Monday, February 28, 2011

Essay on Rumour is a Great Traveler

Essay on Rumour is a Great Traveler

On September 21, 1995, several parts of the country claimed witness to what was apparently a religious miracle – the imbibing of milk by idols of Ganesha and, to a lesser degree, Shiva and Parvati. In what was probably post-liberalisation India’s most widespread rumour to date, thousands of devotees queued up outside temples both within and outside the country to make their offerings to the idols. Word probably went out from New Delhi (as with all rumour, there was no firm identification of its origin) and quickly spread to Mumbai, Chennai, Calcutta, Thiruvananthapuram and Ahmedabad, among others. The scientific explanation for the phenomenon seemed to have few takers as the throngs outside temples grew through the day.

The frenzy spread even to shrines as far removed as Long Island, London and Hong Kong. Just as suddenly as it had appeared, however, the rumour suddenly died out and by September 23, it had come to be widely regarded as just another urban aberration.

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This Comment seeks to review the media coverage of, and participation in, this event, laying particular emphasis on its twin traits of anonymity and transitivity. It also examines the peculiar relationship between the media, news, and rumour. At no point is the word ‘rumour’ used derogatively. While appreciating the role of rumour as an informal mode of communication, the Comment seeks to contextualize the role of the media as rumour-monger in the urban sphere. The “phenomenon” itself was trashed widely, both at its inception and at its height, by the scientific community. Surface tension and capillary action were revealed as being the mundane physics behind the working of the “miracle”. What is much more fascinating than the arguments about the authenticity of the phenomenon, however, is its immense scale and speed.

Veena Das surmises that the essential grammatical feature of rumour is that it is conceived to be spread. She points out the importance of rumour as a social discourse as stemming from its enunciative and performative aspects. In rumour, words are transformed from being merely a medium of communication to being instruments of action, taking on a perlocutionary force where the very act of saying something is an action.

The acoustic, rather than graphic, realization of rumour enhances this functional immediacy, according to Guha. He sees rumour, like Levi-Strauss, as an autonomous type of popular discourse which lies between the two poles of tale and myth, but which shares their common feature of ambiguity. Guha differentiates rumour from “news” by (i) the identifiability of the source, which does not exist in a rumour, and (ii) the distinction between the communicator and the audience. No such distinction in rumours which are passed on “from teller to hearer who himself becomes teller” – an instance of absolute transitivity. Encoding and decoding of rumour becomes collapsed, unlike news, at each point of its relay. Guha also says that anonymity gives rumour its openness, and transitivity gives it its freedom. Being of unknown origin, rumour is not impaled on a given meaning for good in the same way as a discourse with a pedigree often is.

But the general anonymity and transitivity of rumour do not by themselves explain the sheer momentum of transmission of the Ganesha Miracle . This is perhaps better understood by examining the role of the media in “reporting”, and thereby participating in, the transmission of rumour. Due to its easy reproducibility, some journalists based their reports on their own experiments. The Times of India, for instance, carried a story on the 22nd of September entitled “Experiments conducted to unravel the mystery”, which said that a spoonful of water held against the spout of an ordinary jug had also disappeared. The report was quick to admit, though, that it did not “question what happened in the various temples”.

Other newspapers took an even more sceptical view of the proceedings, with The Pioneer actually publishing a photograph of a spout emerging from the back of a temple from which milk poured into a bucket. However, certain newspapers in Britain couldn’t seem to get enough of the “milk miracle”. “In 24 hours, 10,000 saw it drink”, reported The London Times on its front page. “I gazed in awe,” confessed the reporter from the tabloid The Daily Star; while his rival from The Sun “gawped in disbelief”.

The visual appeal of the phenomenon also earned it several TV news hours. Doordarshan, in keeping with its avowed “educative” goals, provided an ocular debunking of the miracle on the very same day, with telling footage of a shoe-smith feeding milk to his tripod, organised by scientists from the CSIR (Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research). Other major television channels and programmes, however, adopted a more ambivalent stance towards the “milk-drinking wonder” in their coverage.

Undoubtedly the media was not the only, or even the primary, disseminator of news (“news”?) of the miracle. Networks of communication mobilised included long-distance telephones and the then-rudimentary e-mail services, which were crucial in the information reaching the large expat population in Britain as quickly as it did. However the role of the media in lending credence to the rumour, especially visually, should not be underestimated. Guha speaks of how rumour separates prophecies from other linguistic messages by attributing to them an authoritativeness derived from the elevated status of their speakers and hence bestows on them the significance of truth – essentially textualizing them and making them distinguishable from other non-texts. Much the same process occurs when the mass media take on the task of “reporting” an unverified (and seemingly un-verifiable) story.

Print and television journalists are exceedingly careful in reporting unverified rumours, especially when the coverage could inflame communal or sectarian passions, or create “unnecessary” panic (as in the case of the Monkeyman). However the Ganesha Miracle, in a manner very uncharacteristic of rumour, was a celebratory rumour – one that was putative proof of divine existence and intervention in human affairs. The conventional restraint that the media exhibited seemed, hence, to make way for celebration of the occurrence of the Event. (After all, it’s not everyday that you can report that you fed a God.) For some, therefore, “objective and fair” journalism didn’t stand a chance before good old-fashioned religious fervour.

The perlocutionary aspect of rumour that Das speaks of then acquires new meaning in this context of media-endorsed rumour. Even when newspapers or television channels actively sought to debunk the rumour, they still talked about it, effectively endowing it with a degree of importance and credibility. The very mention of the rumour by the authoritative voices of print and broadcast media was hence perlocutionary in nature, becoming an act of giving the rumour the currency (and in the case of television, the visibility) that it demanded.

The distinction drawn by Guha between “news” and rumour, resting on the anonymity and transitivity of rumour, is then open to question. The media in reporting a rumour (in whatever manner – concurring or dissenting) does not automatically become the “source” of the news. Neither does it always become accountable for the accuracy of the rumour itself. The anonymity of the rumour does not necessarily cease with its reportage by the media. The transitivity, while undergoing a slight alteration, does not completely end either. The media, by virtue of its normative role as news-analyst, might perform a slightly more significant mediative role than the conventional “hearer-teller” of a rumour, but this per se does not do away with the transitivity.

“To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, to furnish it with a final signified, to close the writing.” Guha quotes Barthes to substantiate his argument that rumour cannot and should not be likened to news. To this, I cite Rikee Verma, a journalist from The Times newspaper, who wrote on the day : “Being a religious person, I first went to the upstairs bedroom . . . and placed a spoonful of milk against a photograph of Ganesh and was astonished to find within seconds that the spoon was half empty. I checked to make sure that the glass frame of the photograph was not wet. It was dry. I could not believe what I was seeing. This was clearly a message from the gods saying: ‘We are here, here's the proof.’ ”

If this isn’t news...

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Essay on Roman Architecture

Essay on Roman Architecture

Donato d'Angelo Bramante is an architect who was doing well in the High Renaissance architecture. He was trained as a painter and became an architect in Milan. He was under influence of various architects and artists with Classical antiquity style. His architecture shows all the High Renaissance elements. He is the first architect to show the light and shadow successfully through the buildings. He shows them three-dimensionally as what he learnt from his painter’s life. He was very good at using perspective view in his design. He also developed the illusion technique and used the technique in all his design idea well. His architecture shows the Classical style and illusionism, which can be said to be opposite from each other. However, he dealt with them with much effort and combined them in a harmonic way. This essay is going to explore his styles of architecture, which affect the architecture of Renaissance through three of his buildings.

After Bramante went to Rome and adapted all the Classical antiquity, his work became more mature and highly respected by other architects. Bramante’s first work in Rome was the Cloister of Santa Maria della Pace. The Classical style that he adapted from Rome architecture can be clearly seen in this building. It has the clear shadow of Pantheon in Rome.

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Bramante made the cross-axes of the centrally planned cloister coincide with the fundamental axes. It creates a perspective view and shows a feeling of emptiness in the centrally planned courtyard, which is an open space. The Pace cloister consists of double stories, which are almost equal height and partly conditioned by Roman buildings such as the Theatre of Mascellus. Bramante was then using a Tuscan pilaster resting on ground, with the proportions and forms of a Classical pilaster. He rose the arches from them instead of Roman type of arcade with applied half columns. It brought the airiness and spaciousness. On the upper floor, Bramante placed a smaller pier above the ground level pier, which was same with the architects of Early Renaissance. However, he also used columns at the upper floor to stand above the centers of each of the ground floor arches. It breaks the rule of ‘void over void, solid over solid’, which was used by other architects in the Early Renaissance. This whole cloister is basically built with Classical architecture. However, Bramante did not use it thoroughly without changing, he creates some new elements with the elements, which bring Early Renaissance architecture to High Renaissance architecture.

Bruschi analyzes:
The pedestal of the corner pier juts forward much less than others. It emphasizes the whole effect of the continuity of the four walls without any paused in the corner. This was decidedly the effect of the three-dimensional quality of space in itself. It shows his ‘painter’ outlook, his way of seeking particular effect from the point of view of the observer.

Bramante did not waste his technique, which he has learnt during the painter’s life. He is the first architect to bring in the technique of showing light and shade three-dimensionally and brought the architecture into a new era, which tends from Early Renaissance to High Renaissance. Light and shadow technique was only used in the painting in Early Renaissance period but not in architecture. He was not only bringing in the technique in architecture, but also bringing the technique of the scientific perspective and mathematics.

Before the construction of the Cloister of Santa Maria della Pace has finished, Bramante was commissioned to build a martyrdom - Tempietto, which marks the spot where St. Peter was crucified. This building shows Bramante’s effort on reconciling Classical elements together with the illusionism technique. In this case, Bramante uses a Greek cross to form the centralized plan.

The intercolumnar intervals of Tempietto are equal all the way round. It had been inspired by Roman circular temples, which supposed to be Classical antiquity in style. The columns, which show an order, are understood as part of an organic system. He successfully distinguishes between flat surfaces and curve masses, which is known as plastic style in architecture. It really helps to bring Early Renaissance tending to High Renaissance. It starts applying the organic design in architecture, which could not be seen in Early Renaissance period. The columns also show the light and shadows effect too which is the main achievement in High Renaissance architecture. Tempietto is the first modern building to employ Tuscan building correctly. Bramante used the Tuscan order, which is Roman Doric because it suits Peter. It is a treatise which was continued from Early Renaissance and was paid more attention in High Renaissance architecture. Murray claims:

Vitruvius had pointed out that the temples ought to be architecturally conformable to their dedications; in other words that the temple dedicated to a virgin goddess ought to be of Corinthian order, whereas Hercules or Mars demands the Doric.

Although Tempietto was recognized as a perfect modern architecture, it follows ancient models in its vaulting. It is still showing a lot of Classical elements and style, which is very popular in Renaissance period. Bramante scored a distinction in reviving Classical style and adding his own idea. He combined them together and provided more choices to the architects in later period. Besides showing all Classical styles well, he also starts to develop illusionism technique, which he used in painting, in architecture.

Tempietto shows Bramante’s technique in illusionism. It can be said as a trick of eyes, which deceive the viewer. Because of the upper part of Tempietto contrasts emphatically with the lower, he inserted a small, continuous balustrade to soften the division between their styles and scale. The diameter of the columns in the cloister and the height of the columns in colonnade have to be in the same ratio. Thus, the viewer who frames the view of Tempietto would have taken the columns in the colonnade as equal in height to those of the cloister. Ludwig H. Heydenreich and Wolfgang Lotz also states:

In that way, the Tempietto would have gained in monumentality; it would have looked higher and wider, and the surrounding courtyard more spacious.

Bramante uses a lot of illusionism skill in this specific small building, which gains him a lot of respect among High Renaissance architects. This small temple actually shows a distinction of reconciling the rigor of the classicism and illusionism. It is perfectly designed and forms a harmony among different elements.

Cortile del Beldevere is another famous building from Bramante, which was very famous in scientific perspective and illusionism. It was built as a villa’s link with Vatican Palace. It is also a huge amphitheater built for Julius II in imitation both of a Classical amphitheater and a Classical villa.

Bramante designed this large courtyard-theatre-forum same as the Romans had made their forums. The intermediate area, proportioned apparently according to the golden section, was to contain the audience’s seat, an intermediate terrace and the converging and ascending ramps to the upper courtyard, which was laid out as a garden closed at the end by a large terminal hemicircle. It is designed according to the Classical style.

In this specific building, Bramante applied the principle of perspective composition to the whole landscape as well as the building itself to form the whole view into a picture. Ludwig H. Heydenreich and Wolfgang Lotz state:

Belvedere courtyard was to be a spettacolo, a theatrical fiction that was to deceive the spectator: once again, he was aiming at a perspective, illusionistic representation.

The upper level of the building, the spettacolo beyond the towers appears deeper than in reality to deceive the viewer. Bramante also adopted a system of alternating bays with pairs of pilasters alternately enclosing arches and niches. Ludwig H. Heydenreich and Wolfgang Lotz claim that this reinforcement of the vertical elements gives an illusion of greater depth. The detailing of the hemicircle at the end in its turn had to be illusionistically ‘distanced’ even further than the already ‘distanced’ end wall from which it opened out.

The illusionism he had used at Urbino and Milan became more mature at that time. Bruschi states that it is a spettacolo, a stage set, actually built and extended into depth, an artificial ‘constructed landscape’, such as the Romans had made, a rationalization of what was there already, the ‘natural spettacolo.

There are a lot of great buildings under Bramante’s design. He brought light and shadows and three-dimensional design from painting into architecture, which led architects at that period into a new style of architecture. He also developed scientific perspective view and illusionism in his design, which were some important elements of the architecture in High Renaissance architecture. In the other hand, he controlled his design elements well with the Classical antiquity and the innovation of the illusionism. All of his buildings use a lot of Classical style as well as the perspective and illusionism style, which affect the following architects. He was not only strongly influenced by the ancient Rome Classical style, but also try to add new elements into his architecture. He successfully shows his style of architecture in combining Classical and illusionism together and brought the architecture to another period which is High Renaissance architecture. He successfully transfers those painting techniques in architecture. In short, he is a great architect who designed buildings, which represent the highly beauty of the High Renaissance architecture.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Essay on Rosa Parks

Essay on Rosa Parks

Rosa Louise Parks was an extraordinary African American civil rights activist whose heroic actions sparked the beginning of the monumental civil rights movement within the United States of America.

Rosa Parks firmly stood up for what she believed and it was time for her to show the world who she was and what she believed in. Rosa was born on February 4th, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. Every since she was a little girl, her mother knew that God had a special purpose for her. She was raised by her mother because her father was never around. She recalled that he would stay several days and then leave again. She never saw him any more until she was an adult and married (Brinkley 21). She lived with her mother and brother in a small house. Her mother was a school teacher who sometimes traveled out of state to teach in different schools and in black churches. Rosa was also raised in part by her grandparents who lived nearby.

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Growing up was hard for Rosa. It is upsetting to think that innocent children lives were in danger, because of the members of the Ku Klux Klan. This was a secret society that originated in southern states. Its purpose was to reassert white supremacy by the means of terrorism. Klan members would parade up and down the streets in front of Rosa's home. They never attacked her family, but she felt the violence of white supremacy at a very young age (Brinkley 25).

Rosa moved to Montgomery, Alabama at the age of eleven and her mom enrolled her at Montgomery Industrial school for girls. All of the teachers at this school were white, while the student body of two hundred and thirty to three hundred were entirely black. However she dropped out of school at the age of sixteen to care for both her grandmother, who died soon after, and then for her ailing mother. She was practically taking care of herself as well as her family, while the pressures of white supremacy, still were in full effect (Encarta 1).

Rosa also grew up under a strict racist law system called the Jim Crow Law. The Jim Crow law system was adopted in 1875. This law was named after a minstrel show character, who was an old, crippled, black slave who embodied a negative stereotype for African Americans. It was the official system of racial segregation that spread across the south after the Civil War. Segregation was the separation of the races in every sphere of life to achieve white supremacy. African Americans and whites were legally separated on streetcars, trains, steamboats, and every other form of public transportation as well as schools, hospitals, restaurants, hotels and even drinking fountains. These laws put "black" and "white" signs on every public facility. These signs historians say were public symbols of and constant reminders of black rejection (Brinkley 32).

In the 1896 Supreme Court case "Plessy V. Ferguson"the court authorized separate but equal facilities for blacks and whites which were in reality were not equal. African Americans throughout the south started organizing pro integration protest rallies which promoted bringing together whites and blacks in society, but these rallies had no effect on society (Brinkley 32).

The Jim Crow trolley demanded blacks enter in the back of the trolley and they had to stay there. Some of the public buses between Tuskegee and Montgomery refused to let "colored people" inside. African Americans had to sit on top of the luggage no matter what the weather was like. Montgomery, which boasted the first electric trolley system in the country, was faced with a boycott in August of 1900. African Americans were urged to walk and not ride in show of solidarity against the cities unfairness to its paying passengers. This boycott lasted five weeks and it cost the trolley operator twenty five percent of its business. Eventually the company ended streetcar segregation in the city in the 1920's, but it was short lived in part because of the Klan's activities. This largely forgotten boycott in civil rights history was an important event that preceded the 1955 Montgomery boycott that would bring Rosa parks international recognition. Rosa said, " I had heard stories about the 1900 boycott, and I thought about it sometimes when the segregated trolley passed by. It saddened me to think how African Americans took one step forward and then two steps back" (Brinkley32).

In 1932 at the age of nineteen Rosa married Raymond Parks who was a twenty nine year old barber. She received her high school diploma the following year and supported the family by sewing and other jobs. Rosa remembered that when it came to voting African Americans had major disadvantages. In 1937 a group of poor voters brought a constitutional challenge against the poll tax which was a fee charged across the south for exercising the right to vote. The group lost the challenge and the Supreme Court upheld the poll tax as constitutional. If a person was poor with no extra money, which most blacks in Alabama were, they could not vote. Another obstacle was literacy tests which were tests on reading and writing and if a person failed it they could not vote. She tried to register to vote although she did not succeed until her third time. She was forced to take a literacy test, which she passed and she also had to pay the poll tax of $ 16.50.

In 1945 Rosa became a secretary of the Montgomery branch of the NAACP. This was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It was an organization founded to improve the conditions for African Americans in the United States (Encarta 2).

The southern bus systems all seemed to follow the same set of bus rules. In Montgomery for example all the city buses had thirty-six seats. The first ten seats were always reserved for whites and the ten seats farthest to the back were unofficially designed for the blacks to use. The sixteen seats in the middle individual bus drivers imposed there own segregation rules on and enforced them with the threat of pistols they carried. Many drivers enhanced the degrading of blacks by making them pay their fares in the front of the bus, and then they had to get off and go all the way around to the back of the bus to board. It was a form of everyday humiliation in Montgomery. Rosa said, " Some bus drivers were meaner than others. Not all of them were hateful, but segregation is vicious and to my mind there was no way you could make segregation decent, or nice, or acceptable"(Brinkley 57).

One bus driver that stood out in Rosa's mind was a man named James Blake. He was a major bigot who treated everyone that was black badly especially black women. He made blacks pay in the front and then as they walked outside to the back of the bus, he would leave them with a face full of exhaust as he raced off. One afternoon Rosa boarded through the front door of Blake's bus, because the back was filled with people. Blake demanded that she exit the bus and get back on through the back door. She told him that she did not see the need to get off and back on again. He was infuriated with her and told her to get off his bus. Parks engaged in an act of passive resistance, named by Leo Tolstoy and embraced by Mahatma Gandhi, which was resistance by a nonviolent method. This method she learned in Matthew 5:39 of the Bible where Jesus taught that if someone strikes you on one cheek, you should turn the other cheek. She not only refused to ride on Blakes Bus, but avoided them for the next twelve years. She walked wherever she went even in the rain rather than suffer further injustice. However in 1955 Rosa has another incident with a Montgomery bus that left the bus company in an uproar (Brinkley58).

On December 1st 1955 Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. She went on the bus and she walked in the back of where white people were sitting. The bus was extremely crowded that day. On the second or third stop some white people came on the bus and there was one white man standing. When the driver noticed the man standing, he told her to get up. Rosa told him she was not moving from the seat and he threatened to have her arrested. She said that he may do that and he did. Two policemen came on the bus and placed her under arrest. The public responded to her arrest as soon as it was announced. It was put in the paper and Mr. E.D. Nixon, who was the legal redress chairman of the Montgomery branch of the NAACP, made phone calls to a number of ministers. There was a public meeting at Dexter Avenue Baptist church, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the pastor. The Montgomery Improvement Association was formed and it was led by Martin Luther King, Jr. Rosa said, "When she met Martin Luther King Jr. she was very impressed with his delivery as a speaker and by his leadership. He seemed to be a genuine and very concerned person, who she thought was a real, true Christian (Brinkley 207).

Rosa's trial was on December 5th and the court found her guilty. Her lawyers' Fred Gray and Charles Langford filed an appeal, and she was later fined $10.00 plus $4.00 in court expenses (Brinkley 219).

The Montgomery Improvement Association called for a boycott of the city owned bus company. It urged people to walk or ride with people in cars rather than take public transportation which was primarily the bus. Many people heard about the Rosa Parks event and a large number of people participated in not riding the bus. During the boycott Rosa went to many different city meeting urging people to participate in the boycott. She told people all about her incident on the bus and encouraged people join her in boycott. Rosa was determined to put a stop to the racist system which some Americans had accepted. The boycott lasted 382 and captured the nations' attention. The Supreme Court eventually struck down the Montgomery ordinance under which Rosa Parks was fined, and outlawed racial segregation on public transportation (Smithsonian 1).

However, Rosa and her husband Raymond both lost their jobs and suffered repeated harassment and threats in July of 1957. The last hateful message which they received, pushed Raymond Parks into a near suicidal despair, that scared Rosa more than the death threat itself. Soon after this terrible incident Raymond and Rosa moved to Detroit, where Rosa served on the staff of US Representative John Conyers. The Southern Christian Leadership Council established an annual Rosa Parks Freedom Award in her honor. After the death of her husband, she founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for self development. This institute sponsors an annual summer program for teenagers called Capital Pathways to Capital Freedom. In this program young people tour the country in busses, under adult supervision and learn the history of their country and the Civil Rights Movement. This institute provides scholarships and guidance for young blacks (Encarta 2).

Rosa Parks received numerous awards and tributes including the NAACP's highest honor, the Spinarn Medal in 1970 and prestigious Martin Luther Jr. award in 1980. Cleveland Avenue in the city of Montgomery was renamed Rosa Parks Boulevard in 1965. President Bill Clinton in 1996 awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest honor that the U.S. government can give to a civilian. In 1999 she received the Congressional Gold Medal from the US Congress (Encarta 2).

Rosa Parks became known as the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement and her life has impacted the world tremendously. Her actions have helped us believe in ourselves and our faith in God, showing us that we can overcome any difficult obstacle that we may face.

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Essay on Mental Retardation

Essay on Mental Retardation

Mental retardation appears in childhood before the age of 18. It is an impairment that leaves a persons overall intelligence quotient (IQ) is below average. Individuals with mental retardation lack the ability to deal with the demands of life and lack some of the daily living skills expected of people of their age group. Paula Ford-Martin states that “Mental retardation occurs in 2.5%-3% of the general population. About 6-7.5 million mentally retarded individuals live in the United States alone” (Ford-Martin).

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The intelligence quotient is a “[…] numerical expression of someone’s performance on a standard intelligence test” (Thorne 24). The IQ test only has value to the psychologist. To diagnose mental retardation, it takes a group of professionals from across the board: physicians, social workers, psychologists, educators, and vocational rehabilitation experts. The diagnosis will give information about the individual’s past, present, and future plans (Thorne 25). There are four degrees of severity: “mild, moderate, severe, and profound.” “Mild IQ ranges from 50-75, moderate 35-55, severe 20-40, and profound 20-25.” These categories are based on the functioning level of the individual (Ford-Martin).

85 percent of people with mental retardation are affected mildly. People with mild retardation can not be distinguished from normal children until they attend school. Mildly affected individuals learn more slowly but can usually develop academic skills equal to that of a sixth grader. They can marry and have children. The mildly retarded can work and live in the community if they can be helped when faced with social or economic stress (Ford-Martin).

10 Percent of people with mental retardation are moderately retarded. Academically, they progress to the second grade level. They have good self-care skills such as going to the bathroom, eating, and dressing themselves. They can work at skilled and unskilled jobs with supervision. They are more likely living within their community in a facility such as a group home (Ford-Martin).

About 3-4 percent suffers from severe retardation. These individuals may learn to talk during childhood, and develop some basic self-care skills. They can perform simple tasks under close supervision. They often live in a group home or with their families.

1-2 percent of mentally retarded has profound retardation and requires constant care twenty four hours a day. They understand some language, but have little ability to speak. There is often a neurological condition that accounts for their retardation (Ford-Martin).

