they aren’t always true and are more emotionally there is more feeling expressed through them. Photography unlike drawing possesses a language and it is normally given by a caption that can be equally bias or hide parts of the picture the audience my not see but still is communicating through a different form of expression. “Man ray said: ‘I photograph what I do not wish to paint, and I paint what I cannot photograph’?(Berger 193). Berger seems to be an expert on art and all types of perspectives within each art form.
John Berger wrote a book called Ways of seeing. I wonder after reading this section about Appearances if he would agree with Errol Morris on the idea that seeing is believing rather then believing is seeing. “to focus not on the single painting in isolation but in general, on the ways we have learned to look at and understand the images that surround is and on the culture that teaches us to see thinks as we do? (Berger 174). This is important for people to understand that their interpretation is personal because of their life experiences and because of the culture we live in and through our culture, media, teachers, parents, religion, music, and art we think the way we do. Our society tells us to a certain extent how to think. I wonder how far and how much of our opinions are based on society? Why people living in the same society have such different opinions? I guess apart of the American culture is learning to appreciate others opinions and learn from ours and others previous experiences.
Overall I enjoyed this reading and think Berger had a lot of valuable and controversial information that he expressed easily and straightforward. He shows a lot of interest in art and his writings and interpretations are exceptional. Berger brings up several interesting questions about art and photography and I am definitely interested in learning more about him and his other paintings and writings.
Chandler, Daniel. “Ways of Seeing? http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/gaze/gaze08.html

October 8, 2007

Appearances- John Berger

In the controversial essay “Appearances?, John Berger elaborates the notion of traditional photography and its artistic, historical, and political implications. He discusses the difference between drawings and photography, both which are commonly mistaken as similar media in terms of art. He also explains that photography depicts time through captured light, and has a raw meaning because of its plain existence. 1 Berger compares photographs to footprints because they are both cultural artifacts and naturally composed. 2 I was taken by this comparison not only because of its truth, but also because it demonstrates how fragile our memories are. It’s as if photos and memories could easily be brushed away, like footprints in the sand.

Berger is poignant yet delicate in his discussion about art. Drawings and paintings, in contrast to photography, express a feeling or create a mood based on an idea or concept. Berger explains that “a drawing is a translation . . .that is to say each mark on the paper is consciously related, not only to the real or imagined “model,? but also to every mark and space already set out on paper?3. Berger decides to make this distinction because of the implications they each represent. He states that drawings are timeless, measured on a scale of their own. 4 Conversely, photos are a fragment of actual time. They are of a real place with a real focus. Unless a photo is cropped, made into a collage, or distorted from its original existence, a photo cannot lie because it prints directly. 5

However, Berger states that although a photo cannot lie, it also cannot tell the truth by itself. 6 He later defines truth in a broad sense. As he describes, truth must tell a complete story and is multi-faceted in its context. By this, he explains that an X-ray can show a broken bone, but does not have the capacity to explain the truth of the victim’s pain, hunger, or any other speculated feelings one may gather from such a photo. 7 He uses this premise to base his argument against Margaret Bourke-White’s quote.

“Utter truth is essential, and that is what stirs me when I look through the camera,? Bourke-White says about her photography career throughout the 1930s. 8 However, Berger reiterates that photos merely “[supply] information within the conceptual framework of an investigation?. 9 This means that photographs are a way to show that an event has occurred, but does not have the capacity to explain why, how, or what feelings were involved.

Although I agree with Berger’s definitions of photography and art, I question his theory of why photos are not seen as objective proof of an event. Given the general context of what photos mean to individual people, such as baby pictures or family trips, he has generalized all photography to be objective fragments of time, and that people cannot collectively decide what a photo represents. He mentions that “history ceases to have the monopoly of time? because of the power photos have in taking us back, but how can photos have such a power if we cannot truly convey its meaning? 10

Berger believes in the concept of ‘Positivism’, the philosophical belief that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge, or whatever can prove to be objective. He does not find photography as an “unprecedented scientific and technical progress?, which implies that photos then are misrepresented and untrue by his standards. 11 Yet, this scientific reasoning is seemingly irrelevant compared to his interpretation of historical facts. He has a bias against photography in the Western counties because of the filter that ‘truth’ goes through: Capitalism. He critiques the Capitalist system in several ways that have little to do with photography. Berger manages to gather a mish-mash of information to form an argument that seems beyond his expertise.

He first states that “human imagination . . . grasps and unifies time. . . [And] has always had the capacity of undoing time? 12 Since imagination is in control of time, the mind can therefore “undo? time. He feels that because Capitalist ideas caused imperialism, time itself was destroyed, which led to the destruction of cultural identity. Berger believes that history through photography has been isolated in time, rather than transcending throughout time. 13 I find his claim too general and inclusive. For one, I believe that some photos allow us to transcend time. Although a photo captures a finite time and place, the historical symbolism can still be fluid in the same way that history does. It has a past. It happened. It has a beginning, middle, and end. This is similar to a photo: it has a past, and it happened. If Berger believes that we can transcend through a period in history, why can’t we transcend through the meaning of a photograph?

1 John Berger, “Appearances?. Ways of Reading: Words and Images. (Boston: 2003) pp.175-177.
2 Berger, 181.
3 Ibid.
4 Berger, 183.
6Berger, 184.
7Berger, 185.
8Berger, 184.
9Berger, 185.
10Berger, 188.
11Berger, 186.
13Berger, 191.

October 5, 2007

Another "Which Came First..."

