Monday, April 30, 2012

Reflecting on the Course

The blogging experience for our Writing 140 course this semester offered a nice break from the otherwise more formal assignments usually assigned. The casual environment that blogging provides actually allowed for a more effective analysis and presentation in that students could relate more to the issues raised in the posts.

However, keeping up with posts and deadlines was, in all honesty, difficult due to the specific nature of the posts. The casualness offered by blogging was counteracted by the topics being so specific as to make posting more of a hassle. I think an easy way to remedy this issue while still being relevant to the AMST and Writing 140 courses would be to make the post topics more general. This will further allow students to discover what interests them in the course and talk about that, thus increasing their interest in the related material.

Overall, the blogging experience in Writing 140 was a nice deviation from the formal assignments we had, and I believe that my interest in the course material has benefited from its inclusion in the curriculum.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Simply put, a fallacy is an instance in which the premises offered by an argument do not support its conclusion. There are various ways which people use fallacies in attempt to support their argument:
  • Emotional / Moral
    • A plea to the emotional and/or moral side of people which is not really pertinent to the argument.
    • Example: "The senator's bill should not be passed because he was unfaithful to his wife and is therefore wrong."
  • Logical
    • An instance in which the premises do not logically lead to the conclusion stated.
    • Example: "Raising tuition prices will cause the Apocalypse."
Here is a clip of a debate in which an Appeal to Popularity is used - the fallacy is evident at the 3:25 mark:
The defense Megyn Kelly uses in response to allegations that Fox News is biased is the fact that Fox News is popular among its viewers and that there are over 1 million of them. The reason this is a fallacy is that how popular Fox News is among its viewers has nothing to do with how biased or unbiased the media source is. Furthermore, her statement that people like Fox News because it is fair and balanced is a jump in logic - just  because people like the program does not mean it is unbiased.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Consequences of No Revolution

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of revolution in America. Both the benefits and detriments of revolution have played vital roles in the history of the United States, as previously mentioned. It is difficult to pinpoint any one issue related to this value considering that there is such a wide variety of revolutions occurring ranging from the environment to the American economy.

However, since present day Americans seem to have lost their value on revolution, obvious problems have begun to rise. Obviously, the economy and wealth distribution in the U.S. is a cause for concern. When one percent of the population controls the majority of the wealth in the country, problems such as homelessness, costly education, and etcetera start to become major issues. Although the Occupy movement has grown in response to this, many citizens still feel that OccupyWallstreet should not exist, or should at least not be disruptive (thus completely undermining the point of protesting).

The consequences of this overall attitude to revolution (not limited to Occupy) is that the underlying issues to the revolution lose focus to the protests themselves. As such, nothing actually gets solved. To address this, we must look at the reason for protests and use critical reasoning / judgment in determining whether or not the protesters are indeed justified (rather than jumping to the conclusion that they are not since they are undermining authority). Of course, not everyone arguing for or against some cause will have a valid point. But to ignore people with justified arguments would be to allow issues to further escalate until we are forced to deal with them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Death of Revolution and Civil Disobedience

For my upcoming topic, I plan on exploring how the value American culture has placed on revolution has started to die. While this may sound rather dramatic, no less can be said of the current state of the U.S. in its dealing with new "revolutions" concerning the economy, politics, etc.

The United States has historically been very supportive of the revolutionary spirit. From the founding of our country to the Civil Rights movement, the vast majority of Americans are proud to talk about the successes various revolutions have had over the course of American history. Of course, there is no denying that these revolutions were met with strife and conflict. However, American culture has always celebrated the overcoming of these conflicts, reinforcing the idea that standing up for one's beliefs is a noble and respectable act.

Yet, for however much we state that we are in support of the revolutionary spirit, our actions speak otherwise. One needs to look no further than the Occupy movement, arguably the biggest movement in recent American history, to see evidence of our rejection of revolution as an American value. Protesting unfair business and political practices, the Occupy movement has generally been met with strong resistance from authorities.

