Friday, December 31, 2010

Essay on Determinism

Essay on Determinism

The controversy between free will and determinism has been a long standing argument. We must first know a little about what we are arguing. As stated in the dictionary, free will is the power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as fate or divine will. In a nutshell, it is the freedom to choose our own fate. The definition for determinism is total opposite. Determinism is the philosophical doctrine that every state of affairs, including every human event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs. Basically every effect has a cause.

For the religious minded, determinism supports the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing God. The opposite argument, free will, says that God would not know or have any say in the paths chosen by a human being. This would limit the existence and power of God, which is not acceptable to some.

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Another argument for determinism is cause and effect, or causation. This states that an event should happen over and over with the same result. So if everything in the universe has a cause, all causes would be known, then the future would be easily predicted. Basically the course of the future has already been mapped out, which is not totally possible. Determinism is a bit limiting in its possibilities.

Free will is the ability to make intelligent choices. Although some choice are hindered by past experiences, thoughts, or influences. The freedom of free will is our self awareness, our imagination, observing our own thinking, and the knowledge we seek.

If determinism were true, a person would not have the ability to change their actions and could not be held accountable for them. It is predetermined in his genetic make-up. Based on determinism a person could murder and he would not have any choice in the matter.

One could want to do something such as steal, but from knowing the possible repercussions he could make a choice from the options presented to him, which is free will. He would also be held accountable for his action or decision. If he got caught stealing and was sentenced to years in prison, he would know that he made the wrong choice.

Under the determinist view, we are all puppets. We have a set path in life that has been predetermined. I do not believe that to be true. We can overcome desires and inclinations. Either we have learned from a past experience or we know that the possible outcome of the event at hand is not something we want to experience. We make decisions everyday that affect our lives, whether we make the right ones is up to us.

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Essay on Female Genital Mutilation

Essay on Female Genital Mutilation

Two million girls are subjected to female genital mutilation in the name of tradition every year (Win News). That is a large amount of females that undergo this procedure. Just like all stories there are two sides to why people do what they do. To Americans the circumcision of the female genitalia seems to be wrong, cruel, and unjust. On the other hand people in other countries, such as, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Sudan this is considered something that is done as a right of passage. So as Sociologists, or students of Sociology we must look beyond what is right for one culture may not be so true in another. In order to understand the full concept of female genital mutilation I will talk about what female genital mutilation is. I will talk about how the procedure is done. I will also give detail as to the positive and negative aspects of the procedure.

The definition of female genital mutilation (FGM) is referred to as the removal of part, or all, of the female genitalia (Female Genital Mutilation). There are five different categories that fall under Female genital mutilation they are: Circumcision, Excision, Infibulation, and Intermediate infibulation (Cutting the Rose).

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Circumcision is the removal of the prepuce or the hood of the clitoris. This is the mildest of all type of mutilation (Cutting the Rose). This is the type of mutilation that can be correctly called circumcision, because it would be the equivalent to male circumcision (Cutting the Rose). The next type and a little more drastic is excision, which means partial or total cutting of the clitoris and all or part of the labia minor (Cutting the Rose). This is the most widely done of all the circumcision practices. The range of people getting this type of operation done on them is 80 percent. Infibulation is another type of circumcision. This involves the cutting of the clitoris, labia minora and at least two-thirds of the labia majora (Cutting the Rose). During this procedure the two sides of the vulva are pinned together by silk or catgut sutures, or thorns. Once this is done there is a small opening that is left so that the female will be able to pass, urine and menstrual blood. The next type of mutilation is Intermediate infibulation. It is called intermediate because it varies on the degrees of stitching. In one type the clitoris is removed and the surface of the labia minora is roughened to allow stitching. In another situation the clitoris is left intact but the labia minora are removed. In other words the insides of the labia majoa are removed and stitched with the clitoris buried underneath (Cutting the Rose).

This procedure is done to females at a variety of ages. This depends on the culture in which they are coming from. The ages range from shortly after birth, to when the female has her first pregnancy. The most common ages for most of the cultures are between the ages of four and eight. Sometimes the girls undergo this operation by themselves, but most of the time it is done with a group of close girls. An example would be sisters or other close relatives or neighbors, or is some cultures it is done on a whole group of girls in the community that are the same age (Female Genital Mutilation).

The procedure can be carried out in a couple of different places, and a couple of different people. It may be carried out in the girl’s home, or the home of a relative or neighbor. It may also be done in a health center. Different cultures designate different people to carry out this ceremony. These people range from older women, a traditional midwife, the community healer, a barber, or a qualified midwife or doctor (Female Genital Mutilation).

The tools that are used in doing this operation vary, once again on where the procedure is being done, and on what the community has been doing for years. They are usually performed with special knives. In Mali they use a saw-toothed knife (Cutting the Rose). The procedure is also done with razor blades like the ones the tribes of Sudan use, which they call a Moos el Shurfa (Cutting the Rose). Cultures also have been know to use objects such as glass or scissors, and on extremely rare occasions people have been reported of using sharp stones, burning the clitoris off, or using sharp fingernails to pluck out the clitoris of babies in some areas of Gambia (Cutting the Rose).

There are many disadvantages to this procedure as one may already have been thinking while reading this paper. There are physical side effects associated with this procedure. The most severe is death. While the female is undergoes this procedure there is pain, because in most of the societies that this is taking place, the people are not very well developed, therefore they do not know of thing like anesthesia. Also associated with the procedure are shock, hemorrhage, and damage to the organs surrounding the clitoris and labia (Female Genital Mutilation).

Dear Sir,
With Regard to your recent coverage of female circumcision, while in Malawi a couple of months ago I came across the story of a fourteen year-old girl of the Yao tribe tat inhabits land in the southern end of the country. She was diagnosed HIV-positive although she was a virgin. Blame was laid on the fact that during tribal circumcision the same razor would be used on any number of children at the same time. The solution the chief offered to take up was that in future each child was to bring its own razor (Cutting the Rose).

That passage bring me to the point that since the operators do many circumcisions at one time there is a very large likelihood that the poor girls will contract horrible diseases. Two of the most common diseases that females catch are HIV and Hepatitis B. These illnesses certainly mean death, because of the lack of adequate mediation available to them. Dr. Rosemary Mburu, A Kenyan gynecologist has estimated that 15 per cent of all circumcised females dies of bleeding or infections, and other reports show that out of every 1,000 females that undergo this procedure 70 women die as a result.

As there are those are all of the short-term effects of female circumcision, there are also problems that occur in the long-term. The most common complication of female circumcision is the lack of sensation during sexual intercourse due to the removal of the clitoral gland and the labia minora (Cutting the Rose). Further complication can also occur after the procedure is done some of the women’s vaginas become narrower than they were meant to be. This is because there is scar tissue that forms, because of accidental cuts into the vaginal wall (Cutting the Rose).

This in turn leads to painful menstruation, or otherwise referred to as dysmenorrhoea. This happens because the menstrual blood cannot flow freely. Since the vaginal hole is so small this also leads to painful intercourse. Another long-term condition that may occur is a tumor that is composed of nerve tissue, at the point of section of the dorsal nerve of the clitoris. This also leads to excruciating pain for the female that has undergone this procedure.

There are also psychological effects that occur in women that have had this procedure done to them. Several women that have been interviewed say that because this mutilation has been done to them, they have feeling of anxiety, terror, humiliation, and betrayal to the people that have done this to them (Female Genital Mutilation).

People that are pro female circumcision say that there is nothing wrong at all with this practice; in fact, they actually praise it. Carla Obermeyer, a medial anthropologist and epidemiologist at Harvard University, published a comprehensive review of the literature on female genital surgeries in Africa. She concluded that the claims of anti-FGM movements are highly exaggerated and do not match reality. By looking at 435 scholarly articles she found that most of the publications had no hard evidence, they were all critical articles by people that just did not like the procedure practiced (What about Female Genital Mutilation).

Tribes in Africa like the Okiek do not talk about female circumcision in terms of reducing sexual pleasure or desire, but they talk about it in terms of cleanliness, beauty and adulthood (What about Female Genital Mutilation). Another tribe called the Kikuyu assured Scientist Robert Edgerton that women that are circumcised continue to be orgasmic, and actually enjoy sexual intercourse. Studies also have been conducted in rural and urban Egyptian women that have had the operation done on them. Out of fifty women that were interviewed only two of them resented that they have been circumcised.

There are other notable facts about this cultural practice. For one thing, most African women do not think about circumcision in human-rights terms. Women who endorse female circumcision typically argue that it is an import part of their cultural heritage or their religion, while women who do not endorse the practice typically argue that it is not permitted by their cultural heritage or their religion.

It seems like the people that are not familiar with this ritual always try to knock it down without really knowing what is actually being done. On the other hand people that live in the societies where it is practiced embrace the event. Another survey developed by The Health department asked 3,805 if they were circumcised. 89 percent of them were. Of the women that were circumcised 96 percent of them said that they had or would have their daughters circumcised.

They also asked if they women favored the continuation of the practice, and an astonishing 90 percent of circumcised women said that they would favor continuation of the ritual (Shweder 2000).

Based on the female cultures like in Somalia and in Sudan, it is believed by women that their genital alterations actually improve their bodies. They say that the alterations make them more beautiful, more feminine, more civilized, and much more honorable (Shweder 2000).

They are more beautiful because their bodies are made smooth, and the flesh that they used to have is thought of as being ugly and odious. That is how people feel about the male penis in the United States. Most women prefer a man who is circumcised to one who was left intact.

The women fell more feminine because unmodified genitals in males as well as females are seen as sexually ambiguous. The women who answered these questions say that they have acquired full female identity, they become more social, and they receive the support of all the women in their culture (Shweder 2000).

They believe that they are more civilized because their alteration is a symbolic action that makes women have much self-control over their sexual feelings and pleasure. So that makes the process of getting married much more sacred. Finally, it is more honorable because their womb is “free from sin” (Shweder 2000).

In the cultures that practice this procedure, not only do they do this to females; they also do this to the boys in those communities as well. It symbolized a new chapter in their lives, the chapter of being brought into adulthood. The children who undergo this procedure do not dread it; in fact, they actually look forward to it. Even though it is very painful, especially when it is done with no anesthesia. They think of it as a test of courage. As for people saying that African parents do not care about their children, this is false. Who in their right mind would not love their own children? (Shweder 2000).

Without hearing both sides of the story one is quick to judge. I have to admit that when I started my research on this project, I found a lot of negative information regarding female genital mutilations, which lead me to believe that it was a horrible thing to do to these poor innocent girls. On the contrary when I found articles about whey this is done to women, which were not bias I began to believe that every culture is different and they do different things. Finally I believe that people, especially Americans should butt out of people’s lives and only worry about their own, because I am sure that there are people in other countries that do not like what the U.S. does, but they cannot say it in public because they cannot provide the news coverage like Americas can.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Essay on Genetically Modified Crops

Essay on Genetically Modified Crops

For over two decades, genetically modified (GM) crops have been the subjects of numerous debates. Many arguments have been presented in support of and against the GM crops. In my opinion, the groups that support genetically engineering food have presented better arguments and have swayed me to their side. Using the web site “Harvest of Fear” as my only information and research regarding this subject, I have come to the conclusion that I do indeed feel that we should genetically modify crops.

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Genetically modified crops can improve the science of farming in several different ways. One way we would benefit is that by implanting a certain bug-repelling gene into crops, farmers are able to use fewer pesticides than with regular non-GM crops. With non-GM crops farmers have to spray pesticides five or six times before it becomes fully effective. This is a very time and money consuming process. With the GM crops, only one or two applications of pesticide are needed. This allows farmers to have more time to do other things and also saves money. Another benefit of using fewer pesticides is that there is less of a chance for the pesticides to contaminate near-by water supplies and irrigation systems.

Third World countries would also benefit from certain genetically modified crops. Crops can be inserted with a particular gene that facilitates plant growth in nutrient poor soil. Because the GM plants are able to grow in the harsh conditions, farmers would save money on irrigation systems and now unnecessary fertilizers. The GM crops also are more productive, enabling the farmers to produce more crops at approximately the same price. This helps their economy because they are able to feed more people while taking up the same amount of land.

I consider genetically modified crops to be beneficial to our economy and environment. It enables farmers to spend less time and money while producing more crops. It helps our environment by allowing farmers to use fewer pesticides. Our nation and others would defiantly benefit from the use of genetically modified crops.

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Essay on Income Inequality in Australia

Essay on Income Inequality in Australia

There is a substantial amount of inequality with regard to the distribution of income in Australia. Sources say it is becoming slightly worse in recent years. In 1999-00, top 20% of income recipients accounted of 48.5%. They had average weekly income over 12 times higher than the average income of the bottom 20%. The bottom 60% of income recipients receive less than 30% of total income.

There are economic and social advantages and disadvantages of inequitable distribution of income. Economic benefits occur when there is an increase in the productive capacity of resources and thus an increase in real GDP per capita.

The first benefit is that the labour force is encouraged to increase education and skill levels. Since jobs with higher qualification and skills provide higher income, the labour force will want to improve their education and skill levels in order to receive a higher income. Thus there is an increase in the quality of the labour force.

Secondly, the labour force is encouraged tow work longer and harder. The longer the hours you work, the higher the income you will get. Therefore it produces an incentive for workers to work longer and overtime, which enhances economic growth. In addition, the higher pay for increased output will encourage labour to move where it is most needed. A more mobile workforce will lead to a more efficient allocation of resources and a higher rate of economic growth.

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Entrepreneurs are encouraged to more readily accept risks associated with business. If they do not receive bonus for their risk taking, there will be fewer entrepreneurs and therefore a lower rate of economic growth, less jobs and a reduction in their productive capacity in the economy.

Last but not least, there is a potential for higher savings and capital formation. Since there will be more high income earners in an inequitable distribution of income, and the higher the income an individual earns the greater the proportion of income will be saved, savings will increase in the economy and this will reduce Australia’s reliance upon foreign capital.

Unfortunately the advantages of economic inequality are accompanied with the disadvantages.

Firstly, overall utility, the satisfaction for the goods and services by the consumer is reduced in our society. This theory is based on the assumption that high income earners gain less satisfaction from an increase in their income than people who earn lower incomes. The reason being as more of a certain good is consumed, it will begin to provide less utility to the consumer.

This means that and extra $1 income would be of more worth to a low income earner than to a high income earner. This suggests that a more equal distribution of income will be beneficial to the total utility. Unfortunately, it is extremely to gain an accurate assessment of relative utilities.

Secondly, consumption and investment is also reduced. People who earn a low income spend more of their money than high income earners. The reason for this is that they need this money go towards the basic necessities. Therefore if we have more inequality, less of the income will go towards consumption. This leads to towards lower economic activity, employment and overall living standards.

Furthermore, high income earners tend to spend their income on luxuries such as designer clothes, extravagant goods and services, that are not needed creating a “leisure class”. This establishes an individual’s wealth and creates hierarchy, but poor people are not benefited from this consumption.

Moreover, there is less work and work efficiency in the economy. Inequality of the income causes relative poverty. As a result, this reduces educational opportunities, lowers individual’s self confidence and this can in time end up with many people not working to their full potential or not working at all.

Many people rely on the government to provide welfare support which is an income for people who are unemployed, elderly, or with disabilities. This places demand on the government revenue as there are many people on low income who rely this government aid.

Lastly, as a result of distribution of inequality income, economic growth has slowed down. Since there are more high income earners in Australia, they tend to save more of their income so there is less consumption and contribution to economic growth.

Inequality of income can bring several social benefits, such as the fact that inequality of opportunity exists in Australia which gives high income earners easier access to gain better education and opportunities. This ensures that they will gain admission to tertiary education which will allow them to have higher paid jobs.

Secondly, there are people who do not share high physical and mental abilities or potential when it comes to the acquisition of income and wealth. Some people are better at physical labour which usually means lower paid jobs rather than those who are academically minded which in our society means higher paid jobs.

Finally, some people can gain wealth to inheritance and trust funds, and they have opportunity to build up their wealth through investing, unlike those who start off with nothing.

There are two major social disadvantages of inequality. First one being that there is a class division which causes tension between people with different jobs and regions. This can lead to disputes between people, which will in turn bring about an instable society which can lead to an economic disruption.

There are still many Australians who live in relative poverty. For these people, life is hard and they are subjected into low incomes and very little economic opportunities. Increased level of crimes, diseases, and reduced life expectancy are linked with very high poverty levels.

To conclude, in the Australian society, distribution of income is very much in favour of high income earners, which leads to benefits and consequences socially and economically.


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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Essay on Joan of Arc

Essay on Joan of Arc

At the time of Joans days as a kid France was in the middle of a Hundred year war. Joans home town was put in between the English and the French. Joan had a happy and good young life but sometimes her and her family had to flee from armies passing through their town.

Joan of Arc started hearing voices at 13. These voices only forced her to pray and go to church. After about two years they started telling her that she must help the kings son of France to be crowned. The kings son, Charles 7th had to be crowned at Reim by tradaditional crowning. But at that time Reim was controlled by the English.

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Joan left her home town without telling her parents and managed to get to the King and convince him of her mission. She was given an army to attack Orlines to start to get Reim. Even though the dissagreements and little of faith of her own soldiers the attack was still done. From there it seemed that Joan could do nothing wrong in battle until she reached Reim and the King was crowned. After doing this Joans great war victoires started declining mainly from the lack of support from King Charles 6th. She was captured at Compiene when the drawbridge was raised to fast causing Joan being left outside.

Joan was charged by a English court and put to burnt at the stake.

At the time of Joans days as a kid France was in the middle of a Hundred year war. Joans home town was put in between the English and the French. Joan had a happy and good young life but sometimes her and her family had to flee from armies passing through their town.

Joan started hearing voices at 13. These voices only forced her to pray and go to church. After about two years they started telling her that she must help the kings son of France to be crowned. The kings son, Charles 7th had to be crowned at Reim by tradaditional crowning. But at that time Reim was controlled by the English.

Joan left her home town without telling her parents and managed to get to the King and convince him of her mission. She was given an army to attack Orlines to start to get Reim. Even though the dissagreements and little of faith of her own soldiers the attack was still done. From there it seemed that Joan could do nothing wrong in battle until she reached Reim and the King was crowned. After doing this Joans great war victoires started declining mainly from the lack of support from King Charles 6th. She was captured at Compiene when the drawbridge was raised to fast causing Joan being left outside.

Joan of Arc was charged by a English court and put to burnt at the stake.


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Essay on Hazing

Essay on Hazing

In 1997, then Texas A&M student and pledge of Kappa Alpha fraternity, Jonathan Culpepper and fraternity were indicted in College Station, Texas on criminal hazing charges because of a severe “wedgie” that caused Culpepper to require the surgical removal of a testicle.

Stunts such as the before mentioned are probably what people think of when they hear the word hazing. What really is hazing? The University of Missouri-Rolla handbook on hazing defines hazing as

“A willful act, occurring on or off campus of an educational institution, directed against a student or prospective member of an organization operating under the sanction of an educational institution, that recklessly endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student or prospective member for the purpose of initiation or admission into or continued membership in any such organization to the extent that such a person is knowingly placed at a substantial risk of loss of life or bodily or psychological harm. A person commits the crime of hazing if they knowingly participate in or cause hazing” (UMR Hazing Brochure).

This means that members of recognized student organizations cannot endanger the physical or mental health of a prospective or active member as a requirement to join or remain a member of that organization.

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With that said I feel that hazing is a necessary and good practice in certain organizations, especially college Greek lettered organizations. Considering the above, the University of Missouri-Rolla could be considered a hazing institution. I know people, including myself, that have excessive stress due to the activities and expectations made by the university and its staff. In the pamphlet it also states that other examples of hazing include, but are not limited to, physical brutality, whipping, beating, exposure to the elements, calisthenics, forced consumption of any food, liquor, or any substance, forced smoking or chewing tobacco products, etc (Smith). Are students not exposed to the elements while walking to and from class? Is physical activity such as calisthenics not required for certain courses and athletic teams? Who is to call it excessive or abusive, and at what point? It is not for membership to a specific organization but it is all done to become a member of a financially active organization. Is that not hazing as described by the pamphlet?

The idea behind school and athletics and many other endeavors, which could cause potential stress, is to get the best results as quick as possible. In school, students are asked to complete assignments that may be lengthy or difficult, and may cause extreme measures to be taken or excessive stress. The professor would not have assigned it unless it was for the intent of reinforcing, learning, or the better understanding of a subject or topic that he/she has brought up during instruction. The same goes for athletic teams. Workouts are required for all athletic teams. Some that are extremely physically demanding and some that require you to wake up at ridiculous hours of the day. But, why is that not considered hazing? It is done with the intent to make the players better as quickly as possible.

When it comes to fraternity hazing the same intent is implied, which is to make the pledges better as quickly as possible. When one becomes a member of a fraternity they should learn life-long lessons that they should never forget, and sometimes talking will get you nowhere.

When people think of the word hazing and fraternity pledging, what do they imagine? My guess is that they picture a fraternity brother who has had a few beers with one in his hand and a paddle in the hand opposite the beer. This is all while a pledge is bent over and being struck with the paddle, while the other young pledges watch in fear (Smith). This is your classic type of hazing, which still exists but is less common these days. When people think of hazing in today’s world they should think about pledges paying for things such as dinner for all of the fraternity brothers, and making the pledges do numerous amounts of calisthenics and chores. Not to forget the classic binge drinking.

Why did hazing ever start? Hazing technically began when the first human beings were born. Since the beginning of time, somebody has wanted something that someone else had and that someone has given them a hard time in order to share what their counterpart has desired. Hazing in college Greek life began with the first fraternity. With today’s laws and definitions of hazing it is near impossible to bring a new member into a fraternity without being hazed. Hazing began and still exists for pretty much the same reasons. One reason is, when there are a lot of people who want something prestigious and held in high regard such as a fraternity you must weed out the one’s who do not have a deep desire or really are not deserving of being initiated by the fraternity members’ standards. Another reason hazing started and still exists is that people could not think of any other way to bring people into an organization that preaches brotherhood besides the answer to the question “How much of a beating and punishment would you take to become my fraternity brother?”

Hazing increased during the time immediately following the world wars. Since the number of men in college increased drastically, the number of college men wanting to be part of a fraternity increased as well.

The many people against hazing feel that it is unethical and does not produce results (Newer). They feel that hazing activities such as push-ups, shouting, “Hell Weeks” and other physically demanding as a group or alone are activities that do not help in determining good members. Many against hazing feel that activities such as these will cause the de-pledging of an individual, and will be temporary cures to the problem. Meaning once the pressure ends so will the will to work for the fraternity end also. Some also feel that it can create an attitude that pledgeship is hardship, not an educational period, and that initiation into the fraternity is the end of one’s work for the organization instead of the beginning. Most of the anti-hazing community feel that things such as outings with the pledge class, formal quizzes, and participating in activities such as intramural sports, participating in other school related activities, group discussions, and community service projects as a whole will sufficiently intake a new member or members into a fraternity. I totally agree to this. If a college student wishes to go out and join a fraternity in which friendship is the bond that it promises go right on ahead and pledge that Greek-lettered organization.

I feel this way because the only Greek-lettered organizations that I respect are the ones that show a strong sense of BROTHERHOOD on top of everything else. Yes, you will find some true brothers out of the process. But really, what do brothers do for one another? The answer is any and everything another brother needs him to do. Is someone who has only taken some tests, sat down and talked, and played a few games with some guys, and cleaned up a house on weekends actually going to show brother-like characteristics to one another at all times? From my own observation college Greek-lettered organizations that follow processes similar to the one I described are only close with their pledge class and the people in the fraternity that they were already close with. Yes, they have become friends and at the worst acquaintances with all of the members of the fraternity but is that brotherhood?

I can sympathize with the non-hazing community and the main reason is because it is illegal. Yes, they are correct in the fact that pledgeship is hardship. But I am a firm believer that nothing ever worth having ever came easy. No, the pledges probably will not view their pledge period as an educational period but they will learn lessons whether they see it or not. As far as playing games and going out with members, it just will not work. I am teammates with seventy-five other football players and I play games with them and talk to them and live with some of them but in no way, shape, or form am I anything like a brother to them. I also agree with the fact that hazing can easily get out of hand. The hazer must know when enough is enough in order not to severely injure a pledge.

My idea of a “perfect” pledge process does involve hazing. I feel that pledges should be humbled during their pledge process. Backtalk, disobedience, and disrespect should be enforced with a tuff, yet humane, exercise. With learning information about the fraternity, the failure of quizzes, may they be oral or written, should be “ingrained” in them in some way shape or form. As far as brotherhood goes, almost all the time fraternity members are closest with their pledge class because they are going through the hardships side by side and pulling each other through. Nonetheless, when the pledge process is over there should be a “post-pledge” period in which the new members have social activities with the older brothers to build brotherhood on top of the respect that they should have obtained during their pledge process.

Hazing is a tool that if used properly can produce results beyond the imagination. I was hazed during my pledge process and I feel that I am a better man for it. I accomplished feats that I never thought I could. I not only have frat brothers but my brothers in my pledge class are like my blood brothers. All of this is a result of something that is looked down upon, a practice that is now illegal, but yet I see no other way possible that I would have created this bond of brotherhood without this tactic. Everywhere I go and I meet a brother from another chapter I can sympathize and understand what he has been through and show him the same respect and love that I show the brothers of my chapter. Hazing is the way to produce immediate results just how Americans like it – fast. For those who are against hazing, do not knock it until you try it. For anyone who has been through a pledge process that includes hazing will understand and will quickly support me. So when it comes to the question, “To haze or not to haze?” I say haze wisely.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Essay on The Truman Show

Essay on The Truman Show

The Truman Show conveys the attitudes and values by depicting a series of events in the life of Truman Burbank, (played by Jim Carey) and directed by Peter Weir. The town in which Truman lives, Sea Haven, is a giant dome decked out with high tech simulations of sun and sky, in which the rain and wind are courtesy of the special effects department. Truman alone has no idea he is in a giant TV studio, as the rest of humanity watches him from one staged situation to another. He is trapped in his own life, held down in the surreal existence in which he has been forced to spend the last 30 years. A non-stop telethon of reality programming lets the audiences enjoy his most intimate moments. This 'prison' that Truman has been placed in allows us to identify with him, because we feel his emotions, we follow his struggle for freedom and privacy, friendship and love, and his search for truth, in a world that he doesn't understand. We follow him through the death and re- emergence of his father, his battle to discover the truth and ultimately his journey for freedom, where he finally realises the falsity to the life he has been leading, and comes face to face with harsh reality. We experience his emotions in intimate close ups, tension filled moments accompanied by heart felt music, and in times of great intimacy, special effects are used to heighten emotions. All these techniques enhance the relationship we have with Truman and the emotional responses this evokes, which allow us to identify with him.

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The Truman Show conveys the negative consequences of restricting the freedom of an individual, namely, Truman. We are presented with a world run by big business, shown through the manipulative character of Christof. We are positioned in opposition to Christof as he is focused merely on the ability to make money. In comparison, we sympathise with Truman as he is depicted as merely a pawn in Christof's game. We are shown that every turn he makes, every attempt to escape is blocked by malevolent simulators and high tech manipulators intent on keeping him inside. This is where values regarding basic human rights are explored, the fact that Truman's life lacks vital elements - freedom and privacy. He is stripped of this, as he is watched 24 hours a day, seven days a week and his life televised as a form of entertainment. This allows the audience to become very sympathetic towards Truman and identify with him through various technical codes. The scene in which Truman tries to escape contains action-filled shots in which he comes up against the barrier of defence in the form of a wall of fire and the contrived radiation leak in which Truman's frantic efforts to escape are foiled by the people who block him. The use of close ups of Truman's distressed face and the suspenseful music, emphasise Truman's desperation and create a sympathetic emotional response from the audience. The closing scene in which Truman ascends the staircase and exits his false world is heavily symbolic; climatic music is used as Truman is released and liberated from the false world he has been the star of for so long. We see through his endless attempts to escape, the recklessness of his actions in his search for answers, and realise the only thing that Truman is really searching for is freedom and above all else privacy.

In regards to Truman's life, we are privileged to information that Truman is denied and thus we are able to judge the authenticity of Truman's relationships and his right to freedom of choice. The scene in which, in a flashback of Truman's youth, his wife Meryl is shown flirting and being very inquisitive towards Truman, we sympathise with Truman. We realise she is merely an actor playing a role, in which she was placed, she had no real emotional feelings for Truman. She is just playing the role of his wife and thus Truman's sense of love is distorted. Truman's lack of the right of freedom of choice is enhanced when Sylvia, a woman that tried to convince Truman that he was a character trapped in a TV show, is taken away. She is forcibly removed from the set and in a close up of Truman's confused face, followed by long shot in which Truman stands alone on the beach as the car is driven away we become fully aware of the control that Christof holds in his ability to manipulate Truman's emotions. Thus we identify with him, in a common need for ethical decency. His best friend Marlon highlights the falsity of the life he leads. The intense scene in which Marlon and Truman are sitting side by side on the pier, their faces dimly lit, accompanied by evocative and ironically sentimental music, heightens the viewers sympathetic response. Marlon says 'Id never lie to you Truman', and this statement implies the trust that Marlon has when in reality it’s the complete opposite. This deliberate irony that the audience is privy to, allows the audience to sympathise with Truman, as we realise the extent to which Trumans emotions are being manipulated. The people he relies on and holds closest are the very people deceiving him. The reality is that all the relationships that Truman is involved with are contrived. Truman is denied his own rights to freedom of choice.

