Tag Archives: essays

Aside

Don’t ignore culture. It is easy for many people to believe in the fallacy that with the world quickly becoming closely connected through the many advances in technology a “one-world community” is on the rise, which will soon overtake individual and regional cultures. However, even if this were to happen, there will always be distinctive differences from place to place. For example, many Americans associate the holiday of Christmas with cold and snow, however if one travels to Australia, you will find many people having Christmas barbeques or trips to the beach. While these differences are mostly due to regional differences (in Australia, it is Summer in December, these differences do penetrate a local culture. Other cultural differences will likely remain regardless of how connected the world may become such as those which can be affiliated with differences in religion. Holidays celebrated by Muslims such as Ramadan differ from those observed by Christians around the same time. Values connected to beliefs also vary from religion to religion as well, and often these can even be the cause of numerous skirmishes and wars. Conflicts due to cultural differences have always played a significant part in the ways of the world since before history was recorded and will likely be an issue that needs to be addressed until the end of humanity. Differing cultures will always matter, and differences will always present themselves all over the world no matter how connected the world becomes through advances in technology.

Culture Counts

Essay: Kermit is right; “It’s not easy being green.”

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Kermit is right; “It’s not easy being green.”

Richard does his part to help the environment by putting forth every effort he knows of to be green. He recycles, purchases only green products, and also plants a tree every year to offset his carbon footprint. What Richard does not realize, is that his city’s recycling plant is powered by fossil fuels, which only increase his carbon footprint. Those green products he makes a point of buying have actually caused him to exponentially increase how much trash he both recycles and throws away. Last but not least, that the tree he plants each year does not even come close to offsetting the over 20 tons carbon dioxide he and every other individual American puts into the atmosphere on average every year (Revkin 581).

While it very important for us to make every effort to protect our environment and ensure a healthy future for our planet, it must also be recognized that being green is not as simple as it looks. Ignorance does not always constitute bliss. It is important for people to recognize that simply following the hype of going green does not always mean that they are actually helping to protect and improve the environment’s future. A lot of effort and research must also go into creating an individual plan of action for being green.

One issue that has recently become a topic of hot debate is that of carbon neutrality. “The carbon-neutral movement seeks to cut the carbon emissions of individuals and businesses largely by encouraging activities and purchases that in some way cancel out the negative effects of burning carbons” (Ramage, Bean and Johnson 580).

Some of the ways people and businesses go about being carbon neutral range from planting trees and funding environmental projects, to purchasing “offsets” from various businesses that sell credits for offsetting one’s carbon footprint. According to Andrew C. Revkin, a noted author of numerous books and articles concerning various different environmental issues, the “offsets” that these oftentimes lucrative businesses and organizations sell supposedly fund various projects in other places that help to “sop up an equal amount of emissions” by a number of ways such as fertilizing algae in the ocean so that it may pull the gasses out of the air or by simply planting trees for the same effect (581).

It should also be recognized that the ever-growing industry selling carbon offsets is completely unregulated. Some businesses will sell credits stating that they will offset one amount of carbon emissions, while they turn around and only offset a small fraction of that amount in actuality. While some groups and organizations are beginning to review and endorse some of the companies and organizations that actually do in fact offset the amount of carbon emissions that they originally promised, it is still considered to be a shady business market and should not be entirely relied on to offset one’s carbon emissions.

There is also a large debate about the actual environmental impact of being carbon-neutral. Many environmentalists find themselves divided about the topic, with opinions ranging from carbon neutrality not “accomplish[ing] anything meaningful-other than giving someone a slightly better feeling (or greener reputation)” (Revkin 581), to conflicted knowing that it at least raises environmental awareness, to completely for carbon-neutrality believing it to be necessary for all carbon emissions to be neutralized. Perhaps one argument that should be considered is that no matter how much carbon you are supposedly offsetting, it does not stop the carbon emissions that are actually being put into the atmosphere; the only way this can actually be accomplished is to stop putting them out there by stopping the burning of fossil fuels entirely-which is something not necessarily possible within the foreseeable future.

