Sunday, January 27, 2008


I just finished a new book, Empire, by Orson Scott Card. For those of you who are not familiar with him; Card is mainly science fiction author; his most famous works are the Ender's Game series. This new book is different from most of his others books as it is set in the United States in a near future (I think anytime from 2006 through 2020 would fit the setting). I won't add much more summary to this post, see or read the book if you're interested. I found the book an interesting portrayal of the results of partisanism, but this post is not about politics. What really struck me about the novel was Card's portrayal of the mass media.

In the novel the media is shown not as a reporter of the news but rather as a manipulator of the news. Characters in the novel are careful to choose their language so it will be "spun" the way they intend for the news. How does the Media manipulate what we think about world events? Does it matter to us what news outlet reports the news to you, Fox News or CNN? How can language an interviewee uses be turned to show whatever the interviewer wants, or fits with his/her ideology. Lastly, ethically/morally or on whatever scale you choose: should journalists try to avoid editorializing in their news pieces and attempt to remain objective, or should they present the events through the lens of their Ideology?

(I apologize for the long ramble but I found the book very thought provoking on this issue and others)

Thursday, January 24, 2008


So, I was trying to write my second english EA and thinking about finishing my biology lab at the same time, and I got side-tracked into thinking about how everyone's perception of the world differs. And I asked myself a question that I couldn't find an answer to, so I posted it in a note for some of my friends to answer, and Madi suggested I post it on here. Thus, the following is the question I've been pondering, and I'd like some answers to it:

If you could comprehend the world through someone else's perception (Just for a day or so), getting all of their recognized and unrecognized bias and history and everything, whose perception would you want to "see" the world through? And why?

Racism: When do we realize it?

So in IB History of the Americas class today, we watched a video that informed us about the rise and fall of "Jim Crow" laws, which are now recognized as greatly immoral and racist. In the video, there were many video clips of early 20th century movies such as The Birth of a Nation that depicted African-Americans are ignorant, stupid, and cowardly. However, those types of movies were recognized as racist and immoral in the 1960s, around the Civil Rights Movement.

So my question for you is, at what point in time, socially and politically, do we recognize racism in an aspect of our society that was once widely accepted as moral? Why did it take so long for the American public to realize that those types of movies were racist and immoral?

Pay it Forward

So, I read the book Pay it Forward and just completely lost it at the end. But then I had me thinking that, can something like his project actually work? Because it would seem like it would work for the first few couple of people, then it would just die down. Which would be a shame, because if it actually did work, then I think that the world would be a better place. So, what do you think? If someone in today's society were to start a project described in Pay it Forward

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Elections

Well now that primaries are in action a question as come up. Does the two political parties of rep. and dem. hinder the choice that the voter chooses, and if so is it an unknown bias? And what determines a voter to choose somehting that involves an issue, is it the commericals, is it the piont of view of their parents, or is it persuaded by their friends?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Suicide and the Macabre

I was listening to a song from the musical Spring Awakening, and I realized that the song precedes a suicide. I began to wonder why our society is so focused on depressing and painful issues. How does society use ideas such as suicide to justify knowledge about life, and how does being exposed to these issues change the way we perceive life and death?

The Golden Rule - Realistic?

Since I was a little kid, I've had the Golden Rule shoved down my throat. Not that I have anything against it, but does it actually work? If it's supposed to apply to everyone, then shouldn't we treat others how they treat us? After all, thats how they want to be treated, right? Isn't the old edict "an eye for an eye" more appropriate?

An Ethical Situation Close to Home

Recently in my travels around Poudre High School, a problematic ethical situation presented itself to me. I was on the way up the stairs from my second period Spanish class to my forth period chemistry class and I was running a little late because by the time I reached the top of the stairs the minute bell had already rang. In front of me was the usual chaotic jumble in the four way intersection at the top of the stairs by the business department. I also really did not want to be late to chemistry because I did not have a pass and I had already been late the previous day.
I therefore had to make the choice of either pushing my way through the mess without consideration of the other people I may be affecting and getting to class on time or politely wading my way through the sea of people as I usually do and in all likelihood arriving to class late.

What should I have done and with what ethical justification/s should I have done it?
Also what parallels do you see with this situation and larger picture world situations (for example world politics or war) and do the same ethical justifications for my situation take effect for the larger one?

