CI 4

We have already taken a look at the history behind affirmative action, and we have seen the case that is currently being decided on by the Supreme Court. We know that affirmative action was started because it was necessary to balance out racial prejudices in the workplace and in college admissions. Affirmative Action policies have not changed since. College admissions affirmative action was challenged about a decade ago and is being challenged again. Both sides of the affirmative action argument have valid points at the surface, but if we look deep into the issue, and think about the long term future of this country, it is clear that affirmative action’s time is up and it should be made illegal.

 

Martin Luther King Jr. once said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” This is the exact opposite of affirmative action. Many schools will say that race is only a minor factor in admissions, but the fact of the matter is that to some extent, no matter how small, college applicants are being admitted or denied opportunity based on the color of their skin. Shouldn’t we be judging people by their character instead? Isn’t that what Martin Luther King Jr. wanted?

 

I understand the fears of those who are for affirmative action. Many people believe that if you do not have a certain number of each racial group identified in an academic setting (called a “critical mass”) then the one racial group will feel ostracized and will not express their opinions in the academic setting. But don’t we want a future in which people’s opinions are not defined by their skin color? The whole goal of the racial equality movement is to bring a day upon the United States in which people are seen by others as individuals, and not as a White guy, a Black girl or Asian guy. Yet isn’t this what affirmative action does? Doesn’t affirmative action define someone by their skin color rather than his or her character and individuality? Affirmative action only perpetuates the racism that it claims to try to prevent. If you want a racial minority to feel confident enough that he or she is not an outcast, then stop making the racial distinctions in the admissions process that defined him or her as an outcast. If we truly want a future in which everyone is seen as racial equals, as a unified academic body, then we need to stop defining how many people of each race is required in an academic setting.

 

Simply stated, I am saying that the problem of racial inequality is not going to be solved by affirmative action, rather inhibited. I am NOT saying that killing affirmative action will solve the racial inequality problem in the U.S. I argue that the problem is that in our country’s attempt to be fair to all the races, we have had to make distinctions between the races that have ended up dividing people rather than unifying them. It is a huge contradiction to say that we want a racially fair and unified academic body for a college, and then distinguish one race from another in admissions. If the future of this country is the need to see every skin color in the same light, then we need to actually try to see every skin color in the same light. Affirmative action is past its time. Affirmative action is unconstitutional and does not solve racial inequality issues. Affirmative action is a policy that attempts to counter racism by promoting racial inequality. True racial equality comes in the form of color-blindness where every college applicant is judged by their character, and not their race.

 

Sources:

 

News.yahoo.com

 

Huffington post

 

Law.Cornell.edu

Gangster Squad

The film, Gangster Squad, came out in theaters in the beginning of the year and just came out on DVD this week. I was very excited when this movie came out and disappointed when I wasn’t able to make it in theaters. It seemed like a tribute to the old school gangster films with a modern flare, which would really make for a great movie. However, this film simply came up short. The lack of depth in the main characters and the inability of the plot to surprise the audience kept this movie from being really spectacular. That said, it wasn’t all bad and if you are just looking for a fun new movie, this one will do.

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The Good:

If this film did something right, it entertained its audience. Although the plot was predictable, it was still fun. You can basically tell the story yourself based on watching the previews that told you it was about a couple of cops that had to throw their badges away to take out a mob boss. Another good thing about the movie was the action aspect. The shooting scenes, where there are bullets flying everywhere, were pretty cool and the special effects were decent.

 

The Bad:

As I said before, the characters were very shallow. There was supposed to be a love connection between Emma Stone’s character and Ryan Gosling’s. Although the two would make a very attractive offspring, I just didn’t feel the love connection. Also, I think the director wanted to present an internal struggle within the cops and them struggling with the fact that they must use illegal means to catch someone who breaks the law. But there just wasn’t enough character development for me to care.

 

Gangster Squad had the potential to be a great movie, but there just wasn’t enough done with it to bring it to the blockbuster level. Still, if you were like me and wanted to see it before, I would still see it. It’s still an okay movie, just not great.