Another important issue that oftentimes has a number of downsides overlooked is that of recycling. In truth, recycling is not always the best way to go in every community, “Recycling … is a geographically narrow activity, and its costs and benefits vary accordingly” (Clement 10). According to Angela Logomasini, who was quoted in Ian Murray’s article “Time to Recycle Recycling?”:

[F]orced recycling can be a waste of both [money and resources] because recycling itself entails using energy, water and labor to collect, sort, clean and process materials. There are also air emissions, traffic and wear on streets from the second set of trucks prowling for recyclables. The bottom line is that most mandated recycling hurts, not helps, the environment. (591-92)

It also appears that the act of recycling can actually produce more carbon that that of new manufacture, according to Iain Murray, the Director of Projects and Analysis and Senior Fellow in Energy, Science and technology at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The act of recycling paper is a process that creates carbon emissions. De-inking recovered paper and the sanitation of reclaimed paper for consumer use both require the use of fossil fuels; while alternatively, the use of virgin trees produces almost no net carbon so long as the harvested trees are replanted (591).

With American society being so focused on consumerism, it is no surprise that most Americans seem to have forgotten the first two “R’s” of “The Three R’s-Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.” One cannot be truly green merely by purchasing green products. While it is a good sign that people are recognizing the need to protect the environment, the consumption of green products is not the solution according to Monica Hesse, a staff writer for the Washington Post.

In order to be truly green one must ascribe to the three R’s starting with reduction. According to Nina Rao, a communications intern with Zero Population Growth, an organization focused on finding a sustainable balance between the populations, resources and environments throughout the world, Reduction comes first because it attacks the problem at its core. “The idea is simple: the less we consume, the less we impact our environment. But the idea of reducing consumption seems un-American.” Just because a product is green, does not mean that it won’t end up in a landfill or have some other sort of detrimental impact on the environment.
The importance of reusing must also be addressed as well. While Americans do in fact have an appreciation of reusing things (the popularity of flea markets, garage sales, and antiques are all strong evidence of this), Americans are also bewitched with the concept of newness. Every American must have the latest and greatest electronics and appliances, and when something breaks down or becomes obsolete the cost of replacement is often less than that of getting it repaired or upgrading it (Rao).

It is only after these first two steps that it is environmentally feasible to resort to recycling. Recycling was never intended to be a holistic solution to the waste management problems that Americans face today. It does not come without its environmental and economic costs and should only be used as a last resort alternative to landfills.

As Kermit the Frog says, “It’s not easy being Green.” It is essential for everyone to recognize that simply following the hype of going green does not always mean that they are actually helping to protect and improve the environment’s future, a lot of effort and research must also go into creating an effective plan for being green.
The only surefire ways of going green are often some of the simplest and least expensive, such as following “The Three R’s.” You can easily reduce you carbon footprint by simply walking or riding your bike to work or while running errands around town. Doing this regularly eliminates a good amount of carbon emissions being put into the environment, which also means that you won’t have to offset anything.
You can also grow a “victory garden” for the environment, by doing this you are not only providing your family with fresh, organic, healthy, and green food, but you are also not buying into the consumerism, nor contributing to the carbon emissions that are normally expended to bring that same produce to you if you were to purchase it at a grocery store.

You can also consider some more permanent solutions to exclusively recycling in your home. Rather than buying bottled water and merely recycling the empty bottles when used up, consider using a reusable aluminum or plastic bottle and refilling it with filtered water from your tap instead. You will not only be cutting down on the environmental expenses of recycling, but, you will be saving a good amount of money in the end as well.

Works Cited:

Clement, Douglas. “Recycling-Righteous or Rubbish?” Fedgazette March 2005: 6-10. Web. 11 November 2009.

Hesse, Monica. “Greed in the Name of Green.” Washington Post 5 March 2008. Web. 11 November 2009.

Murray, Iain. “Time to Recycle Recycling?” Ramage, John D., John C. Bean and June Johnson. 591-92. Print.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean and June Johnson. Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric With Readings. 8th Edition. New York: Pearson Education Inc., 2010. Print.

Rao, Nina. “The Oxymoron of Green Consumption.” ZPG Reporter March/April 1997. Web. 11 November 2009.

Revkin, Andrew C. “Carbon-Neutral Is Hip, but Is It Green?” Ramage, John D., John C. Bean and June Johnson. 580-82. Print.

Finding a Balance between Radical Feminism and the Traditional Family Structure.

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I wrote this for my english 101 class….
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Finding a Balance between Radical Feminism and the Traditional Family Structure.