Films, Fame and Suicide

I recently saw the movie "Control" at the Lyric. "Control" is a biopic of Ian Curtis, who was the lead singer and lyricist of the British band Joy Division. Ian only lived for 23 years, he committed suicide on May 18th, 1980. Check Wikipedia for a more complete biography or YouTube for some original Joy Division music videos (you've all heard their song "Love Will Tear Us Apart", you just don't know it). The film was very good, it was honored recently at the Cannes Film Festival and won several major acting awards in the United Kingdom. But it brought to mind an interesting phenomenon. When a musician, or any other well-known person, commits suicide, is it irresponsible or unethical for a filmmaker to make a movie about their life? Does it send the message that suicide will get you attention? Elliott Smith, an American singer-songwriter who stabbed himself in 2003, has had two post-humongous CDs of his work released (From a Basement on a Hill and New Moon), was honored with a tribute disc(To: Elliott From: Portland) and every purchase from his website goes toward The Elliott Smith Memorial Fund which supports charitable organizations that coincide with Elliott's beliefs. Then, of course, there's Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, who has been the subject of several biographies and who was the inspiration for filmmaker Gus Van Sant's Last Days. Sometimes everyday people who commit suicide are memorialized with funds and such, but I know for a fact that Poudre High School doesn't honor students who have taken their own lives specifically because the administration feels that it would send the message that suicide=attention and that it would encourage students already contemplating suicide. So does publicity about suicide, especially in regards to famous people, who the rest of us are presumably influenced by, encourage suicidal tendencies? Or does it shed light on an obviously pressing problem and encourage discussion and awareness? Do filmmakers or others proposing to commemorate victims of suicide have ethical obligations to their viewers?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


In class, we're currently trying our best to incorporate old slangs of the 20s to the 80s into our little skits.
So I was wondering--
During our little research of slangs, I realized that we still use a lot of phrases from 20, 80 years ago. For example, the word "crush" (as in I have a crush on someone) was around ever since the 1920s. We discussed this in class a little bit, but what is it about some slangs that are still relevant today? What are some new slangs of our generation, and which of those do you think will last and still be used by the upcoming generations? Please justify your answer.

Jeewon K.

Wordwiv. What's happening to our language?

So on Monday the 3rd hour class talked about some common English slang terms that came to mind and about the definition of the term slang. As a class we came up with several common themes, among them being that slang terms are society’s response to objects or ideas that need to be put in terms of language, a lingual commonality used within certain communities, and that it is a product of pop culture used to show common knowledge of current events.
All of these definitions have merit, but I was curious to see what people outside of our IB community had to say on the subject. In order to find out I went to one of the places where pop culture, one of the sources that we named as an influence in the development of slang, is compiled from all over the world: What I found is that there are many socially conscious people who are eager to lend a hand to those of us who are uneducated in the language of slang, but even though I picked up some handy new phrases, some of the information in those videos was a little sketch (probably put there by a robocracy), ya know what I’m sayin’ homeslick?
After that experience I went to, which describes itself as “a slang dictionary with your definitions” to find out their definition for the word. Like the information on the website is completely supplied by regular people, but after all I was looking for other people’s definition of “slang”, so it was exactly the type of source I was looking for. Of the two most common definitions (one not having anything to do with language) I found this applicable meaning:

“slang is the continual and ever-changing use and definition of words in informal conversation, often using references as a means of comparison or showing likeness. some modern slang has endured over the decades since its inception (i.e. cool) and some will only last a few years before being rendered obsolete or outdated (i.e. bling bling). slang can be born from any number of situations or ideas, and can be blunt or riddled with metaphor, and often quite profound.

the use of slang is frequently ridiculed by culturally-ignorant people who feel it is the product of insufficient education and believe it to be counter-evolutionary; of course, they couldn't be farther from the truth. human language has been in a state of constant reinvention for centuries, and slang has been used and created by poets and writers of all sorts (William Shakespeare has been credited for the upbringing of at least a couple of words). it is the right and responsibility of the modern human to keep re-evaluating language, to give dead words innovative contemporary meanings or to simply invent new ones, in order to be more appealing and representative to the speaker/listener (which was essentially the basis behind language anyway, to understandably communicate thoughts or ideas verbally).”

So my question to all of you is do you agree with this definition that we have a responsibility to revaluate/reinvent language? What purpose does the creation of a new word serve if it will only disappear in a few years, months, weeks?

So don’t be a dandruff, and answer my post!! m’kay.


If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:

Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;

And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.

And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

—Deuteronomy 21:18-21, KJV

But as we have seen, the repressive structure of the segregated classroom [Julia’s note: age segregation, not race segregation] itself guarantees that any natural interest in learning will finally serve the essentially disciplinary interests of the school…. If they [idealistic young teachers] had forgotten what a jail school was for them, it all comes back now. And they are soon forced to see that though there are liberal jails and not-so-liberal jails, by definition they are jails….

Children, then, are not freer than adults. They are burdened by a wish fantasy in direct proportion to the restraints of their narrow lives; with an unpleasant sense of their own physical inadequacy and ridiculousness; with constant shame about their dependence, economic and otherwise (”Mother, may I?”); and humiliation concerning their natural ignorance of practical affairs. Children are repressed at every waking minute. Childhood is hell.

—Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex

Public education, in its present form, is oppressive of children. This is to be expected; when the entire society is oppressive of children, why should the educational system be any different? Public schools are grounded in ageist assumptions about the nature of children and the proper relationship between adults and children in society. Among these assumptions:

1. Adults deserve respect by virtue of their age alone.

People deserve respect because of their knowledge and wisdom and ability. These attributes may be correlated with age, but that correlation is at least in part a result of the deliberate, institutionalized benighting of minors. Despite this oppression, there are children who manage to exceed adults in knowledge, wisdom, and ability in certain subjects; in public schools, these children must feign respect for their teachers or be considered delinquent. Teachers feel entitled to this respect and feel entitled to enforce it; hell, the whole society affirms their automatic superiority over children, so the origin of their entitlement is no mystery.

2. Children need education for X number of years (X a positive integer whose exact value varies from state to state) before they can be allowed into society.

I have never liked mandatory education laws. Who is the state to dictate how long children must remain economically dependent and helpless? Who is the state to dictate the pace of each child’s learning? Firestone argues—correctly, I think—that the “myth of childhood” oppresses children under the guise of offering protection; the economic dependence caused by mandatory education laws goes far beyond the scope of children’s biological dependence.

3. Children should be segregated from people who are not their age.

Two implications are present here: first, that there is a gulf between children and adults because the natures of the two classes are so fundamentally different; second, that age indicates ability. From the first, we can explain the existence of an educational institution that isolates children from egalitarian relations with adults. From the second, we can explain why administrators are so reluctant to destroy the Herculean obstacle course that faces students who try to skip multiple grades. Implicit in the organization of public schools is an essentialism—age essentialism, we can call it—that holds children of different ages to be intrinsically different from one another and children of the same age to be uniform in their social and intellectual development. The opposition to gifted education, therefore, can be interpreted not only in terms of our society’s anti-intellectualism, which is undeniable, but also in terms of our society’s commitment to the oppression of children.

4. Children need to be disciplined when they defy authority; schools should put children in their place.

Wherever an oppressor/oppressed dynamic exists, there is the threat of rebellion. The public school system reduces this threat through a combination of indoctrination and fear. The obsession with order, control, and uniformity, so prevalent in public schools, is at odds with a worldview that treats children as human, for no human could be so restricted in eating, drinking, peeing, asking questions, talking, sitting down, standing up, or moving.

The natural solution is homeschooling, but this poses a problem for feminists. In the present patriarchy, it is reasonable to assume that the burden of homeschooling will fall on females. It is also reasonable to assume that homeschooling will reinforce the nuclear family and propagate ignorance. In these respects, it appears that insofar as widespread homeschooling would alleviate the oppression of children, it would also exacerbate patriarchal ideals about women’s domesticity. Is public schooling the least of many evils in an unenlightened society?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Except For In This Case

Well, I'm hosting the blog this week, so here's my question for all of you.

Whenever one makes an argument, people will try to poke holes in it by asking "Well, what if happened, would you still believe that?". Many times, this leads to making exceptions to our arguments. Here's my question: Does making an exception to an argument weaken the argument? Or can it strengthen it?

Hope everyone had a restful and fun break.

Rick Andrews

Monday, January 07, 2008

Culture and Slang

During class today we had many references to slang that was from another culture.  There was talk about being included or excluded due to different slang.  Some may argue that this is not in fact slang at all.  The question that I have to pose is:

What is the difference between slang and dialect?  Where is the line drawn?  What does either of these two words mean to you personally?    

-Graham P

An Ethical Dilemma

A few weeks before break, my biology class was shown a documentary starring Francis Crick (of Watson and Crick, the duo that proposed the most plausible DNA structure so far), featuring his views on the use of genetic screening, genetic engineering, and so forth. One of Crick's responses, which sums up his stance, was "If we don't play God, who will?" Although I see some knowledge issues in this statement with regard to religion, I couldn't stop thinking about the sentiment. I myself am a subscriber to the natural selection theory, but I wonder, how much are humans a product of their environment anymore? Of course we haven't managed to escape the loop thus far, but scientific advances, specifically in genetics, has made it and issue of increasing importance. Is it ethical to intervene with the delicate design that is DNA when we have no way of knowing the long term repercussions of such actions? At the same time, are the short term benefits of genetic powerhouse crops, and even genetically strong people, more important than potential issues that may or may not occur in the future? Or are we so far into designing our environment to suit us that the time for making decisions is past? Part of what makes this debate a difficult one is the emotionally loaded language that is used to fight it, since quality of life is at stake either way. Nevertheless, I am interested in what you all think, as this is a dilemma that has stumped me for quite a while. 

"You dig it?"

How does slang hinder and help out communication? What about on an international/regional/generational level? What does slang bring to a language? Is it more of a hinderance or a help?

Sunday, January 06, 2008


I got this idea, if we only had a sign language and no other form of commmunication how would it affect how we obtain knowledge? Would it hinder the meaning behind it such as you couldn't give any verbal importance to the converstation, or how you would always have to give eye contain to the speaker to understand what they are saying. Would it also depend on what type of learner you are? Like for expample I'm a visual learner so therefore I learn not for speech. Would audio learns be affected if our society was based off of that type of language. I got my idea from The Clan of Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel.