Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The End of the Semester Schedule

Thursday, November 19th: Essay 3 is due
Tuesday, November 24th: NO CLASS

Thursday, November 26th: NO CLASS

Tuesday, December 1st: Extra Credit Day

Thursday, December 3rd: Portfolios are due

Tuesday, December 8th: Catch Up Day

Thursday, December 10th: Last day, Portfolios are returned

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

We ended the semester with a bang. Literally. Our fearless discussion leaders - Dave, Aaron, J.J., and Ryan-kicked off our final talk, asking the question: "Who in here would pay for sex?" Surprisingly, more than a few people felt comfortable enough to raise their hands.

The discussion was on Kate Butcher's article, "The Confusion between Prostitution and Sex Trafficking." To start, Dave summarized it for us. "She's arguing against a US bill that treats prostitution and sex trafficking like they are the same thing." Butcher believes that prostitutes should have rights. We talked about whether we agreed or disagreed with this. We also talked about whether prostitution should be legalized, and if so, how it might be regulated.

Some of us felt that prostitution could be regulated and should be legalized. Maria said that it's a person's choice. Josh pointed out that prostitution is illegal because it puts women at a disadvantage. A prostitute gets in a car and offers herself up to be robbed, raped, or murdered. Ryan and J.J. brought up prostitution in Europe, where women work out of houses, because it's safer.

We all admitted that there's no surefire way to regulate it. Every day, people slack off at their jobs. Prostitutes can forget condoms. Johns can get out of hand. The important thing is that we figure out what's best for everyone in the US. Would legalizing and regulating prostitution help or hurt Americans?

Justin added that the difference between a prostitute and a victim of sex trafficking may not be that easy to see. This is especially true if women are working out of a house. A sex trafficked woman might be too scared or too drugged up to let on her status. The sex trade is an illegal business. The world of crime is dark and unclear. C'mon. It's not called the "shady underground" for nothing.

Ultimately, we found that the overall argument is not solely about prostitution. Jan pointed this out by highlighting one of Butcher's concluding points. Lawmakers and social workers deal with prostitution and sex trafficking from the perspective of someone who's NOT a prostitute or a victim of sex trafficking. They project their own understanding of the trade onto the people actually working in the business. It's slightly imperialistic. One person is forcing his or her viewpoint on someone else. In our discussion, that's what we were doing as well.

So we discovered something about prostitution. It's incredibly hard to regulate, because we don't know what it's like to be a prostitute. We don't know if prostitutes choose to be prostitutes or not. As a human race, we have not yet figured out if prostitution is morally right or wrong. It's in the grey area. Perhaps that's why it has stayed illegal in the US for so long.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Homework for Thursday, November 12th

Prepare for Discussion 6.

Please read "Confusion Between Prostitution and Sex Trafficking" by Kate Butcher on page 307. Also read the introduction to the chapter, as it will help you understand the topic of sex trafficking.

Be ready to discuss and write on it!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Homework for Tuesday, November 10th

Please use your Grammar Worksheets to edit Essay 1.

Study your Grammar worksheets as well. There will be a quiz on Tuesday, testing you on what you learned from our "Speed-Teaching" class.

Essay 1 and your Grammar Worksheets are due on Tuesday, November 10th.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Don't Forget!

This upcoming week, bring "The Everyday Writer," or a comparable grammar and style book, to class. You may also want to bring a current draft of Essay 1. We will be honing our editing skills. Don't get too excited!

Go Phils!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Homework: Essay 2

Begin to work on Essay 2.

Your essay should be somewhat related to one of the two essays we discussed over the last few weeks, China's Big Mac Attack or The Gift of Food. You are also permitted to write about a current issue covered on the CQ Researcher database. CQ Researcher is awesome. It's easily accessed through the database link on our school's library website.

Your essay should be argumentative. That means you state an opinion, perspective, or argument, and prove it with evidence. For this essay, you are required to use at least one acceptable secondary source as evidence.

What is an acceptable secondary source?

Not google. Not wikipedia. Not dictionary.com. No .com, or .net sources. .Gov, .edu, and .org are okay. BUT make sure to check the reliability of the site.

