Text 17 Apr Shouldn’t Have Argued This In Church On Easter…

The most powerful skill that I learned from this class is how to argue as an objectivist. Before learning this skill, I was confident that I was great at arguing. I showed my ability to argue for a position during my last semester of high school when I took a legislative government class. The purpose of this class was to discover one’s political ideology (democrat or republican), propose bills, put them through committees, and finally hold a two day simulation of debates for bills that passed through the committees. To my best estimation, there were around 220 democrats (including me as a moderate) and only 30 republicans. Despite the lopsided numbers, our party figured that the debates would not be so easy; amongst the republicans was the valedictorian, the salutatorian, someone accepted to MIT, someone accepted to Cornell University, and many more standout academic students. Without delving further into the story, I found myself directly debating with each individual stated and many others. Successfully, I managed to “win” debates against everyone I went against, other than our valedictorian because I voted for her bill. Now, I understand why she swayed me so well: she was an objectivist.

The purpose of an objectivist is to argue only one way; this is to provide facts and nothing but the facts to undermine an opponent. On Easter Sunday in church, I found myself in a brotherly argument with my brother, who is two years my elder and attends Loyola University. With the priest preaching about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I stated to my brother my belief that Christ did not resurrect from death after three days. Instead, if these events occurred at all, I believe that Christ was comatose. His response was that “no one could survive being tortured and then nailed to a cross.” My response was that there are endless cases of individuals experiencing torture and pain that science shows are equally, if not more, traumatic. I gave him examples of the deeds of serial killers, methods of suicide, and even Nazi and Japanese medical experiments during World War II. In effect, our argument became roundabout from there and was not truly resolved. Nevertheless, I managed to get my brother to lighten on his belief that Christ died and resurrected. It is still a position that he prefers, but my objectivist argument clearly affected his belief.

Text 2 Apr Loofah! Loofah! Loofah! Wooo, yeah!

Despite the fact that I hardly watch television, commercials still have such a way that persuades me to do as they please. Heck, whenever I see a Tostitos commercial, I just want to run to the Walgreens near my home and buy a large bag of Tostitos chips and mild salsa. Whenever I see a commercial of a BMW cruising on roads that cut through majestic scenery, I want to buy a BMW. And every time I see those guilt-inducing ASPCA commercials with Sarah McLachlan, I feel like adopting a puppy and hugging it for an entire week. But how are these commercials convincing enough to make people act on their instincts and buy what they’re selling? Are people just that weak and easily commanded? This is possibly true. However, the key player in these commercials is their power of persuasion.

For example, my favorite commercial is the Shiny Suds commercial. This specific commercial belongs to Method, the maker of bio-degradable products. Briefly summarized, the commercial is a commercial for the fictious Shiny Suds corporation and their bathtub cleaning product. The opening has the Shiny Suds bubbles singing and dancing about how they do a “shinetastic job” as an attractive woman smiles and watches them clean. After this first half, the scene changes to the woman entering the bathroom in the morning and taking off her bathrobe to shower. As she opens the curtain, she is greeted by the same bubbles, which represent leftover chemical residue. After exclaiming “what the” and nearly cursing, the woman is told by the bubbles why they are still there and that they now get to watch her shower. In the next scene, the woman is in the shower, uncomfortably, as the bubbles catcall and heckle her. One large bubble requests for her to “use the loofah”; this is followed by all of the bubbles chanting in unison, “loofah, loofah, loofah.” Feeling constrained, the woman obliges and begins to scrub with the loofah as the heckling continues. The commercial ends with the bubbles singing the Shiny Suds jingle and heckling even more when the woman accidentally drops the loofah in the shower. In some of the final text of the commercial, it reads “you deserve to know what chemicals are in your cleaners; support the Household Product Labeling Acts.”

I really like this commercial because of its use of satire and humor. Granted, I had never truly put much thought about any toxic chemical residue that remains after using cleaning products until I saw this commercial. In addition, I also had never heard of Method or their campaign but I am now very much aware of both. Again, I think this commercials use of satire is its strongest method of persuasion while the humor works as a sidekick. These simple tactics are very strong and draw attention. Seeing how effective the commercial is, it’s disappointing that it’s been banned because some individuals did not like the heckling and likened it to sexual harassment.

