Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Draft

Kim Bowman
ENGL 300.01
Dr. Malesh
2/27/06
Handling File-Sharing

The future of the music community is hooked up to the Internet. Online music downloading is rapidly gaining popularity and appears to be here to stay. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has launched a two pronged campaign in order to dissuade growing numbers of illegal file swapping and other online copyright infringements. Their most recent method of discouraging file sharers has included individual law suits against heavy sharers and sending out the message to parents and network users about the negative effects of file sharing. Conflicting data and opinions have caused much debate among the music community as to whether or not file sharing is the threat to the future of music that the RIAA and the music industry believe it to be and whether or not there is a better way to control file-sharing than the RIAA’s current campaign.
The recent catapult into the digital age of music has revolutionized the music community. Recent technology has made exchanging and copying music extremely fast, cheap, and available. Those that profit from CD sales are disgruntled by this fast, growing exchange of free copyrighted music. Major record companies, led by the RIAA, are fighting back, feeling that file swapping is a threat to their ability to dominate format changes and availability of merchandise. The RIAA’s campaign does not necessarily benefit the artists themselves. Artists in the music community typically vary on how extensive file sharing should be condemned. Some top-selling artists, such as Britney Spears and Eminem, have offered their full support towards RIAA tactics (Digital Age 2). The music loving community, otherwise viewed as the music consumers, has a wide rage of opinions on the matter. Many file sharers view their habit as harmless and a way to discover music. Nevertheless, file-sharing consequences, as seen in recent e-mails to the RMC community, are far-reaching. Whether or not we are affected by the lawsuits personally, the RIAA message does intimidate and affect many file-sharing habits. I have indulged in file-sharing networks since the birth of Napster and over the years I have noticed the effects of the RIAA’s legal battles and actions in both the networks’ development and my own downloading habits.
When the technology that launched file sharing exploded onto the music scene with Napster, file-sharing users and newer networks boomed. Shawn Fanning, the creator of Napster, was simply trying to improve the file swapping he observed in Internet Relay Chats (Kusek 100). Once the RIAA took notice of his creation, a high profile legal battle took place. The RIAA, of course, won the battle in 2001 and had Napster shut down. This, however, did not kill off online music downloading. A new wave of networks, called peer-to-peer networks or P2P, developed. When the RIAA took P2P services like Grokster and Kazaa to court, the judge ruled that there are legitimate applications for P2P networks due to the lack of a central server which Napster functioned on (Adegoke 1). This ruling ended the RIAA’s opportunity to fight file-sharing by going directly to the source, which caused them to take up filing lawsuits against individual network users. Their targets were so-called “supernodes” or “significant uploaders of pirated music” (Adrianson 2). This decision launched a popular and extensive controversy relating to many aspects of file-sharing.
A large part of this debate has centered around the question of whether or not file-sharing is as bad as the RIAA believes. Most observe that there is certainly a redistribution of music profits attributed to the digital revolution. The recording industry estimates to loose around “$4.2 billion to piracy worldwide every year” (Engleman 1). Shipments of recorded music have reportedly “dropped by 26% since 1999” (Not-so-Jolly 1). According to the RIAA, the increase in piracy may also account for significant drops in the top selling album sales. The data shows that “the 10 top selling albums of 2000 accounted for 60 million sales in the United States while the10 top-selling albums of 2002 accounted for just 34 million comparable sales. The record industry’s total sales have also fallen from $14.6 billion in 1999 to $12.6 billion in 2002” (Adrianson 2). The recording industry supporters argue that the upholding of copyright laws ensures that the artists and producers continue to make a profit, which essentially preserves the music market.
Others perceive file sharing not as an interference with industry profits, but as an opportunity for development within the music industry in more than one way. In a debated study by researchers at Harvard Business School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, results showed:
after comparing download data from file-sharing providers with store compact disc sales, one has little or no effect on the other…in the worst case scenario it might take 5,000 downloads to reduce the sales of an album by a single copy…Researchers have even found that for albums with sales over 600,000 copies, every 150 downloads actually increases sales by one copy. (O’Rourke 1)
In fact, 50 Cent’s songs were among the top illegal downloads of 2003, yet his album sold nine million copies. These kind of findings support theories that file-sharing is actually “the most successful and direct form of product sampling ever invented” (Kusek 100). The Internet allows people to navigate through musical selections and explore numerous genres that offline venues will probably never be able to present so readily. Mark Katz demonstrates this in his book Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music by searching on a file-sharing network for two obscure genres: Swedish funk and Vietnamese hardcore rap. He quickly is presented with the “Electric Boys, a Stockholm quartet formed in 1988… [and] their album Funk-O-Metal Carpet Ride,” as well as the “California-based Vietnamese group inexplicably known as Thai” (166). Another point brought up by those concerned by negative file-sharing portrayals is the fact that the words “piracy” and “file-sharing” are often confused. Piracy is typically referred to as “the activities of organized criminals who manufacture illegal copies of CDs, DVDs, tapes, and records, then photocopy the covers and sell the illicit product on the streets for a steep profit” (Kusek 41). File-sharers are typically “serious music enthusiasts who lack any compelling commercial alternative to getting their need for music filled” (Kusek 42). In lumping file-sharers with the organized crime of pirates, the statistics get a lot more menacing against online music downloading.
Despite how one feels about the effects of file-sharing, the campaign against it will nevertheless continue. Since beginning their individual lawsuits, the RIAA has sued thousands of Americans with settlements averaging around $3,000 (Engleman 1). Is this the best way to combat millions of downloaders? Those who oppose the RIAA’s tactics have found several problems in their technique. Many see directly attacking the consumers as a risky move in and of itself. The President of Grokster, Wayne Rosso describes it as a “scare and intimidation” tactic that will ultimately fail (Adegoke 2). Many take the stance that the RIAA will never be able to combat 57 million Americans (and millions more foreign file-sharers), however their methods may raise awareness (Adegoke 2). The separate lawsuits may, indeed, prove “more costly and time-consuming than [they] are worth” (O’Rourke 1). Others complain about the invasion of privacy associated with revealing network identities. The RIAA uses the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which allows “a special administrative subpoena procedure” to be carried out for “any Internet account holder suspected of unauthorized trading of copyrighted material” (Adrianson 3). Two separate incidents, in which the RIAA used the DMCA, resulted in lawsuits against a retired grandmother and the mother of a 12-year old girl. These incidents have tarnished their public relations image and given their policies a harsh edge. The DMCA itself is also a subject of privacy debates, as it is subject to substantial abuse by people and organizations with potentially dangerous or inappropriate motives for accessing people’s identities. However, amending this act to have a greater degree of court supervision may cost more and be much more invasive for consumers (Adrianson 4).
A larger debate focuses on whether or not this method is more productive than other restrictive policy options. One option is the “technical fix,” which means that a technical solution will be designed to avoid unauthorized copying. The Digital Rights Management option suggests placing “a special code into digitized media that prevents copying” (Adrianson 4). If knowledgeable pirates overcame the protective codes, all digital media players would have to be fixed to play only media with a DRM code. Therefore, these technological fixes may restrict innovation and place boundaries much more than the RIAA’s current policy. Another option would be to adopt a blanket license system, which “could authorize copyrighted material to be traded on the networks while providing compensation for the artists and the record labels,” much like the radio licensing system (Adianson, 5). Some P2P networks, such as Grokster, are pushing for this solution. One of the current successful options is to expand and exploit the online music market by developing legal downloading networks like Apple iTunes, Emusic.com, and Listen.com, which typically offer songs for 99 cents each. The RIAA states that the simultaneous development of this legal market and the abundance of lawsuits was no accident. Jonathan Lamy, a spokesperson for the RIAA, explained, “‘The idea is to bring [illegal file-sharing] down to a level of control where legitimate services can get a foothold in the marketplace and eventually flourish’” (Adrianson 6).
The future of file-sharing may progress towards legal options if record companies take full advantage of the online market. Even the RIAA agrees that file-sharing is here to stay. Mark Katz displayed several reasons as to why someone would want to pay for downloaded music in his book, Capturing Sound. P2P file-sharing networks are wracked with flaws and annoyances that many people are probably willing to give up for a small fee. Legal downloading networks have the appeal of ease, speed, reliability, quantity, quality, permanence, additional resources or services, the possibility of directly benefiting the musicians, and, of course, they are legal (Katz 183). As a seasoned file-sharer myself, I will attest to the enormous relief that legal networks bring to the downloading system. With illegal networks I often had an enormous amount of trouble locating and downloading quality songs. Despite this business opportunity, the article “Not-so-Jolly Rogers” points out that it still “looks as if the music industry will also resort to old-fashioned consolidation and cost-cutting to preserve profits” (2). Whatever the future of file-sharing networks, the digital age has left its mark on the music industry.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Half of First Draft:

