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More English Revelations
Saturday, April 24, 2004
 
Group Presentations
The group that struck my interest was the group covering the technological privacy violations. There were many that I didn't know about that they covered in depth and with plenty of explanation. I found the slides and webshots to be particularly helpful. Their use greatly exemplified the points the group was trying to make, specifically an image of Dr. Tryon's apartment and the camera photos taken of unsuspecting students in the class. Granted, this was kinda creepy but as I think that was the intent it made for an interesting ending to their presentation. Another aspect that I found successful in their project were the solutions they provided to each problem that could arise from technological invasions of privacy, ex: the use of Spybot to get rid of spyware. Finally I thought each member seemed very knowledgeable on his or her topic and spoke loudly and clearly enough to be heard and understood. An excellent presentation overall.
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Rockapella Concert
The most recent concert I attended was the Rockapella concert performed here at the Ferst Center. I was extremely impressed with the amount of talent each performer possessed. They were truly amazing. There weren't any special effects or pyrotechnics, no special lighting or sound effects, just the performers and it was perfect. Not only could they sing (or mimic with perfect precision a set of drums) but they were charismatic and humorous as well. They knew exactly what the audience wanted and gave it to them. The songs they included and the double encore is a perfect example of this. The program was well designed to fit the entire audience, from college students to children to adults and senior citizens. It somewhat surprised me the range of ages that enjoyed the concert. It also was surprising the difference in the level of dress that was worn. I would assume a business casual to barely formal would be appropriate and saw everything from shorts and t-shirt to very formal, with women wearing their best pearls and men wearing suits and ties. Definitely not what you see at a more mainstream rock concert.
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American Beauty
I saw American Beauty a couple weeks ago. It definitely has several themes that can be discussed. One is how the American family has degraded and now it's all about the image that we portray. This dialogue in the movie aptly describes this theme:
"Carolyn Burnham: [Laughs nervously] Honey, don't be weird.
Lester Burnham: OK honey, I won't be weird. I'll be whatever what you want me to be.
[Lester kisses Carolyn wildly, then looks at the Real Estate King]
Lester Burnham: We have a very healthy relationship. "
Another example would be the Fitts family. Mr. Fitts is an ex-military man, very homophobic, who uses his marriage as a lie to uphold an image of normality. His wife is completely stoic. You notice her complete lack of touch with reality in every scene she's in. Her lines consist of what any woman would say if she'd only heard the last line of each conversation. They don't have anything to do with the context in which they were said. Then there's Ricky Fitts who manages to see the beauty in everything. His influence on Lester leads to Lester's catharsis at the end of the movie: "I'm great." In a few weeks he gives up all the meaningless things that made him miserable (most importantly his job) and manages to be content by changing everything about himself that he hated or didn't have. It's one of those films that makes you re-evaluate your life or appreciate the little things that you'd forgotten you had.
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Friday, April 23, 2004
 