Since the beginning of the feminist revolution, the discussion of Traditional Family structure has been a topic of strong debate and discussion on a relatively constant basis. Due to this revolution one thing can be plainly seen, “the traditional single-role family, where the wife stayed at home and the husband went to work is disappearing” (Rowbotham 401). It is important that an agreeable meeting ground to the controversy of the traditional family structure is found, rather than having such extreme sides constantly warring with each other.

In the 1960’s, a number of sexual revolutionaries condemned the traditional family structure as the source of all oppression for women. Oftentimes they would illustrate the home as the most dangerous place in the world for women, oftentimes describing violent and abusive husbands who sit at home waiting for their wives to come home from the store so that they may beat them for dinner being late – or for even no reason at all (O’Beirne 20).

As time continued to progress, the arguments between supporters of the traditional family and those who opposed them continued to divide society. “Women were presented with two clear-cut images in the 1980’s. One was the model of competitive success – the business suit made a surprise comeback; the other was a pastiche of a 1950’s apple-pie mom in a crisp white apron” (Rowbotham 524).

Many feminists believe that the traditional family structure (where the mother stays home and the father works to support the family financially) is oppressing to women. In Feminism Supports the Family, Phyllis Chesler -author of Letters to a Young Feminist – states that the traditional family structure is “male dominated, father absent, and mother blaming” (100).

Another common belief is that women should have careers equal with men instead of staying at home with the kids. Professor Gretchen Ritter – associate professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin – says “women at home with children are shirking their responsibility to contribute as professionals and community activists, which is an important part of citizenship … something we should expect of everyone” (O’Beirne 32). The rights hard-earned by feminists in the past must be preserved and built upon rather than regress back to what they once were before the feminist revolution.

Children are also believed to benefit from their mothers working outside the home as it enables them to spend more time building upon their socialization skills to the world outside the home and under the supervision of professionals at day care. Barbara Ehrenreich – a noted author and activist – believes that “the family might not be the perfect arrangement after all – that it can be a nest of pathologies and a cradle of gruesome violence” (O’Beirne 4). It is because of this that many people believe that a healthy daycare environment is essential for children.

In contrast to the feminist argument against traditional family structures, many supporters of traditional family structures believe that they are not oppressive to women, but rather, they are a privilege for many women. In her article Mothers Should Stay Home, Suzanne Venker – a former middle-school English teacher, writer, and full-time mother – states:

“The traditional family structure simply keeps women from having to worry about providing an income while they work the most important job of their lives” (222).

For many women, staying at home is an important career choice. When feminists are consumed by the opportunities and rights of a woman, they miss appreciating the positive side of staying home – such as significant expression of self – that many women bring to the table when caring for their children (O’Beirne 42). Many supporters of the traditional family structure also believe that there is no acceptable alternative for the care that a mother gives to her child. In fact, it is also the healthiest place for them to be given that children in day care are eighteen times more likely to get sick than other children [who stay home] … At any one time, 16 percent of children attending day care facilities are likely to be sick. They are [also] three to four and a half times more likely to requite hospital treatment than children raised at home (O’Beirne 37).

It is important to find an agreeable meeting ground for these two groups’ arguments. Lynn Marcotte, and English professor at Gordon College, believes “that unless both camps realize they agree on some basic things and can acknowledge that certain values are crucial to all concerned, neither will be as successful as they would like in changing our culture” (203).

Whether or not a woman chooses to live in a traditional family is a valid choice whichever way the woman should decide to go. “It is good for women to be recognized for their many capabilities outside of motherhood; but the fact remains that most women do not find happiness by pursuing careers at the expense of motherhood” (Venker 220). Rather than over concerning herself with the politics behind the choice of having a career or family, each woman should make her own decision based on her specific beliefs and needs. She should not have to worry about the political ramifications of her decision of what she believes is best for the welfare, education, and socialization of her children.

In the end it must also be recognized that it is the parent’s responsibility to determine what is best for their children and not the opinions of those around them. Rather than spend all its energies fighting and arguing, society must find an agreeable meeting ground in the controversy of the traditional family structure; if not for anything, but for the sake of the welfare for women and children everywhere.

Works Cited

Chesler, Phyllis. “Feminism Supports the Family.” Feminism: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Jennifer A. Hurley. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2001. 99-104.

Marcotte, Lynn. “Feminists Can Be Pro-Family.” Feminism: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Christina Fisanick. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2008. 197-206.

O’Beirne, Kate. Women Who Make the World Worse. New York: Sentinel, 2006.

Rowbotham, Sheila. A Century of Women: The History of Women in Britain and the United States. New York: Viking, 1997.

