Sunday, March 19, 2017

Checkpoint Blog #1

My group members (Saba, Marwa, Florina, Daniel, and Anthony) and I chose teen pregnancy to be our topic. So far we've decided on what roles everyone is playing and an outline of how the skit is going to play out. We decided that our "solution" to teen pregnancy would be to have a popular franchise like Starbucks to team up with Planned Parenthood and but birth control in drinks ordered by teen. Dr. Daniel Bangsalot, young owner of a hip coffee spot The Empty Teste, owned by Starbucks, is the first to enforce this new company policy. Dr. Bangsalot is also responsible for coming up with this idea. He was inspired by his own experiences in impregnating three teens, and sisters no less, in his store. After finding out that they were pregnant the young doctor wanted to ensure that the next time he partook in such activities he wouldn't be caught blindsided. To advertise his idea  Dr. Daniel Bangsalot goes on the Late Night Show, hosted by Dr. Anthony. We've started writing the script and plan on finishing it sometime this week.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Reflection on "Words that Work"

This week in class we read an excerpt from the book Words that Work by Frank Luntz, a political consultant, who instructs the reader on how to have effective communication. The purpose of the book was to inform people, specifically the spouses of politicians, how one should be mindful of the language they use when trying to address an audience for a presentation or successful pitch. The author employed a didactic tone as his aim was to instruct the audience. The piece began by Luntz stressing the point that sometimes what is not said is more important than what is actually said. According to Luntz, improper use of words and phrases can lead to the belittling of a presentation. For example, Luntz instructs the audience to never say "drilling for oil" and instead say "exploring for energy." His reasoning is that the former phrase has a negative connotation than the latter. Luntz sates that"exploring for energy" has a more positive connotation and is often associated with words like"'efficient'" and "'balance.'" The effect that word choice can have on a presentation is evident here as Luntz demonstrates how the phrase "exploring for energy" fends off the negative connotation that came with the other option.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Reflection on "Politics and the English Language

This week in class we read and discussed George Orwell's piece "Politics and the English Language." In this article Orwell goes into detail about how the English language is deteriorating due to several "bad habits" that writers have writers have picked up. Orwell believes that eliminating these habits will allow writers to think more clearly and lead towards political regeneration. Bad habits he mentioned include dying metaphors, operators or verbal false limbs, pretentious diction, and meaningless words. In the activities that followed the reading, my partner and I discovered that very common in modern English. We found numerous examples in political speeches, historical documents and even scientific findings. A lot of the diction was, as Orwell claimed, lead to an "increase in slovenliness and vagueness." This writing piece was very similar to the books On Writing Well and The Elements of Style. Like Orwell, the authors of these books encouraged precise writing with no clutter. Zinsser especially preached for the elimination of clutter and thought that it could lead to more clear and coherent writing. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Reflection on Affirmative Action: The Problem or the Solution

This week in class we watched the documentary  Affirmative Action: The Problem or the Solution in which Gary Anthony Ramsey goes into detail about the ongoing heated debate about affirmative action. The purpose of this documentary was to provide an objective perspective on the issue by presenting both sides of the case and letting the audience decide. The documentary defines affirmative action as a system put in place to remedy the wrongs that minorities have been subject to over the course of history that prevented them from getting a good education or doing certain jobs. With the help of affirmative action universities have been able to bring in a more diverse student body. However, there are some who are opposed to this system. They claim that the acceptance of these minorities into universities is harmful because " they're creating the environment that doing worse is still acceptable" (Duke Machado). The documentary provides a thorough explanation of all the arguments people have about affirmative action.
Personally, I'm very conflicted about this issue. I believe that affirmative action, in essence, is a well thought out system with the right intentions. However, the whole situation seems to me like a never ending cycle. Affirmative action is a system made to fight racial discrimination with the help of more racial categories. Isn't the very existence of such a system a sad truth about the once discriminatory nature of American society? Does the continued existence of this system not imply that nothing has changed? That we have not evolved into the colorblind society that many civil rights activists have fought for? One of the texts we read in class (source A) had a very intriguing quote that captures the situation perfectly. Affirmative action "is  a strange cure that generates its own disease." Affirmative Action has, without a doubt, been a much needed system in our society to fight racial discrimination, however, its continued existence is one that needs great evaluation.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Language, Gender, and Race

