February 2009 Archives

Racism and Sex

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"Well, Okie use' ta mean you was from Oklahoma. Now it means you're a dirty son-of-a-bitch. Okie means you're scum. Don't mean nothing itself, it's just the way they say it."

and then... "You're in California, an we don't want you goddam Okies settlin' down."

and again... "Them goddam Okies got no sense and no feeling. They ain't human."

So by the end of this section. I was so mad that I couldn't understand why. I'm not from Oklahoma or moving West and as far as I know my relatives didn't do this so why am I so upset. As a mutt, I've been around racism before and I thought I had gotten over its affects, but this angered me. Perhaps that is what Steinbeck is trying to do, to rouse something in people that will even be so far removed from an event like this.

I didn't think white people really had a racist slur for other whites. Is this a real word? Or is it something Steinbeck made up? Is the author just doing this to really put us on the sides of the Joads and make every other working man/Californian seem like scum? Has there been an example of a good working man from the West?

And, oh my god, there is a lot of sex in this book. Whores, tom-catting, Rose of Sharon and Connie, and the preacher. What's all this for? I don't see it as relevant to the text in any way. It just seems like a fun theme that Steinbeck put in to lighten the mood maybe.


Those Crazy Southerners

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To start off, I was a little upset in chapter 18 when Foster says we've all seen Ordinary People (1976) because I haven't seen that. And my English class didn't assign it either so I had no idea what he was referring to. I'm starting to feel this book is out of date or is using books that not everyone has read. (But, how can he use books that everyone has read when there is no strict canon.)

What I really wanted to comment on is chapter 19 about geography on page 171 of my book. "When writers send characters south, it's so they can run amok."

I see his logic here and I can even relate to it in some books, but really this idea brings up more questions. What about the characters who start in the south? Southerners? Do they have to travel more south? Or do they already run wild? Or do they have to go north?

Was Foster relating to how the warmer temperature makes these people do crazy things? Or is it because of the change in culture? What if someone was from South Africa and their more south was to go to Antarctica? Would this running amok still happen?

Students on Foster

Y2K Again?

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"If newspapers die, so does reporting."

Really? Is this true? I understand it takes a lot of time and money to report, but at some point won't the websites have that money? They're the ones taking all the advertising and revenue. Won't they put it to good use? Are we underestimating those sites?

As for time, the websites can keep updating and revising their story so it will get out the people faster. In the case of the shooting, I kept checking news sites online and saw them make changes, add more information and comments, as the hours rolled by. Wouldn't this be more effiecient? (Unless you are doing investigative journalism.)

If what Kamiya says is true that "80 percent of all online news originates in print," do we really have to worry about losing all newspapers? Maybe we're making a bigger deal out of this than will really happen. Maybe we'll lose some newspapers and others will stick around, helping out reporting (if it really is going to die by the internet).

Also, like jibjab demonstrates with the invention of cable, what we consider news has already changed (for the worse). But, this is what the people want right now and the corporations have to follow or die. People want celebrities and graphics and breaking news. It's a race now for who can put the information out the fastest. Our concept of what is news is changing again with the invention of high-speed internet.

More Death of the News

P.S. I did like the shoutouts to Brave New World.

A Turtle in Disguise

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Chapter three of The Grapes of Wrath is all about this poor turtle trying to cross the road. The turtle comes into the story when Joad finds him and tries to keep him to show his siblings. I feel if a whole chapter is devoted to something that seems off topic or is not a central character than there must be some metaphor linking it.

I think the turtle either symbolizes the struggle and failure of the tenants who are thrown off the land. Or he symbolizes the persitance and eventually success of the tenants who (after being driven off their land) didn't die and made the trip to California.

The focus on the turtle's struggles to cross the road is like the tenants struggling to make the land grow and the tenants struggle to live after being kicked out. "And now a light truck approached, and as it came near, the driver saw the turtle and swerved to hit it" (15). The turtle getting hit by the car could also be like the tenants being pushed down by the Banks and the tractors and pushed off their path. Machinery and man-made objects nearly cost them their life.