Truth for Truman is established through the deceit and forged life that he has been placed into. He is being misled into believing the lies that have been constructed for him to keep him unaware of the real events occurring around him. The scene in which Truman discovers the object that falls from the outer fringes of the dome, is followed by a long shot of Truman's puzzled face. This, as the audience is aware, is a camera but to disguise this fact from Truman it is backed up by a radio broadcast in which a falsified explanation is given to cover up any suspicions that Truman may have. We are able to sympathise because we as the viewer are aware of the manipulation taking place allowing Truman to accept what he is being told. The scene in which Truman's father is reintroduced in a tearful reunion, in a fog on a dimly lit pier, enhanced by the emotive music increases the overall feeling of deceit. Christof exploits Truman in manipulating his feelings and concealing the truth from him. This is done in an effort to sustain his perfect TV soapie and keep Truman oblivious to the falsity of the life he leads. As the movie progresses the crew makes mistakes that cause the seamless illusion to break down and thus Truman figures out that his surroundings are full of staged scenes in which he discovers a camera crew behind an elevator. This leads Truman to become very volatile and quite audacious. This false reality or dishonesty as you may call it is keeping Truman from realising what is truly happening. Truman is being kept ' in the dark', and unaware of what was happening around him which only heightens the viewers sympathetic response of a need for honesty and truth.

The Truman show presents certain attitudes and values through the identification of Truman, using various filmic techniques. The naive and innocent character of Truman is developed through the use of evocative music, intimate close ups and action filled scenes in which we are able to identify with Truman because of the circumstances he has been faced with. The manipulation of Truman by the character Christof, reveals the attitudes and values of freedom of choice and the right to make his own decisions in both life and love. Together with the values of freedom and privacy that every individual deserves and the basis that lives should not be built on dishonesty and mistrust. All these values are reflected in this movie through the use of audience positioning, symbolism, camera work and audio effects, as we see the character of Truman manipulated and moulded, under the guidance of Christof, in his greater search for ratings and power. We are able to directly relate to Truman as the way in which he is manipulated and deceived, allows us to see that he is no longer a man in a TV show, he is just a performing monkey in a worldwide circus.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Essay on Suburbia

Essay on Suburbia

The play Suburbia takes place in a small suburb called Burnfield and transpires in one night. The main characters are Buff, Jeff, Suze, Tim, Pony, Posey, and Bee-Bee. One key difference between this play and the previous play, Heathen Valley that was reported on earlier, is the way the set is arranged. In Heathen Valley the set consisted of a single box on stage. Although the set was bare it was still effective in conveying the meaning of the play. The set of Suburbia was the complete opposite. It consisted of; a mailbox, 7-11, a trash can, 4 crates, a bench, hockey sticks, a duffel bag, beer, liquor, sneakers, and a pay phone. All of these props did not enhance my understanding of the meaning from this play. Although it was performed reasonably well it was not convincing enough for me and I walked out feeling like I hadn’t gotten the message of the play at all.

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Reading the play before watching the performance gave me a lot of expectations coming in. As I understood it the play was supposed to be gritty, dealing with a lot of the contemporary issues including racism, sexuality, AIDS, feminism, gun control, drugs, alcoholism, depression/mental illness/youth suicide, sex, pornography, mate ship, and leaving home. The theme as I interpreted it dealt with our promise and potential as human beings. I expected characters that I would easily relate to and to see dilemmas that I face as a young adult dealt with to my satisfaction. The plot of the play is a group of teens in a small suburban town who try to develop into adults. As they reminisce about their high school days, they find out that one of their old classmates who turned into a pop star is coming back to Burnfield. What ensues is a scintillating mixture of jealousy, deceit and betrayal which leads to the tragic consequences. By the next day some of the group have escaped the town while others are left to deal with the repercussions of such a tragic occurrence.

Although the plot is a bit depressing there were many sections in the play clearly meant to be comedic. The overall play itself was not very strong except for the performance of a few actors. Jeff, who was probably the most important character, had a very strong performance in my opinion. Also, Buff had a good performance because of his humor. He was able to make the audience laugh in almost (if not all) the scenes that he was in. These two actors were able to get into contact with the characters and portray them the way they were meant to be. However, my expectations coming in were high and they definitely were not met. After reading such a powerful play I expected a performance just as powerful that would do justice to the script. Though the performance was good it just did not reach that level.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Essay on The Speckled Band

Essay on The Speckled Band

"Lamb to the Slaughter" and "The Speckled Band" were written sixty-four years apart and therefore differ in their style and content, however there are also some similarities present. “Lamb to the Slaughter” was written by Roald Dahl and first published in 1954. He is famous for writing children’s books such as “The Twits” and having a vast quantity illustrated by Quentin Blake. He also wrote an autobiography, which he called “Boy”, which was aimed at adults. “The Speckled Band” was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and published in 1892. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was famous for inventing the well-known fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.

They are both detective stories, but “The Speckled Band” is a typical detective story relating enormously to the Victorian period in which it was set. In this period, a crime must have been solved and the Victorians would love a good hanging of the murderer. They believed in the saying “An eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth”.

The typical conventions of a Victorian detective story would be a highly violent murder, the crime would have been thoroughly investigated and the penalty would be death. By the time “Lamb to the Slaughter” was written people were ready for a change and a more humorous story. People were less religious and a twist at the end was widely appreciated, despite this the death penalty still stood.

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The two stories are structured in different ways. “Lamb to the Slaughter” is a shorter story so the excitement begins at the beginning of the story. Dahl builds up the suspense by showing that Mrs Maloney is a caring housewife who loves her husband and enjoys spending time with him. We can tell this when Dahl says, “She loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man”. This builds up the suspense because we do not anticipate a murder and are even more surprised when this sweet, gentle woman kills her husband. Events happen very quickly and the story then focuses on how Mrs Maloney gets away with it. The tension mounts when the police arrive and one of the police arrive and one of the detectives says “Find the weapon and you’ve got your man”. This also shows how sexist they are because the automatically think that the murderer is a man. The reader begins to think that maybe the police will find out that Mrs Maloney is the murderer.

In contrast to this “The Speckled Band” has a much slower start because it is a longer story. The book concentrates on the first murder and the events leading up to the second attempted murder. Doyle starts to build up suspense when the reader sees how scared Helen Stoner is of Dr Royolott. The reader feels that she is scared for a reason and there suspicions are justified when Dr Royolott bends the poker whilst he is threatening Sherlock Holmes. The reader sees what a violent person he is and that he is capable of murder. When Dr Watson comments, “His hand closed like a vice upon my wrist in his agitation” the reader sees that the detective is starting to get worried and they feel that they should be too. Unlike “Lamb to the slaughter” there are red herrings to produce surprise when the reader realises that they are wrong. The gypsies achieve this effect. “The presence of the gypsies was sufficient to put me upon an entirely wrong scent”. This shows that Sherlock Holmes was fooled by the gypsies and they are there to act as a decoy.

The two murderers are complete opposites. In “Lamb to the Slaughter” the murderer is a gentle woman who would never have been suspected of murder. Mrs Maloney seems to be a caring housewife and presume this when she thinks “Each minute gone by made it nearer to the time when he would come home”. This adds more amusement to the story and a twist to the tale. At the beginning of “Lamb to the Slaughter” we think that none of the attitudes have changed. We think this because she says “I can easily do it here. I’d like to.” This means that that the story has an interesting twist providing entertainment for the reader. We realise there is tension when Mr Maloney says “Sit down, just for a minute sit down”. When he is telling her he is leaving her, we immediately feel sorry for Mrs Maloney and the reader gets the impression that Mr Maloney is having an affair, which makes the reader feel even more sympathetic towards Mrs Maloney. This, in a way, justifies what she does because we can relate to why she is doing it. Mrs Maloney doesn’t want to be caught because she is pregnant. We realise this on the first page when it says, “For this was her sixth month with child”. This changes our views. If Mrs Maloney just had herself to look after then we would feel she was being selfish but we think she is doing it for them both. However, we also feel that Mrs Maloney may be slightly to good to be true because her whole life revolves around her husband.