Handling File-Sharing

The future of the music community is hooked up to the Internet. Online music downloading is rapidly gaining popularity and appears to be here to stay. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has launched a two pronged campaign in order to dissuade growing numbers of illegal file swapping and other online copyright infringements. Their most recent method of discouraging file sharers has included individual law suits against heavy sharers and sending out the message to parents and network users about the negative effects of file sharing. Is the RIAA correct in their understanding of file sharing as a negative aspect of recent technology or is file sharing not as bad as they think? In any case, is the RIAA handling file sharing correctly or is there a better way to control online music downloading?
The recent catapult into the digital age of music has revolutionized the music community. Recent technology has made exchanging and copying music extremely fast, cheap, and available. Those that profit from CD sales are disgruntled by this fast, growing exchange of free copyrighted music. Major record companies, led by the RIAA, fought back, feeling that file swapping was a threat to their ability to dominate format changes and availability of merchandise. The RIAA’s methods to combat file sharing do not necessarily benefit the artists themselves. Artists in the music community typically vary on how extensive file sharing should be condemned. Some top-selling artists, such as Britney Spears and Eminem, have offered their full support towards RIAA tactics (Digital Age 2). The music loving community, otherwise viewed as the music consumers, has a wide rage of opinions on the matter. Many file sharers view their habit as harmless and in some cases a way to explore music.
When the technology that launched file sharing exploded onto the music scene with Napster, many other programs and downloaders followed suit. Shawn Fanning, the creator of Napster, was simply trying to improve the file swapping he observed in Internet Relay Chats (Kusek 100). Once the RIAA took notice of his creation, a high profile legal battle took place. The RIAA, of course, won the battle in 2001 and had Napster shut down. This, however, did not kill off online music downloading. A new wave of networks, called peer-to-peer networks or P2P, developed. When the RIAA took services like Grokster and Kazaa to court, the judge ruled that there are legitimate applications for P2P networks due to the lack of a central server which Napster functioned on (Adegoke 1). This ruling ended the RIAA’s opportunity to fight file-sharing by going directly to the source. This caused them to take up filing lawsuits against individual network users. Their targets were so-called “supernodes” or “significant uploaders of pirated music” (Adrianson 2). This decision launched a popular and extensive controversy relating to many aspects of file-sharing.
A large part of this debate has centered around the question of whether or not file-sharing is as bad as the RIAA believes. Most observe that there is certainly a redistribution of music profits attributed to the digital revolution. The recording industry estimates to loose around “$4.2 billion to piracy worldwide every year” (Engleman 1). Shipments of recorded music have reportedly “dropped by 26% since 1999” (Not-so-Jolly 1). According to the RIAA, the increase in piracy may also account for significant drops in the top selling album sales. The data shows that “the 10 top selling albums of 2000 accounted for 60 million sales in the United States while the10 top-selling albums of 2002 accounted for just 34 million comparable sales. The record industry’s total sales have also fallen from $14.6 billion in 1999 to $12.6 billion in 2002” (Adrianson 2). The recording industry supporters argue that the upholding of copyright laws ensures that the artists and producers continue to make a profit, which preserves the music market.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A few application questions answered for a summer opportunity:
I request that the general public not read this.
It is what I have been working on all day, so I have nothing else to post.



Working within a diverse community can be very rewarding, but there are certainly challenges to be faced. Conflicting morals and beliefs, as a result of different ethnic, economic, religious, and lifestyle backgrounds, can create tension within a learning community. Misunderstandings can also result from varying backgrounds. By creating an environment that encourages open communication and listening, teachers can overcome these barriers. These differences can positively affect a learning environment by providing a variety of input from a variety of different people. When you have so many experiences available in a learning community, students can gain knowledge from their peers and teachers can gain knowledge from their students. By engaging the students in the material, I will be able to create an opportunity for them to bring new life to the subjects by incorporating their differing experiences and viewpoints. During my high school career, I helped African American students at Sacred Heart and Ginter Park tutoring. The multicultural differences were easily incorporated and transcended in order to best understand the material at hand. I also have a passion for learning about different cultures around the world. I have traveled to Tanzania, England, and Tokyo to broaden my understanding of world communities. Each time I travel, I am most impressed by the people I meet and the experiences they have had. The diversity of the world we live in is an amazing and powerful opportunity to learn from the knowledge of countless people.

My history teacher in seventh grade was very innovative in her techniques for exposing us to U.S History. During our lesson on WWII, I remember her explaining the concept of "no-mans land" by having us divide our desks across the room, throw balled up paper at each other, and notice where the paper fell. Her best moment though, was when she noticed we were once again tired and half asleep due to our rigorous schedules. As we took our seats the next day, she instructed us to get up and move to the middle of the room. She explained that our sleeping habits were not conducive to learning, which meant that in order to wake up we would do Tae-bo. After kicking and waving our arms around for five minutes at the beginning of class, my eyes and ears were wide open to learning about the Great Depression that day. This creativity shows students that teachers are not oblivious to the trials of the education system. In the first example she understood our boredom and provided a fun learning experience. In the second, she perceived the sleep deprivation and took care of it before beginning the lesson. Having been inspired by many teachers in my life, I hope that my ability to be creative and innovative will transform each lesson into a positive learning experience for my students.

(a) Have you ever heard of Poseidon, the ruler of the seas, or Hades, the god of the underworld, or even Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty? In this class, you will learn all about these powerful and exciting characters and how they fit into the ancient world. Take Greek Mythology and explore the realm of the gods.
(b) Students will learn to identify the common Greek mythological gods and stories that are referenced in art and literature throughout history. Students will also be introduced to Greek history by understanding the role of mythology in Greek culture. Students will also have the opportunity to develop research and presentation skills.
(c) D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths is a great introduction to Greek Mythology for a younger audience. Another possibility might be to present how Greek myths are being portrayed in our culture today by showing clips from movies like Disney’s “Hercules.” I will also utilize notes from Classics’ courses, specifically Mythology, that have contributed to my minor in college.
(d) Hand-outs and lectures are a small portion of this class. The students can have a lot of fun with this kind of subject, so it is much easier to allow them to explore mythology through projects and assignments. One possibility would be to allow groups to teach a myth to their peers through presentations or skits. Another possibility would be to have individuals create PowerPoint’s or posters on a god or goddess of their choice.
(e) Greek myths, as well as being religious, were meant to be entertaining. This subject deals with the trials, conflicts, and extraordinary achievements of supernatural beings. It is also a great introduction to the complex and exciting ancient world.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Second Half of Bibliography

1. Global Music Machine: Digital Age. BBC WORLDSERVICE.com. BBC. 21 Feb,
2006.

In this article, the BBC presents the recent online music phenomenon without any bias. The music industry dominated change within the music community until recently, when the people took the future of music into their own hands. The BBC describes the effects that legal and commercial actions have caused both in the economic aspects of the music industry and the social trends in the file-sharing community. Having been obtained through BBC, one can assume the information is completely unbiased and accurate. There is a broad rage of readers, so as a news source, BBC has to appeal to many interests and backgrounds.