Again, I decided to do make a position on the writings of Errol Morris. His works are some of the more interesting on the vista link, but I’ll try not to repeat any of my views from the previous paper. When I first started reading “Which Came First, The Chicken or the Egg?; I kind of chuckled inside and said, here we go with analyzing photos again. I mean it’s interesting to follow these arguments, but I never though that I would have to dissect different photos again and again.
My first impression of reading “Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg? for the first time was that this shouldn’t be to hard, because photo “on? must be the first of the two because Fenton wouldn’t remove the cannonballs, take the picture, then put them back up to take another. But then it got me to thinking of from which way he had traveled. If he had come from behind the picture, then the order should be “on? then “off?. But what if he had come in the opposite direction? They could have been “off?, moved his group out to take the picture, and then turned around with the cannonballs “on?. Only with further reading would this debate confuse the reader more.
Because we don’t know the way in which the balls were found, we cant come to the conclusion if Fenton had come to the valley with an original landscape, the unaltered way in which the cannonballs fell from the sky. If this is the case, then we can say that he altered a previously altered situation. Then, if anything, Fenton would eventually be returning to the way that they actually were, resulting in the same two photographs, “on? and “off?; but they would technically be switched in terms of time of day taken. Again, proper citation is coming into play, fore had he actually recorded what he had come across, then we could decide which was taken first. But now we are back to the question of can we trust Fenton’s citations? It had been stated in “Which came First, the Chicken or the Egg? that Fenton could be considered in the words of Susan Sontag “lazy or cowardly?, so could this laziness carry over into recording his work? When Morris is talking with Baldwin later in the reading, Baldwin disagrees with others opinion of Fenton. People are getting the bad impression of him after his death from two sets of letters that don’t completely match up. His personality can’t be fully judged if we have no solid, direct quotations from him.
Baldwin also puts to words what I really feel about most of the images that are now such a hot topic. Back then, photographers were merely documenting what went on; searching for good shots regardless of what is in the picture. In present time, I feel that we are always over-analyzing things, worrying too much about what we think the picture means instead of what the person taking the picture means, or for that matter what is happening in the image setting.
On the question of whether or not Fenton was trying to make the setting seem more dangerous by staging the cannonballs on the roads, its kind of trivial to think that he needed to do that. It was known to be a dangerous a war zone but the obvious signs of cannonballs, and he knew that people seeing the pictures would know that.
I think that Malcolm Daniel sums up this debate quite well. We don’t have any reliable documentation about the order in which the balls were found. The danger was there, proven by the obvious cannonballs. Moving them around would be difficult, so the least amount of carrying them would be the most logical. By analyzing all of the facts, we aren’t able to get any closer to figuring out the order in which the pictures were taken. The way that I see it, there are two good pictures, called the first influential war images. We more than likely will never know the true order of “on? and “off?, so we might as well just admire them for what they are.

October 4, 2007

Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?

When reading this article, to be honest, my first impression was, who cares? Is it really important what picture was taken first? But then I remembered how much I appreciated Errol Morris’s article, Will the Real Hooded Man Please Stand Up. We as humans deserve to know the truth. To some viewers there is a huge difference between photo number one and photo number two. But with the little evidence we have, we are left to only what we believe to be true, and what other people say is true.

There are two arguments presented in this article, the first is the off – on theory. Both Keller and Haworth-Booth say that Fenton took the first picture with the cannonballs off the road, and then ordered his assistants to move some of them onto the road. Their major argument was that Fenton was a coward. He never actually took pictures of real battle or death. But he liked the attention, so he staged a picture to make it more dangerous looking than it really was. Keller argues this point when he states, “Fenton obviously rearranged the evidence in order to create a sense of drama and danger that had originally been absent from the scene?.

The second theory is the on – off theory. If I were to choose between off – on and on – off, I would have to agree with Daniel and Baldwin who say the cannonballs were first on, then off, first of all because I see no motive to move the cannonballs onto the road. Actually when looking at the pictures, the one without the cannonballs off was more of an impact to me than the one with them on. There is a sort of an eeriness that comes with the empty road, like it was a real “Death valley?. The second thing that caught my attention was the fact that the soldiers frequently recycled the cannonballs. It could be very likely that Fenton took the pictures before and after the balls were removed by the soldiers. One point that really caught my attention was not by a person who has studied these two photos for months, but by a lady that works in Morris’ office. Her point was probably the most basic but made the most sense to me, she tells Morris, “Of course he took the balls off the road. Don’t they need to use the road?? Its common sense, move the cannonballs to use the road. The last thing that convinced me was the letters that Fenton sent to his wife. They seemed to be very descriptive, yet nowhere in his letters does he mention that they moved the cannonballs onto the road. He did not know that in the future historians and artists would be analyzing his letters, so I believe he would include that in them.

Whatever way we look at these two pictures, it completely changes our perspective of this man. If he did in fact move the cannonballs onto the road he would be a coward, a liar. We would see him as a man simply looking for attention. But if we say that he moved the cannonballs off the road we would view him as honorable. He made the picture seem simple, more realistic. That’s why the order of these pictures is so controversial. It’s not just what was real and what was fake, it’s describing the personality of a person.

Unless more evidence is found the order of these two pictures can be argued forever. As Morris says in the article, “We don’t see Fenton (or anyone else for that matter) in either of the photographs bending down as if to pick up or put down a cannonball?. There is nowhere in writing stating that someone moved the cannonballs for the pictures purpose. We have no physical, completely solid, evidence either way, which tells us the truth. We are left with our beliefs about the photos, and our beliefs about Fenton as a person.
Molly Murphy

“Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg??

