Monday, April 2, 2012

Modern Revolutions

One of the most evident modern revolutions is technology.  In the recent years the technological advances have been monumental.  In 2000 Toyota came out with the hybrid Prius which has grown in popularity today and hybrid cars are now made by the biggest car manufacturers like Ford, Nissan, Lexus, and Mercury.  Not to mention how the hybrid car has played a large role in the environmentalist movement, a revolution in itself.  The other side of technology is the concept of instant gratification.  Our culture is obsessed with getting the information we need when we need it.  Google was introduced within the last ten years, and is now even it’s own verb, people “google” information constantly.  Google has also expanded itself beyond a search engine and offers, maps, calendars, books, email, blogs, and most of these features can be shared easily with others such as google documents.  People are able to accomplish so much so quickly and much more efficiently than in past years all due to the technological advances over the last several years.  

Cell phones are a big enough technological advancement on their own.  In 200 AT&T began to offer instant text messaging for mobile phones which is now the most common form of communication.  The growing popularity of smartphones and their seemingly endless capabilities is a clear demonstration of the advances made.  Cell phones use to be good for making phone calls and that was it.  Today people can send emails, watch videos, play games, find directions, and there’s apps for everything to buying groceries to making people’s faces look fat.  The better question when it comes to the capabilities of smartphones such as the iPhone is what can’t they do?  It is not surprising however that with all of these astounding capabilities people have become so dependant on their cell phones.  There is even a specific phobia for those who are that afraid of being without their cell phones, nomophobia.  

Social Networking is another technology related revolution that has changed the lives and lifestyles of many today.  Sites like facebook and twitter allow for people to always be connected, and to easily share their lives with their friends and families.  My cousin who lives in Florida is a new mother and she posts videos all the time on facebook of her son, and the rest of my family here in Massachusetts can see him, videos of him learning to talk, taking baths, and all sorts of special baby things that we otherwise would not be able to see.  Twitter is huge for celebrities and athletes connecting with their fans and showing their appreciation.  Also sites like YouTube have been huge in making people famous, Justin Bieber is probably the most prominent example of someone’s talent being discovered and as a result turning into their career.  It is also common pastime nowadays to spend time watching YouTube videos and sharing them with friends, especially sharing them on these social sites such as facebook and twitter.  They give the saying “It’s a small world” a whole new meaning as distance is no longer a limitation for interacting and sharing with friends and family as well as connecting with bigger people.  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Genocide's can be prevented

To prevent a genocide the biggest factor is recognition.  There are eight stages that appear in all genocides and if these steps can be recognized as the steps they are, something can be done to prevent them from continuing.
  1. Classification is distinguished categories based on ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality.
  2. Symbolization is the names or other symbols given to the classifications. 
  3. Dehumanization is one group to “deny the humanity of the other” and  associate them with animals, insects and diseases. 
  4. Organization is the plan for the killings..
  5. Polarization is when two groups are driven further apart by polarizing propaganda and laws prohibiting social interaction between the groups.
  6. Preparation is when victims are identified and segregated.  Often they are relocated to ghettos, camps, or famine-struck regions where they are destined to starve. 
  7. Extermination, called extermination because the killers do not view their victims as even human, this stage is the actual mass killings.
  8. Denial: Denial always follows genocide as the final stage.  They blame it on the victims, hide all evidence, report false information, intimidate witnesses, and deny investigation. 
At any of these steps the genocide can be stopped, if enough people recognize what is going on and take steps to prevent it from continuing to it's final stages.  
Since the Holocaust which is notably the most recognized genocide, genocides still happen and continue to happen today.  Read about theses genocides here where Nate Fuller addresses the 9/11 attacks, here where Grant Solis refers to the genocide in Darfur, and here where Ayden Carver addresses Japan and Korea.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Eight Stages of Genocide in Darfur