2. Global Music Machine: Fighting Piracy. BBC WORLDSERVICE.com. BBC. 21 Feb,
2006.

The BBC displays a good amount of figures pertaining to “piracy” and CD sales in this article. It offers up reasons outside piracy for financial losses within the music industry, as well as highlighting the specifics of piracy that most affect the music industry. Towards the end of the article, CD-R, the recordable CD format, is discussed at length relating to piracy issues and policies. BBC must remain unbiased and for its broad base of readers. The facts are directly reported without much comment or predictions, which reflects the large audience this piece was intended for.

3. Katz, Mark. Capturing Sound: How Technology has Changed Music. Los Angeles,
CA: University of California Press, 2004.

In this book, Mark Katz provides a thorough analysis of music history and technological change. He outlines the strengths and weaknesses of file sharing and why it has become so popular. He also guides the reader through the legal debate that has followed file sharing ever since its creation. Finally, he presents a compromise which he believes to be the best option for both file sharers and music industry employees. He describes a loose copyright protection that monitors online privileges and music profits, but still allows for the freedom of creativity and convenience. One of the best arguments he makes is a list explaining why people should pay to download music. Mark Katz aims to enlighten his readers on the newly available means of music creation, production, and distribution. He also warns them of the debates and controversies that surround these new freedoms and improvements. Every now and then he uses humor to engage the reader, which points to a more general audience.

4. Adrianson, Alex. “Stopping music piracy without breaking the Internet: digital might
have a B-side after all.” Consumer’s Research Magazine. 86.10 (Oct. 2003): 10.
Thomas Gale. Expanded Academic ASAP. 2/25/06


Alex Adrianson defines the file sharing debate from a music industry standpoint. He discusses the copyright policy itself and why piracy has become so popular under these policies. He also discusses the RIAA’s situation and why they have chosen to hand out individual lawsuits as a preventative measure. Other options to diminish the copyright problem are also discussed at length. He presents arguments that technology, like putting special codes on CDs, will fix the problem. He also disputes blanket licensing for file sharing networks. All these arguments tend to back up the RIAA’s situation in the end. This article tends to be a reassurance that the RIAA’s policies are superior to other options to quell piracy. The audience would be the music industry and uniformed business consumers to improve the RIAA’s image.

5. Engleman, Eric. “Music industry takes song swappers to court.” Puget Sound
Business Journal. 25:16 (Aug 20, 2004) 3. ProQuest. 2/20/2006

In this article, Eric Engleman describes the lawsuits directed toward people swapping song illegally. He gives estimations relating to recording industry losses and number of people sued for illegal file sharing. The results of these suits are also discussed in terms of the average amount of people who settle and the average settlement sums. This article is very straightforward and concise. It is directed to inform not persuade. It appears in a business journal, so the primary audience is those associated with the business world.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Lesson 2: Correctness

A writer’s style and the rules of grammar often conflict when pen goes to paper (or fingers to keyboard as it were). There are many grammar laws to be obeyed by any learned writer, however many rules of grammar are debatable in different circumstances. Writers must keep in mind their own styles, because grammar is subject to change according to history and circumstances. This style chapter outlines three kinds of grammar rules: “Real Rules,” “the rules of Standard English,” and “Folklore.” “Real rules” are those that should be obeyed in order to communicate proper English and be understood. “The rules of Standard English” ensure the use of a standard dialect while writing. “Folklore” is one of two invented rules, the other being “Elegant Options.” “Folklore” is a set of rules that are noticeable when ignored, but have no grammatical basis. Even though these rules have gained popularity, it is ultimately the writer’s choice to obey them. “Elegant Options” are rules that add a note of formality, which make them noticeable when used rather than ignored. Another facet of correctness is the random “Hobgoblin.” These “hobgoblins” are grammatical choices that have been the basis of particular scrutiny lately. Final points of correctness are making sure pronouns relate to their referents in number and gender.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

First Half of Annotated Bibliography:

1. “Not-so-Jolly Rogers.” Economist.com/ Global Agenda. (March 31, 2004):1.
ProQuest. 20 Feb. 2006 <http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?index=11&did=597909201&SrchMode=1&sid=2&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD&amp;amp;VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1140466672&clientId=4338>.

In this online periodical, Economist.com/ Global Agenda outline the problem of “online piracy” and make predictions about the effects of RIAA preventative techniques and newer file sharing technology. After giving a brief summary about the origins of file sharing and early lawsuit attempts, the article presents data concerning piracy’s effect on the music industry. In the second half of the article, the current RIAA campaign is displayed in a positive light, but is also subjected to specific concerns. The closing thoughts focus on the future of new, legal, file sharing technology, such as Apple’s iTunes services, as well as other cost-cutting measures the music industry might be forced to take. The article, having appeared at Economist.com/Global Agenda and having been copyrighted by The Economist Newspaper, is directed towards business oriented consumers in order to advise any future transactions dealing with the music industry. After giving the facts of the situation and a brief history of the legal battle, the article makes predictions for the success or failure of certain options being explored. With the facts to back up the claims, the article sets up a solid basis for dishing out their own opinions.


2. O’Rourke, Morgan. “Setbacks in the music piracy war.” Risk Management. 51.6
(June, 2004.): 9. Thomas Gale. Expanded Academic ASAP. 20 Feb. 2006
<http://find.galegroup.com/itx/retrieve.do?contentSet=IAC-Documents&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&qrySerId=Locale%28en%2C%2C%29%3AFQE%3D%28ke%2CNone%2C8%29setbacks%3AAnd%3AFQE%3D%28ke%2CNone%2C6%29piracy%24&sgHitCountType=None&inPS=true&sort=DateDescend&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm&amp;amp;tabID=T002&prodId=EAIM&searchId=R1¤tPosition=2&userGroupName=vic_randolph&docId=A118185317&docType=IAC>

Morgan O’Rourke explores the RIAA’s policies and their effects in this article. She begins by pointing out the decreased music file downloading in recent surveys, but by the end of the article she has pointed out other research that appears to discredit RIAA methods. Along the way she presents some legal issues that have hindered the effectiveness of RIAA lawsuits. She concludes by suggesting that perhaps the RIAA was wrong on some of their assumptions about file-sharing. Morgan O’Rourke created this as a follow-up to an article entitled “The Music Industry’s War on Piracy,” published about a year before in Risk Management. The article studies the progress of RIAA policies and tactics over the course of the year. The article is, therefore, a good reference for defensive policies concerning larger corporations or associations.