In the period that “The Speckled Band” was wrote, a woman was looked down on and regarded as inferior to men. They would stay at home and look after their husband and children. They weren’t allowed out of the house on their own and had to be chaperoned everywhere. Unlike “Lamb to the Slaughter”, “The Speckled Band” is a typical Victorian novel. The murderer is a man because in Victorian times a female murderer would have been unheard of. We can tell that Dr Roylott is a temperamental person when he tells Sherlock Holmes “I am a dangerous am to fall foul of”. This makes us immediately suspect that he could be capable of murder. He is a stereotyped murderer, because he is so angry and violent. The motive for the murder is that Dr Roylott doesn’t want to give up any of his money for his two stepdaughters. We feel no sympathy towards this because he is being greedy and selfish. We respond to Dr Roylott by feeling anger, because he is so self-centred.

The two murderers are very different, the main point being that one is female and follows an untraditional pattern, and the other being male and following the stereo typical conventions for a murder mystery. In “Lamb to the Slaughter”, the murderer gets away with her crime in a cunning way. By the end of the story, we feel she has gone slightly mad. We think this when the policemen are discussing the crime and Mrs Maloney begins to giggle. This gives us the impression that she finds the whole set of events funny, and murder is clearly not a laughing matter. We feel that Mrs Maloney should get away with her crime, mainly for the sake of her unborn child. “The Speckled Band” is the opposite to this. We feel no remorse for Dr Roylott because the only reason he wanted to kill his victims was for his own benefit. When he dies at the end, the reader feels he has received his fate.

Doyle wants you to feel that the murderer has got what is coming to him but Dahl’s feelings are a lot harder to read. In one way, the reader may think that he sees murder as a joke but if you look at the clearer picture I believe that he is trying to say that if you do something wrong you will get the punishment you deserve.

The detectives in the story go about solving the crimes in different ways. The detective in “The Speckled Band” is Sherlock Holmes. He studies all of the evidence very carefully and we can tell this because he says to Helen Stoner “There are a thousand details which I should desire to know before I decide on a course of action”. This shows he likes to get a clear picture and evaluate his clues. Sherlock Holmes is very calm under pressure and can diffuse tension by not showing his true feelings and using sarcasm. This is apparent when Dr Roylott is provoking Sherlock Holmes and the detective replies by laughing, not returning the insults and saying, “When you go out close the door for there is a decided draught”. Sherlock Holmes can admit his weaknesses, which is a sign of humanity. We are shown this when Dr Watson says “Holmes was for the moment as startled as I”. Sherlock Holmes also keeps a professional distance from his witnesses whereas Jack Noonan is far friendlier to Mrs Maloney.

In Lamb to the Slaughter are far more unprofessional. They realise drinking on duty is wrong, but do it anyway. One of the policemen says, “It’s not strictly allowed but I might just take a drop to keep me going”. They are also persuaded to eat the leg of lamb, which indicates that they could be persuaded into doing something that they don’t want to. Also we feel that they are not quite as focused as they should be because they know the victim and are emotionally involved. They are letting their emotions cloud their professional judgement. If they were not so involved the policemen may have solved the crime because they would have been looking more clearly and study the clues with a less biased mind. They don’t suspect Mrs Maloney because they know her and the policemen immediately thinks, “Get the weapon and you’ve got your man”. It never enters his head that the murderer could be a woman. If Mrs Maloney had been a murderer in Victorian times and Sherlock Holmes was investigating the crime I think he would have probably solved the mystery because he would have asked more questions and got a background picture. He also keeps emotionally uninvolved.

“The Speckled Band” was written in the Victorian times, which means that the language and style will reflect this. At the beginning of the story it is written in first person but changes to third person which means that the reader feels more involved and it is personal because we see it through Dr Watson’s eyes and feel what he feels as if we was there. Whereas “Lamb to the Slaughter” is written in third person so you feel distant from the story which allows you to see everyone else’s view because you are watching from outside like watching the television. In “The Speckled Band” most of the description is at the beginning about Stoke Moran, which is where the murderer lives. Similarly, “Lamb to the Slaughter” has a lot of description at the beginning. Both of the authors have set the scene at the beginning so the reader can try and picture the setting in their mind and they have an idea of there surroundings and what situation the crime is taking place in. In “Lamb to the Slaughter” Dahl sets the scene of a warm, loving home environment so this produces an element of surprise. “The Speckled Band” uses harder sentences, which makes it more to read. The language makes it more complex to read because it uses words that we wouldn’t uses now. For example “But you are at liberty to defray”. The word order also makes it more difficult because it is an older style. Some of the sentences miss words out. Where we would say will you not wait and have breakfast? Holmes says, ”Will you not wait and breakfast?” This means some of the sentences have to be reread to get a full understanding. “Lamb to the Slaughter” is inevitably easier to read, as it is a more modern language so we want to read on, but we feel that “The Speckled Band” is more time consuming to read.

It is very easy to tell which story was written over a hundred years ago and this means that we can guess some of the features that the story will include.

In “The Speckled Band”, the moral is very straightforward. It becomes clear in Holmes’ final speech when he says, “Violence in truth does recoil upon the violent”. The writer is trying to say if you are violent you will receive your punishment. The reader is supposed to feel that he got what he deserved. In Lamb to the Slaughter it is not as clear At first we may think that Dahl is suggesting that it is funny that the murderer gets away with it but if she was caught and locked up then the reader would feel it was unjustified. We feel disturbed that she is laughing at the end and she has changed to a cunning woman who has even gone slightly mad. In my opinion Dahl is trying to recognise the fact that times have changed and things are not as black and white as they were in Victorian times. Another point that the book could be trying to make is that if you search deeper in to the crime you will see that things are different than they may first have appeared to be. In addition, it could be said that the moral from both stories are the same. That if you do something wrong you will suffer the consequences. Mr Maloney has done something to Mary so he suffers for those actions whereas in “The Speckled Band” Dr Roylott is getting his comeuppance for his murder and attempted murder.

In conclusion, I think that the more enjoyable story was Lamb to the Slaughter because it was not so typical and had a more varied and amusing story. In “The Speckled Band” you can tell from the beginning that the murderer will be caught, but the red herrings add an element of chance and entertainment. This book may have been more suitable for an elder generation who can relate to what the writer is trying to portray. Murder mysteries will always be popular because people like the suspense and surprise they achieve.

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Essay on The Spanish Armada

Essay on The Spanish Armada

The Spanish Armada was a fleet assembled and sent out by King Philip the 2nd of Spain. This fleet tried to invade England, but it was dramatically unsuccessful.

According to Spanish historical books, the main goal of the Spanish Armada was to unite Spain and England into one, thus giving Philip the ability to advance the Spanish conquest. Consequently, this stubborn approach, ordered by Philip, was not the advance he was looking for, but he found the eventual downfall of the Spanish Empire.

The objective of the Spanish armada was the force together England and Spain politically and religiously. In 1586, King Philip had decided that he would not be able to defeat the Dutch with out first completely taking over England, or as he put it, “unite him and the queen of England together as one.” At the same time, he hoped to resolve the long-standing religious rivalry between England and Spain, by converting England back to the Holy Catholic Church. England at this time was protestant.

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To swiftly conquer England he had to create a massive fleet. This fleet had to sail north from Spain. Consequently, another fleet with transports had to sail south with an army form the Netherlands. King Philip put his most trusted duke of medina in charge. The Duke led the Spanish fleet of 130 ships, which carried almost 30,000 men. The English found out about the invasion plan that the Spanish were about to perform. So therefore, they tried to prevent the armada from sailing by attacking it at the port in Cadiz, Spain. The English delayed it for about a year, causing the Spanish to regroup and recover. Thus, giving the English time to “set-up.”