I read the article, “Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg,? by Errol Morris. The article talks about two pictures taken by Roger Fenton. The pictures are titled, Valley of The Shadow of Death. They were taken from the same exact spot with a significant difference. This difference being one of the pictures has cannonballs on the road while the other one does not. Errol Morris seeks out a number of people with opinions on these pictures and puts his conversations with them in the article. Morris’ goal is to find out which picture came first and if one of them was staged.

I was interested in the arguments for a while but then lost my interest about half way through the article. I did finish the article though. The first question that came to my mind while reading was, how do they know which picture came first? Also, which one, if either, was actually staged?

The first man Morris spoke to was Ulrich Keller. Keller wrote about these particular photos in one of his books. Keller believes the picture with the cannonballs on the road was staged. He said it was obvious, so Morris asked him, “Why?? Keller said, “It’s much, much more likely to assume that Fenton would have taken these balls out of the ditch and onto the road rather than the other way round. What motivation would he have had to take cannonballs that were on the road and remove them?? (emphasis mine) I feel Keller’s explanation for why he thinks Fenton staged the photograph with the cannonballs on the road is a very weak argument. He said himself that he is assuming he took the cannonballs out of the ditch and onto the road. Ann Petrone, a co-worker of Morris’, came up with a reason for why would he not remove the cannonball from the road. She said, “Of course he took the balls off the road. Don’t they need to use the road?? I found this comment very intriguing. It made a lot more sense to me to move the cannonballs off the road then to move them off.

While Fenton was in Crimea, he wrote letters to his wife. One of these letters talks about the day he took the Valley of The Shadow of Death pictures. I found this letter to be very interesting. However, the letter did not give any clues to which picture was taken first or if either of them was staged. In this letter he told his wife he could not use the original position for the picture he wanted to use. This was because his original spot was in the line of fire and he moved one hundred yards back. He explained how shells were flying by him on both sides. This statement makes me believe that neither picture was staged. The letter said he was there for about an hour and a half. This could mean both pictures are not staged. The picture with no cannonballs could have been taken before the fighting started and the picture with the cannonball right before they left.

Morris’ next interview was with Mark Haworth-Booth. I did not find this interview very interesting. He basically talked only about him being the first one to discover the twin photographs as Morris called them. Haworth-Booth did inform Morris that not all people think the picture without the cannonballs on the road actually came first.

Another person who was interviewed by Morris was Gordon Baldwin. Baldwin believes the picture with no cannonballs on the road was actually the second picture taken by Fenton. This is Gordon’s opinion on the matter.

"The cannonballs were harvested, so to speak, by soldiers who were there. The place that Fenton went to make the photograph – there are accounts in the London Illustrated News about that place and in that account that appeared they talk about the fact that the soldiers harvested the cannonballs in order to fire them back."

This is my favorite theory of them all. I do not think pictures are fake (staged). So this theory best supports my opinions.

In conclusion, I am not sure who is correct in the fact that which photo was taken first. As for staging photos, I do not think either picture was staged. They were just taken at different times in the hour and a half Fenton was in the valley of the shadow of death. At the end of the article, Morris gives the Times’ readership a challenge to order the photographs and to propose reasons why they must be in that order. He will publish the results in a follow up article. So I ask you, do you know which picture came first.

"Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg"

In his article, ‘Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg,’ Errol Morris, as several times before, asks a simple question. In what order were two of Roger Fenton’s famous nineteenth century war photographs taken, and to what extent were they staged? The article starts as many popular TV crime dramas do: first you are presented with evidence so obviously making the suspect look guilty, but wait--then you are presented more information from another source, with possible rationale that turns everything you thought before around.

A Miss Susan Sontag is introduced, with a small excerpt from her book being the main piece of evidence against Fenton’s genuinity. Her book, Regarding the Pain of Others, lays out Fenton’s two photos: the first one consisting of cannon balls on the side of the road, and the second photo, “the one that is always reproduced – [Fenton] oversaw the scattering of the cannonballs on the road itself.? Sontag is using her rational thought to conclude that Sontag was traveling through the area, and came across the valley with cannon balls all over the side of the road. After taking a picture, he decided to move the cannon balls onto the road as to provide for a picture construing more action. It makes sense, of course. It’s reasonable to assume Fenton would do such a thing. It’s violence, controversy, and drama that sell--I mean just look at our media. A vast majority of our pictures and stories are negatory, happy news just doesn’t bring home the bread. So from Sontag’s standpoint it’s reasonable enough to assume Fenton staged his photograph to create a more dramatic image. A dramatic image is what would sell. With further evidence from The Ultimate Spectacle: A Visual History of the Crimean War by Ulrich Keller, another book similar in ideas to Sontag’s, we are given more opinions concluding Fenton’s photographs were staged with selfish intention. “Fenton obviously rearranged the evidence in order to create a sense of drama and danger that had originally been absent from the scene,? Keller writes. Keller continues on to not only describe and explain Fenton’s photography, but to bash him personally as well. One can easily derive what Keller thinks of Fenton and his supposed technique.