The turtle wanders also to the south(east/west?) just like Joad's family does when they head out for California. What else could the turtle stand for? Or other connections to Joad's family?

I found it interesting too that the woman didn't try to hit the turtle and nearly had an accident avoiding it. What is Steinbeck trying to say here?

More Grapes of Wrath

Alert System

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We did learn from VTech and other school shootings, but there are always room for improvements. I feel the alert system should be tweaked just a bit. When I got the alert, I didn't know where this situation was happening and I was concerned about my friends in different buildings. So, instead of just saying "There has been a situation..." the alert system should include on or off campus. This way commuters will know it has to do with a SHU student in Greensburg and use more caution out on the streets.

The emails and alerts were also sent out pretty late after the roommates called the police in the early hours. The text messages didn't arrive until 8 after he was already shot. I still think we did the right thing by having a lockdown no matter if it was on or off.

I don't find any fault with the police. They gave him hours to calm down and it was morning. Children could have come out on the streets or people going to church and he had a high-powered rifle that still could have struck one of them. It's sad that he died, but the Tribune's heading is really negative. What about the police officer? How does he feel for having to take a life so young?

Campus Shootings

Kill the Characters

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I read chapter 11 and I actually enjoyed this one for the most part. (Sure, there was still too many examples, but I liked to point.)

At first, I wanted to disagree and say there was sometimes no meaning in killing characters, but there always are. Death doesn't have to be symbolic (in literary work is usually is, but in normal work...nah). It can be used for other things like Foster says plot advancement or putting stress on other characters. I do this in my stories too sometimes and, depending on the character, I like to make it particularly emotional (not cheesy) so the reader can empathize.

Sometimes I have deeper meanings to the character deaths that even I don't see normally and its not until I reflect that I find that I did this unconsciously. It's interesting.

I also like reading stories where the main character dies because you have that vested interest in that character and you look for reasons why the character died or flip ahead to see if they come back.

More on Foster


All About the Visual

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The first thing I noticed is that our website doesn't have pictures or any type of visual. There is a lot of white space and barely any color. I propose changing the color to Seton Hill colors to distingish this Setonian from the other one. Also, I really liked the idea of a picture as a background in South of Here instead of our little clip in the top corner.

The layout to South of Here was also very simple. On the front page of Setonian Online, I didn't even know there was more to a section until I scrolled down. Also, I couldn't understand why some of the navigation bars had red on the sides when I scrolled over it and the others didn't.

In Where Doubt Remains, the layout was also very simple and short on the front page. It also has a search bar within the first page instead of buried in the long navigation.*

As for any other ideas besides changing the layout, I enjoy the content except that there are no pictures. Online we have the opportunity to put color photos up for free. Why not? I like this idea from National Geographic site to put scrolling pictures up with a small caption that lead to our best stories.

* The Contact Us link does not work.

More Improvements

Nameless Abortions

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Throughout Machinal, several things irked me about the book. I'm not saying I disliked it. I'm sure there is a reason for everything, but I just haven't found those reasons quite yet. The first is that no one is named. Sure, they may slip in each other's names in conversation, but the characters aren't named.

This makes the book sometimes hard to follow. Hard to see who is speaking. Perhaps the author does this to distinguish that these people and what happens to them could really be any people and that this woman (Helen I think) could be any woman with the same problem. She's not alone is her hopes, dreams, and misery.

The other idea is that every character in her is faceless, blank, and sterotypical like the opening people in Episode One. Maybe the idea there was to enforce that business is boring and all the workers are/act like the same person.

The other thing that challenged me was the change from the speaker "Jones" in Episode One to "Husband" is Episode Two...I can't really find an explanation for this.

Last thing, did anyone else think the Man and Woman at the bar at table 1 in Episode 5 were talking about getting the Woman an abortion? I wasn't quite sure of their meaning.