Spike Lee's 25th Hour
Spike Lee’s 25th Hour has such a complex plot and characters it’s difficult to know where to begin. The thing I noticed most, especially at the beginning, was the “double shots”, the change in camera angle and a second showing of a few frames. The hugs were most common, almost as though they were taken as a flashback, like something remembered. It was almost foreshadowing that Monty would never again see his friends, that this is how it would be remembered. The scene where Jacob and Frank are talking over the ruins of the towers is a poignant scene that I feel parallels the way that Monty’s life will never be the same, just as New York and its residents will never be the same. The best scene in the movie though is the “fuck you” in the mirror diatribe. Talk about being a little angry and repressed here was Monty's chance to be angry at everyone including himself. It surprised me the fervor in which this scene was performed and written. I think more than anything it describes a lot of American's views on other ethnic groups after the attacks on the Trade Center but many of which are irrational and merely thought in the aftershock.
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White Noise Post Number 2
Instead of doing one passage I think I'm going to rant about the end of the book. I was thoroughly disappointed by DeLillo's lack of delivery. He builds up on this whole "wife having an affair, gonna kill the [insert expletive]" theme and ruins it! He has a gun, he shoots the gun, he gets shot and STILL NOTHING HAPPENS!!! He finds some nuns who don’t believe in God and realizes he can’t even go to Heaven because the people who believe in that don’t actually believe in that so he’s even more confused than ever. He’s so sure that he’s going to die of Nyodene D. poisoning that he allows himself to become a statistic despite the fact that he doesn’t feel ill or have any effects whatsoever. What a dumb reason to go shooting your wife’s lovers. Why on Earth would anyone believe that people who kill others get to live longer? What sort of twisted sense does that make?! With a complete disregard to the reader’s sense of anticipation, DeLillo ends his book in a hurried and painful manner. I’ll say it again, I was thoroughly disappointed.
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White Noise - CNN center
I decided to have lunch with my uncle at the CNN Center just across Centennial Park. For about an hour we sat and ate our Chinese food from the Beijing Express and were bombarded with a million things sent into our brains and flushed back out again almost instantaneously. There were 4 different large screen composite TV's easily viewable from where we were sitting. Being the CNN center there were top stories in sports, international affairs, the war in Iraq, the war on terrorism, politics, technology, health, science, entertainment, travel, education… anything that could be covered was covered. Some of the war in Iraq caught my attention, death count, possible outcomes, and political debates. On top of that there were the big screen TV’s in the Turner, Cartoon Network, Hawks, Braves and Thrashers stores. Each one showing their respective information, nothing that I can hear or understand fully, just snatches here and there of sound or video. People talking at nearby tables, CNN studio tours, security guards walking by, bathroom signs, neon signs for other restaurants, “Free samples,” slides in… slides out…
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Tuesday, April 20, 2004
 
Current Politics on Stem Cell Research
President George W. Bush’s speech on August 9, 2001 laid down very distinct policies for the United States on stem cell research and funding. The current policy allows for federal funding to benefit research on already existing stem cell lines but does not provide for the creation of new stem cells. He discussed the fact that federal funding often attracts more prominent scientists and better laboratory facilities, but the sanctity of human life is a priority when determining what can and cannot be accepted for research. He alludes to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and the horror of humans being created in a “hatchery.” As the book was originally written to be satirical and eye-opening, it has the effect of inducing voters to view a higher regard to the inviolability of human life. However he also determines that there is no loss of life if the cells in use have already been destroyed. Thus the logistical and ethical issues are soundly compromising. Despite the current compromise, there are various debates still ongoing within the political and ethical agendas.
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Friday, March 19, 2004
 
Research for Paper 2 : Stem Cell Disadvantages
Embryonic stem cells are generally preferred for research over adult stem cells. This is because they can produce almost any type of cell in the body whereas adult stem cells are limited to certain types such as blood, intestine, skin and muscle. Adult stem cells may also be less reliable as they may have been warped by sunlight, toxins and errors in making more DNA copies during the course of a lifetime. They are very difficult to isolate and purify since they exist in smaller quantities. The trouble with embryonic stem cells is that they are generally harvested from aborted fetal tissue or fertilized eggs. Thus at one point they had the potential of becoming little human beings and there is an ethical consideration that they have rights and thus researchers have the responsibility of protecting these rights to life, liberty, etc. Adult stem cells can be more flexible than originally thought and don’t have the hype surrounding them. They may be as good as embryonic stem cells but research has yet to determine whether or not this is the case.

http://www.stemcellresearch.org/stemcellreport/scr-2001-fall.htm
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Research for Paper 2 : Stem Cell Benefits
Stem cells have the capability to transform into any of the cells in the human body. They can become red blood cells, muscle tissue cells, or even brain cells. Theoretically they can divide indefinitely as long as the organism is alive. There are 3 different types of stem cell. Totipotent, meaning that its potential is total; it gives rise to all the different types of cells in the body. Pluripotent stem cells can give rise to any type of cell in the body except those needed to develop a fetus. Stem cells that can give rise to multiple different cell types are generally called multipotent. Stem cells are so interesting because an understanding of the way they divide and transform into specialized cells can help understand why cancers and birth defects occur. They can also be used as medical therapies. Because they can give rise to multiple types of stem cells and divide forever and forever theoretically, they can be harvested into separate types of cells and used to repair anything from Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, and spinal cord injury to stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