With all of this scholarly work opinionated towards the picture as in genuine and staged, it’s easy to conclude Fenton as a fraud and a fake. But there’s the problem. We are too quick to assume controversy. People just love controversy. The news is filled with today’s latest scandals, TV has countless shows involving celebrities and what scandalous thing they’ve done now. Given the smallest bit of information, we love to jump on it and point fingers. With doubt in people’s mind, a photographer’s reputation becomes very at risk. An excellent recent example of this is the legacy of the photographer Joe O’Donnell, as discussed earlier this semester. O’Donnell gained fame as a photographer for the government, especially known for taking pictures after the drop of the atomic bomb in WWII. As O’Donnell aged, his memory (allegedly, of course) betrayed him, resulting in him taking credit for pictures that he never actually took. After his death, this controversy was discovered, with allegations of greed thrown towards his name. Perhaps from just a innocent error, O’Donnell’s reputation is permanently scarred. In the article “Known for Famous Pictures, Not All of Them His,? Michael Wilson thinks O’Donnell probably wasn’t motivated by greed, saying “if O’Donnell lied about his pictures, it is unclear why. He did not appear to reap financial gains from his claims.? Though of course, that doesn’t matter. Purely innocent mistake or not, this photographers reputation is permanently ruined.

Which brings us back to Fenton’s photographs of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Morris’s article makes a point of progressing towards the thinking that perhaps sometimes people are to quick to assume negative intentions. Morris offers the possibility of the logical thinking that in order to travel through the valley, cannonballs would have had to be removed from the road. Wouldn’t it make sense that he came across the valley with the cannonballs there, took the picture, moved them so he could pass through, and then have taken the second picture after all of this? It’s certainly logical that the pictures could have been taken in this order. Or at least Gordon Baldwin, a curator from Los Angeles, believes so, saying “what people commonly have thought [of as] the first photograph with few cannonballs is [actually] the second photograph after some of them have been removed.?

Unfortunately will never no for certain in which order Fenton’s two photographs were taken. We will never know the situation in which he took them. Maybe Fenton did stage his photos as originally believed, in order to create a more dramatic effect. But it’s also a possibility that this entire conflict is really nothing more than Fenton moving an obstruction out of the road in order to pass. The point is that we weren’t there, we don’t know, and we shouldn’t be quick to judge a situation in which we really have no knowledge.

Agriculture in the south.

When reading about what Taylor was saying about the future about agriculture I could not help looking at present day agriculture and how what Taylor said has come true for the most part. I kept thinking how the size of farms has grown and how their still is a cry to try to keep the family farm in business. So when I read the Jstor written by Hopkins about how Taylor’s view of agriculture is so wrong I only kept chuckling to myself about how miss informed this guy might have been.

Hopkins starts talking about subsistence farming is the way to keep all of these farmers employed and feeding their families. Well as time has gone by sociologists will say that there are different ages going on, first everyone was a hunter gatherer, next came the age of agriculture, after that was the industrial revolution, and now we have come to the age of knowledge. This shows us that in order to keep your job you must be able to move into a different category of evolution, because technology keeps advancing at such a high rate that we will move into a new age faster. In another class we are reading a book called the "8th Habit" by Stephan Covey and he talks about how we are advancing threw a new age of knowledge and the industrial revolution is coming to a standstill because technology has become so advances that they just do not need the employees that they once needed. This is totally the opposite to what Hopkins alleges that must happen.

Hopkins claims that farms must not become mechanized and no longer be a family farm. This is the same argument that some people still talk about today. There are even studies being done to show the country that family farms are needed. The University of California Davis has done research to show how family farms are beneficial to the public claiming that crop competition is good for the economy. One thing I must say is that the definition of the family farm has changed from the thirties to today. In the thirties the family farm was about 80 acres and you grew what you ate the beef was your steer that you feed and the vegetables were grown on your garden and what was left could be sold to town for profit. Today’s family farm is on average to be around 350 acres and everything grown is brought to town or the elevator for cash and then you buy what you need with your profits. This is a major change from 80 years ago. This mechanization has changed the family farm even though people try to save the family farm.

Taylor says that the industrial revolution will increase profits to the farmers. It is true that prices have gone up since the thirties but that has not made farmers any richer. This is one of the few comments I agree with Hopkins. The price for corn was $2.01 per bushel in 1980 while as recently as 2005 the price fro corn was $1.80 this means the price of corn actually down in 25 years of inflation according to the Iowa Dept of Agriculture. The price is obviously up from the thirties but I could not find the actual price from that era. Hopkins did not plan on how the advancement of genetics would improve yield in their crops which does switch the income back to Taylor’s favor.

After looking at all the facts I could agree with Hopkins and Taylor, but Taylor seemed to be right in the way of agriculture went to large cooperation and went to Industrial. Hopkins was right when it came to the hardship of farming and the price for their product. Taylor might have even been right about the income of the farmers because farmers were never a rich source of income but a way to survive.