In 1588, The Spanish had recovered and started to sail on their way to England. It was first noticed off the English coast in July of 1588. A superior English fleet saw it and quickly advanced toward the Spanish war ships. For the next week, the English’s faster ships attacked the Spanish in battles off Plymouth and Isle of Wight. But, unable to break the armada's attack, the English waited for a chance to take the final blow.

The time came when the Spanish anchored near Calair, France; Hoping to join the troops that sailed south from the Netherlands. Furthermore, The English ordered ships to be set fire and then sailed toward the anchored armada. This attack broke the Spanish armada into chaos. The Spanish unable to sail back through the English Channel because of furious winds and waves; the remaining ships were forced to sail north around Scotland and Ireland to return home. Only 67 of the original 130 ships reached Spain, and most of the returning ships were in appalling condition never to be sailed again.

This non-successful attempt of the armada did not end the war between England and Spain, but it did end the Spanish attempts on invading the impenetrable island. By loosing this costly battle the Spanish would never recover economically or historically.

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Essay on Stonehenge

Essay on Stonehenge

Stonehenge is located on Salsbury Plain in southern England and was built thousands of years ago for a purpose that still remains unknown today. Some people believe that it was built for religious purposes while others believe that it was a temple for the dead. This theory was more accepted. It was built in a circle which represented the world linking to the cosmos. Where the water entered is where the spirits arrived and left. Ancient people believed in regeneration because the moon was a place for the dead. When the keltic priests built the henge they aligned the recumbent stone with the moon thinking that the moon would take the souls of the dead. Also on the day of the summer solstice the sun is directly lined up with the avenue stone and on the winter solstice the sun lines up directly opposite of the avenue stone.

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Stonehenge was built with blue stone. Ironically the only place that the stone was found was in the Welsh Mountains which is about a hundred miles away from the site of Stonehenge. One theory was that the stones were brought over by a glacier but there are no remains of the glacier. I believe they moved the stones by hand to the site. The stones formed an arc and were eventually replaced. They replaced the wood with stone for a few reasons. Stone possessed a mystical energy, it also lasted forever, and they believed the stones harbored the spirits of the ancestors.

In the earlier phases of Stonehenge many bones were found but the skulls were never found with the rest of the bones. The skulls were always buried. When a person died they would leave the body inside of the henge until it rotted. Then they would dissemble the body which symbolized the soul being released from the body and lastly the skulls were separated. In the later stages of Stonehenge nothing was found inside of it.

People would communicate with the spirits by going into trances. They would eat hallucinogenic foods such as mushrooms to get into these deep trances. Then they would go inside Stonehenge and talk with the spirits who resided between the rocks.

In my opinion Stonehenge was built as a sign of respect for the dead. There were similar megaliths built off the coast of South Africa. The two places were almost identical with the tombs and what they believed in. They believed that they had to make a nice tomb or else the ancestor will come back. The ancestors can do good or bad. Stonehenge is still a mystery today. Archeologists are just beginning to understand why Stonehenge was made and eventually we will know.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Essay on Stanford Prison Experiment

Essay on Stanford Prison Experiment

In 1973, Philip K. Zimbardo, a psychology professor at Stanford University began researching how prisoners and guards internalize submissive and authoritarian roles. He placed an ad in the newspaper seeking male college students needed for a study of prison life. The experiment would last for only two weeks and they would get paid $15 per day. The ad attracted seventy-five responses, but only twenty-one were selected. The men were divided into two groups: Prisoners and Guards. They were warned that as prisoners of this experiment their privacy and other rights would be violated, as well as being harassed.

Zimbardo’s goal for this experiment was to find out the period in which the prisoners and guards become controlling and passive. In order to do this he had to set up a mock prison. The prisoners were given the same smocks to wear, lived in cells, and were given ID numbers. The guards were assigned identical uniforms, and were given billy clubs, whistles, handcuffs, and keys to all the cells and the main gate to show a sign of power they had over the prisoners. The guards had no training in how to handle their jobs, but caught on.

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In a real prison, guards don’t go through any training on how to treat the prisoners; they go by instinct. The prisoner’s quarters were small, and windowless; they never knew if it was day or night outside. At 10 P.M. it was time to lockup, and all privileges were denied. The mock prison was designed in order to bring out the psychological aspects of imprisonment. The prisoners were given sixteen basic rules to follow that would be followed. There were hidden video cameras and microphones that recorded the prisoners and guards conversations.

The first day of the experiment went by very smoothly. On the morning of the second day a riot broke loose; the prisoners barricaded themselves in their cells by putting their beds against the doors, and began to curse at the guards. The guards decided to take action and got a “fire extinguisher that shot skin-chilling carbon dioxide” and threatened the prisoners, forcing them to move away from the doors. The guards stripped the prisoners, took their beds, and harassed them. They knew if they wanted to take over the prison again, they had to put their foot down. From that moment on the prisoners were controlled by the guards.

The psychological impact of the experiment on the subjects became obvious immediately. The experiment turned into a complicated game to the young men and they started to lose sight of reality. The prisoners started seeing themselves as actual prisoners and thought only of escape. They fell into a depression and some prisoners actually cried. Some even stopped yelling back at the guards and began to obey them. The guards, also, fell quickly into their roles of power. The guards actually began to harass the prisoners and yelled at them. At one point a prisoner would not eat and the guard began shoving food into the prisoner’s face. The subjects became the roles they where given.

The two-week experiment was cut short to six days because the men got so engrossed in their characters. The experiment ended up not only proving that humans are quick to behave and act how they are told they should behave and act but also the aggressive nature dormant in most people. Dr. Zimbardo realized the significance of the experiment. He pointed out that if these men who where supposed to be the cream of the crop would so quickly fall into the parts they where given, then actual prisoners and guards under actual circumstances would undergo much worse. The experiment was cut to an end as well as the research of Phillip K. Zimbardo.


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Essay on Standardized Testing

Essay on Standardized Testing

Children are not learning, according to standardized testing scores. The government, parents, and teachers are at odds as to why this is. They all share a common goal: to give our children the best education possible, but there are many different ideas as to how this should be accomplished. Throughout all the many debates on this topic one militant voice rises above the crowd, in support of standardized testing, shouting oddly vague catch phrases such as “accountability,” “raising the bar,” and “tougher standards.” The problem with standardized testing, however, is that it misunderstands almost everything about education, including motivation, teaching, and evaluation.

The most blatant forms of motivation, namely bribes and threats, are ultimately more harmful than helpful. Some schools use diplomas as both a way of bribing and of threatening students to do well on standardized tests. Not only is this unfair, but it is destructive. When students are told that they will receive something in exchange for performing well enough, the real reason that they should want to do well, which is self-improvement, is sacrificed. Bribes and threats turn learning into a chore, rather than a fascinating journey, which results in students who do not want to go to school. Children do not enjoy learning because they are not being motivated to learn. They are being taught that the only reason that they should seek knowledge, or, even do anything, is to receive a reward or avoid a punishment. This idea may have the short-term desired effect. Children may remember facts long enough to pass a test. However, in the long run, it is more important that children are motivated to learn new things, rather than motivated merely for a reward or by a punishment.