3. Adegoke, Yinka. “Who are the crooks in the fight over online music?: The RIAA is
shifting targets in its attempts to prevent people sharing music online. But is legal
action the way to go?.” New Media Age. (July 3, 2003): 14. Thomas Gale. Expanded Academic ASAP. 20 Feb. 2006

Adegoke explains the legal issues that have hindered the RIAA’s ability to more directly tackle online file sharing networks and led them to target individual users. She also points out lower prices for items associated with downloading and file sharing that have recently concerned the RIAA. The latter half of the article gives peer-to-peer network founders a voice to speak out against RIAA methods. Adegoke shares the compromises these network officers are trying to achieve. This article is attempting to sift through the “mixed reactions from all sides of the industry.” It attempts to define the situation from all angles in order to give readers a more complete understanding of the situation, especially if they come from the music community.


4. Kusek, David and Gerd Leonhard. The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital
MusicRevolution. Boston: Berklee Press, 2005.

This book is a comprehensive guide to the future of music, which is defined by technology like online music networks. It explains the rise of the digital medium for attaining music throughout its description of recent shifts in musical production and distribution. This manifesto presents a very solid argument that file sharing is not harming the music industry, but rather revolutionizing the methods in which people are introduced to new songs. Privacy is also discussed at length relating to the RIAA’s policies. This book is used as a textbook for Berklee College of Music classes and therefore is primarily directed towards a college student audience. It certainly promotes the idea that the recent digital revolution has caused the record industry to suffer, but the music industry is more alive than ever. This book appeals to fledgling artists by attempting to forward their success in the music industry of the future.

5. Coleman, Mark. Playback: From the Victrola to MP3, 100 Years of Music,
Machines,and Money. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2003.

In this book, Mark Coleman details a long history of music, its changing forms, and the inevitable resistance to these changes. File sharing, displayed through the Napster legal war, is discussed at length. Mark Coleman doesn’t hide the fact that music industry associations such as the RIAA and the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) are the ones at fault in these legal issues with technological advances in music. This book is a good source for activists looking to discredit those opposed to the technological revolution of music. These arguments, although biased, are well formed and have a lot of support.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

J/ Choose the "controversy" you will be working with all semester. Write a one page, in-depth, detailed description of your controversy AND describe the characteristics of the community that you are examining your controversy as part of. This should be a community to which you belong.

Threatened by the success of online music swapping networks, major record companies directed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) set out to restrict the digital revolution of file sharing. After numerous legal issues, the RIAA reverted back to handing out individual lawsuits to heavy online music network users. While thousands have already dished out money to appease the RIAA, millions more continue to ignore their threats. Several studies have cast doubt on the negative effects of file sharing on the music industry, while others display positive feedback for the RIAA’s campaign. Conflicting data and opinions have caused the music community to wonder if file sharing is, indeed, the threat that the RIAA and the music industry make it out to be. If it is indeed detrimental to the music industry, is the RIAA handling the situation correctly or is there a better method to combat file sharing and peer-to-peer networks?
As a member of the music loving community and a seasoned file sharer, it is important for me to discover the true effects of file sharing and how they should be dealt with through exploring both sides of the argument. File sharing and the RIAA’s lawsuits affect citizens, young and old, throughout America, as well as everybody associated with the music industry, including the artists themselves. It is also important to find out how the money lost from free downloading and the money gained from lawsuits affects the members of the music community. Is file sharing deserving of the name “piracy” or has the RIAA picked a scape-goat for other financial problems within the music industry?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Fear and Loathing in a History Classroom
(Hunter S. Thompson goes to class)

Jesus! Where had the podium gone? Had the reptilian creatures to my right stolen the god damn podium? I noticed blood spreading across the carpet from their direction just moments ago. Any creature that would eat a historian must be capable of theft concerning useless furniture items. Just don’t move and they won’t see you. Their eyesight is based on movement. I think I heard that in a movie once.
I sat stiff as a board for what seemed like hours, listening to the soft drone of a giant worm that started to gravitate across the room and search for something to absorb into its pulsing amorphous body. I just hoped that it too had eyesight based on movement. This creature was new to me…if I wasn’t in such a tense situation, I’d call up my attorney to document it for science and posterity. Posterity is growing exceedingly important. The blob beast shuttered and seemed to agree by describing kings and queens and other royal things. Only a blob could talk of such mundane things while reptiles tore away at god knows what in the corner of the room.
I had to get out of here somehow, get up, leave, without being noticed by the vicious enemies. My escape lied in those other poor bastards surrounding me. If they would move around while I escaped, the reptiles would hopefully see them, not me. How do I get them to move without being obvious? I decided to startle them. Humans have a herd mentality, a loud noise will set off a stampede when created at the right time. I looked to my left so the reptiles wouldn’t see my mouth move and screamed “KILL THE BODY AND THE HEAD WILL DIE!”
The people reacted, I don’t know how, I was getting the hell out of there. I left everything behind. These situations warrant that kind of disregard. Hopefully one of the lucky bastards that made it out alive will bring me my water bottle and bag. I felt bad that I had to sacrifice so many to save myself, but it was inevitable that someone would use this method. It might as well have been me…those god damn reptiles weren’t slowing down. The amorphous blob was absorbing the blood running across the carpet by the time I got out of there.
F*ck posterity, I need to find my attorney and get into the ether.

Monday, February 20, 2006

While sitting in my room, an old Mary Branch dorm, a shopping cart with no wheels screeched past my widow outside. Slowly, metal, scraping across pavement, circulated my room. I imagined an old lady hunched over, with one hand clutching her back that ‘just isn’t what it used to be,’ while the other was pushing the rusty old cart ever…so…slowly. While this obnoxious noise harassed my ear, another sound surfaced. A person with a giant’s hand, perhaps someone afflicted with Elephantitis, began to flick a lead pipe with their thumb and forefinger. In no particular rhythm did this person assault the pipe outside our door, but each flick was a heavy blow with a resounding noise. A low gurgling and drip combination was maintained as my background music. It was as if a scientist gargled Listerine, spit it into a beaker, and then poured it, ever so slightly, right through a tube into our room. Ever so often, the giant outside would prefer to hit our door with the lead pipe rather than flick it with his enormous fingers. Thick, heavy, salt would be drizzled against the window pane when the room got too quiet. This usually happened just before the mental asylum patient in our closet got frustrated with his small living space confined by bars…loose, noisy, bars. The next thirty minutes or so would be pierced by his deep roars of pain and confusion, accompanied by the rattling of the cage’s loose, noisy, bars.
This is the symphony of pipes. The price of heat. The overlooked and rotting technology, long abandoned by the sensible people. Free the patient, take the lead pipe from the giant, break the scientist’s beaker, and sit the old lady down, and give the salt to Estes. I need a good night sleep…or, at the very least, a good afternoon nap.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Revised:
J/ Choose the "controversy" you will be working with all semester. Write a one page, in-depth, detailed description of your controversy AND describe the characteristics of the community that you are examining your controversy as part of. This should be a community to which you belong.