As we talked about in class, the BEST sources are library sources. Books. Newspapers. Magazines. The best of the best? Academic journal articles. Like CQ Researcher, they can be accessed through the databases link on our school's website. One of my personal favorite databases is JSTOR. It's a wonderful resource, containing tons of academic journal articles.

Bring Essay 2 to class on Thursday, October 29th. Please include a code name, instead of your real name, in the heading. If you want, you can come up with a code name using a favorite character from a book, TV show, movie or band.

On Thursday, we'll be workshopping our papers. If you come to class without Essay 2, you will not be able to contribute to the workshop, and you will have to make it up on your own time.

Email me if you have any questions!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gift of Pop Tarts

Is food a gift? Or is it just food? Vandana Shiva's essay "Gift of Food" argues for the former. Shiva also states that we've lost touch with the importance of food. Food, she says, is the Creator. It should not be heavily fertilized or processed. Without clean organic food, our nutrition suffers.

Our class felt neither one way or the other about this argument. Food, we said, is a meal. Yes, it's important to eat organic and healthy. But in America, those options are not the cheapest or the easiest to come by.

Jan pointed out that organic food isn't always organic. Josh added that most food is genetically modified to a certain extent. The only way to get non-genetically motified food is to grow it yourself. That is the cheapest and healthiest way to eat, as Dina attested. Perhaps someday, when we all own our own homes, we can try growing our own corn and tomatoes. Gardening is worthwhile and fun. But it's also time consuming. We have to wonder - as Americans - do we have a choice? Or are we as lazy as the rest of the planet thinks we are?

Brie told us about her last trip to the Farmer's Market. She said that she spent twenty dollars on four items. That's too much for a college student, and for anyone working a minimum wage job. Brie said that eating healthy is important to her, so it's worth the extra spendage.

That's the real trick. We eat healthy when we can afford it, or when we don't have a choice but to afford it. We pay for it when we have to. Until then, it's Pop Tarts for breakfast.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Discussion 4 Postponed!

Next Tuesday, October 20th, we'll be discussing "The Gift of Food" by Vandana Shiva.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


For Thursday, October 15th: Prepare for Discussion 4. Read "The Gift of Food" by Vandana Shiva" on page 457.

For Tuesday, October 20th: Complete the Midterm Assignment. This is also the last day to submit your revision of Essay 1.


So far this semester, we've spend a lot of time analyzing. We analyze when we read the essays in our book. We analyze topics out loud in discussion. We analyze arguments on the page when we write.

For your midterm, you are going to analyze an episode of a TV show. You can pick any show you like. It helps to choose a show that has some ratings to back it up as a viable piece of entertainment. In my classes at Neumann University, we watched Family Guy. Other shows I’d suggest include Scrubs or The Office. It should be a quality show that’s entertaining and meaningful. Reality TV won’t work. (That includes The Hills.) If you have an idea of what you want to watch, but aren’t sure if it will fly, email me.

Just like essays, episodes have thesis statements, or messages that the writers want to convey to the audience. As you watch the show, take notes. Think about what the thesis, or message, of this episode could be. Write 1-2 pages of analysis.

In your analysis, you should:

1. State the message, or thesis statement, of the episode.
2. Describe and analyze three events that happen in the episode and support this message.
3. Explain why is this message important to everyone. What’s the universal message?

Bring your midterm essay typed and stapled to class on Tuesday, October 20th. Please make sure your essay follows the requirements listed in the syllabus as well.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Homework for Next Week

Revise Essay 1.

Bring the first draft and the revised draft to class on either Thursday, October 15th or Tuesday, October 20th.

Make sure it is typed, stapled, and follows the essay guidelines listed in the syllabus.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Discussion 3: China's Big Mac Attack

This is the kind of essay that grabs you with the title. Who wouldn't want to read about Big Macs? But before you know it, you're sucked in. What awaits you? A really long essay about how McDonalds is contributing to American globalization, taking over and changing China.