Limitations and low IQ skills are definite in mental retardation. Other traits associated with the disability include aggression, self-injury, and mood disorders. The exact cause can be identified in 60-70 percent of mental retardation cases, Some cases having more than one cause. These causes include disorders that occur as a fetus develops during pregnancy, genetic disorders, and problems during or after birth. Mental retardation in most cases is caused by an inherited abnormality of the genes. Fragile X syndrome is the most common inherited case of mental retardation, it determines sex. Chromosomal disorders such, as Down syndrome are not necessary inherited. The parents can have perfect genes but the defect occurs from a random error when the chromosomes reproduce (Ford-Martin).

Many problems during pregnancy can cause mental retardation in a child. Use of alcohol or drugs; viral infections, including German measles; malnutrition; toxins such as lead; and untreated diseases such as diabetes can cause mental retardation if complication arises. Mental retardation can be preventable through immunizations, if not immunized; these diseases can lead to encephalitis and meningitis, which can cause brain damage. Fetal alcohol syndrome causes mental retardation as a result of excessive consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. Some cases of mental retardation are caused during birth, including premature births, and stresses to the fetus (Ford-Martin).

Environmental factors play a role in a child’s development. If infants are not provided the physical and mental stimulation required for normal development, learning impairments become irreversible. Impoverished children and those suffering from malnutrition are at higher risk (Ford-Martin). Screening programs for infant’s and adults can eliminate some cases of mental retardation. In infants the blood can be screened to see if there are any inherited conditions that may lead to mental retardation and they can be treated. In adults the test can identify carriers of the condition before a child is conceived. Those who have a family history of mental retardation can seek genetic counseling. Specialized test like amniocentesis can detect Down syndrome and other genetic disorders early in the pregnancy.

Mental retardation is an impairment that affects 6-7.5 million individuals in the United States. It appears in childhood before the age of 18. The individual’s intelligence quotient is measured, and a group of professionals will diagnose the severity of retardation. There are four degrees of severity mild, moderate, severe, and profound. These categories are based on the functioning level of the individual. It is essential to seek prenatal care at the start of the pregnancy. The proper care, avoidance of alcohol and drugs during pregnancy, and current immunizations against childhood diseases can prevent some forms of mental retardation (Ford-Martin).

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Essay on Liberty and Democracy

Essay on Liberty and Democracy

"Democratic peace", as was first introduced by Kant, is the theory that no two democratic countries have gone to war with each other (Zakaria 1997, 36). However, Fareed Zakaria argues that "…the democratic peace is actually the liberal peace…" (1997, 36). In the following paper, I will to present the philosophies of several political scientists in order to help give a strong argument that supports this distinction of terms. First, a differentiation must be made of the words, democracy and liberty.

Often, the term "democracy" is defined by Joseph Schumpeter’s definition. He stated that democracy was "simply a political method, a mechanism for choosing political leadership" (Sorensen 1993, 9). From this very fundamental definition, new variations have evolved through interpretation by different people.

Liberty, on the other hand, is often defined as the basic freedoms granted to humans by nature. When used in context of the political world, often the line of distinction between the two terms becomes blurred, and as each individual interprets the words, the scope of meaning for each increases.

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I now turn to the philosophies of three major political scientists, along with Zakaria, to help further define “democracy” and “liberty” and to show how they relate to the original question of democratic peace versus liberal peace.

Political scientists, Dahl, Huntington and Sorensen, share a common interpretation of the word, “democracy.” All three scientists reserve use of this term to describe an “idealized” democratic nation. This “ideal” democracy includes the practice of democracy (elections) and liberty (the preservation of freedoms).

When one speaks of a democratic nation, one can place the nation upon a spectrum. On one end, one finds just democracy (elections), or an illiberal democracy, as Zakaria calls such nations. One historical example of such a democracy is Kenya’s government while under President Moi. On the other end, one finds complete integration of democracy (elections) and liberty. This type of democracy is sometimes called the “ideal” or “true” democracy. In between, one encounters governments with varying levels of liberalism.

For Dahl, Huntington and Sorensen, “democracy” actually encompasses the ideals of election and individual freedoms. Even though they differ slightly in how they integrate democracy (elections) with liberty, this basic ideal of a government based upon elections of its leaders along with the preservation of liberties is a common thread that joins them.

However, Zakaria, the fourth political scientist, takes a slightly different view. Zakaria sticks closer to Schumpeter’s definition and clearly separates democracy from liberalism. By Zakaria’s definition, democracy is a term linked to the idea of a government that allows all the citizens of its nation to actively participate in the selection of their leaders. On the other hand, liberty, as Zakaria states, is about a government’s goals (1997, 25). A government that defends and upholds an individual’s natural or “inalienable” rights is one centered on liberalism. These natural or “inalienable” rights include the freedom of free speech, the freedom of assembly, the freedom to one’s own religion, etc.

As Zakaria stated in his essay, “The Rise of Illiberal Democracy,” the term democracy, when used in context of the Western nations, has truly meant liberal democracy. A liberal democracy has two clear characteristics: a government based upon the fair election of its leaders (democracy) and “a political system marked…by the protection of basic liberties of speech, assembly, religion, and property (liberty)” (Zakaria 1997, 22).

In governments that do not completely embrace the notion of civil liberty, a potential for civil unrest and possible war exists. If the government does not uphold basic human rights, it matters very little if the leaders are or are not elected into office. The end results are the same. Many times oppressed people will eventually rise against the leadership in hopes of gaining freedom. Even within the US, one can find examples of oppressed people rising to gain more freedom. One such example is that of the woman’s battle for suffrage at the turn of the century.

With this understanding, one can find validity in Zakaria’s statement about liberal peace. Within nations that practice liberalism there lies a foundation of freedoms that allows each of its citizens to feel safe and cared for by his nation. These freedoms also symbolize the common goals that unite liberal governments, allowing them to work with one another without having to resort to physical means of manipulation and coercion.

As I pointed out before, Dahl, Huntington and Sorensen share a common philosophy or belief of what “democracy” means. However, a closer look of the individuals may give more insight into how their beliefs parallel or digress from Zakaria’s.

Dahl clearly states that “democracy,” in his mind, describes an idealized world where democracy (elections) and liberalism coexists in one nation, an epitome of what a liberal democracy should be. Thus, in relation to the imperfect, real world, he describes different liberal democratic governments as polyarchys.

In his book, Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition, Dahl clearly outlines those factors that are important to polyarchy. First, he states that there are “classic liberal freedoms” which are crucial to public participation in government (Dahl 1971, 20). Such freedoms include the right to oppose the government and form groups, the freedom of free speech and fair vote, etc. (Dahl 1971, 20). This clearly indicates a practice of liberalism. The second and third factors focus on increases in political competition and public participation. The last important factor he gives is the idea that with the increase of liberalism, more opportunities form, thus leading to an increase in the variety and number of interests that would be represented in policy making.

One can clearly see that Dahl’s view of “democracy” is one that combines democracy (elections) with liberalism. When trying to apply Dahl’s idea of democracy to Zakaria’s statement of peace, there arises a question of possible separation of democracy from liberalism, a key to Zakaria’s statement. However, Dahl does introduce the idea of a political democracy, separate from democracy in terms of elections, which is “sometimes referred to as a liberal democracy because of its focus on the form of government” (Sorensen 1993, 12). Making this distinction between democracy and political democracy seemingly separates the different ideals of liberty and democracy.

The next scientist, Huntington, followed Dahl in that he, too, “created” an ideal democracy. Instead of calling his idealized democratic nation a democracy, he calls it a “true” democracy. He states that democracy, when in reference to elections, is a very minimal definition and that “Elections, open, free, and fair, are the essence of democracy, the inescapable sine qua non” (1991, 9). By including the word “free” one can assume that Huntington is implying that a certain amount of political liberties, such as the freedom to free speech and form groups, are essential to democracy. With such a statement, it becomes more evident that Huntington does not really separate democracy (elections) from liberty. He then continues to present his opinion by making several points while defining democracy.

His fourth point was in reference to treating democracy and nondemocracy as a dichotomous or continuous variable. He chose to treat them as a dichotomous variable and this may be where the weakness in his argument lies. By choosing them to be dichotomous variables, he looses many of the subtleties that are so important in separating different governments. By trying to divide governments into two distinct categories, his definition may loose value as it is applied to a situation that does not seem to fit his criterion.

Though it may seem as if Huntington opposes Zakaria’s statement, one must look at Huntington’s weakness and judge if that weakness allows for Zakaria’s statement to still stand as true.

Before discussing a problem posed in Zakaria’s argument, I finally turn to Sorensen. In Sorensen’s view, Schumpeter’s definition of democracy is very narrow in scope. Sorensen labels this type of government as a political system. On the other hand, he states that liberal democracy, or democratic autonomy, encompasses a wider view of democracy. This type of government, in Sorensen’s opinion, could be correctly labeled as a social, economic and political system, thus integrating liberalism with democracy.

