Thursday, February 19, 2015

Roger Ebert

As a precursor to our new unit centering around amazing people you've probably never heard of, we spent a majority of the week talking about Roger Ebert. He gained fame as a film critic reviewing hundreds of films. Ebert was known for having strong opinions and standing by them. In his career he went on to have a television show swell as develop the popular thumbs up/thumbs down rating system. However that's what made Roger Ebert a successful person but made him amazing was when he fell ill. Ebert had cancer which caused him to lose the ability to talk and lose part of his jaw before eventually taking his life in 2011. When a person faces tragedy they do one of two things, they sink or they swim. Roger Ebert swam using his blog to regain his voice addressing a variety of topics. 
I think what made Roger Ebert so inspiring was his ability to connect with people. He didn't preach he just wrote in a way that people could connect to.

To me what made Roger Ebert's views so inspiring was that there was life behind them. They were the epiphanies of a dying man which added so much more weight to them. Roger Ebert was dying but he refused to let these new found ideas die with him. It goes along with the sink or swim idea. As he was swimming from diagnosis to unfortunate death he was able to really evaluate life in a way that most people are never able to. You could tell that every point Ebert made came from careful reflection and consideration. I think what inspired me the most was his optimism. He talks about personal narcism and loneliness but not in a downtrodden way. Instead he twists it to support community and to get across his personal thoughts one the importance of love and kindness. One of my favorite lines in Ebert's blog post All the Lonely People was " We want to say "I am alive" in a billion billion different ways" I really related to this because I remember thinking this is so true. We're all fumbling around trying to find our niche and trying to find what makes us happy. Everything Roger Ebert said was filled with truth and it doesn't necessarily have to change you, personally they didn't cause a huge life altering epiphany. But for the moments i spent reading the posts they did inspire me which says a lot to be able to motivate people even though the only thing left of you are the words on a computer screen. And I think Roger Ebert's ability to inspire, though words of optimism and wisdom, makes him truly amazing.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Review of Racism in America

Over the past month my opinion on racism has been altered drastically. I knew that racism was still a part of life in America but I was skeptical of the impact it had on the majority of the population. However through our discussions I've become much more open minded. White privilege was a major topic we discussed that before class I've never even heard of before. White privilege is the idea that due to the accumulation of racism over time, minorities are automatically at a disadvantage. An example of this would be that a white child has upper middle class parents so they live in a school district with decent schools. An african American kid on the other hand lives in a less wealthy community because his parents and grandparents didn't make enough money to be well educated. The african american kid may have the same amount of potential as the white kid yet because he attended a worse school he didn't get as good of an education and is immediately set back. White privilege works off the same kind of idea as accumulative advantage that Malcolm Gladwell discusses. Over generations of minorities being at a significant disadvantage their losses have accumulated giving white people a statistical upper hand.

I don't think white privilege is something that we as a society are going to be able to fix. You can't punish the white kid for being born born better off nor can you give the african american kid unearned advantages. Affirmative action is one attempt at evening the playing field by giving students in a minority  better chance of getting into college but it too causes problems. The only solution to white privilege is time. As society progresses the lines between white and black are blurred. As generations of minorities get the kind of education and opportunities that all people deserve the accumulated privileges of the white will lessen until they're so minuscule that they no longer actually give any benefits. The success of people or lack there of can not be based souly on race. It is obvious that a white kid who's parents are millionaires could still end up unemployed and  bankrupt but thats not the point of white privilege. The point is not that white people can't succeed on their own or minorities are destined to fail, the point is that its important to acknowledge the disadvantages that are still a part of life due to racial discrimination.

Another topic that interested me a lot this unit was the idea of cultural appropriation. Unlike some of the other topics we discussed cultural appropriation is something that I was aware of before doing our racism unit. I feel like this is an extremely important topic to be aware of because it stretches past the already broad topic of race and culture and stretches to religion. Cultural appropriation is basically when aspects of a certain cultural are adopted by a cultural outsider. Clothing is often one of the biggest examples of this. An example would be a shirt with a Native American symbol printed on it being sold somewhere that is clearly not using it for cultural meaning. A lot of stores are culprits of this by selling cultural articles as fashion. Urban Outfitters is one of the biggest offenders stealing things from culture and religions s much so that they have often had to take things out of their stores because of it.

When it comes to cultural appropriation the issue isn't that people are wearing things from different cultures. The issue is that people are taking things from other cultures and religions but remain ignorant of the true meaning. Sometimes the true meaning is lost with appropriation which is the biggest offense of all. Buddhism is a prime example because of its core teachings. Since the religion promotes peace and living simply people will often take Buddhist symbols and use them only to represent tranquility completely ignoring the religious symbolism behind completely. It is important to embrace other cultures as long as you do your research. Learn about the culture and its values. However if you don't know what something is don't wear it. Its offensive to the strong believers and makes you look ignorant. Embrace cultures but don't steal from them. Race is a tricky topic because its easy to offend people when you don't know what you're talking about. Thats why I think it was s important we discussed it in class. Its something we don't get the chance to discuss in other classes and overall i think we were able to have a lot of serious and enlightening conversations. I definitely think I'm better informed now and much more open minded.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Blog Post Update 10/15