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Students are not the only ones who are adversely affected by improper motivation. Educators are harmed as well. When schools and teachers are rated by their students’ test scores, the emphasis that was once placed learning and understanding, is forced to be placed on test preparation instead. Teachers have to choose between teaching well and teaching for the test. Some states have taken the opportunity to plac even more unwarranted pressure upon teachers by giving more money to the schools whose students score higher on the tests. Since students attending schools located in poor areas tend to score lower, distributing funds thi way is the equivalent of deliberately denying financial aid to those schools that most need it. Furthermore, since much of the student body in these schools consists of minorities, this unfair distribution policy is, essentially, discrimination. Since schools rely upon state grants to cover many of their expenses, when they receive less money, students suffer. Thus, educators who teach in poor areas are further pressured to provide a superficial education, covering only areas which are tested, so that the school will receive more funding. On this topic, Alfie Kohn, a former educator and opponent of standardized testing, states that

When high stakes are applied to educators,
those who teach low-scoring populations will
be most likely to be branded as failures. If
excellent teachers and principals decide to
leave the profession as a result of incessant
pressure to raise scores, we would expect
minority and low-income students to be
disproportionately affected by the departure of
these educators. (Poor Teaching)


The art of teaching is being destroyed by those who mistakenly believe that teaching children how to learn is not as important as forcing children to memorize data that is destined to be forgotten. These people do not understand that each child learns best when taught with a style, and at a pace, that she is comfortable with. When one considers how children learn, it becomes obvious that it is much more important that educators be allowed to teach in-depth about subjects that interest their pupils, rather than superficially covering large quantities of material. Unfortunately, good teachers are being forced to spend increasing amounts of time arming their students with obscure data for a test that is flawed at best and destructive at worst, because proponents of standardized testing seem to feel that a teacher’s primary purpose should be to program children’s minds as if they were computers. Alfie Kohn said that accountability “often turns out to be a code word for more control over what happens in classrooms by people who are not in classrooms. This has an effect on learning similar to the effect that a noose has on breathing“ (A Look At).
Standardized testing, as the most abundant method of evaluation, is grossly flawed. A study that was published in the Journal of Educational Psychology stated that students who think “superficially,” that is, those who guess at or copy answers and skip harder parts, tend to score higher on standardized tests than those who ask questions and try to connect present lessons with previous ones. These tests are measuring and rewarding superficial thinking more than active thinking. Moreover, tests such as the CAT, MAT, and SAT were not designed to measure teaching or learning. They were designed in such a way that only one half of students would answer correctly, resulting in a wide range of scores. Kohn asserts that “The main objective of these tests is to rank, not to rate; to spread out the scores, not to gauge the quality of a given student or school” (Standardized Testing).

Further arguing the case against standardized testing, is the fact that these tests are biased. Research shows that white children who live in affluent areas tend to score the highest on the tests. This does not mean that these children are any more or less intelligent than others. Many experts believe that this is due largely to two reasons: the first reason being that English is usually the only language that they speak; therefore, they do not have a language barrier. The second reason is that their parents can afford to purchase additional test preparation books and materials for them. It is unfair to those who are less fortunate and those who learned English as a second language to use such a flawed instrument to assess them, much less to categorize them. Sadly, the testing system, is failing them. Crystal M. England, who has been an eighth grade teacher, a special education teacher, and a school principal, says:

The No Child Left Behind plan attempts to address
this issue. The reasons for the concern on behalf
of the federal government are astounding. This
policy states, “Research has shown that English
language learners, when compared to their English-
fluent peers, tend to receive lower grades and
often score below the average on standardized
math and reading assessments.” First of all, it
is incredible that this finding comes as a surprise to anyone. If we sent American
students to Mexico and gave them a standardized
test in Spanish, would they not be at a
significant disadvantage? Secondly, it is
implausible to think that increased, higher-
stakes testing can improve this condition. (None
of Our Business, page 90)


“An American educator who was examining the British educational system once asked a headmaster why so little standardized testing took place in British schools. ‘My dear fellow,’ came the reply, ‘In Britain we are of the belief that, when a child is hungry, he should be fed, not weighed.’” (Alternatives). Children in America are subjected to testing more than students in any other country in the world, yet their students are learning more than ours. Statistics show that students from other countries consistently demonstrate a broader range of knowledge and a greater depth of understanding. This is due, at least in part, to what other countries are not doing that we are. Teachers in other countries are not required to force-feed their students lists of facts, then test them yearly to see what they have retained. Most of these countries rarely use standardized tests before high school and even more rarely use multiple-choice tests for children of any age. Does it not make sense that we should adopt a teaching strategy similar to that of the rest of the world, rather than do the exact opposite?

Standardized testing has been utilized in the USA for so long, it seems forgotten that it is not necessary and that there are much better alternatives. Opponents of standardized testing have researched other methods of evaluation, which are much more accurate. One method of assessment that has been discussed is called the “performance assessment,” which compares each student’s work over a period of time and the procedures by which they created said work, evaluating whether satisfactory improvement has been made.

“Portfolio assessment” is much like performance assessment, in that it looks at student work created over time, but it includes much more. In addition to improvement in students’ works and learning processes, portfolio assessment also evaluates other areas, such as the students’ interest in reading and writing and their ability to evaluate themselves. Examples of items that may be included in these portfolios are tape-recorded samples of a student reading and describing, in her own words, what a story was about, teacher’s notes on the child’s progress, and printed or recorded interviews with the child. Generally speaking, anything that shows what the student has been learning would be perfectly appropriate for her portfolio. In Creating Support for Effective Literacy Education, it is stated that “At a minimum, it includes samples of students’ work, recorded observations of their learning processes, and students’ evaluation of their own processes and products, along with teacher evaluation.” This type of evaluation can be scored numerically for grading, but the most important aspect of this assessment is that it actually helps to improve learning and teaching by showing specifically what is and what is not being learned and by providing clues as to why.

As evident, a better method of evaluation must be utilized. Chillingly, throughout all the arguments about statistics and scores, children are hardly mentioned; quite often, it seems that the children have been forgotten. This is due, at least in part, to such impersonal testing. It would be much harder to forget about the children who are being evaluated in a performance-based test, because it is much more personal and much less statistical. When all is said and done, the fact remains that students who do not enjoy learning will not retain the facts that are forced upon them, effectively reducing their knowledge. The best way to teach children is to make learning fun. We need teachers who have the courage to show students that intelligence is more than just memorizing state mandated facts and dates, because when classrooms are turned solely into test preparation boot camps, children lose what is most important in education. Furthermore, there is something inherently frightening to the idea that children only need to be taught, and only need to know, the data and skills that the manufacturers of one over-emphasized test deem important.


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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Essay on Space Exploration

Essay on Space Exploration

I firmly believe that space exploration is not a waste of time and money.

Firstly, in the million-year long struggle for survival on the earth, man has never been able to gain a clear and in-depth knowledge of the space with this planet in it. It is yet to be known whether we are alone, living in a safe or a dangerous place. Only by probing outer space can man find a real sense of security AND A REAL SENSE OF BELONGING.

Secondly, on this blue planet, man has been toiling endlessly and tirelessly to improve his quality of life. Through hard work, man has created abundant wealth and accumulated adequate know-how for advanced scientific research. The sources available now on the globe can provide us with the ability and the conditions to probe space with both a sensible heart and a scientific mind. Compared with man’s total wealth, money spent on space exploration is just a drop in the ocean. And in contrast to expenditures on wars found on almost every continent, the budget for exploring the unknown world is nothing but chicken feed. On the other end of the spectrum, this great event will bring enormous benefits to all mankind in the long run. And these benefits sure are too massive for estimation.

Last but not least, with the incredible speed of the development of science and technology, space exploration will become more and more efficient and time-saving.

To sum up, exploring outer space is not spending time and money wantonly. On the contrary, it is man’s unshirkable responsibility.


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