Saturday, November 9, 2013

Honor Roll MVP

How School Teaches Us to Be a Hero in the Game Called Life
Gerald Graff makes an argument about reforming the current educational system by finding the “Hidden Intellectualism” in street smarts, pop culture and other non-traditional academic subject matter. In Graff’s brave new academic world, the jock can use his love of sports off the football field or basketball court to spark interest and debate in the classroom, the local hoodlum can utilize the hustle and flow he picked up on the streets to boost his GPA and that disinterested slacker sitting in the back row can move to the head of the honor roll. Sounds great but before educators start burning stacks of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and ordering copies of Sports Illustrated for their classes, let’s investigate Graff’s hypothesis a little more closely.

Graff’s vision for a new school like any beautiful utopian vision is just a jump, skip and a hop away from his ugly evil dystopian twin. Want street smarts to have equal weight with academic prowess? How would teachers feel about having to share the teacher’s lounge with Tony Montana? He possessed street smarts in abundance! Does he have a master’s degree from CUNY’s Brooklyn or Hunter College, Columbia or NYU? Oh no, he graduated magna cum laude from the school of hard knocks! What a perfect role model for impressionable youth! Parents just imagine your kids answering the age old question, “What did you learn in school today?” by saying “I learned to pick the lock of my teacher’s car so I can get the answers for my tests in advance!” Ok, so maybe I’m taking Graff’s argument to the extreme, but what about innocently using a student’s favorite sports team, rapper or television show to teach the fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic?

Well, Graff himself admits to the limits of making a student’s favorite pastime the centerpiece of their educational experience. He confesses that, “students who get excited about the chance to write about their passion for cars will often write as poorly and unreflectively on that topic as on Shakespeare or Plato” (203). The reason for this phenomenon is because being an interested learner has less to do with being able to relate to the material and more to do with something that any success in life requires: character. While I agree with Graff that having a high IQ is not necessary to be an exceptional student, being disciplined about getting to class and handing your work in on time, persevering when you encounter subjects you struggle with and taking initiative by not solely relying on your fellow students, parents or teachers to guarantee your success is fundamental. Graff may love sports but life is not a football game. There are not always coaches on the sidelines pushing you to your personal best, cheerleaders to celebrate every goal you achieve, referees to dish out penalties for unfair plays and awards for MVP when you produce outstanding results. Yes, the game of life is a game but skills learned in school can help you master it.

Pushing yourself in some dusty corner of a dimly lit library when your friends have gone to sleep hours ago and you’re still up trying to figure out equations that you probably will never use in real life takes a different kind of hero. Being labeled a nerd or uncool for excelling in the classroom and not being able to master the art of “twerking” takes a peculiar kind of strength that our nation’s future depends on. Make no mistake about it, life is hard. Do we want a nation of leaders who only do what’s fun or popular? Or do we want a nation of leaders that as President John F. Kennedy said “choose to go to the moon…and do other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard”?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Chapter 4

          "Hidden Intellectualism," Geral Graff, normally intelligence is viewed through the lenses of academics, and rarely through life experience. Memorazing the French revolution partially reflects the intelligence capacity a person possesses, but understanding popular shows seems irrelevant to the discussion. Well, a real smart individual can flip any topic whether it is science or sports to box filled with different types of knowledges, whilst a commoner finds the avenue to flash away any enrich issue. Nonetheless, unacademic students can knock school books after they have been engaged in topics that fit their curiosities. To be "street smart" has its advantages, one learns to blend in with the rest, no to get beat up, the sense of community a bigger scale, and creates strategies to survive in the real world, filled with allies and enemies. On the other hand, academics circles one around with theory which help to understand a complex view. As a result, outside knowledge is not explored in depth and balance with academics.
           I agree that school most of the focuses in topics that are not of interest or have any weight in the outside world. For example, one can read about any culture and hypothesis the lifestyle it has, but she has a vague idea of the culture. For that sake, lest assume that one memorizes a bread recipe and then bake it, not because one bake a piece of bread can ask for a baker title. As Graff delivers, intelligence is base on books rather that a spontaneous learning.