 

Grade: C

 

Verdict: Watch if you are bored and want to see a different type of action movie, but don’t cancel any plans to watch it.

My Favorite Tarantino Movies

It is not secret that director Quentin Tarantino is pretty out there. He is an odd fellow with a very vivid imagination. If you have ever seen any of the movies he has directed, then you know what I am talking about. He is known for very imaginative and unconventional screenplays, breaking the standards for what is considered “good” films, and creating strange characters with bizarre backgrounds and motives. Tarantino is not my favorite director of all time, but I think he is important for people to support. The movie industry needs directors like Tarantino to constantly be pushing the boundaries of the conventions of movies in order to keep the film industry in constant change. Directors like Tarantino challenge what the audience deems acceptable, and I applaud him for that, which is why I want to list a few of my favorite movies he directed. I won’t say that I could watch all these movies back to back, but a Tarantino movie once in a while is thought-provoking and refreshing.

 

4. Kill Bill vol. 1

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Bloody Bloody Bloody. This film is a tribute to all of the foreign martial arts movies that came into American markets a few decades ago. Martial arts + Blood + good story line + revenge is the equation for this one. Very fun movie to watch if you are bored.

3. Django Unchained

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Tarantino’s most recent film was a hit in the awards season of 2013. I won’t go into the film because I have another blog post dedicated to it, but you should see it when it comes out of DVD if you didn’t see it in theaters. Very fun, but again, bloody.

2. Inglorious Bastards

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This film, starring Brad Pitt, is about a group of WWII Jewish-American soldiers who go on a mission to Nazi Germany with one mission: To kill Nazis. This borderline parody of WWII and the Nazi regime contains a lot of humor, and even more blood. If you are looking for a film to watch when you are angry and feel vengeful, this is the movie for you. It was nominated for a ton of awards. Must see.

1. Pulp Fiction

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If you haven’t seen this one, all I can say to you is go watch it right now. This movie is a classic, and is an embodiment of Tarantino. The plot is very imaginative, yet non-sensable. The characters are crazy and seem to have no continuity behind them. The film could be argued to have a hundred different themes, or no themes at all. It is just one of those crazy, amazing movies that everyone must see in their lifetime. It is very quotable, and oh yeah, there is a good amount of blood too.

 

*Posters from IMDb

WIP 10

I have struggled with the topic for my advocacy project, but I think that I have finally come up with something. I didn’t really want to be too political, and wanted to do something that a wide range of people would respond to. My topic will be on second hand smoke, especially in regard to children. There is a proposed law in Texas right now that I believe should become a national law. Basically the law would say that it is illegal to smoke while children are present in either a closed space or close proximity to the smoker. Here is my plan:

Purpose: I want to advocate either people not smoking around children, or people to join some type of movement that would get this law passed.

Strategy: There are a lot of negative effects of second hand smoking, especially when it comes to children in their development phase. I could use a lot of emotional appeals to show how smoking around kids is a very bad thing.

Audience: My audience is very very broad for this. Everyone was a child once and therefore can relate to the protection of health for children. I honestly can’t think of anyone who this project would not relate to.

 

As far as the type of media I will use, I am torn between a video and a podcast. I like podcasts because they are like small radio speeches and I think it is fun to persuade with your voice. However, with a video I could add images that would enhance the emotional appeal.

Persuasive Essay Draft

** Please note that this draft does not contain citations for the sources I used. I will add them in before the final draft is due. Thanks

Mark S. Ryan

CAS 138T

John Minbiole

27 March 2013

True Fairness *DRAFT

            One of the primary purposes of government, above simply protecting it’s citizens, is to fairly reallocate resources among it’s citizens to promote the general welfare of the state. The idea of a welfare state in politics is a relatively new one spawning from Europe in the late 19th century. Before welfare policies, the role of government was to simply ensure the safety of its citizens, but today, the role of government has expanded far beyond that. Today’s governments are charged with many duties, from providing public goods such as roads, to ensuring financially stable retirements through social security programs. At the national level of the United States government, we generally perceive the reallocation of resources in the form of money and taxes. Taxes are taken from American citizens and used to pay for such welfare programs, which usually makes the country as a whole better off. One could not justify the government taking resources, namely wealth, from an individual if it did not promote the general welfare of the entire country.