The swashbuckling lawlessness associated with piracy has entered the technological era by abandoning the high seas and hooking up to the internet. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, online music piracy “is the unauthorized uploading of a copyrighted sound recording and making it available to the public, or downloading a sound recording from an Internet site, even if the recording isn't resold. Online piracy may now also include certain uses of "streaming" technologies from the Internet” (http://www.riaa.com/issues/piracy/default.asp). Illegal downloading has become common throughout the World Wide Web. I have worn the technological eye patch myself for several years and have only recently noticed the repercussions of file sharing. As a deterrent against piracy, the RIAA has issued thousands of lawsuits to random offenders. These lawsuits appear to be the only way to protect the rights of the artists and producers against the numerous and unpredictable offenders. However, sometimes the lawsuits affect children; which means that little Cindy Lou Who gets a nasty fine or goes to court, while millions more people, young and old, are still looking for the newest Madonna song on Kazaa. Is this method the best way to handle online piracy? In a recent e-mail to the students of RMC, an article at http://www.sharenomore.blogspot.com/ pegged the RIAA’s lawsuit number towards file sharers at over 10,000 as of April 30, 2005.
The recording industry is certainly experiencing financial losses every day from millions of pirates. But can they afford the losses? The constant images of recording artists living in the lap of luxury on shows like MTV’s “Cribs” would lead one to believe that the recording industry is surviving just fine with music piracy. Nevertheless, ever since Napster was created as a quick and easy way to download free music, illegal file sharing has caused a dip in music industry profits. Is their online policing and constant barrage of lawsuits a feasible reaction? Online music piracy and the RIAA backlash brings up issues such as electronic trespassing, invasion of “privacy, copyright infringement, property rights, and the evolution of digital media” (http://www.afm.org/public/departments/leg_issues_05.php).
I consider myself a large part of the music community in the broader sense of the term. Although I was not born musically talented, I have an insatiable desire and appreciation for music. I began by buying tapes at the tail end of their era. I collected CDs as soon as they became popular. I burned CDs when that technology became available and now I download. I have an ipod with around 14 days worth of music stored on it and I will not claim that all of it was obtained legally. Music means a lot of things to a lot of people. This new availability of music is being severely punished, but is it really deserved? As a consumer, listener, and ex-pirate within the music community, online music piracy directly concerns me. Other members of the community include those involved within the music industry and the artists themselves. Online music piracy questions the true price of music. Who benefits from piracy? Who is harmed by piracy? How should piracy be dealt with? Illegal downloading has become so common that perhaps the music industry is fighting a loosing battle. The listeners, artists, consumers, producers, agents, publishers, retailers, and everybody else involved in this community each have their own view on this broad and controversial issue.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Draft:
J/ Choose the "controversy" you will be working with all semester. Write a one page, in-depth, detailed description of your controversy AND describe the characteristics of the community that you are examining your controversy as part of. This should be a community to which you belong.

Piracy has entered the technological era by abandoning the high seas and hooking up to the internet. Illegal downloading has been rampant among my peers for about seven years now. Online music piracy “is the unauthorized uploading of a copyrighted sound recording and making it available to the public, or downloading a sound recording from an Internet site, even if the recording isn't resold. Online piracy may now also include certain uses of "streaming" technologies from the Internet” (http://www.riaa.com/issues/piracy/default.asp). I have worn the technological eye patch myself and have only recently become concerned with the repercussions of file sharing. The offenders are numerous and unpredictable. Recently, as a deterrent against piracy, the law has adopted scapegoating, which can result in slapping large fines on small children. Little Cindy Lou Who gets to wear the silver bracelets, while millions more look for the newest Madonna song on Kazaa.
The recording industry is receiving serious financial blows from these merciless enemies. Illegal file sharing has chiseled away at music industry profits ever since Napster was created as a quick and easy way to download free music. Online music piracy brings up issues such as “privacy, copyright infringement, property rights, and the evolution of digital media” (http://www.afm.org/public/departments/leg_issues_05.php).
I consider myself a large part of the music community in the broader sense of the term. Although I was not born musically talented, I have an insatiable desire and appreciation for music. I began by buying tapes at the tail end of their era. I collected CDs as soon as they became popular. The next step was downloading. As a consumer and listener within the music community, online music piracy directly concerns me. Other members of the community include those involved with the music industry and the artists themselves. Music means a lot of things to a lot of people. Online music piracy questions the true price of music. Who benefits from piracy? Who is harmed by piracy? Is piracy a national outcry against the greed and lavish lifestyles of record company employees? Illegal downloading has become so common that perhaps the music industry is fighting a loosing battle. The listeners, artists, consumers, producers, agents, publishers, retailers, and everybody else involved in this community each have their own view on this broad and controversial issue.

Friday, February 17, 2006

I am going to embrace freedom of speech on this blog and continue what our Seventh-day Adventist buddies dropped in my neighbor’s mailbox the other day. At the very end of “National Sunday Law” by A. Jan Marcussen, a small advertisement is displayed as a last resort for saving the souls of heretical readers. My heathen eyes took in the following: “Many today are getting drawn into witchcraft and wizardry through movies and literature. The author has written a new book entitled Cousin Henry Potter (and the Terrible Time Machine). It appeals to both young and old while exposing the horrors of the occult, and leading them to the lovely Jesus…”
I wondered as I read this what the description of the book might look like. In this blog, I am trying to maintain the audience of heathens and heretics and convert them to the obviously superior and correct path of the Seventh-day Adventist through Henry Potter’s adventures in a slightly shocking, but overall beautifully ordained synopsis.

The beast walks among us with wand in hand…who will stop him?

Henry Potter arose from his bed of fire and swiped off the soot that had collected on his crimson horns. He reached over for his wizarding wand and headed off to wreak havoc among god-fearing citizens like you and I. After a typical afternoon of sacrilegious acts, Henry Potter created something much more dangerous than the satanic spells he was normally conjuring. He cruelly produced the damned, hell-bent, loathsome, time machine of doom! This horrendous act of religious disregard spirals out of control into an amazing and adventurous tale of a girl named Mary, who attempts to reveal to Henry Potter his sinful ways. Mary is a Seventh-day Adventist, fighting to save the soul of a boy, who, without her help, will most certainly be doomed to a life of eternal suffering. Follow Mary in her quest to spread the teachings of Jesus and destroy the horrors of the occult in Henry Potter and the Terrible Time Machine.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I was reading earlier about the French Revolution for one of my history courses. More specifically, I was reading a passage about Robespierre’s image just before he was executed. For those of you that can’t recall, Robespierre was a major leader of the French Revolution, which began in 1789. He furthered many of the revolutionary ideas through numerous political positions and was known as a fantastic orator. Eventually, he became a victim of the revolutionary spirit and was executed by means of the guillotine; a fate which he, himself, had sentenced many. In this passage I read, one of his first biographers smeared his name by any means possible. The example given was Robespierre’s love of oranges. The biographer twisted this man’s preference for a satisfying healthy snack into an insatiable lust for an exotic food item, even during the off season, while the people of France starved. This ability to turn such an ordinary personality trait into a horribly rude gesture through logical fallacies isn’t that uncommon in our everyday lives. We may not be running a smear campaign, but, throughout our day, many of us chose to make a big deal out of something utterly insignificant.
Let’s give the revolutionary oranges to my roommate at RMC in the year 2006. For her own sake, we will call her ‘Yaylor.’ (And for my own sake, I’d just like to say this has absolutely nothing to do with you or any oranges, Yaylor.) Now, in this scenario, I have recently discovered yet another pile of Yaylor’s infamous orange peel in my dorm room and I have gone to talk about it with another friend:
Yaylor has complete disregard for any person who has crossed her path. Leaving orange peel in a dorm room is unsanitary and will most certainly cause an infestation problem to occur, thus ruining the study habits of countless other students living in the dorms surrounding us. Through continuing to consume these soggy moldy abominations, she is obviously rebelling against the very community she chose to be a part of. The health and safety issues associated with careless orange peel littering are grave and serious matters that cannot be taken lightly. I believe it is in our best interest to dispose of not only the orange peels that Yaylor so hastily leaves in her wake, but also Yaylor herself. She deserves nothing better than a quick trip to the ‘national razor’ or a long walk off a short pier. Vive la Revolucion!
-----
Now, perhaps the reality of the situation was that Yaylor simply enjoys eating the sweet and succulent fruit for its nutritious vitamin C benefits and its delicious tangy taste. She would occasionally forget to throw away her orange peel, because she was late to her Political Science class. Robespierre got his head chopped off. Yaylor lives. … but for how much longer? …and who will be the next victim of this silver tongued word play?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