In the past two weeks our main focus has been genrally the same as previous. The main purpose was to just expand our vocabulary. Now that we're all fluent with signing the alphabet we looked up ore words. Some were of basic words like hello, mother, father, and help but others were more unique like clumsy, goat, and coffee. Also we've finally finished assigning sign language names to each member of our group. Names can represent physical appearance like Erin's which is red with the sign for E to represent her red hair. They can also be about a specific trait or characteristic you have like mine is clumsy with an E. More research has been done regarding the creation of sign language and deaf culture. For the continuation of the project though we are trying to figure out what other interesting things we can find out about deaf life and deaf culture. Like I found a video about a restaurant in Toronto Canada that hires deaf waiters and requires people to use sign language to order.  Overall we're still trying to find out more about deaf life and American Sign Language.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Passion Project 9/29

We've had two passion project days and we've actually gotten a lot done. We've done research into the history of sign language. We've also looked into how people got sign language names and figured out what ours would be. We learned some basic sign language like letters, greetings, and basic words. There is still a lot more research that we need to do and compile it into a power point presentation. We have a lot of information but none of it is organized. We have a long way to go but we still have time so I hope its going to be a good project.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Empathy and Equality

If you think about it each person lives in their own little circles. My circle is I wake up, take the bus to school, play volleyball, go home, and then go to sleep. Throughout my day though my circle overlaps with other peoples circles who's lives are similar to mine like family, religion, social groups, and so on. So when theres a part of life that doesn't fall within your personal circle its hard to think about but thats empathy. Its the ability to feel for someone else despite it not directly effecting you. According to Jeremy Rifkin, to the problem with society is a lack of empathy. We don't care enough about the person standing next to us to be driven to help them let alone a person in Syria or Sri Lanka that we've never met before. Jeremy Rifkin says that our goal should be to extend our empathy to the entire human race. I would hope this could be possible but I think its too idealistic. There will always be the people that care too much and the people that hardly are at all. Yet I think we can all stand to be more empathetic. Through empathy we can fix a majority of the issues pressing in on our society. When we listed issues in class we got results of sexual assault, gender equality, education, health care, illness, terrorism, disease, mental illness, super patriotism, lack of kindness, Russia and the Ukraine, Syria, and so many other topics we discussed that i can't even remember. Many of the issues we stated were weaved together to the point where by fixing one you may fix another while at the same time creating a new issue all by itself. While thinking that every problem facing our society can be solved is simply idealistic, I think we can solve a majority simply by thinking of people as people. Many problems are caused by viewing others as different or even inferior. But when you remove labels and classifications you are left with just a person. A person with a family, dreams, insecurities, and most likely struggling with the same kind of things you are. When you take away the things that group us together you also take away the fictions that keep us apart. One big issue is gender equality. Literally the only reason people believe genders are so different is because the only see the stereotypes and the fictitious differences that keep us apart. Take away gender and you are left with simply a person. Certain cultures view women as inferior simply because they've been told that women are inferior. However if you look at someone as a person instead of as their labels you don't see female, black, baptist you see charismatic, well read, and loyal. War too can be solved with empathy. There is a difference between civilians and soldiers in war but why. A gun? No they're still people. Society sees statistics as numbers. We've grown up in a world where war statistics are broadcasted over family dinner to the point where they're just numbers and lists of names without any real meaning. It doesn't invoke any true emotion. With empathy though we think before we shoot. Even more empathy can help get rid of the reason to shoot. Empathy makes it so religion or race or even nationality don't really matter because they're people just like everybody else. I don't think its possible for every single person on earth to be completely empathetic but society as a whole needs to increase our empathy in order to create a world of equality and to help solve the pressing issues that we face. We just have to see people, as people.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Passion Project 2 Update

Honestly our passion project has come pretty far. We've actually gotten a lot done. We started by researching different genetic abilities. By combining our research with some of our own ideas we compiled a list of tests. Then we made up a survey and we were able to test everyone in our class except for the people who weren't here. We also tested our families so that we can see how the traits move through our families. We still need to analyze all our data and figure out what abilities are actually determined by genetics. Some obstacles that our group came across was determine what actually counts as having the skill. For example some people have really prominent hitch hiker's thumbs compared to others so its hard to determine what actually counts. Some obstacles that we may come across is finding reliable information and determining what all our information really means. However I don't think these issues will hold us back and I'm actually really excited to keep working on our project.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Passion Project Update & Reflection

Its amazing to think we're already halfway through the Passion Project. My project that I'm working on with my group is a Rube Goldberg Machine and though we've started and have made progress we've still got a long way to go. With each step we added there seems to be another issue. Most are easy to fix. Some on the other hand are going to take a lot of thinking to fix. One of our main problems we have is the hand sanitizer itself. Our last step is to have a weight pull the pump of the hand sanitizer down. The issue is that the weight also pulls down the whole hand sanitizer bottle. The second issue is in poor Thomas the Train. Thomas has the very important job of traveling along his tracks up a hill to hit a block and start a domino effect. That would work perfectly, if Thomas could actually make it up the hill. On the bright side, we have a total of seven steps done and we're actually getting together today to continue working and we're definitely making progress.