The key issue our political realm deals with on a day-to-day basis is the concept of “fairness”. Politicians argue over if it is fair to take a certain resources from one party and give it to another. However, many, if not all, politicians would agree that it is not fair to reallocate a resource based on arbitrary factors. The government would not give tax breaks to people who have black hair over blonde, nor would the government tax people who wear dark clothing and not white. These principles hold steadfast when we talk about the resource of money. But we seem to abandon these values when it comes to the resource of education.

Like money, secondary education is a resource in this country that can be defined as scarce. A college education costs money, and some people are denied the opportunity to receive a college education simply because there are more people seeking educations than there are positions at educational institutions. Because of this, colleges and universities across the country have created a process which all high school graduate and college hopeful teenager fears: admissions. Throughout American history, the college admissions process has been largely left to the specific college’s will. A college can admit whomever they wish based on whatever criteria they want. It is common today that a large factor in the admissions process is a students merits and achievements. The government does play a role in college admissions when it comes to the race of applicants. The federal government does not allow schools to racially discriminate in its admissions process, based on the 14th amendment and anti-discrimination acts. However, as upheld in several Supreme Court cases, the federal government does allow schools to allocate their open positions to students while using race as a factor. This is a glaring contradiction in policy dealing with college admissions, and brings up the question of “fairness” once again. But if it is already established that it is not fair to give tax breaks based on hair color, then how is it fair to allocate education based on skin color? Affirmative action is processes that is unconstitutional and perpetuates racial stereotypes rather than eliminate them.

To discuss the constitutionality of affirmative action, we must look at the Supreme Court case that gave universities and colleges the federal stamp of approval to use race as a factor in admissions. Grutter v. Bollinger is the most recent completed Supreme Court case that deals with affirmative action in admissions and was certain to have an influential impact no matter the outcome. The case came about when the law school admissions process at University of Michigan was challenged. The system at the time was like many admissions systems then and now. It gave the most weight to conventional merit-based factors in admissions such as GPA, LSAT scores, leadership achievements, etc. However, it did give some weight to other factors, including race. The admissions use of race as a factor was challenged and upheld by a vote of 5-4 in the Supreme Court.

The case was not at all clear-cut. It is obvious that schools cannot use race as a factor of admissions arbitrarily, for that would be a clear violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. The justification for using race as a factor in admissions, as written by the majority opinion of the Court in this court case, says that a high level of diversity “has the potential to enrich everyone’s education and thus make a law school class stronger than the sum of its parts”. This may seem like a valid and logical argument, but it contains one fatal flaw in its logic. The Court says that diversity in an education environment may make the education stronger, which may be true, but it relies on the fundamental assumption that diversity is directly linked to race. This reasoning assumes that if everyone in a classroom has a different skin color, then the room is more diverse. This may be true in some cases, but it certainly could false in some instances as well. In fact, for the court to reason that skin color equates to ethnic and cultural diversity only perpetuates the racist ideal that people of different skin color should be treated differently. There are two scenarios that exist in our country that counter this logic: First is the case when there are two people of different skin color that have had the same cultural upbringing and therefore do not promote educational diversity when put in the same setting. The other instance is when we have two people of the same skin color that have been raised in different ethnic and cultural environments that would in fact promote diversity when put together in an educational environment.  Both of these situations show that the promotion of racial diversity is found on flawed, and racist logic.

Another aspect of the majority opinion of the Court in Grutter v. Bollinger is the concept of a “critical mass”. The law school stated in their defense of affirmative action:

“racial and ethnic diversity with special reference to the inclusion of students from groups which have been historically discriminated against, like African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans, who without this commitment might not be represented in our student body in meaningful numbers.”