Like Dahl, Sorensen views the ideal democracy as one that practices both democracy (elections) and liberalism and labels democracy in the real world as political democracy. He gives in his book, Democracy and Democratization, three main requirements or elements that are needed to have a political democracy: “competition, participation and civil and political liberties” (1993, 12). Once again, we see a combination of liberalism and democracy (election).

Also in his book, Sorensen presents two routes to democracy (or political democracy): 1. An increase in competition or liberalization (the “extent to which rights and liberties are available to at least some members of the political system”) and 2. An increase in participation or inclusiveness (“the proportion of citizens who enjoy political rights and liberties”) (1993, 12-13). This idea clearly differentiates between democracy and liberalism, supporting Zakaria’s argument of separation of terms.

It is clear that each of these three authors present similar but varying definitions of democracy. In one aspect, one can say that they argue against Zakaria’s point of democratic versus liberal peace. Using their “real” world or “ideal” world definitions, it is evident that they support the idea that it is democratic peace of which Kant was speaking. All three, especially Huntington, clearly state how they felt that liberty was almost a virtue of democracy, thus connecting the two ideas. However, looking at a deeper level, it is also evident that all three initially distinguish between democracy (elections) and liberty. From this point each scientist expands upon the idea of democracy by incorporating liberalism with democracy (elections) and names these new definitions of democracy polyarchy (Dahl) and political democracy (Huntington and Sorensen). Thus, one could argue that the underlying philosophies are similar while the usage of terms differs. Thus, by one way of thought, they actually support Zakaria’s argument for liberal peace.

Finally, I would like to turn to an argument against Zakaria voiced by John Shattuck and F. Brian Atwood in their essay, “Defending Democracy: Why Democrats Trump Autocrats.” They state that “he (Zakaria) downplays the political repression of seemingly benevolent autocratic regimes” (1998, 167). They argue that the liberal autocracies that Zakaria refers to only appear to be liberal as compared to the totalitarian governments that previously help power in the countries (1998, 169). Others with the similar view question how fairly an autocracy could grant its people liberties without having to give up some of the power associated with an autocracy. Thus, these people would argue that a country moving toward democracy in respect to open elections is a country more likely to move to a liberal democracy (one that also upholds liberty) and peace within the nation.

I would argue that to bring liberal democracy and peace to country, there must lie at the foundation of the government, satisfaction and happiness of the people. Regardless of how this comes to be, it is the most important aspect in insuring peace. If a leader of an autocracy rules with the concern of the good of the people always at the basis of all decisions, then I believe that such rule will more likely lead to peace then a democratizing nation where the leader perhaps has only self-promoting interests in mind. Such a corrupt government could easily fall into an authoritarian rule if the leader begins to suppress rights, especially the right to vote, to keep in power. This fall out of democracy could lead toward conflict and unrest. One can observe that such situations occurred during the reverse of the first wave of democracy in the world (Huntington 1991, 17).

The term “democracy” alone is difficult to define. Applied to the political world, it becomes more obscure and indefinite. Each political scientist defines the word upon his own personal experiences and beliefs. However, by taking the word and critically analyzing it, one can begin to understand each variation of the definition and formulate one of one’s own. With this paper’s analysis of the world “democracy,” I have proven that “democracy” in its “pure” form takes on the definition given by Schumpeter (a method of choosing or electing a government).

Though the three philosophers I presented may differ in their definitions of democracy, I believe that it was evident that liberalism (liberty) is key to the growth of a liberal democracy and the increase of peace within a nation. With this insight, one can reread Zakaria’s statement that “the democratic peace is actually the liberal peace” and fully understand his viewpoint, and it also becomes clear that “democracy” has now taken a new, clearly defined meaning.

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Essay on "The Virgin of the Rocks" by Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci Artwork Essay

We can always tell a Leonardo work by his treatment of hair, angelic in its fineness and by the lack of rigidity of the contour. The angel's face in the painting known as 'The Virgin of the Rocks', has an interior and artistic wisdom that is like no other artwork. This painting is by world-renowned artist Leonardo da Vinci. It was painted in-between 1503 and 1506 in the period known as the High Renaissance. The Virgin of the Rocks, also known as 'The Madonna of the Rocks', is in the style of Leonardo's earliest Florentine period, with its soft and glowing colors.

This work has represented the human form in that it has a womanly or motherly air about it. You can see that the gaze of the virgin in the middle is on the two babies.

Leonardo da Vinci's major influence was his first teacher, Andrea Del Verrocchio. He worked as an apprentice at Verrocchio's studio. One day, they were working on a panel-picture of St. John baptizing Christ. Leonardo painted an angel so well compared to that of Verrocchio's that it is said that Verrocchio decided to give up painting then and there because a child could paint better than him.

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Painting for Leonardo could only succeed when clear principles were followed. The most important of these was the power of mathematics. He compared painting to philosophy; both were concerned with looking beyond appearances to the underlying structure and movement.

"The first object of the painter is to make a flat plane appear as a body in relief and projecting from that plane"
(Leonardo da Vinci)

He has used three different techniques in three of his famous works, the most famous being the 'Mona Lisa'. Here he used the sfumato technique. He shaded the contours and backgrounds in opposition to areas of intense light. The emphatic play of light and shade creates a special atmosphere, half way between a dream and reality.

In the 'Last Supper', he used perspective. He found the vanishing point, which is the exact middle of the canvas. Two vertical lines were then drawn to create a large square in the center of the canvas and diagonals from the centre to the corners of the square were drawn to form the lines of perspective.

Another technique is called Chiaroscuro, which is Italian for 'light-dark.' This is where the figures seem to blend in with their surroundings, while their faces or another body part gleams out from the darkness. An example of this is 'The Virgin of the Rocks'.

A few other works by Leonardo include 'The Annunciation', 'The Virgin and Child with St. Anne' and 'The Adoration of the Magi'.

The period of time that Leonardo da Vinci belonged to is known as the High Renaissance, renaissance meaning 'rebirth'. This period lasted between 1490 and 1530. During this time, artists were more interested in impressive art that had a universal idea rather than a naturalistic expression. Renaissance painting marked the transition from the medieval to the modern world and laid the foundations for modern Western values and society. It signifies a distinct style, where painters tried to create the illusion of reality through the use of linear perspective. They modeled with color and light to suggest weight and volume.

Renaissance painters worked freely and inventively rather than strictly. They also strived for idealism and realism in their works.

"This century like a golden age has restored to light
the arts, which almost disappeared; poetry, painting,
architecture, sculpture and music. And all this in Florence.

(letter by the Italian scholar Marsilio Ficino to Paul
Middelburg, 1492)

A group of monks, one day, offered Leonardo a contract to paint a religious picture. They told him exactly what they wanted and how it was to be done. He produced what was called, "The Virgin of the Rocks". It was far richer in design, color and feeling than what the monks had expected it to be. They accused him of not doing what they wanted and took him to court.

This painting shows how Leonardo had progressed in his studies of light, shade and perspective. He explained that the shapes of objects were not made of lines, but instead of light and shade. He was the first Florentine artist to use mainly oil on his painting with which he was able to model forms through light and shade.

The story of 'The Virgin of the Rocks' is based upon a legend that the Christ child met John the Baptist in the wilderness. This painting is a favorite among many people because of the delicacy of the figures. The face of the virgin is at the apex of a pyramid formed by the faces of an angel, the baby Jesus and the baby John the Baptist. They are sitting in a dimly lit grotto setting of rocks and water that gives the work its name.

The virgin's face radiates light and also there is a sense of pain on her face as if she can foresee the pain difficult destiny that her son will have to endure. There is also an atmosphere in the barren landscape, which gives the scene a visionary quality.

There was the effect of aerial perspective, where the tones blended towards a pale horizon, giving the full impression of distance in the picture. The four figures also seem to blend in with the rocks and plants, which surround them, while their faces have a glow that reaches out to the viewer. No artist ha ever filled a painting with shadows before. The flowers in the bottom left hand corner are painted with accuracy and detail. They are lifted towards the viewer and the light only falls on the petals. The drapery of the angel is also light and the shape of the body can be seen.

In conclusion, The Virgin of the Rocks is a clear example of how Leonardo effectively makes the transition between the Tuscan manner of Quattrocento and the more graceful beauty that is associated with the Renaissance. One form glides gently into another producing a masterpiece that overpowers the spectator.