A come back

             Maybe antidrug supporters disagree in the ground that unlocking laws that control the use and sell of drugs in moral righteousness would help to get rid of drug dealers and rather  implementing laws base on common sense would have more effect in controlling illegal substances by emphasizing that those laws keep  social rhythm undisturbed and crime rates low. However, it is no true that the rates of crime are low. Because antidrug laws are so tight to moral and political issues, people who cultivate or carry small quantities of illegal drug are charge with a crime and categorize as criminal. As a result, those arrests would lift crime rates higher. Since those laws get stronger and stronger, drug seekers figure out more ways to obtain it and in their quest they break even more laws. What those laws really achieve is to boost drug dealers who make use of any alternative to sell their product, therefore, crime could get out of hand. So, by moving those drug laws to common sense, the crime rate would decrease, less citizens would enter jail, and society would have a sense of ownership of its actions. For example, if a persona who consumes marijuana could cultivate its own he/she would not depend on a drug dealer.      

Thursday, November 7, 2013

War on drugs

      For years drug users and distributors have been demonized in the eyes of the public. In 1971 President Nixon declared war on drugs. Forty years later, this war is still raging and there's no end in sight. In "A People's Democratic Platform", Eric Schlosser suggests that America should end the war on drugs. The criminalization of these substances have overcrowded jails with drug users and dealers. It has also created a multi million dollar black market and organized crimes. Even though there are strict laws against drugs, it is still very much present in communities.  These rules and regulations haven't stopped the circulation or use of drugs. This is the reason why Schlosser claims the war on drugs is an epic fail. People who are against drugs, anti-druggies as I like to call them, would most likely object to that last statement.
      The anti-druggies would argue that the government is doing a pretty good job with controlling drug. Roughly 500,000 go to jail per year for associations with drugs. That's 500,00 addicts and criminals off the streets every year. Because jails doesn't give out drugs, drug addicts would have to go cold turkey. They would come out of jail clean and could be a productive member of society. Anti-druggies would also argue that having the drug dealers going to jail would make the community a safer place. Instead of being on the streets sealing drugs, they would be monitored in a cell. And the time spent in jail would reprimand these people. Their involvement with drugs would cease because they wouldn't want to go back.
      On one hand, I agree with anti-druggies that the people in jail wouldn't be able to immerse themselves in drugs. But on the other hand, i still insist that imprisoning people isn't the answer to stopping drug use in America. In fact imprisoning people would do the opposite. Jail is a melting pot for criminals of all fields. There is vast criminal knowledge waiting to be past to another other. A person could be sent to jail for selling weed and come out knowing how to hide a pound of cocaine in a dog's rectum. Jail can be looked at as a university of criminal professions.
The solution to the drug problem isn't criminalizing it. Drugs should be focused on as a public health issue.

I shared the link from prezi.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What the Mic Check One Two 1 2 ; Prezi

The Emperor Has No Clothes On

My Mini Manifesto on The Prevailing Culture of Dishonesty

The plagiarism controversy with Senator Paul is symptomatic of a set of larger disturbing trends in our society. Here are just a few:

 Interns undercutting the labor market for college grads: Like most politicians, Sen. Rand Paul probably relied on interns to research, write and edit his speeches.  The fact his words were plagiarized from Wikipedia suggests that the interns doing the research were probably very inexperienced or else why would they use such a notoriously unreliable source? Considering that most interns are not paid an actual salary or they make minimum or poverty wages without any actual benefits (healthcare, paid sick days, etc.) as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Since we are planning on graduating and entering or re-entering the job market, the explosion of internship opportunities and scarcity of decent entry-level jobs for recent college grads is an issue we must all pay close attention to. Ross Perlin did a lot of research on this topic and his book Intern Nation is a great read that I highly recommend.

A dearth of originality: During our class discussion about the commercialization of hip-hop David made a comment about a prevailing lack of creativity in our current culture. If you focus on the movie industry and count the number of remakes of films from past decades in this year alone, you can see how true that realization is. In and outside of the creative industries there is a heavy reliance on the successes of others and less innovation and risk-taking. When you cannot successfully think outside of the box you become desperate and rely on the work and words of others rather than your own ingenuity. Whether we’re talking about Rand Paul or former journalist at the New York Times Jayson Blair or James Frey making up parts of his own biography in A Million Little Pieces, recent instances of plagiarism seem to reflect the woes of mediocre individuals trying to fill some very ambitious roles.