The school continued to argue that it is necessary to have a “critical mass” of each racial group enrolled in the school. This is defined as a group of racially similar students that is big enough to ensure that a member of that racial group feels comfortable in expression their opinion without feeling like a miniscule minority, or feel as though their opinion is supposed to represent their race. The Court said that a “critical mass” is constitution because it “ensure[s] their [individual student’s] ability to make unique contributions to the character of the Law School”.

Again, this reasoning by the court lacks in sound logic and is based on fundamental racist assumptions. First, the Court and the school assume that if a race is underrepresented in the educational setting, then individuals within that race with withhold their opinions. This assumption is flawed in that it is based on the reasoning that individuals will segregate into their own racial groups, and thus will only be comfortable expressing their opinion to those of their own race. To generalize the acts of an individual and to argue that an individual needs to have racial affirmation to express his/her own opinion is itself a racist argument. It also brings up another inherent flaw in that the Court implies that members of the same racial group have similar opinions about all issues. This sweeping generalization is the backbone of the “critical mass” argument and is obviously flawed logically and racially.

We need, as a society, to stop focusing on racial groupings and stereotypes, and focus on the individual. When a prospective student applies to a college, he/she is not applying as a group, rather as an individual. Why should we treat students as members of their racial group if they are applying to the college as an individual? This issue goes beyond the manmade rules of the constitution and at its core is a matter of morality and racism. If we look at the defense of affirmative action from a moral scope, we find several faults as well. By assuming that people of different races in an educational have different opinions and will create a “whole” that is more diverse, we only promote the idea that people of different races are inherently different. The current affirmative action policy, while intended to include “students from groups which have been historically discriminated against,” only promotes the same racist thinking found in the same American history the school is trying to “fix”. How can we create a society in which all races are equal if the government and schools make distinctions between races and treat some races differently? In order for our society to reach true racial equality, we must be a society that is blind to skin color.

Proponents of affirmative action in college admissions say that schools need a “critical mass” of each race in order for that race’s opinion to be represented. But doesn’t this just promote segregation? If an individual cannot express an opinion without peers of his/her own race, then wouldn’t all of the educational setting be comprised of strict racial groups? Our ultimate goal of racial equality in the educational setting should not be to have “racial opinions” represented, but to have the opinions of individuals represented regardless of race. A true diverse educational setting would be one that has a singular body comprised of individuals with diverse opinions. The current standard promotes an educational setting comprised of segregated groups with similar opinions. Our goal should be a society that does not make these unethical racial distinctions and treats everyone as an individual, not a skin color. The practice of creating a “critical mass” is based on immoral racist ideals that only perpetuate the problem it is intended to fix.

Perhaps the most prominent argument against the ethics of affirmative action is the argument pertaining to the daunting term, “fairness”. The current policies allow schools to put preferences for their allocation their educational resources to some racial groups over others. More bluntly, schools can lower admissions standards for racial minorities and raise the standards for whites. It is argued that minority races have been disadvantaged in the past and thus deserve a “boost” over whites to get into college. This reasoning is outdated and overtly racist. The question should be raised as to whether or not a lower standard in admissions for minorities is a “boost”. Help to overcome a disadvantage should not come in the form of a lower standard. This policy only harms. If the goal is to put every race on the same level of advantage in the educational setting, then policies should be enacted to help the disadvantaged become advantaged. Instead, the current policy discriminates and lowers standards to minority races at the expense of whites, for the standards of whites must be raised to counter the policy. This fundamentally is creating a disadvantage for one race while giving advances to others, the inherent principle behind all of racism. Affirmative action immorally gives preference for opportunity to students based on the color of their skin, contradicting what our country has established as fair and ethical.