This movement has consistently striven to defend the American public from unfair practices by the so called "one percent". People of all backgrounds and from all classes (even the wealthy) have shown support for the movement. However, there appears to be an equal, if not greater, group of citizens against the Occupy movement. Many people believe members of the Occupy movement to be unjustified in breaking the law to support their revolution. They believe that, by not following the established system, the protesters are in the wrong. There are also many citizens who don't feel strongly one way or the other about the movement but who believe that the protesters shouldn't break the law in their demonstrations. Why not continue to protest, but do so legally?

A better question to ask: what happened to our value on civil disobedience? We are quick to cite Rosa Parks in the Civil Rights movement or George Washington and the founding fathers when describing American pride, yet we shun the Occupy movement for doing the same thing these spearheads of change did.

My paper will be exploring why this contradiction exists. Ultimately, I believe that the idea of revolution being a part of American values has come under strong attack. In my exploration, I will address what I believe to be the causes of this sudden change in thinking concerning the United States and the American Dream.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Speaker Series: Maria Varela

On April 4th, civil rights activist Maria Varela spoke at USC about her experiences with the Civil Rights movement and the struggles she faced. Her comments on what occurred reveal both challenges to and support for the American Dream.

One of the most memorable comments Ms. Varela made concerned the organizing of so many people for a common cause. Obviously, getting together such a wide range of people would be difficult due to differing ideas, personalities, etc. What she emphasized, and what seems to have been a strong point for the Civil Rights movement, was that things always had to be decided on collectively. If the group wanted to present itself in a certain way, the majority had to be supportive of that decision. Furthermore, once the decision was made, everyone had to follow despite what they may believe is a better course of action.

Of course, this did not always go smoothly. Ms. Varela even commented that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. strayed from these policies at times. However, her experience and overall success as a civil rights activist offers much to be learned to our generation in dealing with the issues of today.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Recession and the Dream

The economic recession of 2008 has put the American Dream into question for many people. The once possible goal of attaining economic security, a major component of the Dream, has now become seemingly impossible to achieve. For many, this has brought on a sense of disillusionment with the American Dream.

However, I do not believe that this means that Americans have given up on the Dream. Rather, I believe that Americans are fighting for their right to continue pursuing the Dream without impediment. Just because American citizens believe they cannot attain the ideals described by the Dream now does not mean that they think that they will never achieve this goal.

Additionally, I believe that the economic recession has allowed people to come closer together, strengthening community bonds and maintaining the social / cultural aspects of the American Dream. Although the Occupy movement has created a lot of controversy, the movement has also allowed for the public to gather together and rally for a common purpose: to stop corrupt practices in big business and Congress.

What do you believe the recession has had on people's view of the American Dream?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Dream Today: What is It?

The American Dream today cannot be defined as any one ideal or image. Considering the vastly different individuals that comprise the United States, what one citizen's view of the American Dream is will differ from another's. However, there are some generalities that are common for most Americans in their vision of the Dream:
  • Economic Security: Most Americans consider economic security a major component of the American Dream. The ideal would be for families and citizens to have no need for financial concern - money should not be an issue.
  • Cultural: Since there are numerous cultural groups within the U.S., the culture aspect of the American Dream cannot be biased towards any one way of living. Rather, the Dream propagates the idea that people are free to celebrate their own culture without bias or prejudice directed towards them. Furthermore, the Dream suggests that the various cultures within America coexist peacefully and as part of an overall tight-knit community.
  • Political: The political side of the Dream is similar to the cultural component in that Americans should be free to decide their own political / social views without having their opinions attacked or infringed on by others.
I do not believe that the components of the American Dream are exclusive to each other since there is nothing in any one aspect of the Dream that contradicts another. However, I do believe the ideal suggested by the Dream to be realistically impossible to attain. This is because there is no feasible way for everyone to be wealthy and individualistic without coming into conflict with others. Overall, although the future may see a reality closer to the ideal of the Dream, I do not see a way for every citizen to realize the components of the American Dream currently.

What are your thoughts on the American Dream?