Text 30 Mar Brief Thesis Statement

Chicago’s gangs have fiercely expanded to Chicago’s outskirts and suburbs since the beginning of the new millennium. With their expansion, they have brought danger and negative influence to communities.

Text 27 Mar Big “Google” Is Watching

Growing up alongside the internet, I still remember when Yahoo! was the number one place for people to go online. If you needed news, sports, entertainment, your horoscope, etc., Yahoo! was it. At some point, it must have become difficult for people to deal with so much on a single website. This marked the beginning of the reign that Google has held since George W. Bush was re-elected as president of the United States and the end of this reign does not seem to be anywhere near the present or future.

Google is indisputably the most popular search engine on the internet. Because of its vast use throughout the entire planet, people are able to explore all of the information that is available on Google. However, one should take a second to wonder where Google gets all, if not most, of its information from. Simply, the answer to that question is you and me.

Directly quoted from Google’s webpage about its privacy policy, they let us know who they leech their knowledge from: “Information you give us” and “Information we get from your use of our services.” Just imagine everything that Google has that you do not know about yourself: Google knows about your husband’s affair that you have not discovered; Google has your mugshot and investigation report from that DUI in which you ran over a puppy seventeen years ago; Google also definitely knows that you spent a few hours procrastinating on Facebook instead of doing a blog for class. Google knows.

Now, on a straighter note, a recent historical event shows what significance Google and certainly any other search engine holds when it comes to their ability of gathering information. When Japan was struck by a massive earthquake in 2011, photo and video of damage quickly popped up on the internet. With the tsunami and nuclear disaster that quickly followed, photo and video managed to find its way on the internet, too. During the period in which Japan was barely starting to fully understand the situation they were in and most of the world was not aware of, certain individuals clearly had enough time to capture the scenario they were in on photo and video. Right afterwards, they had at least a fraction of a moment to upload these captures on the internet. As these captures spread like wildfire among individuals in Japan, Google and other search engines managed to get their hands on these captures just as quickly. This is how these captures were conveyed throughout the world within minutes.

In short, it is stupefying how swiftly a search engine like Google can obtain information of all sorts. With the Japan example exhibiting how much information Google can gather within seconds, it is unfathomable how much information Google must have in storage throughout its existence.

Text 13 Mar Stand and Deliver

Speeches are presented in many different ways. Some speeches last thirty seconds, two minutes, an hour, and even longer. However, the length of a speech rarely factors into how it may be impressive and the way it captivates an audience. I believe that the most prominent factors of an impressive speech are due to a speaker’s poise and tone of voice. Naturally, I would sum these two elements as charisma and charisma is usually something that one is gifted with from birth. Frankly, an impressive speech is not required to be a good one and an incredible speech can be the most boring. Here are some examples:


Huey Long

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hphgHi6FD8k

When I think of a great political speaker, I remember the powerful and charismatic performances that Huey Long gave. In the video clip presented, Long is giving a speech and could be described as speaking like a drunken sailor. In a still of the clip, it is seen that Long and every individual in the room is dressed formally. However, the video clip is actually that of a very sober and upbeat Long delivering an impressive political speech. His arms are flailing about and his voice ranges from deep vocals to chafing yells, all the while drawing attention to his cause. Paying closer attention to his actual speech, his diction is powerful and directly reaches out to the most common people of his era. In all, his speech is so powerful that one doesn’t need to be associated with his political party in order to be captivated by his speech.


John McCain

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXHGgZTNYNY

When I think of a terrible speaker, I remember watching John McCain deliver boring after boring speech during his presidential campaign in 2008. In the video clip presented, McCain gives an unconvincing speech after clinching the republican nomination for president. At such an important time, the best he could present in his speech was repeating “my friends” and letting his vocals meander within the length of his arms. Once he finishes his speech and moves from the microphone, I feel relieved at the sound of Johnny B. Goode playing. This speech completely lacked exciting charisma and, therefore, failed to captivate his audiences.

Text 28 Feb 1 note What was this “author” thinking!?