In the western region of Sudan known as Darfur the two main groups of people, the settled peasants who are mostly African and the nomadic herders who are mostly Arab, have been left in poverty by a neglectful government. Some non-Arab groups sparked an uprising which was answered by the government.  The government enrolled the help of the Janjaweed which is the armed militia that the Sudanese government supported to execute the genocide.  The Janjaweed would travel from village to village destroying and burning houses and buildings.  One can even see the damage done for themselves by using Google Earth to view here.  The Janjaweed terrorized the people, gang raped the women ad children, shot the men and anyone who tried to make a break for it.  Any who did get away set out for an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camp, which is about 3 million people.  400,000 people have died because of either the attacks or malnutrition and disease.  Another 4 million people in Darfur have been entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance from around the world.  
In any genocide there are eight stages that can be broken down to gain a better understanding of the way the events of a genocide can take place.  
  1. Classification: This stage is the distinguish categories based on ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality.  In Darfur it was the black africans vs. arab africans.
  2. Symbolization: Symbolization is the names or other symbols given to the classifications.  The skin color was the most prominent symbol in Darfur.  
  3. Dehumanization: This step requires one group to “deny the humanity of the other” and  associate them with animals, insects and diseases.  In Darfur slaves
  4. Organization: There is always some organization to genocides with some plan for the killings.  In the case of Darfur the Janjaweed was armed and given tanks, they knew what village was next and had a systematic route of villages to attack.
  5. Polarization: In this step the two groups are driven further apart by polarizing propaganda and laws prohibiting social interaction between the groups. The president of Sudan said he would protect the black africans but obviously did not.  Also they made it very dangerous for humanitarian assistance to help out and offer food, leaving the black africans completely at their mercy and killing them indirectly with starvation and disease.
  6. Preparation: This stage is when victims are identified and segregated.  Often they are relocated to ghettos, camps, or famine-struck regions where they are destined to starve.  Both of these are present in Darfur, survivors of the village raids make it to refugee camps and some areas are so isolated and connections for assistance have been cut off.  
  7. Extermination: Called extermination because the killers do not view their victims as even human, this stage is the actual mass killings.  In Darfur the villages were burned and looted and the people terrorized and killed.  
  8. Denial: Denial always follows genocide as the final stage.  They blame it on the victims, hide all evidence, report false information, intimidate witnesses, and deny investigation.  The Sudanese government rejects evidence that genocide is happening and has reported false statistics of the number of people killed.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Home Alone mentor text

So this time my mentor text was Home Alone, which was perfect for the holiday season.  It was also perfect however with how it related to my story.  In Home Alone the main concept of the movie is the young boy who thinks he does not need his family and that they don’t really care about him.  In the end however he learns that they love him and would do anything for him when it comes down to it and that he also needs them in return.  
Also the main character Kevin has a neighbor who he is afraid of and avoids, “Old Man Marley.”  Kevin’s older brother Buzz tells him some crazy story about how he killed a whole family in their neighborhood but never got caught because he hid the bodies in his trash barrel of salt that he uses as he ices the sidewalk every night.  Now as the movie progresses, Kevin runs into Old Man Marley several times and his absolute terror is apparent.  He runs away screaming and ends up stealing a toothbrush.  But a little farther down the road Kevin finds himself with no one else to talk to except Old Man Marley and learning that he is actually a very nice but also very lonely old man.  Kevin gives him advice on how to help put his family back together, now having learned the value of families.  Old Man Marley returns the favor by saving Kevin’s life when the “Wet Bandits” have him trapped.  
For my story I am going to be developing a similar relationship between Jeff and Mr. Campbell.  Jeff and Mr. Campbell do not quite get along because Jeff is always ruining something of Mr. Campbell’s and making more work for him and Mr. Campbell just wants to relax and be alone.  But when Mr. Campbell and Jeff both find themselves in the nursing home and in need of each others assistance they are forced to be friends, grow to appreciate each other, and eventually developing a genuine friendship. Which is very similar to that of Kevin and Old Man Marley.  
Jeff is in the nursing home because his mother can not trust him to be home alone anymore (get it home alone) and that is where his mother works.  Mr. Campbell is in the nursing home because Jeff broke his window and his family now thinks he is a danger to himself.  In the nursing home Mr. Campbell and Jeff find themselves missing their senses of independence.  Jeff finds himself in need of something to occupy his time and Mr. Campbell in need of a friend and the two are forced to accept that they each have something the other wants.  They begin to hang out at the nursing home more and more and eventually develop a strong friendship.  
Also watching Home Alone has influenced my decision on how to end my story.  Now I am really thinking that after building their friendship, Jeff is going to admit to Mr. Campbell that he broke the window and Mr. Campbell is going to be upset but advise Jeff to go and tell his mother which would be the right thing.  But in seeing that Jeff is actually going to admit it he will come up with some story about how he himself broke it but wouldn’t admit to it all along all just to protect Jeff from more trouble with his mother.  All Jeff really needs is a father figure of some sort in his life and he has finally found that in Mr. Campbell.  

