Sunday, January 29, 2012

Texting While Walking

Navigating and trying to get where you want to go on the sidewalks of New York City is difficult enough. Now, add texting and walking to the situation, and things can get dangerous. There's little data known about the number of people injured while texting. But, studies show that more than 1,000 pedestrians visited emergency rooms in 2008 after they were injured while using a cell phone. Ohio State University's research shows that that statistic doubled each year since 2006. The author of this article says that people need to master the etiquette of texting and gain more control of their electronic lives.

The author of this article, Casey Neistat, believes that texting while walking, especially on the busy streets of New York City, is incredibly dangerous. I think it was a good decision for Neistat to include the statistic because that really amazed me. I had no idea that many people went to the emergency room for texting related accidents. And if there was 1,000 people in 2008, I wonder how many more people go to emergency rooms now. I am definitely guilty of texting while walking on busy city streets, and this article is going to make me rethink that!

A Maestro Sets the Tone

Something unheard of occurred at the New York Philharmonic on January 10th. About an hour into Mahler's Ninth Symphony, an audience's cell phone loudly interrupted. It kept ringing for almost a minute. Everyone in the theater was staring in the direction that the sound was coming from. The violinists were glaring down at seats in the front row, trying to find the source of the noise. The maestro, Alan Gilbert, finally silenced the orchestra. He stopped in the middle of the show and turned around from his podium, stared at the offender, and asked the person if they were going to turn it off. People started to scream and shout at the cell phone owner. Some even stood up and demanded that he leave. The audience was furious. After the cell phone owner finally located the off button, Gilbert turned to the audience and said, "Usually, when there's a disturbance like this, it's best to ignore it," he said. "But this was so egregious that I could not allow it." The audience applauded him, and then Gilbert turned back to his orchestra and started up again.
The author of this op-ed, David Masello, thinks Alan Gilbert did a beautiful thing. Masello himself was at the performance and describes the amazing atmosphere from a first hand experience. Masello explains that Gilbert "hit all the right notes" when he decided to stop the performance and call out the cell phone owner. Masello finishes his op-ed with saying, "Mr. Gilbert's brave decision that night, to halt a performance and remedy a problem with firmness and dignity, brought new music to the Philharmonic." This event will go down in history and Gilbert will be considered a hero by many for years to come.

Click here to view the op-ed

Friday, January 27, 2012

3 A.M. Wake Up Call

What would you do to get a good education? Mexican-Americans who live in Tijuana have to wake up at 3 a.m. to walk several miles and wait in line to cross an international border just to go to school. They go to school in Chula Vista, California. These students are not immigrants. They are American citizens, legally crossing the border to get an education. Some of these kids do have to stay under the radar because they are not residents of the school districts they attend. The children live in Tijuana because their parents have been deported from the U.S. or have chosen to leave the states. Some people believe that these children are contributing to America's greatness, but some believe they are stealing from it. A lot of people do not agree with this and do not think these children should be allowed to cross the border and attend American schools.
The author of this article, Andrew Rosenthal, believe that America and its citizens should embrace the situation. Rosenthal says, "When our laws needlessly divide families and discourage beneficial migration, they drain the ambition and energy that are America’s constantly renewable resource." Rosenthal believes that we, as Americans, are fighting the battle of immigration in the worst way possible. Rosenthal finishes his editorial saying, "While our laws and policies focus heavily on punishing first-generation illegal immigrants, we forget that it is in our vital interest to make sure their American children and grandchildren succeed." This proves that Rosenthal thinks we need to focus on these citizens because they are our future. 

Click here to view the article

Kardashians Manipulate the Media

The minute I saw this article, I was interested. Not just because I love the Kardashians, but because we just read an essay in our patterns book about "fame-iness." Even though I do like the Kardashians, I can honestly say that I don't believe they have any real talent. They use the media and tabloids to attract attention and receive publicity. (I kinda felt deja-vu when I was reading this article because it was just like the Fame-iness essay...) This particular article is about Kanye West's ex-girlfriend, Amber Rose, bad-mouthing Kim Kardashian. Kanye supposedly cheated on Amber with Kim Kardashian. Amber said that the Kardashians "manipulate the media" into believing what they want them to believe.