"To the boldness and greatness of design, Leonardo
adds the counterfeiting of all the minute details of
nature, just as they are…he is most abundant in copying
from nature and most profound in artistic technique."

(Giorgio Vasari)

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Essay about John Lennon

Essay on John Lennon

John Lennon was born on 9th October, 1940, during a violent air raid over Liverpool in the Second World War. He was raised by an aunt after his father was reported missing at sea, and his mother was unwilling to care for him after she remarried.

John became fascinated with rock and roll at an early age, and was part of a high-school band called The Quarry men. During an early gig he was introduced to Paul McCartney who introduced him in turn to George Harrison. Together they became The Beatles.Later on Ringo Star joined the group.

Together with Paul, John wrote the most enduring music of the 20th century. Early on in their friendship, they made a pact that music written by either of them would bear the stamp “Lennon McCartney.” The rule held, even during the Beatles eventual break-up.

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The Beatles enjoyed amazing success in Britain, beginning in 1963 and in America from 1964.

John became a father for the first time during those early years in Britain. He and his wife, Cynthia had a son, John Charles Julian Lennon in 1963. Julian also went into the music industry as a young adult.

John was one of the most outspoken characters in the music industry during the 1960’s. He complained loudly of the conditions that the poor and sick had to live in while the Beatles were filming “Help!” in the Bahamas. In 1966 he stated that the Beatles were more popular that Jesus. This statement caused an outcry in America, Britain and South Africa in particular.

In 1966 John met Yoko Ono in London after a preview of the Japanese woman’s 9-day art exhibition. Their relationship became intense and John drew Yoko into the Beatles’ music. There was an unwritten rule that each member’s personal relationships were kept apart from the band’s recordings. John and Yoko broke this rule during the recording of The White Album and tensions arose.

After manager Brian Epstein’s death, the group found themselves having to take control of the business side of things. They all found this hard to deal with and damaging mistakes were made.

Lennon reacted by withdrawing further from the Beatles and focussing on his relationship with Yoko. Together they wrote an album in John's private studio. Together they were called ‘’Plastic Ono Band’’.They released three singles ‘Give Peace A Chance’ Cold Turkey’ and ‘Instant Karma’. The relationship had become public and John’s divorce was underway. In November 1968 Yoko had a miscarriage. They had also been arrested for possession of drugs, marijuana and LSD.

In 1970 the group experienced more trouble a split in the spring that year. Later John said he had no regrets for this decision.

Johns next album ‘Imagine’ was much more successful commercially. And title song became his most popular solo song.

Some officials of the Nixon administration began a specific campaign to have John deported as a convicted drug user. The F.B.I followed him, taped his phone calls and filled plenty of files with notes of his musical and other activities. The case was finally settled in 1975 when a court declared that John’s British marijuana conviction was not grounds for deportation in the American law.

In 1973 John and Yoko separated, she stayed in New York and he went to Los Angeles. On what he later described as a “lost weekend” that lasted 18 months. Drinking heavily John was thrown out of nightclubs and was a popular subject for gossip columns for much of that time. He also released three albums, the fist two “Mind Games” and “Walls and Bridges”; turned away from politics back towards the musical theme of “Imagine”. While neither album was particularly popular, “Walls and Bridges” did bring John his first American No1 single: “Whatever gets you through the night.”

In 1980 he and Yoko wrote 25 songs in a few weeks. The album “Double Fantasy” received mixed reviews; nevertheless, the single “Starting Over” went quickly to No1, and John and Yoko continued to spend many hours in the studio working on their next collection.

Upon getting back home from a recording session on December 8th, 1980, John was shot 5 times by a self-described fan, Mark Chapman, for whom he had signed an autograph earlier that day. He was dead on arrival at Roosevelt Hospital. Crowds gathered outside his home as soon as the news broke, and many people continued their vigil for days, singing “Give Peace a Chance”; “Imagine”, and other of his songs.

Throughout his life, John’s strong sense of justice and his striving for world peace continues to offer a call to action for millions of people throughout the world.

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Essay on Max Weber and Emile Durkheim Theory

Essay on M. Weber and E. Durkheim

When discussing and learning sociological theory, it is certain that Emile Durkheim and Max Weber are to be among the great theorists mentioned. Considered the “father of modern sociology,” Durkheim made advancements in the fields of criminology and deviant behavior, as well as other topics within sociology. Weber’s ideas of class, status and parties give sociologists greater perspective concerning modern social structure and social and political revolution in general. Although the theories of both Emile Durkheim and Max Weber are important to sociological theory, it is upon recommendation that Weber’s work be discussed in more detail due to its increased generalizability, predictability, and novelty when compared to Durkheim’s theory.

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In order to understand how Weber’s work is more important to study than Durkheim’s, it is essential to identify the main aspects of each theory. Weber felt that the study of sociology should be approached through examining the modes of action, with action being defined as purposeful and meaningful behavior. The main focus of this idea is that action has become more rational over time, in what Weber called rationalization. This concept of rationalization is the suggestion that throughout the course of history, behavior has been more carefully planned, articulated, and deliberate, with the goal that the means are to bring about the most desired ends. Unlike Weber, Durkheim placed emphasis on the structure of society. He insisted that sociology was not only the science of society, but that human actions draw from society, not the individual behavior or motivations. He also felt that social structure and culture were entities separate from people, and that this structure served as a function that forces individuals to act within the confinements of society. Thus, human behavior is essentially the function of society, and not the other way around.

Since Weber argued that sociology should be examined through human behavior, and Durkheim made the case for social structure, then it can be said that these two theorists have obvious conflicting views. Thus, in a debate over which approach is better, a measure of generalizability can be useful in determining the winner. When explaining trends in deviant behavior, delinquency, and suicide, Durkheim’s work is the best route to take, and without a doubt he is the most influential sociologist in the previously mentioned fields. Essentially, Durkheim makes the case that since deviant behavior is defined as “going against cultural norms” that the structure of society places a set of limits on what is considered culturally acceptable behavior, and therefore, behavior does serve as a function of society.

However, although they are important, Durkheim’s views are limited. Weber challenges Durkheim’s notions, and his concepts of human behavior in society can be used to explain social change, revolution, and politics. For example, his theory can be used to give reasons for the Jewish Holocaust and the linkage between the Protestant Ethic and capitalism. Formal rationalization, which in short states that the ends justifies the means helps provide answers to how a high ranking Nazi officer could give an order to kill a few thousand people. The Nazis had a desired goal of world dominance, and one of the steps in insuring that power, was to weed out the alleged weaker beings. Thus, their desire justified their behavior, because the end result was what held the most importance. The link between the Protestant Ethic and Weber’s notions is clear through his notion of rational thought. When the Protestant faith eliminated the need for intercession between man and God, it created individual responsibility to each person. This created an ethic of work geared towards investment and saving, which advances capitalism. God became more distant and detached from the world, and thus the world became increasingly reliant on the human conscious and rational action. The Jewish holocaust and the Protestant Ethic are two examples of how Weber’s theory can be used to explain human life; however, his theory is not limited to these illustrations. Thus, it is fair to say that when compared to Durkheim, Weber’s theory is more generalizable, meaning that it can be used to explain several different areas or phenomena of human life.

Weber’s theory not only has more generalizability than Durkheim’s, but it also has more predictability. Once again, Durkheim’s theory focuses on the structure of society, and not each social structure is exactly the same. Nonetheless, many of the same problems that exists in society “ a”, exists in society “ b”, which demonstrates that there must be other factors involved with norms and behaviors in society that are completely unrelated to its structure. If Durkheim’s theory was predictable, then societies with identical or close to identical structures would have similar crime rates and social issues. However, evidence supports that there are several countries that are very similar to the United States with significantly lower crime rates. On the other hand, due to the fact that Weber’s theory gets the same, or at least similar results every time, his theory is more predictable. Over time, society has become increasingly more planned out and thorough, and regardless of the society, it seems to be the case that class, status, and party are independent from one another. It is totally plausible for a Latin American woman to be a Republican doctor apart of the American Medical Association, and live in the ghetto. She is considered to be apart of the lower class, not because she lives in the ghetto, but because instead of working in a nice hospital, she has devoted her time and energy into a free clinic in the inner city, and thus, does not make enough money to live outside of the ghetto. However, she still holds a high status since she is a doctor, but her class does not match her status, and her party does not stereotypically match her class. This can be seen all over the world through missionary doctors, pro-bono lawyers, and even lottery winners. Lottery winners usually come from a lower status, but can still be apart of the upper class due to their wealth. Weber’s conceptions of class, status, and party are predictable in the sense that they are independent of one another, and one does not predict the other, which is what makes Weber’s ideas more predictable. Weber would also contend that although patterns need to be identified in society, that the context of these patterns need to be analyzed carefully and not be asserted as absolute laws of human behavior. This allows for more predictability because, within similar contexts alike behavior occurs, which takes place more often than similar behavior with unalike circumstances.