For some of us, it was hard to get into this essay. Not because we aren't interested in China. Because we talked about globalization two weeks ago. Many of us feel the same way as we did then. Globalization is not destroying culture. Simply, people are coming together and changing each other. Perhaps we should be cultivating our own cultures, instead of adopting from one another. But since the beginning of time, people have adopted and adapted to each other and birthed new cultures. It's just what happens. This established, we tried to focus on aspects of the essay that didn't have to do with globalization.

Some of us found it sad that McDonalds is known around the globe as the symbol of America. "That's what represents us," said Brie. "A fast food restaurant." Jan pointed out that anything American stands for freedom. American stuff is cool. Aaron added that when he was traveling, he felt both comforted and depressed by seeing McDonalds in other countries. It's good, he said, because you know what you're going to get if you go in there. It's also sad to think that's our contribution to the world.

Dave and Jan went on to highlight the power of McDonalds as a business. McDs wants to make money, not cultural war. They have been embraced for a number of reasons. Conformity. Cleanliness. The Ronald McDonald House for children. And - last but not least- their food. It's horrible for you. But it tastes good. Can McDonalds be blamed for running a business well?

There were contradictions throughout the essay. According to author James Watson, some people in other countries don't realize that it's an American corporation. But this is a contradiction to the many times Watson states that Chinese parents take their children to McDonalds to connect with the outside world. Josh pointed out that even when other countries boycott American goods, they still go to McDonalds. Perhaps this indicates that McDonalds is a bigger power than any nation, any government? That's a little scary.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NO CLASS: Tuesday, September 29

Hey Everyone,

It's around four o'clock in the morning. I have been up all night sick. I'm sorry, but I don't think I will be able to make it to class tomorrow.

We will reschedule Discussions and everything else on Thursday.

Thank you for your understanding!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Fake it or Break it: It's Up to You.

What happens when you get into an argument with another person? Do you discuss the problem? Or do you throw your PlayStation out the window?

This was the question of our last class. Each of us took ten to fifteen minutes and wrote about a memorable argument we had with another person. Then we went around the room, told our stories, and talked about the methods used in each argument. Here's what we came up with.

How to Argue with People and WIN

Start with points of agreement. Get the other side thinking that you guys are BFFs. It will be much easier to convince someone who already likes you.

State facts that prove your argument true.

Give examples to support your point. Illustrate scenarios.

Use logic. Brie gave a great example, proving her argument that pit bulls are unfairly stereotyped as violent. She pointed out that dogs need to be raised, just like people. If an owner raises a dog to be violent, that's the owner's fault, not the dog's.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Use the opinions and words of experts to support your argument. But also be informed on the other side. Know what they will say before they say it.

Counterargue. Point out flaws made by the other side. Think of how the rappers battle in the Eminem movie, 8 Mile. Show the other side's mistakes. Then explain why you are right where the other side is wrong.

Analyze the topic at hand. Point out aspects of the topic that help prove your argument true. Ryan gave the great example of trying to prove that organized religion is still a strong facet in many people's lives. He said, "Look at all the people going to church on Sundays and participating in church groups."

Talk about what's going on RIGHT NOW. Discuss the latest news on your topic. Explain how your argument is keeping up with the changing times.

Use emotion, but don't go overboard. Let's go back to the pit bull argument. A moving description of the inhumane treatment of pit bulls may sway some readers. Getting too sentimental or angry, as we saw in the Wal-Mart essay, can push people away.

Don't attack the other side. Back when Bush was president, it was common for people to say: "Bush is a bad president. He's an idiot." Whether either statement is true or not, calling Bush an idiot doesn't prove that he was a bad president!

Remember your audience. Think about what points would sway your opponent and/or audience. Use words they will understand. The minute you start talking over them, you lose them.

We admit it. Anger can be a strong motivator. Afterwards, we get a rush. Like J.J. said in class: Flying off the handle is a great release. But whether arguing out loud or on paper, we have to think of other people too. Eventually someone comes into the room and asks what happened to the PlayStation.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Homework: Thursday, September 24

Prepare for Discussion 3.

Read "China's Big Mac Attack" by James Watson on page 251, as well as the introduction to the chapter.