Machinal Opinions

Loss of Quality...Kinda

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I believe that the Internet does create a loss of quality, but it isn't just the Internet. For example, PerezHilton site is dedicated to spreading rumors around about celebrities based on fact. I saw someone mistake this site for real information. They believe (for example) that Chris Brown abused Rihanna.

It is true the Brown got arrested for abuse ("a criminal threat") against a woman and it is true that neither showed up to the Grammys, but officially it is not Rihanna that has been abused. Just a woman.

This brings up another idea for me. I almost agree that a lot of news needs to have impact to make it. Like celebrities are news now and a big part of journalism is following them around and reporting all their actions. Right now that is a stable market where money is still made.

Is this quality? It does have impact. It's what the people are looking for. It doesn't always bleed, but it does lead.

Students on SuperMedia

Intro to Journalism

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I've been in both types of classes before (journalism and English) so I know both sides to the writing styles. This is a very quick intro to journalism and covers all the basic points. It's good, but I've seen it before and don't really know how I should comment on it.

The only thing I can say is even in English/Creative Writing, I do enjoy the active voice (sometimes more journalistic voice) while writing. It makes everything short and concise, which sometimes pose a problem when I have lengthy papers to write.


Let's Talk About the Weather

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In chapter 10 of HRP, I found the writing about the weather (much like talking about it) is taboo and can generally be very boring unless you really know your stuff. When you do read about weather, there is typically a deeper meaning to it. I understood this before, but not all aspects of what the allusion to weather can mean.

For example, "No writer in the West can employ a rainbow without being aware of its signifying aspect, its biblical function" (79).

Really? Because I'm one of those New Age kids that doesn't know much about the bible and if I'm writing or reading a text my mind will not automatically look for biblical symbols. I'll probably look more to my past and what ideas a rainbow stirs like joy, confusion, and magic. Is this wrong? Will it hinder me from reading closely?

More HRP

Attack of the Clones!

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Whoa, whoa...So many clones, popping up everywhere! In trees, machines, planes, and probably trains too.

A lot of this information makes sense. I feel that it would obvious, but only if you paid attention to the news and what people like to read. It's something that once I hear it I feel like I already knew it, but I'm not so sure if I would followed these rules without hearing it aloud.

Celebrities (always news), locality, and conflict. I was in Arnzen's class last week and we looked at a heading in the Setonian that had the word "conflict" in it, which is what drew everyone's attention first. He mentioned something about how conflict in books and news is what draws people in also.

I don't like the saying, "If it bleeds, it leads," but I understand why it is this way. Perhaps I'll make the first positive paper. (Or a blog since papers are going out.)

Update: Since posting this last, I've thought of a few things worth noting. Your audience really does make a difference. In order to get them to buy/read, you have to write what interests them. As much as I would like to say we write the paper for the students, we really write it for the faculty, parents, and the nuns so we tailor articles to fit their needs.

To be quite honest, I am disappointed at the Setonian because it's not for the students. It may be written by us, but not about anything we're really interested in. Writing articles, researching should be fun and exciting, but instead it's just a chore. When I was a prospective journalism student, I picked up an issue of the Setonian not because it interested me, but because I knew it was something I should know as a reporter. What about other students? Ones not commited to the paper... Do they even care?


Grim as the Dickins-on

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A Great Finish for The Great Gatsby. I felt that Nick or Fitzgerald had taken a line from Emily Dickinson. Keeping in mind that's all I've been studying this semester, I still felt it would have been something she would say. "So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight" (136).

It's not a halting or poetic as Dickinson, but it reminded me of her poems. This cold, sad remark demonstrated how old Nicki was getting and with each step (or time pass). I also realized after reading further that this was an allusion to Myrtle's death. They were driving toward the scene of the commotion. There is probably much more laced in this quote, only I haven't found it yet.

But...Was anyone else happy that Myrtle died? Or not happy, but felt like it was a good (deserved) twist?


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