Deepak Chopra once said "Language creates reality. Words have power." These two simple statements speak a truth not often realized by most. Language is an innate part of one's life, an honest reflection of one's character and growth, and inevitably has an enormous impact on the way we view each other. The article, "How Our Words Affect Our Thoughts on Race and Gender"  by Julie Sedivy discusses how our language and upbringing have a crucial role in the way people treat each other, especially in terms of race and gender.  Sedivy claims that opinions on controversial topics such as gender and race are developed at a young age and are largely impacted by the language used at home. One specific aspect of language that play a part in creating social categories are nouns.  Sedivy states "Nouns serve as powerful invitations to create categories—they signal that things that are labeled with the same noun (e.g., cats) are similar to each other along many dimensions and different from things that have a different name (e.g., dogs)." She goes on to argue that noun labels encourage the formation of categories, especially ones that apply to people, leaving children to treat people of a particular social category, like gender or race, a certain way. Sedivy mentions a study in which it was found that children generalized traits when categories appeared in generic statements. The author went on to detail how beliefs about how disparities between genders or races often stimulate discrimination. She then recounts an Israeli study in which researchers recorded a conversation between parents and children while they read a picture book with  Arab and Jewish characters. Researchers took note of the generic statements that the parents used, especially the ones that believed that there were fundamental differences between the groups.  These statements had a huge impact on the children who, as a result of their parent's language patterns, had similar beliefs about the differences between the two groups. It is evident how language, especially the language patterns heard at a young age, can impact the way people view others.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Reflection on "Marked Women, Unmarked Men" By Deborah Tannen

The article, " Marked Women, Unmarked Men" by Deborah Tannen is an interesting piece that argues that no woman is unmarked. The word "unmarked" in this context refers to the denotative meaning of a word. However, the word "marked" refers to the way language alters the definition of a word and gives it its connotative meaning. In her article, Tannen focuses on how how the concept of "marked" and "unmarked" is relevant in today's society, especially concerning women and men. She details in the text how in English the unmarked tense of words refers to the male while marked tense is made by adding endings such as "ess" or "ette" adding a sort of silly connotation into the mist. The purpose of this text was to relay the tendencies in language, and in real life, that make women marked. She adopts a colloquial tone to make her seem more relatable and  easy to understand. Tannen utilized multiple pieces of evidence to support her claim. Her evidence consisted of personal anecdotes and references to the book The Sociolinguistics of Langiveguage by Ralph Fasold. She conveyed her evidence with the use of several rhetorical techniques such as imagery and diction. In the beginning of  the article Tannen uses imagery to describe the women at a conference she attended and how their clothing and makeup, or even lack of makeup, reflected how they were marked. She then explains that every aspect of the women's clothing was a decision they made that would carry a meaning to someone. For instance, she states, "There is no woman's hair style that can be called standard, that says nothing about her. ...but a woman whose hair has no particular style is perceived as not caring about how she looks, which can disqualify her for many positions, and will subtly diminish her as a person in the eyes of some." Tannen then continued to say that men had the option to be unmarked, an option not available to women. Another rhetorical technique she employed was diction which she used in the example regarding titles. Tannen explained that even the titles given to us on a form are marked for women. Titles such as"Miss", "Mrs" or "Ms" provide a lot of information about a woman. For example, Tannen states that "Checking "Ms." declines to let on about marriage (checking "Mr." declines nothing since nothing was asked), but it also marks her as either liberated or rebellious, depending on the observer's attitudes and assumptions." Her use of the words liberated and rebellious have a great effect on the audience as it not only shows what is assumed by checking "Ms" but also shows this one aspect of language could go such a long way to categorize a woman. I really enjoyed this article as it really broadened my perspective of prejudice against women. I never knew that prejudice went as far deep as the language we speak. This article actually reminded me of an episode of Grey's Anatomy, where one of the older characters was reminiscing about his residency and how one of his fellow residents, a woman, wasn't taken seriously because of her gender. Although I do not know if she was referred to as doctorette, the episode did show that every decision she made as a woman greatly impacted what people thought of her.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Reflection on Pillow Angels

The article, "Pillow Angle Ethics" by Nancy Gibbs talks about "The Ashley Case" which is about a young girl, Ashley, who is brain-damaged and is receiving estrogen treatment as requested by her parents on the basis that stunting her growth would make caring for her easier. The purpose of the piece was to inform the audience about the situation and the backlash the treatment is getting. According to the article many had difficulty determining whether the treatment was ethical. While reading the article it seemed as if even the author believed that the decision was unethical. In fact, she began her article by stating "What kind of doctors would agree to intentionally shorten and sterilize a disabled six-year-old girl to make it easier for her parents to take care of her? " Her use of  the phrase "easier for her parents" portrays the parent's decision as one made by the need to lesson a burden. This one phrase set the tone for the ,majority of the passage. The idea of using medicine to stunt or cease growth is understandably hard to understand and in my opinion it is somewhat of an oxymoron. However, in Ashley's case her both her parents and doctors make a reasonable argument to justify their decision. The doctors also removed her uterus and breast tissue which they justified by saying cancer runs in their family. This is a valid concern and cannot be dismissed. I found this article extremely interesting because I had to look at it form a different lens. I had to put my morals aside and evaluate the situation based on the ethics of American society. On the show "Grey's Anatomy" there was a case similar to Ashley's. There was a child who was under a coma and unresponsive leaving the parents with the decision of what to do. The parents eventually chose to pull the plug even though it must have been an unbelievably hard decision to make. I think Ashley's parent's felt the same way with the estrogen treatment. All they wanted was more comfort for Ashley.