The publication that an author uses can speak volumes as to what message they are trying to get across and to what audience they target. Given, it is almost impossible to publish something that does not sound or is not biased without simply creating a “laundry-list” of things. With their autonomous right, respectively, major news sources, like CNN, MSNCB, FOX, or BBC, are blatantly biased. On the other hand, I cannot seem to wholeheartedly identify a single news source that I would deem “unbiased.”

Other than bias, other aspects of publications show what an author is trying to say. These things range from the diction of the writing, advertisements displayed near or on the writing, or even what type of publication (newspaper, electronic, etc.). Beneath this short paragraph is a link to a news article from examiner.com and it talks about the suspect in the February 27th shooting at a high school in Ohio.

http://www.examiner.com/pop-culture-in-cleveland/thomas-tj-lane-facebook-page-gives-clues-to-chardon-ohio-school-shooter

Here is some info on the author: “Paula Neal Mooney is a Cleveland-area journalist whose writing has appeared in national magazines like Writer’s Digest. An online writer since 2005, she can be reached at PaulaNealMooney.com.” After learning that she has written for years and has had writing in major publications, my expectations of the article’s quality were high. However, this article is full of things that one would consider to be meaningless and out of context.

Part of the article refers to a poem that was written by the suspect and posted on his Facebook wall. Yet, Mooney only includes the excerpt “Now! Feel death…Die all of you.” To any person who has not read the poem, they would interpret this as a direct message that says the suspect wants people to die. In reality, this excerpt contains a part spoken by the poem’s character, Death, and is followed by an ellipse to conjoin it with the ending of the poem which is also spoken by Death.

A different example as to why this article is poor comes from Mooney saying, “As recent as February 19, 2012, TJ Lane shared a link to a video called Grimes by Vanessa.” The first reason why this line is irrelevant is because the actual title of the song is “Vanessa” and the band is called Grimes. With this small line, the author has shown that they have not even done simple research for the article. As a reader, one should not consider any other part of this article as truth or fact because of this mistake. A second reason why this line is irrelevant is because the author tries to imply that, somehow, the things the suspect does or the music he listens to influenced the shooting. This same irrelevance is also evident when Mooney claims it is “chilling” that one of the sports of the suspect is “primitive hunting.” Actually, this line is extremely ironic because “primitive hunting” is hunting animals without the use firearms while the article is meant to be about the truly chilling subject that the suspect may have shot one person to death and seriously wounded four others with a firearm.

Thus, this article shows how the author’s choices are reflected by the publication it appears in. This is so because the author’s standards of writing are very low for examiner.com, while a different author could have thorough research and advanced use of diction for a different publication.
Text 20 Feb 2 notes Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Approximately 2,267,233,742 people have the power of the internet available to them. With this tool at hand, people can access a seemingly unlimited amount of online information. In effect, the power to access this information by so many people allows them to become entrenched in their beliefs.  With a few taps on a keyboard and a few clicks on a mouse, a person has everything they need to know to defend their beliefs and positions on certain things. Frankly, it does not even matter to most people from where or from whom information comes from. On the internet, anyone can act as an authority or an expert when something is said.

For example, the opening line of this post contains a statistic. I have not bothered to state where this information came from and I probably will not say so. My reason for not disclosing where this information came from allows anyone who reads this to look for themselves where this number came from. In simple text, one can go online to any search engine and search how many people use the internet; this way, one can determine on their own what information they believe is correct.

Now, this is not to say that simply going online and looking for whatever information is needed is true. It is a clear fallacy to believe that just because something is, then it must be. More than anything, online information only adds more belief to one’s beliefs. Because it is so difficult to come across valid and valuable information online, anything online should mainly serve the purpose of a strong influence. The reason for this is that even information that may seem genuine and factual could fall into the category of a lie. Take this example: a website, like weather.com, will say that there is a forty-percent chance of snow from three-to-six in the afternoon on a day but it ends up raining almost the entire afternoon. For this example, the original theory was not intended to be a lie but it ended up being as such.

So, when it comes to online information, there are things people must look out for before they use it to entrench their beliefs: “lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Text 16 Feb Mon ami, mi amigo, my friend

“A friend in need is a friend indeed.” However, what defines a friend? Is there more meaning to the word in terms of the quantity of acquaintance, or the quality of acquaintance, or both? Well, as determined by Facebook and virtually any social-networking site, a friend is determined by the click of a mouse. In reality, a friend is someone more special that you may find yourself referring to as your “bff”, “mate”, or even “homeboy”.