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Peggy and Sydney

Sydney Cochran's story interview
  1.  What is the setting?
    1. Still bouncing around a few ideas on that one, come back to me later!
  2. Who is the main character?
    1. Peggy, who is a free spirited and creative eighth grade girl.
  3. What challenges will they face?
    1. Bullying for being different and representing herself through clothing.
  4. What successes will they find?
    1. She will display the ability to overcome stereotypical generalizations of the other children.
    2. And she will become role model and trendsetter.
  5. Who/what is the antagonist/bad guy?
    1. Kids in her school, the bullies more specifically.  
  6. Why are they bad?  What has shaped/made them bad?
    1. Their judgmental society has them trained from a young age
  7. What is your inspiration for this story?
    1. People who get bullied and catergorized based on differences.
  8. What mentor texts have you used so far?
    1. the uglies
  9. What is going to be the “moral” of your story?
    1. dont change yourself
  10. How has your original idea evolved from when we started?
    1. I sort of ditched my original idea which was Peggy, the girl who dreams she cant laugh and learns to appreciate the simple things.  But since then my current idea has been going strong.  
  11. What kind of people are you writing for?
    1. Mostly middle school girls.
  12. Are there any supporting characters?
    1. Peggy's best friend, who is her first friend when she moves in and sticks by her the whole time.
  13. How big of a role do they play?
    1. Not that big she somewhat influences Peggy's decisions but it is mostly going to be Peggy's inner conflicts on individuality and her struggles with the bullies.  
    2. mostly Peggy’s inner conflicts on individuality
  14. Who will be narrating this story?
    1. Third person as of right now, but possibly going to work in diary entries.
  15. What is the title?
    1. I haven't figured that one out yet!  Right now I have "Peggy: the expressionist in a judgmental environment" but I am open to suggestions.
  16. What is your main characters personality traits that will help them face these challenges?
    1. Peggy is independent strong willed and free spirited.
  17. Personality traits that will hinder them?
    1. Unfamiliarity with people is going to be part of her internal conflicts.  Also her confidence on the outside disguises her inner doubts.  And she also has a way of using physicality to stand up for herself. 
  18. Who will be triumphant in the end? Good or bad?
    1. Peggy!
  19. Will there be any foreshadowing?
    1. It is pretty predictable, so not really.
  20. What is your favorite part of the story?
    1. Definitely when punches a boy in the face, because he deserves it!

To read Sydney's story so far click here!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