J2/ Growing up, you belonged to several communities, but the most obvious one was probably the community that you lived in...your neighborhood. As a young adult, you are moving away from that community and entering others. Help your classmates and me visualize the communities that you belong to as the neighborhood where “You” currently reside. In other words, if “You” were neighborhood, comprised of different houses with residents inside of them which represent the different communities that you consider yourself part of, what would it look like? From the list of communities that you wrote down for Journal 1, choose 4-6 communities and describe them as houses on “You” street. In order to help us truly understand the nature of these communities—their members, their shared beliefs, and the tensions/controversies within them


In Kim’s Neighborhood, there are four main houses to tour. The largest and most flamboyant house is called the “American House.” Outside this white picket fence home is a proudly displayed American flag, billowing in the wind. Once you get past the red and blue shutters and through the white door, however, things are very different. Inside lies a highly dysfunctional, large, multicultural, and diverse family. Its inhabitants are young and old, black and white, Latino and Asian, male and female, rich and poor, divorced and married, gay and straight, democrat and republican, rebellious and passive, and have any and all kinds of interests. This house was once the annex of the “British House” across the lake, however a family feud occurred not too long ago and the “American Annex” effectively separated and declared itself a house. Most of the people passing by the American House recognize a strong sense of individuality and freedom that motivates its inhabitants. Those that seek to live in this house often find the process difficult, because some inhabitants seek isolation and are weary of foreigners. Those that do get accepted must be warned that the household is run very erratically. Many of the inhabitants are ignored and house rules usually only benefit a few, however, there is great possibility within the system. The methods of keeping the household functioning are constant issues of debate. Much smaller squabbles occur constantly among residents about any number of issues. I was born in a small room of the northeastern wing of this household. My family has been living around there for a while, but our ancestors came over from the British House and many other European Households across the lake.

Down the street from the American House sits the “Democratic House.” Most of the house is painted blue with white and red trim. A donkey usually roams around the front yard, but he won’t bite unless provoked. The residents of this house are almost as diverse as the American House; on the other hand, there is a significant lack of southern accents. People in this household are constantly trying to help run the American House; however, a red house down the street with a giant elephant out front is also vying for their attention. I visit the Democratic House when I feel my input makes a difference or when competition with the red house heats up. The Democratic House is big on having a central government within the American House, unlike the red house which wants to spread the power to each of the different household wings. The Democratic House also tries to make business dealings in the American House fairer by increasing corporate competition, rather than catering to what appear to be developing monopolies. I had heard a lot about all the houses helping to run the American House while growing up, but I identified more with the Democratic House than anything else. The northeastern wing that I grew up in primarily supported the Democratic House. The “Liberal House,” which I also hang out at a lot, is very close to the Democratic House, so that also persuaded me to join.

The green Liberal House has a large backyard with a big forest on one side and the Democratic House on the other. My friends gave me a tour through different wings of this house many times during my life and I feel very much at home within it. The residents of this house have a stereotype of being very extreme individuals, hippie-like in appearance or flamboyant in clothing and ideals. Although some residents do fit these descriptions, the Liberal House is mostly about acceptance and equality, so all sorts of people can come in. The residents favor change and often take more radical political stances like pro-choice, legalizing marijuana, allowing gay marriage, etc. Some of my friends from high school were environmentalists, anarchists, witches, and homosexuals. My best friend is a gay man living in Virginia, one of the most conservative states in the U.S. Through him, I have become a big supporter of the gay community through my liberal ideals. There is a large wing of the liberal house dedicated to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transvestites, and transgender individuals. Many people still have very negative views toward their lifestyles for whatever reason, so the liberal community provides good support for these individuals and represents their best interests.

The last house to be mentioned on the Kim’s Neighborhood Tour, and the most recent addition to the area, is the Randolph Macon College House. This house is a red brick building with a horrible heating system that clangs all night and keeps residents from getting their beauty sleep all winter long. An abundance of WASP’s, I mean yellow jacket’s, nests surround the house and a flag, with the RMC seal on it, is displayed out front. The residents are primarily white upper class citizens that enjoy Bush, Vera Bradley, and Beer. As you can tell, this community has a giant rift between my other communities. This causes tension, but I have also come to appreciate some aspects of visiting the RMC House. Despite the lack of diversity, the residents are all in pursuit of knowledge (mostly) and this is an admirable quality about any knowledge-based house in Kim’s Neighborhood.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

J1/ In “Community, Commitment, and Individuality,” Bellah et al argue that community involvement leads to and fosters civic individualism/civic engagement. Think about the example of Angelo Donatello, who found that embracing his individual heritage as an Italian-American compelled him to join not only a local chapter of the Sons of Italy but also inspired him to become a civic leader in Boston. Think also about Cecilia Dougherty, whose sense of civic engagement—her desire to help the “have nots have power that reflects their numbers” (pg. 84)—extends from her awareness of her private life, i.e. the values instilled in her by her parents as well as her struggles as a widowed housewife with four children. Make a comprehensive list of the many communities—large/small, formal/informal, serious/silly—that you consider yourself a part of. For each community, reflect on what has led you to participate in these communities. Did you join a particular community because it reflected the values you were raised with (such as a religious youth group or)? The values/interests you are beginning to embrace on your own (such as a “simple living” club or a “literary society”)? The values/interests of your peers (such as a ‘greek’ organization or a “Maroon 5” fan club)? To what degree is your membership in these communities an extension of private and/or social aspects of your personality? Please explain.

The American Community – I am an American by birth. Born in Greenwich, CT, I didn’t have much choice as to which country I hail from; however, having lived in this country for all my life (minus eight months in England during my infant years) the culture has been forced into me. Being an American is reflected in social and private aspects of my life, because many of my values and habits have been shaped by the American society and culture. Values like individualism and freedom become very real when visiting other countries.

The Unitarian Community – Although I haven’t attended a Unitarian Church in several years (not for lack of trying), I identify with this community through my family and through my own beliefs. I grew up without any concept of religion, until I attended a Jewish Preschool during Christmas time. My classmates were quick to point out that I had a Christmas tree, when I took them to my house for a play-date. One classmate accused me of being a Christian, to which I responded “What’s that!?” My family took me to Sunday school classes as a child at local Unitarian Universalist Churches in New York and Pennsylvania, where I began to understand the beliefs of those around me. I attended an Episcopal High School in Virginia, where I took several religion courses from Bible Studies to Religions of India. I now only identify with religion as philosophy and, therefore, find a great sense of freedom in the open and dogma-free environment of the Unitarian community. Until I pick up the habit of attending their sermons again, the Unitarian community is really more of a private aspect of my personality.

Democrat – Both my parents are democratic, however my grandparents on both sides of the family have gone from one extreme to the other, so I have never felt any political pressure at home to join either party. I upheld my apathetic views until I learned more about politics in general, at which time I quickly joined the Democratic Party. I am proud of my political affiliation and have tried to make it a social aspect of my life through voting, writing letters, and being an informed citizen.