Venker, Suzanne. “Mothers Should Stay at Home.” Feminism: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Christina Fisanick. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2008. 217-226.

Gould’s “Nonmoral Nature” and the anthropomorphizing of animals.

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I wrote this for school:


Gould’s “Nonmoral Nature” and the anthropomorphizing of animals.

In Stephen Jay Gould’s article “Nonmoral Nature,” he discusses the religious interpretation of animals in nature and suggests a scientific rather than anthropomorphic (applying human traits to nonhuman things) approach to the study and interpretation of nature. He presents the reader with the case of the ichneumon wasp in significant detail to illustrate that nature cannot be simply viewed in anthropomorphic terms or on the terms of good and evil. Gould’s use of a variety of modes of development along with both formal and middle dictation provide a convincing argument to the scholarly minded adult concerning nature’s lack of morals or ethics guiding it, and the ways people inappropriately anthropomorphize animals in nature.

Gould utilizes classification/division as a main method in organizing his article by starting off with the general topic of animals in nature not being able to be categorized as good or evil. He then continues on with his specific example of the ichneumon, later progressing to discuss natural selection in relation to his topic as well. In his conclusion, he later returns to his broader topic of nonmoral nature as a whole and concludes “Since ichneumons are a detail, and since natural selection is a law regulating details, the answer to the ancient dilemma of why such cruelty (in our terms) exists in nature can only be that there isn’t any answer – and that the framing of the question ‘in our terms’ is thoroughly inappropriate in a natural world neither made for us nor ruled by us. It just plain happens.” (Gould 609). In utilizing the classification/division method, Gould has embraced a common and oftentimes very effective method of rhetoric attributed to Aristotle in which the writer tells the reader what they are going to say, says what they need to say, and ten reiterates what was said to the reader by telling them what they have told them.

Gould also provides a significant extended definition of nonmoral nature by using the example of the ichneumons and how their larvae will feed upon a host from within. By utilizing this gruesome image found in nature, Gould points out that “nothing evokes greater disgust in most of us than slow destruction of a host by an internal parasite – slow ingestion, bit by bit, from the inside” (Gould 601). By employing this extended definition throughout the majority of his piece, not only does Gould keep the theme of the article focused throughout his piece, but it also affords the reader a stronger understanding of his point of nature having no morals or ethics guiding it.

Gould continues to delve further into the case of anthropomorphizing the ichneumon by comparing and contrasting how people may anthropomorphize the ethical motivations of the ichneumon. At one point he discusses how brutal the feeding habits of their larvae are and, in a sense, forces the reader to consider the ichneumon a vanquisher over its host. Later, he turns the tables to have the reader consider the “ruthless efficiency of the parasites, [which] leads to the opposite conclusion – grudging admiration for the victors” (Gould 603). In doing this he is not only comparing and contrasting the methods used to anthropomorphize the ichneumon, but also is providing the reader with an unbiased and fuller viewpoint of the ichneumon as well.

By using a combination of formal and middle dictation, Gould does not belittle or oversimplify the science within his article, yet keeps it in the grasp of his target audience of the scholarly minded adult. He also does not shy away from utilizing scientific terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader and fall under formal dictation, but rather, he goes on to define them in middle dictation as they come up. When Gould introduces his primary example, “The ichneumon fly, which provoked such concern among natural theologians, was a composite creature representing the habits of an enormous tribe. The Ichneumonidea are a group of wasps, not flies that include more species than all of the vertibrates combined (wasps, with ants and bees, constitute the order Hymenoptera; flies, with their two wings – wasps have four – form the order Diptera)” (Gould 601), he is not belittling the sciences behind the topics at hand by ignoring appropriate terms. He is also educating the reader by defining them so that they may not be ‘left behind.’ His dictation also embraces the most common affinity (being a thirst for learning) of his target audience which is the scholarly-minded adult.

Gould’s use of language in itself is also utilized as a significant tool in his argument; in his article he states that “In using inappropriate anthropocentric language in this romp through the natural history of ichneumons, I have tried to emphasize just why these wasps became a preeminent challenge to natural theology” (Gould 605). By using “inappropriate anthropomorphic language”, Gould is in fact helping to illustrate what anthropomorphic language actually is and why its use is in fact “inappropriate.”