America's "Role-Model" Tendencies

Kimberly Ayres
WRIT 1301
Position Statement

Time magazine puts very brilliantly when referring to Margaret Bourke-White, “Unlike most photographers, she was as famous as her pictures,? (Gray 1). Americans are thrilled with the idea of a sexy, intelligent woman parading the globe with a camera in her hand. We like the image of a Marilyn Monroe-esque photographer who is at the gates of all of the world’s catastrophes and phenomena. Margaret Bourke-White provides a Hollywood stereotype with an aptitude that actually influences the entire world. She fits perfectly into the glittering, glamorous lives of the movie stars in Hollywood. Her life story after her death promotes an intriguing curiosity to those who study her. But among all of the fascinating, intelligent photographers of her age and many ages before and after her, why do we fail to recognize them and keep Bourke-White so fresh in our minds?
Bourke-White was a woman who surpassed the barriers of the innovative new profession of photojournalism. Aside from that, she was a woman lengthening her pictures to fit the events of the entire world. She played the role of an American heroine throughout her life as a photojournalist. As said before, her life represented those of movie stars and celebrities that existed beyond the silver screen. When I first heard about Margaret Bourke-White, I tried to compare her to a figure that exists in this era.
John F. Kennedy was liked for his Roman Catholic morals and his idea of promoting an American Dream to the United States during his presidency. He was known for portraying a youthful president with contemporary ideas that would help the U.S. America loves the idea of having a young, intelligent figure to guide us out of the existing discrepancy in our country. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, was a movie star who got elected as the governor of California – home of Hollywood. Or publicly, Jesse Ventura, a former wrestling star was elected governor of Minnesota a few years ago. Does this represent how our nation has turned completely into the hands of the media? Did you ever see the t-shirts or hear the saying “Our governor can beat up your governor,? marketing Ventura?
As Americans, it seems as if we will abandon our standards to vote for someone who is prominent amid the rest because of fame and recognition rather than experience and intelligence. For example, in the upcoming 2008 elections, I have heard through the grapevine that Barack Obama is compared to JFK for being very charismatic, being young, and for having many innovative ideas for our country. He stands out by the fact that he promotes a new, refreshing idea of an African-American president; the idea is similar to John F. Kennedy’s youthfulness that was a very new idea for a president. My point? Americans love innovative change.
Branching off of the innovative change that we, as Americans, seek is the fact that we also like to be impressed. A woman photojournalist, a young president, a famous governor, or an African-American president – all of these people have spawned an original, edgy modification throughout different eras in the United States’ mundane society. Our media today is what advertises these people as dazzling and fascinating.
It is not only the public that comes up with the alluring titles that all of these famous people pursue. The media gives citizens of the U.S., as a whole, an image that portrays their stereotype. For example, whenever someone asks me about Margaret Bourke-White, I picture a photograph of her with a camera, clad in a feminine, chic dress, and showing her pearly whites against a contrast of red lipstick. The media presented an image of her that made her popular as well as her photographs.
Whether it is the leader of our country or an important role-model, Americans tend to depend on someone to make a change in our country for the better of that era. JFK’s American Dream image was what American citizens needed during that time in history. Or for a more current reference, Barack Obama’s diverse image may be what Americans seek for a presidential figure. Many factors play a role into our standpoints. The media highlights a specific quality or stereotype that Americans may be influenced by. Margaret Bourke-White stood out amongst her competition for being such a talented, beautiful lady that was a great role-model for all women during that time period. It is represented throughout history that fame does demonstrate popularity within the United States’ culture.

Works Cited
Cox, Patrick. The Digital Journalist: Margaret Bourke-White History Making Photojournalist and Social Activist. January 2003. 2 October 2007 .
Gray, Paul. Time Magazine: Fortunate Life of Margaret Bourke-Whie. 2 June 1986. 3 October 2007 .

Research and The Development of the Student

Andrew Otto
Research and the Development of the Student

I read the article from the Boston Globe posted by Professor Ward; I found it to be very interesting and thought provoking. I am a strong promoter of creative thinking and exploration of one’s surroundings to try to find out what can be learned or discovered. This article attacks the way that higher education institutions teach pupils, arguing that most universities and colleges work only to promote research and forget to encourage the youth to question the meaning of life. I have to agree with the article, despite the fact that I am attending one of the leading research institutions in the nation.

The first strong point that I believe the article makes is the fact that most academic programs at colleges and universities are very direct and focused in their studies. When a student is going to college, they are often put into one of many degree programs, which usually come with certain required courses that leave little room for elective classes to explore knowledge and information outside of the major. The article addresses the fact that universities no longer try to assist students in finding their purpose or how they fit into the world and will be able to leave their mark; the goal of colleges and universities is to guide research and development in a specific field.

Look at it this way. In high school, there was a broad range of classes that were to be taken, from art to math and from physical education to world history. The required courses were designed to give each student a taste of the different studies and what types of things were out in the world to be studied. However, when high school graduation day comes along, the student is supposed to know what they want to do for the rest of their life. From my experience when I graduated high school, I was still exploring the world around me and discovering more about who I was and where I fit in. Yet when I enrolled here I was already supposed to have an idea about what I wanted to study and where I wanted to end up in the future. Once I picked a program there was already classes outlined for the major and the list didn’t leave me too much room to explore before I was headed down the narrow street of my degree.

That leads back to the question posed by the article “what is the meaning of life?? If one is expected to “do? something with their life to me it would only imply that one should know what the meaning of life is, or at least have some opinions about it so they can attempt to leave their mark in history. Research oriented situations cause the student to be too guided in their studies too quickly. The general classes offer the student a little chance for input, but mostly the student learns what someone else has discovered and is expected to believe what they are told. The student then gets the opportunity to research in their limited area of study to try and leave a mark on society. By learning and researching only one topic thoroughly I would say that the sense of creativity is restricted. Creativity is provoked by questioning the meaning of life and receiving other people’s inputs and views while deciding whether or not to agree with them. Life involves absolutely everything, and in questioning it, a student is likely to explore absolutely everything at least somewhat. Therefore by trying to explore everything at least a little the student is more likely to stumble upon a true ambition or find something that to them is really worth researching.

The other point that the article brings up is that the faculty at universities used to be “shapers of souls.? This idea refers to professors continuously being involved with the student, trying to encourage them to question life, and ultimately teaching them to think creatively and critically while challenging others thoughts and decisions. Some professors today appear to be involved in research and their own studies to the point that they are not worried about what the students take out of the class. All that the research oriented professor appears to want to accomplish is collect a paycheck at the end of the day for teaching a class in order to pay for his own studies. This idea has been examined before and Clark Kerr an author and a well known authority from the University of California describes the "federal grant university" as an institution where some of the best professors are brought to the university because of research grants and their own intentions of scholarship, not because they want to prepare undergraduate students for the real world (Carbone 147). Those types of instructors are not doing any good for the youth of the nation when it comes to preparing them for the future. All those professors are doing for the student is telling them what they need to know, not how to arrive at such a conclusion. However, these professors are needed because they will discover new things and present them to the world, but why would the world need thousands of graduates researching the same way that their professor did? New things are hardly ever discovered that way.