 A race to the bottom: We live in a time where people have no morals. Anything goes. Lying, cheating, stealing, adultery, murder, you name it. It is not that these pathologies did not exist in the past, what is new is that there is no longer any shame or remorse. Just look at what questionable or in some cases illegal things people post on Facebook or Instagram without fear of being disgraced or even getting locked up. Remember, plagiarism is not only an issue of incompetence but also an ethical issue as well. The fact that Sen. Paul stood in front of a room full of people and confidently, knowingly spoke words that were not his own shows a brand of psychopathy that only in our times would not be seen as disturbing evidence of some deeper character flaws. As we collectively get less creative and talented, we rely on more desperate and unethical measures to succeed because we are limited in our capabilities and lacking the skill set needed to achieve our goals.

A crisis of leadership: In politics, countless politicians have been disgraced through scandals involving mistresses, call girls or boys, corruption and lies. Today, the mayor of Toronto admitted he has smoked crack cocaine while in office and he does not plan on resigning. On Wall Street, bankers have gambled away people’s futures and stolen money belonging to millions. The retirement funds, college funds, savings plans and essentially the dreams that people worked their entire lives to save for are gone because of the greed of those entrusted to manage those funds. In the school system, an epidemic of pedophiles has infested our schools preying on children of all ages. In the home, there are daily news stories of shockingly horrible cases of child abuse including parents selling their own kids, some as young as 5 years old, online as if they were selling a piece of furniture on EBay. And of course, we have Sen. Rand Paul. Maybe he is not an adulterer or a pedophile but he too embodies what is wrong with our current leadership make no mistake about it. He is someone who cannot even honor the people who elected him to office and pay his salary by bothering to do his own homework and write his own words using his own ideas.

You can call me crazy, you can say I am overreacting, you can tell me I’m like Chicken Little declaring the sky is falling when in fact it is not but I think Fukuyama was right. It is The End of History. World, hold on.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Learning from a Senator's Mistakes

This past week, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has come under fire for several instances of plagiarism in his speeches and written work. Here's a link to an article about the most recent discovery.

This brings us up a great discussion of what "counts" as plagiarism. Paul has countered that these are simple oversights that shouldn't be a big deal, and the spoken word isn't subject to the same rules of the written word since you can't cite in a speech. But is this true? Fair?

Questions? Quibbles? Controversies?

We need brains.. And wifi

Monday, November 4, 2013

 I was a little confused when I saw Tamron Hall standing there since I know her from hosting Deadline crime after double checking I wasn't watching the ID network I settled down to watch the show. Why We <3 Vampires was a really good TV special the reminded me alot of the similarly named Vampires And Why We Love Them by Eric Camarillo. They had lots of different actors, comedians, writers as speakers-- Anne Rice! Fangirl swoon-- and even had different categories that were “won” sort of like a vampire awards show. The show went over many different vampire shows, movies, tv programs from modern day stuff like to more classic depictions and shows from decades past in a very fun way. I feel like this show could easily be made into a "Vampires for Dummies" book with chapters like Vampire Killing 101, Vampire Super Powers And You, Caution! Maybe Hot!: Sexy Foreign Vampire Chicks included of course. I felt like this representation really highlighted Camarillo's idea that each generation accepts the vampire they think they deserve.  

We (heart) Vampires because...

They are "Dangerous, sexy, and have long been a pop culture phenomenon" says tv show Why We <3 Vampires. The show touches on a lot of different reasons why it is that we like vampires, and also speak on diff. categories of vampires and different actors as well and which they thought was their favorites. They said vampires ooze sexuality, vampire men knows what women want, their psycho sexy, and they always have great hair. Some of the categories they spoke on was,

Sexiest Vampire: Their choice being Salma Hayek in From Dusk Till Dawn

Mine: Aaliyah from Queen of the Damned

As I was watching I was thinking of my favorites as well.

Another category being What vampire power would you like to have?
There's a lot to choose from, manipulating mortals (mind control), shape shifting, super human strength, and the ability to live forever and never grow old.
The opinions on the show being from celebrities, one of them choosing super human strength by saying: "look at the rest of us wasting ninety bucks a month going to the gym, just become a vampire.

Fav teen vampire: Buffy the vampire slayer and Twilight being the two most popular.

Then they ask the question How do you kill someone whose already dead? How to kill a vampire.
Legendary weaknesses being: The sunlight burning their skin (with an exception for twilight), stake through the heart, decapitate them, or super soaking of wholly water.