http://stemcells.nih.gov/stemcell/whatAreStemCells.asp#1
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The Ring : Haunted Media
Sconce describes television/ media as an interwoven "flow" of the electricity that powers it, the information sent through it, and the consciousness of the viewer/listener. The Ring characterizes this by the television sending out the images that continually haunt the characters that have seen this film and the power coming on independently. Another feature is the idea of TV having the "elsewhere" existence in which there seems to be a different plane of existence. In The Ring Samara comes out of the TV, out of the "elsewhere" and attacks people in the real world. Sconce also describes how television can have the quality of immediacy, how things on the television seem to be happening simultaneously. An example from The Ring is when Rachel is watching the tape and is able tot pull the fly off the screen even though it was originally filmed. Sconce also argues “TV is always there even when the power is off.” The Ring uses that in several scenes such as when Rachel is choking on the cord, when she sees flashes of the video and during the scenes where water pours out form the walls/floor/etc. Sconce claims that telecommunications are “communication without bodies.” The Ring allows Samara to communicate and exist without even being alive. This is the main reason why this movie is so damn creepy and portrays a very “haunted media.”
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Thursday, January 29, 2004
 
Chris Burden in Sirc's essay
The discussion of Chris Burden relates to Sirc’s larger argument in that Burden and Durden seem to share the desire of “living on the edge.” To quote Burden: “How do you know what it feels like to be shot if you don’t experience it?” The connection between Tyler and Burden is that they both want to feel some form of truth in life through actually experiencing it. Sirc includes Burden’s comments on “Show the Hole” in which spectators could actually touch the hole in his arm from being shot and how some people waited 3 hours just to be close to some form of real experience. It is similar to Tyler wanting to be in a car wreck and the spectators at Fight Club. Sirc also compares Burden to Eminem’s music by introducing the “Shout Piece” in which people left a theatre after he shouted at them to “Get out!.” It’s complementary in that he had no intention of making them leave the theatre merely that he could force them to by introducing “an uneasy self consciousness in hypocrites and poseurs.” The difference between Burden and Eminem is that Burden is attempting to understand the concepts of the popular through experience and response to it, whereas Eminem is bluntly taking “politically correct” and shoving it up his… ahem. His music is a way of expressing everything that underlies popular issues and is carefully swept under the rug and he shoves them violently into the open. Burden’s introduction into the essay is not only an eye opener but helps describe how the popular can have many facets to it.
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Thursday, January 15, 2004
 
Fight Club: Tyler's Introduction
When the narrator first meets Tyler in the movie he is merely described as "the most interesting single serving friend" but in the book it has an interesting effect in that they meet completely alone on a nude beach. Honestly I'm not sure what this has to do with the relationship between the two other than it makes the book seem like something else entirely when you add in the comment earlier about the ownership triangle between Marla, Tyler and the narrator... to put it in Taubin's words there is a "blatant homoerotic charge to this identification". Anyway, Tyler's sculpture is a means of showing how anything that is completely perfect for even just a brief moment is worth attaining. If it can't be perfect it can't really be worth doing. What Tyler is doing when he first meets Jack is exactly what Jack wants in life. To "sit in the palm of a perfection he'd created himself." Tyler is exactly what the narrator wants but he doesn't know that consciously yet. That sculpture is the narrator's realization that he isn't what he wants to be. He's never had that moment of perfection in his life. It wasn't through hard work that he owns all the things that define him as a person. It is not through his own volition that he has what he has. His job, his father, the magazines have all told him what he should be doing, how he should be doing it, and why he should be happy doing it. Meeting Tyler is the worst and best thing that has ever happened to him because he realizes (if subconsciously.. or transconsciously?) exactly what he wants and has now the means to achieve it.
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