I am not condemning research, merely the way that some institutions promote it as the only way to consider oneself to be educated. Professors that are passionate about research are excellent examples to students, but at a large research university they must also have a passion for the success and education of the student. I enjoy learning and exploring and I wouldn’t mind taking a couple of extra classes in the humanities, such as philosophy or great American literature, I think it would definitely help me get a better view of the world and assist me in making my own opinions about things. I think that this article from the Globe will start some “conversation? in the near future about how large research universities instruct undergraduates; it would be interesting to hear what some of your opinions are about our current “research based? education?

Carbone, David A. and J. Fredericks Volkwein. “The Impact of Departmental Research and Teaching Climates on Undergraduate Growth and Satisfaction.? Journal of Higher Education. Volume 65. 1994. Pg 147. .

Hpokins VS Taylors View

After reading “An American Exodus? I found myself very confused on what Paul Taylor has to say about the south and the problems and his plan on what should be done to improve those conditions that were a problem throughout the United States. It was very hard to understand what point Paul Taylor was trying to convey through his writing, but the reviewer of his work made it clearer to understand what he was trying to say to his audience. After reading the different reviews written by different reviews from different background it help my understanding of what Paul Taylor was trying to convey through his writing. Although by reading the review did not make the reading in “An American Exodus? any easier it did help me understand what Paul Taylor is trying to say. Also by reading the reviews by the different authors I found myself agree and disagree on what they have to say about the book.
The review that I found most interesting was the review made by Hopkins. He wrote his review from the perspective of Agriculture and he didn’t agree with Paul Taylor. Everything that Paul has to say Hopkins did not buy any of it. Hopkins said the book “An American Exodus? just gave a perspective of the whole picture. Hopkins said “Lange and Taylor have given us briefly and succinctly a board perspective of the whole situation.? Hopkins said that Paul Taylor and Dorothy Lange were not giving the readers the whole picture they were just saying what they wanted to say and he didn’t buy that. He said that what Paul Taylor said about how to solve the problems at the time was not a solution. Paul Taylor stated “it’s plain that with advance in agricultural techniques the country requires fewer farmers rather than more,? by decreasing the number of farmers would be the solution to the problems, but Hopkins argue that by decreasing the number of farmers would not solve anything. Hopkins called what Paul was saying “personal disillusionment and social disintegration.? Hopkins argues that the problems lies with what the farmers were doing with the crops that they have harvested. Hopkins said that the solution to the problem instead of farmers turning their crops to “cash crops? they should just keep the crops that they harvest. That was Hopkins’s solution to the problems that Americans were facing with at the time. Although Hopkins bashed at Paul Taylor for what Paul said about the solution on the problems he didn’t attack Lange’s work. Well, Hopkins attacked Paul he was praising Lange for her work which was actually funny.
My stand point on Hopkins and Taylor views is in the middle of them. I agree and disagree with what Taylor was saying and I on the other hand also agree and at the same time disagree it Hopkins. Hopkins saw that the problem was because farmers were turning their crops into “cash crops? and that was the problem. Hopkins stated that by increasing the number of farmers would actually increase the independence of the people which would be a good thing. And I agree with him on that but what I disagree with him on is his statement that it would solve the problem. Yes, it’s true that by increasing the number of farmers it would help, but at the time the lands were too destroyed to be able to increase the number of farmers thus would only add to the problems of the dust bowl. Plus, by increasing the number of farmers it would only cause more damage than it would do any good.
Nothing only that, but because most crops at the time were just cotton crops that there was no way for the farmers not to turn the crops into cash crops. Farming cotton was their specialty, so by switching to another type of farming would not help them much. Even Hopkins himself said that what he suggested would not solve the problems, but it will help for the time being. Therefore I totally disagree on his idea of increasing farming would help the problems, but at the same time I don’t agree with Taylor either. Taylor wanted to decrease the number of farmer which was impossible at the time. It was impossible because there was no other way to live at the time. Banks were closing and financial in the United States at the point was at it critical point. There were more people out of job then people in job so be decreasing the number of farmers at the time would only add to the number of suffering. I believed that there was no fast solution to the problems during the Great Depression. Both of what Taylor and Hopkins suggested would work if the conditions of the Great Depression were a little better than what it was their plans would have worked, but because of those conditions I don’t think that either of their plans would have worked for the better.

October 3, 2007

Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg? (part one)

When I began reading “Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg? (Part One)? written by Errol Morris I did not expect to find myself becoming so engrossed in the article. The article begins with two sentences from Susan Sontag’s book, “Regarding the Pain of Others.? It was based on these two sentences that Morris began researching two pictures taken by Roger Fenton that have been the subject and discussion of controversy over the years. The two pictures are of a road, and in one of the photographs there are cannon balls on the road, and in the other picture there is an absence of cannon balls. This is a simple description, but I am assuming that everyone has some understanding of the photographs. Sontag discusses the two photographs in her book and causes Morris to have some questions he wants answered. These two pictures that are the interest of so many individuals have been labeled by Morris as “OFF? and “ON? and are mentioned throughout the article by Morris and the people he interviewed searching to find information. In her book, Sontag states that she believes that Fenton staged the second photograph by adding the cannon balls.