Liberal Community– I am the most liberal member of my family through many events and people in my life. The liberal community has definitely been an extension of my interactions with peers. My best friend is a gay man living in Richmond, which is right in the middle of one of the most conservative states in America. Through being around the gay community in Richmond and having radically liberal friends in high school, my peers have allowed me to view the world with a broad acceptance and liberal values. Through the web, I have supported liberal organizations like Greenpeace and have performed minimal activist activities. The liberal community is very much a social and private aspect of my life.

RMC Community (Class of ’08) – Although I sometimes resent my choice to attend this school, I am still a member of the RMC community. Since I never really expected myself to attend RMC, I suppose the reason I am here is scholarship related. However, I have come to appreciate certain aspects of this community and have embraced it socially, through new friends, and privately, through living and learning on campus.

Honors Program Community – I was accepted into the Honors Program community based on academic performance last year and chose to maintain my spot through values like diligence and hard work I received from my family. I consider this more of a private aspect of my personality for personal excellence; however, I have attended a few social functions held by the program.

St. Catherine’s Alumni Community – I attended four years at a private Episcopal high school, because of my respect for my older brother. I looked up to my older brother while I was growing up, so, when he went from public middle school to private high school, I followed his lead. My brother attended Collegiate and I went to St. Catherine’s. Although I regretted my choice at first, I later began to appreciate my classmates and the education I was receiving. St. Catherine’s was a very social aspect of my personality; however, as I am an alumnus now, I feel the community has instilled values that affect my life privately.

Facebook and Myspace Community – I was very much influenced by my peers when I joined the Facebook and Myspace communities online. This is a purely social aspect of my personality, as it distracts me from my studies through interacting with friends.

Monday, February 13, 2006

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1136990/reviews.php?critic=columns&sortby=default&page=1&rid=1326895

I was reading through what the critics thought of a movie I recently viewed for the second time: I Heart Huckabees. I found one critic in particular with a crude negative review that I wanted to respond to.


No doubt, “I Heart Huckabees” is a strange and unique film that required a second viewing just in case I missed some of the deep existential remarks. The film, overall, was provocative, fun, humorous, and very artistic. There was one critic I came across that did not share my feelings toward this movie at all. Victoria Alexander from FilmsInReview.com wrote that the movie was “horrible torture. David O. Russell [the director] hates us.” Her big reasons for disliking the movie appeared to be its cast, tone, and, what she considered to be, the overall pointlessness of the film.

The cast did an outstanding job. Ms. Alexander simply hacked away at their reasons for agreeing to do the film. Who cares why they agreed to do it? Whether they performed well in it or what they brought to the characters are much more pertinent questions. Seasoned actors Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin really brought a professional air to their roles in the film as “existential detectives.” Jason Schwartzman and Mark Wahlberg performed amazingly as two philosophically confused and existentially curious adults who piece together their own sort-of existential reality by the end of the film. The rest of the caste, such as Isabelle Huppert, Jude Law, and Naomi Watts delivered well according to their roles.

The tone of the movie was not nearly as dark as Ms. Alexander would like her readers to believe when she posed the question: “Why is every character in this movie furiously angry, bitter, and resentful?” There are bitter and resentful characters in the movie, however, the director uses their confusion and emotion to create humor. There is an undeniable playful tone throughout most of the movie. Even when a character’s home, along with everything he owns, is burning down, it is hard not to laugh when a French woman jumps up from the bushes to take a Polaroid of the character’s reaction.

Certainly, the overall meaning of the film can be highly debatable and confusing, however, nonexistent is a bit of a stretch. Without some sort of background in philosophy, the viewer is at the mercy of the existential detectives to keep them up to speed with the hard to grasp problems of the main character. Although the movie does a good job of presenting the philosophical problems to its viewers, anyone could get held up along the way with their own thoughts.

I recommend “I Heart Huckabees,” because it is very unique and has a vastly different feel than any movie being produced these days. Do not watch it with a large group of people, because meaning will be lost if attention waivers. If you still need convincing, watch it because you will be shown how to achieve “pure being,” by means of a large rubber ball.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I am writing to persuade any writing teachers that it is pointless to attempt to teach good writing. In reality, I do not share this viewpoint.

What makes us appreciate the genius of Poe, Thoreau, Wilde, or Wordsworth? Poe’s ability to entangle us in dark and sinister worlds of mystery and intrigue would mean nothing if you or I could create stories equally as impressive as “The Tell Tale Heart.” Thoreau’s ambitious writing, which inspires us to expand our thinking and examine the world from a different plane of existence, would be passé if you or I could tap into a transcendental reality and create politically charged work like “Civil Disobedience” at the drop of a hat. If we could effortlessly scrawl out the wit that Oscar Wilde wove in and out of works like “The Importance of Being Ernest,” it would not be nearly as humorous. And, finally, if we could even come close to the glorious and sophisticated descriptions Wordsworth allowed to flow from his pen when he wrote poems like “Ode,” it would not be nearly as beautiful. [All these writers had an enviable gift.] They possessed a talent for writing that is unable to be taught.
It would be a waste of time to teach talent-less students the art of writing. [In our fast-paced society, time is precious.] Why should we waste it on those that will never create greatness? Writing is an art form with intricate levels of understanding. Just as it would be a great trial to teach the guitar methods of Jimi Hendrix or the brush strokes of Monet, teaching how to write well would be extremely tricky.
[I have been a student of sixteen years and have been through many English classes with lessons focusing on writing.] The works produced by students before and after a lesson are usually just slightly different. The lessons usually cleared up small grammar issues, or perhaps, they allowed the student to remember a thesis sentence. The attempts at teaching writing that I have witnessed have rendered sub-par results.
Talent and ability in writing is predisposed to each person. [We cannot change what is written in out genetic code.] If every one of us could write with great style and ability, writing would not be precious. Not only can writing not be taught, it shouldn’t be taught. We must acknowledge the gift of writing in the few that possess it, not try to replicate it.
Writing teachers should attempt to improve only what is needed to succeed through higher level learning systems. Make their writing manageable. We must allow those who have talent to express it in their own way. If they have the ability, they will rise to meet the great names in literature on their own terms. Great writing cannot be forced.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Lesson 1: Understanding Style