Just as Weber’s ideas have more generalizability and predictability than Durkheim’s, they also have more novelty. This can be particularly seen in Weber’s notions of understanding, or as he called it, “verstehen.” Weber felt that it was important to study and understand how people gave meaning to their actions. This is truly original for his time period, because for many years prior to Weber, researchers and sociologists had focused on the action without any thought about the intentions or meaning behind it. Someone being burned at the stake for treason does not hold nearly as much insight unless the story was told that the executed person’s treason was that he/she stood up for their belief that God was more powerful than the king. Hearing that a woman viciously killed her husband may sound horrendous without knowing it was after she caught him raping her two year old child. Weber studied sociology this way, and that is what makes his ideas more creative than Durkheim. Although Durkheim’s conception of anomie, the potential for disorder due to weak conflicting or absent norms and limitless wants, created a way for self exploration and human growth, it did not change sociology as Weber’s theories.

In conclusion, Weber’s theory should be examined over Durkheim’s because it has more generalizability, predictability, and novelty. It is clear that Weber’s notions of rationalization, capitalism, class, status, party, and versthen make his sociological theory better than Durkheim’s ideas of solidarity, anomie, and social facts. Therefore it is highly recommended that Weber be included on the syllabus rather than Durkheim.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Essay on Mass Communication

Essay on Mass Communication

This essay paper is written based around the communication scene observed in the daytime Soap Opera One Life to Live. The soap opera is based in a city called Landview. The scene takes place inside a local restaurant/bar, where people come to relax, hang out, drink, read the newspaper, listen to music, or do paper work. The characters in the scene are AJ (the restaurant’s owner), Zeth (an employee at the restaurant), and Al (a customer). In the scene Interpersonal and Mass communication are observed. Two functions that occurred in the scene are Instruction and Persuasion. This essay will show how these levels of communication, and functions, were played out in the scene. The Berlo’s Model of Communication will also be used to show how the characters act according to the model.

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When communicating with other people we tend to have different ways to express ourselves. Communication is a process of sending and receiving messages using verbal and non-verbal symbols (Tubbs 16). It is a complicated procedure that has several levels in which people express themselves. The scene observed gave outstanding examples of Interpersonal communication. Interpersonal Communication is the basic form of communication between two people (Tubbs 16). Most people deal with Interpersonal communication on a daily basis. Zeth and AJ converse about the newspaper. Their conversation has no real point; it is just an informal exchange.

Most people have several informal exchanges each day. It might be a hello to the mailman or a five-minute conversation with an old friend. Zeth talks to one of the customers in the restaurant (Al) saying, “Can I get you something to drink?”(Tomlin). Al responds saying, “Yes a soda, a large soda, a large large soda” (Tomlin). The men converse back in forth taking about drinks, and then turn their conversation to the topic of Al’s writing. The conversation facilitates to them achieving a common ground; they both are going to take classes at Landview U. Al says, “I’m going to take a full load of courses next semester at Landview”(Tomlin). Zeth talks about how he is interested in sitting in on a couple of classes. From their conversation they start to form a relationship. They plan to take classes together, and study in groups in the near future.

Mass communication is the second level of communication observed in the scene. Mass communication is a source of message that communicates through print or electronic medium (Tubbs 17). AJ is observed reading the newspaper and he tells Zeth what he is reading about. “I was reading about the economy. Employment is up, you know?” (Tomlin). A newspaper is a source of message intended for a mass population, rather than for only a small number of individuals. Mass communication is an expensive form of communication. In order to get ideas across or to get people to buy a product.

“Television advertisements during the Super Bowl each January will cost millions of dollars per minute”( Tubbs 16). The radio (form of Mass communication) was playing in the restaurant during the entire scene. The radio is meant for a large public audience, anonymous to the source (Tubbs 16). The radio communicates to people on an intimate level and dictates which of many different moods people should be in. The broadcasts might say, “It’s time to dance,” and put people in a partying mood. Soft relaxing music might convey a message it is time to relax not work. Most mass communication has limited opportunities for feedback. For examples, television is a form of mass communication in which it is hard to give feedback. You watch TV and you both digest and remember the information or you simply dismiss and forget the information. You cannot talk back to the television.

There is several functions in communication, in which people try to express themselves. The scene observed clearly showed two functions. The first function is Instruction. Instruction gives the information plus the explanation of how to do something (Mullin, 2001). Instructions also show or teach skills for a particular topic. Zeth and Al both talked about, and read a course catalog for Landview College. The college catalog gave general information about the college and which classes to take for each major. It also gave a basic social understanding of in which classes one should register. Zeth and Al both were interested in reading the daily newspaper “The Sun.” The newspaper gives people a good social understanding of what is going on in their community. The newspaper can also be classified in another major function of communication, Persuasion. Newspapers persuade and attempt to change people’s minds by writing with a selected bias. Persuasion is the attempt to influence and change people’s opinions on certain topics(Mullin, 2001). The newspaper like other persuading items (magazine, TV) has a clear understanding of values and makes sure it stays within those values.

Berlo’s Model stresses the role of the relationship between the source and the receiver as an important variable in the communication process. The source and the receiver both have communication skills, attitudes, knowledge, social systems, and culture (Mullin, 2001). All characters in the scene observed used communication skills. AJ spoke to Zeth about the newspaper (a form of mass communication) and Zeth listened to what he had to say. Al, after reading the course catalog, wrote down notes on which classes he wanted to take at Landview U. Al is using a communication skill (reading) while looking over the course catalog (a form of mass communication). Zeth thought about Landview U and told Al he was interested in sitting in on classes. Zeth and Al were using communication skills (hearing, talking) while having an interpersonal relationship. Communication skills are used throughout the scene. When Zeth asked about the trial, AJ was tense and had an attitude with Zeth. The model helps to describe the scene, but falls short when it comes to giving the viewer background information. We do not know if Al and Zeth have meet before or why AJ has an attitude with Zeth. We have no knowledge of AJ’s past experiences. AJ acted as if he knew more about the trial than he was telling everyone. Without background information the viewer has to guess why characters communicate the way they do. Zeth’s role is affected by the social system and culture he lives in. He is working at a restaurant so he has to be polite and friendly to the costumers no what they do. The people in his culture expect him to act according to his job title.

In the middle of Berlo’s Model there is two important features; message and channel. The message consists of elements, content, treatment, and structure. When observing the scene you can see how the message is conveyed through different levels of communication. When Zeth and Al were talking (Interpersonal communication) a message was conveyed. Al talked about the content of the course catalog. The catalog was made with great attention (treatment) of the contents. In other words, it was written with the idea that thousands of people would be reading it. The authors of the catalog structured it so the average person could read it and get basic information about classes. The message conveys several important things to us throughout the scene, but falls short when giving us or letting us know the importance of what is being expressed. For example, when Zeth mentions the trial we do not know what the trial is about or its importance to AJ. Without knowing the importance of something, we have to guess why the characters act the way they do and why they stress certain things. After the message is conveyed we look into the channel, which consists of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting. AJ held (touching) the newspaper as he read (seeing) it. Zeth is observed hearing AJ talk to him about the newspaper.

In order to better represent my scene I would add importance to the Message stage of Berlo’s Model. In order to better understand what is going on in a scene and why characters act the way they do, you have to understand the importance of the hidden looks, any object or thing that has special importance to the scene. For example, if you are watching a scene from a series you might need to know what happened in earlier scenes in order to get a better understanding of the characters actions or prized possessions. Maybe one character has a special watch and she explained how special it was to her in a previous episode. If we did not watch the previous episode then we would not know why she cried over the lost watch. The Source and the Receiver also need an element of history. This ties in with importance, because if you do not know the history of the scene or the characters, then you will not know the importance of an object or a saying. The history gives you a bit of background information, which helps you to better understand the scene.

Overall we can see how interpersonal communication, mass communication, Instruction, and Persuasion tie in with Berlo’s Model to explain how a scene is bursting with communication. At first you do not notice the levels or the functions, but after close scrutiny it is easy to see that almost everything we do has to do with or is affected by some form of communication. With the changes on Berlo’s Model the scene is completely explained and understood.