In the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker we remember Dracula being killed by getting decapitated and a stake through the heart.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Checklist: Wooden Steak, Garlic, Holy Water, Crucifix, Sunglasses.

(Sunglasses: just incase your dealing with Edward Cullen, the sparkler.)

Del Toro and Hogan trace the origin of vampires back to the varying culture based legends they come from. They are able to adapt to any story they are a part of and speak to what the time period calls for. For example Dracula glorified scientific reasoning mid- technological revolution. It gave society a break from historical religious reason, which was what they needed in their media and culture then. We are able to fear and free our inhibitions that are otherwise hidden.

King and Camarillo take roughly the same route as Del Toro and Hogan to the same conclusion. Vampires strike every chord in our bodies and minds in ways that other fictional characters have not. Who doesn't want to spend some time with a vampire? They're sexy, reckless, dangerous, and did I mention, now they come with feelings. They push the boundaries of four play and playing hard to get. Considering they always drag out the hunt and are literally unattainable, darling. They always provide us with what we are lacking as humans. (Song: Superhuman Touch by Athlete starts playing softly.) Immortality. The one thing we know is inevitable is suddenly within our reach and so is eternal love. How’s that to get your heart pounding?


Susan Sontag criticizes Sci-Fi movies at length. That is the best un-bias synopsis I can provide of the article. The details are more then complicated but I can attempt to clarify them. We watch these films to see the destruction of human kind. This conclusion is usually reached in similar ways an experiment that goes array; technology is out of our control.  These different forms ensue the same chaos that explodes across our screen every time and every time we are nail biting, on edge to see who’s going to die (even though we know the blonde girl with little intelligence is likely first). We are also waiting to see who will survive and what the Earth will look like once a nuke bomb goes off and somehow someone escapes to tell the story. Every time we ask ourselves: is the car crash devastating enough for us to not look away?
The answer is… YES.
Even though Sontag is harsh when attacking this genre it comes from a place of passion. Her voice somewhat reminisces on the fact that these films can make this ugliness so appealing. What person could watch that many films that they know they are going to hate? Clearly she understands Sci-Fi films in a way that no one other then a zealous fan could. In her stating that “Science fiction films are not about science” she is not condemning them for this fact she is stating that they are a testament to our view of our relation to the universe, how easily puny humans can be squashed. This makes it more than worthy of her nine-page critique.

Hidden Task.

In "Hidden Intellectualism" by Gerald Graff we are provided with reasons why street smarts should be used as a learning tool to obtain intellectual information. He suggests that his hobbies early on in life are why he is able to write prolifically. I feel like this is an argument that has been made to the point of exhaustion. The 'underdog on the come up' shown in universal myths are most powerful because he paves his own way. This is why Graff and many others believe it is best for us to learn through things that interest us. When we understand something that is directly connected to us and it enhances or changes our view we have no choice but to apply to our everyday lives.
After waking up from a nap at about 10 PM I decided it was time to read the article. I was slightly groggy but none the less devoted. I sat in my comfy purple chair  and turned on my overhead lamp as I always do for reading. I braced myself considering this article was supposed to be difficult and began my process. I figured I would reread and make notes while on the bus to school and write my blog in the library. pencil in hand I was ready to attack the text . I underlined a few main points as I went through but i was waiting to get to the intellectually stimulating part. Continued underlining. By page 205 I wanted to rant about how bad the article was I made one note  : Boring, so in some way he made his point quite well. this had to be a joke Then I read the assignment and had an "Ohhh..." moment.

The Faculty Creates The Myth.

A small town high school slowly begins to get taken over by aliens. It begins with the gym teacher and spreads across the rest of the staff. It is first discovered when a small organism is brought to a science professor’s attention and upon it being placed in the water it grows and multiplies. The odd acting (possessed by aliens) faculty slowly begins attacking students. Nerdy Casey Connor and four other high school cliché friends have basic drama unfold between them split with scenes that pictured the lounge filled with teachers constantly drinking water. Eventually Casey realizes the greater issue and is condemned as insane for it by his parents. No one aside from his friends believes him and slowly they are possessed as well. He saves the day and defeats the "Queen Alien" who was disguised as a cute transfer student. 

In “Creating The Myth”, Linda Seger describes the three similar basic ways in which a story is presented. These categories are the hero, the heath and the combination myth. Each has a similar course and reason for reaching people. These universal myths reflect our view of ourselves and the world around us.