The author of this article seems to be on Amber Rose's side. The author writes that Amber explained her relationship with Kanye West as a "wild ride" and uses the example of the 2009 MTV Music Awards when Kanye rudely interrupted Taylor Swift. I think it was a good idea for the author to include this event in the article because everyone know's about it. Everyone heard what had happened and everyone was against Kanye. I feel like this article was aimed at music fans and people who pay attention to entertainment news. This is because the author does not include a lot of detail about who Amber Rose is, and she is not a normal household name. I feel bad for Amber, and I feel bad that she had to deal with Kanye West. Kanye does not have a reputation of being a nice guy, and this was proved to the world at the music awards in 2009. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Losing my husband, 140 characters at a time

Twitter can be used for more than just high school girls ranting about how much they hate each other. It can be powerful. The author of this article, Lee Ann Cox proved this. Cox's husband, Kevin, was diagnosed with cancer. She used twitter as a way to rant about her life and the problems she was going through. She tweeted when she was upset, when she was angry, and when she was depressed. All through Kevin's treatments and surgeries, Lee Ann would tweet about the doctors, the procedures, and her husband's struggles. Cox says that she didn't "make it easy" to follow her. One of her tweets read, "One definition of heartbreak: 9- and 5 1/2-year-olds bending over a bed rail to give a last kiss & say, “I love you Daddy. I’ll miss you.” 5:34 PM Nov 17th, 2009 from web"  Cox believes that twitter really helped her in times of need and was a way of pouring her heart out. She admits that after Kevin died, she was tweeting less and less. But, she says if she thought he would ever reply to her, she would tweet all day long. 

Cox uses lots of pathos in this article. She really makes the reader feel for her. The fact that she included her personal tweets about her husbands procedures made you connect with Cox. Another example of this is, "Kevin out. Surgeon-shoes splattered red-said it was hard but successful. Says he left him with two large tubes, minus couple cups of blood. 4:38 PM Aug 19th, 2009 from web." This article really interested me because I am guilt of tweeting about pointless things that mean absolutely nothing. This made me really rethink the whole idea of twitter, and realize it can be used for things so much better than teenagers drama. 

Click here to view the article

Dear Female Students: Stop Writing About Men

The author of this article, Lorraine Berry, has her college students write a 20 page piece of creative nonfiction at the end of every semester. She never knows what they're going to write about. People have written about deaths, suicide attempts, arrests, and many other unpredictable things. There is one thing that Berry can always predict though: The females in the class usually tend to write about a romantic relationship, and the males do not. Berry says that she's not trying to say the males in her class are not sensitive because many of them write about very deep subjects. But, "only once or twice in the nine years I’ve been teaching these courses has a guy expressed his need to understand why a relationship has fallen apart." But, females do it all the time. There are several themes that women usually write about when talking about men. Some examples are the one that got away, breakups, and cheating. Berry explains that she tries her hardest not to critique these relationships, and focus on the structure and the writing techniques of the student. Berry seems to have a problem with women talking about men all the time. She suggests that women are just afraid to be alone, and thats why they write about men and their problems. 
Berry is very opinionated on this subject. Although it annoys her that women are constantly writing about men, she admits that she did the same thing when she was their age. She focused on the men in her life when she was writing. She also says that its hard for her not to write a letter to the women's essays she reads, to help them with their problems. Berry uses lots of pathos to express the women's feelings in their essays. This helps the reader understand what the women are going through. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Four People Missing on Mount Rainier