Be ready to talk and write on Tuesday!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Truths and Lies about Writing

In class today, we discussed lessons we've learned about writing in the past. We talked about what has helped our writing and what has hurt our writing. Here's what we came up with.

Start your essay with a hook, something eye-catching
The placement of the thesis statement depends on the writer and/or the topic
The topic sentence has to be the first sentence of the paragraph
All essays must have an introduction, body and conclusion
Restate the thesis in the conclusion
Subjects and verbs must agree
All research papers must contain citations
There is no specific number or type of source one needs in an essay
You must cite your sources

Correct punctuation is unnecessary in freewriting
There is a specific format in writing essays
There has to be a clearly defined thesis
There has to be a certain length to the essay
The thesis has to be written first, at the beginning of the essay
You have to write an outline before writing an essay
You have to include three sources in your essay
All essays must include five paragraphs
You must write lots of drafts and revise

Overall, we discovered that essays need to be organized to help readers understand what we want to say. At the same time, each of us has our own process that we follow when writing essays. Some of us like outlines; some of us don't. There is no right or wrong way to write - as long as we get the job done!

Homework for Tuesday, September 22

Write a 600-750 word essay for Tuesday, September 22.

Hand it in typed and stapled. Also please check the Essay Guidelines listed in the syllabus. If you quote or paraphrase any secondary sources in your essay, please cite those sources correctly.


On Friday and Sunday, I'll be on AIM throughout the day. Hit me up at AnneyEJ if you need help or have any questions!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Homework for Thursday, September 17

Freewrite 1-2 pages on your personal philosophy on how to write an essay.

What is an essay? What have you learned about writing essays? What do you like about writing them? What don't you like writing about them?

Describe your writing process. What steps do you go through when writing an essay? Do you compose several drafts and revise along the way? Or do you work best under pressure, banging out an essay the night before its due?

Bring the freewrite stapled to class on Thursday.

Discussion 2: Wal-Martian Invasion

Today, we discussed Barbara Ehrenreich's essay "Wal-Martian Invasion." Sam, Michele, Rob, and Ryan kicked off the discussion with a great question. They asked: Is Wal-Mart a sweatshop?

The class responded, nearly unanimously: No.

Most of us had a hard time buying into Ehrenreich's argument. We felt that she wrote from such a biased perspective. Her tone was rough. Rather than pulling us to her side, she pushed us away. We wanted facts, not sensationalism.

Some of us wondered if Ehrenreich had some personal beef with the company. Maria pointed out that everyone's had a crappy job. Can the true worth of a business be determined by its disgruntled workers?

Jan told us about a vet she knows who worked at Wal-Mart, and found it a great way to wean himself back into normal everyday life. Rob pointed out that the store gives people jobs. Employees are aware of their wages, stated Michele, and they choose to work there. Minimum wage jobs help high school and college students make extra money while in school. Wal-Mart's high turnover rate can easily be explained by those students, leaving each year for bigger and better things.

Midway through the discussion, Justin spoke out for the other side, and made some awesome points. He asked why Wal-Mart has enough money to purchase other companies, like Sam's Club, but it can't afford to pay its workers better. He pointed out that their simple "vest" uniforms can't cost all that much. Brie added: More employees would stay if Wal-Mart paid more.

We found ourselves with a great question, and no definite answer: At who's expense are we getting these great prices?

We never discussed the manufacturers of Wal-Mart goods. Who's working the machines that make the $7.00 t-shirts? Who's screwing together the toys? (Not Santa's elves, obviously). It's impossible for us to make a judgement on Wal-Mart without further research.

CNN has reported allegations that Wal-Mart goods come from Chinese sweatshops. A few years ago, the documentary "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices" was made about these sweatshops, as well as a number of other Wal-Mart related conspiracies.

Class ended before we really got to talk about these conspiracies. But the question, posed by Jan during our discussion, still remains: To what extent is a company responsible for the well being of its workers?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Discussion 1

On Thursday, we discussed David Adesnik's essay, "Marvel Comics and Manifest Destiny." Our discussion was led by Josh, Lindsay, Dina, and Jess. They put together a power point presentation, complete with excerpts of the comic discussed in the essay, Spiderman India. We talked about whether this comic has any impact on American and Indian culture. We also discussed the possibility of the global village becoming a reality.