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Essay on Laughter is the Best Medicine

Essay on Laughter is the Best Medicine

Oftentimes, people say that laughter is the best medicine. Sure—laughter can cure bad days, and hard times, but laughter is not the only way that we can cope with problems. We as human beings go through many emotions, and as you can tell, laughter is only one of them. When people face tough situations, their reaction to the episode can be with tears, laughter, or both.

When we go through extremely hard and agonizing incidents, sometimes the only way we can cope with the pain is by laughing. In contrast, problems that we find to be the most wearisome can make us feel confused and troubled. It is often true that our responses to dilemmas in life are based upon laughter or tears. In Dick Gregory’s autobiography Nigger, Momma teaches Dick “There’s more hope in laughing,” (25). During Dick Gregory’s life, he faces trials and tribulations as well as discrimination; he copes with his complications through laughter and he learns that laughter can be an affective cure, yet it can also be useless during tragedies.

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During Dick Gregory’s early years, he uses his Momma’s advice to get people on his side; he laughs at himself first before anyone else can. Dick Gregory learns the power of a joke while growing up. He is raised on welfare and kids in the neighborhood give him a hard time about it. For instance Dick gets made fun of a lot, but he learns that if he can make jokes about himself first, then the other kids will not climb all over him. Dick Gregory writes, “They were going to laugh anyway, but if I made the jokes they’d laugh with me instead of at me. I’d get the kids off my back, on my side. So I’d come off that porch talking about myself,” (41). Kids are always tormenting Dick Gregory and instead of using tears to cope with this occurrence, Dick uses laughter. From Momma’s words, he uncovers that laughing is a healthier way of dealing with a situation rather than crying. Dick has the choice of how to react towards the kids in his neighborhood. Dick can choose to brawl with his bullies or he can even try to run away from his problem, but instead, Dick chooses to tell jokes. This is Dick Gregory’s way out of this unpleasant position. As Dick grows up, there are other times in his life where he uses his wit, and his humor to escape troublesome events. For instance, Dick Gregory encounters a bully who wants to knock the daylights out of him. Dick casually says, “ ‘Baby, you better kill me quick. If you don’t, I’m gonna steal those cool shoes you wearin’,’ ”(47). When Dick gets into a situation that involves hostility, he just humors his tormentor in order to break away from this uncomfortable condition. He finds hope in laughing during bad incidents as an alternative to using violence or expressing grief because he sees that he does not need to use aggression or to bring himself down in order to get his point across. Dick Gregory’s reactions to setbacks are telling jokes and using humor. He sees what good laughter can bring to a person. In later parts of his autobiography, Dick shows that wit can overpower cruelty.

In the period of the Civil Rights movement, Dick Gregory is very active; police officers say offending phrases to him, but Dick handles it with laughter. While Dick Gregory demonstrates in the South, there are people against him who are yelling back at him, but he uses jokes instead of violence to outsmart the police officers. Dick takes Momma’s advice into consideration because he uses the power of laughter to make the event better for him. Dick Gregory says, “ ‘ Your momma’s a nigger.

Probably got more Negro blood in her than I could ever hope to have in me, ‘ “ (170). When Dick says this, the police officer is taken by surprise. Gregory writes, “He dropped my other arm then, and backed away, and his hand was on his gun. I thought he was going to explode. But nothing happened,” (170). This police officer is saying very unkind statements to Dick, but he is staying calm about it. He is not fighting back at the officer. The only thing that Dick is doing is using his words, and jokes to put the police officer in his place. Dick Gregory does not feel the need to fight back because if he does, he will be stooping down to the level of his opponents. Eventually, the police officer leaves Dick alone. Dick does not even have to use resistance in order to be let go. Dick uses Momma’s advice by using laughter as a weapon during distasteful moments. Dick Gregory says, “ ‘How could any man be funny when a dumb superintendent of police lets these heathen cops do the things they do?’ “ (173). Then he writes, “He got red and walked out,” (173). In this passage, Dick shows that using comedy as a tactic is much more affective than other actions like crying or fighting. He sees laughter as a strong force that can take hold of any person. During uncomfortable events, Dick tries to make the best of them by simply telling a joke. He shows that laughter can provide hope during times of tragedy because he becomes the better person when he uses humor against the person who is aggravating him. Although laughter can give comfort to a person, it does not always provide answers during very dreadful experiences.

In earlier parts of his autobiography, Dick Gregory writes about how his family is underprivileged; Dick makes fun of his mother and his family, but no matter how funny his jokes are, and no matter how hard he laughs, his wit will not solve their problems. Dick’s family is on welfare and Dick reacts to this problem by telling jokes about how poor he is and he pokes fun at his momma’s cooking. Even though he uses comedy to try and solve his problem, Dick Gregory realizes that no matter how many jokes he makes, he will still have financial problems at the end. Dick Gregory writes, “But mostly I’d use family jokes, about how my mother was such a bad cook, maybe the worst cook in the world . . . But that wasn’t really very funny,” (42).

Dick sees that using comedy, and laughter is not the right way out of dealing with his family’s money problems. His family is suffering a lot from hunger and he realizes that laughter is not the right way to handle this incident. Laughter cannot do anything to change the fact that Dick, and his family is on welfare. Laughter is ineffective in dealing with Dick and his family’s problems because laughter cannot buy them food nor can it provide them with clothing or new pairs of shoes. Another occasion where Momma’s advice is not suitable is when Dick is having dinner over his friend’s house. His friend’s mom gets upset at Dick, and he writes, “Yeah, I used to say thanks but you all made me feel so at home, like I belonged there with you. I never say thanks at home . . . Why’d she have to say that? Ain’t he got no mother and father?” (44). In this passage, Dick Gregory is distressed at what his friend’s mom says because he feels like he is part of their family. At Dick’s house they never sit down, and eat together. The feeling of having a family is so important to Dick that when his friend’s family accepts him, Dick is overjoyed. Dick cannot laugh at this event because it is an extremely heartbreaking occurrence for him. This is no laughing matter for Dick because he is already insecure about his family and when someone makes him even more apprehensive about his family, it just breaks him into pieces. Making jokes is not going to boost up his confidence for his family or himself. During another tragic event in Dick Gregory’s life, he understands why laughter is not always the best remedy.

When Dick is an adult, he has a baby boy who dies of overnight pneumonia; this sorrowful episode teaches Gregory that using humor and jokes will not bring his son back. Laughing at certain life situations can be a very healthy experience, but during other cases, laughing can be very distressful. Laughter can solve predicaments like arguments, but during serious catastrophes like death, hilarity cannot explain anything. In his son’s death, Dick is stricken with disbelief. He tries to make himself feel better by trying to stay calm, and by using his sense of humor, but he realizes that the death of his son is too severe of an issue to laugh off. A white boy calls Dick Gregory and says, “ ‘Mister Gregory, Tell me some jokes,’ “ (184). Dick Gregory replies, “ ‘Listen, white boy, us niggers up North are more sophisticated than you white folks down there. We never work after 11:30 at night. You’ll have to call me back during my working hours,’ “ (184-5). Dick’s son is dead, and Dick tries to deal with this depressing happening by keeping his wittiness. Dick writes, “For some reason, when they didn’t hear the cry for pity or sympathy or tolerance in my voice, they became ashamed. In their own little way they said they were sorry,” (185). This passage explains that Dick is not handling his son’s death by crying. He is trying to stay strong by still keeping his positive outlook, and his humor. The case is that Dick is trying to deal with this situation the wrong way. Sometimes laughter is not an efficient way of dealing with things. Sometimes the best way to express grief is by crying. Dick can laugh all he wants, but he cannot change the fact that his son is gone. His son is dead and he cannot do anything physically to bring his son back to life. Dick realizes that the best way to grieve his son is not by laughing, but by using his sorrow to remember the life of his son.

Laughter is a very good form of therapy. It makes people happy during sad times, and it helps people to get through certain challenges in life. Sometimes laughing has its downfalls and that is why it is not appropriate to laugh during tremendously disastrous proceedings. Most of the time, we respond to events in life by either laughing or crying. Dick Gregory learns that laughter can do him good during times of need and times of trouble. He also discovers that laughter is a better way of dealing with life crisis rather than using an act of violence or shedding tears. In some cases, laughter cannot console a person through sorrowful events like death.

Obstacles will come and go throughout our lives. We will all have different ways of dealing with these challenges, but as Dick Gregory’s mother’s advice says, “If you walk through life showing the aggravation you’ve gone through, people will feel sorry for you, and they’ll never respect you. She taught us that man has two ways out in life—laughing or crying. There’s more hope in laughing,” (25).

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