One’s writing must be clear. Writing is for transferring the writer’s ideas to a specific audience. If the writing is plagued by a mess of style or poor grammar, the message is lost. Unclear writing has affected English writers throughout history. Earlier writers often reveled in their ability to sound impressive through an excess of words and overly-complex structures. This gaudy writing style creates a significant barrier between one’s readers and the message of the work. Even those who criticized this writing style had difficulty breaking the habit. Students who have struggled with reading assignments over the years usually believe they are not smart enough for the writing; however, it is often that the work is unclear, rather than the reader incapable.
In order to maintain clarity, one must be aware of the typical causes of unclear writing. First, one must not confuse a difficult style with deep thinking. Readers will be puzzled rather than impressed by difficult and complex writing. Second, one must know and be confident about what he/she is writing on. If the writer is uncertain about their subject, often times they will try to mask this with a long, difficult writing style. Third, one must not be intimidated by one’s audience. Unclear writing can be a product of “freezing up” during the writing process due to a new or intimidating audience. Finally, and most important, one must write for the understanding of the reader, not the writer. Writers must meet the needs of their audience before finishing a work. If they fall short, meaning and understanding is lost. What the writer understands from their work isn’t always what the reader will get out of it.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Before a heated argument, concerning my sister’s grounding next weekend, the dinner conversation at my mom’s birthday meal allowed me to reminisce about some childhood movies. I suppose I started the conversation with the random statement: “You know, I really hated Pinocchio.” The next hour or so was dominated by a rush of Disney movie critiques. So this is my overall analysis of popular Disney movies based on my two parents, a fifteen year old sister, and myself around the table in a Chinese restaurant.
Aladdin, unless you overviewed it as a child, probably ranks the top of anyone’s list. This movie, aside from have an amazing voice performance by Robin Williams as the Genie, had a killer story line and really fun attitude. The music is also very notable…I think I memorized most of them as a child on our long trips to see my grandparents in Rhode Island.
Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King are probably next in line due to their overall stories, characters, and music. Bell was probably the best role model for girls watching Disney movies. Let’s face it, all the other heroines were washing floors, cleaning houses, falling asleep, and disobeying their father, who happened to be KING OF THE OCEAN…smart one, that Ariel. The Lion King taught me two Swahili words: Rafiki (friend) and Simba (lion). That’s pretty damn good for educating my fast paced ADD TV generation.
Now I am going into the grey area, where people have their own favorites. Mine happen to be Robin Hood and Peter Pan . My obsession with the story of Robin Hood probably has something to do with a personal outcry against the Bush Administration, but let’s not go into that right now. Peter Pan has that one key element to it that most people would abuse all to hell, but want so bad: flying. As my sister said, “I mean, like, who wouldn’t want to fly!”
Finally, I wanted to briefly mention the movies that were, as I so colorfully named, “the ass films.” Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi, and, to some extent, Cinderella all had ass qualities. Pinocchio was a mind f*ck for an eight year old. That movie was like a horrible dream that you couldn’t wake up from. Think about it: living in whales, talking puppets, people turning into donkeys, cricket consciences, and who wants to see a movie where kids go to “Pleasure Island?” If your looking for a good LSD inspired Dinsey movie, go for Alice in Wonderland. Dumbo and Bambi were just plain downers. Dumbo more so than Bambi, but, still, mothers and dying and separation, etc… My beef with Cinderella is wrapped up in that one scene where the two mice are trying to bring the key up the long flights of stairs to Cinderella. That is probably the most stressful scene I have ever viewed.
Anyway, the moral of this blog is never watch Pinocchio.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Lately I have been really annoyed by my life’s inability to have mental and physical health go hand in hand. This recent irritation stems from the fact that I developed the flu right when classes began this week. It’s been a very strange flu, characterized by fatigue, chills/ fevers, and obnoxiously sharp and often headaches. Last night I woke up with a terrible fever and began hallucinating that the reality show, Survivor, had chosen my room as the location of a challenge. Imagine how annoyed I was to find that they had so distastefully chosen the quarantined room to hold their games in, and, when they found their surroundings were slightly disheveled, they blamed it on the invalid.

I feel so weak and, aside from my karate class two nights a week, I have virtually no time for exercising. Being conscience through my 8 or 8:10 morning classes five days a week is one of my primary goals this semester, so I am trying to abstain from my zombie like and vampiric nocturnal tendencies. This whole week has been a series of naps, which caught up with me during the second half of my 8:10 Greek History course, when my neck began to resemble a goose. Lack of sleep and exercise (plus the Estes and Macon Coffee food) will really do a number on a body. We are a generation of zombies, relying on our youth to carry us through the grueling expectations of others. Is this it? Are our systems of education going to consistently work against us? I just about had a nervous beak down when someone suggested I might have mono, because the option of missing even one class seems so inconvenient and troublesome when your life is so scheduled. Maybe someday the “man” will take note of our changing learning styles and sleeping habits and reform our current realities.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I am reading “Teacher Man” by Frank McCourt, which had a section, in which he instructed his students at McKee Vocational and Technical High School to expand on what he thought was their best writing: excuse notes. The assignment, which I am adopting for tonight, was to write an excuse note from Adam or Eve to God.

Dear God,
I am full of woe for having eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Thou hadst expressly forbad us and I did not follow the word of the lord. I assumed the serpent was as goodly as all other creatures in thine kingdom. I had no reason to think him of ill will. Why woudst any of thine creatures perform such an evil act? The other reason for being subject to such a sinful act was that of extreme hunger. Adam had promised a meal by sun down, but his labors took him well into the night. By the time the serpent addressed me, I could have swallowed the whole tree. Why woudst thou create such an alluring and harmful tree so accessible to thine creatures? Perhaps it would have been prudent for thou to have created a rock of the knowledge of good and evil. That way nothing could have been eaten. Perhaps a fence or some other boundary or peril surrounding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would have also been a good idea. I would have been less inclined to access the delicious fruit had it been situated on an island amidst turbulent water. Anyway, I am truly sorry and I repent for my ultimate sin, but if there is ever a next time…consider a fence.
Sincerely,
Your Child,
Eve

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

J/ Describe your expectations for this class. What do you expect this class to be? What is influencing your perceptions of this class? What do you want to leave this class knowing? What are your goals for the class? What are you looking forward to in the class? What are you nervous about? What is the most important change you want to see in yourself of your writing that you think this course could foster?

I expect this class to be a positive experience in my writing life. I hope it'll help me both understand and better my own style and abilities. My perception of this course is not really influenced by anything. I heard nothing about the course. All I heard was that I would really appreciate the teacher. Once handed the syllabus, I was very surprised by the nature of the course. Not really negatively or positively...just surprised. I am nervous about our cumulative writing project, because so much hangs in the topic and I am most indecisive when dealing with those types of options. I look forward to having some fun with this blog. I have never had the opportunity to create a blog before, so I hope I can explore what it has to offer. I would like to leave the class knowing how to focus my thoughts and be confident in what I write. I think so much of my inability in writing stems from an inability to write uninhibited by the thoughts of others. I want to see new developments in my writing style that allow me to communicate my thoughts thoroughly to the reader. I think I am most affected by feedback that states something is "awkward" or "unclear." Other than the previously mentioned nerves, I am looking forward to the class and hope to get a lot out of it.

J/Discuss your experience with writing. How do you understand yourself as a writer? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your writing techniques/process (i.e. Do you do any prewriting? Are you are compulsive drafter? Do you wait until the last minute? Do you use paper or a computer to compose? Do you follow any formulas for writing?)

I am a very finicky writer. I spend a lot of time understanding the world around me and, therefore, it is sometimes difficult to translate my own thoughts onto paper. This is one of my major flaws in my writing outside of school. On my own time, I have trouble deciding what is important, what is irrelevant, and what is appropriate for me to write on. In terms of my writing for classes and other formal papers, I believe I have a strong background in writing. My high school was fortunate to have, what I considered to be, a great English department, which allowed me to get the basic crowd pleasing papers done faster and better than many other students entering college. But, I have never been one to get consistent praise (outside decent grades) on papers. I have the ability to form a good paper, but I feel that I lack the inspiration to make a great one.

As a child of the computer savvy generation, I have been spoiled for my whole writing career. Countless teachers urged drafts, outlines, and other forms of preparatory work throughout my writing career, but I have never picked up many of their habits. When assigned a paper, I start at the beginning and cut, paste, delete, revise, redo, start over, undo, spell check, proof read, and eventually finish. I am no stranger to deleting long paragraphs out of spite. I never enjoyed outlines, because they were too basic. I never enjoyed drafts, because the tools to fix your abomination of a paper are right at your finger tips. I enjoy the finished product, which, as most of us will attest to, is hard to come by.

I think I am somewhat of a last minute writer. I find that it is easier for me to accept the typed word vomit on my computer screen if I don’t have a lot of time before the deadline. It focuses me on the goal. However, this sort of hectic behavior is a product of stressful school schedules as well.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

welcome

Welcome