Many people were not satisfied with the ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger just a decade ago and have since challenged its ruling. A new case has been brought to the Supreme Court, Fisher v. University of Texas, which challenges the same unconstitutional and immoral practices allowed by the Court in Grutter v. Bollinger. If the Court were to overturn its decision from a decade ago, our society would make another stride toward creating a racially equal society. Barriers between races could be torn down, people would not be defined in any way by the color of their skin, and true diversity in the educational setting can be achieved.

The practice of affirmative action judges individuals based on the color of their skin and the stereotypes that are associated with racial groups. The overturning of such policies would judge people based on their individual actions, values, morals, achievements, and cultural perspective without assumptions about the person based on the color of their skin. Martin Luther King Jr. said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” This country is ready to take skin color out of the college admissions process and transform racial stereotypes to individual beliefs, discrimination into equality, and dreams into reality.

 

Olympus is Falling….All the way down….

This past week I had the pleasure of seeing the new film, “Olympus has Fallen”. My hope is that after this post, I would have spared you from the pleasure of ever seeing it in your lifetime. It was poor on so many levels, I do not know where to start.

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Pros: The cinematography of the film was actually quite good. The camera angles in the action scenes added suspense to the film, which was complimented by a good score. Other than that, I cannot say much good about the movie.

Cons: The story is so unrealistic, it ruined everything. EVERYTHING. The premise of the movie is that North Koreans attack and eventually take over the White House (aka Olympus). It is up to one former secret service agent to stop them. (Die Hard anyone?) What got me was the North Koreans plan to take over the White house. Step one: Fly a plane over it and distract everyone. Step two. Drive up and shoot everyone. Step three. Walk in. It was so hilariously stupid. ONE. Planes cannot fly even remotely close to the White House. After 9/11 the restricted airspace around D.C. goes for miles. Any plane with a heading toward the white house would be shot down before even getting within a mile of it. TWO. There are so many federal agents in D.C. its scary. I can promise you that if you are at the gates of the White House, you are in the sights of at least two dozen rooftop snipers and many more undercover field agents. Nobody could traverse the White House lawn. THREE. In the event that the White House was compromised, the Pentagon could easily stop anyone from getting into the computer system.

The plot was completely laughable and not even remotely entertaining. This is a movie you should avoid. It can best be described as a crappy Die Hard without Bruce Willis and with a plot that is 200x more unbelievable. Even Morgan Freeman couldn’t resurrect this film.

Grade: D+

Verdict. DO NOT SEE. WATCH ANYTHING ELSE.

WIP8

For my essay, I believe that I am going to argue against the use of race as a determining factor in college admissions. Simply put, I don’t think that colleges should even care about the color of your skin and should take the colorblind approach. Instead of a 5 paragraph essay here, it would benefit me more to construct an outline with my thoughts on what I would put on each section. I welcome comments and suggestions. Thanks.

 

Intro: Here I want to start off with a captivating hook. Its important to build ethos right in the beginning of the essay which I plan on doing by talking about my recent experience in the college application process. After the anecdote about my experience, I will state my thesis and introduce the current supreme court case that could change the current policy on this issue.

Body1: I will introduce the facts of this issue by talking about the court case. I can talk about both positions in the case as a means of introducing facts of the issue. This will require extensive research.

Body2: Here I would like to talk about why people should agree with me. Here I can use the Constitution as a tool of ethos and logos to present my point. This would be considered my confirmation.

Body3: I plan to refute the points of the opposing argument. I definitely need to do research, but I think it would be good to start a moral argument. Questioning the morality of admitting a student because of race would be a good idea here.

Body4: I Think It would be smart here to introduce a new side of this issue. It could possibly be another counter argument or a bigger picture kind of thing. “It doesn’t only effect individuals applying to colleges, but it effects the entire labor market as a whole”…

Conclusion: Sum it all up, add some nice pathos and logos, end with a strong closing sentence.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Alright so this week I decided to make a list of the top five movies with Leonardo DiCaprio. He is one of my favorite actors, and I think its sad that he has never received an Oscar for any of his performances. Just from his looks alone he deserves one. (Many people argue that he is past his physical prime and that he is most attractive in his older movies, but I would say he’s still got it.) I would just like to note that this list is not purely based on the quality of the movies, but rather the quality of Leo’s acting in each movie. SPOILER ALERT: Titanic is NOT #1.