The connotations of the word “friend” can be problematic and, above all else, an intense nuisance. With high school in the not-so-distant past, I can recall many times in which the word “friend” was troublesome for me. I was a friend to some girls in high school and I knew that they saw me the same, at first. As our friendships grew, we soon considered one another as good friends. To my belief, we were such great friends that I didn’t think our relationships could escalate to any higher level. I was wrong. After a few of these friendships grew sour, I learned that my friend’s connotations of referring to me as their “good friend” involved more wishful thinking on their behalf and it was something that I truly had not noticed! This was definitely a reason why they went on to shut themselves off from me. As a funny side note, this is also an example of why women still drive me crazy.

Getting back on to the topic of the word “friend” in social-networking, Facebook delivers many great examples of what a “friend” really isn’t. One of my actual friends, Bryan, has many “friends” on Facebook. Sometimes, he’ll talk to me about a person he met once and refers to them as his friend; I firmly counter that this individual is not a friend, but merely an acquaintance. The tug-o-war continues as he stresses that this individual is definitely a friend since they met in person for about fifteen minutes. Obviously, this argument has never resolved as he continues to say that these types of people are his friends while I stress that “these are just guys or chicks that you know”. Another quick example involves a guy that was an high school tennis teammate of mine. After years of tension, we found ourselves in a brief altercation that established our true relationship. Nevertheless, he and I continue to be “friends” on Facebook despite not being friends.

In retrospect, the meaning of “friend” in social-networking has little value as it usually refers to simple acquaintances. So, while some continue to believe in the “tomato, tomahto” position, I will always understand it as “you say tomato, I say shut up”.

Text 7 Feb Public Displays of Connection

“Public displays of connection” plays a dominant role in social circles throughout the world today. With the advancement in technology that has occurred over the last century, people have discovered new ways to stay in contact and share information with one another. It was only a bit more than a century ago that a text message meant hand-writing a note and attaching it to a pigeon for delivery; nowadays, a text message is done through a few clicks and taps on a cell phone and delivered electronically within seconds.

The electronic aspect of public displays of connection has its hand on virtually everyone’s mind today. For example, websites such as Facebook, Linkedin, and even Tumblr are used by hundreds of millions of people. The slew of people that use these resources to stay connected with one another makes it that much easier to do so. With all of these resources available, gathering information about one another has become so quick and simple that anyone can really learn plenty about someone if they just look in the right places.

Very often, a story of this kind is heard somewhere: two long-lost brothers are reunited after spending sixty years apart with little to no knowledge about one another’s existence. Both admit that they have searched in many places for information: their old neighborhood, hospital records, government records, or even morgues. Nevertheless, these efforts have proved to be futile as they both have failed to discover any information about one another. Instead, by the soles of chance, one brother decides to make a Facebook profile. He then searches for his brother on Facebook and finds a man whom he believes could be his brother. He sends a message to this man and both are enlightened when the response is, “Yes, I also grew up in that small suburb of Chicago and my mother’s name was also Mary Johnstone.”

While a situation like the one above seems rather unlikely, it has happened often in some way, shape, or form. This public display of connection is just one example of the possibilities around with the surplus of resources available to the public. Potential employers can find likeable or unlikeable things about someone who has applied for a job or people can look for reasons why one would make certain decisions based on what is associated with them. If any of these things didn’t work, then why do people still put up signs for their missing pets on streets or on the internet? Even if my pet is not missing, I would likely receive a phone call from someone who “found my missing pet” if I decided to put up a sign for “my missing cocker spaniel” Maxx.

Text 31 Jan Digital Natives: Oh, How Much Has Changed…

          In just under two weeks, I will turn nineteen. What’s the significance of this? Well, this means that I was born in 1993 and have grown up as a digital native.

          A digital native is an individual who has been born and raised towards the end of the twentieth century. More than not, these people are hooked on technology. When I envision this type of person, I see them walking with their eyes glued to their tablet PC/e-reader with an iPod/smartphone in their next available hand. Of course, expensive headphones/earphones are connected to at least one of these digital devices.