I found the discussions about which picture was the first one taken very interesting. How did everyone know which picture Roger Fenton took first, and how did they know that he staged it? These are questions that Morris brings into the light very early in the article. I had already been skeptic about the fact that Fenton had staged the photograph with the cannon balls on the road, and the more I read on though the article I found my skepticism increasing ten-fold. Ulrich Keller, from whom Susan Sontag has received most if not all of her beliefs that Fenton had staged the so-called “second? photograph had stated that Fenton added the cannon balls to the second photograph because of the lack of drama and danger that he wished to be shown in the picture. Errol Morris eventually interviewed Keller and got straight to the heart of things. I found Keller’s explanation as to why he believes the photo with the cannon balls on the road to be the second picture and also the reason why the photo had to be staged quite lacking and unconvincing. “It’s much, much more likely to assume that Fenton would have taken these balls out of the ditch and onto the road rather than the other way round. What motivation would he have had to take cannonballs that were on the road and remove them?? I was surprised to learn that this was the basis on which he and Sontag believe that the picture is staged. Morris discussed the idea of Sontag lacking evidence for her statements on the subject, and I found myself thinking about that as I read the interview. There is in fact absolutely no evidence supporting the claim that Fenton staged the second photograph, or if that picture was even taken after the other one. Fenton’s good name and reputation are being called into question based on the assumption of one man who deduced his way to this idea.

As I read on I found myself laughing at a reason for moving the cannon balls that in my opinion makes a much better argument than the one Ulrich Keller came up with. “‘Of course he took the balls off the road. Don’t they need to use the road?’? This realistic reasoning comes from Ann Petrone, a woman who works in Morris’s office. Morris goes on to explain that although this idea is indeed very plausible, it is not the first suggestion that pops into his head. He goes on to explain the artistic reasons that Fenton may have had for wanting to move the rocks. And on explaining the reasons, it seems that there are many supporting ideas for both orders of which the pictures were taken and why. A point that I think is very important and have forgotten to mention is when Morris states that we cannot know what Fenton was thinking or feeling when he took the photos. We will never know why he added or removed the cannon balls to or from the road, just like we will most likely never know in what order the pictures were taken. It is amazing to me that because one man decided what was true and false with absolutely no evidence could lead us to question the character of a man based on the removal of some cannon balls.

Epic 2015

The video about Epic 2015 I think is a very imaginable future. It’s exactly that, imagined. There are many new tools being used in media and one of the largest being the internet. After being developed in 1989 there have been many new advancements made to the internet. One of the advancements has been having computers write news articles. Also, computers have the capability to search anything online using search engines. There is such a vast variety of things that are able to be done on the internet that people (this movie) are starting to think that the computers will someday have a mind of their own and be able to write just as effective as a human would about any story that is wanted to be read by anyone.

I think this new era won’t come by 2015 nor do I think it will ever come. There is nothing more enjoyable about reading a piece that has emphasis on different topics that human writers bring to an article. I just don’t see it possible that a computer could take hundreds of different resources and put it together to make an interesting article to read. It may be possible that a computer could search a key word, which already happens, that brings up articles written by humans. There will be many new advancements in all technology, but to have computers write what has happened and yet make it interesting would be hard to see happen anytime in the near future.

The movie is also making the different search engines or companies involved with the internet seem like empires, like they are going to take over all of media. These different search engines are merely used to search for items. I have never read a piece that has been published by Google or any other search engine. They are used to look up information posted on the internet at a different location. It is made out to be that these companies will build up a join to make almost a government ran over the internet telling us what we can and cannot read. I think that sounds kind of familiar... China is one country that does do this and they screen everything that their people see. Google even has a search engine used for China so the information can be screened. If anything these search engines are trying to be the most used on the internet, but for people to use them they need to be truthful to what is resulted in the searches. The movie states that the search engine Google will buy out all of these other publishing companies such as the New York Times and force people to have to read what Google puts out. I think this is very unrealistic because there are always new things coming and going from the internet each day that it can’t happen. To say that any company in that matter is very unrealistic and not possible to take over the internet.

October 2, 2007

You're So Beautiful

I thought that you'd all be interested in seeing this video, especially all you guys out there who want to learn how to woo a girl. This video is hilarious! Click here to see this wonderful video.

Perhaps this could be good for a position statement??

American Exodus: Different View

American Exodus: A Different View
By: TJ Dubbs

After reading and examining the text and pictures in the reading of Taylor and Lange, I felt slightly confused about the message of the text. Once I sat down and actually thought about what was being said as well as reading the other position statements on this reading I begun to understand what it was about. Essentially this reading is about the troubles and challenges that farmers and other previously employed persons had in the south. The text covers a range of hardships, from unemployment to wages. In my opinion the basic idea being that Taylor and Lange are communicating through the text and pictures is the idea that these changes in southern lifestyle were necessary.
Though lifestyle changes in the south were very necessary, especially after the civil war. This is mainly due to the freeing of all enslaved persons in the south. One may think this was not such a big deal, so a plantation looses a few laborers, what is the issue when there are tons of people to work? The issue is simple, the population of freed slaves in some counties of the south reached as high as 89% according to Taylor (318). This is one of the highest, however, this was the norm in a region known as the Cotton Belt. In the delta of the south, where several major rivers meet in the Louisiana region, the slave population in some areas outnumbered the free population by nine to one (318). After reading some of these facts and figures shown in this area of the text one could see why things were after the civil war and how they progressed overtime.