An elite mountain rescue team headed up the side of Mount Rainier in Washington today to search for four missing people. The four climbers went missing after a brutal storm. The rescue team is searching for a pair of overdue campers and two climbers who were trying to summit the mountain. Medical teams and the missing climber's families are concerned about the climbers' health. There has been a snow storm on the mountain the last couple of days, bringing wind gusts over 100 miles per hour and a few feet of snow. Rangers believe that the climbers are well-equipped, but their supplies may be getting low. Two of the campers, Mark Vucich and Michelle Trojanowski, were scheduled to return down from the summit Sunday. Mark's family says he has plenty of experience and knowledge of survival techniques. The other two climbers' names haven't been released, but are scheduled to return down on Monday. The Park Service is going to continue searching in the next couple of days, and a helicopter will also be searching from the sky.
When I read this article, I thought it was both interesting and depressing. I can't imagine the pain the family is going through. The author of this article, Gene Johnson, did not seem to incorporate any personal feelings into the article. It was very factual and to be honest, sort of boring. I know this isn't a happy subject, but I feel like he could have made the article a little more intriguing. I plan on following up on this event and seeing if these climbers are ever found.

Click here to view the article

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Obama honors World Series champions

According to Obama, the St. Louis Cardinals are the "greatest comeback team in the history of baseball." This is because of their thrilling, late-season run into the playoffs and seven game triumph in the World Series last year. Last year, the Cardinals were 10 1/2 games back at the end of August. But, they came through to win the National league wild card on the last day of the regular season. Many people classified this as a miracle. The Cardinals trailed in each round of the playoffs, but rallied to win each series. The Cardinals were almost eliminated twice in the sixth game of the World Series, but David Freese hit a walk-off home run in the 11th inning. In the end of August last year, the Cardinals were 500-to-1 underdogs. They did the unthinkable, and rallied back in one of the biggest comebacks in the history of Major League Baseball.

The minute I saw this article I wanted to blog about it. I love baseball and because of my dad, follow it on a daily basis. I remember last year watching Sportscenter and hearing the baseball analysts talk about the Cardinals. They would say that they were finished and that they should give up, but they didn't. Many people were speechless when the Cardinals ended up winning in October. President Obama described it the best, "But through skills, guts and I think the team would agree just a little bit of luck - just a touch - this team made the playoffs... And even though they trailed in each of the series that followed, they somehow had the spirit and the determination and the resolve to survive."

Click here to view the article

Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy

Who didn't love The Wiggles as a kid? I know I did. They defined a generation. Their hit TV show was watched in millions of homes throughout the world and they sold out arenas across the globe. Lots of kids and families were disappointed when a key member of the group dropped out. Many were pleased though when a new member was added to the group, but it still wasn't the same. But now, after years, the fans are getting what they've been waiting for, the original crew is back. Greg Page, the founding Wiggle, is back after a five year absence. But, he has a good reason for leaving. Page was diagnosed with a rare nervous system disorder, dysautonomia, in 2006. He quit the group and handed over the role to his understudy, Sam Moran. Moran is now leaving after nine years, giving the role back to its original owner. Page returning to the Wiggle stage is bringing much excitement to the 21 year old group. This age group feels like their bringing back their childhood memories. Page is ready to start working with the group immediately. He is going to start filming immediately and they are going on an international tour starting in March. The Wiggles are back in action!

It seems to me that the author of this article, Mary Elizabeth Williams, is a Wiggles fan. She seems very excited that the original crew is back in action and going to start filming immediately. Williams does also discuss the cons of the original Wiggle coming back. The kids that have been watching the show with Moran are very upset and confused. "There will be kids who pitch fights, and parents who do likewise." Williams discusses both sides of the argument, but her tone suggests that she herself is very excited about the change. She finishes her article with saying, "Some anguished fans have even begged Sam to remain, suggesting he could be shunted to a newly formed role of Green Wiggle. But come on. As any child could tell you, there's only room for four in that big red car."

Click here to view the article

As Good as It Gets for the Economy?