 

5.      Inception

Hopefully this is a film we have all seen before. This is one of my favorite movies that Leo is in, however, not my favorite performance by him. Much of the movie is about his struggle to cope with loss of his wife, the exile from his family, and the pressures of his high-stakes job. I think the directing and editing helps exaggerate his story and builds sympathy for his character, but I also think his acting could be a little deeper.

 

4.     The Departed

This is a fantastic movie and you should definitely watch it if you haven’t. In this film, Leo has to act as a character with a dangerous double life and bounce between the law and the Irish mob. He portrays this struggle well and the audience is able to feel the emotions of his character. Add Jack Nicholson as the antagonist and you have a winning movie.

 

3.     Blood Diamond

This is very intense thriller film that keeps you on edge for its entire duration. In this one, Leo plays a diamond trafficker in Africa and works for gangs in the trade of blood diamonds. Leo has the internal struggle between what is right and wrong, or if there even is a right or wrong. Leo is a great actor when it comes to emotions and is very good at letting the reader understand his character’s struggles through his actions. Great film and great performance by DiCaprio.

 

2.     Titanic

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I mean, its Titanic. You really don’t have to say much more about it. I don’t care if you call it a chick flick or not, its just a fantastic movie. The love story is classic and the plot, though tragic, is very emotional. I wouldn’t cast anyone else for the movie besides DiCaprio. Its always a good time to watch this movie.

 

1.      The Aviator

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I’ll start off by saying that this film is VERY long and has many slow and dry parts in the middle of it. If you have a short attention span, this will be a struggle to watch. DiCaprio plays film director and American aviator, Howard Hughes. It is a very interesting, and apparently realistic, account of Hughes’ life including his struggle with OCD. Not only is Hughes’ life filled with emotional struggles from his parents’ death, multiple female partner failures, and constant pressure and stress, he also has to deal with OCD and intense constant physical pain. This is a hard feat for any actor and Leo does it PERFECTLY. Throughout the entire movie, I felt like I actually was a part of Hughes’ life and felt the pain he felt. The only shining star of the movie is Leo’s acting and he certainly deserved Best Actor for this one. Best performance by DiCaprio by far.

 

Honorable mention: Catch me if you Can   Shutter Island    Gangs of New York

Silver Linings Playbook

This week I decided to talk about an underrated movie that came out a little while ago, but seems to be getting more attention now. I just watched the film, Silver Linings Playbook, and I have to say I am impressed. I do not know how this movie slipped under the radar of so many people, but I am glad it is being brought to justice now.

 

 

I’ll start off by saying that, based on the ads I had seen for this movie, I thought I was going to be seeing a chick flick. I was wrong. This movie is one that is hard to put in any one genre of film. To me, it was mostly a drama with elements of both the melodrama and comedy genres as well. I won’t spoil the plotline, but the movie is about a man named Pat (Bradley Cooper) who is struggling with a mental illness and a hard divorce all at the same time. His entire life went down the drain and he has to struggle with the feelings of wanting get his old life back, while knowing he needs to let everything go and start a new life.

 

The performances by both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are fantastic.  Both have to play parts of people who are struggling with a mental illness (which I would imagine is not an easy role to act out) and both do a great job. Their acting draws the audience in and makes the audience really care about both characters. Another hidden gem in this movie is the performance by Robert Di Nero. He has a supporting role, but it is impossible to overlook his acting in this film. If you are like me and love anything Di Nero, you need to see this movie.

 

Overall this was a thought provoking film with a unique and interesting plot line performed by great actors.

 

 

Grade: A-

 

Verdict: They kept it in theaters longer because it took a while to get recognition. Its still in theaters now and you HAVE to see it. Looking for a good new movie to see? This is it.