Being a student myself, I fall into his target audience as I am also a scholarly-minded adult. I found the ideas of nonmoral nature to be very reflective of my personal views on how animals in nature are and should be viewed; therefore, I was also very receptive to what he had to say. Being in agreement, I also found his essay to be easier to read than some other works that I have seen in the past that argue the opposite. In conclusion, I found Gould’s use of various different modes of development and dictations to provide a very convincing argument to the scholarly minded adult concerning the ideas that nature has no morals or ethics guiding it, and the ways that people inappropriately anthropomorphize animals in nature.

Works Cited

Gould, Stephen Jay. “Nonmoral Nature.” Jacobus, Lee A. A World of Ideas Essential Readings for College Writers 7th Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2006. 597-611.

Considering Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple intelligences and Francis Bacon’s Four Idols in Education Today.

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I wrote this for my English 101 Class:


Considering Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple intelligences
and Francis Bacon’s Four Idols in Education Today.

Standardized testing has become a primary mode of measurement for the success or failure of schools and students in our public educational system today. It is because of this that classes are currently being taught merely to assist students in passing a number of standardized tests that they encounter during their education. Due to this, students are no longer receiving their education in a holistic format, such as learning applicability to real life situations, and a full understanding of the concepts being taught to them.

By applying Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences and Francis Bacon’s Idols to our public educational system, students will be better prepared to be successful in the real world after graduation from high school. By heeding Bacon’s warnings in The Four Idols, classes will remain holistic rather than merely focused on specific standardized tests. Also taking Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences into consideration, students would be able to find which of Gardner’s intelligences apply to them earlier on in life and would be able to focus their education on developing their strengths and building upon their weaknesses. Teachers would also benefit from recognizing Gardner’s theory by utilizing a number of more varied teaching methods that would be better suited to each student’s stronger intelligences and allowing for a better understanding of the topics and concepts as a whole.

In Francis Bacon’s article “The Four Idols,” when speaking of the schools of Leucippus he states, “… school is so busied with the particles that it hardly attends to the structure; while others are so lost in admiration of the structure; while the others are so lost in admiration of the structure that they do not penetrate to the simplicity of nature” (550). Essentially by saying this, he is saying that many people will focus on the big picture or the small one rather than a healthy combination of the two. With teachers currently focused upon making sure each of their students passing a particular test, they are limiting their subjects and topics only to those presented to the students on those tests. If the teachers would take Bacon’s Idols into consideration, they would find that limiting their subjects takes away from the big picture, and focuses too closely on a much smaller one.

Another useful consideration for the public education system to consider integrating would be Howard Garner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, which states “… human cognitive competence is better described in terms of a set of abilities, talents, or mental skills…” (520). He had a number of stated ‘intelligences,’ which are something “that entails the ability to solve problems or fashion products that are of consequence in a particular cultural setting or community” (Gardner 521). Some of his specified intelligences are “Bodily-Kinesthetic” (Gardner 524), “Logical-Mathematical” (Gardner 525), “Linguistic” (Gardner 526), and “Spatial” (Gardner 526). By taking such variations of types of intelligences into consideration, students can find their strength and focus their education around developing those same strengths as well as building upon their weaknesses so that they might be better prepared for the real world after graduation from school.

Should teachers also take Gardner’s theory into consideration they would be able to utilize a number of varied teaching methods better suited to a student’s stronger intelligences leading to a better understanding of the topics and concepts being taught as a whole. For example a student studying geometry might have a great amount of difficulty with working out calculations for finding the angles of a triangle by mere use of mathematical calculations because he is weak in the area of “Logical-Mathematical Intelligence” (Gardner 525). If he were a student that was particularly strong in “Spatial Intelligence” (Gardner 527); the teacher might consider utilizing a physical example for the student to measure rather than just mathematical formula to learn from.

In conclusion, supposing that our public education system were to adopt Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences and Francis Bacon’s Idols, students would be better prepared to be successful in the real world after graduation from high school. Classrooms would be taught in a holistic manner no longer focused merely upon testing. Students and teachers would also benefit by utilizing the best teaching and learning methods necessary for complete understanding of the concepts and topics at hand.

Works Cited

Bacon, Francis. “The Four Idols.” Jacobus, Lee A. A World of Ideas Essential Readings for College Writers. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2006. 541-556.

Gardner, Howard. “The Theory of Multiple Intellegences.” Jacobus, Lee A. A World of Ideas Essential Readings for College Writers. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2006. 515-534.