The Faculty embraces conventional archetypes and plots making the clichés of high school and creepy science fiction into a humorous reason to watch the same myth portrayed again. This hero myth has the stereotypical story line that begins in the mundane world where the main character Casey has his life flipped around by these aliens. He faces several obstacles that force him to stand up and be brave. Eventually when he comes face to face with the horrifying monster that is terrorizing everyone, he employs the help he was given by one of his friends. He comes out the hero everyone loves who gets the girl and the fame. While Casey fills the hero archetype, the alien new girl is the trickster, his four friends are his helpers and the drugs he is given are used as a protective amulet.

The ridiculousness of television

Writing from Bed on a Sleepy Friday Night...

 “Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table.”
          -          W. H. Auden

 November 1, 2013

Dear Journal,

It’s another beautiful night and I can’t help taking in the view of the wondrous New York City skyline from my bedroom window. The moonlight shines onto my bed casting a delicate iridescent glow on everything in its path.  I reach for the remote on the other side of the bed, stretching my arm over my guest’s still body as it peeks out from behind my black satin sheets (they were imported from Milan and worth every penny). I turn the television on and immediately put the volume on low. Is there anything good on TV tonight? I’ve only begun to channel surf when I immediately find something that peaks my interest. Why We (Heart) Vampires? Now this I’ve got to see!

The hour long special has celebrity comedians and actors giving commentary on clips from the most popular vampire themed TV shows and movies. They talk about that new Dracula TV series and cover everything from Twilight to True Blood to Grandpa from the 1960’s television show The Munsters. They even go as far back as Nosferatu, the 1922 legendary vampire movie from the silent film era. Is that Elvira making a guest appearance? Where has she been hiding? (At least her two best assets have remained the same, haha.)The show reminds me a lot of that pop culture commentary show, Best Week Ever. Each commentator gives their opinion on the cult of vampires and what makes them such an enduring fixture in literature, TV and film. (I was about to laugh out loud but then I remembered I needed to be quiet or else I would wake my companion up.)

How ironic!  All the lovable traits they reveal about vampires seem to mirror that cool blog post Lestat emailed me a few weeks ago, “Why We Love Vampires” by that Eric Camarillo guy. It also makes me think of that article I read in the Times, “Why Vampires Never Die” by the movie director, Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, the author turned screenwriter. Yes humans crave us and fear us at the same time. But do they really understand what lies behind their fascination? Of course they don’t, but I do. The primal fear of death and the subconscious fetish with everything young and beautiful that results from that primal fear is my diagnosis. How do I know this to be true?

While watching Why We (Heart) Vampires, how many commercials have come on about preserving youth and becoming more beautiful? Treatments for acne, cures for wrinkles, hair serums that promise 24 hour relief from frizz, prescription medications to fend off arthritis, impotence and the anxiety that comes when you realize you cannot fight the inevitable, all advertised during those precious few minutes in between segments. We are the answer to all of your problems.  You buy into the vampire myth despite the lies spread by non-believers that seek to deny our existence because we give you an out from the curséd human condition. No more futile quests for eternal youth and breathtaking beauty.  No more gyms, plastic surgeons, nursing homes, heart disease, HIV, cancer, diabetes and dementia. Instead we offer you sex, youth, immortality, invincibility! A life full of passion, bliss and the power of knowing you belong to a superior race of supernatural beings awaits you beyond that first bite. A moment of pain leads you to an eternity of pleasure.

The show has ended and I turn the television off to reflect further upon what I have just watched. I lay back onto my pillow, smiling to myself as I wonder how funny such a show would seem if they realized what they were saying was actually based on fact and not fiction. Just as I am about to close my eyes for a brief nap before it is time to get up and pursue my nightly duties, I see a naked body carefully descend from the bed and crawl across the floor making its way to my bedroom door. I watch with intense fascination as a trembling hand grasps desperately at the door trying to find the knob and make a hasty exit. A rush of excitement overtakes me. I love it when they act terrified and try to run! I hum the lyrics to the song “Blurred Lines” as I begin to casually walk across the room to reclaim my prize from the night before. “I know you want it, I know you want it,” haha!  When will they ever learn? Never go home with strangers you meet on Craigslist. Lucky me! It’s time to feed again…

 Until next time,

 Ct. Dracula