This article interested me because people are always asking when the economy is going to get better. The bad news is, it might not. The economy was very weak in 2011, but it ended better than it started. Earlier this month, researchers revealed data that expect a growth of around 3 percent for the last quarter of 2011. In the first three quarters of the year, the average was only 1.2 percent. There are many signals that show that the economy will probably not get better. Wages have not rose and foreclosures continue. The author of this editorial believes that in order to save the economy, we need more government aid to help create jobs and prevent foreclosures. But, this does not look like its going to happen. The government has made it clear that they are going to provide less, not more, in 2012. President Obama is trying to make an effort to help the economy. He proposed a bill that included spending money for public work projects, aid to state and local governments, and a renewal of a payroll tax break and jobless aid. Unfortunately, congressional republicans blocked the bill. But, this tells us that there still is hope and Obama is trying to make an effort to help struggling Americans. 
The author of this editorial made it clear that he thinks the U.S. economy needs help. I completely agree with this. People are still homeless, jobless, and hungry. Foreclosures are continuing, and wages are still low. The author is very persuasive and made me believe that Obama does want to help, if he can find a way. The author makes it clear that Obama needs to refocus and concentrate on creating jobs. "Mr. Obama needs to translate his newfound focus on the middle class into an agenda for broad prosperity, making the case that what the nation needs now is a large short-run effort to create jobs coupled with a plan to cut the deficit as the economy recovers." I enjoyed reading this article and hope that Congress and Obama can eventually come together to solve the economic problems in our country. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

The dumbest third-grade assignment ever?

An elementary school right outside of Atlanta, Georgia, Beaver Ridge Elementary School, recently made the news for something unbelievable. A third-grade math teacher asked his students to answer word problems involving slavery. One question was, "Each tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?" Another question asked, "If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?" Ridiculous, right? The parents of these children were surprised and displeased to find out that their children were answering questions like these. One of the school officials tried to help the situation and said that the problems were part of a "cross-curricular" activity combining math and social studies. Administrators are now saying they will more carefully review assignments before handing them out and said that all of these math problems have been shredded. But, this event still should never have happened. The teacher who assigned these problems has still not been announced to the public. The author of the article believes that it is a good idea to incorporate math and social studies, but not like this.
The author of this article, Mary Elizabeth Williams, thinks that this third-grade teacher was completely wrong. She makes this very obvious with just the title of the article. Williams says, "Sadly, too, the whole screw-up reinforces the stereotype of what a poster at the New York Daily News referred to as "The New South [that] still has people who loved the Old South." She clearly states here that the whole situation was a screw-up and basically, that it enforces the idea that there is still racism occurring. I found this article to be very interesting and was surprised that a teacher would even think about passing out questions like these to third graders. 

Click here to view the article

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Is America the most religious nation?

Studies have shown that America is the most religious nation in the world. More than 90 percent of Americans say they believe in God and pray. 61 percent of Americans declare themselves atheists or agnostics, but out of those 61 percent, 17 percent of them say they have attended church services. But, being a religious person doesn't just have to do with attending church and praying. Behavior is a huge part of religion. This article talks about the "2011 report card for religious America." First off, poverty is constantly increasing in the U.S. 49.9 million people in America today are considered poor. Even worse, 3.5 million people in America today are considered homeless. The United State's world ranking in life expectancy has also fell. We were 16th in 1960 and now we are 29th. Many blame this on our inadequate healthcare system. The federal minimum wage is $7.25, but several states have rose their wages. "The U.S. ranks eighth in minimum wage compared with European countries - just two notches above Slovenia." The United States is also the only industrialized nation that fails to provide healthcare for all of its citizens. Close to 6 million American children are uninsured. Religions also preach about marriage and frown upon divorce, but divorce rates in this country are higher than they have ever been. Lots of religions also frown upon sex before marriage. "Isn't it ironic that the journal Reproductive Health reports a correlation showing that the more religious the state, the higher the rates of teenage pregnancy?" We can sit here and name American problems for hours on end, these are just some of the major ones. At the end of the article, the author, Bernard Starr, asks, "What is religion? Love, caring, serving, giving, sharing, oneness, brother and sisterhood, compassion and selflessness." Hmm, what's wrong with this picture?
I personally found this article to be HILARIOUS. I completely agree with Bernard Starr. So many people in America claim to be so religious, and really what they're doing isn't religious at all. Starr is very persuasive in this article and kept me interested. He persuades readers by expressing how religious Americans think they are, and then proving the irony in the situation by naming all of the issues. I think one of Starr's purposes to write this article was to entertain. I really enjoyed this article and believe Starr got his point across nicely.