The comic reached controversial status due to its take on manifest destiny. Some may read it and think that India is claiming to be the next world superpower. Many of us didn't find this threatening. As Jan said, "What's wrong with an allied superpower?" The comic has the danger of becoming offensive when it messes with American symbolism. But most of us felt that it didn't do that.

We were divided on whether India had the right to create their own version of Spiderman. Some of us saw Spiderman India in his little "MC Hammer pants" and thought, Hey, that's my Spiderman! Others thought it was okay. Maria felt that Spiderman India shows an integration of culture. Ryan thought of the comic as a compliment on our culture. "They think it's good," he said. "It's a step towards us coming together."

Some of us worried that the comic adds to the threat of a global village. Aaron said, Why travel to new places when so many share the same American means of entertainment? Bri pointed out that media can be globalized, because it's "easy and light." Religion and politics are not. The problem lies in our perception of the media in question. Is there religious or political symbolism in Spiderman India? Is it offensive? Some say yes. Some say it's just a comic book.

We don't like the idea of a global village. That's a good sign that we won't create one. Yes, there are McDonalds all over the planet. But each one has it's own identity. In China and India, McDonalds offers meals with the spices and traditions of those nations. We didn't even get into the differences inside American McDonalds, from one state to the next. Texan McDs carry several southern-themed sandwiches. Californian McDs offer more vegetarian options. Differences are found in the details.

The same goes for Spiderman India. As Josh said, our values are the same, they just appear different. Culture is an ever-changing thing. It's hard to see our world becoming a global village, because we are always changing too.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Commenting on LiveJournal

Some of you may have noticed that you are unable to comment on the LiveJournal blogs. This is easily remedied. With a little help from our LiveJournalers.

If you have a LiveJournal blog, you need to play around with your comment settings. Your blog needs to accept comments from Open IDs. Those of you not on LiveJournal can use your Blogger or WordPress ID as an "Open ID" when commenting.

I'll mention this again tomorrow in class. See you then!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Discussion Schedule

Throughout the semester, we'll be reading, writing, and discussing essays in our book, "Global Issues, Local Arguments." Here's a schedule of the discussion days. We read the essay the night before discussion, so we are prepared to write and discuss it in class on that day. Notes of the discussion will be posted on this blog a day or two after each discussion.

Discussion 1
Thursday, September 10th
Group Members: Josh, Jess, Lindsay, Dina
"Marvel Comics and Manifest Destiny" (Author and Page No. Not Given)

Discussion 2
Tuesday, September 15
Group Members: Rob, Ryan Lynch, Michele, Samantha Pongia
"Wal-mart Invasion" by Barbara Ehrenreich on page 61

Discussion 3
Tuesday, September 29
Group Members: Bri, Greer, Justin
"China's Big Mac Attack" by James Watson on page 251

Discussion 4
Thursday, October 15
Group Members: Kadie, Jan, Maria
"Gift of Food" by Vandana Shiva on page 451

Discussion 5
Tuesday, October 20
Group Members: Chris Ruiz, Chad, J.J, Jim
"Protect Workers' Rights" by Bruce Arynar on page 107

Discussion 6
Thursday, November 12
Group Members: Dave, Aaron, Ryan McCarthy
"Confusion Between Prostitution and Sex Trafficking" by Kate Butcher on page 307

Discussion 7
Tuesday, November 17
Open Discussion Day

What the Hell are We Doing Here?

A lot, actually.

Let's start at the beginning. We're learning. We're reading. We're writing. We're growing and changing right before your very eyes. Just give us a minute. Or maybe a semester. We'll wow you with brilliant thesis statements, hard evidence, smooth logic and moving stories.

Welcome to the class blog for English I! Check back here for updates, assignments, reminders, notes, and random tips on writing and blogging. If you'd like to visit our individual student sites, click on the links at the left.

The life of a student never ends. This semester, we'll be reading and writing-but we'll also be weighing what we read against our own experiences. If anything, our blog is a great source of up-to-the-minute theories on writing, reading and life.