          Strangely enough, I’m not as hooked as most people are nowadays. I would put myself in the moderate realm of tech-reliability. Heck, the last time that I was truly tech-reliant, I was seven years old and couldn’t go a day without my Gameboy Color or my Nintendo 64. Today, compared to others, the most significant things that I have are two iPod Nano’s, a pretty regular cell phone with a full keyboard, and two laptops that are a few years old each. However, anything that I can master with these devices, I certainly try to. When it comes to “the internet”, I can certainly do more than most people. I’m definitely not a script-kiddy, but I’d say my skills and knowledge of and around it are higher than someone with above-average knowledge of it. Frankly, it blows my mind that people even go to school to earn degrees related to basic computer technology. I’ve even taken apart computers of all sorts to the last screw and put them back together with ease.

          Sometimes, my nephew Allen makes me feel old. As much greatness that I see in him, he has also shown me that today’s youth may as well be doomed (and I say this with humor). Allen is eight years old and never lets go of his Nintendo DS. One Saturday during the summer, I was surprised to see that he wasn’t playing it. Instead, I found him in an almost desolate state with his face down on his bed. I felt compelled to ask him, “Allen what’s wrong? You look sad.” I expected him to tell me that something had happened to his DS or maybe my sister had yelled at him for something. However, I was not prepared to hear this type of response from an eight year old. He replied, “Oh, nothing. I’m just waiting for my movie to finish loading on Netflix.” It was at that moment that I realized just how much had changed since the moment little, wittle “digital native” Edgar was born.

Text 23 Jan 1 note My Introduction

Hello, everyone! My name is Edgar Ramirez and I am a fulltime freshman at NEIU. I am of full Mexican descent, have dark brown hair, brown eyes, I’m rather short at 5’5”, and all of 115 pounds (I’ve never been able to pack on weight). I have two older sisters and two older brothers, which makes me the youngest at 18 years of age (turning 19 on February 12th). I say very proudly that I am only the second of my siblings to make it through high school and even into college. My 20 year old brother, Hector, is a junior at Loyola University and is majoring in chemistry while minoring in physics. As for me, I plan to major in secondary education and English to become a high school English teacher.

I was born in the middle of some of the worst neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago. Luckily, my mother decided to move us out to the suburb of Berwyn so as to give my brother Hector and me the best chance at succeeding academically. I attended Morton West High School and I dealt with a great flux of success and failure there that would take an eternity to chronicle. So, with regards to my ambition to be an English teacher, I’ll put it in retrospect:

My freshman year, I was in honors English. I passed my first semester with a D- and failed my second.

My sophomore year, I was in core English. In a packed classroom of more than thirty students, about half of the class did not graduate. I failed that first semester by two-tenths of a percentage point (59.8%) and passed my second semester with a C+.

My junior year was when I had core English with the greatest, most influential teacher I have ever known. Phil “Coach” Stowers was my teacher, tennis coach, and influence to become a high school English teacher. I passed both semesters that year with near A’s.

My senior year saw me get into AP English with a snoody teacher who favored his “smartest” students and willfully insulted those who were not amongst his favorites. For myself, I cared not so much for passing with flying colors. Simply, I went with the tide and leeched as much as I could learn in such a miserable environment. I passed both semesters with C+’s.


Now, enough with the boring stuff and on with the interesting facts:

I almost won a school Spelling Bee in fourth grade (an early signal of things to come for me!)

I play bass, guitar, I sing, and I used to write and record my own music but haven’t been able to write/record at all for nearly two years

I played four years of high school tennis with two years on varsity (my senior year, I placed third in conference behind tough schools like Hinsdale South and Downers Grove South)

My favorite color is green (my whole room is painted green, too!)

I am an absolute Cubs fan to the utmost degree

I speak some, understand, and even sing in French after taking four years of it in high school

I love to walk/bike for long periods of time while listening to music

And I just realized it sounds like I’m writing for a dating website.


Being terrible with conclusions, I’ll leave you with a joke.

Why does Snoop Dogg need an umbrella?     Fo drizzle.


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