Click here to view the article

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Drug Problem Continues

This article really caught my eye. It was all about the increase in drug overdoses in the United States over the past thirty years. Drug overdoses have increased six times as much during this time period. I found it very interesting that drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in our country. The scary thing is that this problem might just get worse. Extremists on both sides have taken over the drug prevention debate. The problem is that Republicans avoid the subject because it might appear to eventually cost taxpayers more money. And Democrats haven't realized that drugs are a major issue and need to be dealt with. The author of the article, Kevin A. Sabet, describes the drug problem as a stalemate. The author argues that we know so much more now about addiction than we used to, and new technology is at our reach. Legislature is trying to make an effort and make a difference. R. Gil Kerlikowske, Obama's main drug policy advisor, recently introduced a plan to stop drug addiction. This plan included shutting down illegitimate clinics, educating adults and children, and establishing monitoring at pharmacies. Unfortunately, his plan received little attention from Capitol Hill. 

It says at the end of this op-ed that the author, Kevin A. Sabet, is a drug-policy consultant and was a senior adviser in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. So, if you ask me, he probably knows what he's talking about. Sabet makes it pretty obvious that he thinks things need to be changed. Sabet also believes that the moderates need to take over and do something about the problem because the extremists aren't going to solve anything. He explains this when he says, "To remain silent not only betrays widely shared values of compassion and justice for the most vulnerable. It also leaves policy in the hands of extremists who would relegate a very serious and consequential discussion to frivolous and dangerous quarters.." Sabet is very persuasive in his writing. He points out that drug prevention solutions in the past have produced impressive results and new solutions can only be better. 

Click here to view the article

Monday, January 2, 2012

Bless Me, Ultima Chapters 17-22

Are you serious? I am beyond mad at Anaya right now. The ending of Bless Me, Ultima was a complete disappointment for me. I was really interested in finding out Antonio's future but Anaya left me hanging. We can assume he won't end up being a priest, after his incident with Florence. Another thing that Anaya didn't really answer is Antonio's beliefs and questions about God. I mentioned in my last blog that I was waiting for a turning point in the book. I think a real turning point is when Antonio realizes himself that he may never find the answers he is looking for. This happens at his communion.
One thing that confused me in the final chapters was Florence's death. What was Anaya trying to get across to the readers? I think Anaya was trying to say that Florence died because he didn't believe in God or religion. Personally, I don't agree with that because I also don't really practice any sort of religion or cherish any god.
To be honest, I almost cried when I read Ultima's death scene. Ultima has been so good to Antonio throughout the whole book and suddenly part of his family was gone. I was disappointed in Ultima's last words to Antonio. I thought she would say something that would hint towards Antonio's future but that didn't happen.
To sum up my thoughts on Bless Me, Ultima, I really liked the book. I was disappointed in the ending, but the rest of the book was great and kept me interested. I would definitely recommend this book to someone.

Bless Me, Ultima Chapters 13-16

As I get farther and farther into Bless Me, Ultima I keep waiting for some sort of turning point in the book. I still have many questions from the beginning of the book that have yet to be answered. Will Tenorio eventually kill Ultima? Will Antonio eventually take Ultima's place? Is Ultima really a witch? I feel like Anaya still has many loose ends that still need to be tied together. Antonio finally returns to school and gets to skip a grade and be in third grade. Antonio tells Samuel about his experience with the golden carp. Antonio also questions his beliefs and wonders if this golden carp is god. To me, thats a bit weird. Antonio gets harassed by the kids at school about Ultima. Even though its incredibly sad, one of my favorite parts of the book so far is when Narciso is killed by Tenorio. Anaya really made me hate Tenorio. Especially in this quote, "Then to add to his curse he spit on the body of Narciso." (Page 169) Tenorio threatens to kill Ultima when he is talking to Antonio, and Antonio warns Ultima. Ultima does not seem to be worried, but I think she should be.