With the freeing of slaves after the civil war several practices became the norm on plantations which turned into sharecropped lands with one landowner presiding over many. One such practice was the hiring of laborers by season where more were needed for “chopping in the spring, and many more needed for picking in the early fall?(319). In regards to the other times of the year less workers were needed to do the day to day jobs. The actual cultivation and seeding of land required very few workers in comparison to before. Cuts such as these were done by landowners in an effort to cut out overhead as a result of cheap labor as opposed to slave labor.

The idea of seasonal employment discouraged many farmers of the day because there was not always enough work for all of the unemployed because there were so many. In addition, growing seasons differed and sometimes no work could be found. One of the common methods to fix this problem was to simply move somewhere else in order to find work. Many tried to go west toward California, many of whom had trips mirrored to the one described in Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. However, not everyone made it to California, many did but arrived to find nothing or very much of the same. Others migrated toward cities in an effort to supply the growing industrial need for employment, but again many tried and did not succeed. This may have been due to harsh conditions or health, but in general, travel is expensive. Families needed transportation, food for an extended time, and money to get the things they needed along the way. People essentially had to leave, or just try to tough it out. It needed to happen because the rate of unemployment grew ever greater and no solution was in sight. The only way at that time to solve the unemployment at the time was to move the unemployment somewhere else so someone else could deal with it.

Not only did seasonal employment and vast unemployment hurt the farmers but the use of machinery did also. Progressively the use machinery and heavy equipment increased across the board which meant more effective farming and greater yield of crops to do an increase in overall productivity and marginal productivity on the whole. This was due to the fact that a man on a tractor could easily replace several workers, be cheaper in the long run, and be more efficient. The idea of being replaced by tractors was unsettling for many, and I particularly liked this quote used on page 319 of the text: “Tractors are against the black man. Every time you kill a mule you kill a black man. You’ve heard about the machine picker? That’s against the black man too?. This didn’t only apply to African Americans at the time it applied to everyone. This is because without a job, there is no way to earn a living and thereby get by. Although this is a tragic thought it needed to happen. At the time banks became more interested in the larger farms everywhere because they would be more inclined to loan them money in order to invest in capital (tractors) for their farms which would thereby increase efficiency, increase production of both crops and tractors which stimulates the economy. Although the increase in the supply of cash crops grew, the price did not. With an increase in supply comes a decrease in price.

Overall, the idea of unemployment and suffering on the part of the southern farmers is a tragic situation but it was an integral part of history and was an unavoidable and necessary hiccup in the history of America.

October 1, 2007


I was searching YouTube yet again tonight and came across this video. It really brings out the 'funny truths' about coal, and is similar to the smoking industry. I am only interested in this because I am and environmentalist. Check it out for a giggle.

An American Exodus

After reading the excerpt of “An American Exodus,? and the reviews posted on the web site, I found that there were a few aspects of Taylors writing that were unexplained and slightly confusing. The story begins by setting up the problem in the south and across the United States as the dust bowl takes its toll; families began to look to new forms of work in the city. However the jobs were just not available, “They come off the plantations ‘cause they ain’t got nothin’ to do… they come to town and they still got nothin’ to do.?(pg.313). The areas that were still usable for farming became industrialized. I have come to understand that an increase of industrialization leads to a decrease in jobs. Taylor points out in the “Directions? portion of the book that, “the country requires fewer than farmers rather than more.? And this is completely true; the point is hit home with the fact that, “twenty-two tractors and 13 four-row cultivators have replaced 130 families.? (pg.304). If a machine can do the job of many families then it appears many families will be out of a job.

This leads to the question of, what will happen to these families displaced? This is where I become curious. Mr. Taylor offers a solution to the problem under his “Directions? section; he says that, “new patters…must develop.? (pg.323) He then lays out his plan, “Associations of tenants and small farmers for joint purchase of machinery large-scale corporate farms under competent management with the working farmers for stockholders, and cooperative farms, are developments in the right direction.? (pg323) Here his plan is great for the few families that will have a job on the farm, but what about the “hundreds of families? displaced by lack of jobs on the highway? (pg317). Is there nothing left for them? The huge problem was not what to do with the people who had jobs, it was what to do with the millions left unemployed by the stock market crash and further by the dust bowl. Industrialization only hurts this population of Americas.

One of the reviews caught my attention because they too disagreed with Taylor because of his “solution? (pg 241 review of books). Here the author of the review, William S. Hopkins, says that the problem lies not with machines but with a surplus of “cash crops? in the “market,? (pg 385 reviews and new books). He believes that there can never be a surplus of farmers, but there can be a “too many cash crops? (pg 385) in the market. This would lead to a lowered value of the crop in the market, and thus less paid workers. He suggests instead of using machines to focus on cash crops (i.e. cotton) America should focus on, “a basic reorganization of the producing and marketing features of our agricultural economy.? (pg 386) I took this to mean that the farms should look at the market to see what the people need, not what is profitable at the time; this way what the farm grows will be wanted. People buy the product and the family will earn enough money to survive.

These are two opinions on how to better the problem the depression had created. I was curious about how the depression actually ended. Neither man was right; in fact Taylor was definitely wrong. The depression was ended on December 7th 1941, when the United States entered World War II, (http://www.besthistorysites.net/USHistory_GreatDepression.shtml). By joining the war, the government now had a need for industrial workers, and for men to join the armed forces. Enough jobs were created that unemployment was no longer a problem. I find it funny that Taylor said, “The false prosperity of war is no solution to the problems we describe.? (pg 323), yet entering the war was the solution in the end.