the beginning

Every single day for three years straight Mr. Campbell has taken a nap on his back porch.  At precisely 2:25 every day, he saunters out to the screened in porch, plops himself into his wooden rocking chair, and as he gazes into the woods that expands off the back of his yard he dozes off.  Here’s the not so typical eighty-year-old man aspect to the nap; there is a strategy behind it.  And the ultimate goal of this strategy is to avoid the young boy who lives nextdoor, Charlie.  The nine year old boy in the fifth grade, is dropped off everyday at approximately 2:45 right in front of Mr. Campbell’s house.  
Charlie and Mr. Campbell have an interesting relationship.  Mr. Campbell has a passion for gardening and landscaping, and after the sudden death of his wife four years ago that is just about one of the only things he does with his time, besides his daily nap that is.  Jeff does not mean to but like the average rambunctious nine year old, he cause a lot of trouble.  
There was a terrible incident over the summer with Charlie’s slip and slide.  All of the run off water washed under the fence separating the two yards and wiped out all of the rhododendron plants that lined the side of Mr. Campbell’s house.  Now any anything else would not have angered Mr. Campbell to such great lengths but this was different.  These were Mrs. Campbell’s rhododendrons, one of the last traces of her unrivaled green thumb, and one of Mr. Campbell’s last talismans.  Charlie had destroyed Mrs. Campbell’s favorite birdbath in the first month that he lived in the neighborhood.  So Mr. Campbell put up the fence that fall to keep further incidents from happening.  But that spring Charlie drove the lawn mower right through the fence that separated their two yards and it was an entire month before it was fixed.  In that one month Charlie caused more damage than ever.  He painted Mr. Campbell’s cat,  NEED MORE THINGS HELP SUGGESTIONS??
Ever since Charlie moved in Mr. Campbell’s life has been nothing but cleaning up, fixing, and replanting everything.  Now Charlie had apologized for all of these incidents but Mr. Campbell did not care.  If he was really truly sorry, he would have stayed away from Mr. Campbell’s yard, and that was that.
So like any other day Mr. Campbell retired to his rocking chair and rocked himself to sleep.  And just moments after his eyes were heavy and dreaming, the school bus screeched to a stop on the other side of the house.  
“Batting practice before it gets dark out?”  Jeff clambered off the bus accompanied by his friend Charlie, who lived on the next street and the two boys made their way to Jeff’s house.  Jeff’s mom worked at the nursing home until five so it would be a while before she would be home to hound him to do his homework.  Besides tryouts for the school team started soon, and their chances looked good but every chance to practice was not wasted.  Charlie ran home to get his glove and Jeff went out back with his glove and picked up his bat and ball on the way out.  
Charlie would be a few more minutes so Jeff decided to start anyway.  He positioned himself facing the woods directly behind his house, threw the ball up, and swung with all his might.  Strike.  He picked the ball up and had another go at it.  The second he felt the bat through his fingers contact with the ball he knew things were not going to end well.
In disbelief and wishing he could simply rewind and undo, he watched, jaw dropped as the ball flew way too far left to land anywhere good.  Seconds later the sounds of shattered glass filled Jeff’s ears and panic set in.  Seconds after that Charlie entered the yard.
“What the heck was that?”
Jeff could not even put together sounds to create words and stammered out something along the lines of “Oh no.”  Charlie surveyed the scene, the bat in Jeff’s hand, no ball, Mr. Campbell’s broken window.  “Dude we’ve got to get over there and get you’re ball back!  No one can know it was you!”
The two boys rushed to the fence to make sure the shatter had not woken Mr. Campbell.  Luckily he still sat still as a stump in his rocking chair.  They made their way around the fence and decided it would be easier to go right through the front door.  They opened the front door and quietly crept up the stairs.  Unsure where the room with the broken window was the boys split up in order to get out of there as fast as possible.  
Jeff entered the 2nd room to left of the stairs which was clearly the bathroom he knew he was in the right place.  The cool evening breeze swept over him like a wave of guilt as he laid eyes on the baseball lying just in front of his feet.  

Stay tuned ladies and gentlemen

totes m'goats

When everyone thinks about pets, of course the classic dogs and cats come to mind.  But how many people do you know that have pet goats?  Well now you know one more.  And let me tell you they happen to be the coolest things ever.
It all started when I was about five and my uncle was telling me about fainting goats.  Obviously I was fascinated and wanted fainting goats of my own.  Now I did not end up with fainting goats, but my family did decided to give goats a try.  My dad built the barn and soon enough there were two goats living in there.  We bread them and every year we had a new batch of beautiful baby goats, we played with them, and my parents made soap from their milk.  And until I was in seventh grade that was the way things were.
I am one of five kids so taking care of the goats got to be too much for my mom to handle by herself, and she sold the goats.
But then for my sixteenth birthday, I decided I was old enough to be able to take on the responsibility of the goats on my own.  So unlike most sixteen year olds who get cars for their birthdays, I got goats.  And today I have three beautiful goats, Ellie, Bamma, and Dash.
They all have their own unique personalities and habits and they really are as interesting as they are adorable.  Ellie, is very jumpy and jittery and always kind of observing what everyone around her is doing.  Dash is the pansy of the trio.  He's very cautious and hesitant, but incredibly strong.  And Bamma is lazy and plump just happy to be wherever she is as long as someones with her.
I love my goats, goats are great!